When does a channeled message make sense and when doesn't it? Here's how you can tell the difference.
Note: This essay was originally published in the November, 1987, issue of Fate Magazine. It is reproduced here with permission.
Channeling is seductive. Speaking with a dead person can be a real thrill, especially if the dead person claims to be an enlightened master. There are seemingly credible accounts in the literature of psychical research in which a being without a body assumes temporary control over someone to deliver information not otherwise available. In many cases in which channeling is claimed, however, I believe we are seeing either a case of multiple personality or a mild form of psychosis which is seldom harmful.
When so many people claim to be channels for these megabeings, it becomes important to understand what constitutes legitimate channeling and how you can determine the authenticity of what you are witnessing. This article discusses the different types of channels, evaluates the channeled information, and suggests questions the reader will find useful in coming to his own conclusions.
I have no doubt that amazing phenomena are sometimes demonstrated during channeling. Empirical sciences have not been able to validate these phenomena but this is not a problem for me. I seriously doubt we will ever explain channeling exclusively in scientific terms. It takes what Immanuel Kant called a "leap of faith" anchored in an open, discriminating mind to better understand what channeling is and why it occurs.
If we can suspend prejudiced beliefs (i.e., "all channels are fakes") without throwing out our ability to discriminate and to make choices, we can use the channels and the information they provide for realistic, life-enhancing help or we can chuck the whole thing.
I always pay particular attention to the quality of the information a channel discloses. I ask, "Does the content of the communication have clear, direct value for me?" The show the channel provides is an unimportant distraction. I often feel I am witnessing a part of the channel's awareness expressing itself rather than interacting with a being who is not the channel. If the content is incisive, intelligent, and useful, I don't care if there's a separate entity or not. Ownership of his fuller self is the individual channel's problem. It becomes an issue for me only if this split has a significantly negative effect on the clarity and neutrality of the channel in his "altered" state.
The term "channeling" refers to one of three separate processes.
First, there is conscious channeling in which the individual channel is fully conscious of what he is saying. Conscious channels fall into two basic groups: accountable and unaccountable.
Accountable channels know the source of the information is coming from a part of themselves not normally given a voice. Unaccountable channels attribute the insights, beliefs and creations to something other than themselves. They do not take responsibility for originating the information.
The other two types of channeling are often indistinguishable from each other. The differences between trance channeling and trance mediumship are profound but also difficult to grasp by those unfamiliar with channeling. While a trance channel's ego is passive but remains within the physical body and brain, the medium's ego is totally displaced. in residence instead is the identity of a life other than the channel. In instances of genuine mediumship, no possibility exists of interference by the channel's conscious or unconscious mind. Instances of multiple personality also fall into this category. To my mind, the finest modern example of mediumship was the relationship between Jane Roberts and Seth.
The difference between the types of channeling is important. A true medium will be able to maintain a continuity of character and content without interference from his own personality. A good trance channel can do the same thing when he is channeling an entity. If he is not a good channel or if he is fraudulent, there will be observable inconsistencies in the character supposedly in residence. The content of the allegedly channeled information will be biased and strained. An honest channel is open to his own limitations; a questionable one covers his tracks with more "wisdom."
Unfortunately, more often than not this kind of dishonesty occurs and you end up paying cash for the learning experience. My own experience is that good channels and useful information are exceptions to the rule. Disappointment runs high among individuals who give themselves over to the instruction of a "transcendent being." Many people cut their metaphysical teeth on experiences with channels.
I once saw a great demonstration of billet reading at a little Spiritualist church in Marin County, California. (In billet reading the practitioner is blindfolded.) Everyone attending the "service" wrote something on a piece of paper and sealed it in an envelope. I drew a circle with a dot, a symbol with personal meaning, and passed it forward. My envelope was selected.
"Mark," the tightly blindfolded minister said although my name was not on the envelope, "you are in row three, seat four, left side." Correct. "Why don't you have a motorcycle yet? Well, don't worry. You'll get one."
True enough, I'd always wanted one -- but not that much. I still don't have one and I'm not worried about it. The show cost $20 -- cheap by today's standards.
A happier experience occurred when a channel filled in some blanks in my own spiritual awareness. He called my attention to an option I had not seen before. it was not one provided by therapy, meditation, or advice from people in my life. This information, while abstract, was useful in that it allowed me to broaden my perspective, which I feel is the single most useful thing a channel can facilitate.
When I see a channeled entity acting like an infinitely wise advice columnist, I am irritated. I don't think we need to speak with a disembodied Ann Landers. If they are entities at all (and usually they are not), they are not highly developed ones or they would engage us in our process of opening up and not just offer sage explanations. Genuine love, which many of these "transcendent beings" claim they emanate, carries no sentimentality and offers no Band-Aid solutions.
What passes for unconditional love on the entity's part is little different in its effect on the seeker than an indiscriminate dose of valium. It is much safer to feel unconditionally loved by someone who will never really be present to share it with us. Some of us need this kind of safety in the process of beginning to open up to fuller life experience, but most of us are just indulging ourselves and playing it safe. It's too dangerous to truly love another human being and to be loved in return. Too much obligation. Too much vulnerability.
A channel who does not look to the motives behind the seeker's questions is not serving his client (who may be best served by not being a client at all).
Many entities claim to be beyond ego. I have never met one who was, although I've heard the statement often. I don't mind ego in my entities. What I do mind is being told they are without ego. If they were, they would not speak through the channel in the first place. Of the channels and entities I have looked at, only Seth has been truly candid and honest about his own level of spiritual development and the condition of his own ego.
I don't like being told by an entity I am a limitless being. I don't buy it. It reminds me of someone who is trying to act as if he doesn't smell something that stinks. We do have limits. Period. The good news is that we can grow beyond them if we first know how to live with them. Limits are not the enemy. Rather it is the simplistic belief in our ability to live totally without those limits now that trips most people up.
It is in our relationships with fellow human beings that we learn about self-acceptance and grow beyond our current limitations. After years of taking the advice of channeled beings, people begin to realize, I have noticed, that change is wrought through interactions with other corporeal souls, not incorporeal ones. No being without a body can do for us what another human can, but in the glamour of phenomenal display, it is something we often forget.
Working through resistance is something we all must do. Experiencing resistance is as much a part of life in the body as needing to eat or breathe. An entity knows nothing about resistance because he has no physical anchor point of his own. When a change in our lives is necessary, a good partner, friend, therapist, or counselor is better than any entity, however wise it appears.
For the entity, change is as simple as changing a thought. This is not true for us, but we like to believe it is. We humans must work with physical bodies which have emotional feelings. We must experience the stresses of change. We must take concrete actions to create change and this takes time. For humans, changing the thought is only the first step in the process of changing our lives.
Prediction on demand never proves to be statistically significant. Fantastic claims are often made for accuracy. I've found that accurate predictions are usually spontaneous and come into conscious awareness like uncontrolled intrusions. When one makes predictions with conscious intent, the level of accuracy is significantly reduced.
Some years back, Benjamin Creme proclaimed the return of Christ over the VHF airwaves. I'm still waiting for his show and for the annually promised landings of spacefolk who will save our rear ends if we can't do it ourselves. This kind of prediction panders to our primal fear of being alone. (Freud's opinion was that the greatest cause of psychological dysfunction was the fear of finding out who we truly are.) Even for the well-intentioned channel, as I believe Creme was, there is no excuse for feeding on the hopes of people who suspend discrimination to support a movement that promises to make their dreams come true. It makes more sense to think of Christ's reappearing in the quality of unconditional love we share as human beings. Humanity may need a teacher but we do not need (nor will we get) a nursemaid.
The most troubling thing I confront is the issue of predicting world events, particularly disasters. J. Z. Knight, acting as Ramtha, says the west coast is threatened with earth changes and that the Mount Rainier area is safe. Her version of the coming cataclysm is the same as all other predictions except that it manages to save her personal real estate. It's sad that so many people not only believe but make life-changing decisions based on these kinds of predictions.
Aside from being a way of making money from people's fear of the unknown, the prediction of future events is a pointless exercise, in my opinion. I think that when a channel starts pumping out predictions (especially of disaster) I am witnessing a play for power, an attempt to capture and hold the audience (if only through fear). Inevitably the faithful are often left feeling more profoundly the vacuum they tried to have the channel fill. I personally would demand more from the person who puts himself in a position of authority.
I always ask these questions of myself:
Does the experience feel contrived? How much does the "show" act as a cover for lack of substance? What claims are being made? Do they make sense? Am I being talked with, at, or down to? How specific is the information? Can I really use what is being offered? Does the experience broaden my perspective without pandering to my personal hopes and fears?
When I've been to a channel, I ask in retrospect:
Am I satisfied with the experience? Was it worth the money I paid? How am I going to use this information now?
How we determine value and validity is subjective. What I believe to be fraudulent you may feel certain is legitimate. It is still impossible for us to arrive at a collective definition of what is truth.
Whatever your position on this issue, it is your responsibility to exercise discrimination. Do not let yourself be intimidated or surrender your personal identity to any practitioner of the metaphysical arts. channels are people too, with human qualities and imperfections. Some will gladly take away your initiative when you offer. Be wary of the person who advertises super-human abilities. Even after 13 years as a professional psychic observing different channels I am sure I have only scratched the surface of what's out there. My own experience tells me there are a few individuals who are not only legitimate but highly useful as well.
Be certain about what you want from the experience. Be willing to ask more of the facilitator if what you want is not forthcoming. You may find what you thought you wanted is not what you needed. Interact with the facilitator and think about what you hear. The information must ultimately make sense to your rational mind. It must feel right, and it must support clear insight and inspire necessary action. Blind trust is just that: blind.
About the author: Mark Wallek was a professional psychic and teacher in Portland, Oregon, for many years. He is now retired.