2 Kings 6:16 "...fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
This verse describes an Old Testament episode where the Israelite prophet Elisha awakens to news from a servant that he and a few others are surrounded by an enemy force bent upon their destruction. Elisha nearly brushes him off with the quote above. When the servant's eyes are opened according to a prayer from Elisha, he sees an army of spirit helpers had gathered to protect them.
This episode can teach us a lot, irrespective of our belief in the Bible. Whether or not this event happened as we imagine it or as it's described, it illustrates several eternal principles.
Elisha, being a holy man, could have been warned in advance of the trouble coming his way. After all, he was so "connected," to use one of our modern spirit terms, that he was in the habit of informing his secular king of the words the enemy king spoke in private, "in his bedchamber." But he was apparently not forewarned, illustrating the fact that benefits of being thus connected do NOT include a recess from troubling scenarios for us. Rather, they appear in our lives and we're to rely upon our experience and our faith in all we've been taught to embody those teachings and, without panic or undue stress, see the reality.
And what is this reality? That we are supported, every minute of every day.
Each of us can feel surrounded from time to time by our "enemies." That's just modern life. If we, as the servant did, look steadfastly upon them with their obvious malice towards us, it can be intimidating, to say the least. Of course, I'm not speaking of armies necessarily, but the "armies" of concerns with which we saddle ourselves, the things that seem to stand in the way of our happiness, fulfillment and joy.
However, when our "eyes are opened," as they were for the servant, we see that we were never alone; the "alone-ness" we felt was only the result of a lack of perception of the reality.
One of the most fascinating and rewarding things I've experienced on my spirit path has been the presence and interaction with "spirit helpers" that have come to me in both human and animal forms. I could tell story after story of helpers that have made their presence known, have helped me serve others, or assisted me in my own healing. I suspect strongly that I am no more blessed in this way than anyone else; we all have them available. What I've found is that when I cultivate those connections, they appear more and more frequently. It's a fantastic application of the old maxim, "use it or lose it."
Why is this so?
Because they don't stick around unless we acknowledge, address and work with them. They have a purpose for appearing, and if the purpose passes, they move on. Where they go is anyone's guess. But my experience is that, having felt their presence and then gone about my business without much effort acknowledging them (as absurd and arrogant as that sounds), if I don't wait too long to welcome and honor them in some way, they return in strength. In other words, there seems to be a grace period for a spiritual welcome mat to be placed in their honor. If I do, they stay for as long as they feel is necessary.
Do we have to be "holy," as Elisha was, in order to receive the benefits of unseen armies? The short answer is no. As human beings, we're holy enough to be the recipient of our own army of helpers, by the simple virtue of being human. It's almost as if Creator, knowing that the embodiment of a human being is the pinnacle of spiritual testing and potential for growth, made it so that, if we so choose, multitudes of non-human beings can rise to our assistance, if called and welcomed.
It's this calling and welcoming that's at issue for us. We've forgotten how to do it.
As I've said, when a spirit helper appears in either dreamtime or in our "awake" hours, they're there for a reason. The best practice is to take quiet time as soon as possible and thank them for their assistance. If it becomes apparent that they want to stick around for awhile - they'll tell you in their chosen language - the next step is to involve them in your life.
For me, from time to time, a cougar walks beside me. If I ignore him, his presence diminishes. If, however, I make sacred fires in his honor, look for him during the day, talk to him, ask him questions and wait for answers, his presence is pretty much constant - until it's time for him to go away again, to do whatever it is he does or, probably more accurately, to allow me to work through things without his direct assistance for a while to cultivate and embody his/their teachings.
I suspect that the "holiness" of Elisha had mainly to do with his dedication to his own spirit helpers within his own spiritual paradigm. It's important to note that the paradigm itself is not important; it's consistent dedication to it that's key. It's not the religion, in other words, it's whether or not we embody with our actions the things we say we believe.
When a spirit helper shows up, pay attention. Usually they'll tell you what they want, how they can serve you and how to keep them around for as long as they're supposed to be around. And, by the way, when it's time for them to leave, we need to let them go. Spirit Helpers are not "possessions," trophies to collect. They are entities and/or archetypal representatives, with their own sacred wills and callings. We are not to showcase our connection to them unless directed to do so. We don't unnecessarily talk about our "medicine animals," as if we somehow owned them. We don't value one over the other, either. Mouse is as great as Moose is as great as Mullein... it's awe-inspiring enough that they show up. That is, unless ego gets hold of us. And it's best not to let that happen.
The beauty is that they are here, all around us. I suspect, in numbers that might fill us with wonder. It remains our human work to come to understand and experience that, in the midst of the troubles that Creator allows, they that be with us are far, far, more than they that be contrary to us.
(Artwork: sculpture by Scott Jensen. "Spirit Helpers Pole")