Glossary of Terms

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A good citizen of any frontier subject is one who is informed about the important concepts involved in that field of study. One of the most effective ways of becoming informed about the  phenomena of Spiritualism is to learn how to speak about them with others. Doing so requires an ordered understanding of the subject which begins with understanding the terminology.

The terms presented here have been gathered from many different specialty areas of interest that seem to apply to the study of transcommunication. In many cases, the definition has been rephrased to better agree with current understanding. Please let us know if you think a term should be added, redefined or this glossary improved in some way.

These definitions have been adapted from the following references, with modifications and additions by Tom Butler.

  • Fodor, Dr. Nador—The Encyclopedia of Psychic
  • Blunsdon, Norman—A Popular Dictionary of Spiritualism, The Citadel Press, 1963.
  • Educational Course of Study on Modern Spiritualism from the Morris Pratt Institute, 11811 Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226,
  • Thurman, the Rev. Barbara, NST—Spiritualism 101
  • Crisp, Tony, The Chakras,
  • Bletzer, June G., PH.D., The Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary, New Leaf Distributing Company, 401 Thornton Road, Lithia Springs, GA 30122-1557, 1986


After Death Communication:  The departed bring messages to friends and relatives.  Normally the intent of these messages is to comfort the bereaved and let them know that the loved one who has made their transition is all right and very much alive.  A message may also be brought due to unfinished business and in order to bring closure to some unresolved issue.

Bill and Judy Guggenheim have done in-depth research into After-Death Communications.  They interviewed 2,000 people and collected more than 3,300 firsthand accounts from people who believe they have been contacted by a loved one who has died.  Hello From Heaven!

Based upon their research, the following are the twelve most frequent types of after-death communication people report having with their deceased loved ones:  (taken from the ADC website at

Sensing A Presence:  This is the most common form of contact.  But many people discount these experiences, thinking, “Oh, I’m just imagining this.”  It’s a distinct feeling that your loved one is nearby, even though he or she can’t be seen or heard.  Though most often felt during the days and weeks immediately after the death, you may sense his or her presence months and even years later.

Hearing A Voice:  Some people state they hear an external voice, the same as when a living person is speaking to them.  However, the majority of communications are by telepathy – you hear the voice of your relative or friend in your mind.  When you have two-way communication, it is usually by telepathy.  In fact, it’s possible to have an entire conversation this way.

Feeling A Touch:  You may feel your loved one touch you with his or her hand, or place an arm around your shoulders or back, for comfort and reassurance.  You may feel a tap, a pat, a caress, a stroke, a kiss, or even a hug.  These are all forms of affection, nurturing, and love.

Smelling A Fragrance:  You may smell your relative’s or friend’s favorite cologne, after-shave lotion, or perfume.  Other common aromas are:  flowers (especially roses) bath powders, tobacco products, favorite foods, and his or her personal scent.

Visual Experiences:  There are a wide variety of visual experiences, which we have divided into two broad categories:  partial visual and full visual ADCs.  Appearances range from “a transparent mist” to “absolutely solid” with many gradations in between.  You may see only the head and shoulders of your relative or friend, or someone you love may make a full appearance to you, and you will see the entire body as well, which will appear completely solid.  Some visual ADCs occur in the bedroom, next to or at the foot of the bed.  Others may happen anywhere – indoors or outdoors – even in a car or aboard a plane.  Typically he or she will be expressing love and well being with a radiant smile.  Loved ones virtually always appear healed and whole regardless of their cause of death.  Verbal communication may take place, but not always.

Visions:  You may see an image of a deceased loved one in a “picture” that is either two-dimensional and flat or three-dimensional like a hologram.  It’s like seeing a 35-mm slide or a movie suspended in the air.  Visions are usually in radiant colors and may be seen externally with your eyes open or internally in your mind.  Communication may occur, especially during meditation.

Twilight Experiences:  These occur in the alpha state – as you’re falling asleep, waking up, meditating, or praying.  You may have any or all of the above types of experiences while you are in this state of consciousness.

ADC Experiences While Asleep:  Sleep-state ADCs are much more vivid, intense, colorful, and real than dreams.  They are very common.  Both one-way and two-way communications are typical.  You usually feel your loved one is with you in person – that you’re having an actual visit together.  These experiences are not jumbled, filled with symbols, or fragmented the way dreams are.

Sleep-state ADCs are similar to those that occur when you are wide awake.  Your relative or friend can come to you more easily, however, when you are relaxed, open, and receptive, such as while you are in the alpha state or asleep.

Out-Of-Body ADCs:  These may occur while you are asleep or in a meditative state.  They are dramatic experiences during which you leave your body and often visit your loved one at the place or level where he or she exists.  These are extremely vivid, intense, and real – some say, “more real than physical life.”  The environments usually contain beautiful flowers and butterflies, colorful bushes and trees, radiant lighting, and other lovely aspects of nature – and are filled with happiness, love, and joy.

Telephone Calls:  These ADCs may occur during sleep or when you are wide awake.  You will hear a phone ringing, and if you answer it, your loved one will give you a short message.  Two-way conversations are possible.  His or her voice will usually be clear but may seem far away.  If you are awake, you will probably not hear a disconnect sound or a dial tone when the call is completed.

Physical Phenomena:  People who are bereaved often report receiving a wide variety of physical signs from their deceased relative or friend, such as:  lights or lamps blinking on and off; lights, radios, televisions, stereos, and mechanical objects being turned on; photographs, pictures, and various other items being turned over or moved; and a long list of “things that go bump in the night.”

Symbolic ADCs:  People frequently ask a Higher Power, the universe, or their deceased loved one for a sign that he or she still exists.  Many receive such a sign, though it may take some time to arrive.  Occasionally these signs are so subtle they may be missed, or they may be discounted as mere “coincidences.”  Common signs include butterflies, rainbows, many species of birds and animals, flowers, and a variety of inanimate objects such as coins and pictures.


Agent:  A term used in psychical research to signify one who acts as the transmitter in telepathic communications.

Akashic Records:  A cosmic gallery of pictures and the records of every thought, action and feeling since the world began.  Many believe that these records can be contacted in certain psychic states of consciousness.

Apparition:  The paranormal appearance of someone that is distant or dead.  This is a visual phenomenon that usually happens spontaneously.  The appearance of an apparition seems to be motivated by the particular anxiety on the part of the entity.  The need is felt to deliver an urgent message of perceived danger, worry, death or illness.  Apparitions seem more likely to manifest in moments of crisis.  The perception of an apparition is not restricted to the wee hours of the morning or to those who are in some private place.  It can occur at the most unexpected moments and publicly.

The message given by the entity is usually brief as if the power to bring it is limited.  Those seeing apparitions of the dying or dead often report feeling chilliness.  Apparitions may appear quite solid and yet objects may be seen beyond them.  They also may be accompanied by bright light.

Apports:   The entry or appearance of various objects through an apparent penetration of matter.  Apports are related to movement caused by spirit entities or unknown forces of energy.  An apport is an object that appears in a closed area, such as a room in which a séance is taking place.  Apport is the dematerialization of an object that then passes through obstacles such as walls and then re-materializes.  Objects differ in size, may be living or inanimate and appear not to be harmed by their strange journey.  With live apports it is thought that they are not dematerialized but rather the obstructing structure is dematerialized.  Inanimate objects are often reported to feel hot when they arrive, although some have been reported to be cold.

Asport:  An asport is the apport phenomena in reverse.  It is the disappearance of objects from a closed room and their re-appearance in another room.

Astral Body or Double:  A term often used to denote the etheric body.  Interpenetrating counterpart of the physical body that is said to be connected to it by a cord.

Astral Plane:  Often synonymous with the Etheric Plane.  However in Theosophy it means the place occupied by the recently deceased and by non-human nature spirits or elementals.

Astral Projection:  A condition in which there is separation between the physical and etheric body.  Astral projection often occurs during sleep.  Some have learned to consciously do astral projection and there are instances where information has been brought back and then verified.  A cord connects the physical body to the etheric or astral body.  This cord is often referred to as the “Silver Cord.”

Atmosphere:   The gaseous mass or envelope surrounding a celestial body, especially the one surrounding earth.  There is evidence that there is an aura or special atmosphere that surrounds all living bodies.

Aura:   An energy field or field of radiation that surrounds the human body.  Said by those who can see it, to consist of bands of color.  Investigation done by Dr. W. J. Kilner showed this energy field to vary in brilliance and color during illness and mental or emotional stimulation.  The aura shrinks to nothing near the time of death.  Mediums have confirmed these findings and often discern impending changes by studying a person’s aura.

Automatic Drawing and Painting:  Also called psychic art.  Artistic expression without the control of the conscious self.  Sometimes this is done in complete darkness and at great speed.  The subject and quality of this type of art is varied.

Automatic Speaking:  The use of the vocal cords without the volition of the conscious self.  Spontaneous speech without the control of the conscious self, taking place in trance or in the waking state.

Automatic Writing:  Written or typed material produced without the control of the conscious self.  It is a flow of intelligent writing produced in a disassociated state.  This is a common form of mediumship but is also not always true mediumship.  Automatic writing is a source of countless cases of self-delusion. When it is reliable it can open up a direct channel of communication from the Spirit World.  The content is very important and can determine whether the writing is automatic or from the mind of the writer.  Therefore, in judging such scripts, the standard of evidence should be very strict.

Automatic writing may be produced in trance or in the waking state with the important point being that there is no interference of the conscious mind.  Normally in automatic writing the hand of the writer is controlled and often writes at a furious pace without pause for thought and at times in an unfamiliar handwriting.  With automatic writing the pen moves the writer, whereas with conscious writing the writer moves the pen.

If the writer is fully conscious when doing automatic writing, they must remain entirely passive.  The writer may have an idea of the sense of the communication or they may not.  Messages have varied content and can be personal, political, societal, etc.  Automatic writing may be in another language and the term for this is Xenoglossy.  It can be backward, upside down or horizontal.  It may be so minute that a magnifying glass is needed to read it or very large and speed across a page.

Automatic writing can occur while the medium is conscious and engaged in other mental activity such as conversation or reading.  The medium Leonore Piper wrote with both hands at the same time while carrying on a conversation.  All three communications were on different subjects.

Scientists and parapsychologists now give little are no attention to automatic writing as a matter for proof of survival.  It is interesting as in the beginning it was accepted as proof of survival and is actually what led to the field of parapsychology.

Automatism:   The body functioning is not under the control of the conscious self.  This control can be by either the subconscious self or by a discarnate entity.  It encompasses automatic drawing, speaking, writing, painting, playing of musical instruments, dancing and even surgical operations.  Sensory automatism includes clairaudience and clairvoyance.


Billet Reading:  Usually done in a public demonstration where the audience write down messages to their departed friends or ask questions on pieces of paper.  The medium who is blindfolded or is in some other way unable to physically see the questions (questions placed in envelopes) then answers the questions and provides facts of an evidential nature.

Bilocation:   The ability to exist simultaneously in two places at once.


Cabinet:   A curtain enclosed space from which mediums condense the energy that is necessary for physical phenomena.  A cabinet is usually very simple.  A curtain placed across the corner of a room could serve as a cabinet.  Some mediums sit within the cabinet while others sit outside of it.  Many great mediums who produced physical phenomena found a cabinet unnecessary.

Chakras: Also known as energy centers or spiritual centers.  According to Hindu and occult concepts these are centers of psychic power situated in the subtle body that penetrates the physical body.  There are said to be six main chakras that ascend from the base of the spine.  Various authorities actually differ on the number of chakras, some citing seven.  Much like the aura, some psychics and mediums say that they can see these centers, which are a mixture of color of varying brightness.  The various centers usually are described red at the base; orange at the spleen; yellow at the solar plexus; green at the heart; blue at the throat; Indigo at the brow; and violet at the crown chakra.  Some authorities differ on these colors.  Certain spiritual healers say that they work on the chakras to stimulate a healing of the physical body.

Channeler:  A person who acts as an intermediary and through whom communication from the Spirit World is passed to those in the physical world.  See Medium

Channeling:   see Spirit Communication

Clairaudience:   This is a French word that means clear hearing and is the ability to hear sounds that are removed from natural hearing conditions or the environment. Parapsychology refers to it as extra-sensory information received as sound.  To the person who experiences this it is as if someone’s voice is being heard orally.  The sound, however, is not audible and the physical ear does not receive it.  It is closely allied to clairvoyance but the impressions are heard rather than seen and it could be likened to hearing with the spiritual ear or mental hearing.

Clairsentience:  This is a form of impressional mediumship.  The medium senses the physical makeup, personality, health condition, and the likes and dislikes of the spirit entities when they were on earth.

Clairvoyance:  A French word meaning clear seeing.  It is a paranormal mode of perception in which visual images are presented to the conscious mind.  The perception may be of objects, people and/or scenes, and can be from the present, past or future.  The clairvoyant experience may be spontaneous or induced as through meditation, scrying or other methods of divination.

Cold Spots:  Breezes, cool currents, and cold spots with a significant drop in temperature.  They are often associated with etheric energy, an apparition or a spirit entity.

Colors:   The colors in the human aura are perceived as meaning different things depending on the authority presenting their meaning.  Gold or violet is often seen as spirituality; pink as love and affection; red as energy, strength, courage, or anger; green and blue are often seen as healing colors.  Dark muddy hues are said to signify problems or illness.  Some healers use color therapy with particular hues influencing or helping to heal various illnesses.

Coloring:   A term used to describe a message purported to come from spirit that has been influenced by the medium’s own thoughts and ideas.  A medium is trained to give what they receive even if they do not understand the message.  They are trained to guard against trying to interpret or translate a message to assure that their own thoughts and views are not placed into the message.

Concentration:   One’s attention, or the mind, is kept continuously on one point of focus without distraction.  This can be difficult, but it is a good exercise for the stilling of the mind, which is necessary to receive psychic impressions.

Contact Healing:  Healing where physical contact is made between the patient and the healer.  Also called “laying on of hands” healing and spiritual healing.  Absent healing is healing done without contact and at a distance.  Excellent results have been achieved with both types of healing.

Control:  The spirit in charge of a medium or a séance proceeding often called “guides.”  The control directs the operation of the communication with the medium being the instrument of the communication or physical phenomena.  See Inner-band


Crystal Gazing or Scrying:  A very old form of divination done by gazing at a crystal ball, pool of water, mirror or other reflective surface.  After a time of cloudiness, pictures and scenes are said to appear.  This is the form of divination said to have been used at the time of the Greek Oracles and also by Nostradamus.  Spiritualist mediums rarely, if ever, use this type of tool as it is felt that a developed clairvoyant does not need aids.


Death-bed Visions: There are countless reports of “deathbed visions” in which the person, before dying, reports seeing the appearance of deceased loved ones and relatives.  A curious feature of these visions is that the dying only reports seeing deceased persons.  If this were a function of the dying brain one would expect that the visions would be of living persons as frequently as deceased ones.

Dematerialization:  The disappearance of matter or a materialized form.  Parts of the medium’s body have been recorded as temporarily disappearing during séances in which physical phenomena has taken place.  Small objects have also disappeared and if they reappear elsewhere they are known as asports.  See Asports

Differentiation:  Differentiation is used here to describe the process of changing the nature of energy.  A person is thought to receive nonphysical energy via the finer bodies of Self, and to change that energy for use in the physical.  In differentiation, spiritual energy issuing from Infinite Intelligence is differentiated or transformed through the intelligent application of Natural Law to create visualized aspects of reality according to intention.  It is through this process that an individual is thought to create his or her reality.

Direct Drawing and Painting:  This type of art is done without the use of the hand of the medium or any human contact with the materials used. The materials combine directly to produce the artistic result.  The Bangs sisters, David Duguid and Mrs. E. J French are all mediums known for this phenomenon.

Direct Voice:  A voice heard in space without any visible source or agency.  The voice often emanates from a trumpet, which serves as a condenser and amplifier for the voice.  But with sufficient energy the voice can be heard from any part of the room and a trumpet is not necessary.  The theory of how this is done is that ectoplasm is withdrawn from the medium’s or from the sitter’s body to produce a larynx or artificial voice box. The voices may be human sounding or the sounds of animals.  Many and varied experiments have been conducted to prove the validity of this phenomenon.  Ventriloquism and the “throwing of voices” were ruled out.

Direct Writing:  In Direct or Independent writing the script is obtained without any physical contact with the medium.  Partially materialized hands have been seen, in some instances, writing these messages.  Writing has been obtained in sealed boxes. A form of this phenomenon is known as “slate writing” where writing appears between a pair of sealed slates.  Direct typewriting has also occurred and there have been reports of written messages being received on computers that were not connected to the Internet.  These messages were not written by anyone in the household.  Photographic paper can also be impressed with direct scripts.

Discarnate:  A spirit person who has died in the earthly sense.  Not incarnate.  Not possessing a physical body.

Divination:  Deliberate pursuit of knowing the future or the discovery of things that are hidden by various practices.  Some of the most common are:  dowsing, astrology, numerology, palmistry, crystal gazing and various cards used for divination such as the Tarot.  These tools are not a part of the practice of Spiritualism, however spontaneous prophecy is.

Doorkeeper:   See Control

Double:   See Astral Body

Dowsing:  Using a rod, twig or pendulum to find water or other materials.

Dreams:  Dreams are a common occurrence and are often dismissed.  However there is much evidence that dreams that are prophetic do take place, and many cases have been authenticated.  Dream prophecies are often repetitive and usually consist of some kind of pre-vision in detail of some imminent disaster

Reports of visitations by deceased loved ones during the dream state are common.  These are usually much more distinct and intense than a normal dream.  They are not fragmented or full of symbols as is evidenced in most dreams.  Those who have experienced this say that they felt that their loved one was right there with them in person and that the conversation and visit were as real as any physical meeting.

Lucid dreaming is the ability to retain possession or control and consciousness while in the dream state.  It can be acquired with practice.


Earthbound Entity: See Etheric Studies Nomenclature for a more complete discussion of this subject.

Ectoplasm:  From the Greek ektos and plasma:  exteriorized substance.  A subtle matter present in the physical body that is primarily invisible but capable of assuming various vaporous, liquid or solid states and properties.  It emanates from the body of mediums and is manipulated by either discarnate intelligences or the subconscious, to produce phenomena including partial and complete materializations.  Ectoplasm is usually a whitish sticky substance that emerges through the pores and any of the natural orifices of the body.

Ectoplasm often has a smell similar to ozone.  It can appear in many different forms, colors and conditions although it is most often described as a whitish color.  It is sensitive to light and can also affect the general temperature of the room.  Ectoplasm possesses some of the properties of a living substance in that it has the ability to change, move and assume form.

The medium, Mme. d’Esperance, said that she could feel fine threads being drawn out of the pores of her skin and that her first impressions were of being covered with spider webs.

This substance is said to be responsible for the production of physical phenomena.  In addition to materialized forms spirit operators build elastic or rigid rods to produce movements in objects, raps, artificial voice boxes, levitation of tables and other objects.

Photographs were taken in the Margery séances in Boston.  They show ectoplasm being reabsorbed by the medium’s body through the openings of the mouth, ears and nose.

Ectoplasmic formations are potentially dangerous to the medium.  If the materialized formation or the medium is touched or subjected to light, the ectoplasm rapidly returns to the body of the medium and can cause severe injury.

Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP:  Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP: EVP is the presence of anomalous, intelligible speech recorded in or produced by electronic devices, and for which no currently understood physical explanations can account. See for more information on these phenomena.  See for more information on this phenomenon.

Emanations:  Science now knows of many kinds of emissions or radiations.  Those not yet known or understood could be responsible for such faculties as dowsing and psychometry.

Entering the Silence:  A quiet period that usually lasts a short time.  It is often observed in Spiritualist church services.  It is a brief time for meditation or attunement to the spiritual influences.

Entity:   An individual.  This term often refers to a discarnate personality.

Etheric:  All things pertaining to nonphysical reality.

Etheric body:  A counterpart of the physical body that lives on after the change called death.  Also known as the spirit body.

Etheric Plane:  The region where we go after passing through the change called death. There is gravitation to those of like mind and spiritual development.  This is the plane contacted by mediums for evidence of survival.  The surroundings in the near locale of the Etheric Planes are said to resemble the earth but are more responsive to thought.  See Concepts, Planes of Existence

Etheric Studies: The field of study focused on the nature of the greater reality, our continued existence in that greater reality after so-called death and the nature of the physical to etheric interface. See

Evil Spirits:  Spiritualists believe that “spirits” are just like us only they abide in a different sphere, atmosphere and awareness.  They are no more evil than we are.  Calling spirits evil is in general caused by a fear of the unknown.  In truth most  “evil spirits” would be better called misguided, ignorant or undeveloped.  Testimony from Spiritualist and others who do rescue work would confirm this.

Extra Sensory Perception or ESP:  Communication or perception by means other than the physical senses.  Professor J. B. Rhine conducted thousands of experiments, which produced statistical evidence of the existence of a telepathic function in some individuals.  There are differences between ESP and mediumship.  ESP is a partial or complete correspondence between the mental patterns of two persons, a sender and a receiver.  In mediumship the information is often unknown by the sitter at the time and in the absence of a “transmitter” the ESP explanation does not fit for what is happening in mediumship unless we say that the sender is in the Spirit World.


Faith:  Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.  This is not expected in Spiritualism where proof is offered.

Faith Healing:  Healing which is said to happen due to a healing recipient’s belief or faith in Divine power.  This is the type of healing that has taken place at Lourdes and other such places.  Faith Healing is different from spiritual healing.  With spiritual healing the recipient does not have to have faith to be healed.  An animal can be treated and cured, which rules out faith as the necessary factor.


Ghost:  An energy field that repeatedly appears in the same location and is often perceived as a “living presence.”  The appearance of a ghost is often accompanied with a drop in temperature.  Ghosts are considered to be entities that are held earth bound for various reasons.  Due to misinformation from former education, or religious beliefs, the entity may not be aware that he or she is dead.  There may be an emotional tie from the past that is not understood and that binds them to the earth plane.  Mourners who do not stop talking and thinking about someone who has died can hinder that person’s movement into the Spirit World.  A ghost can receive energy from an environment that holds emotional ties regarding its past life.

A ghost can also be nothing more than an astral shell.  Earthly desires and habits may be so strongly engraved that the shell can hold its human like form for a considerable length of time.  This form of ghost is often not responsive to people.  Thought to be associated with body consciousness, rather than the Self.

Glossolalia:  Speaking in tongues unknown to the medium or person doing the speaking.

Guide:   A continual, benevolent, protective influence who acts in a protective and or instructive capacity.  They are said to be advanced spirits who voluntarily return with a purpose in mind.  Some guides say that they are only the mediums for even higher or more advanced entities.


Haunting:  Paranormal disturbances usually attributed to the spirits of the dead.  Various phenomena are reported including moving objects, strange noises, lights, cold spots, unpleasant smells, and the appearance of ghostly figures.  Most hauntings are attributed to those who have suffered some sort of violent death.

Hierarchy of Spirit:  A term describing the integration between the different Spirit Planes of existence.  Information from one to the other does not pass directly but by means of a system of delegation and a chain of communication.  The higher spheres are said to be aware of the lower adjacent planes, which they are able to interact with and impress.  But knowledge of the higher can only be revealed through the mediumship of spirits at the lower level.  See Concepts, Planes of Existence

Home Circle:  A group of seven to ten friends who meet on a regular basis usually in a person’s home to develop their psychic powers.  They believe that spirit helpers and guides are ready to assist their efforts.  A developed medium is usually present but not always.  Some circles sit for specific purposes such as absent healing, meditation, spirit rescue, psychic development, or physical phenomena.

Human Personality:  Norman Blunsdon writes in A Popular Dictionary of Spiritualism  “Spiritualism, by revealing man’s enormous potentialities as a spirit, increases the complexity of human personality.  From the F. W. H. Myers communications, it would appear that the earthly individual is only part of a larger entity – the Group Soul – which he will join at a later date, having formed by his reactions, an earthly pattern for a new successor of the group to follow.  The exact relationships of all these ‘facets’ of a large human personality are fraught with interest; they promise a working hypothesis, which might solve many problems.  Our “guides” may be other facets or parts of the same soul group; the popular idea of reincarnation may be a crude glimpse of this far more complex process; the homing instinct of animals and birds; the community life of insects, may all be understood by participation in a group intelligence controlling its lesser parts.  By the phenomena of astral projection, the exteriorization of sensation in materialized figures and hypnotic experiments, we can see that the human senses are not confined to the physical body.  It is conceivable that at a later stage of development, they may all be incorporated in some greater being, where all these facets of experience which we call persons, may be united for the benefit of the whole.”

Hypnotism:   A peculiar state of consciousness artificially induced, a kind of sleep state that seems to liberate the subconscious powers of the subject.  The subject executes suggestions made by the hypnotist as long as they do not conflict with deeper instincts.  These suggestions may even be delayed to take effect after the subject comes out of the hypnotic state.  The hypnotic state also can be self-induced in order to attain greater self-confidence, self-control, or management of pain.

Hypnotic Regression:  A technique whereby a subject being hypnotized is able to recall details of events that happened in their distant past.  Hypnotists have regressed the memory of subjects to events before their birth.  The substantiation of these events is advanced as evidence for the theory of reincarnation.


Impersonation:  The medium can temporarily take on the past conditions of the communicator.  These can be physical conditions such as difficulty breathing, a bad leg or any number of situations.  This often provides very evidential information.

Impersonation can also mean something else.  A spirit may imitate another spirit or say that they are someone that they are not.  This can happen in mediumship and also in Electronic Voice Phenomena.  One’s passing to spirit life does not make one immediately illuminated or in anyway automatically more advanced than in earth life.  Spirits may impersonate for attention or as a prank.  Communicators that seem pompous or make claims of being some important personality should be approached carefully and supporting information must be obtained to substantiate any claims that seem out of the ordinary.

Independent:  Independent voice, writing, drawing and painting – see Direct

Impression:   A process by which entities can impart information to the mind of a person with mediumistic ability.  The impression may be visual or more like a thought.  There may be an urge to take a certain course of action or to perform some sort of task.

Infinite Intelligence:  In Spiritualism, the Prime Creator, First Cause, God, whatever you think of when you think of the force that started reality in the first place, is known as Infinite Intelligence.  Yes, it is correct to say that Infinite Intelligence is God.  Spiritualists do believe in God.  But there are a few important differences in the way Spiritualists understand God.  Infinite Intelligence is not a father figure that offers rewards and punishment to his children.  Please refer to the Concepts page for further discussion of Infinite Intelligence.

Inner-Band:  A group of five to seven spirits who offer guidance, knowledge, energy and protection for each person on earth.  Members of the Band are drawn to the person because of their interests and abilities.  The Band’s function is to give assistance, however, they give aid only when they are called upon.  Verbalizing mentally or aloud that help is needed will summon their assistance.  Members of the band work as a team and help is given in every phase of one’s life.  Names often associated with the Inner-Band are Doctor Teacher or Celestial Guardian, Metaphysical Physician, Joy Guide and Alchemist.

Inspiration:  An agency, such as a person or work of art, which moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.  In Spiritualism this is more of a psychic state in which one is receptive to creative spiritual influence.  Inspirational speaking, writing and drawing have been done by mediums who have no training in these fields and who also lack any natural ability.  The results are often exemplary.

Inspirational Speaking:  An extemporaneous oral communication by mediums in various states of trance with the resulting communication frequently surpassing their own abilities.

Inspirational Writing and Drawing:  Recording written or drawn mental impressions that are supernormally received.

Instrument:  A term used to refer to a medium as in, “the instrument of communication.”  This may seem to refer to a totally mechanical transmission, but this is not the case.  The medium’s mind and vocabulary have to be employed by the spirit communicators.  The mental associations of the medium must be watched for as they may present themselves in addition to the transmitted material. See coloring

Intuition:  The act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition; a perceptive insight.

Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC): Images and messages that are received from spirit entities through televisions, radios, telephones, computers, and other devices.  See Electronic Voice PhenomenaVideo ITC


Joy Guide:  A member of the Inner-band or guide whose function is to bring lightheartedness and joy.  Assists a person in their balance between work and recreation.  A Joy Guide is usually seen as a very young person of either gender.


Karma:  A principle in Theosophy, Buddhism and Hinduism that states that we are the cause of our present conditions.  These conditions are governed by the Law of Action:  for every action there is a reaction with our deeds, acts and attitudes creating our future and making one ultimately responsible for oneself.

Kirlian Photography:  Photographs of the emanations surrounding people, plants, animals and objects made possible by a high voltage camera invented by Semyon and Valentina Kirlian.  These emanations are not detectable through normal human sight.  The camera converts non-electrical properties into electrical properties, which are then captured on film by means of high-voltage spark discharges.  It is believed that the emanations detected by this method are representative of the aura.

Kundalini:  Yoga teaching regarding a psychic force coiled at the base of the spine.  This force is dormant until awakened through Yoga teachings and techniques.  The force then ascends to the chakras, or energy centers in the body, activating them and creating psychic abilities appropriate to the centers activated.


Laws of Nature:  Spiritualists believe that all things including phenomena proceed according to Natural Law.  Phenomena are not considered miracles.  They simply happen according to Natural Laws not yet discovered or understood.  Phenomena may be supernormal but not supernatural.

Laying on of Hands:  This healing practice is equivalent to the Spiritualist’s “contact healing.”  In the Bible, Elisha, an Old Testament prophet, cured a leper by the laying on of hands.  The practice of the laying on of hands, as introduced by Edward the Confessor in the eleventh century, can be traced directly back to the statement found in St. Mark:  “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Levitation:   To rise or cause to rise into the air and float in apparent defiance of gravity.  A form of physical mediumship in which objects such as chairs, tables and even human beings, are lifted into the air without any physical agency.  The medium, D. D. Home, was famous for levitation.  One eyewitness account tells of his floating out a third story window and then returning into the room through another window.

Life:  Predominantly considered to be a characteristic of humans, plants and animals.  However, even inert matter is in constant movement and change.  We continue to find life in places that we did not believe that it could exist, such as on the bottom of the sea floor around thermal vents.  Perhaps our ideas of what is living and what is non-living are flawed and merely the measure of our ignorance and restricted powers of observation.  Many consider that the earth is alive.  This view about life is more in accordance with information received from spirit communications.

Lower Astral:  A term often used to describe the part of the Spirit World nearest earth.  This is said to be the level of ghosts and other spirits who would be considered earthbound or lost.

Luminous Body:  A term often used to describe the astral body.  Pythagoras is credited with originally using the term for the astral body.

Luminous Phenomena:  These frequently occur in association with physical mediumship.  A survey of cases seem to conclude that psychic lights have a chemical origin and are derived from the body of the medium or the sitters and are similar to the organic lights observable in nature, such as luminous insects.  The lights can vary in brilliance, size and are sometimes colored.  They appear as semi-solid objects that float about the room.  Phosphorus smells have been said to accompany these lights.


Magic:  The practice of using charms, spells or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.  Most primitive peoples practiced magic.  White magic is magic undertaken for beneficial purposes.  Black magic is magic exercised for evil intention.  Psychic phenomena are supernormal; in other words they work in accordance with natural laws and are not supernatural.

Magnetic Healing:  Some individuals possess a superabundance of energy or vital force.  This energy can be passed on from the healer to those with low amounts of vital force and a healing can take place.

Magnetic Phenomena:  Mediums influence compass needles and magnetized items in experiments.

Materialization:  A form of physical mediumship where temporary ectoplasmic forms are observed in diverse phases of completeness and solidity.  This may be the most difficult phase of physical mediumship.  A large abundance of ectoplasm is necessary.  The ectoplasm is a substance, normally invisible, which flows from a physical medium and is added to by the sitters who are present.  The spirit entity is able to use the ectoplasm to manifest a body, which is a replica of the physical body that they had when they were on the Earth Plane.  The spirit entity manifests apart from the Medium and can be observed by everyone present.  In the best cases of Materialization the entity walks, moves and has even been able to speak.  This phenomenon has been investigated many times under laboratory conditions and proved to be genuine.  This form of mediumship is rare and there is a need for discernment as this phenomenon usually is demonstrated in darkness.  Events of fraud surrounding this type of phenomena in the past have done great harm to the true cases where this phenomenon has taken place.

Matter Through Matter:  This phenomenon has been produced on many occasions with a variety of items being removed or introduced into sealed jars and locked containers.  Clothing that has been sewed up has been removed from mediums.  Rings of wood, leather, iron and other matter have been linked together.  Items have been reported passing through tables and in and out of closed séance rooms.  (See apport and Asport)

Medium:  One whose organism is sensitive to vibrations from the Spirit World and through whose instrumentality intelligences in that world are able to convey messages and produce phenomena.  (NSAC definition)

There are two kinds of mediumship, mental and physical.  Some of the phenomena included under mental mediumship are clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, trance, inspirational speaking and writing, spiritual healing, prophecy, and psychometry.  Some of the phenomena included in physical mediumship would be materialization, apports, transfiguration, direct or independent voice and writing, trumpet, Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), spirit photography, Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), rappings, levitation, and luminous appearances.

Mental mediumship is considered subjective in nature as it appeals more directly to the intellect.  It is felt that the spirit control operates the medium’s subconscious mind as an instrument of expression.  Physical mediumship is described as objective in nature because it generally affects physical objects and can be observed by one or more of the five physical senses.  Mental mediumship stems from the base of the brain, which is the center of the cerebrospinal nervous system, controlling all conscious actions.  Physical mediumship is centered in the solar plexus, which controls the sympathetic nervous system and regulates all unconscious functions of the body.

Mesmerism:  Early form of hypnotism discovered and used by the German physician Anton Mesmer.  This was also called “animal magnetism.”  Mesmer had success in his healing methods, but was branded an impostor by the orthodox medical community.  Medical doctors now sometimes use hypnotism.

Mind Reading:  See Telepathy

Miracles:  Events that are considered supernatural.  Spiritualist do not believe in the supernatural but have a substantial amount of evidence of the supernormal which does not contest natural laws.

Monition:   A warning that is supernormal; a warning of some past or present event by other than the normal senses.

Molds, Psychic:  Molds have been obtained by the materialized form dipping its hands into molten wax, then water and then dissolving to leave a thin glove like impression behind.  Duplicates of these are impossible to reproduce by normal means.  Other kinds of molds, or impressions, have been taken of materialized forms during séances.

Movement of Objects:  Movement without contact of a physical being.  Called Telekinesis by psychic researchers.  Parakinsesis is movement with contact insufficient to explain it.  Both of these are common phenomena.  Movement can be very slight to the actual levitation of heavy objects and people.  Complicated apparatus have been maneuvered in a manner showing intelligent operation.  See Psychokinesis

Mummification:   This is an unusual form of mediumship where perishable objects are preserved due to contact with the medium’s hands or by passes made with the medium’s hands.  Decomposition of plants and animals has been slowed and cut flowers have been preserved for many days.  Bacteria of various types have also been destroyed with this same method.

Music, Supernormal:  Beautiful, unaccountable sounds of singing or instruments being played.  Music from invisible sources has been reported being heard at religious revivals and at deathbeds.  With mediumship it is rare without some sort of musical instrument being present.  Instruments of various kinds have been played paranormally during the séances of many different mediums.


Natural Law:  Natural Law is defined in Spiritualism as an “ascertained working sequence or constant order among the phenomena of nature.”  Natural laws are simple statements of the orderly working of the universe and all that is in it.  They represent the constant outward expression of what we can expect to happen in any given situation.

Newspaper Tests: Ingenious experiments devised by spirit entities to eliminate the possible claim that telepathy was an explanation for spirit communication.  Names and dates were given that would be published in certain columns of a newspaper yet to be printed.  Astonishing results were obtained in this manner through the mediumship of Mrs. Leonard.

Nonphysical:  Not of this physical reality, which is sometimes referred to as the Physical Plane of existence.  This is not simply a matter of something that has not yet been defined by science.  The working hypothesis is that there are levels or aspects of reality that are energetically different from our aspect of reality.

Some may think of nonphysical reality as:

The higher planes of existence
Beyond the Veil
The other side
A different dimension
Finer worlds
Spirit world
Etheric reality

However you think of it, the idea is that there is one reality, but that this reality has aspects.  Our physical universe is one aspect of reality.  Here, we are referring to the greater reality beyond our physical universe as “nonphysical” reality.

Numerology:  The study of the occult meanings of numbers and their supposed influence on human life.


Objective Phenomena:  Phenomenon that has external reality and that can be perceived and observed by others.

Ouija Board:  A small wooden board with letters of the alphabet.  A pointer is placed under the medium’s hand and on the board.  Under control, messages are spelled out.

Overshadowing:  A medium is controlled by a spirit entity.  Most often used when the range of control is slight.


Palmistry:  Divination through the configuration and lines of the hands.  Not a mediumistic faculty.

Parakinesis:  The movement of objects with contact insufficient by itself to explain the motion observed.  See Psychokinesis

Paranormal:  Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation; supernormal.  In Spiritualism, The Principles of Natural Law are thought to be continuously applied throughout reality.  As such, while something may be outside of “normal” experience, it is not outside of what is normal or natural in the larger view.  The term “paranormal” is sometimes used in Spiritualism, but its use should not be construed as the acceptance of the “miraculous” or “supernatural.”

Parapsychology:  The study of the evidence for psi phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis, which are unexplainable by science.

Pendulum:  A body suspended from a short cord so that it swings freely back and forth.  Dowsers use this instrument.  Spiritualist would say that the results received are possibly due to the psychic powers of the operator, the pendulum simply acting as a focus of attention.

Percussion:   See Raps

Personality:   All of the characteristics, which make up the physical and mental being and make us each individuals.  The characteristics that distinguish one person from another incorporated into a stream of consciousness.  The question of survival cannot be decided until the continuance of personality as a stream of consciousness is proved.

Phantom:   Something apparently seen but having no physical reality such as a ghost or an apparition.  The evidence for this is overwhelming.

Planchette:   A small hand rest on castors in which a pencil is fixed.  This device was invented in France in 1853.  The medium places their hand on the device and writing or drawing may result that originates from spirit entities.

Phenomena:  Any manifestation of nonphysical energy into physical reality.  As a convention, “Phenomena” with a capital “P” is used for nonphysical phenomena.  Otherwise, “phenomena” with lower case “p” refers to mundane or physical world manifestations of nature.  Here, Phenomena is generally thought of as an intrusion of subtle energy–usually called spiritual energy in the Spiritualist church–into our physical awareness.  This energy is sometimes referred to as etheric energy.  Typical examples include:

  • Mediumship: a medium is a person who is able to sense the presence of a nonphysical entity, either through the physical senses or by way of thoughts and impressions conveyed by the entity.  From the most fundamental perspective, this nonphysical information is spiritual energy (etheric energy but of intelligent origins) that is emanated by entities residing beyond the veil.  Mediumship, then, is the act and process of conveying this energy into the physical realm.
  • Clairvoyance: a clairvoyant is a person who is able to psychically sense nonphysical energy and is able to project his or her awareness to other locations–physical or nonphysical.  As such, clairvoyance (clear seeing) is though of a the ability to project awareness beyond the person’s physical location.  A modern trend is to refer to this as remote viewing.
  • Spiritual Healing: a spiritual healer is a person who is able to manage etheric energy, either in the form of vitality or in the form of spiritual energy.  Please refer to the concept of healing for more information on this subject.

Spiritualists believe that such Phenomena is not supernatural or miraculous in any way, but that it operates according to the Principles of Natural Law.

Phenomena of Spiritualism, The:  The Phenomena of Spiritualism include prophecy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, speaking in tongues, spiritual healing also known as laying on of hands or therapeutic touch, visions, trance, apports, levitation, raps, automatic and independent writings and paintings, direct or independent voice, materialization, spirit photography, psychometry, electronic voice phenomena and any other manifestation proving the continuity of life as demonstrated through the physical and spiritual senses and faculties of man.

Poltergeist:  A mischievous entity who throws objects, makes noise, breaks things and has even been known to cause fires.  This type of phenomenon is spontaneous and usually occurs around young people near the age of puberty.

Possession:  A developed form of motor automatism in which the personality of the automatist is temporarily substituted by a discarnate spirit.  The possessing personality aims to establish communication through the entranced medium by speech or writing.

Unfortunately the term possession has come to mean in popular culture a state of being dominated by evil spirits.  Trance mediumship operates on the same principle but is the result of cooperation between an intelligent spirit and the medium.  Consideration and respect is shown on both sides and the medium’s normal self is only in temporary abeyance during control.

In unwanted possession, the best treatment is to reason with the entity.  The futility and damage that the possessing entity is doing should be pointed out to them.  They must be made aware of the positive possibilities that are inherent in their departure to the sphere of existence that they truly belong in.  They need to learn and understand that progression will still continue for them in that sphere.  Some mediums work in this specialized area and have helped patients back to normalcy.  Also the exorcism rituals done by Catholic Church are documented in the area of possession.

Prayer:  A mental or vocal communication directed to a higher power or spirit intelligence.  A mental attitude of reaching out to a greater awareness of spirituality.  Spiritualists would say that the form is not important, but that the sincerity and spiritual value of the motive behind the prayer is.  Verbal repetition is useless.

Precipitation: By definition, a precipitate is something that condenses out of a solution and falls as a deposit. Rain or snow is one example. A precipitation medium is one who is able to work with etheric helpers to produce physical objects, via precipitation. A good example of this is the Reverend Hoyt Z. Robinette as described in the article, Visiting Precipitation Medium. Currently available  evidence indicates that the precipitate originates in the physical and is in effect, dematerialized, transported via the etheric and rematerialized according to the intended formation expressed by the medium via the direction of communicating entities. In effect, this is the same process thought to be involved with apportation of object, except that the precipitate is in a new form.

Precognition:   Knowledge of something in advance of its occurrence, especially by extrasensory perception; clairvoyance.

Prediction:  The foretelling of any kind of future event; a prophecy.

Premonition:  A presentiment of the future; a foreboding.  This is the lowest degree of prophecy, as in premonitions precise details of the event are not outlined.

Prodigies:   Infants who exhibit mature powers of technical or artistic perfection.

Prophecy:  A prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration.

Psi:  Term coined by J. B. Rhine to represent the unknown force involved in Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis.  Popularly used today to mean “psychic.”  Processes and elements in nature or in the human personality, which appear to transcend the accepted limiting principles of science.

Psychic:  That which is mental.  Descriptive of supernormal phenomena.  A person responsive to psychic forces.  A Psychic is not necessarily a Medium.  A Psychic may be able to foretell the future, excel in psychometry and be clairvoyant but would not say that this information was coming from a control or spirit entity.  Mediums are most often psychic but it is possible for a medium to simply be an instrument for communications from the other side and have no psychic ability.

Psychic Photographs:  There are two types.  First there are photographs produced by normal means for psychical research.  These include pictures of ectoplasm, levitation, telekinetic phenomena, materialization, and other manifestations.  Secondly there are pictures produced by supernormal means often called Spirit Photographics.  This type of photo often shows strange lights, mists, orbs and entities.

Psychograph:  The supernormal appearance of some text or writing on photographic material.

Psychokinesis (P. K.):  The production or control of motion, especially in inanimate and remote objects, by the exercise of psychic powers.  This is a term used in parapsychology.

Psychometry: By touching an object, or an area, information is gained that was not known before about the object and/or the owner of the object.  This information is often perceived through the palms of one’s hands.  The article can also be held up to the forehead or against the solar plexus area to gain information.  Objects that have been involved in an emotional trauma, or that have been used repeatedly, are most easily read.  Psychometry does not provide information about the future, as this information has not been imbedded on the object.




Radiesthesia:  The theory that dowsing operates by the instrumental detection of subtle radiations from the hidden substance.

Raps:   A common feature of physical séances.  Noises are heard as knocks, pops, cracks, and bangs.  Coded communication is possible.  The phenomenon is said to be produced by flexible ectoplasmic rods striking furniture, floors, walls or various objects in the room.

Rapport:    Relationship, especially one of mutual trust or emotional affinity.  Spirit entities have advised of the importance of rapport within a circle wishing to develop physical phenomena.

Reality:  There is one reality, but there are many aspects of the one reality.  We exist in the physical aspect of reality.  As such, nonphysical reality is the rest of reality.  Related terms are personal reality or environment and local reality.

Receptivity:  A mental condition necessary for mediumship meaning, “capable of or qualified for receiving.”  Only by becoming quiet and stilling one’s thoughts can one begin to hear the first beginnings of communication coming from those in the spirit realms.

Reincarnation:  The rebirth of the soul in another physical body.  The belief that beings who have passed over and who have spent a period of time in the beyond, return.  Spiritualists are divided on this belief.  Many have difficulty in accepting this rigid law of return and favor the idea of a measure of personal free will.  So what do those on the other side say?  Surprisingly information brought through mediums from spirit entities also is split.  Some say reincarnation is a fact.  Others say that we make the decision once there, whether to return or not.  And still others say that there is no such thing as reincarnation.  Some of the evidenced advanced for the theory of reincarnation is memories of former incarnations, hypnotic regression before birth, prodigies and information from those in spirit.

Rescue Circles:  Formed for the purpose of making those who have died and are stuck in the earth sphere aware of their condition.  These stuck entities are often referred to as “earth bound.”  Guides and helpers tell us that these earth bound entities can be difficult to reach and help from the higher planes and that it is far easier for us to reach them from our side.

Retrocognition:   Awareness or knowledge of facts of past events or persons acquired by means of psychic ability.

Revelation:    Something revealed especially a dramatic disclosure of something not previously known or realized.


Sacred Writings:  There are many sacred texts and books.  Spiritualism contents that all scared texts are important and none are more important than any other.  Revelation and inspiration can be drawn from many literary sources.  Spiritual truth is not confined to one religion or to any particular set of writings.

Scrying:  See Crystal Gazing

Séance:  Sitting done for the purpose of obtaining psychic manifestations or for establishing communication with the dead.  The presence of a medium is required.  Sitters need not have psychic powers but the phenomena will be stronger if they do.  The sitters should be limited and well chosen.  It is said that a number of sitters between six and eight are best.  The establishment of a favorable environment is necessary for success and the rapport between the sitters should be the foundation for this environment.  Most authorities say that there should be a balance between male and female energies.  Skepticism does not prevent success but the presence of a hostile mind can be destructive.

Second Sight:  Clairvoyance

Seer:   A natural prophet or Clairvoyant.

Self:  Self is the term used here in reference to the true “I” of the continuum of consciousness of an individual.  Self is your point of view.  In popular terminology, we are conscious or unconscious.  We have a physical body and we have a Soul.  However, in the terms used here, we are Self occupying a physical body during this lifetime.  We, as Self, are multi-level entities.

Sensing:   A term that is often used by mediums when perceiving information coming from a spirit communicator, or from a psychometry article.

Sensitive:   A person possessing psychic powers but who does not necessarily have the ability to establish communication with the departed.  A sensitive may excel in clairvoyance, psychometry and telepathy, and be able to see the future yet they may not claim that the information received comes from those in the spirit realms.

Shaman:   A member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and an invisible Spirit World and who performs rituals for the purpose of healing, divination, and control over natural events.

Sitter:  The attendees of a séance or sitting, other than the medium.

Sixth Sense:  A power of perception seemingly independent of the five senses; keen intuition.  Tardy de Montravel first put forward this theory saying that this sixth sense was the source and sum of all our senses.  The theory has been advanced in the past as a convenient explanation for most phenomena and as an alternative to spirit communication.  There may be some truth to our having a sixth sense, but there is also a wide variety of evidence that supports the evidence of spirit communication.

Slate Writing:  Once a popular phenomenon in séances.  Today it is rare.  Two slates were sealed with a piece of pencil between them.  During the séance a message would be written between the slates and disclosed after they were opened.

Smells, Psychic:  Many different kinds of smells have been reported that are of supernormal origin.  They range from the wonderful smells of flowers and perfumes to the very unpleasant ones reported in haunting situations.  Sulfur and ozone smells have been reported accompanying some phenomena.

Solar Plexus:  An area situated behind the stomach.  It is associated with one of the chakras or psychic centers related to emotion.  Thought of as the point in the human body at which cosmic energies are transmuted into usable physical energy.  Sitters sometimes experience a curious pulling feeling in the solar plexus area during the production of phenomena.

Soul:  The indestructible spiritual part of a person.  The animating and vital principle in human beings credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity.  The spiritual nature of human beings, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state. Spiritualists believe that the soul leaves the physical body at death and continues to function in the Spirit World.

Speaking in Tongues:  See Xenoglossis

Spectral Flames: Lights that are supernormal and that are seen in cemeteries and around churches.  See Luminous Phenomena.

Specter:  A ghostly apparition; a phantom.

Spheres:  The subsequent realms of spirit life following that of earth.  The higher levels are invisible to those in the lower levels.  The nearest environments are similar to that of earth but disease and physical deterioration are absent.  There have been many attempts to define and name the different spheres.  In any event there seems to be an infinite gradation of levels from those closest to us to those in the celestial spheres.  The celestial area is said to be full of harmony and light and is inhabited by very spiritually advanced beings.

Spirit:  The vital principle or animating force within living beings.  The indestructible essence of self-conscious life.  The word spirit is often used to describe a discarnate person; however, we are all spirits in that we are all formed of this energy as is every object of reality.  The difference would be only in the type of body we presently inhabit be it physical, astral, etheric, etc. The more correct term for a person who has transitioned from a physical lifetime is a person “in spirit” or a discarnate person. The term, “spirit,” is closely related to religious belief, and Spiritualist’s understanding of the continuity of personality after “so called death” is based on empirical evidence. It is more precise to avoid the confusing use of traditional religious terms.

When etheric energy is said to be derived directly from Infinite Intelligence (God) and undifferentiated by any other entity, it is said to be coming from Spirit.  Here “Spirit” is written with a capital “S.”  In common usage, “spirit,” written with a lowercase “s,” is a reference to subtle energy as applied in healing or formation of our local reality. See Etheric.

Spirit Children:  Children who have gone to the other side continue to grow and develop in the Spirit Worlds.  Many children tell us about playmates that are in spirit.

Spirit Communication or Channeling:  Energy flows through a person from other dimensions to this one.  This energy can be used for communication, healing or for other purposes.  Information may be received through automatic writing, trance, clairvoyance, clairaudience, or by other means.  In some cases the person may be tapping into the highest level of their own psyche, in others the communication can come from those in spirit or from energy coalitions that say they are from other dimensions.  Those who say that their source is extraterrestrial are usually called contactees.

Spirit Hypothesis:  The theory that the intelligence, which directs the phenomena of the medium, is who and what they say they are, a disembodied spirit.  It is the only simple theory that covers every phase of manifestations.  It is also the one which is being consistently put forward by the invisible communicators.

Spiritual Healing:  Mediums may channel energy just as well as words.  Spiritualist healers believe that their healing ability comes from helpers in the etheric who are able to cooperate with them to pass the needed healing energy to the receiver.  It is felt that the practitioner is also able to provide a form of energy which is more a product of his or her physical person, sometimes thought of as “vitality.” Healing may be practiced as contact healing or distant healing.

Current research is focused on what is being referred to as biofield energy, which is seen as “nonlocal” (having an effect at any distance) and which is known to be influenced by intentionality. Random Number Generators (REG) are being used to detect the presence of biofield energy; REG will become less random in the presence of biofield energy that is influenced by focused intentionality.

The basic elements of healing are focused attention on a clearly imagined outcome with the determined intention that it will be so.

Of all of the popular terms for spiritual healing, “biofield healing” may be the most specific and correct, as even if the energetic influence for healing comes from etheric helpers, it is still acting on the biofield. Other terms such as spiritual healing, faith healing, Reiki and energy healing are synonymous, but are often confused with systems of belief and should be avoided.

Spirit Helper:  A discarnate entity who is eager to assist the subject.  They may be under the direction of a control.  They are usually the more recently deceased and are often friends and relatives of the subject.  They are different from guides who have a greater understanding and experience of spiritual matters.

Spirit Lights:  see Luminous Phenomena

Spiritual:  Anything relating to Infinite Intelligence.  In Spiritualism, God is generally thought of as Infinite Intelligence.  A more analytical view might be that of a Prime Creator or First cause.  It is reasonable and proper to refer to the purpose and origination of reality as spiritual. Thus, when etheric energy is considered as something that is managed by an intelligence outside of the Self, then it is often referred to as Spiritual in nature.

Examples of the usual use of “Spiritual” include:

  • Spiritual–Reverence toward Infinite Intelligence; anything that is akin to Infinite Intelligence or a person who is striving to live in accordance with Natural Law.
  • Spiritual Healing–healing that is the result of energy coming from Infinite Intelligence.
  • Spiritual eyesclairvoyance; an ability to sense nonphysical reality.  (It is more correct to say “clairvoyance,” but for the same reasons noted above, ” Spiritual” is often used.

Spiritual Healing:  Please refer to the Concepts page for a more complete discussion of spiritual healing.  As suggested by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches: “Spiritual healing is a talent possessed by certain Spiritualist mediums (et. al.), and . . . this talent is exercised by and through the direction and influence of excarnate spiritual beings for the relief, cure and healing of both mental and physical diseases of humankind. . . .”

Spiritual Maturity:  Spiritual maturity can be defined as the understanding of Natural Law and living in accordance with those Principles.  It is reasonable to say that people who are trying to understand the greater reality are seeking spiritual maturity.  Thus, an “enlightened one” is a person with great spiritual maturity.

Spiritualism:  The NSAC defines Spiritualism as the Science, Philosophy and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World.

Spiritualist:  A Spiritualist is one who believes as the basis of his or her religion in the communication between this and the Spirit World by means of mediumship and who endeavors to mold his or her character and conduct in accordance with the highest teachings derived from such communication.  (NSAC definition)

Spiritualism as a Science:  “Spiritualism Is a Science” Because it investigates, analyzes and classifies facts and manifestations demonstrated from the spirit side of life.

Spiritualism as a Philosophy:  “Spiritualism Is a Philosophy” because it studies the Laws of Nature both on the seen and unseen sides of life and bases its conclusions upon present observed facts. It accepts statements of observed facts of past ages and conclusions drawn therefrom, when sustained by reason and by results of observed facts of the present day.

Spiritualism as a Religion:  “Spiritualism Is a Religion” because it strives to understand and to comply with the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Laws of Nature, which are the laws of God.

Spiritualist Healer:  A Spiritualist Healer is one who, either through one’s own inherent powers or through mediumship, is able to impart vital, curative force to pathologic conditions.  (NSAC definition)

Subjective Phenomena:  Phenomena which arises within the mind, exclusive of external observation.

Subliminal:  Below the threshold of conscious perception.  Inadequate to produce conscious awareness but able to evoke a response.

Suggestion:   F. W. H. Myers defined suggestion as a “successful appeal to the subliminal self.”  Suggestion is a psychological process by which an idea is induced in or adopted by another without argument, command, or coercion.  The amazing power of suggestion has been shown through hypnotism.  A successful suggestion can do astonishing things such as cure diseases or reverse a bad habit.

Supernatural:  An event that violates the laws of nature.  Spiritualism contends that all psychic phenomena are ruled by as yet unknown laws and rejects the term supernatural.

Supernormal:   Beyond what is known of physical laws.  Paranormal.

Survival:   The continuance of the personality after the change called death.  It is the fundamental doctrine of Spiritualism.

Survival Hypothesis:   A theoretical model designed to put current understanding about the continuation of personality after transition into a form that can be used to predict outcomes of future research. In effect, it is the theory intended to explain the nature of reality and our existence in it in a form that can be continuously refined. See the Etheric Studies Essay: Trans-Survival Hypothesis.

Symbolism:   The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events or relationships.  This is often the easiest way for spirit entities to convey information to the medium’s mind.  Of course the problem with this is that the symbol may be misinterpreted by the medium.  It takes practice and cooperation between the medium and the communicating spirits do develop a code so that this does not happen.

Synchronicity:   Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.


Table Tipping or Table Turning:  Sitters place their fingertips lightly on the top of a table. Supernormal energy makes the table tip and turn.  A code can be established and messages can be spelled out.

Telekinesis:   The movement of objects without normal, obvious, or perceptible means.  Usually related to psychic ability.

Telepathy:  The communication between minds by some other means than normal sensory channels.  It is the transference of thought without the use of speech, gestures or other physical means.  Telepathy could be called mind-to-mind communication and is obtaining the mental state or thought of another person in the here or hereafter.

F. W. H. Myers coined the term telepathy during research into the possibilities of thought transference.  Myers defined telepathy as “transmission of thought independently of the recognized channels of sense.”

Touches:   Tactile sensations represent a correlated phenomenon to the movement of objects.  This phenomena is usually present at séances were telekinesis takes place and would appear to be caused by a similar means.  The feelings of being touched can be hard or soft, warm or cold.  They are always intentional and sitters are never touched by accident.  The touch is always meant for the one who receives it.  Touches can imitate contact with any known substance.

Trance:   A spontaneous or induced sleep-like condition or altered state of consciousness that permits the subject’s body to be used by a discarnate entity for communication.  With trance as with other phenomena it is important that there is evidence to show, without a doubt, that a discarnate being is in control and communicating and that it is not the subconscious mind or a separate or split personality of the person in trance.

Trance may be of a very light type in which there appears little difference than in total consciousness.  Or it may be of a very deep type in which the medium is totally unconscious of their surroundings or of the messages that they are relaying.  Upon coming back the person so entranced remembers nothing of what has happened while in the trance.  To all intents and purposes the entity speaking and the person in trance are entirely different.

The personality of a person in trance is thought to “step aside” so that a different personality can temporarily use the body to communicate in the physical. This is an important difference from mental mediumship in that a mental medium remains in control and the communication occurs in the etheric as a mind-to-mind exchange. The mental medium must translate the etheric conceptual information into concrete terms using his or her library of concepts and language. One way this difference is seen is that a trance medium might speak in a language unknown to him or her, while a mental medium must use a known language.

Transfiguration:   Recognizable portrayals of discarnate persons are built over the medium’s features.  This phenomenon usually takes place in dim light as ectoplasm is used to produce the transformation.  In good subjects the ectoplasmic material can be seen during the forming process.

Transition:   A term used to describe the process of “dying” out of this physical aspect of reality (this lifetime) and returning to the  more natural environment of the greater reality. Transition is a more accurate term for what is currently called “death.”

Transportation:   The supernormal transfer of human bodies through closed doors and over a distance.  It is a mixture of levitation and apportation.  This is a rare phenomenon, but there are cases that have been well authenticated.

Transposition of the Senses:  A distinctive feature of some trance states where the senses of taste, sight, and smell can be experienced by the fingers, toes, ear lobes, forehead or pit of the stomach.

Trumpet:   A megaphone type instrument made of metal used for direct voice phenomena.  The trumpet amplifies the voice.  Voice phenomena without the trumpet is termed “independent voice.”


Universal Law: Principles that are necessary for the operation of this system of universes.  They cannot be altered or done away with.  All universal laws were created at the time of creation and are now in existence whether we have discovered them or not.  Also known as Natural Laws

Universal Mind: A collection of all of the knowledge, experience, principles and objects of reality, either animate or inanimate expressed as a coherent whole.  Thought to be accessible as a source of knowledge.  Sometimes referred to as the Mind of God, Divine Mine or Cosmic Consciousness.

Unseen Force: The influence of etheric intelligences in the operation of physical reality.  For instance, this may be the influence an Inner-band might have on an individual.


Video ITC:  Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) using a video camera, most often arranged in a loop back circuit with a television set that is configured to “see” only the Video In signal.  The video camera is aimed at the television set and the output of the video camera is connected to the television Video In.  The resulting video loop produces considerable optical noise.  Images are often found in this noise by reviewing the video clip one frame at a time.

Vision:   There are two classes of vision, objective and subjective.  Objective can be said to be the perception of material objects in accordance with optical laws and from a definite point in space.  Subjective vision is independent of optical laws, space and objective existence.  Clairvoyance would be classified as subjective.

Voice Box:  Spirit operators create an instrument from ectoplasm so that the human voice can be reproduced.  It has been photographed and is usually lying on the medium’s shoulder.  It is also sometimes built inside a trumpet.

Voices, Supernormal:  Direct and independent voice as well as voices from materialized forms would be considered supernormal.  When one hears voices that others do not hear it is called clairaudience.




Xenoglossy:   Writing in tongues unknown to the medium.

X-Ray Vision:  Usually a power that is claimed by some healers.  It is the ability to see affected organs within the body.  Some sensitives also have claimed this ability and say it is how they read messages that are sealed in envelopes.



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