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A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Spirits

Understanding Spirits: What You Need To Know

If you are like me, you are becoming more sensitive as you age. By sensitive, I mean more attuned to energy. This means many things, but in this article, I’m focusing on seeing or sensing spirit energy and understanding spirits. 

What I have learned is that I have varying levels of what I am able to see, and varying levels of comfort around what I see. Both my ability and comfort depend on my mood and energy. If I am more centered and calm, I see quite a lot and am comfortable with it. If I am not grounded, I see less.

While I am working on regulating this experience, as of yet I have no control. So what I’ve sought to do in understanding spirits, is learn the difference between safe spirits and unsafe spirits and how to handle the ones I don’t want around.

Below is what I was taught by my spiritual teachers.

understanding spirits

photo: Ray Hennessy

Types of Spirits

Safe spirits will never ask you to hurt yourself or another person—or be mean or say mean things. Pay attention to how you feel when the spirit is around. If you feel uncomfortable or scared, then you need to listen to that and take steps to make the spirit leave. You have power in the situation and are allowed to say no.

Additionally, it is important to know and understand the different types of spirits. There are ghosts, ancestors, angels, spirit animals, elementals and guides. Of course, there are other types of spirits as well, but for right now let’s keep it simple.


Ghosts are people who used to live on earth but have since passed away. They are earthbound mostly by choice whether consciously or unconsciously. Some passed so suddenly and tragically they don’t realize they have died. Each has a different reason for staying, but all have made the choice to not join God, universal consciousness, all that is, or whatever name you give to the energy that creates and sustains life.

Most ghosts are limited to a certain area, either where they died or a place they are strongly attached to. They are, in general, attracted to kids because of their brilliant light. Some ghosts come to kids for help because they know they can see them. Other ghosts are not happy and kids can feel their stronger emotion, but the spirit cannot hurt them.

Ancestors/Loved Ones

Understanding spirits who were once loved ones. Loved ones and ancestors used to live on earth but have passed away and joined God. These spirits like to come to visit their family from time to time. They want to be sure everyone is ok.

Some come when we need protection, help or guidance. These spirits are very connected to us and are more like our guides. They love us and want to help us be the best person we can be. They also want to help us heal old ancestral wounds that are passed down from generation to generation. When they come we might not know who they are, but they are always loving and protective.

We tend to feel safe when these spirits are around us.

understanding spirits
Understanding Spirits who are Guides

I usually lump spirit animals and guides together. These are beings who have agreed to help us while we are here on earth. Each of us is born with varying amounts and types of guides. They like to visit us often and will come anytime we ask them to.

These spirits and animals help guide us to make healthy and loving decisions. When we are struggling or need help they are right by our side supporting us. These spirits don’t show themselves as much, but they will from time to time in the form of messages or earthly animals that we randomly encounter. They tend to talk to us through our thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes our inner intuitive voice is actually one of our guides talking to us or guiding us to make the most beneficial decision.


Angels are like guides. They come to help us, guide us, and protect us. Some, like guardian angels, never leave our side.  Every person has at least one guardian angel, some have many more. We are born with our guardian angel and he/she remains with us until we die. These angels love us deeply and will do anything we ask of them.

Archangels only come to us if we call on them. We can call on them for anything and they will come to help us. Archangels are special because they can be with thousands of people at once. So, if we call on an archangel for help we are not preventing him from helping someone who might need him more.

There are many different archangels, each has its own purpose and specialty. A few Archangels that are helpful to know are Ariel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael.

Archangel Ariel is a good one to call on if you have an animal or pet in need. Archangel Gabriel is the angel for children. Anything related to children he’ll come to help. Archangel Raphael is the angel to call on when we are sick. He will help us with any health-related issue.

Archangel Michael is the angel of courage. We can call on him for anything and for any reason. He’s what I call the all-in-one-angel.


These are the fairies, elves, leprechauns, brownies, pixies, gnomes, and sprites we all know. I like to think of them as the spirits or guardians of nature. All of these beings can be found out in nature. Some, like elves, will come into the home, but most stay outside. These spirits are the protectors of mother earth and animals.

Most elementals love kids, especially fairies, and are very happy, playful, and joyful spirits. There is so much to say about these little spirits, but I’ll only share some basic information about fairies.

Fairies can be called upon anytime you, your child or animal needs help. The more you love on, take care of and respect nature the more they will be willing to help you.

Fairies prefer to get something in exchange for their help. So, when we want to work with fairies we either leave them candy, clean up trash, or build them a special play area.  Kids have a natural connection to this realm so you can trust their intuition about what to do and how to connect to these spirits. In fact, if you have a kiddo let him and her teach you about fairies.


photo: Ricky Turner

Understanding Spirits: Tools & Dealing with Bad Spirits

All of the spirits I mentioned above can help us with anything—literally anything. All we have to do is ask. They will never tell us what to do but will guide and assist us. Remember that when ancestors, loved ones, spirit animals, guides, elementals, or angels visit us they are doing so because they love us. We will always feel safe and loved when they are around.

Pesky spirits or ghosts are a whole different deal. Remember to trust how you feel when a spirit visits. If a spirit scares you, listen to that. If you aren’t certain how you feel, ask the spirit who he is, why he is visiting, and if he is here to help. You can even ask if it is good or bad. This can give you a lot of information, and believe me, spirits will answer these questions.


Intuition is the most important part in discerning what you are ok with and not ok with. If the spirit is not nice or you do not feel comfortable, call on God, angels, or guides to protect you. Then ask whomever you called on to help you to send the spirit away.

You have the power to tell spirits to leave. In a strong voice, tell the spirit he is not welcomed in your home and must leave now.

Physical Tools

There are some physical tools that might be helpful.

  • A bright flash light beside the bed. This can be used to shine directly on the ghost while you demand it to leave.
  • A homemade essential oil spray next to the bed (see recipe below)  can be used to spray on the ghost.
  • Black tourmaline and obsidian are energetically protective stones that you need in your room. Put these crystals under or beside your bed. You can also put them at the entrance to doorways. These are protective stones that will help keep away negative energy/spirits.
  • At least once a week, or as needed, sage the crystals and your home. As you do this ask for God and the angels to protect your home from lower energies and negative energies and to release these energies from your home.  Visualizing a brilliant white light bomb going off in the middle of the home is powerful. When you do this all the spirits and negative energies are forced out of the room and home.

Use any or all of these tools whenever you feel the need to. Remember, we all experience spirits differently. No matter what, it is important to empower yourself. You are strong and powerful enough to handle the energy coming to you. Fear feeds negative energy and trust feels positive energy.

DIY Clearing Spray

You will need: 2 oz or 4 oz Glass Spray Bottle, Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils

1-2 drops sage essential oil
1-2 drops cedarwood essential oil
2-3 drops lavender essential oil
2-3 drops lemon essential oil
1 tablespoon pure witch hazel {acts as a preservative}
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Filtered, distilled or spring water

Mix all ingredients in a 2oz or 4oz in a glass spray bottle.
Place the spray cap on the bottle and give the bottle a gentle swirl to incorporate the essential oils.

After this solution is mixed, hold the bottle and think about what you want the spray to do. Think those thoughts into the bottle while holding it. So, if you are using this to clean the room of spirits, think those thoughts into the spray.

If you want to take it a step further, you can leave the bottle outside on a full moon to “charge” under the moonlight. If you want to take it even further, put a small crystal (black tourmaline, obsidian, rose quartz or clear quartz) into the bottle.

Featured photo by Guilherme Stecanella

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Shanti OConnor
Shanti OConnor
Shanti is a mama of two, a counselor, past life hypnotherapist, energy healer, and nature lover. Before kids she spent her time exploring the world and nature. After having kids she spends her time exploring her inner life. She is intrigued by who people are and why they do what they do.
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