I’ve always been deeply interested in what we might call the “transmundane” — the stuff that exists beyond our everyday, physical world. As a youngster, I immersed myself in the dreamscapes of comic books and cartoons that portrayed all manner of fantastical worlds and mind-bending superpowers, and as I got older, I dove into genre fiction: sci-fi, fantasy, horror…
The thing was, I always thought of the conceptual stuff underlying all this work as basically just weird and interesting ideas that could be mined as fuel for some pretty neat fiction, and that’s about it. I never looked much further into it, and I certainly never thought about making it more a focus in my life in the “real world,” as the kinds of things that could inform my life, my work, my active worldview.
That all changed a few years ago, though, and I’d cite two specific books as the primary triggers in this grand mental/spiritual metamorphosis, one of which I’ll mention in this post, and one of which will get to star in its own follow-up entry. The first book was a slim text called “Ask Your Guides,” by an author named Sonia Choquette.
So what was so great about this book? This is all subjective stuff, and like I said, the book served as an important trigger, but I feel I need to state here that it was less about the book itself, and more about the broad strokes of what it was conveying, and the timing with which it fell into my lap.
Slight backtracking: I’ve always felt — even going back way before this book and the big shift in perspective it helped to set off in me — that the universe sometimes spoke to me. I’d notice weird synchronicities and such that couldn’t be explained away by “that’s just a coincidence.”
Here’s an example for you: back in the mid-’90s, I lived in San Francisco, but I worked across the Bay in Berkeley. For a while, I was taking public transportation back and forth, so I was covering some considerable amounts of real estate: my neighborhood, the transportation stations and cars, my work ‘hood. There was one period of about a week, during which I kept seeing puzzle pieces on the ground. Like, jigsaw puzzle pieces, from real, actual jigsaw puzzles, that someone(s) had left scattered here and there for no apparent reason(s). And remember, this was occurring on both sides of the Bay, in locations that were miles apart. I’d never seen puzzle pieces on the ground before in my whole life, not to my recollection, and yet here they suddenly were, all over the place, littering my path everywhere I went.
I felt certain that this meant something…but what? The universe sometimes spoke to me, no question…I just couldn’t make out what it was saying.
So years later, I finally extricated myself from a job I despised, and I moved from the SF Bay Area down to LA to pursue things I actually enjoy. Someone close to me, after hearing about the story with the puzzle pieces — which, along with similar experiences (one time it was a crop of different keys popping up on the ground…another time it was cats: hordes of them, following me, watching me, seeming to speak silent, indecipherable messages at me…), had all been very much on my mind again — this Someone Close To Me said something about how “my guides” are very present and vocal with me, and that I might benefit from reading this Choquette book.
I’d never actually heard of someone’s “guides” being referenced or viewed in this way, and I was intrigued. Also, I wanted to know what the hell the universe was trying to tell me on these various occasions! So I picked up the book…
Now, I should state that I’m not necessarily recommending it to you. I’m also not *not* recommending it — I’m just trying to explain how it helped to launch me on a new philosophical trajectory, for which I’m profoundly grateful. But that’s not to say it’s the most fabulously well-written book you’ll ever encounter (it very well may not be) or that every single dot of ink in it will be on-point for you like a finely focused laser-beam (again: not necessarily). For me, it wasn’t so much the book itself that altered my inner processes, as it was some of the ideas contained between its covers. And I can’t even credit Sonia Choquette with originating those ideas, but she definitely was the one whose collection and presentation of them reached me first.
Mainly, I really liked this concept that we all have “guides.”
From Wikipedia, regarding guides: “A guide is a person who leads anyone through unknown or unmapped country. This includes a guide of the real world (such as someone who conducts travellers and tourists through a place of interest), as well as a person who leads someone to more abstract places (such as to knowledge or wisdom).”
Not a bad definition at all! Good old Wikipedia…
So I can’t say that everything about guides in this book resonated with me — Ms. Choquette lays out her own subjective, personal notions about types of guides and such, as if they’re incontrovertible, scientific facts, and I couldn’t really get completely behind a lot of the way she sees the world — but the notion that we all have these metaphysical presences working from behind the veil of illusion to help us and steer us along toward our greatest good really appealed to me…and not only did it appeal, but it felt true.
I started to explore the concept of guides, and I worked at pushing through odd feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and over-developed humility as I did so: “How can I have guides? Who am I to think celestial beings are watching over me? I’m not really worthy of such a privilege…am I…?” But part of the point of guides, arguably, is realizing that not only are we all worthy of having them in our lives, but maybe we’re even on the path toward becoming guides ourselves. It occurred to me that maybe what we’re living right now is sort of like “existence with training wheels,” and as we evolve, we’ll get to a stage where we, in turn, act as guides for newborn and younger consciousnesses. Maybe.
But I’d suggest pondering the concept of guides if you haven’t done so already, or pondering it more if you have. It’s what finally turned some kind of key inside me, and encouraged me to think of the transmundane not as just fodder for cool fiction, but as the basis for a much more spiritual kind of worldview.
And by the way, of critical importance if you’re new to this kind of concept: guides are utterly personal, and you shouldn’t be made to feel like there’s a “right” way to view them and interact with them, or a “wrong” way. Whatever works for you, and seems to be of positive value for you and for the universe around you, is probably “right.”
And consider that there are a myriad of guide-types out there for you, too. There’s the classic guardian angel guide. There are other angels and archangels, with or without the more religious overtones. Consider also: spirits of the deceased, including ancestors…nature spirits…elementals (of earth, air, fire, and water)…animal spirits…faerie folk, or the Fey…mythological creatures such as dragons, unicorns, phoenixes (phoenixii?), and many such others…Deities drawn from mythologies around the world…even fictional beings and characters can serve as guides. Different people have embraced all of these possibilities and more.
What type of guide-figure gives you strength, and knowledge, and feels right and positive?
I could nitpick all the reasons why I didn’t think the Choquette book was absolutely perfect for me from start to finish, but I do agree with her on her main thesis: Ask Your Guides!