Mediumship is a complicated discipline with many different areas of interest and expertise. The one that captures the interest of many sitters and clients is that of physical mediumship, as it offers the chance to see greater physical proof of the presence of spirits and connect with them on another level. Here we will look at what it really means to be a physical medium, the way that the medium and spirit communicate and the different types of physical manifestation that are produced. We will also look at some of the issues regarding scepticism over these abilities and phenomena, as well as the rarity of these physical mediums.
In order to exhibit physical mediumship, there must first be a medium.
Starting with the basics here, we cannot experience these manifestations of spirit forms without a medium to channel their energy. The medium is that link between the spirit plane and the room of sitters. They connect with the plane and the high frequencies of the energy signatures to provide that bridge and open up lines of communication. Spirits then take advantage of this channel to communicate with the medium and sitters. Physical mediumship requires a different set of abilities than more general mediumship. Therefore, only a select group of mediums are physical mediums, and no psychics can claim to be.
Three important factors that are required for physical mediumship.
There are three key factors that all mediums most possess if they are ever going to be able to progress into physical mediumship. Some have the talent and physical capabilities that will allow them to hone these skills into an effective form of spirit communication. Others simply are not able. This is the key separation between mediums that can connect with those higher frequencies and those that do so to allow physical manifestations. These factors are as follows.
- A large source of etheric energy and ectoplasm within the body that the spirit communicators – otherwise known as the spirit operator – can control with ease
- A high sensitivity to the frequency of the spirit communicators in order to tune into their message, create that strong link between the planes and better communicate the message.
- The patience, strength and tenacity to keep going.
The stronger the source, and greater the supply of ectoplasm, the easier it is to create the manifestations seen in physical mediumship. The spirits can only take advantage of the ectoplasm and etheric energy with a strong, stable connection and communication link across that frequency. This means a strong connection to the energy of the spirit for a two-way channel. As for the idea of strength and tenacity, this process is far from easy for a medium. It can take its toll on the physical and mental state of the medium for a short time after the session. Some talk about hangover-like symptoms the following day, such as fatigue and sensitivity to light and noise. It takes true strength and dedication to the discipline to keep going and build those stronger connections for those impressive physical manifestations. The stronger the connection, the better the communication and response. However this also makes it more tiring and exhausting for the medium.
Understanding ectoplasm and etheric energy.
The importance of ectoplasm and etheric energy for these communications means that we need to look at this factor more closely. When the spirit communicator works with the medium and takes control on this etheric energy, the physical phenomena often appears via ectoplasm. This is a physical, visible form of this energy that looks like a pale, translucent matter. Some may refer to it as a mist or a veil. When it takes the form of the spirit it becomes a manifestation or transfiguration. We will discuss both of those further along in this guide.
In addition to this ectoplasm, there is also photoplasma, which is a more refined form of ectoplasm and etheric manifestation that is only visible in red or blue light. While we are talking about the use of light, and brightness of the ectoplasm, it is also important to consider the phenomena of spirit lights. These lights occur in spirit circles in the right level of lighting and are often white, blue or red. They are a representation of the intensity of the signal coming from the spirit.
The stronger the connection and the abilities of the medium, the stronger the phenomena.
This explains why there are such variations in the look and quality of the images seen during these sessions. There will be some manifestations that are faint and dull, either due to a poor connection or the ill health of the medium. Ill health and fatigue will play their part on the result. A medium exhausted from one sitting my struggle to replicate the experience soon after. Others will see a much brighter, clearer image with more distinct features. This occurs with that stronger communicative link and the greater abilities and health of the medium.
So how does this ectoplasm enter the room and become visible to the sitters in the session?
When this ectoplasm is released into the room to create these images, it tends to do so from an orifice of the medium. This is often the mouth or nose, as the energy escapes the channel into the Earth plane through the most obvious, direct route. This phenomenon has been photographed during sittings. The alternative method for this spirit communication is via a link through the solar plexus, an area around the abdomen where there is a strong physical link between the spirit operator and the medium. In fact, there are cases where manifestations appear to be connected to the medium via a thin cord of ectoplasm to this region. Some say that it closely resembles an umbilical cord.
What do we mean by spirit circles?
In the section above we mentioned the presence of light in spirit circles. It is important to understand this term a little better before we go into some of the different types of physical manifestations and phenomena. It is important to remember that the experience of physical mediumship is as much about the sitter, or sitters, within the room as the spirit communicator and the medium that operates between the two. Sitters are a vital part of the link between the physical and spirit planes. They provide questions for the spirits, such as a relative looking for closure on a family tragedy, and a link to the Earth plane for that discarnate entity. They also provide objects related to the spirits that may help to provide a link and energy for a connection or manifestation. Again, this will be covered further below. They also offer proof and validation to the manifestations and other phenomena seen within the room.
There is an objective native of this physical mediumship that relies upon this third party. If the medium is in a trance state, working with the spirit on a higher state of consciousness, it is down to the sitters within the room to make sense of the images and effects that appear within the room. Spirit circles are one of the best ways to do this.
The stereotypical image of the group of friends holding hands in a circle in a darkened room has plenty of roots in the reality of the experience. Sitters can hold hands to form a link. This helps to act as a bond that can help in the transference of etheric energy for bodies other than that of the medium. This magnetism between the bodies allows for high energy transference and can help with certain phenomena. This magnetism was discovered by Franz Mesmer, who went on to research the potential of this force in hypnosis and spiritual healing. A fun fact here is that this is where we get the term animal magnetism, although it has a very different meaning today.
Physical manifestations via ectoplasm and etheric energy.
Now that we have a better idea of what ectoplasm is, and how this etheric energy is manipulated by the spirits, we need to understand more about these physical phenomena that occur. If spirits use this ectoplasm to create a physical, visible manifestation of their form, how does this occur?
The form that many people immediate think off is the figure floating or walking around a room. Some believe it to be the spirit appearing in the Earth plane when called by the sitter. The reality of the experience is a little different, as there is that medium acting as the channel between the two planes. The spirit does not leave the spirit plane and materialise in the room entirely of its own free will. Instead, it communicates with the sitter via that higher frequency, manipulates the etheric energy and forces the ectoplasm to leave the body via one of the measures mentioned above. In the most extreme cases, this is seen in full materialisation of the form. In others, there a moment of transfiguration.
What is materialisation?
In materialisation, there is this larger representation of the body of the spirit that can move around the room and interact with sitter. There is a freedom of expression and impressive range of capabilities that mean that they can appear to be entirely independent entities. This is where sitters get these ideas of ghosts and apparitions from nowhere. However, despite all of this, it is still linked to the medium in order to maintain that connection and stay within the plane. It cannot bypass the medium.
Sitters can see the form in a surprising amount of detail. Again, detail will depend on the strength and quality of the energy and ectoplasm. In many cases, a clear physical representation of the spirit will emerge and sitters will be able to recognise relatives. This can occur to a high level of detail. There isn’t just a rough approximation where the willing mind of the sitter is forced to fill in the gaps and assumes that it is correct. Some of these materialisations will show facial features, scars and other defects that are true to the relative as they were known to the sitter. If Granddad lost an eye or gained a scar in the war, it is likely to be visible. The diversity and clarity of these materialisations is clear from some of the images that have been captured during sessions.
How does transfiguration differ from materialisation?
Transfiguration is different as there isn’t that more complex body on show, or that sense of freedom of movement. Instead, the ectoplasm that is expelled from the nose and mouth of the medium forms a sort of mask or veil around their face. This then takes on the form of the face of the spirit communicator. Again, the facial features can be pretty distinctive for a true representation of the spirit, and details vary between mediums and their abilities.
This can be unnerving or first time sitters, as it initially appears that the medium has taken on the appearance of the discarnate spirit. This explains why there are some misconceptions about physical mediumship and possession. The combination of this strange transformation and popular culture references fuel ideas that the spirit is in clear control of the medium, perhaps taking over to the point of possession. This is not the case at all. There is a strong communicative link with control and a telepathic rapport that lets the spirit through to the Earth plan to communicate via this method. Is it a harmonious, respectful two-way system, and has to be for the process to work.
Other physical phenomena that is visible through physical mediumship.
These manifestations of transfigured or materialised spirit forms in ectoplasm are what many sitters want to see. They want to see these images to appear before them to communicate with as it is the clearest form of physical proof of their existence and connection. However, not all mediums will be able to produce these clear images, and not all spirit communicators respond in this manner. There are other physical signs that sitters can observe where spirits can communicate a message. The message and the identity of the spirit may not be as clear, but there is room for interpretation with an open mind.
The use of apports as a communication tool.
The first of those is with the use of apports. Apports are the official name for any object used by a spirit to communicate with the living while working through the medium. Objects can move, or seemingly re-materialise in the room or in the possession of a sitter. These objects are often an item of personal meaning or a previous possession of the spirit. Something where there is a clear link between sitter and spirit that can communicate intent. Spirits move the objects to highlight a meaning or provide an answer for a specific person in the room. Items of jewellery are commonly used here because of the energy signatures of these metallic objects and the strong emotional attachments. A locket, wedding ring or other item can express love or other information to those left behind. However, it is not just about jewellery and many different objects can be moved and used if they hold some significance.
How does levitation really work in this spirit communication?
The other example of moving objects within these physical phenomena is levitation. This is where the table everyone is seated around begins to lift up, or other items in the room rise up from the ground. In some cases, medium have also been reported to levitate under the control of this energy. These objects are able to move due to psychic kinetic energy, or the process of telekinesis. This requires a lot of etheric energy and a more harmonious environment, and spirits have been known to drawn this energy from sitters and other objects in the room to channel the energy onto the table. Some sitter may experience a sharp pain as the rods of energy are extracted, but it is not harmful. This use of energy and the inclusion of the sitter are another reason why these spirit circles with linked hands are so helpful. Linked hands provide a shared experience and transference of energy that the spirit can then exploit.
Physical mediumship and sounds that can occur within a room.
Of course the experience of these sessions with a medium isn’t just about the elements that sitter can see in the room or the physical items that move around. Another trope in the media portrayal of the séance and medium is the use of voices. In some cases these representations are completely off the mark, but others do work within the reality of spirit communication via sound waves. There is little chance of a medium taking in tongues or a strange voice as an angry spirit curses the living. This would go against that strong, harmonious 2-way relationship mentioned above. However, they can provide that bridge between the planes, via that ectoplasm and etheric energy, in order to give spirits a voice – of sorts.
What are direct voice manifestations?
Direct voice manifestations are sounds that appear in the room, seemingly from nowhere. These sounds can represent the voice and speech of the spirit as they work in communication with the medium. They don’t magically talk to us out of thin air, although this is the romanticised viewpoint. Instead, they manipulate the ectoplasm into a voice box where the vibrations of their energy come through as speech. It is a surprising explanation, perhaps, but one that makes more sense. This is one of the clearest ways to communicate a message if the spirit is able to verbalise their needs and answers.
It should also be noted that this isn’t some sort of one-size-fits-all voice box that creates a generic sound. These direct voices take on the manners, accents, tones and inflections of the spirits. This provides even clearer proof to sitters that the energy in the room is emitted directly from this discarnate relative, rather than translated through a third party. It can be disconcerting to hear at first, especially for those that never expected to be able to hear that voice again, but also reassuring.
Communication of messages through knocking and other simple sounds.
The other audible form of physical manifestation is the simple process of knocking. Again, this is something of a stereotype in modern culture. In books and films, if a spirit can hear the medium, they reach out and knock. There is then a fairly basic call and response of knocking once for yes and twice for no. Again this oversimplifies the process. The knocking and meaning behind the knocks can work in this manner for simple answers to questions. However, this is not the first form of contact with the medium. Again, the spirit communicator is already working within the medium on that higher frequency and reaches out via ectoplasm and energy waves to create that sound. The sitter is the one to ask the questions as the medium is committed to that trance state with the spirit operator and operates on a different level of consciousness. The response comes from rods of ectoplasm that strike the surface of the table or any other surface.
The issue of scepticism over the reality of these effects and fraudulent mediums.
There are always those that are sceptical of any form of manifestation within a session. That is because it is much easier to try and find some other explantation, one that is more logical and easy to understand. Any image that is generated through transfiguration or materialisation is often assumed to be a projection. Any sound is assumed to be a recording. Any movement of the furniture or apport must be a trick of slight of hand or wires. People look for the magic tricks and smoke and mirrors before they consider the truth to the experience. It doesn’t help that there are mediums, psychics and frauds that will con people into believing that they are a true physical medium when they don’t really possess the ability.
Concerns over the use of darkness:
One of the best ways to shed some light over the concerns about these practices is to look at some of the key concerns. One of the issues that sitters and sceptics have a problem with is the need for darkness in these mediumship sessions. The stereotypical image of the seance is that spirit circle, as mentioned above, with everyone sat is low light with noting but candles – ones that may blow out for effect if a spirit passes by. The truth is that darkness is helpful in the creating of these manifestations because of the qualities of the ectoplasm and the photoplasm. If the photoplasm is only seen in blue or red light, a bright lit room won’t provide a great stage. However, there are those that say that complete darkness isn’t quite as necessary as some would have us believe. This is because there have been clear manifestations and phenomena in naturally lit areas like churches.
Concern over the use of cabinets:
You will often come across case studies and experiences with mediums sat within a form of cabinet, or other enclosed area away from the sitters. Often there will be a curtain or thin veil obscuring them from clear view. This immediately rings alarm bells for any sceptic because they appear to be deliberately concealing themselves. This would be the ideal situation for hidden devices to provide the sounds and effects of a fraudulent manifestation.
The real reason for this cabinet approach is to amplify and contain the etheric energy of the medium for a stronger connection and better effect. Some liken this approach to creating a sort of “etheric battery” to power the manifests further. This issue of trickery and concealed devices has been considered in case studies when sitters measured the abilities of these mediums. In some cases, the mediums wore nothing but thin robes and veils, with covered hands, yet there was still photographic evidence of the ectoplasmic manifest.
Remember that just because some will fake physical mediumship, this doesn’t mean that every physic medium is a fraud. There is a small group of people that can work with the spirit communicators, create that strong connection via the spirit plane and allow the spirits to materialise and communicate through these physical forms. The problem is that they are just very rare, which leads to our final point of discussion.
The rarity of the physical medium.
This rarity doesn’t help in the quest to prove the legitimacy of he physical medium, but it isn’t surprising considering all the considerations and abilities we have outlined so far. Let’s go back to those three major criteria for a true physical mediumship to see why these mediums might be so rare.
- A large source of etheric energy and ectoplasm within the body that the spirit communicators can control with ease.
- A high sensitivity to the frequency of the spirit communicators in order to tune into their message, create that strong link between the planes and better communicate the message.
- The patience, strength and tenacity to keep going.
First of all, it really is rare for mediums to have this amount of energy that can be used by the spirit communicator. Unlike the abilities to detect higher frequencies of vibrations and spirit energy, and general levels of perception, this is not a skill that mediums can develop. There is an etheric energy source within us all, even in some inanimate objects. This is seen in the materialisation phenomena and levitation. Yet, these levels clearly vary, and we cannot create more or less as we choose. Those with this energy level must also possess that level of intuition and perception to crate that strong, insightful link to this other frequency. They also need the ability to stay in control during those moments of alternative consciousness.
Those with this ability are then whittled down again into two groups: those that can handle the experience and those that cannot. It is no understatement when mediums say that it is exhausting work to carry out this physical mediumship and maintain that connection. Those that wish to do this regularly, or as a living to help others, must be prepared for the negative physical and mental effects that come with the territory. Many simply cannot handle it.
This shortlist of people with all three qualities explains why a true physical medium is such a rarity, and why others with lesser abilities – or those complete con artists – may feel the need to try and trick people with false manifests. Finally, there is the issue of privacy and perception. There was a time when the medium was an accepted part of society and a sitting was a social occasion with high acceptance. Today, attitudes are much different and some feel they need to hide away a little more. Therefore, true physical mediums are not only rare, they are often far removed from the public eye.
The range of phenomena and manifestations that are produced are more varied than some would expect.
As you can see from this guide, there is a lot more to the discipline of physical mediumship than the lights going out, a knock on the table and a few vague apparitions. There are those stereotypical phenomena like the disconnected voices, tapping on the table and manifestations of ghostly forms. However, they are not as people expect. The strong communicative link and level of ectoplasm allow for an array of manifestations with the medium acting as that channel between the planes.
At the same time, it is important to remember that there are limitations and different levels of ability between mediums. Not all mediums can produce these effects because they do not have the strength, energy supply or connection to that higher frequency. Also, not all physical mediums can produce those clear materialisations and transfigurations. It all depends on theirs abilities. Physical mediumship is a rare gift, and one that appears to be getting rarer. Those that are privileged enough to see it in action can enjoy an extraordinary link to the spirit world.