As he did so, I was aware that he’d lost a brother. I could feel his brother right beside him, right there at the party. I didn’t really know quite what to do or how to behave. I had two choices, the first being to just blurt out something, and potentially shock this man by saying, “Hey, I know you lost a brother, and he’s standing right beside you!” No, somehow I don’t think that would have been the right approach. So what I did was this. I put my thoughts out to the brother and said, If you want me to give your brother a message, then you figure out how that conversation is going to come about. I put the responsibility on the spirit to work it out.
Well, here is where things might be a little more “out there” and magical. You see, we are all connected to a collective, universal wisdom and our inner wisdom. And when we read the Tarot cards—and connect with our intuition—we can tap into this universal wisdom. It’s a little like connecting in with the collective mind, not just the individual mind.
It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that the tarot was taken up wholeheartedly by occult and esoteric societies for use in divination. A Swiss clergyman named Antoine Court de Gébelin wrote a treatise called Le Monde Primitif (The Primitive World) which connected the imagery in the Marseilles tarot to the mysteries of Isis and Thoth, thereby forever linking the two. (Aleister Crowley would later take this up in his creation of his own Thoth deck.) De Gébelin made many assertions regarding the connection between the tarot trumps and Egypt; these were later debunked by Egyptologists.
The psychical researchers W. W. Baggally and Everard Feilding exposed the British materialization medium Christopher Chambers as a fraud in 1905. A false moustache was discovered in the séance room which he used to fabricate the spirit materializations. The British medium Charles Eldred was exposed as a fraud in 1906. Eldred would sit in a chair in a curtained off area in the room known as a "séance cabinet". Various spirit figures would emerge from the cabinet and move around the séance room, however, it was discovered that the chair had a secret compartment that contained beards, cloths, masks, and wigs that Eldred would dress up in to fake the spirits.
Here in the physical world, your family and friends aren’t around you 24/7, but when there’s a crisis or emergency, they’re there when you need them. Well, it’s just the same way with your family and friends on the Other-Side. They often know what’s going on in your life and try to let you know they are there for you, whether it’s for love, guidance, hope, or even inspiration. I’m convinced that few people actually realize just how much energy it takes for those who have passed to lower their vibration and make a connection to this physical plane. As a result, it’s not something they’re going to want to be doing all the time. I believe that they have their own learning to do over there and need time to grow and progress, which is why those who have recently passed often need time before they’re ready to connect to the living.
In our modern day, just like King Saul of old, people seek counsel from psychic mediums. Several fortune-telling channelers have become wealthy celebrities as a result of predictions published in supermarket tabloids and through counseling well-paying clientele such as Hollywood movie stars, politicians and industrialists. The psychics sometimes claim to be channeling 'Jesus Christ', 'Jehovah God', and 'the Virgin Mary'. But what is the real source of the messages uttered by these spiritists?
“The Rider-Waite deck was designed for divination and included a book written by Waite in which he explained much of the esoteric meaning behind the imagery,” says Wolf. “People say its revolutionary point of genius is that the pip cards are ‘illustrated,’ meaning that Colman Smith incorporated the number of suit signs into little scenes, and when taken together, they tell a story in pictures. This strong narrative element gives readers something to latch onto, in that it is relatively intuitive to look at a combination of cards and derive your own story from them.
No, it really doesn’t work like that. Just like us, spirits have free will — mediums don’t have power over them. Most of the time, you’ll hear from the ones you’re hoping will come through with a message for you, but it’s rare that a medium will guarantee who’s going to come through. I’ve done many a reading with people who want to connect with a specific person, but end up hearing from someone they never expected. It isn’t a case of 1-800-Dial-the-Dead! Just such a situation happened recently when I sat with a client named Vivian who had great trouble walking, so I agreed to go to her home.
Because the spirits who respond to the channelers are satanic, channeling is abhorrent to God. There are few who have any true conception of the deceptive power of spiritualism and the danger of coming under its influence. Many tamper with it merely to gratify their curiosity. They have no real faith in it and would be filled with horror at the thought of yielding themselves to the spirits' control. But they venture upon the forbidden ground, and the mighty destroyer exercises his power upon them against their will. Let them once be induced to submit their minds to his direction, and he holds them captive. It is impossible, in their own strength, to break away from the bewitching, alluring spell. Nothing but the power of God, granted in answer to the earnest prayer of faith, can deliver these ensnared souls.
If I had to choose one book to take to a desert island, this would be it. The ageless "Song of God" is, of course, a magnificent, sacred scripture and not technically a novel, but its narrative form makes it read like one. The Gita tells the story of Arjuna, who turns to the God Krishna, his friend, for explanations and advice on life. Krishna lays out an entire worldview, the philosophy of Vedanta, one of the great achievements of human thought. Christopher Isherwood, an English novelist, and Swami Prabhavananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and Isherwood's guru, translate the Gita in a simple, modern style, alternating between prose and poetry without sacrificing the majesty and wisdom of this ancient story. Krishna gives Arjuna simple advice which I have found so useful in my own life, such as not to do anything for results, but rather for God: "You can have the work," he tells Arjuna, "but not the products of the work."
Do your homework when choosing a medium either for teaching or for having a reading performed for yourself. You might want to attend a few readings before deciding to go ahead and practice mediumship yourself. How long have they been practicing? Do they come recommended? Do they belong to an online community where they are rated? Did they have any formal training? There are official organisations and colleges that train mediums if you care to research them, you could study at one yourself! Always thoroughly check and ask for recommendations before joining any group, teacher or organisation.
No. Most important, they want you to be happy. After all, you’re the one who’s still here and has to continue living in the physical world. When people come to see me for a private reading, having lost a spouse or a partner, it’s clear that they find it really hard to move on due to their bereavement. Some people even feel guilty for being alive, and some who have met someone else feel as if they’re cheating on their spouse or partner who passed away.
In 1917, Edward Clodd analyzed the mediumship of the trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard and came to the conclusion that Leonard had known her séance sitters before she had held the séances, and could have easily obtained such information by natural means. The British psychiatrist Charles Arthur Mercier wrote in his book Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge (1917) that Oliver Lodge had been duped into believing mediumship by trickery and his spiritualist views were based on assumptions and not scientific evidence.
I think fiction novels from a Catholic author or with a Catholic subject have their place here. Although Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory tells the story of a whiskey priest in 1930s Mexico, the story is really about sin, grace, and redemption. G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown Mysteries feature a clever priest-sleuth and a spiritual lesson in every story. And, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is a masterful epic with Catholic symbolism at every turn. Willa Cather wrote quite a few books; among them, Shadows on the Rock and Death Comes for the Archbishop have strong Catholic influences and characters. Louis de Wohl’s historical fiction novels breathe life into heroic saints.
Some scientists of the period who investigated spiritualism also became converts. They included chemist Robert Hare, physicist William Crookes (1832–1919) and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Nobel laureate Pierre Curie took a very serious scientific interest in the work of medium Eusapia Palladino. Other prominent adherents included journalist and pacifist William T. Stead (1849–1912) and physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930).