Guardian spirits

(lecture notes from the most-recent Open Shamanic Journey class, (c) Monika Healing Coyote, 2019)

Kitsune fox guardians, from Wikicommons

Guardian spirits are a class of spirits found within all spiritual/religious cultures. They can protect structures, property, a person's physical/mental/emotional health, and/or the family/community/clan/tribe.  The following are a few basic examples of these spirits:

  • Celtic/Druid: jewelry, tattoos, clothing, statues, and other handcrafted items would represent the guardian spirit(s), and would either travel with the indigenous Celtic tribes, or they would remain inside a home to protect the land and structures.
  • Greek & Roman: the genius loci (Spirit of Place/Dwelling) would be granted a special place near the front door of the home 
  • Japanese/Shinto: there are many shrines dedicated to the kami (indigenous spirits of the islands) of an entire town/area/prefecture, and different goshuin for each spirit within the shrine area
  • Thailand: these cultures build entire Spirit Houses outside of a structure in order to ensure its protection
  • Judeo-Xtian: photographs, statues, and other iconography can either be outside of a structure or carried within a person's clothing
  • Non-Religious: folklore and superstition give information about lucky charms, rabbits' feet, jewelry, flags, and other paraphenalia as guardians of property, towns, states, and countries.
Celtic guardian spirit on jewelry, from Wikicommons
Generally, there are three areas that many guardian spirits have domain over:
  1. Home or other specialized structure (i.e., town hall, longhouse, church)
  2. The entrance to a new town/city/state/country
  3. The location of a family group/community/nomadic tribe/individual person
As the peoples of the world grew in population across the globe, guardian spirits were needed to protect the food sources and watering holes, the spiritual centers, the homes, and their physical & spiritual bodies. These needs continue into modern times, with the protection of our person, our families, our jobs, our finances, and our homes.

Within indigenous European and Druid magics, there are three main steps of reciprocity when seeking out a new Guardian Spirit to work with (or introducing oneself to an already-established spirit within a religious context):
  1. Introduction and offerings to the Guardian Spirit
    1. Just as with any new coworker, family member, and/or friend, it is extremely important to first introduce yourself to a new Spirit, and to research it's preferred type of offerings.
      1. Offerings are important for many reasons: they are a gift of hospitality to a new Spirit, which can make communication easier between you two. They also provide energy to the Spirit, so that it can work its magics to help guard, guide, and protect you. And it honors the historical concept of sacrifice-- you have given up something that you have in order to provide for another.
  2. Statement of Intent and housing container
    1. These steps are often missed by magical- and spiritually-trained folks. You must have a very clear idea on the type of work that you'd like to do with your Guardian Spirit. For example, a Lion spirit is very protective, but different people will have different needs for their protection (one may need personal protection when walking home alone at night, while another might want protection from coworker gossip at the workplace). If you do not engage the guardian spirit in a conversation about your needs, and if the Spirit is willing to work with you on them, then the protection will not be effective.
    2. Finding a container in the physical realm for the Guardian Spirit is mandatory. You are asking a Spirit to work with you both in this physical realm and in the Otherworlds, and there must be a container that bridges these two areas.
  3. Gratitude practice and continual offerings
    1. As with all human and non-human relationships, reciprocity flows with the main emotion of Love. For those that have not yet read the information on the five main love languages, here is an article that can summarize for you.  At the core of this magic, you are creating/recreating a relationship with a Spirit, in the hopes that it will provide things that you cannot do for yourself. The initial connection to a Spirit is only the first step; the continued layering of offerings within the passing of linear time (which exists in the physical realm) can help to build reserves of energy for your Guardian Spirit, so that if/when needed, it has enough power to protect you from harm.
If you are interested in learning more, and possibly working together on building a new relationship with a Guardian Spirit, please contact me and we can set up a mentoring session for individualized teaching.

If you'd like to try and journey on your own, here are the prompts that may be effective in setting up this relationship:
  • Step One: Creative Problem-Solving: What do I want a Guardian Spirit to protect me from?
    • Nightmares/sleeping issues
    • physical body protection
    • mental health/reality-testing
    • home/work/office protection
    • spiritual protection
  • Journey #1 Ask your helping spirit to introduce you to a guardian spirit who is focused on the above-mentioned task.
    • Ancestor, Nature Spirit (animal, plant, tree, mountain, lake, etc.), Deity, Angel, or other
    • Talk about yourself! Thank it for agreeing to work with you.
  • Journey #2 Ask the guardian spirit
    • How do you want to be honored?
    • What physical representation do you wish to be housed in?
    • What is your preferred offering? How often do you need offerings to maintain your vigil/protection over me?

Don't forget to thank the Spirit for its powers of protection, and to continually maintain the relationship. Once your needs are met, and you no longer with to work with this Guardian Spirit, honor its time, energy, power, and sacrifice through ritual, and thank it for working with you. All things work in the Otherworlds through thought, emotion, energy, and reciprocity, and if you have need of a helping spirit again, these techniques will help you to maintain a right and ethical relationship with the Spirits.

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