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Emilia Ortiz
courtesy of Instagram/@ethereal.1

Emilia Ortiz’s guide to finding your spiritual mentor


TextEmilia Ortiz

Good mentors are hard to find

Dazed Beauty Wellness Editor Emilia Ortiz is the no bullshit, Brooklyn-based bruja, spiritual advisor, creative, mental health advocate, motivational speaker, empath, Fairy Godmother you’ve been waiting for. Passed down to Emilia through the generations of her Puerto Rican lineage, Brujeria encompasses various indigenous forms of spirituality and witchcraft practices used by Latin American, Caribbean, and African peoples. Harnessing her spiritual gift, Emilia decided to turn her attention to mental health guidance – something she felt she never had access to growing up – and set up her own self-care platform, Sprititual Mami.

Finding an elder or spiritual mentor, that special someone who guides, educates, coaches, and supports you on your spiritual journey, can be difficult for many, despite the “connectedness” of the modern world and the wealth of information we have at our fingertips. There is a romanticism around esoteric and spiritual practices that can leave many vulnerable to working with the wrong people. Just because someone has the right crystals, herbs and ancestral knowledge doesn’t mean they’re the right mentor for you or even that they are legit. When embarking on your search, you will likely come across many low vibrational people who present themselves as someone who should be your spiritual mentor but instead will only work to serve their own agenda. With these people, there will often be manipulation and confusion, rather than empowerment and guidance. They will tell you of impending doom with no guidance or empowerment – unless you pay extra, that is. True healers and mentors make it so that you will not be dependent upon them because they give you the tools you need to help yourself. 

Always have an opportunity to feel someone out before boarding their ship

My family has always been connected to the spiritual world, so for me, finding a mentor wasn’t that hard. I was presented with options, it was just about choosing the right mentor for me. That said, along my journey I met a lot of individuals who rubbed me the wrong way and only a few who I felt an instant connection with. My spirit guides and ancestors have always been good with letting me know when they do not approve. Sometimes with a clear loud message, sometimes with a feeling, or something goes very “wrong”. I also rely on my gut and intuition, which goes along with heeding their messages and feelings. The one rule I still live by as I continue to expand my knowledge and practices is this: always have an opportunity to feel someone out before boarding their ship. You want to make sure that the captain of that ship is trustworthy. You don’t want to be out in the middle of the ocean with someone who you cannot trust. Not every elder is the right one for you. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any out there for you though. Discernment is a skill we strengthen with time.

In order to help you find yours, I asked two people who have been a part of my journey over the years in different ways to contribute their thoughts. They come from very different walks of life, but they both have found and made a place for themselves and others through their work. The first, Yvonne Miller-Secreto, is my elder and mentor in energy and healing work. She is a registered nurse and a one-stop shop for all your healing and educational needs. I met Yvonne a few years ago through a homoeopathic/naturopath doctor that my parents had taken my brother and I to since we were babies. It was after my father had passed and I wanted to do some healing work for myself. I did my Reiki training and mastership with her and she taught me how to do Past Life Regression (a hypnosis technique that helps to recover memories of past incarnations) and other healing work.

The second is medium and healer Asa Hoffman, who I call on when I need to be guided through the modern world as a spiritually gifted person. Asa has especially helped me embrace and understand that being part of the LGBTQ+ community didn’t make me any less valid in this work. To see someone could be part of my community in that way and have a respected business, as well as help so many, affirmed that being LGBTQ+ didn’t have to stand in my way. They both have since gone on to mentor, heal and guide many others. I wanted to share their guidance with everyone about this subject.

Yvonne Miller-Secreto

“A psychologist named Adam Grant makes this very powerful distinction between mentors and coaches: ‘whereas mentors dole out words of wisdom, coaches roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty… they get in the arena to help us realise our potential.’  

The ideal recipe for growth is to connect with a mentor who coaches. Mentors lead by example as they master a particular craft. Coaches help you to practice your craft or art based on your heart's desire. Both are powerful and profound individually but when you are able to combine mentoring with coaching, you have an unbeatable combination. A person will get their best results with a mentor/coach when they allow themselves to clearly understand and accept their life purpose.  

According to Arnold Patent, author of The Journey, what we focus on expands. When we have a clear focus of our purpose and a mentor who coaches, we are guaranteed to have success.” 

Asa Hoffman

“I can tell you stories about seeing, feeling, and connecting with spirit all the way back to when I was five years old, but I was thirteen when I met my first teacher.  My mom moved us into an apartment directly above a local psychic and this woman became my first mentor, in what would become a long line of spiritual mentors and fellow journeyers, who were instrumental in my becoming. Not all of these people were evolved.  Some were manipulative, egocentric, and even mean.  

At times, these relationships were confusing and caused me a lot of pain. I didn’t understand how one could be so talented and seemingly evolved in one way and then so unevolved in another way. It took me years to realize that you can meditate daily, be an amazing healer, gifted psychic, experienced shaman, practised yogi, or high priest/priestess, yet still be immature, co-dependent, and an all-around asshole – potentially damaging for a student who is not already standing in their power.  

Below are some guidelines to help you find a spiritual mentor. I want to remind you that all relationships are a two-way street: you are there for your mentor just as your mentor is there for you. Don’t let anything override your own heart in the matter. Remember, integrity is a quality of character and should be present in anyone who chooses to be a mentor.”

Create a spiritual journal

Write a mission statement for your spiritual journey. This will change and evolve as you do, so don’t get hung up on what you don’t know. Your mission statement should reflect the journey you want to take from where you are standing right now.  List some of the qualities you are looking for in a spiritual mentor (be realistic, they are human too). Then write a few of the specific things you would like to begin learning. Follow this with a note to your guides, guardians, and ancestors. Ask them to bring you the right teachers at the right time to guide your path. Let them know you wish to learn from those who exemplify love, integrity, and a healthy sense of self that they wish to share with others.  Always end with gratitude.

When you go to bed at night, ask that your dreaming-self begin connecting with your spiritual mentor and that your waking-self be guided to this person

Hold this intention in your heart as you drift off to sleep. If you have dreams, write them down in the morning in your journal. This is the beginning place for building the most important relationship in any spiritual journey – the one within that connects you to your inner guide. It is common for people to start filling up their heads with knowledge, but no amount of knowledge will ever make you spiritual or connect you with the realm of consciousness, if not also coupled with a healthy yin practice. We must go within if we are to connect with other planes of consciousness.

When the student is ready the teacher appears, and when the teacher is ready the student appears.

Begin taking classes, going to retreats, and joining online discussion groups

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are places where spiritual teachers often post information and are a great window into a mentor’s messaging, style, and integrity.

Know that your relationship with a spiritual mentor has probably already begun, whether you have met them in body or not  

Often, there is work that happens to align you before there is an actual introduction. Do not be discouraged if this takes a while.  Trusting the process is a part of our spiritual growth.

Trust comes over time, do not surrender yourself to someone.  Bring your best self, be open and ready to grow.

When you do find your mentor, know that they are flawed, too

That is our beauty.  Any teacher who tries to be above their flaws has only knowledge to share but will lack the heart and spirit to help you evolve.  Your mentor should guide your growth and not just show you what they can do.  

Your mentor should not be your only teacher

Take classes, read, and listen to the experiences of yourself and others.  You never know who Spirit will use to deliver the message you need to hear.

You are a divine spark of love, just like everyone else

Be authentic and shine your light:  it will guide you to exactly where you want to be, in the most unexpected of ways.  

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