Hearing the voice of spirit

Back in my Midlands days, the call for peace in ritual often ended with the words ‘for without peace, the voice of spirit cannot be heard.’ What does it mean to hear the voice of spirit? It’s a gloriously open phrase that will mean different things depending on your belief. You might believe there’s an all pervading spirit in reality and that you can tune into it. If you believe in deities, then the voice of spirit will be the voices of those deities. It could mean totems, or guides, ancestors, angels, higher self, divine self, or in an animistic sense, the voices of spirits.

You don’t have to believe in anything outside of science to explore the voice of spirit – you can simply work with your own spirit, your own wisdom, your best self or however you prefer to frame it.

To hear the voice of spirit, you need a quiet, open but not disciplined mind. If you’re deeply involved in a spiritual or meditative practice, then you may tune out or dismiss the wandering thoughts that are some kind of magic happening. If you’re trying too hard to get a big important message, the odds are you’ll only hear your own need reflected back to you.

To gather inspiration as I write this blog, I’m pausing every few lines to gaze out of the window at the snow falling. I can do the same with clouds, small birds in the trees. I can do this listening to the stream, or the wind. Anything that absorbs me gently, engages me lightly, takes me a little bit out of myself but not entirely out of myself. Dance and drumming and chanting can play the same role. Here but not entirely here. Calm enough not to be entirely caught up in my own thoughts, making space for something else.

As a bare minimum, if I do this, my head will clear of irrelevant, boring things and I will become able to think more broadly, or deeply or randomly about something, and what I think will have significance. It may be useful. It may be the phrases to pull a blog post together.

Given time, luck, and a sprinkling of mystery, and I will start hearing something I recognise as myself. More a deeper self than a higher self – it’s not got authority or purity, but it is the voice that comes from the heart of me. The voice of my essence. It’s the voice I need to find if I’m going to answer big life questions, make radical changes, plan for the future or deal with the baggage of the past. It’s the slow moving cud chewing part of me. It isn’t super-wise or always right, but it knows who I am right now, and where I am, and what I want.

Sometimes, there are other voices. Small, soft voices. They seldom say much at all. Voices of inspiration, or land, or elements, or dreams or owls or… I don’t really know. I’m fine with not knowing, I don’t feel it’s productive to interrogate them. I don’t hear them very often. They do not ask things of me, or give me information about how to succeed. They drop small, odd thoughts into the little pool of my mind and there are ripples, and I do with that what I can. And while what comes is not a demand or a request, if I take up those words and explore them, work with them, inhabit them, they always change me and take me forward. Forward in the sense that starfish move forward, I tend to feel.

I don’t hear words of power or authority. I don’t get big, important messages for other people. I get small pokes and nudges, like being tipped off to the whereabouts of a tiny fairy door that you have to scrabble in the leaf litter to even see properly, and will sit outside for weeks, years, confident that you can’t possibly be going to go through that… and then maybe one day, some other insight will come along and the door will no longer seem so tiny, and off you go…

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Hearing the voice of spirit

  • Deryn Guest

    I liked this – also your piece in Witches and Pagans this month. I didn’t realise you once lived in the Midlands. I am currently plotting my escape …

  • bone&silver

    That sounds like Trust in Yourself to me…

  • Ellen Efenricea

    Thanks for this. You’ve just triggered something about a ritual yesterday that I didn’t write down and I need to.
    Sometimes (being quite literal minded – a thing that I’m aware of but don’t always manage to pull away from) I find phrases like ‘voice of spirit’ really unhelpful. It leaves me with an expectation of sound and coherent words which, for me, don’t generally happen at all. When I do connect I get a definite ‘sense’ of something but on the whole wouldn’t put any label on which sense is being used. Yesterday I had something quite strong while I was chanting (your bit about dancing, drumming and chanting just bought it back). I’m not sure what it was, and it probably won’t gain any coherence until I start to write about it. Often I find the ‘voice’ bit doesn’t really come through until the replay/ reflection. So for me there’s two parts – the peace enabling the sensation and then the reflection afterwards to interpret or make sense of whatever the message might have been.

    • Nimue Brown

      Does an experience have to have a message in it? I think sometimes its enough to just let whatever happens, happen, be moved by it, influenced by it – like hearing the song of a bird, we may not need to know what it means, only to have been present to it.

  • unhingedandunenlightened

    Very nice piece! I really like how you called it your deeper self instead of a higher self – what an interesting distinction!

  • lornasmithers

    I’ve recently being looking into how ‘inspiration’ derives from the Latin ‘spiritus’ which means ‘spirit’ and ‘breath’ like the Greek ‘pneuma’ suggesting when we breathe and are inspired we are participating in a vast realm filled with spirits. In Welsh inspiration ‘ysbrydoliaeth’ derives from ‘ysbryd’ ‘spirit’ and awenyddion are inspired by spirits. We often think of ‘the atmosphere’ as an invisible inert thing but really it’s filled with chaotic spirits (‘gas’ derives from ‘chaos’) and their whispers…

  • Jonathan Scott Griffin

    I’m a Christian myself, but I strongly believe that God talks to all people, Christian and non-Christian, because he loves us all as his sons and daughters. Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sihks, Toaists, etc, etc, are all receptive to hearing what you call is that inner voice. Heck, I believe that even those who don’t subscribe to a higher power can sometimes hear it to, but it’s easier to hear it if you have a belief. Spirituality is such an important component in the life of people and should be respected. Thank you for sharing your insights. They are enlightening.

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