Sometimes I have experiences with animals that defy my own explanation. Often these are at sessions where an animal is passing and we are asking what they would like or if they would like to share anything with their people before they cross over. These sessions are so touching and I am honored to be there in such a intimate time in the richness of their relationship. In these "between the world" sessions where the veil between life and death is so thin, I often talk to many beings beyond just the animal we have gathered to talk to.
I was recently asked if animals have Spirit Guides, and I think the answer is a little more complex then a yes or no. Guides are are incorporeal beings that are assigned to us before we are born that help guide us through life. They love us beyond all reason and are with us to nudge us in the right direction. These beings take many forms, and speak with us in many ways! Some whisper in our ears, while some throw roadblocks up to tell us the path we are on is wrong. Some ask our living companions to help get their message across (dog ate your job application? Cat knocked that "present" from your toxic ex off the shelf?") They guide us in many ways and can change throughout your life depending on what you are needing. Sometimes these guides are animals, and we can have deep and loving relationships with them.
It is a popular belief that animals don't have Spirit Guides, that they are Guides. This opinion is certainly validated by what we see in the metaphysical / magical world. There are many books and oracle decks devoted to Animals. Many of these are wildly appropriative of Native American culture. To be clear: I don't know what a Spirit Animal is because that is not my culture. In my tradition I learned about Animal Allies (or Animal Guides) and have worked with animals in this way. It may not seem like a big difference, but I think it is an important one. When we use language of a culture and tradition that is not of our own lineage, we are robbing it and the people of its sacredness. For me, it feels like violence to use these words.
This is not to say that any other culture hasn't had a relationship to Animals. Of course they did!
My own ancestral background of the Gauls (French), the Celts, the Slavs, and the old Germanic peoples is so rich with animal ally-ship and I love researching the old stories of these peoples. From Bear festivals in the Southwest of France, to the Wolves and stories of Werewolves in Germanic and Slavic cultures, animals and working with animals in spiritually has opened deep roots in my own ancestral memory. There are stories of their guidance in folklore and traditions that are rich in meaning and every story I find reawakens my own bloodlines. I work with Animal Guides from this place - my heart open to my own roots.
So, yes animals are Guides, but do they have guides? In my sessions I often find myself receiving information from beings other then the animal I am there to talk with. I will often call these folks Guides, but it reality it feels more complex then that. I am often speaking with their Ancestors, their higher selves, their past lives - selves, and or my own guides who are showing me information I can't "see". I have experienced sessions where their Ancestors are holding a family story and passing it on through the animal in this life, and their behavior manifests as distrust and aggression. There are moments where the Ancestors are holding them in the deepest, kindest love imaginable. Their high selves will reveal truths that an animal, caught in their own pattern of behavior, can't fully understand to share with me. And in moments of mind-bending amazingness I have talked with an animal who is energetically hanging out with their own past life self! What!?! Incredible.
I consider these being around the animal to be Guides, but they feel different then a Human Guides. The Animal's Guides feel a little less focused on the animal usually. They may arrive for the session to help out, but I don't think they are all always around. In some cases, a few might be with them, but there is less of a "team" feeling. So yes, they have Guides, but they are not the same as our guides. Maybe us humans need that support more intensely then them, and why the animals in our living life are also such rich guides for us. They help us stay the course and will be sure to destroy something holding us back or force us to slow down and smell each patch of grass. Maybe then we will hear the wisdom of our Guides.