Experiencing the Phenomena of Spiritualism

Tom Butler

One of the hardest concepts to explain about mediumship is how the person should sense the other side. For instance, when we say that “a medium is always a psychic but a psychic is not always a medium,” how do we know which mode we are operating in? Is the information from an etheric communicator—perhaps a loved one—or is it something psychically sensed from the sitter’s life? Do these different sources look different in our mind’s eye?

I do not have a good answer, but perhaps sharing how I experience the phenomena of Spiritualism will provide at least one reference point.

For me, it is all about visualization. Think about it. In guided meditations, we are told to see ourselves in a situation such as on a path or in an elevator. One of the first modalities of healing I learned consisted of the practitioner visualizing “going to” a “laboratory” with an imagined projection screen. (Today, it would likely be a table with a hologram projection above it.) Given information that uniquely identified the person, the practitioner is told to imagine that person on the screen, and then to “scan” each layer of the person’s body—skin, muscles, organs, skeleton—looking for anything that did not seem right. Sometimes, I was able to correctly identify problems such as an old broken leg or a missing lung, which was confirmed by the person guiding the session. (The Silva Method, silvamethod.com)

My wife, Lisa and I attended classes to learn a healing modality known as RoHun. (Delphi University of Spiritual Studies, delphiu.com) The technique involves both energy manipulation and counseling. In this modality, practitioners are told to move their hands above the body of the sitter while trying to sense differences in the subtle energy filed of the body. The idea is to look for areas of “thicker” energy. When an area of thicker energy is found, the practitioner is told to make the thickness dissipate by physically manipulating the energy field as if breaking up a clump of clay. Of course, this is also a mental exercise, but the effect can be objective in that the sitter sometimes has a strong emotional reaction that, with counseling, may also dissipate. The emotional energy is seen to be associated with the subtle energy field of the body.

That brings up a second aspect of working with the phenomena of Spiritualism. While it is about visualization, it is also all about sensing subtle energy. You can think of the energy as the energy of the aura, biofield energy or vitality. It is the energy we work with in the healing portion of our services and the same energy that is being studied in parapsychology as it responds to intentionality. It is clearly a real form of energy and it very easily conforms to imagination. RoHun practitioners are taught to experience irregularities in this energy as a thickening. Other modalities teach to experience these irregularities as a difference in temperature or a difference in color. The difference is real enough, but how it is experienced depends on the practitioner’s expectations.

In Spiritualism, we are taught that healing energy comes from someone in the etheric and that the healer is just a conduit. We are taught that the helper on the other side supplies the energy and directs it as it is needed. Yes, there is a mode of healing in which the healer provides a form of vital energy from his or her body, but that is not what is intended in the service and is not considered to be as beneficial.

When serving the church as a healer, I ask for my etheric friends to use me as a conduit for healing energy, but always believing that one should “pray for help and then go make it happen,” I then imagine energy passing through me and into the sitter. I intentionally feel the flow of energy while visualizing the sitter’s aura changing to gold, white or violet.

Sitters occasionally offer feedback, and sometimes that feedback matches how I sensed the energy was flowing. So while imagining the flow of energy, even to the point of feeling my body vibrate with the energy, I have reason to believe that the imagined effect is not just my imagination. Yes, I am probably imagining the flow of energy in my body, there does appear to be a real effect that is experienced by the sitter.

It does not seem to matter if the practitioner is passing vital energy to the sitter or if it is coming from the etheric. Which is happening appears to depend more on the practitioner’s intention. I intend that the person will receive healing energy as he or she needs, and I intend that my friend on the other side will be part of that circuit. In practical terms, anytime etheric energy is involved, it is being influenced by both my intention and the help of my friends. There is little reason to worry about who is doing what as long as the intention is well visualized.

An interesting footnote to my healing concerns how I visualize the color of the sitter’s aura. I do not see auras as such but must imagine seeing auras. During the session, I begin to intend seeing the sitter’s aura as either very bright white or violet. In my mind’s eye, I see the person on my projection screen glowing with very bright and glorious energy indicating good health, wellbeing and spiritual maturity. Sometimes, no matter how I try to see white, I see some other color. My sense is that the color indicates the inner work being done by the sitter.

How do I know when I am doing all of this myself and when I am acting as a conduit? One of the few times I allow myself to conduct in-depth contemplations is during that half hour or so that I begin to wake up in the morning. It is a good time because I am still mostly asleep and it seems that my thinking is more creative; more spontaneous.

On occasion during this time, I will have a realization concerning whatever I am thinking about. Usually, it is a solution that might work or a step which might lead to a solution. These realizations have a very different feel as compared to my usual contemplation and I have come to think of them as guidance from my friends on the other side.

Here is an important point. I think of these realizations as suggestions. Yes, they may be from my etheric helpers but the suggestions are not always consistent with my way of doing things and would sometimes demand more time than I could possibly spare. From my experience through the years, it is very important that we who may be the helpees always need to feel free to accept or reject such help based on our sense of personal responsibility.

The way I experience those realizations is also how I experience messages from the etheric when seeking information for a spirit greeting. As a good visualizer, I can develop a plausible story from the smallest bit of information. This makes it very difficult to tell the difference between a story that comes to mind and information that is outside of my usual awareness. Also, once a storytelling is started, it is almost impossible for me to stop and take a fresh, unbiased look.

My usual approach to spirit greetings is to find a quiet moment during the service to contemplate about the congregation. I visualize the congregation and ask if there is information for anyone. My intention is to ask my friends on the other side. It is difficult to know if this is what is actually happening because the expression of that kind of intention has evolved over the years to a self-hypnotic cue to sense anything about the congregation—psychically or mediumistically. That is the problem plaguing scientists. How do you know the difference?

Again, the realizations are often out of context. My storytelling is always in some form of context related to the circumstance. My usual mode of sensing is a combination of knowing and seeing. The people I think are trying to communicate with a member of the congregation—that is my intention—presents themselves in some way that will help identify them to the sitter. For instance, in my mind’s eye, I might see a part of the congregation with a man jumping up and down and I will know it is for a specific person in the scene—usually.

The majority of time, the sitter will give me a blank look and I have to conclude that my imagination got the best of me; however, I receive positive feedback often enough to make me confident that at least some of the messages are mediumistic. Perhaps there was not enough information in the image or perhaps I colored the message with my own worldview so much that it became unrecognizable to the sitter. Part of the risk of mediumship is that, if the message is wrong, it is the medium that is wrong. The rest of that story is that a lot of greetings are not delivered out of fear of being wrong.

One Sundays, Lisa gave a message about a large dog to someone in the front row. Earlier that morning, I had sensed a large, shorthair dog run from the front of the room toward someone near the back. He was very happy and full of life. I believe we both sensed the same dog but concluded different meanings from what we sensed. Clearly, we agreed on the fact of the dog.

It is as if a “dog” thoughtform had wandered through the room and at least two of us sensed its presence. A good way to think of thoughtforms is as very potent bundles of etheric energy that contain information about specific subjects or classes of subjects. Sensing a thoughtform potentially conveys information in a form of gestalt knowing about that subject. Sometimes—probably usually—the sensed information is colored by the person’s worldview. In that way, I might have assigned the dog to that person at the back of the room while Lisa felt it belonged to a person in the front.

Another factor that challenges my mediumship is the “ricochet” message. Information most commonly comes to me for spirit greetings in the form of little plays portraying a long-past event. They come with a sense about them such as sadness or irritation. I recently gave such a message to a person sitting beside Mary Beth. The person did not recognize the information, but after the service, Mary Beth told me that the message was probably intended for her, as it described an event in her past.

The same thing happened in England during a mediumship workshop. Rather than getting information for my mediumship partner, I got it for the instructor. Of course, my partner did not know what I was talking about—thus I was a failure … until the instructor told me that it perfectly fit a time in her life.

If you have the sense that each time I get up to give a message is something of an experiment, you are correct. I know that I am better than I come across, it is just that I stubbornly give what I get and what I get is often so far removed from the sitter’s current awareness that it may as well be wrong, or just as problematic, it may be right but for the wrong person.

Sensing messages is aggravated by what I will call the distracted mind effect. If I am deeply involved in a project, say writing a book or essay. Then, it is very difficult for me to disengage my mind from the project and focus on sensing subtle energy. This does not seem to be a problem for healing but it blinds my inner vision.

The phenomena of Spiritualism are usually described as healing by helpers in spirit and various forms of mediumship. However, in practice, there are many variables that complicate these and that must be considered. Practitioners are not just conduits conveying energy and information into the physical. They are metaphysicians seeking to understand the nature of the reality defining these phenomena. When they are in communion with their friends on the other side, they are so with awareness that their energy is much like the energy of their etheric friends. My task as a practitioner is to understand this and live accordingly.

Mediumship is a fragile form of communication and it takes both native ability and considerable practice for a medium to be confident in the messages. While it may be proof of survival, it is clearly a study of subtle energy and how we perceive our reality. As a community of like-minded friends, we are all involved in this study. That helps to make our church a friendly and understanding place to develop, but it potentially casts an air of incompetence in the eyes of people who do not understand. It is important that we remember this when new people visit our church. Like healing, spirit greetings require the cooperation of medium, sitter and our loved ones on the other side. We are all learning together.


Leave a Comment