Read PART VII - MEDIUMISTIC CONDITIONS of Genuine Mediumship / The Invisible Powers, free online book, by Bhakta Vishita, on

Mediumistic phenomena, i.e., the phenomena by and through which spirits manifest their presence and demonstrate their power, may be broadly classified under two heads, as follows, (1) physical phenomena, and (2) mental phenomena.

Physical Phenomena.

Physical phenomena cover a wide range of mediumistic manifestations, among which are movements of tables, the production of “raps,” the manifestation of spirit lights, freedom from the effects of fire, the passage of matter through matter, direct writing upon paper or upon slates, direct voices, levitation of the medium, spirit photographs, and the production of the materialized form of the spirit. While in rare cases the spirits may manifest these forms of physical phenomena without the assistance of the medium and the circle, nevertheless as a rule such phenomena are produced by the spirits only through the assistance of a medium, and usually only when there is gathered together a circle.

“Psychic Force.”

Various explanations of the power employed by the spirits, assisted by the medium and by the circle, have been offered by the scientific investigators of the subject. The most generally accepted theory of the western scientists is that the spirits employ what is called the “psychic force” of the medium, often assisted by that drawn from the circle and focused in the medium. The medium is regarded as a psychic storage battery which is freely drawn upon by the manifesting spirit. The degree and character of the manifestations are determined largely by the peculiar quality of the psychic force, the capabilities of the medium, the knowledge and powers of the spirits, and the influence of the sitters.

Human Magnetism.

Dr. Dean Clarke says: “Human magnetism, or nerve aura, is probably the most sublimated form of ethereal matter, hence nearest in refinement to spirit substance, and therefore spirits use it as the vehicle of their vibrating forces. Those persons who have an excess of magnetism, of the proper quality to unite with both the psychic force of spirits and the forces inherent in natural objects, and thus form an electro-magnetic connection of spirits with the objects they wish to act upon, are the persons chosen by the spirits for physical mediums. The mind and brain of the medium are not often nor necessarily controlled, and only his magnetism and psychic forces are used, through which the spirits transmit the vibrations of their own power to mechanically produce concussions, or movements of material objects.”


Hudson Tuttle (writing under control) gives the following statement of a spirit concerning the manner in which physical phenomena are produced: “Zoether (psychic force) emanating from the medium charges the object to be moved, and a band of spirits directs a current of their own zoethic emanation in the direction they desire the article to move, and it passes along the current thus produced. The charging of the object by the medium is necessary in order that it may be in a state of vibration harmonious to the spirit current. If this current be directed against the table or other charged body, raps or concussions are produced, as a positive and negative relation exists between the spirits and the medium’s zoether. One spirit alone cannot produce physical manifestations. If one purports to communicate, assistance will be rendered by many others, who combine their influence.”


The orientals account for physical mediumistic phenomena in a similar way, though their terms are different. Instead of speaking of zoether, or psychic force, they always employ the term “prana.” In the oriental philosophies “prana” is explained as a subtle form of energy permeating the universe, but manifesting in a special form in the organism of the human being. This subtle force, or prana, is held to be capable of being transmitted from one organism to another, and is held to be the energizing power by means of which many forms of occult or magic phenomena are produced. Prana is very much akin to the “human magnetism” of the western occultists, and the properties attributed to the latter are really those which the orientals for centuries past have held to be among the essential properties of prana; so, at the last, there is found to be a practical agreement here between the oriental and the western schools of occultism, respectively, in spite of their differing terminology.

Mental Phenomena.

Mental phenomena cover another wide range of mediumistic phenomena, among which may be mentioned the following, viz., involuntary or automatic writing and drawing, writing by means of the planchette or “ouija” board or similar mechanical aid to writing, clairvoyant perception of spirits, clairaudient hearing of spirit voices, prophetic utterances of spirits, impersonating and inspirational control of the medium. Mediums are frequently so thoroughly “under the influence or control,” especially in private circle séances, that they seem to have been transformed into another personality. Sometimes the medium through which the spirit is manifesting will have his facial appearance changed so completely that persons present will recognize in the changed appearance the looks of the spirit as known when it was in earth life.

The Value of Phenomena.

The chief value of physical mediumistic manifestations is not, as generally supposed, that of affording entertainment or food for thought for those witnessing them, but rather that of affording proof of the possibility of spirit communication, particularly when spirit identity is established through the manifestation of the phenomena. A writer says of this class of phenomena: “A good psychographic medium will usually obtain writing between closed slates, which may be brought by the investigator, who can insist upon their not leaving his sight, and not even leaving his hand. We have obtained writing on paper that we had previously marked, which was then covered by our own hand, and a friend’s and was untouched by the medium. On another occasion, a slate which we had personally cleaned was laid on the floor (fully six feet from the medium) with a small piece of pencil under it (in broad daylight), and on taking it up shortly afterwards there was found written on the under side a long message of a private nature from a deceased friend, of whom we were not thinking. Such phenomena as these are still good and impressive, they cannot be counterfeited under like conditions, and even when no proof of identity is given in connection with the writings, they point so distinctly to the action of a discrete, disembodied intelligence as to compel the recognition of their spiritual origin. The evidential utility of physical phenomena lies in their being inimitable by fraud. Imitations can of course be made which might satisfy the credible and the gullible, but the conditions for testing the phenomena we have specially referred to are so simple that no rational investigator need be deceived; first, to be sure that the slate, paper, or panel to be used is perfectly blank; second, that it does not leave the hand of the inquirer, or if it does, that it is marked in such a way that there can be no doubt of its identification when it is returned to him; and thirdly (with paintings), to observe if the paint be wet, and note the time occupied in their production.”

Trance Condition Not Essential.

Many persons are under the impression that it is necessary for a medium to go into the trance condition in order to manifest physical mediumistic phenomena, but such is not the case. While many mediums do lapse into the trance conditions at such time, it is equally true that many others do not do so. Some of the very best mediums produce some of the most striking manifestations while in a perfectly normal, waking condition. A writer says of a well-known medium: “She constantly receives evidences of the presence of her spirit friends while she is perfectly normal. We have heard rappings and witnessed movements of physical objects in her presence, while holding friendly conversation with her, when we have been in a good light. Frequently, at meal times, the spirits announce their presence by raps, and respond to the salutations and questions of their medium and other members of the family.”

Professor Loveland says: “Many of the best mediums in the world were never entranced in the sense of being in an unconscious sleep. And it is doubted whether that condition is desirable. The Fox girls, and most, if not all of the original rapping mediums, were never in the deep sleep trance. It is not necessary for any of the physical manifestations, and that includes a very large percentage of all the spirit phenomena. The rappings, tippings, movings, slate writings, automatic writings, paintings, telegraphing, voices, materializing, etc., can all occur without the sleep trance, the reason for which is very apparent, as in the production of such phenomena the spirits simply use the surplus radiated nerve-force of the medium.”

Scientific Reports on Phenomena.

Sir William Crookes, in speaking of D. D. Home and Euspasia Paladino, said: “Most, if not all, of the occurrences with Euspasia seem to have taken place when she was in a trance, and the more complete the trance the more striking the phenomena. This was not always so with Home. Certainly the two most striking things I ever saw with him, the fire test and the visible forms, were to be observed while he was entranced, but it was not always easy to tell when he was in that state, for he spoke and moved about almost as if he were in his normal condition; the chief differences being that his actions were more deliberate, and his manner and expressions more solemn, and he always spoke of himself in the third person, as ‘Dan.’ When he was not in a trance we frequently had movements of objects in different parts of the room, with visible hands carrying flowers about and playing the accordion. On one occasion I was asked by Home to look at the accordion as it was playing in the semi-darkness beneath the table. I saw a delicate looking female hand holding it by the handle, and the keys at the lower end rising and falling as if fingers were playing on them, although I could not see them. So lifelike was the hand that at first I said it was my sister-in-law’s, but was assured by all present that both her hands were on the table, a fact which I then verified for myself.”

Phenomena Without Darkness.

“Home always refused to sit in the dark. He said that, with firmness and perseverance, the phenomena could be got just as well in the light, and even if some of the things were not so strong, the evidence of one’s eyesight was worth making same sacrifices for. In almost all the séances I had with Home there was plenty of light to see all that occurred, and not only to enable me to write down notes of what was taking place, but to read my notes without difficulty. Home was very anxious to let everyone present be satisfied that he was not doing any of the things himself too anxious, I sometimes thought, for frequently he would interfere with the progress and development of what was going on by insisting that some sceptic or other should come around and take hold of his hands and feet to be sure he was not doing anything himself. At times, he would push his chair back and move right away from the table when things were moving on it, and ask those furthest from him to come round and satisfy themselves that he had nothing to do with the movements. I used frequently to beg him to be quiet, knowing that, if he would not move about in his eagerness to convince us of his genuineness, the strength of the phenomena would probably increase to such a degree that no further evidence would be needed that their production was beyond the powers of the medium.

Test Conditions.

“During the whole of my knowledge of D. D. Home, extending for several years, I never once saw the slightest occurrence that would make me suspicious that he was attempting to play tricks. He was scrupulously sensitive on this point, and never felt hurt at anyone taking precautions against deception. He sometimes, in the early days of our acquaintance, used to say to me before a séance, ’Now, William, I want you to act as if I were a recognized conjurer, and was going to cheat you and play all the tricks I could. Take every precaution you can devise against me, and move about and look under the table or where else you like. Don’t consider my feelings. I shall not be offended. I know that the more carefully I am tested the more convinced will everyone be that these abnormal occurrences are not of my own doings.’ Latterly, I used jokingly to say to him, ’Let us sit round the fire and have a quiet chat, and see if our friends are here and will do anything for us. We won’t have any tests or precautions.’ On these occasions, when only my family were present with him, some of the most convincing phenomena took place.”

Is Darkness Necessary?

From the above it is seen that not only is the trance condition not absolutely necessary for the production of striking mediumistic phenomena, but that, also, there is no absolute necessity for the condition of darkness to be maintained as an essential feature of such phenomena. While many mediums insist upon the condition of darkness at séances, it is thought by some careful thinkers that this arises from the fact that such mediums have been accustomed to such conditions from their earliest days of mediumship, and have grown to believe that the same are absolutely necessary. It is thought that if such mediums would begin over again, practicing in full light in the company of a few sympathetic friends, they would before long grow accustomed to the new conditions, and would then be able to reproduce all of their most important phenomena in full light. Using the terms of modern psychology, it would seem that such mediums are the victims of their own “auto-suggestion,” and fixed beliefs; and, as all students of the subject well know, the mental states of the medium have a most important bearing of the quality of the phenomena produced, and form a very important factor of the conditions governing the success of the séance.

Developing Circles.

The person who is developing mediumship will do well to surround himself with persons of a certain type of psychical power, and to form circles of such persons. Such persons are invaluable in constituting a “developing circle.” Such persons need not be mediumistic themselves, nor are they required to actually do anything. Instead, their service is that of being present as psychical reservoirs of force upon which the spirits can draw for manifesting power. The medium, being sensitive to helpful influences, and the reverse, will recognize such persons by the congenial and harmonious influence they exercise upon him; and he will do well to encourage such persons to sit in his developing circles.

Impersonating Mediumship.

What is known as “impersonating mediumship” occurs where the medium is so completely under the control of the manifesting spirit that he will exhibit, often in a marvelously accurate manner, the personal characteristics and mannerisms of the spirit, and which are readily recognized as such by the spirit’s surviving friends in earth-life. Sometimes the medium will actually re-enact the dying moments of the controlling spirit. In many cases such impersonations have been so nearly photographically and phonographically correct that they have afforded the most convincing proof to investigators, and in other cases have been a great consolation to relatives of the spirit who have been thus assured that their loved one was still in actual existence on a higher plane of being. These results, however, are possible only when a very close rapport condition has been established between the spirit and the medium. In cases in which such a close rapport condition is obtained, and a high degree of harmony developed, the spirit will be able to positively establish his identity by causing the medium to utter his exact words, and to give names, dates, and close details of incidents occurring in his earth life, and often to employ his exact set phrases and verbal tricks of speech, so as to bring to the consciousness of the sitters the realization that they are in the actual presence of the decarnate spirit friend.

The Proper Mental Condition.

The young medium, however, should beware against striving too hard to be the instrument of the phenomena of spirit impersonation. For a too intense anxiety, and desire to please sitters, frequently tends to produce a cloudy mental state in which the ideas in the mind of the medium blend with the spirit communication, and thus produces a most unsatisfactory result, and one which is apt to confuse the minds of the sitters and sometimes actual arouse suspicion that the medium is trying to practice deception. For this reason the young medium should not seek the attendance of persons desiring “test séances;” at least, such should be his course until he has learned not to be carried away with his desire to please or to satisfy such persons attending his circles. He should endeavor to cultivate a mental condition of calmness, and a determination not to influence or to interfere with the spirit communications in any way whatsoever, but, instead, to allow himself to become a passive instrument for the communication. The medium should remember that he is not a dealer in merchandise “warranted to please,” but is, instead, a medium of communication between the spirit and those still in earth-life.

Demand Proof of Spirit Identity.

A certain degree of care and caution, and the employment of honest powers of discrimination, is necessary on the part of the sitters in cases of spirit impersonation. This not because of any lack of honesty on the part of the medium, but because of the habit of a mischievous class of dwellers on the planes of spirit life to falsely impersonate other spirits as such séances. As all investigators of the subject know very well, it is not an infrequent thing for such mischievous and meddlesome spirits to endeavor to pass themselves off as the relative or friends of those in the circle, or even to falsely impersonate some great historical personages. In such cases the sitters should insist upon the spirit positively identifying himself, just as they would in case of doubt regarding a person speaking to them over the telephone and claiming to be such-and-such a person. And the proof demanded should be similar to that which would be sought from the suspected telephone talker. An honest spirit communicator does not object to such demands, and is only too ready to do his best to furnish the right kind of proofs concerning his identity.

The “Trance Condition.”

The psychic condition frequently attending the demonstration of mediumship powers is usually spoken of as a “trance,” but this term is quite misleading, for it carries with it the suggestion of an entire loss of consciousness and of a condition of more or less deep sleep. But the mediumistic trance is seldom a deep sleep condition. Instead, it is the condition similar to that of a profound “day dream,” in which the person is fully awake but in which the consciousness has been almost entirely taken off the sights and sounds of the outside world. As a writer has well said: “What is called ‘trance mediumship’ is seldom of the nature of the deep sleep of entire unconsciousness. It is more frequently the suspension of the ordinary consciousness of external surroundings, a temporary oblivion on the outer plane a semi-conscious state, in fact in which the subject does not retain the volitional ability to employ his thinking powers, the latter having been ’switched off,’ so to speak, and the subject responds to the will of the spirit control.”

Spirit Inspiration.

Wallis says, concerning the nature of a certain phase of spirit control: “In the case of speaking mediumship, where general and philosophical ideas are to be transmitted, the control is of a different order from that exercised for test manifestations. It is more frequently of the nature of ‘suggestion.’ The spirit suggestionist suggests to the medium a certain train of ideas, and then stimulates the brain and the organs of expression to do the work of dressing up the thoughts and giving them utterance. Unless the subject is a scientific or a biographical one, in which specific terms are required and accurate data are to be imparted, the relationship between the ‘inspired’ speaker and the spirit control partakes more of the character of the engineer who feeds the fire and directs the movements of his engine, while the machine does the work, than it does of the actual voicing of the exact words, embodying in a full and complete fashion the ideas the spirit wishes to have expressed.

Spirit Suggestion.

“At first the operator may succeed by very imperfectly stimulating the brain of the sensitive and causing the cerebration and expression of his thoughts. The utterances may bear but a slight resemblance to what the spirit intended to express. The vocabulary is that of the medium, and the form in which the speech is cast of necessity partakes of the mold familiar to the sensitive but, by continued close association and frequent control of the medium, the operator gains experience which enables him to exert a more decided influence; and the sensitive, becoming attuned, responds to and expresses the thoughts of the spirit with greater clearness and precision. Just as those who dwell together unconsciously approach nearer to each other and acquire a similarity in their mode of thought and of expressing their ideas (the more dominant personality impressing itself upon the less positive), so the medium imperceptibly, and very often unconsciously, acquires facility and proficiency in thought and elocutionary expression as the result of the co-operation between himself and his spirit guide.”

Psychic Attunement.

Those who have read the above carefully stated opinion, will begin to see the reason why certain mediums who have attained the greatest proficiency in certain forms of mediumship, and who have become what are known as “reliable mediums,” almost always have some particular spirit guide or guides with whom they have become in almost perfect psychic harmony and attunement. These harmonious spirits are not only enabled to express themselves with a high degree of clearness and power through their favorite medium, but are also enabled to assist in the production of the best rapport conditions between other spirits wishing to communicate and the said medium. There is a certain amount of spiritual and psychic co-operation between spirit and medium which is attained only by practice and continued association, which results in a psychic attunement between them. The closer and more harmonious the relationship existing between a spirit and his medium, the thinner is the veil separating the two planes upon which they dwell.

Automatic Writing.

In that phase of mediumship known as “automatic or inspirational writing,” there is manifested two distinct forms of spirit control of the organism of the medium. In cases of pure automatic writing the spirit controls the arm and hand muscles of the medium, and uses them to write out the message under the direct and absolute control of the mind and will of the spirit. Cases have been known in which both hands of the medium have been so used by the spirit control, each hand writing a distinct and separate message, and both being performed without any consciousness of the nature of the message on the part of the medium. In some cases of automatic writing the medium was engaged in thought about other subjects, or even in reading or study from a book. This is true not only in cases of automatic writing in which the hand is directly employed, but also in those in which some mechanical device such as the planchette or the ouija board intervenes.

Inspirational Writing.

In inspirational writing, on the other hand, the spirit impresses the message upon the mind of the medium, either as a whole, or else sentence by sentence or even word by word in all of such cases, be it noted, the medium is aware of the substance of what he is about to write, either the word, the sentence, or perhaps the entire message. In such cases, of course, the medium retains control of his writing muscles and their action, and the spirit control is merely a phase of higher telepathy, as it were. When the message is impressed upon the mind of the medium word by word, or sentence by sentence, the style is of course that of the spirit exerting the control; but where the entire message is impressed upon the mind of the medium, the style is usually a blending of that of the spirit and that of the medium, for the medium is not likely to remember the literal message as given him, but merely is conscious of the general purport and meaning thereof, together with a few phrases or expressions formed by the spirit mind. In such cases, of course, the personality of the medium enters largely into the message, while in the case of pure automatic writing the personality of the medium plays no part whatsoever, and the personality of the spirit is present in its entirety. This important distinction should be noted and remembered.

Gradual Development of Powers.

Most mediums develop their powers of mediumship gradually, and pass through a number of stages in their development of power. At first they may obtain only raps, or possibly the tilting or movement of tables. Then, very likely, they are moved to write, either automatically or else inspirationally. Later they experience the impulse to allow the spirit control to speak through their vocal organism, but it is seldom that the spirit is able to do this at first trial, as the medium is not as yet sufficiently sensitized or attuned to the spirit, and, instead, they can but gurgle, gasp, and make inarticulate sounds, or else shout, laugh, cry, or sing, and possibly jabber some strange jargon or unknown tongue, or else simply utter a series of sounds lacking in definite meaning. Later, the inarticulate sound is succeeded by definite sentences perhaps a message, or a short address. Sometimes the spirit control will endeavor to relate some of his earth-life experiences, or perhaps even to give an impersonation manifestation. Often several different spirits strive to manifest through the developing medium, taking turns as manifestation, holding the control for only a few minutes and then giving place to his successor.

Spirit Guides.

As the development proceeds, it will be found that one or two particular spirits will manifest a greater power than the others, and after establishing a strong degree of harmony and attunement they will assume the position of “guides” to the medium, and will accordingly begin to work in his interests on their side of life, and to accept or reject other spirits who seek to manifest through their medium. At this stage, the medium is often sufficiently advanced to be used as the channel for fuller and more complete manifestations, particularly in the direction of inspirational speaking. Often the medium in this stage of development is also able to manifest psychic powers which were formerly beyond his ability, as for instance psychometry, clairvoyance, etc. Then if his spirit guides be sufficiently advanced and powerful, and the medium be sufficiently receptive and harmonious to their influences, they will educate him to such an extent that he will be able, with their assistance, to become an instrument for the production of still higher forms of mediumistic phenomena. But the development is almost always gradual and proceeds by successive and well-defined steps and stages.

No Loss of Individuality.

In concluding this part of our book, we would call your attention to the following statements made by writers along the lines of spiritualism in the leading journals of that school of modern thought. The first writer says: “There is no need for the medium to decline to be influenced or controlled, by spirit friends for fear of losing his ‘individuality,’ any more than he should insist upon asserting his freedom and refuse the aid of tutors, lest they should infringe upon his sacred ‘individuality.’ What are called the unconscious phases of mediumship generally lead up to loving co-operation with the wise and kindly souls of the higher life in efforts to establish the fellowship of man; to bring knowledge where ignorance now reigns; to banish the darkness by the light of that spiritual communion which shall yet be a blessing to the race; and reliance upon higher powers in or out of the body does not mean that we sacrifice our own abilities, nor do we thus become exempt from responsibility. Quite the reverse. It is the arrogance of individualism against which we protest. In fact, there is no abiding strength of purpose apart from the dependence every well-ordered mind should accord to the Infinite Light and Wisdom and the beneficial services which His wise and loving ministering spirits can render to us if we are desirous and responsive.”

Mediumship Beneficial.

A second writer says: “There is no reason why the reactive consequences of frequent control by enlightened and earnest spirits, even in the case of the ‘trance’ medium, should not prove extremely beneficial to the sensitive, and this, we believe, has been the case with many of the speakers in the spiritualistic movement. Where the medium is inspirational and ready to respond to the thought impulsations of the control, it stands to reason that the transmitted ideas, and the stimulation of the thought-faculties caused by the transference and expression of the spirits’ opinions, will not be lost to the medium. ’If you will take one step we can more easily help you to take a second than we could compel you to take the first if you were unprepared,’ said a spirit teacher to Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, and there need be no loss of dignity or individuality, no injury to body or mind, but a gain of strength and spiritual vigor, education of mind and stimulation of moral purpose, by intelligent co-operation and temporary surrender on the part of the medium to wise and loving spirit helpers and teachers.”

Mediumship and The Bible.

A third writer, Rev. H. E. Haweis, says in connection with the relation of spiritualism with religion: “People now believe in the Bible because of spiritualism; they do not believe in spiritualism because of the Bible. Take up your Bible and you will find that there is not a single phenomenon which is recorded there which does not occur at séances today. Whether it be lights, sounds, the shaking of the house, the coming through closed doors, the mighty rushing winds, levitation, automatic writing, the speaking in tongues, we are acquainted with all these phenomena; they occur every day in London as well as in the Acts of the Apostles. It is incontestable that such things do occur, that in the main the phenomena of spiritualism are reliable, and happen over and over again, under test conditions, in the presence of witnesses; and that similar phenomena are recorded in the Bible, which is written for our learning. It is not an opinion, not a theory, but a fact. There is chapter and verse for it, and this is what has rehabilitated the Bible. The clergy ought to be very grateful to spiritualism for this, for they could not have done it themselves. They tried, but they failed.”