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Mediumship is the anomalous communication with immaterial entities most commonly referred to as apparitions [ghosts] or spirit guides, which are believed to have a form of consciousness and element of personality. Assuming thought to be the basis of consciousness, this form of communication requires specific mental processes by which experients utilize for thought transference between the experient and immaterial entities. These thoughts are transferred through intuitive, or emotional, modes or through several hallucinatory sensory modes including visual, auditory, olfaction, gustatory, and somatosensory modalities. In addition, I postulate that thought, despite the current incapability of bringing a thought “to rest,” which is required to submit a single thought to examination, does have measurable mass as thought is capable of moving in waves in which implies mass. The motion of implied mass therefore suggests psychokinesis as the mechanism of anomalous communication. (Kelly, 2011)

Additional Definitions

Mediumship is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Louisiana Voodoo, and Umbanda which is believed by its adherents to be a form of communication with spirits.[2] While the Western movements of Spiritualism and Spiritism account for most Western media exposure, most traditional African and African diasporic traditions include mediumship as a central focus of religious practice.


The term “mediumship” denotes the ability of a person (the medium) to apparently experience contact with spirits of the dead, spirits of immaterial entities, angels, or demons. The medium generally attempts to facilitate communication between non-mediumistic people and spirits who may have messages to share.

A medium may appear to listen to and relate conversations with spirit voices; go into a trance and speak without knowledge of what is being said; allow a spirit to enter their body and speak through it; relay messages from the spirits those who wish to contact them with the help of a physical tool, such as a writing implement.

Mediumship is also part of the belief system of some New Age groups. In this context, and under the name channelling, it refers to a medium who receive messages from a “teaching-spirit”.

In some cultures, mediums (or the spirits working with them) are believed to be able to produce physical paranormal phenomena such as materialisations of spirits, apports of objects, or levitation.[3][4]


Attempts to communicate with the dead and other spirits have been documented back to early human history. One of the most well-known is the story Witch of Endor, who was said to have raised the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel to allow the Hebrew king Saul to question his former mentor about an upcoming battle, as related in the First Book of Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh.

Mediumship became quite popular in the United States after the rise of Spiritualism as a religious movement. Modern Spiritualism is said to date to the mediumistic activities of the Fox sisters in New York state 1848. The trance mediums Paschal Beverly Randolph and Emma Hardinge Britten were among the most celebrated lecturers and authors on the subject in the mid 1800s. Mediumship was also described by Allan Kardec, who coined the term Spiritism, around 1860 [5].

After the exposure of the fraudulent use of stage magic tricks by physical mediums such as the Davenport Brothers, mediumship fell into disrepute, although it never ceased being used by people who believed that the dead can be contacted.

From the 1930s through the 1990s, as psychical mediumship became less practiced in Spiritualist churches, the technique of channelling gained in popularity, and books by channellers who related the wisdom of non-corporeal and non-terrestrial teacher-spirits became best-sellers amongst believers.

There was once a message given by Jonah, the entity that speaks through a meduim Hossca Harrison in Colorado, he came through and said that one day their would be somone claiming to be a medium on every streetcorner. Since that statement somone can sign up for a corispondance course, to become a channel. Therefore most of the people out their are fraudulant, however simply because most are fruads does not disprove this phenominon. The concept of channelling goes back before ancient Greece, the oracles that Socrates talked to where channels.


Spirit Guides

For some mediums, a spirit guide is a highly evolved spirit with the sole purpose of helping the medium develop and use their skills. They assist mediums in following their spiritual path. For other mediums, a spirit guide is one who brings other spirits to a medium’s attention or carries communications between a medium and the spirits of the dead. Many mediums claim to have specific guides who regularly work with them and “bring in” spirits of the dead. Some mediums believe that spirits of the dead will communicate with them directly without the use of a spirit guide. The relationship between the medium and the guide may be providential, or it may be based on family ties. In 1958, the English-born Spiritualist C. Dorreen Phillips wrote of her experiences with a medium at Camp Chesterfield, Indiana: “In Rev. James Laughton’s seances there are many Indians. They are very noisy and appear to have great power. […] The little guides, or doorkeepers, are usually Indian boys and girls [who act] as messengers who help to locate the spirit friends who wish to speak with you.” [6] Then, describing the mediumship of Rev. Lillian Dee Johnson of Saint Petersburg, Florida, she noted, “Mandy Lou is Rev. Johnson’s guide. [..] She was, on earth, a slave to Rev. Johnson’s grandmother.” [6]

Many mediums report one spirit guide that exclusively works with them throughout their lifetime. Whether the guide has more than one charge at a time is debatable, but the majority of mediums report one single guide from childhood until later years. These guides not only assist in connecting mediums with other entities, but they are reported to assist the medium through many levels of spiritual and psychical development. Many mediums describe a seemingly “telepathic” link between them and their guide, while others seek divinational methods such as the tarot to communicate. A spirit guide hierarchy is a theoretical concept in which the organization of branches are unknown. Reports suggest each branch of guides report to another branch of entities continuously up the latter of government, whereby the first level of entities [spirit guides] are exclusively employed to serve the living human populous. Some reports suggest higher-level branches of entities occasionally interacting with the living human populous. The relationship between a medium and their guide is assumed either providential, as if connected through divine mediation with no known correlates, or ancestry. Many mediums report working with guides that were formally employed to serve a grandparent or other form of ancestor while some report a grandparent or another form of ancestor as the identity of their guide. (Kelly, 2011)

Spirit Communicator

A spirit who communicates with a medium, either verbally, visually or emotionally.

Spirit Operator

A spirit who uses a medium to manipulate energy or energy systems.

Demonstrations of Mediumship

In old-line Spiritualism, a portion of the services, generally toward the end, is given over to the pastor, or another medium, who receives messages from the spirit world for the congregants. This may be referred to as a “demonstration of mediumship.”

A typical example of this older way of describing a mediumistic church service is found in the 1958 autobiography of C. Dorreen Phillips. She writes of the worship services at the Spiritualist Camp at Chesterfield, Indiana: “Services are held each afternoon, consisting of hymns, a lecture on philosophy, and demonstrations of mediumship.” [6]

Today “demonstration of mediumship” is part of the church service at all churches affiliated with the National Spiritualist Association of Churches ‘NSAC’. Demonstration links to Declaration of Principal #9. ‘We affirm that the precepts of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship. ‘

Mental Mediumship

“Mental mediumship” is communication of spirits with a medium by telepathy. The medium mentally “hears,” “sees,” and/or feels messages from spirits, then, directly or with the help of a spirit guide, passes the information on to the message’s recipient(s). When a medium is doing a “reading” for a particular person, that person is known as the “sitter.”

Trance Mediumship

Trance mediumship is often seen as a form of mental mediumship.

Some mediums remain conscious during this communication period, while others go into a trance, wherein a spirit uses the medium’s body to communicate. Trance mediumship is defined as a spirit taking over the body of the medium, sometimes to such a degree that the medium is unconscious. Part trance mediums are aware during the period of communication, while full trance mediums pass into an unconscious state in which their physical and mental processes are completely controlled by the spirit communicator.

In the 1860s and 1870s, trance mediums were very popular. Spiritualism had attracted adherents who had strong interests in social justice, and many trance mediums delivered passionate speeches on abolitionism, temperance, and women’s suffrage.[7]

Because the typical trance medium has no clear memory of the messages conveyed while in a trance, a medium of this type generally works with an assistant who writes down or otherwise records his or her words. A good example of this kind of relationship can be found in the early 20th century collaboration between the trance medium Mrs. Cecil M. Cook of the William T. Stead Memorial Center in Chicago (a religious body incorporated under the statutes of the State of Illinois) and the journalist Lloyd Kenyon Jones, a non-mediumistic Spiritualist who transcribed Cook’s messages in shorthand and then edited them for publication in book and pamphlet form.[8]

Physical Mediumship

Physical mediumship is defined as manipulation of energies and energy systems by spirits.

Physical mediumship may involve perceptible manifistations such as loud raps and noises, voices, materialized objects, apports, materialized spirit bodies, or body parts such as hands, and levitation. The medium is used as source of power and substance for such spirit manifestations. This is sometimes said to be accomplished using the energy or ectoplasm released by a medium. [9][10] The last physical medium to be tested by a committee from Scientific American was Mina Crandon in 1924.

Most physical mediumship is presented in a darkened or dimly lit room, and most physical mediums make use of a traditional array of tools and appurtenances, including spirit trumpets, spirit cabinets, and levitation tables.


There are two main techniques mediumship developed in the latter half of the 20th century. One type involves psychics or sensitives who can speak to spirits and then relay what they hear to their clients. One of the most noted channels of this type is clairvoyant Danielle Egnew, known for her communication with angelic entities.

The other incarnation of non-physical mediumship is a form of channeling in which the channeler goes into a trance, or “leaves their body” and then becomes “possessed” by a specific spirit, who then talks through them. [11] In the trance, the medium enters a cataleptic state marked by extreme rigidity. The control spirit then takes over, the voice may change completely and the spirit answers the questions of those in its presence or giving spiritual knowledge. [12] The most successful and widely known channeler of this variety is JZ Knight, who claims to channel the spirit of Ramtha, a 30 thousand year old man. Others claim to channel spirits from “future dimensional”, ascended masters [13] or in the case of the trance mediums of the Brahma Kumaris, God himself. [14] Channeling is popularly parodied in the “Doonesbury” cartoon where a ditzy female character is occasionally taken over by “Hunk-Ra,” an assertive 21,000-year-old warrior based on Ramtha. Other notable channels are Jane Roberts for [Seth], Margaret McElroy for [Maitreya] and Serge J. Grandbois for [Kris].

Hossca Harrison is medium for a non-physical entity named Jonah. There is video of Jonah taking over Hossca’s body and giving a message on youtube.

Mediumistic Search-Based System Model

The method utilized by experients of mediumistic phenomena to communicate with immaterial entities is comprehensible via the convergence of the mechanics and laws pertaining to universal law, a universal information system, and the experient. Since universal law and the universal information system is theoretical, so too are their and the experients natural laws and mechanics. Implied in the mechanics of mediumistic phenomena is the experients ability to “search” or “call” for a specific entity to communicate with through the initiation of anomalous thought transference. Experients in which communicate with spirit guides report what appears to them as an open-connection, whereby eliminating search and call requirements. Other experients have reported a closed-connection, whereby eliminating the search requirement, but still necessitating the call requirement. Search and call requirements appear to be subset features within and maintained by a universal information system capable of spatially locating entities and remotely connecting experients to the located entity. (Kelly, 2011)

The location of the entity is cross-referenced with the systems real-time visuo-spatial records and the system may or may not act as the medium, or channel, of communication between the experient and located entity. In the case of reports made by experients of mediumistic phenomena in which locate entities, but cannot successfully connect does not seem imply erroneous behavior on the systems behalf, but rather the experient. Experients require seemingly absolute focus in the midst of an array of sensory distractions to connect successfully. Experients also require call acknowledgment and approval on the entities behalf before a connection is made successfully. (Kelly, 2011)

Psychic Senses

In Spiritualism, psychic senses used by mental mediums are sometimes defined differently than in other paranormal fields. The term clairvoyance, for instance, may be used by Spiritualists to include seeing spirits and visions instilled by spirits, whereas the Parapsychological Association defines “clairvoyance” as information derived directly from an external physical source.[15]

  • Clairvoyance or “Clear Seeing”, is the ability to see anything which is not physically present, such as objects, animals or people. This sight occurs “in the mind’s eye”, and some mediums say that this is their normal vision state. Others say that they must train their minds with such practices as meditation in order to achieve this ability, and that assistance from spiritual helpers is often necessary. Some clairvoyant mediums can see a spirit as though the spirit has a physical body. They see the bodily form as if it were physically present. Other mediums see the spirit in their mind’s eye, or it appears as a movie or a television programme or a still picture like a photograph in their mind.
  • Clairaudience or “Clear Hearing”, is usually defined as the ability to hear the voices or thoughts of spirits. Some Mediums hear as though they are listening to a person talking to them on the outside of their head, as though the Spirit is next to or near to the medium, and other mediums hear the voices in their minds as a verbal thought.
  • Clairsentience or “Clear Sensing”, is the ability to have an impression of what a spirit wants to communicate, or to feel sensations instilled by a spirit.
  • Clairsentinence or “Clear Feeling” is a condition in which the medium takes on the ailments of a spirit, feeling the same physical problem the spirit person before they died.
  • Clairalience or “Clear Smelling” is the ability to smell a spirit. For example, a medium may smell the pipe tobacco of a person who smoked during life.
  • Clairgustance or “Clear Tasting” is the ability to receive taste impressions from a spirit.
  • Claircognizance or “Clear Knowing”, is the ability to know something without receiving it through normal or psychic senses. It is a feeling of “just knowing”. Often, a medium will claim to have the feeling that a message or situation is “right” or “wrong.”

Measurement & Observation

Dual Connection Testing

For this type of exercise, experients should be encouraged to involve as supportive friend or family member willing to participate in the exercise. The experient and assistant [friend or family member] should sit within two to five feet from each other. In this exercise, the experient will be required to do most of the work. The assistant will be the foundation of the exercise, as the assistant will be requesting the experient to connect with a specific entity familiar to the assistant, but not familiar to the experient. Listed subsequently are the questions to be asked by the experient to the spirit. The experient should be encouraged to utilize whichever searching form works best for them. Since the assistant is familiar with the spirit attempting to be searched and called by the experient, the assistant will be able to verify the accuracy of the information received. (Kelly, 2011)

Questions include; first name or nickname, the month of their birth or death, their hair color, how they died, or where, about a personal event including the person you are reading for, their former occupation, the name of the deceased’s closest loved one or pet, and their full name including their middle name.

The experient and the assistant should both have this list readily available during exercises. The assistant should keep notes based on the experients answers to the questions to be disclosed after the exercise. This is done as a means to not hinder the experients confidence, which can reduce accuracy. At the end of the exercise, the assistant should disclose answer accuracy to the experient and the experient should tally up answers based on level of accuracy [correct, somewhat correct, somewhat incorrect, and incorrect]. Experients should keep this information as a record along with future information obtained through future exercises as a means to identify weaknesses in specific information comprehension. (Kelly, 2011)

Spirits and Apparitions

Consciousness and ParaEthics

These types of immaterial entities are depicted traditionally as the spirits of the deceased including human and animal spirits. Several forms of spirits can include the spirits of those whose physical body has died, yet their essence or consciousness has not crossed-over, or those who have died and have crossed-over. In the case of spirits in which they have died and their consciousness has not crossed-over, reasons why the being did not crossover vary including confusion, duty, revenge, or fear. Whether they may have been “good” or “evil” human beings during their physical lifetime is irrelevant when involving para-ethics because they were still Human beings. The simplified modern day definition of consciousness states that anything capable of thought, sensation, perception, mood, emotion, and an awareness of self is considered conscious. (Kelly, 2011)

These capabilities do apply to the average spirit based on paranormal experience, evidence, and research. Consciousness can only be obtained by a living entity; therefore while the physical body a spirit once inhabited may be deceased, the spirit could logically be placed in the category of a living being. In our modern day, the majority of organisms, plants, animals, insects and so forth have rights in some respect because we as human beings have evolved our perceptions and philosophies to acknowledge the importance of other living entities and as a result, we now have a profound level of respect for those entities. We have developed laws and ethics to include those entities to create a better world for them and ourselves. While paranormal based laws and ethics cannot be upheld with our current limited understanding and interaction with the spirits of the deceased, educating those who may or may not ever experience a paranormal event on the laws and ethics that should be upheld, when dealing with the living spirits of deceased physical beings, can prevent unnecessary suffering on the spirits behalf. (Kelly, 2011)

Antagonists and Decay

The antagonist that appears to wears down a spirit that has not crossed-over the most, a spirit comprised of unstable energy, is radiation, and everything emits radiation, even you. The exposure of radiation, magnitude, and time exposed, determines the level of deterioration or decay of the spirit. While small amounts of radiation appear to result in little to no effect in regards to stronger spirits, it does however appear to result in severe effects for spirits less stable and subject to higher levels of degrading. Some forms of radiation that can affect weaker spirit include: The human body has a small amount of naturally radioactive potassium, homes made out of stone, brick, and adobe due to a small amount of natural radioisotopes, smoking results in a great deal of radiation because the tobacco leaf collects long-lived isotopes of air-born radon, like lead-210 and plutonium, natural and artificial light results in a great deal of radiation due to protons and electromagnetic waves etc., heat, all electronics such as televisions, computers, microwaves, radios, and cell phones. (Kelly, 2011)

Spirits at risk of advanced decay tend to stay in cool (to avoid heat radiation), dark (to avoid light radiation) and humid (to avoid static electricity and other potential electrical antagonists) spaces. This results in basements and under-maintenance or abandoned buildings to be the ideal place for a decaying spirit retreat. Because advanced decaying spirits are constantly looking for a safe space, and usually never leave the safe space once found, a large number of spirits can accumulate in a given space. This can result in occasional paranormal disturbances or events limited to the combined remaining strength of the commune of spirits. As spirits decay they become less active and therefore less of an annoyance or threat. Spirits in a highly advanced state of decay are harmless, but can inadvertently cause physical effects, such as chills, or emotional effects, such a mood swings, when in the direct vicinity of this type of spirit, especially walking through them. (Kelly, 2011)

Notable Claimants of Mediumship

Notable mediums have included: Derek Acorah, Rosemary Altea, Sathya Sai Baba, Clifford Bias, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Emma Hardinge Britten, Sylvia Browne, Edgar Cayce, Andrew Jackson Davis, Jeane Dixon, Allison DuBois, John Edward, Danielle Egnew, Divaldo Pereira Franco, Colin Fry, Count Chocula, Elizabeth “Betty” Grant, Dr. Pepper, Esther Hicks, Daniel Dunglas Home, Indriđi Indriđason, Richard Ireland, JZ Knight, Joseph Kony, Lekhraj Kripalani, Mr. Pibb, Margaret McElroy, Hirday Mohini, Eusapia Palladino, Paschal Beverly Randolph, I.P. Freily, Jane Roberts, James Van Praagh, Stanisława Tomczyk, David Wells, Lisa Williams, Chico Xavier, M. Lamar Keene John Wattam, Serge J. Grandbois and Jorge Olguín.


In Britain, the Society for Psychical Research has investigated some phenomena, mainly in connection with telepathy and apparitions.[15] According to an article in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, in some cases mediums have produced personal information which has been well above guessing rates .[17]

The VERITAS Research Program of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona, run by Gary Schwartz, was created primarily to test the hypothesis that the consciousness (or identity) of a person survives physical death.[18] Studies conducted by VERITAS have been approved by the University of Arizona Human Subjects Protection Program and an academic advisory board.

Skepticism and Controversy

hile advocates of mediumship claim that their experiences are genuine, the Encyclopedia Britannica article on spiritualism notes that “…one by one, the [Spiritualist] mediums were discovered to be engaged in fraud, sometimes employing the techniques of stage magicians in their attempts to convince people of their clairvoyant powers.” The article also notes that “the exposure of widespread fraud within the spiritualist movement severely damaged its reputation and pushed it to the fringes of society in the United States.”[19]

Criticism of mediumship also comes from skeptics and atheists, who dispute the existence of spirits or of genuine mediums. Skeptics say the phenomena of mediumship are the result of self-delusion, unconscious influence, or of magician’s techniques such as cold reading, hot reading, and conjuring.[2][20].


  1. Kelly, Theresa M. (2011) Clairvoyance: A Quantum Approach – A Textbook of the University of Alternative Studies. Charleston, South Carolina USA.
  2. Skeptic’s Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll, on Mediums Retrieved March 23, 2007 “In spiritualism, a medium is one with whom spirits communicate directly.”
  3. Parapsychological Association website. Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology. “Materialization: A phenomenon of physical mediumship in which living entities or inanimate objects are caused to take form, sometimes from ectoplasm.” Retrieved January 24, 2006.
  4. “Medium – Definition”. Retrieved on 2007-03-23.
  5. “Spiritism is not a religion but a science”, by the famous French astronomer Camille Flammarion in Allan Kardec’s Eulogy on April 2, 1869, in “Death and Its Mystery – After Death. Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dead; The Soul After Death” Translated by Latrobe Carroll (1923, T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd. London: Adelphi Terrace.), online version at Allan Kardec eulogy
  6. The Autobiogaphy of a Fortune Teller by C. Doreen Phillips, Vantage Press, 1958.
  7. Braude, Anne, Radical Spirits, Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth Century America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
  8. God’s World: A Treatise on Spiritualism Founded on Transcripts of Shorthand Notes Taken Down, Over a Period of Five Years, in the Seance-Room of the William T. Stead Memorial Center (a Religious Body Incorporated Under the Statutes of the State of Illinois), Mrs. Cecil M. Cook, Medium and Pastor. Compiled and Written by Lloyd Kenyon Jones. Chicago, Ill.: The William T. Stead Memorial Center, 1919.
  9. “Ectoplasm” def. Merriam Webster dictionary, Retrieved 18 January 2007
  10. Somerlott, Robert, Here, Mr. Splitfoot. Viking, 1971.
  11. Wood, Matthew (2007). Possession Power and the New Age : Ambiguities of Authority in Neoliberal Societies. Ashgate Publishing, Limited. ISBN 0-75463-339-X.
  12. LeCron, Leslie (1970). Hypnotism Today. Wilshire Book Co, 278. ISBN 087980081X. “’When in a trance . . . the medium seems to come under the control of another personality, purportedly the spirit of a departed soul, and a genuine medium undoubtedly believes the ‘control’ to be a spirit entity. “In the trance, the medium often enters a cataleptic state marked by extreme rigidity. The control then takes over, the voice may change completely . . . and the supposed spirit answers the questions of the sitter, telling of things ‘on the other plane’ and giving messages from those who have ‘passed over.’”
  13. Brown, Michael F. (1999). The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-67410-883-3.
  14. Klimo, Jon (1998). Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources. North Atlantic Books, 100. ISBN 978-1556432484.
  15. Parapsychological Association website, Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology, Retrieved January 29, 2007
  16. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, “Spiritism”
  17. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research January, 2001 – Vol. 65.1, Num. 862
  18. The VERITAS Research Program of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona
  19. spiritualism (religion) :: History – Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  20. Review of Psychic Medium Van Praagh on CNN’s Larry King Live by Joe Nickell, Senior Research Fellow, CSICOP

Further Reading

  1. Kelly, Theresa M.(2013) Quantum Psychics – Scientifically Understand, Enhance and Control Your Psychic Ability,
    Charleston, South Carolina USA (ISBN: 9780557034024).
  2. Kelly, Theresa M. (2011) Clairvoyance: A Quantum Approach – A Textbook of the University of Alternative Studies. Charleston, South Carolina USA.

External links