Messages from Beyond

by Daniel Brenton on March 20, 2009

in The Meaning of Existence (and all that)

    A look at the mediumistic practice of channeling, and some reflections on the value it may have for those examining it.

A crank call from Satan
THIS DAY IN HISTORY, 1936: FDR’s Vice President John Nance Garner, thanks to secret equipment developed by Nikola Tesla, inadvertently receives a crank call from Satan.

Start: We’ve all run across it. Whether it’s watching John Edward plying his trade, or the family story of seeing an apparition of a departed relative, we’ve all been exposed to the idea of messages from beyond.

It’s easy enough give it a passing thought and move on to things that seem more important. The subject, though, is worthy of more than a casual glance, because to ignore it is to ignore a side of reality that touches all of us.

Going Out on One Limb or Another

Probably due to the efforts of Shirley MacLaine (and her bestseller from the 1980s Out on a Limb), the general public was exposed to the concept of “trance channeling” through both medium Kevin Ryerson and J. Z. Knight’s “Ramtha.”

Channeling, going by the definition given in this Wikipedia article, can be grouped into two types. The first is a form of mediumship where psychics or “sensitives” communicate to spirits, guides, or the dead, and then relay what they “hear” to their clients.

The second is “trance” channeling, which, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a form of channeling in which the channeler goes into a trance, or ‘leaves their body,’ and then becomes “possessed” by a specific spirit, who then talks through them.”

Blossom Goodchild

If I were making an argument against the validity of channeling, Blossom Goodchild would be my poster child, just for the sheer noise surrounding her.

What Blossom does she calls “direct voice” channeling — the ability to speak to spirits, and to hear them respond. Some sites, such as this one, will argue this is not channeling at all, but I think this is simply a semantic issue.

For those not familiar with Blossom’s claim to fame (and I wouldn’t blame you), Blossom was “told” by spirit beings calling themselves “The Federation of Light” that on October 14 of 2008, there would be the unequivocal appearance of an extraterrestrial vehicle or vehicles in the sky for an extended period. It is typical from my experience of spiritual messages that there is some vagueness involved: as for the location, the answer to this was stated as “We give you the name Alabama.”

Like most of the world aware of this story, I am not at all surprised that there was no “lightship” appearance.

At first blush this is so patently absurd that I would expect you to wonder why I even give this a second thought.

What makes Blossom’s situation so striking to me is this video, from October 16, 2008, wherein she apologizes to those who have followed this for the non-appearance. I feel she is sincere in this statement, and is genuinely hurt, wincing from an understandable sense of betrayal by her “Federation of Light” spirits.

(It’s under eight minutes, if you care to watch it.)

A clarification video from prior to the event can be found here.

Not surprisingly, it appears there was no end of explanations why the “Federation” was a no-show, as a quick visit to this site will show you.

I dismiss these as New Age double-talk, fit only for people who are comfortable in lying to themselves.

(Wasn’t that a bit harsh, Daniel?)

(Oh … zip it.)

Looking at Blossom’s situation, this really is complex, if you think about it.

Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that she is not lying (she is an actor, so maybe even this isn’t a good assumption, though I have no idea how skilled an actor she is). This means she actually believes she was in communication with something that gave a specific date of an appearance, and that it would be undeniable proof of an extraterrestrial presence.

A specific this will happen at a specific then.

This means:

  1. She has some mental issue that allows her to believe she is in communication with some non-corporeal beings to the point she does not question it. Perhaps Schizophrenia (not to be confused with Multiple Personality Syndrome, as it frequently is) or some other psychosis that produces the delusions of this kind of communication could be the cause, or that she has a “fantasy-prone personality.”
  2. She actually has some ongoing communication with something that misrepresented itself or lied to her for its own reasons.

Blossom has apparently made her peace with the Federation of Light, with the following announcement: “A Global Visual Affect!” which explains a phenomenon the Federation will produce soon to demonstrate their presence.

With a nod to Star Trek’s “Scotty”: Fool me twice, shame on me.

Forgive me, but Blossom sounds all the world to me like a victim of domestic violence who won’t leave her abuser.

Coercion?

Those who have heard of Darryl Anka’s channeled entity “Bashar” may or may not be surprised that there are others who claim to be conduits for this “being’s” messages. Anka’s channelings of Bashar appear to fit the definition above of “trance” channeling. For those not familiar with Bashar, there is also a UFO connection in Anka’s story.

I ran across a woman a few years ago who told me the story of how she first encountered her Bashar. This woman claimed she was a UFO alien abductee, and in my estimate sincerely believed that. My memory of the details of her psychic introduction to Bashar are vague, honestly, but part of it involved her having an image come into her mind of a starfield viewed from the surface of some alien planet, followed by a splitting headache. When she asked why she was having the headache, the answer was “Resistance.”

That she was resisting being a channel.

If we accept what happened to her at face value, this implies a level of coercion. This unsettles me — a being with a message intended to make our world a better place, forcing someone to be the conduit?

Something is not right here.

We hear, to some degree, a similar story with (are you ready?) A Course in Miracles. This material was channeled also, but more in the manner of a dialogue between the source — allegedly the Nazarene Himself — and the receiver.

The “scribe” to the Course, Helen Schucman, did in later years, according to friend and Catholic priest Father Benedict Groeschel, deeply resent the intrusion of the Course into her life. In this article posted on Beliefnet, Groeschel, noted “the ‘black hole of rage and depression that Schucman fell into during the last two years of her life,’ and that when he sat at Schucman’s bedside as she lay dying “she cursed, in the coarsest barroom language you could imagine, ‘that book, that goddamn book.’ She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her.”

When working with the Course myself many years ago, I was less than enthusiastic by the comparison, made by many Course students at the time, that it was a form of “good brainwashing.” In the Introduction itself are the words:

It is crucial to say first that this is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what to take when.

Elsewhere I am told the Course states there are other courses — other ways to God, presumably — but this assertion of the compulsory nature of the material is unsettling.

In reflecting on this with friends who are familiar with the Course, some question the truthfulness of Father Groeschel’s statements, and also raise another point to which I must concede: in dealing directly with the reception of materials of a “high” spiritual nature as the Course portends to be, may have forced Schucman into serious conflict with her ego — as a Buddhist would explain it, her own need for separation from God.

Maybe so.

Fabrication (That Which is Termed as “Lying”)

One of the most famous trance channelers in recent memory is J. Z. Knight’s “Ramtha.” Ramtha is bigger than life, theatric, and colorful: the “story” is of a great lusty warrior leader from Atlantis who, beaten down in battle, turned inward and developed great spiritual insight and powers, and promised to return to teach his soldiers these secrets.

Her/his “trademark” word, for a time at least, was an audience-hooking “Indeed!”

In watching video of her/him back in the 1980s, I noted a frequent use of the phrase “that which is termed,” such as: “that which is termed, guilt,” or “that which is termed, responsibility.” Playing devil’s advocate, if I were someone improvising to an audience, I could use little time-wasting phrases like that to give me a moment to figure out my next line of commentary.

Directly questioning the bona fides of Ramtha brings quick responses from those associated with the organization, most likely citing their vindication, tests conducted by, among others, Stanley Krippner of the Saybrook Institute, parapsychologists Ian and Judy Wickramasekera, engineer Ganapati Roa of the University of Virginia, which deemed something extraordinary was taking place in Knight during her channeling that was not physiologically possible. The study is, or course, fraught with controversy.

It is a matter of legal record that J. Z. Knight had an extended court battle with ex-husband Jeff Knight, suing over his postponement of seeking treatment for AIDS due to the insistence that Ramtha could cure him. Jeff Knight, financial resources exhausted, lost the case and succumbed to the illness.

This relatively painless (though clearly disquieting) overview of the Ramtha story by Joe Szimhart deserves a read for anyone seriously thinking about it.

Fraud? Maybe. A quick internet search will dig up piles of accusations and even a forum for embittered ex-Ramtha students.

Having realized that the Ramtha corporation is the driving force behind the New Age classic What the Bleep Do We Know? I found I that tended to look askance at it. Chris Lydgate, at the Willamette Week Online commented eloquently on just this issue back in December of 2004 in his article “What the #$*! is Ramtha — The year’s sleeper hit was inspired by a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit from Atlantis.”

So What Do We Do With This?

Having looked at the dysfunctional, the victimized, and the … not quite believable, it would be very easy to ask the question: why think about any of this at all?

Indeed.

Here’s why.

I know two intuitives/ psychic mediums that I trust implicitly, Sophie Lhoste, and Hélène Patry. These two, and many others, work to some degree in the same “arena” as the examples I have explored above, but what they have shown me has held up to my niggling questioning and gained my trust.

I will state that to my knowledge and experience of them, neither of these women are dysfunctional, have an unhealthy relationship to their talents, or are liars, profiting at the expense of the gullible.

Because of these examples, I feel the Christian fundamentalist insistence that all these practices are “of the devil” is simply short-sighted.

There is a vast range of experience that is part of the human condition that most of us have not recognized, and there are a few — such as these two women — who can be of actual help to us in understanding it.

All too often the people who essentially represent these areas of experience have these unhealthy failings or negative traits, and this, being the nature of public perception, colors everyone associated with it.

Because these practices are (still) essentially outside of the public mainstream and dismissed by Science in general, it is, if you will, an area of inquiry lacking any accountability. It tends to attract those whose personal quirks or failings push them out of the mainstream, and along with them others who would exploit them.

There may just come a time — or possible already has — when you start asking serious questions about these areas, and these are pitfalls of which I would ask you to be mindful.

Ask your own questions, think your own thoughts. Don’t get sucked in by authoritative personalities, or even the gently sincere.

When it comes to your life, there are no impertinent questions. It isn’t just a matter of let the buyer beware, but let the seeker beware as well.

 

Copyright © 2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

End

Alice Langholt March 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Daniel,

You’ve written a very insightful, intelligent post on channeling. I would only add that many of those who would call themselves energy healers (myself included) work to raise our energetic vibrations enough to gain insight from what’s known as “guidance” of the person desiring an answer to a question. There is no trance persay, but rather a meditative state in order to allow an answer to be received in the way most comfortable for the person receiving the message. For me, that is free typing (like free writing but I type faster than I write). For another, messages may be received via pictures or sensations. We all seem to have our own dominant senses. So less woo-woo in nature, but still valid, I am wishing to make this addition to your article. Some channeling is less theatrical but still something that anyone who wishes to learn to “tune in” might be able to access for him/herself. Part of my work is helping those who wish to learn.
Blessings and light,
Alice
http://www.reikiawakening.blogspot.com
http://www.twitter.com/reikiawakening

Donna March 21, 2009 at 1:45 am

I feel sorry for Blossom for not realising the impact this could have if things went wrong. There’s a lot of hopefulness tied up in these things but as a human race we are not ‘there yet’ in any shape or form. It will take time, but it’s starting to happen. There is a lot more involved in channelling than just passing along messages. Most people don’t even question who they are connecting with. There’s a rare few who actually connect deeply and purely with guides (or other beings). Some people don’t connect at all and just “want” to channel and pass along wisdom (ego needing to feel important) – wishful thinking. Some people connect with spirits who want to appear full of wisdom (again ego, from those who have not fully passed over from their lifetime yet). Some people channel guides but it’s tainted with their own beliefs and views. The rarer bunch can put aside their ego and conscious mind, to bring through the more pure messages. It’s a hard thing to know what is and isn’t genuine. I’m fortunate to be able to read channelled material and ‘feel’ when guides are behind it….though it still relies on me being centred in myself at the time. We are all subject to little ‘lessons’ at times that remind us to stay centred and true.

I am reflecting after drinking some champers so apologies if I seem to be rambling. ;-)

Donna
http://www.peacefulwillow.com

Daniel Brenton March 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

Alice, Donna —

Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Donna, I am struck by your observations of the “ego side” of channeling — I’ve seen examples of this personally, but never thought of it in this perspective. (And, despite the champers, I didn’t find the note rambling at all.)

Again, thank you both.

–Daniel

Angela March 21, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Again, hurrah. You have made thoughtful notes on a VERY sensitive topic. Well done.

Melanie March 22, 2009 at 3:24 am

Thanks for a well written, insightful post Daniel! I’m happy to be able to read more of your thoughts on this in a format that allows for more than 140 character snippets! (Though I certainly appreciate our Twitter conversation that led me here!)

My core belief about life is that we each create our own reality through our thoughts and expectations, and so by virtue of that I feel there is no right or wrong answer to any of this. If a person experiences a sense of dread and ‘from the devil’ around the subject of channeling, then they will certainly see evidence to support why that is so. If a person feels a sense of truth and upliftment, then they will find more evidence to support the truth of the medium. And because of my beliefs about life, I’ve found much evidence to support my stance through the study of Quantum Physics. What a magical world we live in!

Regarding channeling specifically, I feel that the truth is we all channel information, all the time. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, and thefore have a connection to divine knowing that we can and do tap into – sometimes consciously, sometimes not. That connection to all that is is there for anyone that chooses to tap into it. Scientists, atheletes, writers, artists, intuitives… all different forms of the same thing, from my perspective.

The trick is in the translation, which must be done by using our very human abilities of language, internal symbolism and experiences. Much the same as what happens with a translation from one language to another, there is always an element of interpretation that goes into the work, leaving a piece of the translator on the pages.

I also fully believe that there is no way we can effectively predict the future, as it is a constantly moving target that shifts based on the co-creative expectations of all those impacted by the unfolding. So someone telling you of a future event is tapping into one possible version of the future that may or may not come to pass.

Applying these believes to the channeling examples you’ve used in your article…

Blossom Goodchild could very well have believed she would see a UFO, kept it to herself, and then seen it! But by putting that idea out there to the masses, and having it go viral as it did, there were a lot of other people playing around in her potential future vision of events. It became a massive co-creation, and one which didn’t come to pass. This reminds me of Jesus’ words in the Bible to ‘go forth and tell no one’ of the healing he had done… no easier way to talk ourselves out of something than to introduce it to a whole room full of skeptics!

I also feel Blossom’s sadness after the non-event could very well have been an ego thing, and not have come from the same place as her original connection. By her own admission she was embarrassed, hurt, felt abandoned… I count these all as feelings that come from ego, not Source. (And I say that without meaning to imply anything about where her message did or did not come from.)

In your example of the woman that was resisting Bashar, it sounds to me like she very clearly had a belief that outside influences could do bad things to her – that she was not in control of whether or not she could choose, but rather believed that these circumstances could be forced upon her.

When I hear the word ‘resistance’ I do not think of coercion, but rather of conflict within myself – part of me wants this, but part of me is resisting it from fear, etc. So again, that comes to perspective.

This feels like a similar situation to Helen Schucman, who seemingly believed that free will did not mean the freedom to choose. Doing something and later deciding it was out of your control, and then blaming it for other circumstances in your life (making a bit of an assumption, here) doesn’t really have much to do with where the actual information came from.

So are these people all really channeling information? Yes, I think so. But does that mean the information they’re channeling is relevant for everyone that might come into contact with it? No, absolutely not. Thankfully we all have the benefit of choice, and we can choose to accept the messages that resonate with us, and discard the ones that don’t! We can also choose to change our minds as we move through time and learn and grow. And as always, I reserve the right to change mine. ;)

Thanks for a lovely, thought-provoking article! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all gather over a cup of tea for further discussion? I’ll hold that vision in hopes that I might create it one day!

Daniel Brenton March 22, 2009 at 9:31 am

Melanie —

Thank you for the thoughtful response. (This could have been the bulk of a blog post on your own site, so thank you for sharing it here!)

I concur about the Bashar channeler. It certainly can be looked at differently than I portrayed it here, and you are spot on about a feeling of powerless in her life. She was candid in her feelings that she had no control over her abduction experiences, and it wouldn’t surprise me if these feelings “carried over” into other areas of her life and (extraordinary) experience.

And yes, it would be enjoyable to have everyone that was in our Twitter conversation in the same room. tea, expresso (or even beer, I suppose) in hand and make an afternoon of it. May it be so.

Again, appreciate the comments.

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