A medium through which information is perceived from a source usually believed to be other than the personal conscious self. Throughout the ages these other sources’ identities have ranged from demons, the devil, guardian spirit and guardian angels, extraterrestrials, spirits of the dead, a Higher Self to the Divine. Channeling is practiced in a disassociated or altered states of consciousness. Most, if not all, of the information received through channeling is of a religious nature. This is especially true in the current New Age movement.
A Historic Perspective
The desire and need to communicate with supernatural identities is as old as humanity itself. Revered individuals such as priests, wise women, shamans (see Shamanism), oracles, and others did so in prehistoric and primitive cultures. They sought help from nonworldly beings and delivered it to the populace.
Communicating with the gods in a trance was highly developed among the priestly class of ancient Egypt. The Greeks had their oracles. The early Chinese, Tibetans, Japanese, Indians, Assyrians, and Celts channeled discarnate spirits or deities. The prophets, saints, holy men and women of Judaism, Christianity and Islam received divine guidance through a means resembling channeling.
There are various forms through which information has been received that have been labeled channeling such as divination and healing performed by wizards, wise women, witches, soothsayers, and the like; and possession where the entity gains control of the individual. Such incidences frequently occurred during the Middle Ages and were usually considered demonic. It is argued that possession is not channeling since it is involuntary.
After the decline of Spiritualism in the 20th century channeling did not regain its popularity in the West until the late 1960s and early 1970s when Jane Roberts began publishing her Seth books. She started the resurgence of channeling of higher entities rather than spirits of the dead. Such luminaries have included Jach Pursel (Lazaris), JZ Knight (Ramtha), Pat Rodegast (Emmanuel), Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Saint Germain), as well as others. Interest in channeling also was spurred by actress Shirley MacLaine, whose spiritual journey was aided by the California channeler Kevin Ryerson, in the 1980s. Undoubtedly they have been frauds in channeling as there were in Spiritualism. By the 1990s the explosive popularity of the phenomena seemed to have run it course, but the serious believers remained.
There are various methods or forms of channeling. When remembered that channeling occurs in a disassociated or altered state of consciousness it is not surprising that it is claimed that the phenomena can be both spontaneous and induced. Some channelers suddenly enter a trance state and begin channeling, while others lose consciousness. While in these states many channelers learn to control the sessions where certain information is received.
Mental channeling is meditation of thoughts, words, images, and emotions, and is accomplished through various ways. When in a complete trance the channeler’s personality is displaced, and another entity or personality takes temporary possession, using a voice and gestures different from those of the channeler. Sometimes this is called «direct-voice mediumship.» The channeler is completely unaware of what is said and done during the session and has no awareness of it when regaining consciousness from the trance. Jane Roberts’ channeling of Seth was of this type. Also, mental channeling can be done in a light trance or disassociated state, in which the channeler is partially or totally aware of the process. The channeler’s voice may or may not change; he or she may communicate through automatic writing, a planchette, Ouija board, or similar device. Mental channeling is also accomplished through sleep and dreams.
Physical channeling involves physical effects, such as psychic or spiritual healing, psychokinesis, and materialization. Its popularity reigned during the early days of Spiritualism when spectacular physical effects such as apports, ectoplasm, and levitation among other things occurred.
In the most liberal interpretation channeling can include the processes of imagination, intuition, inspiration, and premonition. A.G.H.