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Encountering Spirits in the Material World
WE ARE LIVING IN THE AGE OF spirit. Feelings, intuitions, and the unseen worlds are more prominent in daily life. The New Age movement burns brightly with the torch of a new spirituality, where written dogma is replaced by actual experiences in the spirit world.
Modern Spiritual Exploration
Individuals are now seeking their own answers through the exploration of other ideas, cultures, and religions, combining techniques and beliefs from around the world to fit within a personal cosmology.
Belief in an Immortal Spirit
At the heart of most of the ancient religions and mystic schools is the belief in the immortality of the soul, the unseen essence that animates our bodies—the true self. Some of these traditions believe the spirit returns to physical life to continue the journey, to experience, remember, learn, and ultimately live in this unique combination of body and spirit again. Other religions believe the soul moves to the next level of development, more in harmony with the creator, be it in heaven, nirvana, or other word used to describe spiritual bliss.
There are wise men and women in every culture who work with the unseen. The witches of Europe take much of their tradition from the priests and priestesses of the ancient lands of Egypt, Greece, India, and Gaul. They all speak to spirits and gods to learn the future and perform magic. Modern witches are reclaiming these traditions. Spirit work comes in any spiritual context, from Christian mystics working with patron saints to the magi of the Hebrews, like King Solomon, who were great sorcerers. All in one form or another worked with the unseen realms.
The early twentieth-century spiritualist movement, with mediums holding seances to contact the dead, usually worked in a Christian context. The modern New Age movement has supplanted it. Channelers work with ascended masters, nature spirits, and multidimensional beings from the star nations. Personal beliefs, social customs, and historical time period influence the experience of spirit work, but so many constants remain. In these constants we find the threads of truth to weave our own experiences.
Ordinary people are delving into the realms of hypnosis and past-life regressions. By actively participating in these explorations, recalling past lessons through triumphs and tragedies, they explore their own spirits. These techniques bring better understanding of their present life patterns and their intrinsic immortality. Individuals who have no inclination to explore spirit undergo near death experiences, or NDEs, in accidents or on operating tables. During these NDEs, their perceptions rise up and they are able to see their now lifeless bodies and hear people around them. From this point most travel through a "tunnel of light," and are greeted in some afterlife by deceased family members, angels, saints, or divine beings. However, they do not cross over, because it is "not their time" and they must return to the land of the living. They reenter their bodies and their hearts start beating again.
The experience is profound and transformative. Most who survive an NDE have no doubt about the validity of life after this mortal coil and believe that there are loving creative spirits supporting and guiding them. Many who have no previous religious beliefs become shining beacons for their community. By sharing their experience, they teach others not to fear death, to believe in the unseen realms of spirit, and to live with love and freedom.
Healing and Energy Work
Seekers are exploring alternative modes of healing and energy work when traditional medicine seems lacking. These new practitioners of ancient arts, like flower essences, Reiki, and acupuncture, to name a few, recognize the body is not just physical. Our being is a synthesis of flesh, blood, and bone with mind, memory, emotions, and energy. By affecting one aspect, you affect the whole system. Modern medical practices typically treat only the symptoms and not the root of the disease. If you have a block or imbalance in your emotional aspect, it will eventually manifest in your physical body. Likewise, emotional clearings can bring about great healing in the physical realm. Everything is interdependent.
The amazing boom in the neopagan communities, including those that practice witchcraft, Wicca, and other Earth religions, is a mark of this spiritual quest. The children of Earth are actively searching in the material world around them for spirituality, manifested through nature and the great goddess of the planet Earth. Similarly reverent for nature are the Native American and other aboriginal traditions. The Western world is turning to the very cultures it decimated for a greater understanding of life. People are working with crystals, herbs, and ceremony for their healing and empowerment, much like their ancestors did.
The Spirit Realms
The common thread among these views is the belief in spirit. Spirit is the unseen force within us all. Spirit in body is called the soul. A unifying spirit, God, Goddess, or the Great Spirit, is the creative force of the universe. Quantum physicists call it the unified field or holographic universe. The name does not matter, as long as you recognize it. Our individual spirits are created from the unifying spirit so it can experience itself. Many feel our spirits are embodied for this reason. If our spirits are here, there are many other spirits, in other realms, experiencing other things. If our souls are truly immortal, we can have these other experiences after this life, or now, through shamanic techniques and psychic talents.
Entire religions and complicated cosmologies are based on these other realms. Traditional Christian religions use the framework of Heaven and Hell. One realm is union with God, enlightenment, and fulfillment after a just life. The second realm is punishment and separation. Purgatory is like a waiting room for souls not yet ready for Heaven, but not deserving of Hell. Destination is preordained or a result of conforming to a church's moral and ethical code, depending on the sect. The concept of Heaven and Hell seems to be a distorted version of the tribal lore of many indigenous cultures.
Planes of Reality
Many shamanic cultures believe in a lower world of regeneration and healing, where a soul goes before its next Earthwalk. Although dark and mysterious, akin to the collective unconscious, the underworld is not a place of torment and punishment unless you create that reality. The upperworld is a city of light, containing gods and heroes of myth, where insight and enlightenment are granted. We live in the middle world, the realm of linear time and space. The connecting force between the three worlds is usually a mountain or world tree.
Paradigms divide reality into the etheric, astral, mental, and emotional planes.
The Tree of Life (see figure 1 on page 5) from the Kabbalah, is a map of reality with ten sephiroths, or spheres, marking ten different realms of reality before reaching unity with God. Those in the New Age lightworker context use the word dimension for these other planes, or density levels, and believe each dimension is populated with many beings suited to that vibration.
Any of these systems work, but the simplest view suits our purpose here, dividing reality into life in the physical world, with a body and physical matter, and life in the spiritual world. This simple system was adopted by the early twentieth-century mediums who routinely worked with the worlds beyond the veil, although its terminology is much older, perhaps dating back to the Kabbalah. Although I personally believe the universe is much more complicated than physical and nonphysical, this terminology serves our needs here and now. The material presented in this book should not conflict with most preexisting beliefs. Spirit work is not exclusive to any one religion or spiritual path. As you explore these experiences, I hope you will open to more possibilities as your experiences change. Detachment from a rigid belief system or hierarchy has been one of the greatest tools I possess, but to remain detached can be a struggle. Attachment to one way as the "right way" for everyone is a function of pure ego and can detract from spirit work.
An invisible barrier marks the bounds of the physical realm and the spiritual world. This veil divides spirit from matter, but we are bound to both. Like an actual veil, a piece of cloth, the barrier can be easily crossed by those who know where the openings are. Spirits send messages across, and we can ask questions. Relationships, too, exist across the veil. A physical veil is also a ritual tool to block out distracting physical light so a seer or mystic can function in the spirit light. The veil is the magical blindfold, used by shamans, mystics, and witches, and it can be used to cross the barrier between worlds. Sometimes, the barrier is said to consist of many veils.
All people are searching for true spirituality, but they are usually missing a direct, intimate connection to spirit. Spirituality is honoring and working with the spirit inherent in everything. Too many people are still looking for an intermediary to the unseen realms. Drilled into the collective psyche of Western culture is the need for a priest or minister to interpret the words of the gods, from the Roman Catholic pope to the priest-kings of ancient pagan lands. All have their place and can do a lot of good for the people they serve, but many modern spiritual leaders take advantage of their people's need for an intermediary. You need not look any further than the television evangelist scandals of the twentieth century. Beware of leaders who do not empower the members of their organizations, who build a cult of personality dependent on themselves or their title. This is where many religions fail us, but we can find the threads of true and honest spirituality and weave our own cloak from personal belief, understanding, and experience. A good intermediary, be it a mainstream minister or modern witch, will encourage you to make your own connections to spirit.
A spirit ally is a being in the unseen realms who, for whatever reason, decides to aid, befriend, protect, or teach us while we live our own Earthwalk, our time in body. They come in many forms and names, but essentially they all provide the same functions.
Allies can be with us from birth, knowing our own spirit from the other side of the veil. Central and South American medicine men believe that children will not survive the maladies and accidents of childhood without a strong spirit helper to protect and guide them. I think our own imaginary friends from childhood are not so imaginary. They are our first experiences in the spirit world. A friend's nephew vividly talks about his imaginary friend. He speaks to the shadows and the shadows, give this four-year-old some amazing insights. His parents discourage him and tell him they are not real, but we encourage him to never forget his invisible friends and to remember they are always there when needed.
Allies are also acquired through other experiences in life, particularly if we choose to pursue a more mystical vocation for our life's calling. Shamans have many spirit helpers, acquired on otherworld journeys. These allies help in rituals and healings. Native American traditions encourage a vision quest by shamans, tribal people, and modern practitioners. Individuals spend one or more nights in a secluded and sacred spot, such as a mountaintop. They prepare the area with their ritual tools, like prayer knots or arrows. Carrying their intentions in the tools, and using techniques such as fasting, isolation, darkness, or a ritual sacrament of vision-inducing herbs, they meet their spirit helpers.
Fears and Doubts
Those who fear the spirit world and their connection to it deny the fundamental truth—they are spirit in a body; they cannot escape the unseen realms. Dabblers fear they are going crazy. Cultural conditioning says they cannot be talking to something they do not see. A Native American shaman or Tibetan holy man might have visions and communications from the higher dimensions, but not an accountant, factory worker, teacher, or homemaker. Some people believe this to be brainwashing or think their own spirit work is the start of mental illness, like schizophrenia.
After having a long conversation with a friend who thought I was crazy for talking to spirits, we determined a good rule of thumb to distinguish the two. When working with spirit allies, you can turn off the experience when you want. You can consciously decide to end communication. They honor your free will and respect your intent. You set the boundaries and limits. Their advice expands your viewpoint and works with love and forgiveness. When mental illness is present, you cannot stop the experience. The messages appeal to your ego with an "us verses them" attitude. Messages are incoherent or the individuals receiving them are not in contact with the physical reality of the third dimension. They cannot take care of themselves. Although these experiences are very real to those with mental illness, they are created from a biochemical imbalance.
To my knowledge not one of my students has ever had a problem leading to any type of mental illness when contacting spirit allies. Although the modern medical establishment finds it weird to talk to someone who is not physically present, I have not known anyone to become imbalanced emotionally, mentally, or biochemcially from such experiences. They learn how to discern beneficial spirits from more mischievous or misleading ones, and such spirits are easily banished. They learn to question everything and to follow nothing blindly.
The biggest problem is the shock regarding the accuracy of the information. Some have difficulty hearing a message clearly at first. It takes practice, but the veil is closed to no one. Everyone is spirit, and everyone has a right to communication, relationships, and support from our invisible allies. The road is blocked only if you deny it and do not want to explore these realms. Your allies find other ways to contact you.
Trust Your Own Experience
Brave souls are ready to actively pursue communication, first looking to spiritual leaders, then finding their own experiences. They easily work with spirit themselves by petitioning those allies who are ready and waiting to talk to them. The techniques are simple and require no set structure of belief. You do not have to change your own religious affiliation or belief, but as you explore, your cosmology will widen to allow new experiences into your heart. You need not belong to any organization or call yourself anything different, but a dramatic transformation and empowerment is possible as you discover your spirit allies. All you need to start with is intent and the openness to experience.
Across the world and throughout time, with perhaps the exception of the modern world of reason, most cultures believe in the existence of spirits and in the possibility that many spirits have a positive impact and influence on our physical lives and spiritual quests. Even in the age of reason, and perhaps because of it, modern people are searching for answers their traditional religions and sciences fail to provide.
Our spirit allies come with many gifts. They have the benefit of another viewpoint, beyond traditional space and time and beyond traditional needs and worries. Our allies are in a closer state of unity with the source of creation, giving us unconditional love and support. Spirit guides could have lived in a body and experienced similar situations. We benefit from their wisdom. The important thing is to find spirits we know and trust, who radiate love and are interested in our highest good. Take the first step. The unseen road is waiting for you.
Talking to the Gods Within
IN AN AGE WHEN SO MANY FEEL disconnected from their own spirit, allies in the unseen realms are unthinkable. The very existence of the unseen is still under dispute by many. It is not something you can measure and define with your rulers and microscopes. But mainstream thought is starting to understand the spirit, at least in psychological terms. For instance, mainstream medicine is now acknowledging the mind and body connection, and, I hope, the mind, body, and spirit link.
Popular psychologists have rediscovered the mystery traditions, interconnections of the universe are explored with renewed interest in the works of Carl Jung and the concept of synchronicity, and the ancient alchemists' teachings of transformation are being studied. The population at large is more likely to accept the terminology and explanations of psychology, now a respected discipline, over unfamiliar mystical teachings. Because of the way individual divinity is expressed in modern culture, the idea of talking to your own inner divine aspect, your internal guide, becomes more appealing to some than the belief in spirits. You are talking to the gods within, the wiser part of you. This is but one model of spirit allies. Many more exist, and these models can all exist side by side. The seeker finds truth in many paradigms; one does not invalidate the other. Many things are occurring in spirit work. If you desire to understand the process, you will find a paradigm, or paradigms, to fit your worldview. For now, explore the concept of the divine within.
Excerpted from SPIRIT ALLIES by Christopher Penczak. Copyright © 2002 Christopher Penczak. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
List of Figures and Exercises
Chapter One: Encountering Spirits in the Material World
Chapter Two: Talking to the Gods Within
Chapter Three: Exploring the Thirty-Two Flavors of Spirit
Chapter Four: Playing with the Team
Chapter Five: Learning to Play
Chapter Six: Meeting Your Spirit Allies
Chapter Seven: Playing Twenty Questions with Spirit Guides
Chapter Eight: Finding the Animal Within
Chapter Nine: Calling on Protective Spirits
Chapter Ten: Working in the Elemental World
Chapter Eleven: Building a Better Spirit
Chapter Twelve: Making the Connection to the Higher Self
Chapter Thirteen: Invoking Spirit
Chapter Fourteen: Working with Spirits
Appendix A: Angels
Appendix B: Ascended Masters and Cosmic Beings
Appendix C: Pagan Gods
Appendix D: Power Animals and Animal Medicine
Appendix E: The Hermetic Laws
Posted October 15, 2011
This is an early effort of Christopher Penczak's, so not as well written as his later works - a little awkward at times, not as fluid - but as usual he gives the reader a great deal of information, clearly presented, and useful. An absolutely worth-while book to own and use.
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Posted June 17, 2011
Posted August 6, 2013
Posted August 6, 2013
I'll take that position, please. *signs her name under the blue spy* There. Now I'm officially a Blue spy. So, what's my first mission?
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Posted August 6, 2013
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Posted July 22, 2011
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Posted September 7, 2011
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