What is a Psychic Medium?

Medium holding hands with a client
A medium traditionally relays messages from the spirit realm. PeopleImages /  DigitalVision / 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. Many people who do spirit communication regularly find that the dead can be 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 mediums, it can feel like they've got someone's dead granny screaming in their ears, and if they 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.

It can feel like the spirit world version of a chat room, with everyone 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.

When You Sit With a Medium

If you've decided to hire the services of a medium, for whatever reasons, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to guarantee you get the best session possible.

First of all, try to come in with an open mind. You may be feeling skeptical, but if you let that be an issue, it can certainly color your results. A corollary to that is that it's important to be honest about why you're there. If you're only trying to debunk things, or to expose the medium as a fraud, go ahead and admit it up front. A medium who's legitimate will probably still be willing to work with you.

Before you go in, figure out if there's someone specific you'd like the medium to contact. It's okay to say, "I'd really like to get in touch with my grandma who died recently." Don't be afraid to ask grandma to stop by, before you even start your session.

Finally, keep in mind that there are no guarantees with mediumship. Many mediums see themselves as simply a vessel that is transmitting messages from the spirit world, and if the spirit world has nothing to say to you, then it simply doesn't.

Getting upset about this would be like being angry at your mailbox because you didn't get a letter today.

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.