An Introduction to Working with Spirit Guides

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today’s guest post is from Julia — she introduces herself below, so I’ll just turn it over to her….

Since this isn’t my blog, I suppose a little introduction is in order. My name is Julia and you can find me over on my little corner of the web, Spiral Sea Tarot. While the majority of what I share and discuss is regarding Tarot, there are many other branches of metaphysics that I study, participate in and weave into my practice. One such topic is that of Spirit Guides. I became interested in this concept many years ago, and over time, my understanding has evolved and interest increased. A couple of years ago I dived deeper into this world, attending lectures and finally taking a course, which really only grazed the surface. Truly, what has helped me to understand this branch is direct experience, and because I am a Tarot enthusiast first and foremost, my work with this realm needed to incorporate that tool. While this post will not focus on the system I developed, which uses Tarot to connect with a member of our team and learn more about who they are, I will provide a high level overview of Spirit Guides, so you can begin to understand how they are assisting you behind the scenes.

For starters, you don’t have to know your spirit guide team intimately, by name, to enjoy their presence and incorporate them into your practice. In fact, it is my belief that whether we regard them or not, they are always present. Even if we aren’t consciously aware of our team, we do receive insights from them, perhaps even often. For example, a flash of insight as you’re going about your day. Or a gut feeling that you just can’t shake. Or even in dreams may they use the opportunity to get to us. It doesn’t have to be this big, paranormal experience. Our guides are with us offering nudges and whispers for an unlimited array of things, mundane to mystical.

So, who are these mystical beings? How can we be more aware of their presence? And how does Tarot fit into all of this? Let’s start with the basics. What are Spirit Guides? Speaking broadly, our guides are beings working with us and for our benefit. Each of us have our own unique makeup consisting of some entities who have been with us since incarnation (and beyond) and some who are present just to assist with specific goals.

The types of guides that exist are vast. For many of us, we have a mix of guardian angels, archangels, ascended masters and ancestors, but those are just the basics. Through my studies and experience reading for others or having myself read, I have come to know other types. For example, Goddesses (or other representations of divine feminine), astral or exterrestrial guides, animal guides and more. But there is one guide that is common to us all, and that is the Higher Self. This is the you that you access when you consult your cards (knowingly or not) and the you that comes out to play during dreams and other states of consciousness. It’s actually quite active all the time, but the logical or “left brain” tends to shut it down when we’re not in that receptive state. This form of you exists beyond the physical body and is intimately connected to your ethereal records, which is why it’s the perfect source to connect with to seek guidance on your own life path and purpose.

With all of our guides, there are some simple ways to begin to recognize their presence. I’ll use the example of reading tarot since this is where I access my team the most. There are two main ways that I can identify guide interjection as opposed to the “left brain” drawing conclusions, and that’s through what I call a flash of insight or rapid internal dialogue. When I’m reading, it’s easy to start connecting pieces together, but in doing this, it’s also easy to identify where a thought or idea stemmed from; it has a path back from which you can follow. With guide interjection, I find the thought just appears. It even feels subtly different, as if it just popped in without any help on my part. The idea itself is usually not related to anything else I was thinking and can’t be traced back easily. The other way I can distinguish guide interjection is through rapid internal dialogue. This is where I start zoning out a bit and having a conversation with myself, but very rapidly, where the answers to questions come very quickly, without awkward pauses or fillers (hmm, ummm, uhhhs). So if you’re in the middle of a session, and a thought, word or image flashes in front of you and seemingly from nowhere, you can thank your Higher Self and spiritual team for the insight!

There is another quick way to identify if the flashes, insights and guidance you’re getting are from your Higher Self/spiritual team and not simply from the ego, and that is by their tone. Your spiritual team isn’t going to berate or judge you, so if these are the thoughts you’re having (whether about yourself or others), it’s likely from the ego place. Sometimes it can get a bit lost in translation through the human filter, but messages from spirit and high self should at least be neutral in nature.

So should you invite your Higher Self and spiritual team into your tarot reading sessions or other practices? Absolutely. While they will be there anyway, providing a direct invitation helps solidify that bond. You can do this very simply by stating the intention and making the ask. When I am opening up a session, I will say something along these lines: “I am now connected to my spiritual team and Higher Self and I ask that only messages from high spirit connect with me during this session.” I say “high spirit” to help distinguish between lower guides who may be trying to “help”, but that’s another topic for another day! Another way to amplify your connection is by incorporating crystals. I use the following when I’m reading, but also keep some on my bedside table. This is, by no means, a conclusive list:

  1. Celestite: One of my favourites. Celestite is a soft and soothing stone that helps open our hearts to the spirit guide realm.
  2. Angelite: This stone is especially potent for bridging connections with the angels.
  3. Clear Quartz: Clear quartz is a natural amplifier and boosts everything else around it. It can increase the magnitude of our intentions and boost the power of other stones nearby.
  4. Selenite: Clears, cleanses and allows for the connections that we form to flow more freely.
  5. Moonstone: Different types of moonstone serve different functions, but aid in the ability to amp our psychic senses and connect with our own goddess energy within.

We’re really only just scratching the surface of the spirit guide realm, so hopefully this will be enough information to get you thinking about the ways in which your team has been supporting you and how you can better hear their guidance. But, before I go, I will leave this post with one final offering, being a spread that I’ve developed to consult your higher self regarding your current path and purpose. Feel free to use tarot or oracle or a combination of both, or even adapt the prompts to your liking.

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Card 1 – What should I be focusing on at this time?
Card 2 – What should I remove from my focus?
Card 3 – What direction does my current path wish to move toward?
Card 4 – Am I currently on that path?
Card 5 – If not, how can I course correct? If so, what can I do to maintain my trajectory?
Card 6 – What other message do you have for me at this time?

I hope you’ll enjoy the spread and leave feeling a bit more informed and connected to the supportive team around you. If you’d like to discover more about the Spirit Guides, the different types and learn my unique system for using tarot to connect directly with a member of your team, you’ll have to join me for the upcoming class I’m teaching through Pull-Pen-Paint. The entire course will also feature 11 other teachers from around the globe and span the duration of a month. My specific class will be a 90 minute live and interactive session, where you can expect to start to bridge the connection between you and your unique team.

One thing I can say, through my own experience, is that this realm does like to be acknowledged. They love when you make discoveries about yourself, and them, and take up new ways to invite them into your life and make use of their guidance. So be open to the subtle suggestions, no matter how silly, and honour those gut reactions, even if they defy logic. This is your team and Higher Self using your intuition to help you walk the best and most informed path. The best part? It’s absolutely free wisdom just waiting to be taken advantage of, and the more you do, the clearer the channel will become.

Happy connecting!

February + Full Moon in Leo

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Another full moon has passed (check out the full virtual ritual that Leanna and I hosted here), and I must say I’m really loving creating and using my own spreads for the new and full moons.  It lends another level of mystique and exploration to the moon cycle.  The cards I pulled for my spread turned out pretty meaty — three majors beyond the Strength card that we pulled out separately — and I’ve been pulling influences in from all sides on how to interpret these cards.  (Namely from Olivia, and from Rose.)

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  1.  Message from my inner child.  The Emperor.

    Well, as it turns out, the Emperor has become a bit of a stalker card since last Friday.  I pulled him in this spread, in another full moon spread, and Sammy pulled him for me in a reading I purchased from her.  It’s kind of an odd message from my Inner Child, but Jodi told me, after I wrote a poem about dragons yesterday, that she feels that the Emperor is the dragon held in our heart.  I always feel that the Emperor tells me to stand tall and respect myself.  He doesn’t look super pleasant, though, does he?  And I think he’s a tough archetype to love, because though he stands as the “father” of the tarot, he just doesn’t feel very warm-hearted to me (like I feel all dads/parents should be, like mine :)).  He reminds us of the usefulness of having a game plan and structure, and setting milestones along the way to our dreams.  My inner child wants me to be confident, remember my goals, and make a plan to get there already!

  2.  Message from my present self.  Nine of Swords.

    Yikes.  Really, present self?  Nine of Swords?  Admittedly, yes, I do feel like I’m in a bit of a rut.  I’m working a weird schedule, and have a lot that I want to accomplish (and I am!) but also, there are so many other things I want to do right now… Writing more, exercising more, eating better…  And I’m not.  Are there just not enough hours in the day?  Or am I letting myself be pigeon-holed into distractions?  Here, the Nine of Swords reminds us that many of our anxieties are imagined, in our mind, like the nightmares of our sleep.  Shake out of it, girl.  Get out of these weird mind cycles.  “Be your own warrior,” as Olivia wrote.

  3.  Message from my higher self.  King of Swords.

    The Swords, despite their weirdly negative cards, is the suit I most identify with.  I mean, I’m an Aquarius, and I like my words and wit and intellect.  The King of Swords, the pinnacle of the swords suit, showing up as my message from my higher self is telling me to trust in my wisdom, my self-awareness.  He harnesses his wisdom for a higher, collective purpose.  I think this King is speaking toward the activism work that I am getting into, which is what my higher self wants for me, anyway.

  4.  What ego pattern(s) must I dismantle right now?  The Empress.

    I’ve often said that I don’t really connect with the Empress archetype, but perhaps this is a good time for me to look at this card from a different angle.  She featured in my reading with Sammy as well, and I think what she wrote for me may be part of this puzzle.  And also — why don’t I connect with the Empress?  I think this relates to the “not being a mother”…. Definitely some stuff to explore here.

  5.  My deck’s Strength card.

    Isn’t Strength such a power major?  One of my favorites, and connected to Leo astrologically.  This card always reminds me to roar my powerful lioness roar.

  6.  How can I share more of myself with the greater world?  The Hierophant.

    So, this last card makes my spread evenly gender balanced.  I very rarely pull the Hierophant (and Emperor… and Empress…), but Rose’s YouTube video on the Hierophant really brought him to life for me.  Where the High Priestess is about our intuitive, deep knowing, the Hierophant is there to bring this in to reality.  He is the action, the showing up, bringing thought to form.  He is the practice (my word of 2017) of the wisdom we dreamed from the High Priestess.  In this way, he is a perfect answer here.

Well, and here is my Leo full moon lunar eclipse spread by Vanessa, a lot of familiar cards here (8 of cups, page of swords) and, of course, again, the Emperor in the last position, “my forward focus on accelerating toward new goals.”  Seems the Emperor has a lot in store for me.

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What is it about February, though, eh?  We’re halfway through!  Besides being my birthday month (just turned 29, heyo!), there is a fresh promise of new beginnings.  We just passed Imbolc, the light is returning, the seeds are planted and going about their business of growing.  The sun has been rising earlier, staying up later, and I can’t deny that I love the clear, mild days we’ve been having around my parts (even though it makes me think of climate change non-stop…).  The birds have been more alive, the sidewalks are no longer covered in ice, and the fresh air rejuvenates me.

The other day, I was working in an operating room that has an outdoor view.  It was 6 PM and the sun was beginning its descent and the sky was a pinkish-grey.

“You know it’s February when it’s 6 PM and still light out,” I said to the room.
“….or it could be October,” responded my surgeon with a sarcastic, dry laugh.

Truth.  But I’m happy it’s February, the world is walking up, and spring is on the way.  With February and it’s unfurling, I’ve been practicing my poetry in an exercise called “Post-it note poetry” (#pinp17), which is hosted by Jodi on Instagram.  I’ve been wanting to experiment with poetry of late, and this was the perfect opportunity.  I must say I’m pretty happy with the results, even if the poems are somewhat rudimentary.

Themes of love and loss and the vastness of experience.  #Basic, but whatever I’m loving the exercise.

And I got some good news today that I’m not quite able to share yet, so stay tuned *vague, I know, sorry*…. I think the Emperor is definitely speaking to all the “empire” building I’m doing right now, as well.  It feels good to be moving and shaking and making progress.

Anyway, what have you all been up to?  How did you enjoy the full moon last Friday?  How’s your February going?  Let me know in the comments below.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Pagan Otherworlds Tarot

The painful wait is over!  I ordered this deck in, oh, April, and it has finally arrived.  And how happy I am.  First, let me discuss/gush…

Having the deck in my hands, I am not overwhelmed by it’s beauty or it’s personality.  The cards are most definitely a piece of art, and are lovely to behold.  However, if you’ve seen Linnea and Peter’s Instagram page, I think you’d agree that “understated” is a great word to describe their aesthetic.  The images are subtle, but deep, combining traditional tarot symbolism with the foreign Otherworld we have come upon.  The mood of the deck is perfect for fall, as we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox and travel in to the darker months.  I feel compelled to use this deck, not because I’m in awe of it, but because it is comforting, clear, and already feels like a friend.

The deck is weighty, thick stock, large cards.  They are of actual playing card stock.  People often describe decks as shuffling like “butter” – this one, actually, does.  The cards slide over one another, not sticking together, and sometimes slide right out of my hands (I’m a terrible shuffler though).  I’d rather them move nicely than clump together.  The floral card backs are simply meditative.  One melding in to another as I watch myself shuffle.  This deck will hold up to time, aging like a well used playing card deck – which is perhaps my favorite thing to age, ever.  And now, on to the interview…

I used Little Red Tarot’s deck interview spread, as usual.

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(Did I mention the cards photograph like a dream?)

  1. Tell me about yourself.  What is your most important characteristic?  X of Swords.  The skull, the fruiting, thorny plant.  The swords, crossed as scissors, ready to prune.  This deck is not about to mess around.  It’s ready to get to the bottom of old, worn out thoughts/ideas/patterns.  Though it may hurt (TEN swords ready to strike), in the end there is new growth and renewal.
  2. What are your strengths?  VI of Wands.  The victor’s wreath, the gaily flowing ribbon, weaving between, and touching, all of the wands.  Continuing from the X of Swords, the VI of Wands is the welcome outcome.  Hope, motivation, victory.  There must be death in order to have life, and VI of Wands is the belief that the wheel will turn again towards strength, potential, and a new beginning.
  3. What are your limits?  Ace of Swords.  The powerful grip on the sword of clarity.  Though the deck works well with breaking old thought patterns, the Ace of Swords here tells me that it can sometimes be unclear.  The answers cannot always fall directly in to our laps, and we must seek further.
  4. What are you here to teach me?  X of Pentacles.  The dogs, looking toward their not-pictured master, who is calling them home, the well-built and -guarded fortress in the distance, the ten pentacles in the sky.  The card of manifesting prosperity, in all aspects of life.  This card is the antithesis of the X of Swords.  The most important characteristic is integral to what the deck is here to teach me.  The X of Swords must come before the X of Pentacles.
  5. How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?  The World.  The angel on top of the world, one who has reached true completion and wholeness.  I read this simply as, by showing up and doing the work, is the best way for me to work with this deck.
  6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?  II of Wands.  Perhaps the same fortress from the X of Pentacles, from a different angle, in a different season, appears between the two wands, in the background of this card.  Two choices:  through the wands, or around.  Will they lead to the same place?  The same fortress?  And then, what do you really want?  The safety or the adventure?  Neither is wrong, but now is the time for bold consideration and to follow your bliss.

As a whole, this reading is about hope, victory, success, change – exciting life paths are before us all.  This deck, in it’s understated clarity and whispered answers, is here to help me forge my own way to my version of the X of Pentacles, the World, of prosperity as I see it.  This deck arrived with much anticipation, but lands gently.  My draws since this interview have very much reflected the delicate form of guidance that I picked up from this interview.

Do you have the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot?  What do you think of it?  Leave comments below…

exploringly yours,
Alaina

The Bridge

I feel on the edge of something.  If you follow my Instagram, I’ve touched on how I want to dive deeper in my spiritual journey.  I’ve been using tarot for just about a year now, and I want to expand my path.  I want to find my way in this world, where I belong, what I’m meant to do.  I want to align how I feel inside with what I do on the outside.  I want more authenticity, sacred moments, feelings of connections and purpose.

How am I to find this?  I’m not exactly sure.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos of people whose path I respect, making a wishlist of books, and taking advantage of opportunities that come my way.  And, of course, turning to the tarot.  Little Red Tarot is my go to site for bigger spreads to sort out what I’m feeling, and, there, I found The Bridge spread.

The Bridge spread shows us where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going – and how.  Check the link above for the full run down on how to perform the spread for yourself.  Below is how it turned out for me.

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  1. What I have left behind: Queen of Swords.  Air, grace, wit, cunning, sorrow, self-reliance.  She’s protective and fierce of those she loves but she’s not really a team player, in my opinion.  She’s all about intellect and wisdom, and though she loves, she does so with a straight face.
  2. The hardest lesson I learned: Four of Pentacles.  Stagnation, forgotten joy, missed connection – something the Queen of Swords is (and I am) woefully guilty of.  Life is full of whimsy and joy: it’s easy to forget when you’re focused only on truth.
  3. Something that helped me: Six of Swords.  This card is the new beginning, the fresh perspective, safe passage, stability, return to harmony – this card is helping me see the way to the other side.  There is a way to get back to joy.  I’ve seen the possibility here, and all I need to do is get to the other side.
  4. The high point – where I am right now, looking back and looking forward: Knight of Swords.  This is me, now.  I’m ready to charge forward, find a new path, bold solutions.  Passion, pure spirit – I’m ready for action, poised at the precipice.  (Though he is facing the wrong way….. it’s like he’s ready to take down the obstacles from where I’ve been.)
  5. The next step: The Chariot.  Harness the forces!  Where the Knight of Swords is all action, the Chariot can streamline the energy to something productive.  The Chariot is about manifestation, confidence, victory.  It is personal maturity, it is knowing what I am and what I need.
  6. Something that will help me: Seven of Pentacles.  Patient resolve will help me get to where I need to go.  I must stay dedicated, committed.
  7. My destination: the new shore: Ace of Pentacles.  Material and spiritual abundance.  Look at the lush garden.  From 78 Degrees of Wisdom, “The Earth, in its completeness and solid reality, bears its own magic….Spiritual work leads us to recognize the magic in normal things, in both nature and civilization, and then to go beyond them to the greater knowledge symbolized by the mountains.”

Phew!

I’ve taken the Chariot as my focus point for the time being, as it is my next step.  This card asks me to look at what I really desire for myself, and asks what I’m doing to get myself there.  How am I making progress toward my goals?  How am I moving toward the Ace of Pentacles’ garden?

What am I looking for?  More abundance, more freedom, passion, love, to have my inner and outer life more in tune with one another.

How do I get there?  That’s what the Chariot is here to help me with.

My mantra for the Chariot:  I’m confident.  I’m victorious.  I manifest what is good for me.

Have you tried out The Bridge spread?  Do you think you will now?  Let me know in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina

Interview with The Fountain Tarot

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Well, I took the plunge.  This deck has been all around me since I started my tarot journey, and at first I was not attracted by it.  I thought the artwork looked fuzzy and was not drawn in to it.  But – I saw more, and I read more.  What really made the deck click for me was going to The Fountain Tarot’s website and reading about how all of the artwork was based off models.  “Artists we admire, friends, and family from all over the world” – photos were taken by the artist, Jonathon Saiz or provided by the models themselves.  And it showed bits of some of the photos used for the cards.  The artwork then came more in to focus for me, it gave the deck context.  That real people, not just random fashion models or abstract concepts, inspired each card elevated the concept of the deck.  I would so love to see a book of all of the original photos one day!

I’ve read a lot about this deck, so I’m not sure how to rephrase all the wonderful things that have already been written and said.  But pulling this deck out of it’s box alone was a treat – the rainbow glinted at me – and there was a note that was signed by the three creators.  The box, as others have said, is excellent and sturdy – it opens like a book, inviting you in.  I love the rainbows hidden on the box, and I love the words on the inside, which is part of The Fountain card’s description – “You are the voice and the breath of universes.”

Unfortunately, I had to wait for a couple of days to work with the deck because of work and such.  But when I did get the cards out, I found myself pleased with the cardstock, the matte finish.  I got glitter all over my hands the first couple times I shuffled, but I think that has worn off now.  I find the corners a bit too pointy, but I won’t whine about that.  The artwork can still be “fuzzy” (muted would I suppose be a more polite term), but it is so much more beautiful in person than in photos.  Then I took the cards out in the sun, and interviewed them (see photo above).  For each card, I will start with quotations from the little white book (which is one of the best LWBs I’ve read; it really says it all) that I found particularly inspiring, and go from there.

  1.  What is your most important characteristic?  Three of Swords.  “Personal growth from disappointment.”  For traditionally being a thoroughly upsetting card, this is a breathtaking depiction.  The mountain in the background, the icy heart, the glint of a rainbow in the icy heart.  I love that the guidebook emphasizes growth after the tough times, and does not emphasize the “relationship” aspect of this card.  So, quite plainly, this deck is here to help me grow through painful situations.
  2.  What are your strengths?  Queen of Coins.  “Trust your own abilities, and embrace your unique way of being in this world,” is the counsel the Queen of Coins offers.  The Queen of Pentacles has been a little bit of a stalker card lately, so I was pleased to see her here.  I love this depiction.  She does not look cold or awkward here, she looks self-assured and sensuous, that she actually does trust her own abilities and way in this world.   This deck is here to help me do the same.
  3.  What are your limits?  The Moon.  “Even time seems to be disappearing, but there is an urgency for you to move, or risk being lost here forever.”  The Moon is one of my birth cards, and it has been showing up more and more lately across different decks (I mean, I guess one can have multiple stalker cards?….see next question as well).  This card has strongly come to mean trusting myself and my intuition.  Here, the Fountain seems to be saying that this deck has limits, plain and simple – it can’t do all the work, I have to show up for myself.
  4.  What are you here to teach me?  Five of Coins.  “Precious misfortune…difficulties related to living outside the mainstream.”  I’ve also been pulling this card pretty regularly lately, and what is written in the Fountain guidebook completely encapsulates how this card and I are interacting right now.  It is true, I have been challenged lately, and this card (and deck) wants me to find my strength.
  5.  How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?  Nine of Swords.  “Deal with the facts and ground yourself in the rational; your peace of mind depends on it.”  I mean, that really says it all, doesn’t it?
  6.  What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?  Ace of Wands.  “Creating (or destroying) something to bring about transformation… Find your courage and make your move.”  Energy, will, determination, passion.   “Bold steps forward” is another key phrase for this card – bold, my word of the year!
  7.  Final message?  The Magician.  “The Magician advises that all new creations, if they are to succeed, require more than just skill: they require faith in the unknowable.”  I don’t typically connect well with the Magician, but I do like this guy.  There are so many possibilities in this world, and this deck is here to help me see it.

This interview was a journey:  heartache, trust in abilities, trust in myself, misfortune, grounding, creation, faith.

A searing, enchanting, and disorienting deck/interview, in the best possible way.  It’s quickly catapulting to one of my favorites.

Do you own The Fountain Tarot?  What do you think about?  Leave a comment below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina