What is a Psychic Medium?

Seance
Image by Renee Keith/Vetta/Getty Images

You may have heard the word “medium” used during discussions about psychic abilities, particularly those involving communication with the spirit world. Traditionally, a medium is someone who speaks, in one way or another, to the dead.

Mediums obtain messages from the spirit world in different ways. Some receive intuitive information, in which images and words appear as mental impressions that are then relayed along to the living.

In other cases, a medium may hear actual auditory messages or see actual images of these messages. Grant is an eclectic Pagan who lives in upstate New York, and he regularly performs seances to help his clients communicate with lost loved ones. He says, "I've found that the dead are quite a chatty bunch sometimes - if they've got something to tell you, they're going to make sure you get told. What you choose to do with the information is up to you, but a lot of times, for me, it feels like I've got someone's dead granny screaming in my ear, and if I don't pass that message along to you, she's not going to shut up."

During a seance, a medium may be the method by which messages are relayed from the spirit world to the guests at the event. While some mediums may enter into a trance-like state, others may be completely awake and fully lucid while passing messages along. Sometimes, particularly if there are a group of fairly magically-aware people at the table, messages might be coming through all over the place, in no particular order.

Grant says, "I did a seance last year at Samhain for a friend who runs a local coven. There we are, nine very psychically attuned people sitting in a room at Samhain. It was like the spirit world version of a chat room, and we were just being bombarded right and left with messages from the other side."

Keep in mind that many people who are not highly trained mediums can still receive messages from the spirit world. Tashara, a Celtic Pagan from the Midwest, says, “I don’t usually get spirit messages. I just don’t. But one day I was sitting with a friend, and all of a sudden, clear as day, I knew I had to tell her that her grandmother wanted her to go home. I told her, and she said that all her grandparents were dead. She called home anyway, to make sure everything was okay, and found out that her sister had been hurt at work and was on her way to an emergency room. I have no idea why my friend’s grandmother chose me to pass this message along, and it’s never happened since.”

Celebrity Mediums and Controversy

In recent years, we've seen the emergence of "celebrity mediums," who are people that have become famous simply for being mediums. This, in turn, has led to some fairly intense scrutiny of those who claim to have mediumship ability. People like the "Long Island Medium," Theresa Caputo and Allison DuBois, who inspired the hit television show Medium, have often been criticized for taking advantage of their clients' grief. Still worse, many are accused of being frauds.

However, like many other metaphysical disciplines, there is simply no scientific way to prove or disprove the presence - or absence - of psychic abilities such as mediumship.

Other Types of Psychic Skills

If you’re interested in exploring your skills as a medium, there are a number of ways to practice developing your psychic gifts and abilities. Keep in mind that working as a medium is just one of many types of psychic abilities. Other kinds of psychic abilities include clairvoyance and intuition, and some people identify as empaths.

A clairvoyant is someone who has the ability to see things which are hidden. Sometimes used in remote viewing, clairvoyance has occasionally been credited for people finding missing children and locating lost objects.

For some people, psychic ability manifests itself as the ability to be what is known as an empath. Empathy is the ability to sense the feelings and emotions of others, without their telling us, verbally, what they are thinking and feeling.

Intuition is the ability to just *know* things without being told. Many intuitives make excellent Tarot card readers, because this skill gives them an advantage when reading cards for a client. This is sometimes referred to as clairsentience.