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Anyone is entitled to be considered a “medium” if he or she is psychically sensitive and capable of receiving and responding to spirit control or influence. Likewise, anyone is entitled to the designation who is capable of so generating freely a sufficient quantity of “psychic force,” magnetism, prana, or whatever other name we may choose to apply to the force which is generated in the human organism and is capable of being employed by the spirits in order to produce mediumistic phenomena of the class usually referred to as “physical phenomena.” As we have seen, the spirits themselves are not usually able to manufacture or generate by themselves this psychic required to produce the said phenomena, but, on the contrary, must depend upon mediumistic individuals for such force.

Who Are Mediumistic?

Many persons are more or less naturally sensitive to spirit influence, and therefore mediumistic. In many cases these persons tend to take on the psychic conditions of others, both those in earth life and those on the spirit plane of existence, without realizing the nature of the influence operating on them. Such persons are frequently more or less erratic, and are considered as “flighty” by their friends. They need instruction on the subject of psychic laws and self-control, so that they may intelligently guard themselves against undesirable influences, and at the same time cultivate the power of mediumship of the desirable kind. It has been asserted that “everyone is a medium,” and in a way this is true, for practically every person is more or less sensitive to spirit influence, and is capable of being developed into an efficient medium of communication with the spirit world. But it is equally true that only a certain percentage of persons possess the true spiritual qualities requisite for the highest phases of true mediumship. That is to say, but few persons are fitted temperamentally and spiritually for the higher tasks of mediumship. We think it safe to say, however, that where a person is filled with a burning desire to become a true medium, and feels within himself or herself a craving of the soul for development along these lines, then that person may feel assured that he or she has within his or her soul the basic qualities required for true mediumship, and that these may be developed by the proper methods.

The Mediumistic Temperament.

A leading writer on the subject of mediumship has said: “It is a fundamental proposition that sensitiveness, or the capability of mediumship, is a faculty common to mankind, differing in degree as hearing and sight are common heritages, but keener in some individuals than in others; or, under certain conditions, it may disappear.” What is called “the mediumistic temperament” is frequently marked self-consciousness and shrinking from public criticism, and a diffidence which causes the person to wish to be out of the range of the observation of strangers and those not sympathetic to them; on the other hand, however, there are other forms of the “mediumship temperament” which is marked by a nervous, almost hysterical, self assertiveness and desire for public notice and attention. Persons of either of these phases of this temperament, however, have the common quality of being extremely sensitive to sneers and slights, adverse criticism and oppositions, while ridicule drives them almost beside themselves. Likewise they are nearly always found to be enthusiastic and earnest workers when their interests and sympathies are aroused; as a writer has said “they are almost invariably emotional, enthusiastic, spontaneous, and ardent.” And, as another writer has said they are usually “generous and impulsive, hot-headed and independent, close friends with warm hearts; too sensitive to criticism of an unkind nature, too easily pleased by praise; without malice, without revengeful thoughts.” A striking feature of this temperament may be summed up in the phrase, “hungry for sympathy and understanding.”

Is Mediumship Desirable?

While it is true that a vast majority of persons possess the mediumistic power, latent and dormant, and capable of being developed to a greater or less active power, it is but honest to say that in many cases it is a grave question whether the person would be justified in undertaking the hard work, and long time, required to develop himself for the minor success which would attend his efforts. As a writer has said: “Does the prospective result justify the labor involved to bring these powers into efflorescence? My impression is, that in at least three cases out of four, the time and labor it would take to develop this latent quality to its greatest efficacy would be far in excess of its value when so developed.” But, as we have already said, the best indication is found in the “call” to develop his or her latent powers which the true medium always experiences.

Developing the Natural Power.

A writer on this subject well says: “Just as a drum or tamborine is incapable of being made to emit a tithe of what can be produced by means of a piano or a violin, in the way of music, so the differences in quality and conditions of the physical organisms, and in the degree of nervous and psychical sensibility of those who desire mediumship, render it improbable that any but a small proportion will develop such extreme susceptibility to spirit influence as will repay them for the time and self-sacrifice involved in the cultivation of their powers. Further, it should be borne in mind that while wise spirits are ever ready to respond to the call of the earnest aspirant for spiritual truth, as wise spirits they are not likely to devote themselves to the preparation of an instrument that would be inefficient for their purpose. The nervous system of the medium, whatever his phase may be, has to be trained to respond to the will and the psychic force of the controlling spirit, just as much as the muscles of the musician or artist, and ’practice makes perfect’ in the one case as well in the other. Since mediumship is a strictly natural qualification, depending upon organic fitness and susceptibility, it is not a supernatural power or a special ‘gift,’ neither does it insure the moral purity nor the intellectual ability of the medium, any more than musical or artistic capabilities are evidences of the special intelligence or the high moral tones of their possessors.”

Mediumship and Genius.

The spirits controlling the hand of a celebrated writing medium, once delivered through him the following message regarding the nature and development of mediumistic powers: “Mediumship is a development of that which is, in another sort, genius. Genius, the opened and attentive ear to spirit guidance and inspiration, shades away into mediumship, the facile instrument of spirit manifestation. In proportion as the medium becomes open to influence, directly exercised, is he valuable as a means whereby direct messages are conveyed. And in proportion as the individual spirit is lost and merged in the great ocean of spirit, is the result most direct and serviceable. It is when the passive spirit is content to allow us to use the corporeal instrument, as it does when itself operates, that we gain satisfactory results. That can only be when a condition of perfect passivity, as far removed from scepticism as from credulity, has been secured. This opening of the spiritual being to spiritual influences is what you call mediumship. The true and valuable gifts are purely spiritual and must be used for spiritual purposes; not for gain, or for satisfying curiosity, or for base or unworthy ends.”

Spontaneous Mediumship.

What may be called “spontaneous mediumship” is experienced by many persons not claiming mediumistic powers, and not understanding the nature of the phenomena manifesting to and through themselves. Such persons at times are conscious of the presence of spirit friends, and may even catch glimpses of them either in the form of a mental image impressed upon their minds by the spirit friends, or else by a more or less clear partial materialization. Sometimes raps manifest themselves in their vicinity, and tables and light articles of furniture may manifest movement at their touch or approach. Such persons, not understanding the laws of spirit manifestation, are frequently greatly distressed, or even frightened, by such manifestations; and in not a few cases they experience considerable annoyance and grief by reason of the attitude of their friends who are apt to consider them “queer,” or “spooky,” and therefore to be avoided. Moreover, in the case of the physical manifestations such as the movements of tables, furniture, etc., and the production of raps, these persons are frequently accused of deliberate fraud in the production of such phenomena, whereas as a matter of fact they, themselves, are quite in the dark as to the cause and nature of the phenomena in question. It is obvious that the placing of the right information in the hands of such persons, and their instruction in the laws and principles of mediumship would be a blessing to them.

Mediumistic Flashes.

A writer has the following to say concerning this class of mediumistic persons: “Those persons who are naturally sensitive sometimes experience strange and sudden impulses. Thoughts come to them ’in a flash,’ so to speak. They say things spontaneously which they had not intended to say the words seem to burst from them and ‘say themselves.’ Others have equally sudden and fugitive clairvoyant experiences; they see spirits where they least expect, and when they are absorbed in something else; but when they strongly desire to ‘see’ or to receive guidance, they get nothing. This state of affairs, in all probability, is due to the fact that their susceptibility is not sufficiently developed; their psychical impressibility can only be reached and acted upon under specially favorable conditions, which are disturbed and dissipated when the ordinary intellectual self is aroused.

Systematic Development.

“The remedy will be found in the systematic cultivation of interior repose and confidence. The psychic must learn to regard it as a perfectly natural experience that the spiritual states and positive thoughts of excarnate people should impinge upon his spiritual sphere, and while ‘attentive to the holy vision,’ should calmly accept the fact and maintain the attitude or response; not anxiously nor demandingly, but thankfully enjoying the spiritual communion and illumination thus afforded to him. It is only natural that many people should desire to become mediums, and that they should wish to ascertain what constitutes mediumship, and what is required to secure its development. But those who express these desires should remember that in all probabilities months, if not years, of patient development have been necessary for the success and efficiency of those celebrated mediums whom they admire and probably envy.” But, as we have said before, if the “call” to mediumship be felt, then it may be heeded; though the person must be prepared to pay the price of toil and work, patience and perseverance, required to attain the mountain top of mediumship.

The Development Circle.

As we have repeatedly stated in the foregoing pages, the actual spirit circle is the best possible means of developing the latent powers of mediumship, and the simplest, readiest, and most effective method of discovering the presence of such latent powers in the individual. As a leading medium has told us, it is “the primary school for the study of spiritual facts, and for the training of mediums.” The “spirit circle,” as most of you know, is a company of harmonious, earnest, sympathetic persons joining their psychic powers for the purpose of aiding the medium to establish the lines of psychic communication between the earth plane and the planes of the spiritual world. It must here be stated that by “development” we do not mean the cultivation of the powers of the spirits, but rather the training and unfoldment of the powers of the medium to receive and transmit the power exercised by the spirit controls.

The Aspirational Attitude.

To those who purpose to develop their latent mediumistic powers by and through the development circle, we would say that it is of the highest importance that they should cultivate a trustful, hopeful mental attitude, and a willingness to open themselves to the inflow of the spiritual power of their friends of the spiritual planes. As a writer has said, they should “make some mental preparation, such as eliminating from their minds all disturbing or irritating thoughts, and by striving to consciously realize union of purpose with those who may have previously made their presence known or indicated their intention to help in the work of the development of their mediumistic powers, by mentally requesting that the spiritual ties may be strengthened. Even where there has not been any clear indication of the presence of spirit helpers, a generally aspirational and receptive attitude of mind will do much towards providing favorable conditions.”

Natural Unfoldment.

Again, the person wishing to develop his latent mediumistic powers must exercise patience and perseverance, and must not insist upon a premature attempt at revelation on the part of the spirits. The process of the unfoldment of the mediumistic powers should be akin to that of the unfoldment of the bud of the flower, that is to say, it must be gradual, natural, and unforced. The writer above mentioned, says on this point: “Too many people, instead of waiting until the spirits were ready to communicate with them, have pressed for ‘tests’ before the connections were properly made. They have complicated matters by their eager questionings, and have worried the operators until everything went wrong; and then, because the answers were incorrect, inconsequent and misleading, or persistently negative, they declared that the spirit was a deceiver, evil, or foolish, and, while having only themselves to blame, gave up the sittings in disgust, whereas, had they been less impetuous, less opinionated, less prejudiced, they would in all probability have eventually obtained satisfactory proofs of the presence of their spirit loved ones.”

Persistent Watchful Waiting.

Some persons are so disappointed because they have not obtained results after two or three sittings that they give up further efforts. It would perhaps amaze such persons to know that many of the world’s most celebrated mediums have, in the beginning of their development circle work, sat for several weeks, or even several months, at frequent intervals, without obtaining more than the most meagre results; but they afterwards developed the most marvelous power. An extreme case is cited in the history of spiritualism, in which a couple sat night after night for six months, without missing a sitting and without being rewarded by a single physical result; but after this tedious and discouraging wait, all at once, as it were, the spirits secured the most perfect kind of communication through them, and difficult table tippings and levitation, convincing raps, messages, writings, and finally materializations follows, until their fame spread all over the world of spiritualism.

Building Lines of Communication.

Just how long it will require to obtain convincing results at the development circle is a matter largely dependent upon certain conditions. Much, of course, depends upon the faculty of the medium to adjust and harmonize himself with the spirits, so as to furnish a “clear wire” for them to operate over. Again, much depends upon the character of the persons constituting the circle. A circle composed of harmonious, helpful persons will do much to hasten the coming of the manifestation, whereas one composed of inharmonious, sceptical, impatient, and materialistic persons will do much to retard the progress and development of the mediumistic powers.

Developing Concentration.

The following advice on this particular subject will be found helpful to those contemplating the formation of development circles, and the unfoldment of their latent powers of mediumship; it is from the pen of an earnest student of this subject, and one who is himself a competent medium. This person says: “One of the most important prerequisites for success in the development of mediumship along spiritual lines is the cultivation of the power of concentration. In the early days of the movement the would-be medium was advised to be ‘passive,’ and passivity was often construed into self-effacement. We are now learning to distinguish between receptivity and docility, between apathy and aspiration. A medium is not, and should not be willing to become a mere irresponsible tool. For intelligent and beneficial association with, and inspiration from, the people of the higher life, a certain degree of abstraction is necessary. To cut one’s self off from ordinary conditions, to retire into the sanctuary of one’s own inner consciousness, to ‘enter the silence’ as it is sometimes called, is helpful training for the preparation of conditions favorable for the manifestation of spirit-power. The Quakers were true spiritualists in this sense, and evidently realized the need for the concentration of the soul’s forces and their withdrawal from the outer plane, preparatory to the descent of the spiritual influence that moved them to speak.

The Call for Illumination.

“The sincere supplication for illumination and guidance is never in vain. The spirit breathes a serener air, and is calmed, strengthened, and comforted by the subsequent reaction. It is harmonized thereby, and thus becomes accordant to the psychic forces which, like the ocean’s tides, ebb and flow throughout the universe, and bathe every soul that lies open to their vivifying and quickening influence. Still more, there are those who dwell in the Light, whose thoughts and love go out to all such as truly call upon God; and these, the ministering messenger spirits, often pour their libations of sympathy into the sad hearts of the sorrowful ones on earth, even though they remain unknown and their interposition is unrecognized by those to whom they have given their loving and helpful thoughts.

The Jacob’s Ladder of Communion.

“By the earnest study of the conditions requisite for the development of body, mind, and psychic sense, the intelligent medium will endeavor to meet the friends who inspire him at least half way on the Jacob’s ladder of communion, and to enter into reciprocal and conscious fellowship with them on the thought plane, so that their inspirations may freely flow through his instrumentality to others, unobstructed by his personality. Classes for the development of mediumship along these lines are very much needed; classes in which the members are expected to take an active part, not merely to sit and sit, and let the spirits do all the work, but by systematic preparation and spiritual aspiration and cultivated receptivity prepare themselves to become lucid and capable instruments for the transmission of information and helpful influences from the other side.

The Attainment of Excellence.

“There is but one course of procedure for the successful attainment of excellence in any field of labor or thought, and that is by study and training, by observation, by persevering application and determined effort, by readiness to learn, and responsiveness to every influence which will help to smooth the pathway to the desired success. The intelligent medium who follows this course will not go blindly on groping in the obscurity of the psychic realm, and becoming the tool for unseen and unknown agents, but he will unfold his powers, and by co-operating with them will learn to know and trust his preceptors, until he may possibly become as a spirit among spirits, the conscious possessor of such knowledge regarding his own spiritual nature and powers that he will be a ready instrument in the hands of enlightened spirit people, with whom he can knowingly work for human good.”

What a Development Circle Is.

Now then, with the above advice and admonitions in mind, the persons who desire to develop and unfold their mediumistic powers will do well to take the necessary steps to form a development circle. The “circle” it must be remembered, is not merely a crowd of persons gathered together for the purpose of witnessing spiritualistic manifestations or phenomena. Instead, it is a gathering of persons who desire to co-operate in establishing relations with the world of spirits, and to receive communications therefrom. In the case of the development circle, the purpose is to demonstrate that well established spiritualistic principle that the mediumistic faculty in all of its forms is best developed and unfolded, cultivated and strengthened, by an actual sitting in the circle, in such a way as to perfect and spiritualize the magnetism of the sitters by their mutual action on each other, and by the influence and power of the spirits employing such magnetic and psychic forces so furnished them by the circle of harmonious sitters. Or, as a writer has well expressed it: “The purpose for which a spirit circle is held is that by the blending of the aura, psychic force, or magnetic emanations of the sitters, the attention of disembodied spirits may be attracted and a battery be formed by means of which they can communicate with the circle. The focalization of this force rests with the unseen operator, and if they are skilled in the ‘modus operana,’ they know where, how, and in what way to use it to the best advantage.”

Forming the Development Circle.

The circle should be composed of not less than four persons, and not more than twelve. It is well to have an equal number of persons of each sex, if this be possible; if not possible to obtain an equality of the sexes, the effort should be made to come as near to that equality as is possible. The members of the circle should seat themselves around a table, and as nearly as is possible the sexes should be alternated in this grouping, that is to say, a man should sit next to a woman, and so on. It will be found well to have the same persons regularly attend the circles, so far as is possible. Likewise, it will be found advantageous to always use the same table, and to hold the circle in the same room but these things are not absolutely essential, and very good results may often be obtained by having the members of the circle gather at the different homes of its respective members. While cheerfulness is well on the part of the sitters, there should be no indulgence in levity and joking during the sitting. The room should be comfortably warmed and lighted in the ordinary way.

The Sitters in the Circle.

The sitters will do well to occupy their same places at each sitting, unless the spirits indicate otherwise. The medium, or in the absence of a recognized medium the most sensitive person in the circle, should sit in the circle at a place mentally recognized as the “head of the table,” even though the table be circular in form. It will be well for the sitters to hold each others’ hands at the beginning of the circle, in order to generate the necessary magnetism. But after the circle is actually formed, the sitters should place their hands on the top of the table, close to its edge; the small fingers of the hands of each sitter touching those of the sitter on either side of him in this way there is a psychic and magnetic battery formed of the sitters, providing perfect connection is maintained.

The Spirit Communication Code.

At the beginning, the leader should plainly announce the signalling conditions, so as to avoid confusion on the part of the sitters and the visiting spirits (for there are several codes in use, and confusion sometimes occurs). The most general used and approved code is as follows: “Three indicates Yes; one indicates No; two indicates ‘doubtful’; four indicates ‘don’t know’; and five indicates ’call the alphabet.’” The numbers refer to the number of raps or table-tilts, etc., given by the spirits in answer to questions asked them. When the alphabet is called for, some one of the circle slowly calls out each letter of the alphabet, in regular order, until a rap or table-tilt indicate that the right letter has been indicated; this letter should then be written down, and the alphabet again called, until the next letter is indicated; and so on until the message is completed. For instance, the name “John” would be spelt out as J-O-H-N, four callings of the alphabet being necessary to obtain the same.

The Matter of Time Conditions.

The time at which the séances are held is not in itself important, but it will be found best to fix such time at such an hour that will be most convenient for the sitters, and at which their minds will not be distracted by thoughts that they should return home, or should be attending to certain household or business duties, etc. The séances should be held not oftener than, say, twice a week, or at the most three times a week. Each séance should be continued for about an hour or a little over certainly not over two hours at a time. The sitters should be punctual in attendance, so that no time may be lost or wasted. The idea should be that the spirit friends are awaiting your coming to fulfill your engagement with them, and one should be as careful to keep such an engagement as he would were the engagement with his most valued friend or esteemed acquaintance. Regularity in attendance is also important, as it is important that so far as possible the same general conditions be maintained at each and every séance. The séance should be started at the same hour on each occasion, at least so far as is possible, so as to preserve the same time rhythm.

Opening of the Séance.

It will be well to open the séance with a few moments of earnest, silent meditation a few moments of dwelling “in the silence,” as some have well called it; and these moments should be observed in a religious and devotional state of mind, all frivolity and flippancy being carefully avoided. If some present feel moved to prayer, then by all means let the prayer be made, for there can scarcely be a more fitting occasion for reverent prayer than a properly conducted séance. A few moments of hymn-singing may also be found advantageous in the direction of producing the devotional state of mind on the part of the sitters. The sitters should preserve a solemn frame of mind and reverent general demeanor during the séance perhaps the best model is that of an old time Quaker Meeting in which the silent devout spiritual feeling was so plainly manifest that it could almost be felt physically. Patience is necessary in conducting a séance, and perseverance is essential. The manifestations cannot be unduly forced, and there is often required a great deal of psychical adjustment before the lines of the spiritual communication between the two great planes of life are fully established.

Developing a Medium.

If the circle be one devoted chiefly to the development of mediumistic powers in some one of its members, then it will perhaps be best to have only that particular medium present. The remainder of the sitters should be highly sympathetic toward the developing medium, and should assume the mental attitude of help and aid toward him. While the early results of such a circle may not be so interesting as those at which a fully developed medium is present, nevertheless the gradual unfoldment of the powers of the medium will be found highly interesting, and the gradual evolution of the character of the phenomena produced will be a liberal education in itself. In case that in the circle there are no particular persons regarded as being mediums, and where there is a general desire to develop mediumistic powers among many or all of the sitters, there must be carefully avoided anything approaching a rivalry between the members of the circle; and at the same time a strong desire and perfect willingness for the spirit power to manifest through whomsoever it may prefer, without regard to the personal ambitions of the individual sitters. Most certainly there must be no spirit of “competition” among the sitters in the circle.

The Personnel of the Circle.

The personal composition of the spiritualistic circle is a very important matter, and those entering into circle work should pay careful attention to the personal and psychical character of those composing the circle; and it may be added here that such work requires very nice powers of discrimination, and a great degree of tact, in order to preserve the proper character of the circle, and at the same time to avoid wounding the pride of those who are to be rejected. Regarding the character of those composing the circle, the following statement of a practical medium will be found of importance. “There are some people who are so sensitive that they should not sit in circles, because they are liable to become charged with the psychic emanations from, and dominated by the expectancy of, the sitters, but who are not influenced by spirit power to any great extent. Or probably there may exist ’cross magnetism,’ that is to say the inharmonious magnetism of different members who are antagonistic to each other. Some sitters may be sarcastic, merely curious, or selfish, or mercenary, or not over clean, sober or scrupulous, and all such surroundings act and react upon the highly sensitive organization of the undeveloped medium, and, above all, provide conditions favorable for the manifestations of mischievous or malicious spirits, unless the medium is sufficiently developed, or is protected by wise spirits powerful enough to resist or control such influences. Like attracts like, as a general rule; but there are exceptions to this, as to most rules, as, for instance, where unfortunate or unhappy spirits are permitted to manifest, and are even brought to the séance by other and more experienced spirit people, so that they may be helped. The influence of the sitters in moulding the conditions is too little realized. If they introduce an atmosphere of suspicion, doubt, distrust, or detraction, they break the continuity of the flow of psychic energy that has to be employed. By thus severing the current and dissipating the power, they mar the conditions essential to success; and, as all such disturbances of necessity center upon and injuriously affect the sensitive medium, they render soul-satisfying and uplifting communion impossible. To all sitters, we would say, ’You get to a very great extent what you make conditions for, therefore open the doors of the heavens by love and purity.’”

Changing the Sitters.

Changes in the membership of a circle is sometimes found to be quite beneficial. If a circle meets night after night with the same membership, but without obtaining any perceptible results, then it may be well to consider the desirability of adding some new elements to the membership in the hope of improving the conditions. Sometimes the addition of a new sitter of the right physical and psychical temperament works a most remarkable improvement, and in many of such cases noteworthy phenomena are then produced almost from the time of the change. We have seen circles in which the condition of non-success was changed in a few moments to one of great and marked success by the introduction of a new element among the sitters.

Adding a Medium.

Sometimes there may result certain physical phenomena such as table tippings and movements of furniture, in cases in which there is a sufficient amount of psychic force generated among the sitters; but in such cases there may be an absolute failure to produce some of the higher forms of mediumistic phenomena, such as, for instance, clear spirit messages by raps or otherwise, the failure being caused by the fact that the circle did not include in its membership any person of sufficiently developed mediumistic powers to be considered a “medium.” In such cases the introduction into the circle of a person possessing fairly developed mediumistic powers of the higher order may change the condition of affairs at once, and almost immediately the higher manifestations may present themselves. In such cases the soil is richly fertilized and highly cultivated, and all that has been lacking is the strong, vigorous seed of true mediumship. In such cases when a true medium is discovered by means of his or her introduction into the circle (for such discovery is often made in this way), it may be well for the circle afterwards to devote itself to the development of that particular medium. And it must not be forgotten that such development of the particular medium frequently also results in the development of the other members sitting in the circle.

Reasons for Changes.

In cases in which the spirits suggest changes in the order of sitting of the members of the circle, or suggest other changes in the personnel of the circle, such suggestions should be heeded, and those who are asked to withdraw from the table should not feel hurt or offended, for there is usually nothing personal in the matter, and no personal reflection intended by the spirits; the whole matter is one connected with psychical or magnetic requirements, and all should so accept it. A writer on this subject has well said: “If you are requested, either by the controlling intelligence or by the manager of the circle, to take another place, or even if your room is desired for some unknown cause, do not get angry and create a disturbance, but get with those with whom you are in spiritual harmony and try it again. All who have succeeded have passed through great trials and failures, and when success is gained, think of what you have gained. A knowledge of immortality, possibly, or you have assisted in producing an instrument through which proofs of immortality may be given.”

Psychic Attunement.

One of the most common faults of the sitters at a circle is to become unduly impatient, and to try to force matters to a clear manifestation of phenomena almost from the moment of the start. This is all wrong, and is frequently the cause of many failures to obtain the higher phases of mediumistic phenomena. Sitters should remember this important point, i.e., that the first requisite of the circle should be to secure perfect and free communication and flow of spiritual power after this the more elaborate phases of phenomena may be obtained with comparative ease. One should hold in mind the illustration of a great wireless telegraph system, in which the sending and receiving instruments have not as yet been placed in perfect attunement. In such a case it is of course necessary for the two respective sets of instruments to be adjusted so that they may be in perfect attunement with each other; and until this is accomplished, there can be messages sent or received properly certainly none received in this way. If this idea be held in mind, their circle will probably secure the psychic attunement in a much shorter time than otherwise.

Pre-Test Manifestations.

Do not be in too much of a hurry to obtain “test” messages. Let the communications flow on in a somewhat rambling manner at first, until the lines of communication are fully and firmly established, and then you may begin to think about asking test questions of the spirits in order to establish their identity. A writer says on this point: “Should table movements occur, or raps be heard, let them go on for a little. Do not ask test questions just yet. Request repetitions, or ask for them to be clearer or louder, so that they may be sharp and decisive. You may also ask for a certain number of movements or raps. After that, you may proceed to ask questions as to whether the circle is sitting in the best arrangement for success. If changes are desired, these should be made as suggested. It may happen that one or more of the sitters may be requested to change places, or to withdraw from the table altogether. In such a case the sitter should not take umbrage for it merely means that their psychical conditions do not blend with those of the rest of the circle.”

Premature Tests.

Regarding the matter of premature tests, or unreasonable demands, the same writer further says: “Remember that the first requisite is to establish the channel of communication; and all personal questions as to who and what the spirit is should be reserved until the initial difficulties are overcome. It is at first most probable that the spirit operators will not be fully aware just what effect they are producing, and the mind of the medium may not as yet be sufficiently passive, in fact it may be in a sort of state of protest against being acted upon in this particular way; accordingly, it is extremely unwise to attempt to obtain responses to test questions or to secure evidences of the identity of the spirit under these imperfect conditions. Many mediums and inquirers have been deterred from further development or investigation because such questions have been prematurely put and the answers pressed for, with the result that confusing and contradictory responses were given, and the conclusion was hastily drawn that it was all fraud, delusion, of the devil.”

Forcing Tests.

Another writer has said on this point: “I then, in my anxiety, made a mistake which anxious inquirers sometimes make. I wanted more I pressed for another test, forgetting the difficulties of mediumship, and the supreme effort which must have been made to give me what I had obtained. And this resulted in failure after remarkable tests had been given.” Another writer, commenting upon the last quoted statement, says: “This is exactly how mediums are used; they give test after test, not to satisfy, but only to produce the desire for more. Then when the power is weakened, comes the inability or ‘fraud,’ as the imperfection in mediumship is often called. This will be the case until they can have the only condition which is suitable for spiritual communion passive trust and confidence. Real tests cannot come when sought with materialistic conditions. The tests come unsought, unasked for.”

Spirit Directions.

Another point which should be borne in mind by the sitters in the circle is that the spirits should be consulted as to just what they wish to manifest at the séance. They should be asked to state plainly just what order of phenomena they desire to manifest and demonstrate, and just what they wish the circle to do in order to create the best conditions for the manifestation. And it will be found advisable to heed the wishes and instructions of the spirits in such cases, and to conform as far as possible with the same. In this way the intelligent co-operation of spirits and the circle may be obtained, and the most desirable results be obtained. However, there is a limit to this acceptance and course, and in no case should the limits of reasonableness be exceeded in the matter. As a writer has well said: “It may happen that the conditions asked for by the communicating intelligence may seem to be ludicrous or impracticable; and in such case representations to that effect should be made to the spirit, and if such instructions are persisted in, except where, through long association, confidence is felt in the spirit, or very clear evidence of knowledge has been manifested, the medium and sitters, exercising their own reasoning powers, should quietly and firmly decline to do what is asked of them, and some other course should be suggested. We do not advise either medium or sitters to blindly accept or follow what is given to or through them. Reason should ever reign, but even reason will show that in experimental work it is sometimes advisable to tentatively adopt and follow some course that may not, at first sight, appear quite reasonable.”

Questioning the Spirits.

After a satisfactory arrangement of the sitters is obtained, and the table tiltings or rappings have assumed a clear, definite character, then the sitters may proceed to ascertain the identity of the spirit seeking to communicate to the circle; or else to ascertain whether the spirit wishes to deliver a message directed specially to some particular one of the sitters. In the latter case, the person indicated should prepare to question the spirit direct, either verbally or else silently and mentally. In either case the question should be stated clearly and to the point, so that the spirit may give a simple definite answer. Questions which may be answered by a simple “Yes” or “No” are of course preferable. If the spirit agrees to move the table, or else produce raps, as the alphabet is called over letter by letter, the communication and answers may of course be given in much fuller detail. In such case the spirit may be called on to spell out its name, and to designate its relationship to any of the sitters; or even to spell out a complete message. In addressing the spirit one should pursue the same general course employed in addressing questions to a friend in the flesh; and care should be taken to address the spirit politely and in a kindly tone. Some spirits are very sensitive concerning these details, and will resent any impoliteness or discourtesy, or flippancy from strangers.

Substance and Shadow.

Moreover, the earnest investigator of spiritualistic phenomena must always bear in mind that the mere production of mediumistic phenomena of the physical phase is not the real object of the investigation and sittings. These things, interesting as they may be in themselves, should be regarded as merely the incidents of the intelligent communication and reception of messages from the inhabitants of the higher planes of life and existence. The spiritualistic circle should be more than a mere “wonder shop” in which are exhibited strange and unusual physical phenomena; rather should it be regarded as the receiving end of the wireless system over which we may and do receive valuable communications from those who have passed on before us.

As a writer has said: “It is not so much that the table moves with or without contact, or that strange rappings are heard, that is of paramount importance, but that by these means of communication actual and intelligent communication can be obtained and maintained with so-called dead people; and evidences of spirit identity, as well as loving and cheering messages may be obtained in that way from loved ones who were supposed to be gone forever. This is the important point to be established beyond all peradventure.”