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10 things you should know about mediumship – by Geoff Griffiths

Mediumship is said to be the lifeblood of Spiritualism. It’s what separates it from any other religion, keeps it personal and contemporary and provides validation of our teachings. This makes us a religious philosophy, based on evidence, rather than a religious faith, based on tradition.

Here are ten things you should know about it:

1 It derives from our
basic spiritual nature. 

Because we are spiritual beings, living in physical bodies, it follows that we have spiritual senses even if few of us are aware of these latent powers. Some exercise them so naturally that they are surprised when they learn that not everybody has them. Others discover them during an enforced solitude, such as a childhood illness or perhaps when, for some reason, they’ve become isolated by their peers.

Prayer, or meditation in awareness or development circles, also lead to discovery of these powers. Most people, of course, never do discover them. So ‘gifted’ mediums are special people because of their rarity.

2 The three-fold
task of mediumship

•    To give evidence of the survival of the human soul after bodily death. This is done by giving clear evidence of the identity of the communicator. Names, accompanied by such details as occupation, relationship to the sitter, hobbies, age, cause of death, etc.

•    To give comfort. This will often be given in the message given by the spirit communicator. Additionally, the church’s healing ministry will have a role here. A good medium, however, doesn’t foretell the future, and would not tell a sitter if he or she felt that sitter was about to pass into spirit life.

•    To bring about a spiritual awakening within the recipient of the message. Once the fact of spirit life is assured, the implications should be clear as to the way we need to live our lives here – not in the context of three score years and ten, but in the setting of eternity. Spiritualism offers a rational philosophy to complete its unique offering.

3 It can be physical
or mental.

Although it is now rare, physical mediumship produces phenomena which can be seen, felt, or touched by all those present, as described in last month’s ‘Psychic News guide to physical mediumship’. Mental mediumship is about information ‘picked up’ by the medium and relayed to the person with whom the spirit communicator wishes to make contact.

4 The three types of
mental mediumship

Clairsentience is a French word which means ‘clear sensing’ and is an enhanced form of intuition.  The majority of what most mediums perceive comes in this form and it requires some interpretation by them, which is where it can sometimes break down.  However, it is the string on which the other two types can be threaded.  Most mediums are primarily, or exclusively, clairsentients.

Clairvoyance – ‘clear seeing’ is where the medium sees a picture of a spirit communicator in his/her mind, or in the room, possibly next to the person for whom the message is intended.  These are known, respectively, as subjective and objective clairvoyance.

Clairaudience – ‘clear hearing’ produces the most precise and evidential form of mental mediumship because it is usually objective and needs no interpretation. It frequently conveys names. Sometimes, words can form in a medium’s mind, leading the medium to identify it as clairaudience, but this is not the same as true clairaudience, where a voice is actually heard by the medium. Those fortunate enough to witness the late Scottish-South African medium, Mona van der Watt, often reported a sibilant whispering around her head when she demonstrated, as her mental mediumship extended into the physical phenomenon of direct voice.

All mental mediumship can suffer interference from the subconscious mind of the medium, so should be assessed with discernment.

5 Trance

Trance is both a type of mediumship and an altered state of consciousness, in which the medium becomes less aware – or even (extremely rarely) completely unaware – of his or her physical surroundings. From here, one of two things can happen:

Firstly, the subconscious mind takes over, manufacturing a secondary personality, or, a genuine spirit intelligence can speak through the medium. You can only distinguish this by the quality of the teaching, which only comes with experience. Many of our most eloquent teachings came via this type of mediumship.

Those from Silver Birch, Red Cloud, Abu and White Eagle are well worth studying. Passive, or ‘automatic’ writing also requires a mild form of trance and the book Spirit Teachings – regarded as the ‘bible’ of Spiritualism – came to us in this way. Guides’ true identities are often shielded behind names such as those above, otherwise their identities, rather than their teachings, would preoccupy the listener.

Minnie Harrison
6 Physical

At its best, physical mediumship leaves no doubt in the minds of those fortunate enough to witness it. It was always rare and is now rarer than ever. For a full explanation of what it’s all about, see ‘The Psychic News guide to physical mediumship’, published in the December edition. To watch a one hour video about the circle of Minnie Harrison (pictured right) just google: ‘YouTube materialisation mediumship Minnie Harrison’. YouTube also has dozens of other clips of physical mediumship.

7 Mediumship is
not divination.

Mediumship is often confused with forms of divination, such as fortune telling, astrology, tarot cards, crystal-gazing, etc. The difference is that mediumship, unlike such other message-based activities, is based on contact with spirit. Seeking divination is a form of ‘message addiction’. The way to solve life’s problems is not to put the responsibility on the shoulders of a fortune teller, but to learn the philosophy sent to us by those in spirit, particularly regarding personal responsibility.

8 Mediumship is
ethically neutral.

Although many saints have been mediums, mediumship is not a badge of spirituality or saintliness. It’s just a quirk of certain peoples’ mental nature. Many of the prophets were mediums – some were also rogues!  Most, then as now, were just human. The reason that ‘God’ favoured the prophets was that he could communicate with them, because they had the mediumistic ‘quirk’.

King David, for instance, was not above putting Uriah, one of his top generals, in the heat of battle where he was sure to be killed, leaving the way open for David to seduce his widow, Bathsheba! Mediums, no matter what their skill, are no better or worse than the rest of us.  Because mediumship can be used for good or ill, Spiritualists develop it in a spiritual context.

“You should never put a psychic explanation on an event if a normal explanation fits the facts. In other words, keep your feet firmly on the ground, but be open to many possibilities.” 

9 Mediumship has
Biblical precedents.

Although the modern Spiritualist movement dates only from 1848, mediumship has always been the means by which revelation has been passed on to humanity.  All religions begin when someone of this world is contacted by a spirit messenger – call it an angel, if you wish, Angelos is a Greek word, meaning ‘messenger’ – but from Abraham to Moses to Jesus to Muhammad to Swedenborg to the Fox sisters, spirit finds someone with the mediumistic ‘quirk’ and brings a more advanced and contemporary slant on the universal message to our world. In fact, mediumship does not merely have biblical precedents – it is as fundamental to orthodoxy as it is to Spiritualism. But, as mediumship challenges the authority of the priest, its history is hidden. Every miracle in the Bible is explicable in terms of mediumship.

10 Mediumship and the
teachings of spirit

Those in spirit life who come to teach us have only a passing interest in proving that they continue to exist. It is important to us, since it deals with the foundations of our conviction as Spiritualists.  But spirit’s purpose is to spiritually regenerate humanity.  In the words of Imperator, the guide behind William Stainton Moses’ book Spirit Teachings – “in accordance with their needs and capacities”.  Once we get beyond messages and align ourselves behind that purpose, we may well re-discover those amazing forms of mediumship from Spiritualism’s early history.  Much has been discovered in the world since the ancient truths were given and we now have the capacity to understand more advanced truths. Carrying that message to humanity is mediumship’s – and Spiritualism’s – highest purpose.

And finally…

It’s easy to get carried away with mediumship. It’s a natural gift and subject to laws and limitations, not all of which we understand.  It’s therefore important to subject everything to the test of reason. According to Maurice Barbanell, the medium of Silver Birch, “You should never put a psychic explanation on an event, if a normal explanation fits the facts.”  In other words, keep your feet firmly on the ground, but be open to many possibilities.

“You should never put a psychic explanation on an event, if a normal explanation fits the facts.  In other words, keep your feet firmly on the ground, but be open to many possibilities.”

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