What Is a Spirit Guide?

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Many spirit guides have ancestral connections. Photo Credit: Ralf Nau/Stone/Getty Images

What is a Spirit Guide?

Many people believe they have spirit guides. Some refer to theirs as angels or guardians. Regardless, if you believe you have one, a spirit guide is there simply to guide, not as an entity that you need to give yourself over to. If a spirit guide has a negative influence on your behavior, then chances are good that it's not a spirit guide at all, but something else entirely.

These are some of the more commonly found types of spirit guides:

1. Ascended Masters

These are guides often found by people who do energy work, such as Reiki. An ascended master who appears as a spirit guide is often a being that led a physical life and has moved on to a higher spiritual plane -- for example, Buddha, Krishna, even Jesus. Ascended masters usually work with collective groups of souls -- in other words, if you've got an ascended master hanging around you, you're not the only one he or she is helping. Their primary focus is that of helping all of humanity. It's not uncommon for an ascended master to have access to Akashic records. Also referred to as Master Teacher guides.

2. Ancestral Guides

An ancestral guide is one who can claim some sort of kinship with you, such as your dear Aunt Tillie who died when you were ten. It may also appear in the form of a long-dead ancestor. In some schools of thought, these entities are seen as reincarnated guides, because they are the spirits of someone who loved us during their physical lifetime, or who had some sort of blood connection to our family.

Some people, depending on their religious upbringing, may see these types of guides as guardian angels.

3. Common Spirit Guide, or Teacher Guide

A typical spirit guide is archetypical, symbolic or representative of something else. For example, you may find your guide appears in the form of a warrior, a storyteller, or a wise woman, and they have appeared to you for a purpose.

Typically, that purpose is to teach you and guide you along a particular path. They may also introduce you to other archetypes along your journey, and help out with problem solving, based upon your needs. They are known to provide insight by way of dreams or meditation, and may only hang around as long as you need them, then move on.

4. Animal Guides

Although many people claim to have animals as spirit guides, often these entities are more companions than anything else. It's not uncommon for a deceased pet to linger around, keeping you company through the grieving process. In some spiritual traditions, such as various Native American or shamanic paths, a person may have an animal totem, which provides teaching and/or protection.

Some people in the metaphysical community break down spirit guides by purpose, rather than their type. For instance, Amanda Meder, who works as a psychic medium, explains that in her practice, guides typically fall into one of these six categories: protectors, gate keepers, message bearers, healers, teachers, and guides that bring us joy.

In addition, many people believe that their spirit guides are angelic beings. This may or may not resonate with you, depending on whether you accept the existence of angels or not.

Some members of the Pagan community do, but angels aren't typically found in every Pagan belief system.

Additional Resources

Now that you know what a spirit guide is, how do you find yours? There are a few different methods you can use to find your spirit guide. If you think you've made contact with one, but you're sensing some read flags, you'll want to be aware of some basic spirit guide warning signs. If the entity you're working with turns out not to be a spirit guide at all, but something unpleasant and unwanted, it's time to get rid of it! Follow these simple pointers for eliminating unwanted entities.