A medium is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a person believed to be in contact with the spirits of the dead and to communicate between the living and the dead". The role of the medium is to facilitate communication with spirits who have messages to share with non-mediums. Mediums claim to be able to listen to, relay messages from, and relate conversations with spirit, to go into a trance (it is not necessary to go into a trance, it all depends on the medium's control and knowledge) and speak without knowledge of what is being said, to allow a spirit to control their body and speak through it, perhaps using a writing instrument (as in automatic writing or drawing).
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 (the channel) who is said to receive messages from a "teaching-spirit". In some cultures, mediums (or the spirits to whom they are connected) reportedly produce physical paranormal phenomena such as materialisations of spirits, apports of objects, or levitation
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 séances 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." 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."
A spirit who uses a medium to manipulate energy or energy systems.
Demonstrations of mediumshipEdit
In old-line Spiritualism, a portion of the services, generally toward the end, is given over to demonstrations of mediumship through contact with the spirits of the dead. A typical example of this 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 Chesterfield in Chesterfield, Indiana: "Services are held each afternoon, consisting of hymns, a lecture on philosophy, and demonstrations of mediumship."
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 NSAC's Declaration of Principal #9. "We affirm that the precepts of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship."
"Mental mediumship" is communication of spirits with a medium by telepathy. The medium mentally "hears" (clairaudience), "sees" (clairvoyance), and/or feels (clairsentience) messages from spirits. Directly or with the help of a spirit guide, the medium 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" is often seen as a form of mental mediumship.
Most trance mediums remain conscious during a communication period, wherein a spirit uses the medium's mind to communicate. The spirit or spirits using the medium's mind influences the mind with the thoughts being conveyed. The medium allows the ego to step aside for the message to be delivered. At the same time, one has awareness of the thoughts coming through and may even influence the message with one's own bias. Such a trance is not to be confused with sleepwalking, as the patterns are entirely different. In the 1860s and 1870s, trance mediums were very popular. Spiritualism generally attracted female adherents, many who had strong interests in social justice. Many trance mediums delivered passionate speeches on abolitionism, temperance, and women's suffrage.
"Physical mediumship" is defined as manipulation of energies and energy systems by spirits.
Physical mediumship may involve perceptible manifestations, 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 a source of power for such spirit manifestations. By some accounts, this was achieved by using the energy or ectoplasm released by a medium, see Spirit photography.
Most physical mediumship is presented in a darkened or dimly lit room. Most physical mediums make use of a traditional array of tools and appurtenances, including spirit trumpets, spirit cabinets, and levitation tables.
The term "physical mediumship", should not be construed as implying that any induced apport is confined to the physical plane. The apport ("ectoplasm", or whatever) may be composed of "etheric", "astral", "mental", or "causal" substance (i.e., a substance naturally residing on one of those planes and only temporarily transported into the physical plane). Instead, the term "physical mediumship" is employed to imply an effect manifested upon [objects naturally existing on] the physical plane, by means of interaction (merely physical, not chemical) with substance transported out (temporarily) of another plane of existence.
Direct voice communication involves spirits extracting ectoplasm from living persons (not limited to the medium) to create a spirit voice-box, which enables the spirits to communicate with the living during seances.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Western mediumship developed in two different ways. One type involves psychics or sensitives who claim to speak to spirits and then relay what they hear to their clients.
The other incarnation of non-physical mediumship is a form of channeling in which the channeler goes into a trance, or "leaves their body". He or she becomes "possessed" by a specific spirit (spirit possession), who then talks through them. In the trance, the medium enters a cataleptic state marked by extreme rigidity. As the control spirit takes over, the medium's voice may change completely. The spirit answers the questions of those in its presence or giving spiritual knowledge.
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. The Parapsychological Association defines "clairvoyance" as information derived directly from an external physical source.
- Clairvoyance or "Clear Seeing", is the ability to see anything that is not physically present, such as objects, animals or people. This sight occurs "in the mind’s eye". 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 which the spirit person had before death.
- 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."