If you’ve spent much time in spiritual development circles or on New Age websites, you’ve certainly run across references to spirit guides, guardian angels, archangels, the angelic realm— and many people use these terms fairly interchangeably. But a spirit guide is not an angel, and there are many levels of angelic beings, including the archangels.
My clients are fascinated by the concept of spirit guides and angels. I like to offer the following definitions to people so they have a clearer idea of what energy they are comfortable with and might like to work with.
What is a Spirit Guide?
We all have spirit guides—whether or not you believe in them or have yet to make contact, you have at least one guide who is always present to assist you. A spirit guide is a soul that has reached a certain point in their evolution so that they aware and expanded enough to assist another soul in their evolution. Guides have been incarnated as humans, so they understand the human experience. They are capable of a level of non-judgment, compassion, and love that most of us can only guess at.
Spirit guides have consciously and purposely taken on the role of being a guide. They want to assist you; it’s their job! They can’t intervene in your life unless you ask. I encourage all my clients to find a way to cultivate an awareness of and a relationship to their guides.
Guides are like friends but with greater wisdom and unconditional love available. Typically, we all have more than one. We receive guides at different ages and stages of life, though usually we are done receiving new guides by age 21 or so. We can call on “specialist” guides and may receive temporary guides from time to time to help with specific issues in life. I haven’t met anyone who has more than seven guides; nor have I met anyone who doesn’t have at least one.
Spirit guides usually fulfill different roles in our life. For example, I have two guides who help with healings and one that is more of a personal confidante and helps with emotional issues. One guides me spiritually, and I know there is one more, but I haven’t yet made personal contact with it (something to look forward to). Some people work with their guides to be better parents, to excel in their career, or to specifically improve in the arena of personal growth or healing.
Contact with my guides comes about through specific meditations, in healing work, or, once, in a lucid dream. I see them in my mind’s eye—and they look like people. They have different ethnicities, dress from different time periods, and sometimes they tell me their names. Everyone’s experience is different, though, so don’t expect your guides to appear like anyone else’s.
Spirit animals exist, too, though they are different from a guide who has had a human soul. Often spirit animals are conduits of wisdom or act as protector spirits or companions.
What is an Angel?
Different spiritual traditions describe the angelic realms in various ways. There seems to be agreement that there is a hierarchy of angels, and these groupings are organized by function. Like spirit guides, angels are also available for guidance and protection, and they embody unconditional love, compassion, and wisdom. It is not believed, however, that angels have ever been incarnated in any other form.
You may talk to angels and pray to them—although they aren’t to be worshiped. Some belief systems suggest that we all have a guardian angel whose job it is to watch over us. You can probably think of some close calls you’ve had in your life when you were delivered from harm. Guardian angels keep us safe in situations such as these and work through our intuition to guide us away from dangerous choices.
Archangels are probably the most well known, outside of a strictly religious context. Doreen Virtue has pioneered the knowledge and accessibility of this angelic realm. There are several archangels—such as Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—and they govern different areas of life. Archangel Michael is the angel most called upon for protection and guidance; Raphael is called in more frequently for healing.
I have clients who come from a more religious upbringing or context and find the idea of working with angels to be more comfortable than the concept of spirit guides. Angels can help you in your life as well as your guides.
In my own experience, spirit guides just seem more personal. I experience angels when I’m giving healings; often, both guides and angels will be present, but they have different energies. I see guides in detail whereas angels appear more as light. My work with angels is limited specifically to healings, where they appear to assist with my work on the client. They don’t “belong” to me or to the client but rather just show up. When I see them, I know they are there to help, and I let them do whatever they need to do—I don’t direct them. We don’t communicate, but I know they are there to heal, and, less frequently, for the comfort and protection of the space.
Psychics have their own ways of working with either guides, angels, or both. Some are actual angel practitioners and work exclusively with that realm on their client’s behalf. Others will contact or channel your spirit guides for you or help you interact with your guides on your own.
The great thing about angels and guides is that we have all this loving, wise help available for us, however we choose to perceive that help and work with it in an active way.
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