So I realize that I talk a lot about self-creation vs. actual experiences, and the fact that I have not done a blog singularly focused on that has caused for a lot of people to contact me to ask how they can tell. Basically, I have an inbox filled with questions like “how do I know if my spirits are real?” and helpful advice occasionally from new-agers like “but everything is one” whenever I write a blog about working with spirits, curses, and so forth.

My advice in general to people who think that they can resolve spiritual issues, such as a darker presence attached to them, or in their house, through thinking of it as being a part of themselves, is to do spiritual work with these population (whether it be with spirits, or curses, or whatever) for 5-10 years full-time and to study with some non-white or non-new-agey people (basically) and to get back to me if their thoughts have changed once they are no longer within the safety net of their intellectualized sanitized spirituality. But I digress…

Here is a somewhat common letter that I receive as to the self-created thing:
There’s a common theme that you have talked about that I would love some clarification with if you can spare it. You write about in spiritual work the importance of discerning between self created spirits and actual spirits, journeying to self created worlds as opposed to real worlds, communicating with random dead people versus Angels, etc Also you’ve spoke about the importance of developing a relationship with your actual spirit guides versus random spirits and the importance of developing a relationship with your ancestors who are already a part of you and connecting to them will empower you but also that sometimes people will have a spirit attached to them that are their dead relatives/ ancestors.

So how do you tell the difference?”- Heather

So in some ways I hesitate to write about this because of a few factors. The first, and the largest, is that people are only ready for what they are ready for. Meaning that if you have had any experience with an energy outside of yourself, most people will know it. It actually will be fairly obvious to people, especially if they are dealing with anything powerful. But in cases of things “not powerful” or more attuned to our vibration/reality (such as former humans/dead people) it can be tricky to discern.

The second reason I have hesitated to write about this fully is the fact that you really need a teacher to individually teach you spiritual discernment. This means that I can give very general guidelines, but in order to cultivate a relationship with something outside of yourself it takes time, and it takes know-how. And quite honestly, it takes a teacher to check in on you to tell you if what you are interacting with is what it says it is, if you are self-creating, and the basic skills to show you individually a “doorway in” to the spirit realms.

I do not say this because I am a spiritual teacher, by the way, I am saying this because it is what is necessary to really know what you are doing in terms of working with any type of spirit. But I do recognize that most “spirit work” has become really psychologically focused, and most “spiritual teachers” don’t have these tools, and a lot of them don’t know what or who they are working with either.

It is one of the detriments of the new-age pop-psychology type “shamanism” that has cast a sort of safety net over this discussion so it simply isn’t had. Because if this discussion is had, it means that the spiritual realms are not safe. If the spiritual realms are not safe (or not separate) it means that an organization or teacher teaching a weekend course has to think about the inherent dangers and difficulties of teaching a bunch of students how to become a “shaman” when neither the student nor the teacher have time or availability to talk about discernment beyond “lower world” and “higher world” being good, and everything else (laughably meaning our world, our physical bodies, and so forth) being “bad” or “not safe”… which essentially means that the student is “in the clear” everyplace else. Honestly, most of the teachers and students who are supposedly “Shamans” are either assuming that most students are self-creating, or they simply are not spiritual workers and do not believe in spirits beyond them being an internal, psychological concept.

But back to the question (or questions). I will attempt to keep a complex subject like this simple. But in reality spirits are on a sort of continuum from self-created to real. They are not just either/or, basically. So I will talk about the basic categories of spirits and generally how they act from most self-created to most not-self created. But again, my caveat stands. It really requires a spiritual teacher to not only check up on you, but also to teach you how to find and work with things on the “not” self-created end of the spectrum. Basically, you need a doorway in. And if you are naturally spiritually aware, you need to learn how to properly discern what you are working with as well.

So category #1 Really, Really Self-Created
“Spirits” in this category (really, really self-created) typically come from people reading an article or something about power animals or something about a goddess or deity or demon (or insert whatever being here) and deciding that is what they want. They really like cats, so they must have a cat “spirit animal.” They have learned Native Americans are really “spiritual” so they self-create a Native American “Shaman” to guide them (even though said person self-creating is not Native American).

The “spirits” in this category are really hollow, and straight out of the intellectual/mental aspect of yourself. Typically someone finds wolves fluffy, so they create one to hang around. These spirits don’t do anything, don’t really say anything, don’t interact, and aren’t capable of really doing much of anything. In fact, most of these “spirits” are a one time hollow sort of deal. You have a fleeting interest in Kali Ma, or Hecate, or whatever the flavor of the month is, or whatever you read about in your spirit animal book, and then the spirit is gone when your interest (as it invariable does) moves on to the next spiritual fad.

Category #2 Self-created (Psychological)
So the category that most people experience is this one. This is where we self-create, but our creation is able to interact, basically. This is because it is a part of ourselves, a part of our psyche, or more basically… a part of our subconscious. Something below our every-day reality that we are not aware of basically tells us about ourselves. These “spirits” tell us what we want to know, will offer advice from a deeper place of knowing inside ourselves.

While these “spirits” are not quite as flat as category #1, they still have little personality, have no desires of their own, always show up when you want them to (like, immediately, they are at your beck and call), are never angry, upset, never tell you anything you don’t want to hear, and so forth. They still tend to be “appealing” things, meaning that there are lots and lots of people out there with “Native American” spirit guides supposedly from some other era, but they speak and talk and communicate to you exactly as you would to yourself.

Let me make this simpler. If you are talking to a rock (like a boulder) if it is self-created it will communicate like you do. It will speak in ways that you readily understand. If you are one of those “mystical” types, it will speak in poetry to you– poetry that is likely made up of the same new-age gobbledy-gook that is so readily available everywhere.

In my experience, if you are actually talking to a rock, it speaks like a rock. It might not have much to say, it might not be terribly intelligent. It might just wait to see if you will go away so it can go back to chilling out. Funny story– the first time I went up to a tree (I was maybe about ten) and asked for it to be my teacher it said a resounding “no”. This still makes me laugh to this day, as I can now see what this wise birch tree probably thought about an idiot ten year old going up to it with no offerings, nothing to offer of herself even, wanting for this tree to teach her.

So to sum up, this is the most common category. These “spirits” will have no power (we will talk about this later), will speak, act, think, and be just like you (someone from the 1800’s isn’t going to talk like you, neither is a rock, or a coyote, or Durga, or whomever), will say whatever you want to hear, and won’t really have much insight. However the most important part of this is that these “spirits” are one-dimensional. They have no to very little personality, and they are basically the indentured servants or slaves of the “shaman”– always at their beck and call immediately, don’t ask for anything in return. You also will not feel any power from them, and they will typically help you understand yourself a bit better, but beyond giving you access to your subconscious, don’t do much.

Category #3 Parts of Yourself
So you can read my last blog, but we like to think of ourselves as one solid, dominant person and personality. 
What we are is a variety of energies, from infant self to male to female to whatever you can think of. This category only typically comes up as someone has done a whole lot of healing and self-awareness work (which means, not very often. Sigh).

So I will not go into great depths about this, but basically we can work with the male aspects of ourselves as a female, our inner teenager, or really the multitude of personalities and “selves” that are within us. These have power (some, they are basically linking our energy together, or allowing us access to our own power, which most people do not have), they have distinct personalities, and they can offer healing to us. But as this is not a common category for people to be aware of, I will move on.

Category #4 Collective Consciousness A
So this can be a difficult category to talk about, but I will do so briefly. For more information, you can read my book The Spiritual Awakening Guide and read all about archetypes and mythic influences, and how we as a society, culture, religion, and so forth basically create the world.

But this is the first category that is really “outside” of ourselves. Basically we are logging into the group mind. First, we typically are accessing common symbols, celebrities, and so forth that have a meaning in our outer culture. Since these are symbols, they don’t have a lot of power. Again, there is not much personality here beyond what we expect them to have. These symbols are personally reflective of us, our lives, and show us that the spiritual is not “out there”. This is where people start to have synchronicities, see repeating numbers on the clock (although funny enough, we check our phones so much that most people this is just a result of them checking their cell phone 3,000 times a day than anything spiritual).

But again, these symbols can allow us to gain access to our own power. They also are the first thing “outside” of ourselves, so we are able to connect and work with the symbols that are important for someone else as well. This is how most “Shamans” work, through symbols, through the connections we have through collective consciousness at this level. This is, of course, if they are relatively well versed and are not in category #1 or #2.

But this category, although it is about collective conditioning and the collective web, still is on the level of human consciousness. Meaning that it is largely mental and symbolic healing, and not accessing anything beyond story, myth, or thought. This, of course, can be powerful, but it is not working with spirits. It is working with the symbols and patterns and stories, as well as our connection to one another.

In the next blog I will talk about the next categories of spirits, and spiritual consciousness… (stay tuned).