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Deep Trance, Mediumship & Channeling
Words are Symbols
We forget when we're communicating with words that we are passing symbols back and forth between us. We make extensive assumptions when we do so. Like for example, that we share the same ideas about the meaning assigned to those symbols. Some words are especially powerful symbols. Words like Soul, Spirit, psyche, enlightenment, and love to name a few. Even our descriptions of emotional states are riddled with assumptions such as when we say we're anxious, it is assumed we are also saying we are unhappy which may not be the case at all.
Words have power over us physically
Words have power as we all know by how they can affect us emotionally, physically and mindfully. Our whole lives are based on our interaction with words. There is a story of a woman who entered psychoanalysis because, among a few other things, she wouldn't stop bleeding. Her menstrual cycle had stalled. As she was leaving her first session with the psychiatrist, she turned to him and asked, "What about my bleeding? Will it stop?" And he replied, "Yes it stops right now." And it did. Those words at that moment, spoken by this man perceived as an authority healer, had the power to kick start this woman's cycle. That is an example of the power of words.
The Placebo Effect
The placebo effect is another example. If we are told by someone that a particular substance will make us well and we have vested this person with the power of knowledge and authority, the chances are high that the substance will have the desired healing affect. This is not a bad thing! Placebos have few side affects.
The written word has even more power
The power of the spoken word is dwarfed in comparison to the power of the written one. When we read a word, we give it even more substance and power. We tend to believe what we read, making an erroneous assumption that if it is published it must be the truth or at the very least written by an authority. This hearkens back to a time when the aristocratic and academic classes were the only ones who could read and write. There was mystery and awe in the minds of the majority when in the presence of someone who could read and write. They were granted tremendous powers of discernment, authority and interpretation.
Deep Trance and Channeling
Hypnosis is a Talent
When a medium goes into what has been described as "deep trance" it means they are deliberately altering their state of consciousness to go deep into their unconscious minds - a similar state to sleeping. This is not an easy mind skill to have. Some mediums in deep trance have been witnessed to emit a substance called, "ectoplasm" from a orifice the bodies (ears, mouth, nostrils) which is a manifestation of spiritual energy.
Modern research into hypnosis has shown that some people are able to accomplish this deep level of consciousness better than others. They are classified as a "5". The numbers starting at one meaning they aren't able to reach the same level of focus and concentration. Mediums who can enter this deep level of unconsciousness, yet remain conscious at the same time essentially hypnotize themselves into this level. They don't need the assistance of a hypnotist to do it. They simply allow their conscious minds to slip away and their unconscious minds to be present or in the ascendent position.
Channeling is Meditative
Channeling is a different process entirely. Those who claim to channel are not necessarily going into this deeper level of consciousness. They may experience a shift in awareness, much like meditation in nature and run with whatever is entering their consciousness in this meditative state. Just like meditation this level of consciousness requires a quiet, peaceful environment.
The major difference between these two states is that one is granted by gift while the other can be taught. You can learn meditative techniques and get better with practice but you cannot learn deep trance. A true medium therefore, is born not taught whereas a channeler is taught. These are words that people often mistake or have differing views about yet could mistakenly believe they are on the same wavelength when speaking about them.
Definition of Mediumship
Medium and Channel
Even in the accompanying picture which I found in Wikipedia under the heading "medium or channel" there is a misconception that these two are the same processes. The medium in the photograph is clearly in deep trance which is obvious by the ectoplasm emitting from his mouth. He is not simply in a meditative state, therefore is not channeling.
Deep Trance is Terrifying
For most people, being in the presence a gifted medium who is in a deep trance is likely the most terrifying experience of their lives. Not many people would be brave enough to tackle this experience on their own which is why it was often done with several people present. In the 1800's when this practice was more common, large audiences would gather to watch someone on the stage perform a deep trance mediumship. It was written about in the newspapers and became a subject of conversation in many parlours across the western world. It was an activity that was changing people's understanding and relationship to death, spirituality, and religion. It polarized believers and nonbelievers alike.
Channeling in the Modern Age
Modern Use of Channeling
When the term "channeling" was first popularized in the 1980s as a method of transferring messages from the spirit world to the earth plane, there was a hoopla of excitement just as there had been in the mid-1800's with the explosion of Spiritualism. Shirley MacLaine with, "Out on a Limb" and her follow up works swept the world in a whirl of excitement. Her books quickly reached best seller status and she went on a speaking tour that sold out in every city she visited. My friend took me to see her in Toronto in the mid-80's for my birthday and we sat in the front row of the then O'Keefe Centre enthralled.
Many in the Spiritualist Church jumped on this new word and instead of calling themselves mediums, which now wasn't as recognized a word, called themselves "channelers" which is when the confusion began. To make matters worse the word then made itself into our common usage and people began referring to channeling as a process of channeling anything from their "inner child" to their "inner foodie".
In the fumes left behind by all this confusion however, was the subtle but profound difference in meaning between "mediumship" and "channeling". For the majority of people these two are synonymous.
Automatic Writing & Ouji Board
In the mid-1800's with the advent and growth of Spiritualism, some mediums discovered they were not as well suited for public trance deliveries and they were to the more private explorations of automatic writing. Automatic writing typically involved the medium seated and staring into a mirror by candlelight while holding a pen over paper ready to write down any messages that would come through in this semi-trance state.
Gradually this progressed to the development of instruments called "planchettes" whereby a pencil would be attached at its tip while the hand rested gently on top. The planchette provided a smooth movement for the pencil to write out messages from spirit. Progressively the planchette grew larger to accommodate more hands.
In the early 20th century a board game company developed the Ouji Board which included a planchette and board with letters and numbers and an instruction booklet. The Ouji Board continues to be produced and sold. I'm sure many will receive one this year for Christmas!
Once it became a game, automatic writing slowly disappeared and lost its allure and position of honour and respect. It wasn't long after the Ouji hit the mass market that dire warnings were issued at to its use. Some believed it was downright dangerous and perhaps it is. After all most mediums don't realize the power of their gift until it emerges and a Ouji Board may just provide the perfect venue for the gift to reveal itself which could be premature for the ability of the host to sustain psychologically.
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