Spiritual Messages and Experiences — Getting, Interpreting and Encouraging More
I work as a shamanic practitioner. What the means is that I work with the spirit world to help my clients heal, get insights about their purpose or next steps, get answers to questions they may have through divination and channeling, and connect them with their spirit guides.
So many clients tell me about things that have happened in their lives that they feel are — and want validation that they are — messages from the spirit world. They may have had a dream that holds specific significance to them; they may see an animal or number repeatedly that has meaning to them; or perhaps several friends have mentioned the exact same particular book, event, or workshop in the space of a very short time period.
I am a firm believer that we are all capable of being shamans and communicating with the spirit world, our higher selves, and our guides. I also know, through my work, that each one of us is connected to the spirit world and that the spirit world is continuously trying to communicate with us through a variety of messages and messengers.
There is a comfort that comes from connecting with and communicating with the spirit world that surpasses anything here on Earth. Most of us have an innate desire to know that there is life after death and that our loved ones have gone on to a better place. We want to know that there are angels and guides watching over us, waiting for us to ask for help. We want to know that there is a higher power — whether you call that higher power God, Allah, Buddha, Source, the Universe, or any other name — that loves us and has a plan for all this craziness that we call Earth.
What are spiritual messages and experiences?
Spiritual messages and experiences are how our guides talk with us. They can be a source of guidance or insights into how we can live our lives, provide comfort that we are not alone, or even serve as a reassuring virtual hug. Often these messages provide us with answers or confirmation that we are moving in the “right” or “best” direction.
These messages can come in many shapes and colors, but at their core, spiritual messages and experiences have an element of synchronicity to them. You recognize that the odds of this happening are really slim. There is something about them that feels “different,” “magical,” “special,” or “divinely sent.” More than a coincidence, these messages or experiences make you pay attention or at least say, “Hmmm…something is going on here.”
For example, years ago, as I was starting down my shamanic path, I was wrestling with whether or not I should start offering my shamanic services to others. I asked my power animal for guidance. (A power animal is a spirit guide in the form of an animal that aligns with you to help you. Often the unique characteristics and strengths of the animal are exactly what you need to work through a situation. So, for example, armadillo brings the gift of self-protection, while skunk may teach you how to give and get respect.) I asked the question as I got off the bus and walked the two blocks to my office. As I walked to the office, I saw three people wearing some component of my power animal — something I normally don’t see. It was enough to make me take notice and reflect on it…and realize that my power animal was saying that he was with me on this journey and that I should go for it.
Spiritual messages and experiences can show up in many forms — a song, an animal, a recurring series of numbers, a dream, an gut feeling or intuition, weird/ unexplainable things like lights going on and off or the scent of your grandmother’s perfume when you are alone in the house. Sometimes, these messages may repeat for us to help us learn or integrate the message that is being presented.
Years ago, I was going through one of the most challenging times in my life. I was shut down emotionally, in pain, and couldn’t see how I could ever be happy — or even live — my life. I started having this dream, which recurred for over a year, with changes as I changed and started to come alive again. In the first dream, I went down to the basement of my house, where I saw a chest of drawers. I didn’t remember this chest of drawers being there, so I went over to it, curious about what was in it. I opened up the drawers, and inside were dozens of living birds. There were even some baby birds living in nests in the drawers. I was horrified that these birds had been locked up in the drawers and frantically ran around getting them food and water.
As I started to feel slight glimmers of hope in my life, the dream changed and the birds were out of the drawers and hopping/flying around the basement. I still was worried that they didn’t have food or water and would bring it to them when I discovered they were in the basement. Later, as I started living my life again, the birds were no longer in the basement, but flying around the main portion of the house. Finally, when I made major changes to my life, the birds moved outside in my dream.
As I reflected on the dream over the year, I realized the birds represented my hopes and dreams. When I first had the dream, I had stuffed my hopes and dreams away (in a dresser, apparently!) because I didn’t feel that I could even think about them because I was going through such a difficult time. As I started to have hope, my hopes and dreams began to take short hops in the basement. I still wasn’t fully embracing them, but they were no longer locked away. When I got to the point where I had worked through my depression, my hopes and dreams started to see daylight (in my house) and become more part of my day-to-day life (in the main part of my house). And when I started to live my hopes and dreams again, they were out in public (in the yard, where everyone could see them). This was a very powerful dream sequence for me, and I believe that it was my guides letting me know that I would get through the situation and start living again.
Recognizing spiritual messages
Well, for starters, you have to be open to them. Sometimes you have something happen that really makes you sit up and take notice — like seeing an angel or having a recurring dream — but most of the time the messages are far more subtle.
Because we have free will and choice in our lives, our guides will not tell us what to do and will wait for us to ask for help. While sometimes it might feel like life would be much easier and simpler if someone (a higher source) just told us what to do, it wouldn’t be nearly as an educational and learning experience as when we need to figure it out ourselves.
So our guides will try to share their guidance with us, but will do so typically in a quiet, non-obtrusive kind of way. The truth is, there are messages all around us, and they happen every day…but they usually are not glaring neon signs saying, “Do this!” For us to receive the message we have to be open to the message and be aware of our surroundings and what is going on around us.
Unfortunately, we often go through life with our heads down, running from point A to point B, looking at our cell phones while we are running, and we don’t see the messages or answers that spirit is sharing with us.
Recognizing the messages requires us to consciously ask the question and then being alert to what is presented to us. Perhaps after you ask the question, you see the same numbers everywhere you look, or maybe you see the likeness of the same animal everywhere, like I did the day I asked my power animal if I should start offering shamanic services to others.
The key here is to not try to force anything. If you start to see a series of numbers, say 444, waiting around for the clock to change to 444 is not a message. Likewise, actively going places where you know you will see or hear something that has meaning for you is cheating. It’s not a message.
For it to be a message, all you have to do is go about your regular day-to-day activities, and the message will present itself to you. You don’t have to force it or do anything different — except being open and aware of what is around you. You’ll know when you are getting a message because you’ll have that feeling of it being synchronicity and special to you. Watch for the feeling that arises within you!
You can even let your guides how you would like to receive the messages. Maybe you have an affinity for a certain number, like 444. Let your guides know that you will know that it is a message from them when you see it on a license plate. Or maybe you have an affinity for cardinals, the bright red birds. If they are plentiful in your area, maybe you tell your guides you will know that it is a message from them if you see an image of them (rather than an actual bird).
Making sense of and interpreting spiritual messages and experiences
One of the biggest challenges to interpreting the messages we receive from our spirit guides is releasing our expectations and ego. So often we ask a question and we have an answer that we want in our minds. When we come from that perspective, we run the risk of twisting and turning each message or input we get to give us the answer we desire.
So, the first step in interpreting messages you get is to release the answer that you want to get and instead focus on what is coming across to you objectively. Ask yourself: What could the meaning of this message be? How does it relate to what I am asking about or dealing with?
If you aren’t certain about the meaning of the message, you can always ask that you get another message that gives even greater clarity. Or, as I mentioned before, you can even set up a system with your guides. For example, you may set up a simple set of “guidelines” for your guides for yes or no questions, where you tell your guides to show you one thing if the answer is “yes” and another thing if the answer is “no,” such as seeing numbers in sequence going up for yes and numbers in sequence going down if no. Or, it could be to see cardinals (red) if no and peacocks (green) if yes. It can be anything that you can easily remember.
Here are some other ways that may help you interpret the message you receive:
- Connect to your intuition. Are you seeing/hearing a variety of messages that align with the issue you are currently having that point to a solution for you?
- If you are getting messages through your dreams, you might want to try a dream interpretation dictionary to give you some guidance. However, use this only as a starting point. Dictionaries tend to be generic. Trust your intuition. If you feel that the dream symbolizes something different than in the dictionary, go with that.
- If you have a song stuck in your head, write down the part of the song that is replaying in your head. You might not have the lyrics completely correct, but don’t worry about that. Sometimes it is more about the concept than the actual words. Don’t think about the entire song, just the part that is coming to you. How does that part relate to your question or situation?
- Be specific in your question or request so that it is easier to interpret the message you receive. So, for example, ask just one question rather than three. Word the question so that it is clear. Try to ask a yes/no question, if possible, so that it is even easier to understand the response you get.
- If you need more clarity, you can do channeled writing. Say you’ve received a message but you aren’t sure what it means. You can write the message on a piece of paper, and then ask your guides to give you more information. Clear you mind, put pen to paper, and wait for the words to start showing up in your mind. Actually wait and watch /listen for the words to start showing up. When they do, start writing. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or even the content. Just write until the words stop coming. Then, when there are no more words, go back and read what you have written. Had a client do this recently. She said (and this is a good sign that you are channeling something other than you own mental thoughts and expectations) that when she finished writing she couldn’t remember anything that she had written, but she had been writing feverishly. When she went back and read what she had written, the information was completely different from what she would have expected if she had been thinking up an answer on her own.
- If you’re really struggling, you could ask someone you trust or a spirit communicator (like a shaman) to give you their perspective. Again, if something they say doesn’t feel right, you can reject it. But having a conversation with someone else can give you different viewpoints on the meaning of the message.
Above all, connect to your intuition. What feels like the correct interpretation of the message? At the end of the day, you are the only one who can know for sure what the message means, and learning to trust the responses you feel within you body can help. For example, a wrong interpretation may show up as tenseness or nausea in your body, while a correct interpretation may feel like lightness or relief.
Encouraging more messages and experiences
The most important thing you can do to encourage communication between you and your spirit guides/ancestors is to be open to receiving messages in the first place. When there is open communication, the communication flows better. If you don’t believe that communication is possible, you won’t see, accept or believe any messages that come your way…even so, your guides will continue to try.
Here are some suggestions to encourage more messages:
- Like anything else in life, practicing helps as well. Make it a point to ask questions and be aware of the messages and experiences that happen.
- Get to know your guides/angels better. Ask them their names so that you have a stronger connection. If your guide is someone that is known (such as Archangel Michael), spend some time learning more about him/her.
- Consider creating a ritual for asking questions, where you say something like: Thank you angels and guides of pure love and light for all your assistance. I would like your guidance on “X.” Please show me a sign…
- Don’t forget to say thank you!
- Be patient. You may want to receive a message immediately, but it may not work out that way. Ask your question, trust that your guides have received it, and go about your day. At some point you will receive the message.
- Work on yourself. Release hurt, pain, anger, drama, etc. that may be tying you up in knots inside and making it more difficult for you to connect with and receive messages from your guides. When you are calm, peaceful and loving, communication is easier.
Try it and let me know how it goes!