Speaking with the Dead

    The time is in the mid-1800s.  The place is a “parlor” where a medium has a client and some invited friends of the client.  They are seated around a table, the room is lit with candles, and they are all holding hands in a circle.

    What happens next is the stuff that spooky movies are made of.  The medium contacts her “guide”.  This could be anything from a dead relative of hers on the “other side” to a Guardian Angel or Ascended Master.  She asks the guide to locate the husband or brother or son of the client.

    After a few moments of silence, the medium falls into a trance. Horns sound, disembodied spirits fly around the room, rapping answers to the questions of the client or the friends – one rap for yes, two for no.  Maybe even the spirit speaks through the medium.  The table shakes and moves and everyone gets excited and breathless as information from the spirit is passed on to the party present through the medium.

    That’s how many of us think this all began.  But it has been going on for centuries.  From the local “seer” in villages and town, to the shaman in the caves, speaking with the dead is nothing new.  There are many different ways of doing it, but – what are we really doing?

    For those of us who have this ability, and there are many, it can be just on a personal level, where we are in contact with someone who was close to us.  Some of us have the ability to speak with any spirit that needs to talk.

    But what about all this “theatre”?  Is this really necessary?   Let’s examine what really happens, and how this all comes about.

    At the time of the scene above, spiritualism and mediums were relatively “new” to the general public.  And at that time, theatre was a very popular means of entertainment.  Combining both was a stroke of genius, if you will, that enabled the medium to attract a lot of attention, and lots of clients.  This does not mean the information was not accurate, it just means that showmanship was king at that time, and many mediums used it.

    We see something of this repeated today, though not as spectacular as it was then, when we look at TV shows or books that describe a medium’s personal experiences.  Look at John Edwards, or Sylvia Brown.  While the moving tables and floating spirits are not included in the package, we still see the showmanship or theatre being provided as a platform for the medium.

    Mediums have been around for a long time.  There are even centers where mediums congregate, like Lilly Dale, New York, or Cassadaga in Florida.  There are other smaller communities throughout the United States.  These centers provide support for the medium community and offer a place where their services can be sought without issues from local government.

    The theatre issue, that which attracted much attention to the mediums, ended up being the issue that caused them the most harm and prompted them to create their own communities.  It was called a sham, a fraud, and in many areas mediums were outlawed, fined and imprisoned.  The followers were convinced by the genuine article, but not all mediums were real, and the theatre helped cover the fraud in many cases.  A few con artists ruined it for the many real practitioners.

    But why all the theatre?  Well, to be honest, much of what takes place between a medium and the spirit is not seen.  Most of it goes on inside the head of the medium.  And how do you convince the client that what you are telling them is a real connection with their departed loved one.  Besides, many of the clients wanted the show.  As I said, entertainment was king, and a good show attracted a lot of attention and seemed to add to the validation of the experience for the client.

    If someone sat across a table from you and nonchalantly told you your Uncle Ed was there and that he wanted you and his wife to know he was at peace – would you believe them?   Probably not without something tangible.  Not without something that truly convinced you that they were there.  After all, if you could speak with Uncle Ed yourself, why would you bother to go to a medium?

    So, we have the theatre to convince the client that the message is genuine.  In the cases of real mediums, there was information that was offered that solidly convinced the client that the medium was indeed connected with their loved one.  All the theatre aside, when a very personal and never shared event comes from the medium to the client that only the departed person and the client would know, this is very convincing to the client and the reason the client trusted the medium to begin with.  At this point, the theatre is a side show, an extra.  The information is the key.

    You see this with John Edwards and Sylvia Brown.  They share with the client right off something that only the client would know.  A personal item that only the client knew came from the departed, or an event that they never shared with anyone.  Or a very personal moment from both their lives.   The show, and the information, is what convinced the public at that time that mediums were real, and gave the good medium a solid following.

    As mediums, our own experiences vary.  Some of us see or hear letters or words.  Some of us see pictures.  The spirits we deal with are sometimes very focused on one particular item or event, and it is hard to get any further information.  Or they are unfocused and scattered, and it is again difficult to understand what they want.

    We do not “see” as others see things.  We get pictures in our minds, or we hear whispers in our heads that give us information that we are supposed to pass on.  Our jobs as medium is to focus the spirit, get the information, clarify it with the client, and help the client to understand what it is the spirit is trying to get across to them.

    Sometimes the message is very generic.  That is because the spirit is at peace; there are no issues, and the spirit is more concerned with moving on.  The client needs to let go, allow this spirit to move to the next world.

    Sometimes there are issues that only the client has; this does not concern the spirit and the dearly departed is not going to deal with the clients issues.  Again, we will have little information to pass on to the client.  And we need to get across to the client that the spirit has no interest in what the client is concerned with.  These are the hardest types of sessions and usually the client goes away discouraged or unhappy with the connection.  There is really nothing we can do about this.

    The good connections are when the spirit and the client are both on the same page, that their concerns are mutual and that the spirit is willing to talk and the client is receptive to the answers the medium channels from the spirit to the client.  Sometimes the focus of the client is not the same as the spirit, and the exchange can be fuzzy, as the client is looking for some specific information and the spirit is concerned with something else.  These connections take time to work out, and can be difficult for both the client and the medium, but workable.

    Sometimes it is all for nothing.  The spirit is gone, unconcerned with the client or their concerns, and there is no communication.

    The use of “guides” in this case is very common and useful.  The guide, the connection the medium has with the world beyond the veil, can help clarify to the medium what is going on.  Uncle Ed has nothing to say, there is nothing you can do to entice him to come chat with you.  We are honest with the client and tell them this.  There is nothing more we can do.

    There are no records that I am aware of that suggest any kind of violence done by the spirits to the mediums who channel them.  While it may drain the energy from some mediums, actual harm done is not recorded and in my own experiences, unheard of.  Fear that spirits may do harm are unfounded.  If you are really concerned, take precautions by protecting the area you work in, but I find it unnecessary.  Again, it is so much “movie stuff” in my opinion.

    But spirits do tend to be exactly like what they were in life.  If Uncle Ed was a well known joker when he was alive, he is still a joker in death.   And if the client is aware that Uncle Ed was a compulsive liar in life, then the client should be advised that nothing has changed with Uncle Ed, and that death does not make Uncle Ed any less of a liar.

    This leads us to what the spirits may say.  Is everything going to be truths?  Are the spirits always going to be polite and proper?  No, not at all.  And we, as mediums, come across an ethical issue.  Do we tell Aunt Sally that the spirit of Uncle Ed just gave you a picture of a pig while indicating Aunt Sally?  Well, no, I would never do that.  But Uncle Ed may also indicate another man, and that Aunt Sally was attached to this other man somehow.  I’ve had this happen, and it turned out that the wife had an affair with the other man, that the deceased had found out about while alive and was mad at her for it, but he never said anything to her.  His image to me of a “pig” I kept to myself, but the mention of the affair confirmed to the wife that I was indeed in touch with the deceased, and it made the whole session a lot easier to handle.  It was the issue that needed to be resolved, and the session did this for both the client and the spirit.  The need to mention the image of the pig was not necessary, and I left it out.  I mentioned the deceased was displeased with the event, but never mentioned anything else.  Ethical?  In my opinion, yes, and the mention would have upset the session even further.  What if the information from the deceased had been wrong, or a lie or a mistake on the part of the deceased?  What purpose would it serve in mentioning it?

    Each of us will need to decide on what information we will pass on based on the information and how upset the client is or can become.  It was an upsetting situation; I did not need to complicate the matter any further.  It is a matter of personal choice.

    At this time of year, coming up on Halloween, the veil between the worlds is thin, and we may experience some kind of connection with the spirits of our departed loved ones. I think this cycle of planetary alignments is making the veils even thinner, and some of us who might not have experienced this kind of connection before are finding we are on new ground.  Some of us will never get beyond a simple connection with our own loved ones.  That is probably all we will ever need in our own personal experience.  I feel it should be cherished and enjoyed  It is a gift and if you are given it, you are indeed fortunate.

    The experiences, however, will be the same for you as it is for those of us who connect with more than just our own loved ones.  We will know the connection is real by the information that we receive from the spirits we connect with.  The need for theatrics in this day and age is not really necessary and should not be expected or offered.  But the validation of the experience, usually by information we receive from the deceased, will be the key to knowing the connection has been made and is real.  We don’t need the tipping tables or the floating spirits anymore.  I think we have pretty much grown up from that and can understand without all the theatrics.

    If you encounter an experience such as this at this time of year, relax.  It is a learning experience for you, and it will help to resolve some issues you may have had with the deceased and in many cases some issues you may not have even known.  This is a time to resolve these issues and make peace with your departed loved ones, and yourself.

    Take some time to remember those who you loved that have passed beyond the veil, do not be afraid to make a connection with them, and remember them fondly, because that is what this time of year is all about.  And if you hear some tapping in response to your questions…

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Boudica Foster is the pen name for Margaret Foster. All website material written, drawn or photographed is the work of Margaret Foster.