What Is Physical Mediumship?

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Is Physical Mediumship Making a Comeback?

I ‘ve noticed a trend lately where the younger generation of mediums is now finding the idea of physical Mediumship alluring. Although rarely witnessed today, true physical Mediumship was the only kind of mediumship seen until the 1950s.

First, it’s helpful to understand the there are basically two types of mediums–mental mediums and physical mediums. If you want a good example of what a mental medium is, think of James Van Praagh. Van Praagh is definitely a mental medium. This means he is fully conscious and aware when connecting with the spirit world and relaying messages. This is called, “Subjective Mediumship” because it is done telepathically incorporating most of the 6th senses. The spirits that come through are called “Spirit Communicators.” Those present cannot hear the spirit communicators as they are heard only in Van Praagh’s mind.

Physical mediumship, also known as “Objective Mediumship,” differs from mental mediumship in that anyone present can see, hear, feel, or even smell spirit events. Usually performed in a deep state of trance, the medium connects with a unique intermediary guide called a Control Guide, or Spirit Operator, that manipulates the physical and mental energies of the medium to cause the manifestations to occur. It is the spirit who has been contacted that is responsible for the movement of objects or the touching of hands, etc. A physical medium will give the Spirit operator permission to inhabit his or her body to do these things. Note: This should not be mistaken for spirit possession.

 Manifestations of Physical Mediumship could be:


The Appearance of Apparitions:
Figures of the dead and spirit guides produced by the medium.

Apports and Asports:
Objects which are gifts and proof from the Spirit realm which seem to fall into the room seemingly from the ceiling. An asport is when the same object mysteriously disappears at the end of the session.

Automatic Writing or Slate Writing:
Also known as Slate Writing, Automatic Writing occurs when a spirit to takes control of a person’s arm and hands to facilitate communications from a spirit entity. The writer will often disengage their conscious mind and allows the energy of the spirit assume control of their writing hand–often the nondominant writing hand. Words and sentences begin to be written on paper or chalk slates without the individual consciously moving their pen or chalk. It is said the words appear with unbelievable speed. Some mediums used this method to produce works of art and portraits of the dead.

Various mediums today practice a form of automatic writing to contact spirits which doesn’t require going into a deep trance state. However, I would categorize these types of mediums as mental mediums. See George Anderson.

Breezes and Hot or Cold Spots:
Unexplained movement or pockets of air which can either be warm or ice cold which have no explainable cause, e.g., open windows, doors, air conditioning, or fans.

Direct Voice Communication:
The medium speaks with the actual sounding voice of the Spirit who has crossed to relay messages. Actually, it’s Spirit who produces the phenomena with the aid of ectoplasmic materials.

Used for materialization, this is a rarified white to milky substance often emitted from various bodily orifices of the medium. Spiritualists claim ectoplasm can be manipulated into hardened rods and the spirit control can direct these rods to move large objects like tables and chairs and even cause levitation.

Ectoplasm can also be molded into an artificial voice box, so the spirits present are able to speak in their own familiar voices to those present. The downside of this is that eventually, these activities will eventually wear down the medium’s overall health.

The act of lifting from the ground persons or objects –usually with the substance of stiffened ectoplasm and with the assistance of Control guides.

Producing a partial apparition of a spirit or spirit hands which can be touched or smelled as well as seen.

The appearance of strong fragrances and odors of which the source cannot be explained.

Sound Phenomena:
The ability of the medium to produce voices, music and other sounds in a room without using their own mouth. The voices just seem to come from within them or in the air around them. (see Direct Voice above.)

Spirit Lights:
The phenomena of lights and orbs of different colors and pulsations which move and rapidly dart about a room.

Spirit Photography:
The medium causes images, ghostly apparitions of the dead, and mists to appear on film or photographic plates which have allegedly been checked for tampering or fraud by non-partial observers before the session.

Spirit Rapping & Tapping:
Sounds such as tapping and rapping noises produced by the medium which the source cannot be explained.

Table Tipping:
(I don’t consider table tipping relegated to just physical mediums. I have done table tipping, and we were all fully conscious and aware while doing it.)

Objects moving through the power of the mind and with the help of Spirits present.

An instrument which looks like a musical horn and is used to amplify and bring through Spirit voices and/or musical sounds.

All these things can be mysterious and even startling to those who have never witnessed a demonstration by a Physical Medium. Of course, it brings to mind the question, “Is this real phenomena or is it faked?”, and you would not be the first to question this. Sadly, with the advent of spiritualism in the 19th and 20th centuries, multitudes of fraudulent mediums popped up to bilk grieving and gullible people of their money.

Why the Insistence of Producing Physical Manifestations?

It was believed at the time that only outward spirit manifestations could provide verifiable proof of an afterlife and spirit communication.

Setting the Stage

In past times, Physical Mediumship was often done in a dimly lit room where the was medium usually sequestered behind a curtain, screen, or in a wooden cabinet. Why was this? It was once thought that physical mediums needed to be in the dark for participants to be able to witness the luminous substance called, ectoplasm (see above) and apparitions of spirits. It has also been claimed that if a Physical Medium were to be touched or startled during a demonstration, it would cause a severe shock to the medium’s neurological system. Yet, many physical mediums did not use a seclusion device when summoning spirits. The best known of these were Helen Duncan, Leslie Flint, Eusapia Palladino, and Florence Cook.

Is Physical Mediumship the Same as Trance Mediumship?

The function of a Trance Medium is to relay messages from the spirit world only—whether it be in the medium’s own voice or with the actual sounding voice of the spirit communicator (the spirit wanting to relay a message). Trance Mediumship is very similar to Physical Mediumship, but does not incorporate the dramatic outward manifestations that Physical Mediumship presents. Like physical mediums, trance mediums will go into a deep altered state of consciousness. They may or may not claim to have a control guide. Examples of well-known trance mediums are Eileen Garrett, Gladys Leonard Osborn, and more recently, Doris Stokes.

A Brief History of Mediumship

It is thought that physical or some kind of Mediumship has been around for thousands of years. Case in point: “The Witch of Endor” in the Bible (First Book of Samuel, Chapter 28:3–25.) when the “witch” summoned up an apparition to alert King Saul of the outcome of a battle he would fight the next day. It did not bode well for King Saul, and he lost the battle just as the spirit had predicted.

Mediumship in any form was not something people openly advertised doing for fear of retribution from church officials who considered it a form of witchcraft. Times changed and in the late 1840s, two young girls in the small community of Hydesville, New York, Kate and Margeret Fox, started communicating with a spirit in their home by using an alphabet system they had devised. A series of rapping noises would spell out words. Those witnessing these exchanges, including clergy, and were convinced it was proof of authentic spirit communication. The Fox Sisters began to enjoy a worldwide celebrity status and performed stage demonstrations for many years to come. Later in their lives, many proclaimed the Fox Sister’s spirit contact demonstrations to be fraudulent.

How Spiritualism was Born

The Fox Sisters are credited with starting a movement called Spiritualism. Spiritualist Churches and groups sprang up in places like Lily Dale, New York, Camp Silver Belle, Pennsylvania (now defunct), Camp Chesterfield, Indiana, and a spiritualist community in Cassadaga, Florida, among others.

The new phenomenon jumped to the UK and eventually spread to many parts of the world. Soon after, many more mediums and spiritualist camps appeared on the scene, where Physical Mediumship was regularly demonstrated.

Spiritualism and home spirit circles were highly popular until the end of the Victorian Age when the whole movement began to wane. This was because many supposed mediums were starting to be exposed as frauds. The public soon began to lose faith in its veracity and many lost interest in the phenomenon for a time.

With the advent of WWI, the movement experienced a resurgence as many grieving relatives were desperate to contact their loved ones killed in battle. The movement then waned again until, during WWII, when another short revival occurred. Eventually, interest in Physical Mediumship dwindled because radio and television were now providing entertainment for the masses and people were busier, becoming more sophisticated in their interests traveling more.

Conjuring-GhostsIs Physical Mediumship Still Done Today?

Some believe that Physical Mediumship has completely gone out of fashion. Yet, far from being entirely lost to history, Physical Mediumship is still practiced and taught in certain countries such as Britain, Scotland, Brazil, India, and even Japan. However, many of these hot spots are now more concerned with mediumship healing rather than causing the dead to spectacularly appear.

What’s Required to Develop Physical Mediumship?

It can take years of assiduous work to develop authentic Physical Mediumship. Today, training for this style of mediumship is done in a development circle with an experienced facilitator.

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