Voices, Spirit, and Mental Health

Schizophrenia has often been associated with shamanism, ostensibly because shamans communicate with spirits, and some people with schizophrenia hear voices.

I am a spirit-worker and I believe that I communicate with spirits. Yet I have long wondered what it would be like to hear voices in a hallucinatory sense. How real would the voices sound? How would they compare to what I label as spirit communication?

Yesterday I experienced…something. Some would say it was a period of auditory and visual hallucinations. Others might say I was connected with spirit and energy in a way that enabled me to perceive what normally is not noticed.

These days, mental health advocates are quick to assert that hearing voices does not necessarily mean a person has a mental illness. I’m not sure that even the professionals can draw a clear line between voices heard due to mental illness and voices heard due to some other unstated cause. The distinction seems to be merely whether or not the voices are bothering the hearer, which gives the concept of “mental illness” a fluidity, an uncertainty.

Over the past months I had some episodes of hearing distinct, loud, frightening arguments between Willow and her mother which I came to know afterwards did not actually happen at all. I put it down to the noise of a distant television, but that hardly explained the accuracy of the pitch of the voices and the words I heard shouted.

From time to time I wondered, somewhat idly, if I could listen hard enough in perfect silence and meet the voices — be they hallucinations or spirits — halfway. I wasn’t inviting madness or self-destruction; I was simply curious.

Like most things, hearing voices (or spirits) isn’t a matter of pure effort and intention. Trying to hear voices got me nowhere in particular. But then one day I simply woke up very early in a silent house and my ears were buzzing with dialogue, in different voices, and phantom music that intruded upon my consciousness rather than originating from it.

What does it mean?

I am not the sort to require answers or reasons or proof beyond my own heart’s knowing. So I am completely untroubled, only excited and intrigued at this turn of events.

Similarly, I am learning not to jump at ghosts. Fear is losing its hold.

Some lovely people have reminded me about spiritual hygiene (clear your aura!) and the importance of grounding and shielding. As for shielding, I am finding that my experiences are the result of a door being consciously, willingly opened, and even now as I sit late at night in a silent house, I have to unlock and re-open that door to see and hear what I naturally tune out the rest of the time.

As for where this journey will take me, I believe that depends greatly upon how I choose to interpret and deal with what I hear and see. Being a spiritual person, I expect insight and wisdom, whereas one who self-identifies as mentally ill might expect only chaos and disturbance.

It is interesting, to say the least.


One thought on “Voices, Spirit, and Mental Health

  1. Yes, these are complex questions. Most of us hear inner dialog if we are quiet and listen. Then there are the voices and visions that are the communication of the spirits. And, there is schizophrenia, where inner voices are experienced as outer. All of this can be made even more confusing by childhood trauma. Anyway, as one who has worked a good deal with persons labeled schizophrenic, I have come to believe that having choices as to how to react to the voices makes all the difference.

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