What is Mediumship?

June 5, 2012

Spiritualism? Mediumship? Ah, the paranormal possibilities in those two terms tantalize the mind, don’t they? That’s why I’ve asked Rev. Rita Straus Berkowitz, retired pastor of the First Spiritualist Church of Quincy, Massachusetts, to discuss this realm with you directly.

Rita is a certified medium who has appeared on numerous radio and televisions shows. Known also as The Spirit Artist, she has the amazing capacity to draw the portraits of loved ones who have passed on for her clients. Rita is the author of, Empowering Your Life with Angels, and co-author of, The Complete Idiots Guide to Communicating with Spirits.

 Thanks, Rita, for sharing this article with us and some of your wonderful drawings:

“A medium is a person whose senses are so acute that they register the presence of beings belonging to the non-physical world; and interpret the wishes and information which such beings desire to impart to people still in the body in this physical world.”

There are various happenings that may result from contact with the spirit world, feelings such as cold or draughts, transportation of objects, seeing of colors or floating lights or even the apparition of the deceased person.  Sight is known as Clairvoyance or sometimes referred to as second sight.  Clairaudience means clear hearing, which can come as an audible perception of music, voice or calling of a name.  Mediums may go into trance-state and speak other languages.  It is also possible for the medium to write, paint pictures, diagnose illness, or send healing energies (similar to Reiki).

It is important for the developing medium to remember that the spirit messages are interpreted by the medium’s consciousness.  Therefore the spirit entity will use the mental facilities that the medium possesses.  As one continues to develop, the new medium will realize the different qualities of the spirit messages and will learn to develop a more acute state of awareness to decipher the difference between the message from spirit and their own mind.

The blended aura of the group serves to create a protective power for all of the developing mediums.  Therefore it is recommended that developing mediums start in a circle, be it a home circle or a church circle.  There are no age limitations to becoming a medium, however; there are certain illnesses that might prevent one from being a good candidate for development.  Depression or any illness in which the new mediumistic student might have lowered energy would be reason to withdraw from a circle.  There should never be use of any mood elevating drugs or alcohol before a circle. This does not refer to prescribed psychotropic medication. Bodily ailments, which do not affect vitality, do not cause any problem.

The Circle

A circle should be held in a clean, quiet, well-ventilated space.  If possible the room should not be used for anything else for a few hours before except meditation, healing and quiet music. The room should be kept free of arguments and obtrusive thoughts associated with the mundane parts of life.  Spirit helpers will cleanse the room before the circle.  Chairs should be upright to maintain a state of mental alertness.  The room should be comfortably warm.  It is not advisable to have any strong smelling perfumes, which can indirectly effect emotions.  There is some debate as to whether the use of incense is or isn’t advisable.

In the past, sitters would bathe and wear clean clothes to a circle.  This is not always possible in today’s society.  Make sure that the clothing is comfortable and does not restrict breathing.  Small bodily discomforts can be accentuated when the psychical powers sensitize the medium.

There are various ways to begin a circle.  Some will use music or singing.  Healing is a way to relieve the tensions of the day.  The leader will use prayer (invocation) to invite Spirit in.  The amount of light in the room is subject to personal taste.  Subdued light is preferred, absolute darkness is not necessary and in some cases mediumship circles are held in total daylight.

Controlling Thoughts

Now the potential medium is seated in the circle and wondering (sometimes fearfully) what is going to happen and what he/she is supposed to do.  The sitter should be working to quiet the mind, which is usually difficult for most beginners.  There is sometimes an inrush of thought, which feels uncontrollable.  Do not make the mistake of trying to create a vacuum in your mind.  Acknowledge any thoughts that come and release them.  Meditation is thinking of one thought to the exclusion of all others until the mind is saturated with the subject of the meditation. This required concentration and it might be advisable to work with a simple visualization.

Recognition of Mediumship


Some mediums see spirits as physical forms, but it is necessary to know that it is not the physical eye that is the center of psychic vision.  It is within the forehead referred to as the third eye and usually (but not necessarily) seen when the physical eyes are closed.

A clairvoyant vision is generally discerned when ordinary consciousness is at rest.  Sometimes it will be seen as a complete figure or the face of the spirit or it may be a nebulous form that seems to be hidden in a cloudy substance.  Many times it is beautiful scenery and intensely colored symbols that seem to be swirling in the head of the medium.  This experience of inward consciousness may seem to be merely imaginary, but when the sitter acknowledges it, the medium knows that he/she has experienced spirit communication.  As the medium continues to work, the subtleties between imagination and clairvoyant communication are recognized.


Each medium will develop a personal vocabulary of symbols.  Keeping a journal of definitions would be advisable. The medium will experience different feelings than other mediums with certain symbols or colors.  Examine your own feelings as a symbol or color reveals itself.


Mediums do not always recognize when they are awakening the facility of hearing.  They are expecting to hear an audible loud voice.  Sometimes this will happen; occasionally it will be musical and other times it will be impressions.  A name or a word will keep coming to mind or music that is symbolic of a particular occasion such as The Wedding March.  As the medium becomes increasingly sensitive there will be a distinct feeling coming into consciousness.  Mediums will be able to develop discernment between memories and spirit messages.

Mediums should learn to explore this gift more fully.  If you receive a name such as Fred, ask which Fred.  Begin a dialogue with the communicator.  Find out as much information as you can to prove the identity of the spirit.  Mediums should be aware of their posture when clairaudience is flowing and try to repeat this posture to alleviate difficulty.


You will feel the strong impression of your face taking on the features or expression of another being.  You may feel as if cobwebs are flowing around you face.  Avoid rubbing you face with your hands.  You must remember that this form of mediumship depends on others in the circle.
A good transfiguration mask of ectoplasm covers the medium’s face and the features of the spirit entity appear.  There are times when the medium’s face will fade and the face of the spirit will appear.

When developing this form of mediumship a soft light should be used have a minimal amount of shadow. The other members in the circle should be commenting on what they are seeing.  This will build a firm cooperation with the spirit workers.


Mediums will get sensations throughout their bodies as if they are experiencing the phenomena as the deceased person did.  One might feel the sensation of height by having their bodies feel as if it is growing taller or the sensation of stooping over as possibly osteoporosis.   A medium may feel the sensations of the personality by the mood expressing itself within medium or possibly feel a twinge in the part of the body representing the cause of death.

Clairsentiance is also an inner knowing.  The thought just crosses the medium’s mind and it feels like a fact.  It would feel like you just know or that it feels right.


A wave of a scent of roses fills the air or the smell of chocolate fills the room.  The medium is being given a message by the communicator that is helping to identify his/herself by creating a scent within the medium’s faculties.


During the sitting the medium will experience the taste of Grandma’s meatloaf or Grandpa’s scotch.  The medium will be able to taste some of the loved ones favorites.


Automatic writing requires great patience to develop.  One begins by writing and allowing the power to flow into the hand and continues to move the pen until the power has diminished.  The medium should endeavor to fix their mind on something other that the writing.  One possibility is to read a book while the hand is moving so that the spirit operator can become accustomed to moving the medium’s hand without engaging the medium’s mind.

The medium should patiently wade though illegible writing and drawing while building their skills.  The hand should be kept loose and avoid muscle tension.  Plan regular times for sitting as in setting an appointment for the communication.  Although if a writing medium feels urged to write at other times he/she should do so.

Inspirational writing is quite different because the center of activity is the medium’s mind.  There is a link between the medium’s hand and brain and the communicator.


Many mediums are unaware that psychometry is an integral part of all mediumship.  A medium, who understands the psychometric sense, can use it to reveal the hidden soul of the person.  The medium will hold an object in his/her hand, or enter a house or a place of work and feel the vibration.  This may be apparent as when one feels a headache and finds that another person in the room has one.  If you shake hands with someone, you may instantly know that there is a problem in their life.  These are all psychometric senses.

Psychometry is linked to tan impression left upon a thing or on the world.  The telepathic link can be extended through time both past and future.  Mediums should not be discouraged it impressions feel senseless at the beginning, they will learn to interpret these impressions.

You must also be aware that your mind is giving back previous impressions.  This can be a subtle pitfall.  The communicator will show the medium impressions to try to relate information that is already in the medium’s mind to prompt the medium to give information i.e., using symbols that are recognizable to the medium.

Physical Mediumship

Physical mediumship is a long painstaking process and should not be expected immediately.  Sitters in the circle should be aware that they should free the room of tension and expectation and allow it to happen in a natural process.  Rapping, table-tipping, and trumpet mediumship are all forms of physical mediumship along with spirit painting and spirit photography.

The first signs of physical phenomena would feel like breezes across the room or rapping or the feeling of a hand from spirit touching the face of one of the sitters. These signs should be acknowledged gratefully.  A suspicious attitude will lower the vibration and diminish the phenomena.  Many times a sitter will think that someone is blowing at his or her face or playing a joke, when in fact it is communication from a spirit loved one.

To find the book, Empowering Your Life with Angels, click here.

To find the book, The  Complete Idiot’s Guide to Communicating with Spirits, click here.

To visit Reverend Berkowitz’s website, click here.

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