No medium, no worries

Lis Warwood

In Psychic News of July 25, 2009, Geoff Griffiths wrote an article entitled ‘Is it Time to Abandon Platform Clairvoyance?He observed that at any one time there are likely to be only a relatively small number of mediums “who can do it superbly,” a number of others who may “display reasonable competence,” while the rest are only capable of what he chose to call “Evidence-free Clairvoyance” (EFC).

The main thrust of his argument was that to continue to allow sub-standard mediumship onto our platforms could only have a corrosive effect on the movement, and ultimately put the survival of Spiritualism at risk. He advocated replacing the clairvoyance part of our meetings with a number of alternative approaches, particularly those which might offer greater participation for the congregation.

Geoff’s article struck a chord, for at that time here in Adelaide our Spiritualist organisation was facing a dilemma. Due to retirements, ill health and other issues, the number of mediums available to us had declined, and there were no longer enough to take every Sunday meeting.

We were forced to make some hard decisions. One option was to increase our use of EFC, that is, to allow well-intentioned but non-evidential mediums or psychics to take the service. This idea was rejected because it was felt it would only lead to a further reduction in mediumistic standards. Better to have no medium than to settle for a demonstration that would not convince or reflect positively on Spiritualism.

Having determined to use only the best available mediums, we needed to consider what might be done to fill the gaps. We looked at and quickly rejected the option of moving to fortnightly or monthly meetings, believing this would only result in a further decline in attendance. A programme of four alternative events for those Sundays when no suitable medium was available was then decided upon.

On a regular basis throughout the year, an open circle is run. It incorporates modified elements from the usual Sunday meetings. While retaining healing and the absent healing meditation, the address is amended to become a short presentation on a subject related to Spiritualist philosophy or practice, followed by an opportunity for discussion.

To this is added a variety of exercise-based activities, ranging from simple psychometry techniques through to more challenging mediumistic approaches. The format enhances participation, brings in an element of education, and allows attendees the opportunity to discover, practise and develop their psychic or mediumistic potential in a relaxed setting.

On a three-monthly basis a film afternoon, followed by discussion, is offered. Again, by choosing appropriate material, this is a great opportunity to educate and inform people about Spiritualism. Among the films shown recently has been Visitors from the Other Side with Tom Harrison’s wonderful presentation of the story of his mother’s physical mediumship circle.

In addition, we altered our approach to Open Days, which are now run at regular intervals as alternatives to Sunday meetings. In reducing the length of such events, it has been easier to gather sufficient readers, enlist volunteers to help organise, and provide a useful opportunity for developing mediums to gain practical experience. In terms of fund raising, they have proved just as effective as previous approaches, and have resulted in drawing new people to the Mission.

At the same time, it was recognised there was a need to encourage the development of new mediums. Without this, the current shortfall in competent mediums will reach crisis proportions in the future. A programme specifically geared to develop platform mediums was put in place, run by an experienced medium with known teaching skills.

Over time it has been possible to offer regular opportunities for these students to demonstrate at Sunday ‘Mediums in Training’ meetings, followed up by assessment sessions, where they are guided to recognise the strengths and the weaknesses of their efforts, and ways to improve.

All these alternatives to the standard Sunday service have been willingly embraced by our membership. Coupled with an ongoing programme of public demonstrations, workshops and seminars by good local, interstate and overseas guest mediums, they provide a programme that is interesting, innovative and constructive.

While this varied approach requires careful planning, and a high level of commitment to be successful, it has helped us to recognise that what was first seen as a problem is in reality an opportunity for growth, and a way to expand and enrich what Spiritualism has to offer.

21 responses to “No medium, no worries

  1. This is exactly what a church in the south of England did a few years ago. initially it was a great success but over time it failed due to the lack of speakers who knew enough to speak intelligently on a variety of subjects. such ventures rely on good inspirational speakers, if the movement is short of good mediums would the same apply to good inspirational speakers? It is only by these people that the interest could grow as obviously over time the congregation would become more knowledgable so the quality and ability of the speakers would have to grow at a faster rate!

    just a thought to share.

  2. Terry Gardener

    I would suggest that other religions don’t have the benefit of having mediums, so they have to rely on their charismatic leaders for inspiration. The lack of suitable speakers or demonstrators are not the real issue. The teaching manuals and subject books being available for discussion with someone such as a circle leader or church committee member well versed in the subject would fill the void and whet the appetite for true communication when it did become available.

  3. I thank Alan and Terry for their interesting comments on this topic. I strongly agree with Alan’s remarks about the need for strong and knowledgeable speakers. There is a real need for people who have a good understanding of the philosophy of Spiritualism. Mediumship, however important in demonstrating evidence of Survival can only do half the job that is needed. People need to be encouraged to understand the principles behind the ‘phenomena’ so that Spiritualism becomes a real and meaningful way of life – principles and philosophy that give guidance on how to live our lives in a spiritual way.

    In our medium’s training programme, the effort is directed to assisting those people to work as ‘platform mediums’, that is, to have a thorough understanding of the philosophy and to be able to talk about it in a clear and concise way whether by inspiration or by preparation of a talk. To this is also added training in preparing appropriate ‘prayers’ or ‘invocations’ and examination of appropriate written material that might be used as part of the service.

    Too often the focus on the development of mediumship has ignored the philosophical side of things. An error which now needs to be corrected. We must have quality speakers at our meetings to get the deeper purpose of Spiritualism across.

  4. This is very interesting as I’ve found that many of the churches in Sydney are struggling to find good mediums and the ones that are good are worked to the bone.
    Personally I think the only solution is more training and that is what seems to be lacking. Combined with a current trend in everything today where people seem to want to be an expert asap. I agree with Mr Griffiths that there could be a corrosive effect on the movement.

  5. It would be better if training was more widely promulgated. I, for one, feel a need but have no knowledge of where or to whom to go.

  6. Stewart Esler

    I agree with a lot of what has been said above regarding the decline in the standard of mediumship and the dilemma of filling the weekly service.

    I also put it to my Church that it was getting harder to book mediums that can do the job i.e. ‘evidence of survival’ and not someone claiming to be a medium and then giving general life advice, talked above as EFC “Evidence-free Clairvoyance”.

    I then suggested if we could not book a competent medium we would hold meetings fortnightly or monthly rather than just getting a body on platform.
    That was not popular and most felt they needed someone on platform to give the congregation something. I pointed out that something is not good enough in my mind and that we should think of every service as if it is someone’s first time into a Spiritualist church, and this could be the experience that opens them up to truth, help and understanding that Spiritualism should represent, or risk frightening them off never to return.

    We then decided we could have some inspirational speaking, talks of the great mediums of the past, how to sit and receive a message, even questions and answers.
    That was most unpopular and a lot of people said the wanted ‘messages’.

    I explained there is more to Spiritualism than a message and that the part of receiving a message is the icing on the cake. A lot of people are I’m sad to say looking for something for themselves or what they can get from the church, I tell everyone if they come and give in we would all get much more out, again it’s not what a lot of people want to do.

    I would rather limit the mediums working on platform to those worthy of it and give some education when a medium can’t be booked and have a balance of evidence and knowledge for the congregation. If all were not happy and some people left the church then we would have a smaller congregation but I believe it would make our movement head towards something more credible and when there was a demonstration of mediumship maybe it would be busy as people would know they were attending to see people receive evidence of survival.

    Training mediums was mentioned above there seems to be plenty of willing people wanting to be ‘trained’ but as I often say in circle, workshops and demonstrations nobody can make a medium we can help coach, train and ease out what is within and to polish this gift, help with presentation etc. that is of course it exists with the individual at all.
    If I decided tomorrow I wanted to be a brain surgeon or an artist neither of which I can do I can’t just turn up at class and train up on the desired skill, I would need to have shown some signs of ability and start a process of leaning the skill.
    The amount of churches that have development circles and have say 10 fledglings in and after their set time of tuition 10 passing out, this alarms me, as what skill or profession has a high pass rate like that but no official papers or regulating body, this then enables them to practice mediumship on platforms and do one to one sittings!

    The amount of people that come to me and ask how do they get into ‘becoming a medium’, is also alarming for the fact they have not even thought about it as a means for helping others, but for themselves to be seen and heard and of course looking at giving up their day job to make a living from readings are all some of the wishes for mediumship told to me over the years!

    EFC needs to be removed from the platform to stop the damage to our beautiful truth.
    Many think they are helping or doing a job for spirit and mean no harm but the truth is it is damaging the reputation of the movement.
    The Churches need to take responsibility as the Church is where the public come to see what Spiritualism has to offer, this therefore is where the change has to start!

  7. I agree with your article strongly. Most mediums I have seen working on platforms are, in my opinion, substandard. It is mouth watering to read of the high standard of mediums such as Leslie Flint- all I want is to hear fom my loved ones who’ve passed over- but nowadays it just all seems like new age “psychics and mediums” out to make a buck. Yeah train me up to be a medium so I can escape my boring job and charge exhorbitant prices. If I had the gift I wouldn’t charge a penny- I thought the idea was to provide strong truth of survival not to capitalise on grieving peoples’ sadness.
    Darren Hall.

  8. I agree fully with all that Darren has said.In particular his comment regarding charging for the service. A very good friend of mine is blessed as a medium and a healer. He says it is a gift and that a gift is to be shared and he never charges anyone. I feel he is right. How can you even think of charging? When the gift is given to you there is no charge made for it. Look around at the number of true artists – this is a gift – who have died penniless. How many true mediums are living in poverty?

  9. i have seen the standard of mediumship over past few years plummet. I saw a so-called medium who threw information out and quite a few help-us-all hands went up. In this person’s case they did not go back to spirit but asked many questions. This medium’s attitude was making comments like ‘I’m not making this up’ etc. In watching this I have lost faith in the movement. By the way, this person beleives everyone is a medium, which I regard as nonsense. This medium is snu trained. Some say you should not judge by seeing a medium fot the first time, but in my opinion if the person is that bad then that is the way the mediumship is presneted all the time, because that is that person’s comfort zone.

  10. Geoff Griffiths

    Thanks Lis, for picking up on my 2009 article. This format gives much more room for reader feedback than the paper version. This is what will give SOPN its ‘vigour’ and create a powerful community on this site.

    In addition to the above, there are other reasons why the development of good mediums is problematical. Firstly, top-rate mediums are usually working too hard to run development circles. In many cases development circles are run by failed mediums, who pass on the ‘benefit’ of their experience! They may be dedicated workers who do it with the best of intentions, but . . .

    Perhaps we should get back to home circle development, following a period of awareness training in the churches, where they would learn the basics. The problem with that is that the churches would lose income from the circles they run. One solution might be that home circles would continue to take a collection and pass this on to the church. (Due to their small size, churches are always struggling financially.) Perhaps every 3 months or so, a grand circle would be run at the church to give promising sitters a larger group on whom to work, with some guidance given by a working medium of some repute from outside the church. This would consolidate the link between the church and that circle, which might otherwise go off on its own, with all the entrenched problems of too many churches in too small an area .

    There is little literature on home circles, but Gordon Smith’s recent book, “Developing Mediumship” should, in my view, be required reading for those wishing to serve in this way. Far from the theoretical books we sometimes suffer, this is a book borne of the experience of a highly-regarded medium at the top of his game. Where the book scores is that it sets everything out in an order that the novice can understand and provides a context for their efforts. And circle leaders could also learn much. At £9.99 a copy, it is an investment that all can afford to make in their mission – and you can buy it locally at Waterstones or WHS.

    At the end of the day, however, the standard of mediumship will largely depend on the health of the movement. I believe we have deep problems here which need to be addressed at all levels of the movement.

    • Totally agree with the foresight shown, by both Lis and Geoff. If we sit on our hands the world move right past us… truly heading in the right direction, upward and into the future.

  11. It is a great pity that mediums are often judged upon the number of messages given to the congregation, and not the quality of evidence. I have served one church where the President (after the service) complained that normally the WHOLE congregation got a message!!! I have always thought that Spirit are in charge of the allocation of messages, not members of the Church Committee!! have a question to all ‘free thinking’ Spiritualists, and seekers: could this attitude contribute to the demise of standards in Spiritualist Churches ??

  12. I noted all the comments laid here. Wholeheartedly I agree, in part. Churches are often governed by finances. A quick whip round will ensure a pitiful amount usually to cover travel/rent. Nothing new there. It’s understood that local mediums/light workers bless the platforms throughout the Winter months. Always with utter dedication. When warmer weather arrives so do more progressed mediums. Rarely did I ever charge more than my fare home anywhere in the country I was asked to go.
    The churches are still pouring out last century formats. “Bless em” will anyone dare to be different?
    In the USA the format is similar. Spiritual Healers hold their congregations in awe as they are first to begin the service. When finished,
    the service begins.
    In my Spiritual Centre, we have never played hymns. Today’s songs are the hymns. They are uplifting, and vibrant. We enjoy the young people visiting as they will become the Spiritualists of tomorrow.
    I disagree with holding monthly services or twice monthly. There just maybe a natural medium visiting, that could take your church to the next level of interest.
    I maybe passionate about my claims, however, if there are any reduced services anywhere, I worry Spiritualism may fade away while the Celebrity Medium flourishes.

  13. Stewart Esler

    I agree young people are needed as they are the future, but that goes for every avenue in life, we play music at our meeting but I don’t think that is what attracts the younger members in our meeting as some younger visitors ask why there are no hymns! Its maybe just what people imagine or what other church they have visited as to what they imagine or expect what to happen in a Spiritualist church.
    As for not going monthly or fortnightly in the hope there is someone visiting that could take the service…… what if there is nobody available then what? People go home? If that happened regularly then people will loose interest and stop coming too. Worst still if you were to announce to the congregation there is no medium tonight is there anyone capable to take the service, you could ended up with anyone but a medium on platform and that is Dangerous, Id rather go with a fortnightly service with a medium that can step up to the mark and keep the standards positively high.
    On the subject of standards its not just for the churches to help keep the standards, but also to serving mediums, some towns now have several churches and in my experience they spring up overnight because of a falling out or disagreement from a nearby church, this often leads to churches being run for all the wrong reasons with those involved with little or no knowledge, mediums should not serve such churches as they are damaging the movement.

  14. Too many self deluded “mediums” presenting poor evidence.
    Too little criticism of these people and acceptance of nonsense from them.

    Every Church should have a basket of ripe tomatoes at the door. That might improve demonstrations.

    • That basket of tomatoes has great merit in the mission to drive up standards. Since no one has managed to improve them any other way, perhaps those of us really care about proper evidential mediumship, and know that our movement is failing without it, should invest in a few hundred kilos of toms. Desperate situations require desperate measures. Well said Aruuel.

  15. Much as the basket of tomatoes appeals (rather more than I should admit to!) somehow I don’t think that the solution lies that way.

    Back in the dark ages of Spiritualism (well 30 years ago anyway) when working as a medium on what was then called the ‘East London/Essex circuit’ after every booking you received a phone call (or, I heard tell, if things had gone really badly, a nicely hand written note on A5 paper, with a picture of flowers around the edge) from the church booking secretary, which ever so politely informed you how the church (read committee) thought you had done.

    They let you know what they saw you did well, the ‘congegation’s’ feedback, what they thought you might improve on, or why, if they didn’t think you were ‘good enough’ they wouldn’t be booking you again.

    That really put mediums on alert, if they did not produce good evidence of survival, they would not be asked back. It made us mediums really think about our job, and to work damn hard to be the best we could be.

    While I was never told I wasn’t wanted back, I distinctly remember being advised on how I could improve my presentation, and I took that advice on board, and tried to do better every time I went to any church. It made me think about the importance of giving good evidential messages, etc.

    It seems to me that back then, churches were not afraid to tell mediums what they thought of their performance on a Sunday. Of course, there may have been more mediums of a standard that gave them the option of tossing out one if they didn’t meet the required standard, but in retrospect I think what happened then was a vital part of the church’s role – feedback to mediums. Telling them what they really thought of their effort.

    Today, there seems to be a significant reluctance to give feedback to the mediums (despite behind the scenes grumbling about this one or that one was bloody awful). Perhaps too many churches are afraid to give feedback in case their comments are just taken as negativity, or perhaps in some cases churches are now being run by people who really don’t know what good mediumship is actually like.

    Whatever the reason, I do wonder whether churches should return to such evaluations and feedback, to really make clear to mediums what is expected of them. Perhaps they also need to send out each year, with their letters advising on booking dates, a nicely worded synopsis of what that church really wants to see demonstrated from the platform.

    The same applies in regard to what is wanted (and should be expected) from mediums with regard to the ‘address’ but that is a topic to pursue elsewhere on SPN.

  16. I have only just begun the journey of finding Spiritual meaning and learning,since the loss of my wife my life has been turned upside down,I have looked at what is there for me until we meet again,I have found lots about Spriritulism,in fact I sometimes think I find to much as my head is so much more confused,and the need to find more information,how it works,who is who,who are the people that give this information.There is so much information on the internet,so many reports,so many arguments,so many videos,some days have been on line for hours and hours searching this answer,looking into every were.
    I have found it so enjoyable,I have read every book of Gordon Smith,I have his workshop CD’s.have seen him live at Lincoln and in Derby,the man is amazing,such a gift.the trouble now is when you have seen that man work,you look at video and research of other greats,Albert Best,Aurther Findley,Doris Stokes,Helen Duncan,can go on and on,you read so much of what they say,how to do things.What I find now that Iam doing as I go to so many different Churches and I watch so many mediums,I have had so many readings in church,had a few 1 to 1 readings,so I know there is something there,I believe there to be a afterlife,On line I am reading Victor Zammit home page,you can read the book free of charge,and he is giving so much proof there,have spent so much looking into what he has written,So all the skeptics out there,ther is $1 Million Dollars waiting for you to prove him wrong.In section 8 of Gordon Smith CD 1 he explains the 1st thing you should ask your spirit guide to ask,is WHO ARE YOU,If there is no name,how did you pass,when did you pass,make the listeners or sitters realy know that the person that is coming through is who they are.I as someone new to all this would think, that is the person coming through from spirit as taking the time and energy ,the 1st thing you do is introduce yourself,we have all grown up doing this all our lives in all walks of life,nothing new to mankind,Why is it so hard that you can sit and listen to some mediums for over an hour giving message after message,with not 1 name ,no dates,nothing,I see so many people that this is all new to them,there 1st time at church or at a meeting,and can see they sitting there so board,thinking what is all this ,what is all this waffle all about,it goes back to what was said early on in post,the church leaders do not say anything to any of them,thank them so much for coming and giving wonderful servise,but I have seen so many dissapointed people leaving .I have searched sites after sites to find out what and how is that someone can be trained to be a medium,I was under the impression that it was a born gift that was giving to you,but understand now that a person can be trained,this is what i am looking into,and in my search have found that anyone can start a circle,and anyone can come away by being told by another medium that they are now medims,and as said before come and sit in any church and give a service and demonstration???.
    I have searched and read at all the tutors at Arthur Findlay collage .
    I found and read about Tim Abbot
    Just read his part about coaching and Excersie 1&2 plus 3 and follow up.
    This I feel is that so many of mediums that have seen at church and demonstrations,just need to go back to the basic and where to start from.
    That part of where Gordon Smiths says,WHO ARE YOU.
    The part of where Tim Abbott says about the example in Exercise 1& 2,and how to make the sitter feel,will in my opinion do so much to make people they know that has come though to them for a message go away from either church or a 1 to 1 feeling that they want the whole world to know what spititualism is all about,the people themselves is the best advertiser,even if they them selves do not get a reading this time,but they can whatch,feel the energy,see the joy and tears on peoples faces,it is a joy to have spent 2 hours in great company on any Sunday Afternoon or evening or any other night,people will be having to sit outside because church will not be able to hold them all,and what great advert would that be,people passing by seeing all these people sitting out in rows in front of churches.
    All they have to do,is go back to basics,start from whence you where 1st taught,the spirit world want to talk to,help,and send out all the love that comes from spirit,
    Please MEDIUMS,just start back at basics,do not be afraid to ask,WHO ARE YOU,WHO AM I TALKING WITH,WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK TO?????????
    That is what the people I have found always want to know,why for so many years of our lives together on Earth spirit,was called Tom,that when my Dad comes through he has no name,he gives no name,and he will not say who wants to talk to.I want to talk to the man at the back?Is that what dad after 50yrs of being his Son,now adresses me as the man at the back in the middle row or at the end,to tell you the truth they have come out with somethings I do not know how they know,so must be talking to someone,other stuff,still searching for answers.I want to go away with the feeling inside of me that Tim Abbott teaches all mediums should be,passing on the connection,the closeness,the LOVE
    If you Watch like what has been said before,If the Likes of Gordon Smith can contact them that way,and teaches new mediums how to be,why after so many Sunday after Sunday this is not seen,and all you see is EFC.

  17. Tom,
    I share your frustration, Too many incompetent mediums, too little criticism.

  18. Tom,
    I share your frustration. Too many incompetent mediums, too little criticism.

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