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Among the higher categories of Nature’s Finer Forces is included that which is popularly known as “mediumship.” Although this term has suffered more or less by reason of its misappropriation by certain charlatans and the unprincipled exploiters of sincere investigators of the phenomena of the higher planes of existence, and also by reason of a certain prejudice against the term arising from misrepresentation and general misunderstanding, the term still remains a perfectly legitimate one and one clearly indicating the nature of the general class of phenomena sought to be embraced within its limits. Therefore there is no valid reason for its rejection in our consideration of the subject of Nature’s Finer Forces in this book; and, accordingly, it is used here in a general way, although the more scientific term “higher plane communication,” or similar terms, are employed herein in some cases.

What Is Mediumship?

Let us see just what is meant by the term “mediumship.” The term “medium” is defined as: “That which lies in the middle, or between other things: hence, that through which anything is conveyed from one thing to another.” In a special sense, a “medium” is “a person serving as the channel of communication between decarnate entities and human being still in the flesh,” in “spiritualistic phenomena.” The suffix “ship,” of course, denotes state or office; and in the case of “mediumship” it indicates that the designated person possesses the state or office of a “medium,” the latter term being used in the special meaning above defined.

Of course, the term “mediumship,” as above defined, lacks a clear meaning unless the term “spiritualistic,” or “spiritualism” be defined. The term “spiritualism” (or as many of the best authorities prefer to state it, “spiritism”) is applied to “a system of communication with the unseen world, or with the inhabitants thereof, the latter being usually known as ‘spirits,’ through persons called ‘mediums,’ which has attained popular favor in Europe and America since about 1850.” Or, as another authority states it, “Spiritualism is a term employed to indicate the belief that departed spirits hold intercourse with mortals by means of psychical phenomena, commonly through a person of special susceptibility called a ‘medium.’”

Ancient Mediumship.

It is, of course, unnecessary to state in detail the fact that communication with decarnate entities has been known and practiced by the human race from the earliest days of recorded history, and probably long before that time, and is far from being a modern discovery. Moreover, such communication has been known and practiced by races of human beings other than those inhabiting Europe and America particularly in the oriental countries. In the oriental lands such communication has been well established for many thousand years, and the most ancient records give evidences of it. The Hebrew Scriptures contain many instances of such communication, showing that the same was an accepted fact of the life of the race at the time and in the places at which these records were written.

Mediumship and Religious Belief.

The careful student will of course notice that this communication with the higher planes of life and being this so-called “mediumship” does not depend upon any particular form of religious belief, or teaching, concerning the nature of the state or place of abode of the departed spirits of men; but, on the contrary, is common to all form of religion and to all phases of belief in the survival of the human soul. Therefore, a scientific consideration of the general subject does not necessitate the acceptance of any one particular phase of religious belief, or of any particular system of teaching concerning the nature or state of “life after death.” All that is required of the person accepting the general fact of “higher plane communication” may be stated as follows: (1) Acceptance of the fact that the human soul persists after the death of the body, and independent of and removed from the dead body; (2) acceptance of the fact that the decarnate souls of human beings may, and do, establish communication with human beings still dwelling upon the earth-plane of existence.

We may state here that the term “decarnate” means “away from the physical body,” or “out of the flesh;” the term being the opposite of “incarnate,” meaning “clothed with flesh, or embodied in flesh.” We may also state here that the teachings of most philosophies of the life after death hold that the decarnate human soul is not entirely devoid of a body, but rather occupies a body composed of some ethereal substance; this ethereal body being called the “astral body,” or the “spiritual body.”

The Ideals of Modern Spiritualism.

A writer well expresses the ideals of modern western spiritualism as follows: “Through the gateway of mediumship for upwards of fifty years the world has been catching glimpses of the glory of the land immortal, and visitants from that ‘bourne’ from whence it has been erroneously said that ‘no traveler returns’ have made their presence known beyond all doubt or denial, thus proving the continued conscious existence of human beings and the sequential chapter of the life hereafter. Though the messages from the unseen have at times been imperfect and fragmentary, still they have been messages. If but telegraphic dispatches, so to speak, instead of voluminous letters; or like telephonic snatches of conversation rather than face-to-face outpourings of thought and feeling, still they have been greetings and comforting assurances of undying affection from the people living in the land ‘beyond the veil.’ Although many a sorrowing soul has longed for further revelation, and regretted the inability of the spirits to comply with the requests for fuller information, still the gates have been ajar, and sometimes it has truly seemed as though they had been flung wide open so clear and consoling were the messages from the loved ones on the other side of death’s valley of shadow. The manifestations of the presence of spirits and the evidences of their identity, which have been accumulating during all these years, have solved the ‘great secret,’ and we know that death is not a cul-de-Sac, but a thoroughfare. The dread of death disappeared altogether with the mists of ignorance, as, through the gateway of mediumship, the shining presence of ministering spirits, ‘our very own dear departed,’ illumined the pathway which we must all tread to our great promotion.

Immortality Demonstrated Through Mediumship.

“‘Immortality demonstrated through mediumship’ should be inscribed upon the banner of spiritualism, for the fact of life beyond the incident of death has been proved beyond all peradventure to millions of intelligent and enlightened people since the new spiritual era was inaugurated. To mediums the modern mediators therefore belong the office and honor of rolling back the stone from the tomb and establishing faith upon the firm basis of knowledge (scientifically ascertained and proven) of the continued intelligent existence in the spiritual realms of those who went forth through the death change into light and liberty ‘over there.’ Mediums, as intermediaries, have enabled spirit people to comfort the sad and encourage the weak; to relieve the doubter and console the bereaved; to confirm the old-world traditions regarding bygone spirit intervention and revelation, and supplement our hopes and intuitions with proof palpable. Present day experiences of inspiration and spirit manifestation make credible and acceptable many things in ancient records which must otherwise have been discarded as superstitious and false. Spiritualism redeems the so-called ‘supernatural’ and ‘miraculous’ occurrences of the Bible, by explaining them and proving the naturalness. The capability claimed for old-time seers and prophets to see angels and hear voices is now known to be a natural faculty, which, in certain people, is perfectly normal while it can be induced in others by the influence of operators in or out of the body. It can also be cultivated to some degree by most people who care to study the necessary conditions for its development and exercise. The famine, ’not of bread, nor of water, but of hearing words from the Lord,’ and the loss of ‘open vision’ of the spirit, which afflicted Christendom for so many years (because of the blind intolerance of zealots who, in their adherence to the ‘letter,’ crushed out the sensitives through whom the ‘spirit’ might have been revealed), that famine is rapidly passing away, and we are being fed with the living bread of spiritual inspiration, and are growing strong enough to welcome the messengers who come to us through the gateway of mediumship from their after-death home.

The Truth of Personal Survival.

“When once there is established the conviction of the truth of personal survival of our loved ones, and the actual and satisfactory demonstrations thereof through mediumship (and we know of no means whereby such evidences can be obtained save through mediumship), we are thrilled and delighted; and when this conviction is borne upon us and driven home by the evidences, and the truth of spirit ministry has been realized, nothing can destroy it. The spiritualist stands upon firm ground the impregnable rock of ascertained fact. He knows that intercourse between the two worlds is real, continuous; therefore he is proof against all speculations, denunciations, and adverse theories. Dogmatic condemnations, ‘bogey’ cries, charges of fraud against mediums, fail to move or frighten him. He can ’speak what he knows and testify to what he has seen;’ his positive and affirmative experience and testimony outweigh all the opposition of ‘doubting Thomases’ who do not know.

The Gateway of Mediumship.

“Through the gateway of mediumship the spirits make themselves known in a variety of ways. There are many phases of mediumistic phenomena, and the student will find that he must be patient, painstaking, and persevering if he would make sure of his facts. Careful investigation, possibly prolonged research, under many difficulties and with many discouragements, will be required, but ’success is certain if energy fail not,’ and the results will adequately recompense him for all sacrifice and struggle! For in the light of the demonstrated fact of continued existence after death, it is clear that man is even now ’a spirit served by organs’ that consequently the basis of all religious experience and affirmation is the spiritual consciousness of mankind. There could be no revelation to man of spiritual truth or moral duty if he were not a spirit possessing the capabilities of receiving and comprehending, of interpreting and applying, the revelations and inspirations which appeal to and quicken the inner (and higher) self.”

The Mediumistic Character.

The following quotations from eminent modern spiritualists will further serve to illustrate the accepted general principles of “spirit communication” on the part of western spiritualism. E. W. Wallis says: “Spiritualism deals with a higher range and a wider field of supersensuous phenomena than mesmerism, hypnotism, telepathic psychometry, clairvoyance, etc., because the natural susceptibility of man in these directions is increased and intensified, and exercised upon a superior plane, when it is utilized by intelligent spirit operators. It is not true that sensitiveness is confined to those who are diseased, weak of will, neurotic, or hysterical. Those who are susceptible to psychic influence may be impulsive, warm-hearted, spontaneous, sociable, and not by any means, or of necessity, weak-minded or vicious.” Dr. Dean Clake says: “The word mediumship, as understood and used by spiritualists, technically speaking, means a susceptibility to the influence, and more or less control, of decarnated spirits. Physiologically, it means a peculiar nervous susceptibility to what may be termed the ‘psychic force,’ which spirits use to move the mind or body or both, of their mortal instrument. Psychologically, it signifies a passive or negative state of mind and body which renders a person subject to the positive will-power of spirits who influence him or her.” The spirit control who employed the hand of Stainton Moses, M.A., to write his thoughts, said: “The mediumistic peculiarity is one of spirit solely, and not of body, seeing that it occurs in all varieties of physical frames, in the male and in the female; in the magnetic and in the electric; in the stout and robust as well as in the puny and thin of body; in the old and in the young; in all conditions and under all circumstances. This alone would lead you to see that it is not a physical matter; and that conclusion is strengthened for you by the fact that the gift is perpetuated even after death of the earth body. Those who on your earth have been mediums retain the gift and use it with us. They are the most frequent visitors to your world; they communicate most readily; and it is through them that spirits who have not the gift are enabled to communicate with your earth.”

Mediumistic Sensitivity.

Emma Hardinge Britten said: “Whatever that force may be which constitutes the difference between a ‘medium’ and a non-medium, it is certainly of a mental and magnetic character that is, a combination of the subtle elements of mind and magnetism, and therefore of a psychological and not of a purely physical character. Whilst the spiritualists of this generation have had no one to teach them either what spiritual gifts are, or how to use, or how to abuse them, experience has shown that the conditions under which spiritual phenomena are produced through mediums are not only helped or hindered by their mental states, but also by the will, magnetism, and mental states of those who surround them.” E. W. Wallis says: “The same laws govern the relations between the sensitive and the spirit operator as between the hypnotist and his subject. Therefore, mediumship is not necessarily spiritual; it may be of all kinds; there may be psychical relationship of a high grade and of a low one. There may be messages from beyond that prove the identity of spirits, and give evidence of the continuity of life, of the survival of mind, and yet they may not minister to spiritual growth, nor awaken any exalted desire to be of service to God and man. There may be psychical sympathy and not spiritual fellowship; there may be spirit intercourse and not that sweet spiritual communion which should be the goal of all who seek for evidences of life beyond the valley of death. It is no longer possible to regard mediumship as a supernatural endowment. It is, as regards the psychic susceptibility upon which it depends, the common property of the race, and is therefore as natural as are the ‘gifts’ of song or oratory, or the ability to paint or construct. But as certain gifts and graces are more developed in some individuals than in others, in like manner the sensitiveness which is called mediumship is more highly developed (or is capable of such development) in certain peculiarly constituted persons who may be regarded as supernormally gifted, yet as naturally so as are geniuses in other directions.”

The Higher Vibratory Forces.

The student who has carefully read what we have said in the earlier portions of the present book regarding the subject of Nature’s Finer Forces, and those concerned with “vibrations,” and “planes of being,” will be able to harmonize the apparently somewhat conflicting opinions of those authorities above quoted concerning the nature of mediumship and spirit communication. In the first place, the student will remember that there exist planes of being higher and other than our own earth-plane, and that the rate of normal vibration on such planes is much higher than are those upon our own earth-plane. In the second place, he will remember that beings dwelling and manifesting on these higher planes are able to communicate only by means of their higher vibratory rate of manifestation. And, in the third place, he will remember that a person dwelling on the earth-plane will not ordinarily register and interpret these higher vibrations of communication; and that it is necessary for such a person to have originally, or else have developed, the capacity to raise his or her own vibrations to the key necessary to “catch” these higher vibrations. In short, we have here once more another instance of that “attunement” between sender and receiver the most common instance of which is the wireless telegraph.

Psychic Attunement.

The entity, or spirit, dwelling on one of the many higher planes of being who wishes to communicate with persons on earth through a medium, must first select some person capable of raising his or her own vibratory rate of consciousness to become “in tune” with that of the spirit himself. Then he must learn to project his own mental vibrations with sufficient intensity and force to be “caught” by the sensitive perceptive organism of the medium. These things are beyond the understanding and accomplishment of many decarnate spirits, and unless they are taught by some one on their own plane of existence they are likely to fail in their attempts to communicate through a medium on the earth-plane. But at the present time, in view of the great interest being manifested “over there” in the communication with the earth-plane, an earnest, persevering spirit will usually have comparatively little difficulty in finding a proper instructor, and in acquiring the art of “earth-plane communication,” as it is called on the spirit plane.

The Development of Mediumship.

As regards the acquirement of mediumship qualities, information and scientific instruction is much needed, particularly at the present time. In this book we shall endeavor to throw much light upon this particular matter, and to give such instruction and information in a plain, practical form. We may begin by reminding the candidate for mediumship that the methods of development of mediumship are entirely different from those designed to develop ordinary psychic powers. In the case of development for ordinary psychic power, the person must acquire the power of concentration in the direction of sensing in his inner consciousness the impressions coming to him from the outside world, such impressions not being consciously directed to him. He must be able to so concentrate that he will be keenly sensitive to these impressions, and to interpret them intelligently. On the contrary, the person wishing to develop the power of mediumship must learn to develop the power of negative receptivity to the vibrations coming from the spirit planes. As has well been said, he is the acted upon, and not the actor. While he requires concentration, patience, and perseverance in developing the power to raise himself to the proper vibratory key, when the actual work of communication begins he must passively allow himself to speak and act, more or less unconsciously, under the guidance, direction, and control of the communicating spirit.

Unconscious Mediumship.

The student will do well, however, to remember that as a popular writer has said: “It must not, however, be supposed that spirit influence is limited to, and exerted solely upon, those who are known to be mediums; or that the spirits do not assist those who use their own psychic faculties. It is probable that all people who are psychically sensitive and open to impressions are indebted to spirit helpers, whether they are conscious of the fact or not. There is undoubtedly a greater degree of influx from the spirit side than even spiritualists are aware. Many persons are indebted to spirit friends for spontaneous impulses, which, while those persons act upon them and reap the consequences, they can neither explain nor trace to their source. Spirits frequently associate with and serve their earth friends, although the recipients of their benefactions are unaware of the fact. There would be very much more of this kind of guidance from the unseen, if, instead of being frightened, or repellant in their mental attitude toward the spirits, the great bulk of people were prepared to accept such assistance from the other side as perfectly natural and to be expected.”

Mediumship and Individuality.

The student will find it desirable to acquaint himself with the best opinions concerning the possible or probable effects of the practice of mediumistic powers upon the medium himself. There is evidenced a disposition in certain quarters to hold to the idea that mediumship, or control by spirits, is more or less injurious, mentally or physically or both, to the medium. It is also frequently asserted that the medium tends to lose his individuality and personal strength of character. Again, there are some who would teach that the medium should be of a low order of intelligence, and should beware of exercising his intellect, the idea seeming to be that under these conditions the mental path will be freer and clearer for the spirit control. All of the aforesaid notions are erroneous, as will appear as we progress in the statements in this book concerning true and efficient mediumship.

Co-operation of Medium and Spirits.

The medium who observes certain simple and plain rules and habits of conduct will not suffer any loss of strength of character or individuality from his exercise of his mediumistic power; on the contrary, an intelligent exercise of the power of mediumship often tends to develop the intellectual power of the medium. As to the idea that the medium must be ignorant, we have but to call your attention to the fact that many of the most efficient mediums are intelligent, and even brilliant individuals. As a writer has said: “There may be some mediums who are ignoramuses, but it is doubtful if there will be any great degree of intelligence or great spiritual illumination presented through their agency. It is possible that some mediums act foolishly when in their normal state, for the purpose of accentuating the difference between their ordinary and supernormal conditions of mental activity; but there is a more rational, intelligent, and, indeed, a more spiritual conception of the relations which should exist between mediums and their spirit guides, which is rapidly finding favor with thoughtful mediums and spiritualists alike. The proper method of communing with the spirits of the unseen realm is conducive to good, and not evil, to the medium. The co-operative association of medium and spirit on the plane of thought and purpose, emotion and motive, ethics and inspiration, results in the education and elevation of the medium.”

Mediumship Not Dangerous.

The following additional quotations from spiritualistic writers on this point, serve to throw important light on this subject. J. J. Morse says: “Andrew Jackson Davis, Hudson Tuttle, and other writers, if I correctly understand them, claim that mediumship is a constitutional condition, and depends upon nervous adaptation, i.e., ‘sensitiveness’ and the quickening of the subjective (psychical) faculties; and, personally, my own firm conviction is that there is nothing dangerous in mediumship. The mere dabbling in mediumship, as either the means of a new sensation, or for the gratification of personal vanity, is to be thoroughly deprecated, as a perversion of some of the most wonderful possibilities of our natures; while the prosecution of mediumship, or anything else, to the detriment of mind, nerves, or health, in any direction, is a sin against oneself, and will inevitably call down the resultant penalties of physical and mental deterioration. I have many times advised inquirers who wished to know how to develop mediumship, unless they desired to do so for serious use, and within proper limits, not to seek its development at all. And in cases where I could see it would prove personally detrimental, I have strongly advised the inquirer to let the matter entirely alone.”

Wallis says: “Very much depends upon the objects entertained by the medium and the sitters, as also upon the character and intentions of the spirit who seeks to manifest his presence; but, on general lines, where people of average intelligence and rectitude seek communion with those they have known and esteemed, or loved, the results are almost invariably beneficial. There is every reason why this should be so if the common-sense precautions are observed of keeping a level head, exercising patience, exhibiting unselfishness and sincerity, and desiring good spiritual counsel and fellowship.”

A. Morton says: “Elevated spirits do not require mediums to surrender their reason; on the contrary, they advise that every new thought should be tested in the crucible of reason, and that it be rejected if not in accordance therewith; but the control of domineering spirits, claiming the name of celebrities, who present unreasonable theories, and in a dictatorial ‘thus saith the spirit’ manner, demanding unquestioning compliance with their commands, must be rejected by all mediums as debasing and inconsistent with self respect. Any associations or concessions which have a tendency to lower the spiritual standard must be carefully avoided, for there is no growth in any relations which can only be maintained by the sacrifice of self-respect and self-justice.”

Rational Mediumship.

Wallis says: “The rational course for mediums and inquirers to follow is assuredly that of avoiding the extremes alike of credulity and sceptical incredulity, by letting the spirits do their best and then collating the facts observed and drawing conclusions. Care, patience, and perseverance will save both mediums and inquirers from many misconceptions and enable them to avoid the errors of others. Above all, mediums should observe their own feelings, study their own experiences, try to understand and co-operate with the spirits, but never yield servile or slavish service, nor permit themselves to be swayed by flattery nor dominated by any spirit (in the circle or on the spirit side) who claims obedience, poses as an ‘authority,’ or refuses to recognize the rights of others. No medium should remain ignorant, or refrain from giving effect to his (or her) natural desire for knowledge and self-improvement under the erroneous idea that he does not need to think, study, or learn, because he is a medium; and that the spirits will provide and teach through him all that is required. On the other hand, while thoughtfully observant of favorable conditions, and intelligent in self-study and culture, the medium should avoid ‘getting up’ certain subjects, or thinking along certain lines with the purpose and expectation that such information will be employed while under control. Such action, proceeding from a wrong motive, cannot fail to injure the psychic relations between the spirit and the medium, and will render the work of control doubly hard, because such thoughts will have to be cleared away before those of the spirit can be transferred to, and have free course through, the medium.”

The “Home Circle.”

Mediums are born or made. That is to say, many persons are born with the gift of mediumship, while others, lacking this natural power, are able to develop the power by practice and gradual unfoldment. Some of the world’s best mediums have been developed, while others in the same class have been born with the gift. At the same time, it must be remembered that there is a wide range of power existing between different individual mediums of both of these classes. In the opinion of the present writer, perhaps the very best way of developing mediumistic powers is that of actually participating in “circle work.” The wonderful results of earlier spiritualism in America and in Europe were undoubtedly due to the casual and general practice of holding “home circles.” These home circles were the nursery of some of the world’s greatest mediums. Here the born medium was made aware of his or her natural powers; and, likewise, here others were enabled to gradually unfold and develop their latent mediumistic power.

The Cure for Fraudulent Mediumship.

At the present time we have too few mediums, and this fact is attributable largely to the gradual discontinuance of the home circles. Present time folks are too fond of having everything worked out and presented to them, and they flock to the sensational public demonstrations, some of which are undoubtedly “faked” in order to meet the public demand for sensational features; and at the same time the honest, careful, conscientious mediums are often overlooked, and the home circles almost unknown. Many so-called investigators of spiritualism are feverishly anxious to “see something,” and are impatient and the comparatively slow order of developments at the home circle or at the careful mediumistic circles. Many earnest spiritualists lament the present tendency, and predict that in time there will be an almost complete dearth of honest, careful mediums, owing to the demand for “quick action” and the temptation to furnish fraudulent counterfeits of the genuine phenomena resulting from this feverish public demand.

Warning to Young Mediums.

Wallis says concerning this point: “After a time, as the development progresses, the medium and his spirit friends may be strong enough to undertake public work without the assistance and protection of a circle, in the same manner as did D. Home, Slade, Eglinton, and other noted public mediums; but they should be in no hurry about doing so, and they need to be very self-possessed and level-headed to hold their own against the ‘phenomena hunters’ on the one side (who sap the very life of the sensitive), and the know-all, conceited sceptics on the other side (who freeze up all the psychic conditions), and before whom it is worse than foolish to cast these pearls of great price.

“The lot of the public ‘physical,’ ‘test,’ and ‘clairvoyant’ medium is not to be envied or lightly chosen. Such sensitives frequently suffer a martyrdom that none but sensitives can realize. What with foolish flatterers; the sitters who are never content, but cry ’give, give, give;’ the injudicious friends, who seeing the exhaustion of the worn-out mediums, in mistaken sympathy urge them to take stimulants (instead of securing them rest and change of surroundings), they have a hard road to travel, and our sincerest sympathy goes out to them all. We plead for them. We bespeak kindly and human consideration. Too frequently they are tried and condemned unheard. They are expected to prove that they are not frauds, instead of, as in other cases, being accepted as reputable people. So much has this been the case that some mediums of unquestioned power have retired into private life and business pursuits, where they meet with the respect and recognition which were denied them while they were public workers in the ranks of spiritualism.

“Let us not be misunderstood. In saying this we are not apologizing for, or palliating fraud or wrong doing, but merely asking for fair and considerate treatment not hasty, unreasoning condemnation. While it is true that mediumship has many compensations, and the medium who takes pleasure in his work has many pleasant experiences, it is also true that the professional medium is too frequently subjected to treatment which makes his task more difficult and thankless than it need be. The kindly and appreciative treatment which he receives from some sitters is a welcome stimulus, and affords good conditions for the spirits, who are thus enabled to operate to the best advantage.”