King Saul of Israel sought counsel from a medium called the Witch of Endor. The armies of Israel were about to be attacked by the Philistines. Saul was in rebellion against God and in desperation sought the services of the spiritist. "So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.” (1 Samuel 28:8 NKJV). Saul then asked the medium to conjure up the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel, to ask his counsel regarding the pending Philistine attack. "And the king said to her, 'Do not be afraid. What did you see?' And the woman said to Saul, 'I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.' So he said to her, 'What is his form?' And she said, 'An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.' And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.'" (1 Samuel 28:13-14. NKJV)
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When deciding whether to consult with a local medium in person, check for a couple of things before scheduling. Does the person live in a decent or nice neighborhood? If not, that ought to raise questions about her ability to accurately advise clients. While it is common knowledge that mediums, like doctors, do not “treat” themselves due to the subjective nature of self-study, they should be able to boast a reasonable success rate with clients, which means the clients would want to return periodically as well as refer friends and associates. This would lead to significant income for an accurate psychic medium, so that she would be able to afford a comfortable home or office in a pretty good neighborhood. If the home or office appears run-down or quite modest, this may mean the reader is not as accurate as she claims. Not all psychics live in mansions, of course, but successful ones probably reflect an element of status.
Three, some psychic mediums receive messages telepathically, as an inner knowing or inner sensing. Messages are sent from the spirit’s mind to the psychic medium’s mind, and vice versa. Here, the spirit might flash a picture or a word in the psychic medium’s mind. Spirits have the ability to use the psychic medium’s brain as a file cabinet, and they will search through that psychic medium’s knowledge and experiences for ways to best communicate what they want to convey.
One time I did a sitting for a woman, and no one came through at all. I told her that it didn’t mean they didn’t love her, and maybe it just wasn’t the right time. We decided to try again in six months. When she came back, it transpired that in those months she’d lost someone quite close to her, and somehow those in the Spirit World held back in the last sitting because it was simply not the right time.
Spiritual reading is an instruction in prayer and virtue, according to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and thus he said that "spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won." St. Josemaría Escrivá explained that spiritual reading "builds up a store of fuel. — It looks like a lifeless heap, but I often find that my memory, of its own accord, will draw from it material which fills my prayer with life and inflames my thanksgiving after Communion." (The Way 117)
Scientists who study anomalistic psychology consider mediumship to be the result of fraud and psychological factors. Research from psychology for over a hundred years suggests that where there is not fraud, mediumship and Spiritualist practices can be explained by hypnotism, magical thinking and suggestion. Trance mediumship, which according to Spiritualists is caused by discarnate spirits speaking through the medium, can be explained by dissociative identity disorder.
Saul should have known better than to consult with a medium, for God had warned in Leviticus 20:6, "I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them. I will cut him off from his people." The end result of King Saul's quest was tragic. Shortly after his visit to the witch, the king was wounded in battle and took his own life rather than being captured by the enemy.
Magicians have a long history of exposing the fraudulent methods of mediumship. Early debunkers included Chung Ling Soo, Henry Evans and Julien Proskauer. Later magicians to reveal fraud were Joseph Dunninger, Harry Houdini and Joseph Rinn. Rose Mackenberg, a private investigator who worked with Houdini during the 1920s, was among the most prominent debunkers of psychic fraud during the mid-20th century.
The article about this phenomenon in Encyclopædia Britannica places emphasis that "… one by one spiritual mediums were convicted of fraud, sometimes using the tricks borrowed from scenic "magicians" to convince their paranormal abilities". In the article it is also noted that "… the opening of the wide ranging fraud happening on spiritualistic sessions caused serious damage to reputation of the movement of a Spiritualism and in the USA pushed it on the public periphery".
The VERITAS Research Program of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona, run by the parapsychologist Gary Schwartz, was created primarily to test the hypothesis that the consciousness (or identity) of a person survives physical death. Schwartz claimed his experiments were indicative of survival, but do not yet provide conclusive proof. The experiments described by Schwartz have received criticism from the scientific community for being inadequately designed and using poor controls.
In 1891 at a public séance with twenty sitters the medium Cecil Husk was caught leaning over a table pretending to be a spirit by covering his face with phosphor material. The magician Will Goldston also exposed the fraud mediumship of Husk. In a séance Goldston attended a pale face materialization appeared in the room. Goldston wrote "I saw at once that it was a gauze mask, and that the moustache attached to it was loose at one side through lack of gum. I pulled at the mask. It came away, revealing the face of Husk." The British materialization medium Annie Fairlamb Mellon was exposed as a fraud on October 12, 1894. During the séance a sitter seized the materialized spirit, and found it to be the Mellon on her knees with white muslin on her head and shoulders.
I arrived, and she put me in her mother’s room, sat me in her chair, and even made sure her mom’s photos were all around me. Did she get her mother? You guessed it — no. However, a woman did come through for Vivian — a friend of hers. As I started to describe her to Vivian, she screamed, “What do you want?!” while looking up at the ceiling. It turned out that ever since Vivian had lost her mom, she’d been a bit of a recluse. In the reading, her friend had come through to say that she was with her and wished she’d visit her other friends.
In 1958, the English-born Spiritualist C. Dorreen Phillips wrote of her experiences with a medium at Camp Chesterfield, Indiana: "In Rev. James Laughton's séances there are many Indians. They are very noisy and appear to have great power. [...] The little guides, or doorkeepers, are usually Indian boys and girls [who act] as messengers who help to locate the spirit friends who wish to speak with you."