Spirit Guides: Ghostly Communication And Helpers From Beyond?

Seeking Guidance from the Other Side

There’s an old movie from 1993 that exists in the deepest recesses of my mind called Heart and Souls.

It starred Robert Downey Jr., Charles Grodin, Elisabeth Shue, and Alfre Woodard, and was about a group of people who died together in a bus crash, and became the unwitting spirit guides (or guardian angels) to a boy born just at that moment. I haven’t seen it in ages, but I remember it being a pretty fun movie. Don’t quote me on that; I really don’t remember.

Robert Downey Jr. apparently views it as one of his favorites, though!

Anyway, I thought we’d talk a little about those spirit guides – the otherworldly beings said to guide us from beyond. Are they real? Well, real has no meaning here. This is paranormal folklore, and we’re just going to see what people have to say!

What Are Spirit Guides, Anyway?

The term “spirit guide” likely evokes the image of a spectral, translucent figure of the once living. Someone who’s been around the block before, maybe a few times, and for some cosmic reason is lending you a hand. This, according to the folklore, can be exactly the case. Spirit guides are said to be nonphysical beings, and can indeed be the once living, with spirits of ancestors said to be particularly powerful guides.

However, guides can also take other forms. They can be animals, or guardian angels, or beings from other planes of existence. They can be what’s called “light energy” or “Ascended Masters” – former humans who reached enlightenment. They can even be the living world around us, taking the forms of nature and even plantlife. Some even believe that spirit guides are none of these things, but rather the spirits of our true selves guiding us from some higher state of being.

Now that’s a fascinating possibility!

The concept of spirit guides has existed throughout history and in many cultures, so perhaps all of these possibilities are true in one way or another, at least in how people view them. For example, even the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a page regarding the use of plants in Shamanism and the rituals used by ancient cultures and indigenous peoples around the world in communicating with ancestors and the “spirit world.” To some of these cultures, spirit guides were “powerful plants or totemic animals” that assisted them with navigating that other realm.

Many mediums and other practitioners believe that spirit guides are with you throughout your entire life, from the moment you’re born. And just like in Heart And Souls, you might have more than one – an otherworldly entourage following you without you ever even knowing! This doesn’t mean they stay with you forever. You may have guides that stick with you your entire life, but just as well, they might come and go. But according to paranormal folklore, at any moment, you can be (mostly) sure a guide is watching over you in some manner.

I say mostly, because at least a few mediums I’ve seen have claimed that some people appear to not have guides, at least in those particular moments they interacted with them. Maybe their guides were on break!

Whatever the case, spirit guides, in whatever form they appear, don’t exist to take control of situations or shove us toward desired outcomes, but to instead gently guide us through life’s obstacles.

A Few Famous Spirit Guides

Whether or not you believe such things, spirit guides play a major role in mediumship, which is the practice of communicating with and channeling spirits. Over the years, many mediums have publicly claimed to know and speak with their own guides. Celebrities and others have also come forward with the names of their believed guides, as well.

One of the most well-documented spirit guides was perhaps an entity named Seth, allegedly channeled by author and spirit medium Jane Roberts. The Seth Material, published by Roberts in 1970, is a rather controversial book detailing the “teachings” of Seth. A number of other books on the topic have been published throughout the years, as well, including those published posthumously by Roberts’ husband. The spirit, which described itself as an “energy personality,” began conversing with Roberts and her husband through a Ouija board on December 2, 1963. Eventually, Seth began speaking to Roberts directly in her mind, after which she began dictating the conversations.

Konstantin Raudive was allegedly guided during his experiments in the 1960s by an otherworldly “radio operator” named Spidola. Raudive wasn’t exactly what you’d call a medium, more a researcher, but he essentially fulfilled that role during his experiments. Spidola was a female spirit helper who operated a transmitting station from the beyond.

Both of these examples possibly ride the line between “personal spirit guide” and just good old fashioned spirit communication, but they’re prominent names nonetheless.

Before her passing, Olivia Newton John wrote about her own spirit guides in her memoir Don’t Stop Believin’. She said her guides were actually the spirits of deceased friends, such as John Denver and Karen Carpenter. They’d be nearby as she performed, and support her from beyond.

There are those out there who might feel a little perturbed if I mention popular television mediums such as Theresa Caputo, famous for her series Long Island Medium. But I try to be at least a little thorough! Caputo claims her spirit guide is named simply Spirit, who guides her through audiences toward those ready to receive a message from beyond.

Likewise, American author and medium Sylvia Browne, perhaps best known for her many appearances on The Montel Williams Show, claimed her spirit guides were named Lena, or Francine, and Raheim.

How to Contact Spirit Guides (Maybe)

Art of ghosts waiting on the other side, standing on steps and between pillars

Actually trying to contact a spirit guide, or any kind of alleged entity, is a little outside the scope of this humble website. I’ve never done it myself, anyway. But it’s worth taking a look at what’s claimed.

When contacting a spirit guide, the usual methods of spirit communication are employed. Listening is one – simply opening your mind to the spirit guide, and seeing what happens. Perfect for the lazy among us! Some even name their spirit guide to strengthen their connection, if a name isn’t already provided.

Another method is said to be automatic writing, in which you channel a spirit by clearing your mind, and just writing or typing. The spirit may then “take control” in a sense and write out their message.

Others attempt to meet their spirit guides through methods like astral projection or meditation.

Various sources claim that spirit guides may reach out to you on their own simply as a voice in the back of your mind, or a feeling, or even a dream. This would be something like your inner self-conscious, and yet coming from outside yourself. There are also those who believe that the phenomenon of synchronicity – or noticing strange coincidences that seem impossibly connected – is a way spirit guides may try to get your attention. Repeating numbers are also said to be a sign that your spirit guide is speaking to you.

Of course, as with all things involving spirit communication, there are also those who are weary about reaching out to any spirits, especially those who might claim to have your best interests at heart.

I’ve read many stories of people who have attempted astral projection and sworn it off forever, usually after coming into contact with what they would describe as negative entities. Those who warn against the use of Ouija boards would similarly caution against trusting any spirits who claim to be loved ones or other helpful types. You know how it goes – demons!

Some communities exist online where you can find more information, such as r/SpiritGuides, so you might want to have a look at those for a more granular view of the topic and community surrounding it.

In a Reddit thread posted years ago, several individuals shared their own experiences with spirit guides and their unique methods of communication. Most of these involved strange voices that seemed to exist without origin, while others were visions or dreams.

One person wrote that he’d been driving on a mountain road when he heard “a little voice” mention a deer ahead, so he slowed down as a precaution. A mile later, however, he actually did hit a deer that jumped out in front of his car. As unfortunate as this was, perhaps because he slowed down, that supernatural warning may have saved his life.

In another odd tale, a woman found herself sitting in the back of a car while looking for houses with her mother. When she heard the question, “Would you like to live around here?” she happily replied that yes, she’d love to. But her mother looked back from the front seat in confusion, because she hadn’t said anything.

Two weeks later, they moved into that very neighborhood, “50 meters from the spot” where she’d heard that disembodied voice.

Have You Met Your Spirit Guide?

Paranormal topics like this are often very fuzzy, and that’s why, when writing about them, it can feel like a random jumble of “some say this” and “others say that.” But that’s really just how it is. There are no scientific studies I can point to regarding spirit guides, and no hard facts.

As I keep repeating, this is paranormal folklore – these are (some of) the beliefs of those who practice this sort of thing, and it’s nothing concrete. It never is. Everyone has their own interpretations, their own methods. The truth is, in many ways, a separate discussion entirely. Take it as you will, dear reader!

That said, I find the concept of spirit guides fascinating, if not also a little unsettling. The idea that, at any moment, you may have a spirit watching over you. Are they helpful? What if they’re bad at it? Do they give you any privacy? Some things are better left unknown, I guess.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.