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- I. Group Profile
- Name : Channeling
- Founder : While there was no one, definitive founder,
there have been (and still are) numerous practitioners of Channeling
whose charismatic testimonies have furthered recognition of the
phenomenon. 1 .
- Year Founded : Dating from earliest recorded history,
there have been accounts of humans receiving messages, prophecies,
voices, or other communications from spirits or elements not
of human form. The recent resurgence of interest in, and the
adherance to, Channeling,
especially as a spiritual practice, grew out of several mid-
to late-twentieth century mediums and the widespread notoriety
of their published transmissions. 2
- Sacred or Revered Texts : Though there is no one primary
text, many channelers will relay their channelings in print.
Several authors have garnered considerable income from the sale
of transcribed and published channelings, and more than one channeled
text (or entity) has become the basis for small religious movements.
For instance, eighteenth-century Anna Leet (1736-1784), widely
known for her communications with the souls of the dead, and
for spreading the belief in the possibility of doing so, has
been considered to have "sown the seeds for the birth of
Modern Spiritualism," a major nineteenth-century paranormal
activity, through her teachings. Similarly, Emanuel Swedenborg
(1688-1722), and Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910), AKA "the
Poukeepsie Seer," were two of the earliest and most widely
followed spirit communicators. 3
- Cult or Sect: Negative sentiments are typically implied
when the concepts "cult" and "sect" are employed
in popular discourse. Since the Religious Movements Homepage
seeks to promote religious tolerance and appreciation of the
positive benefits of pluralism and religious diversity in human
cultures, we encourage the use of alternative concepts that do
not carry implicit negative stereotypes. For a more detailed
discussion of both scholarly and popular usage of the concepts
"cult" and "sect," please visit our Conceptualizing
"Cult" and "Sect" page, where you will
find additional links to related issues.
- II. History of Channeling
- Early Accounts :
- There have been documented reports of oracles and prophecies
dating back to--and probably before--Greek and Roman Mythology.
Any Greek god worth his olives sought and heeded the prophecy
of the appropriate oracle: little different from today's mystics,
Themis offered divine advice to her audience when asked "we
implore you, tell us by what device our wreck and ruin may be
repaired"...certainly an eternal struggle, and one modern
gods and goddesses tackle daily today, and not always for $2
a minute. Apollo, among other titles a god of prophecy, had his
oracle at Delphi, and freely shared every prophecy he received.
- The Revelations of Biblical lore, and numerous reported incidents
of mediums or channels receiving spirtual messages have, repeatedly
throughout history,offered communication from and about supreme
beings. From the Book of Revelation, chapter 1, verses 1-2: "The
revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants
what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel
to his servant John" 5 ,
one gets a pretty clear definition, and one strikingly similar
to what comprises the origins of modern channeling. An earth-bound
soul acted as the agent or medium through which an other-worldly
being delivered her message.
- A Renaissance through Spritualism :
- In the modern age, spirit communications surged in popularity
with the arrival of a series of key eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
spiritual leaders. The Swedenborgian Movement of the 1740s, Anna
Leet's "Shaking Quakers" communicating with souls of
the dead shortly thereafter, Andrew Jackson Davis and his "mystical
medicine" 6 of the 1840s,
and two incredibly influential little girls from Hydesville,
New York, all added to a burgeoning fascination with every thing
psychical. Kate and Margaret Fox gave a new meaning to having
an audience "rapped" around their little fingers: when
they first heard "rappings" in their parents' home,
they were (naturally!) alarmed, but quickly became the darlings
of an enormous group of followers convinced that the two genuinely
relayed messages from "the deceased after their bodily death".
From the Fox sisters' tabletop rappings the American Spiritualist
Movement was formed (1848), and, according to Gordon Stein, "by
the middle of the nineteenth century, due to the influence of
people like Davis and the Fox sisters, there were an estimated
three million people in the United States who believed in mediums
and Spiritualism, and by the end of that century, there were
about ten thousand trance mediums in the United States."
Spirit communications continued to increase dramatically until
making a gradual decline by the end of the century. 7
- Twentieth-Century Evolution :
- Some scholars refer to the Fox sisters as the origin of the
enormous following of spirit channelers (Swatos, Melton), some
instead cite Swedenborg (Stein), and still others look to major
twentieth-century figures as the real pivotal mediums of the
current practices of channeling. J. Gordon Melton suggests that
channeling is simply the "contemporary term for the earlier
Spiritualism," though with the distinction between them
being that the earlier version was more centrally concerned with
"communications with dead friends and relatives" whereas
the more recent channels relate "philosophical and theological
teachings from a disembodied entity." 8
- At the start of the twentieth century, there were a few notable
figures in paranormal activities--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took
time out from his friend "Sherlock Holmes" to witness
for Spiritualism, and wrote extensively on the subject--though
seemingly only as a warm-up for the huge rush of famous and infamous
characters of the mid- to late- century world of spirit communicators.
By the 1920s, a formerly struggling photographer from Kentucky
named Edgar Cayce had established himself as a premier psychic
by recognizing peoples' health problems and offering readings
and teachings, and later forming the Association for Research
and Enlightenment as a repository for his collected works. According
to Michael F. Brown, the thousands of pages of Cayce's works
housed at the ARE (learn more about them: the
New Religious Movements ARE page ) earn the channeler the
(dubious) distinction of being the "most prolific channel
in American History" and perhaps most notable for all that,
simply because he dabbled in such diverse areas in his readings.
- Just in time for the cultural revolution of the 1960s and
1970s, psychic Jane Roberts began receiving messages from the
young boy entity "Seth" and by most all scholarly accounts,
set in motion a revised and expanded psychical revolution that
would eclipse the relatively minor success of her channeling
predecessors. Rather nicely described by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
as "a form of mental mediumship that became popular in the
United States and elsewhere as part of the 'new age' movement,...communication
through automatic speech and automatic writings with various
nonphysical beings," Channeling is indeed a favorite among
'new agers' and thrived as that movement began in the 1970s.
10 As Roberts related in
her channeling of the late, great psychologist William James,
"...no pill will cure the soul's melancholy" ( Afterdeath
Journal , 96), but many followers seemed to believe a good,
channeled communication could. And there's the major reason often
supplied for both the return of, and wide success of the mediumship
seen throughout history: people could find a soothing balm for
that melancholy soul in the "new" practices such as
channeling. New age adherents are able to select those elements
of spirituality and consciousness that satisfy their own needs,
and may easily form a personalized, easy tradition away from
the more conventional and restrictive confines of organizational
faiths. While populist religious traditions often have struggled
to help their adherants to "establish contact with a more
austere, impersonal deity," people have historically sought
alternate paths and "have found it convenient to postulate
a host of anthropomorphic gods and goddesses, since religion
requires the spiritualization of emotion, and it is very difficult
to attach emotions of love and veneration to an impersonal absolute."
"Seth" was then, naturally, one very popular channeled
- Close on Jane Roberts' psychic heels came former insurance
man Jach Pursel, the very successful channel for "Lazaris,"
actress Shirley MacLaine and her books detailing her "spiritual
odysseys," the legally troubled but financially successful
JZ Knight and her entity "Ramtha," and the more recent
Neale Donald Walsch and his "Conversations with God"
series. Many publications have been printed and reprinted, videotapes
and inspirational materials have been sold like metaphysical
hotcakes, and groups like the followers of "Michael,"
"the Urantia Book," and the "Course in Miracles"
continue to thrive and grow as new agers sell their services
on line and on the paperback rack at the bookstore. An internet
search for "Channeling" on any major search engine
will produces hundreds of references to channelers and/or channeling
web pages and discussions. Some channelers enjoy a fair amount
of public recognition as being more plausible or acceptable than
others, though critics and skeptics of mediumship have denounced
channelers alternately as "frauds," "satanists,"
"culters," "maniacs," "crooks,"
and other, more extreme (and unpublishable) names.
- III. Beliefs of the Group
- Followers and practitioners of Channeling vary somewhat in
their definitions of the practice, but for the most part hold
certain common beliefs. Channeling is generally considered the
transmission of messages or ideas from non-human entities, or
spirits or souls outside the human body, to and through a human,
for translation and transmission to that, or other, humans.
- It is also generally accepted that the medium, or person
serving as the channeler, must be emotionally and intellectually
prepared to receive and transmit any such communications. Many
"how to" channeling resources stress that mediumship
is not for everyone. Most adherents to the Channeling Movement
believe that a medium needs direction and/or preparation to fully
receive and relay such paranormal communications. Often, but
not always, preparation to channel may include the Channeler's
induction to a trance or meditative state, and may or may not
require the use of crystals, stones, chakras, or other talismans
to encourage the communications.
- Depending on the particular channeler, communications may
come from the spirits of dead people, from otherworldly presences,
or from spiritual leaders. A large segment of current Channeling
proponents, for example, report and discuss channeled messages
from a higher, divine being, though there seems to be a general
consensus among channelers that traditional Christian notions
of there being just "one all knowing God" is not necessarily
so, and that the source of their spiritual messages may well
be many spiriual entities. Channelers often refer to the existence
of multiple layers of consciousness, and to the idea that Channeling
is more accessible to those open to accessing those alternate
- IV. Links to Channeling Web Sites
- General Channeling Information/Resources:
- A popular and informative page discussing Channeling news,
including links to other related sites.
- "What is Channeling?: Mediumship and the
- Channeler Marina Michaels has compiled a very practical and
conversational article offering just the material her article's
title suggests: information about Channeling, what it is, how
to do it, what she's learned and the reality versus the myths
of available Channeling lore. (The main page, "Sonic Net
is also an interesting basic "Independent Website on Spirituality.")
- Another good source of information from and about channelers,
providing basic concepts on Channeling, and links to channelers
and chat groups.
Gale Group Biography Resource Center
- A general on-line biographical reference tool loaded with
personalities,with particularly comprehensive information on
leaders and practitioners of religious movements (much of it
attributed to J. Gordon Melton).
- "Don't touch that dial!"
- An interesting and initially balanced (with a decidedly anti-cult
skepticism at conclusion) article by Eric Pement (1988), subtitled
"The New Age Practice of Channeling," offering broad
historical and social overview of Channeling and its rise to
popularity in recent years. Notable for its full discussion of
the topic--and for the fact that it was accessed by direct link
from a popular Channeler's page.
- An outstanding and impartial source of information regarding
many current events in new religious movements, with a particularly
comprehensive description of Channeling.
Planet Presents Channeling
- Includes lots of links to Channelers, and messages from some
of the best-known entities in Channeldom.
- The Spirit Web's "Channelings & Higher
- Lists many Channels and their entities, including links to
electronic transcriptions of their more recent transmissions/messages.
- About.Com's "New Age: Channeling" Page
- Information tool "About.Com" weighs in with their
very complete and impartial, almost encyclopedic reference site
about Channeling, Channelers, the history, controversies and
major entities of the practice.
Best of the Alternative Web"
- Llama links touts itself as being "alternative,"
and does indeed offer vast amounts of information about alternative
movements, including Channeling and related paranormal activities
(see "consciousness expansion"). A fun, informative
and colorful site offering links to pages on many new age topics.
- Specific Channelers and Channeling-Based Groups:
School of Enlightenment: The American Gnostic School
- Pop Channeler JZ Knight's page; loaded with information about
Knight and her channelings, her schedule, her products for sale,
and words from Ramtha.
- The SpiritWeb's Urantia Page
- A brief description of the beliefs of the revelations believed
to be in the Urantia Book, and answers to FAQ about the Urantia
Book and its channeled teachings.
Urantia Book On Line
- The sacred text of the Urantians, a group guided by spiritual
channelings, is the Urantia Book, and this site allows electronic
access to the entire text, along with links to further information
about the movement.
- An article (actually a thesis paper presented at a recent
Cesnur conference) discussing the history and controversies revolving
around Emanuel Swedenborg and the rise of Swedenborgianism. A
long and scholarly paper, but one loaded with historical analysis
on a central figure in the re-emergence of mediumship, and worth
reading for anyone interested in the subject.
Haven Spiritual Center
- Offers classroom and indepent study in Spiritual education,
holistic channeled healing and psychic development. Center ministers
also offer channeling services in Reiki and psychic channeled
readings from Rev. Vickie Carey, D.D.
Michael Teachings Page
- Suggestions and coaching from the entity Michael's channelers
on "how to channel," how to get Michael's books, and
some recently received channelings from Michael.
- The Seth Network
International Home page
- Offers brief update for and about the activities of followers
of the late Jane Roberts and her primary entity Seth, and refers
anyone interested to links to a Seth-heavy bookstore, Seth followers
mail list, and information about the Seth conference in October
- Home page for the ReCreation foundation--Neale Donald Walsch's
organization-- discussing the group's beliefs, news, and Walsch's
anwers to queries about his phenomenally (commercially) successful
dialog with God.
- A site representative of the many pages available discussing
transmissions from God.
Merlin Channeled Psychic Readings
- A variant of other channelers, Merlin combines a broad range
of new age ideas with the more magical elements of consciousness
to create this hybrid-Channeling/Psychic business and page. One
stop new age/metaphysical shopping...
Kryon Channelings Page
- A rather homegrown page, and an excellent example of the
hundreds of channelers with electronic resources devoted to sharing
the messages they receive, their own definition of "channelling"
(sic), and detailed explanations as to why theirs is an
authentic and plausible entity/spirit/voice/being/prophecy. This
page, from Lee Carroll, offers readings much like installments
in a drama series, perhaps exciting continued interest in a cast
of channeled characters (as in: "Wo returns!").
with your soul
- This channel offers a "program" that will help
the purchaser of the program to make contact with his "higher
self." One of hundreds of on-line businesses angling for
the favor (and business) of new agers.
Spiritual Beacon on the Internet"
- Channelings from "the Assembly of Light," information
about "The Prophecy Stones," and some sample readings.
- Purchase a
"How-to" Manual...Sort of
- This site markets itself as offering "everything you
need to know about mediumship and spirit channeling"--as
long as you buy the "ten lesson study guide," when
in fact it is the homepage of The First Spritual Temple, a "Christian
Spiritual Church," and much of the "how-to" information
is found in the religious movement's online literature and teachings.
There is much good information here about mediumship, spirituality,
Spiritualism, and spirit communications.
- V. Bibliography
- Brown, Michael F. 1997.
- The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious
Age : Harvard University Press.
- Doyle, Arthur Conan 1918.
- The New Revelation : George H. Doran Co.
- Gardner, Martin. 1988.
- The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher : Prometheus
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. 1992.
- The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits ; "Channeling,"
pp 61-62: Facts on File Press.
- Humphries, Rolfe, trans. 1953.
- Ovid's Metamorphoses : Indiana University Press.
- Melton, J. Gordon, ed. 1996.
- The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Vol.I,
Fourth Edition ; "Channeling," pp 216-217: Gale
- Montgomery, Ruth. 1965.
- A Gift of Prophecy: The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon : William
Morrow & Co.
- New International Version. 1991.
- The Family Worship Bible : Broadman & Holman Press.
- Roberts, Jane. 1978.
- The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The
World View of William James : Prentice-Hall Inc.
- _______________. 1979.
- The Nature of the Psyche: Its Human Expression; A Seth
Book : Prentice-Hall Inc.
- Stein, Gordon, Ph.D., ed. 1996.
- The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal ; "Channeling,"
pp 153-9: Prometheus Books.
- Swatos, William H., Jr., ed. 1998.
- The Encyclopedia of Religion and Society ; "Spiritualism,"
p 492: AltaMira Press.
- Urantia Foundation. 1955.
- The Urantia Book : Urantia Foundation.
- Walsch, Neale Donald. 1998.
- Conversations with God (an uncommon dialogue), Book 3.
: Hampton Roads Publishing.
- VI. References
- Stein, Gordon, Ph.D., ed. 1996. The Encyclopedia of the
Paranormal , p 154: Harvard University Press.
- Melton, J. Gordon, ed. 1996. The Encyclopedia of Occultism
and Parapsychology, Vol.I (A-L), Fourth Ed. , p 216-17: Gale
- Melton, J. Gordon, ed. 1996. The Encyclopedia of Occultism
and Parapsychology, Vol.I (A-L), Fourth Ed. , p216-17: Gale
- Humpries, Rolfe, trans. 1953. Ovid's Metamorphoses ,
p 14: Indiana University Press.
- NIV Version.1991. The Family Worship Bible , p 1272:
Broadman & Holman Press.
- Stein, Gordon, Ph.D., ed. 1996. The Encyclopedia of the
Paranormal , p 153-5: Prometheus Books.
- Swatos, William H., Jr., ed. 1998. The Encyclopedia of
Religion and Society , p 492: AltaMira Press.
- Melton, J. Gordon, ed. 1996. The Encyclopedia of Occultism
and Parapsychology, Vol.I, Fourth Ed. , p 216-17: Gale Publishing.
- Brown, Michael F. 1997 The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality
in an Anxious Age , p 192: Harvard University Press.
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. 1992. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts
and Spirits , p 61: Facts on File Press.
- Created by Trish Downey Phipps
- For Soc 257, New Religious Movements
- University of Virginia
- Spring 2000
- Last modified: 04/19/00
- Source: www.religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/profiles/listalpha.htm