In discussing the challenges sustaining relationships with guides can pose, I bring up a topic often overlooked in many esoteric arts circles, not just in modern shamanism: personal truth, or as it is more commonly called Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG).

Photo by Austronesian Expeditions @ flickrMost of us come from religious paths that strictly forbade us to act as our own spiritual conduit with the Divine. Part of what leads us to a more direct path is realizing the lack in such spiritual tropes. Yet, I see this same trap wrapped in different words and habits in esoteric arts all the time. I’ve known people who won’t order food from a menu without asking their guide’s input, first. I’ve known others who firmly believe that a ritual to Air won’t evoke the favor of the element if it isn’t done precisely so, every time. I’ve known intuitives who were called upon to assist in emergencies but declined because they didn’t have their portable altar with them to create sacred space. I’ve known people who never once uttered an insight of their own, replying “Well, my guides say ____,” or “I can’t comment until I ask my totems.”

How we roll with our Spiritual Council is exactly that–our relationship with our personal spirit allies.  Part of the shaman-guide relationship is knowing its boundaries, with regard to spiritual discipline and possibly even health. I’ve got my own sacred eccentricities.  I’ve had plenty of times that I became static in my process. Above all else on my path, I’m an advocate of  results and growth, and I find that when I inhibit my instinctive responses, I stop getting meaningful results from my actions.

We’re creatures of habit, and the one thing that focused, dedicated journeying will teach in a hurry is dynamic self-reliance. Yes, the core component of a shaman’s effectiveness is committed relationship to spirit allies, though that doesn’t mean to the effacement of self. The idea that we sacrifice our innate wisdom at the feet of our guides is really no different from the rigid doctrines that talked us out of our spiritual knowing.

Soul allies don’t want to be a crutch or habit. They don’t want to be a convenient escape, or to keep circling the same healing wagons with us.  In fact, projecting that wisdom can only come from guides eventually strains our relationship with them. When we stop forcing their counsel out of habit, the emphasis on belief that we need to ceases, and a willingness to enable direct experience with personal truth emerges.

Our guides want and need us not to just explore and implement UPG, but to stand in it.  Not once, but over and over. That’s the thing about truth. Even if core truths we knew of ourselves at the age of four are still true, the ability to hold ourselves open to the possibility that they can change creates the evolving atmosphere for them to remain true.

Years ago, a dear friend summed it best: “We find truth, we know it, then we set it down, and back gently away.”

We must make peace with the demand to become active participants in our own Spiritual Council. However uncomfortable we find the idea of being ‘wise,’ or ‘aware,’ part of our job in self-healing is defusing the ego charge of these concepts. That charge runs the gamut of not believing that we can be wise, to believing we don’t have the right to be, and fear of being misled by our truth. We forget that the body has its own wisdom. Soul components of ourselves can make meaningful contributions to our spiritual path and practice.

Given that, how do we discern UPG from the insight of our guides? Do we even have to? How much does ascribing the source of insight matter, as long as it rings true? These are individual considerations with which we all must find balance. I don’t always know precisely where an insight came from. I do hear my guides’ different voices, along with that of higher aspects of myself, my body, an individual organ, the grass. For me, what it comes down to is having developed  a keen ability to pin-point my truth, and actually listening to it, acting on it when I hear it. In the end, I don’t care where it came from. I’m just glad I could receive it.

When we can accept our personal truths, our life view shifts from the divisions of Here and There, to the moment, to no veil, to All Things.  The power of spirit teachers doesn’t weaken when we initiate ourselves as allies. If anything, it strengthens.

See for yourself. They can take it.

Read other posts in the Thursday Betwixt series.