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On Saturday I attended my first class in mediumship at the Journey Within Spiritualist Church in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.  Our instructor was Spiritualist minister, registered Lily Dale Medium, spirit artist and SNUI tutor Joseph Shiel and he was amazing!

Sharing from his own very extensive experience, Joseph explained the process and mechanics of mediumship, systems of spirit communication, as well as the ethics of responsible mediumship.

Joseph also stressed the importance of putting in the time, sitting in the silence and only doing the work if you find that you have the ability to deliver clear and evidentiary messages for spirit.  

The Spiritualists as I am coming to know them, are consistent in their approach and so far, I find it highly resonant with my own belief  system.  Evidence is crucial as I see it.  Vague messages not only fail to convince but they may cause a person on the edge of disbelief to decide that mediumship is a sham and, even more significantly, that their loved one has simply ceased to exist - an outcome which no one should want to be part of.

Taking mediumship seriously meant that enrolling in the class was a very big deal to me.  As I have shared before, I am not in the habit of thinking of myself as psychic and it did not, in fact, occur to me until very recently that my own intense but relatively infrequent experiences of spirit have all had the common denominator of being firmly connected to the other side.  

Prior to this realization, I would have never considered taking a class on mediumship and I remained unsure about the wisdom of attending this class as well.  I believed in the spirit side certainly - having heard, seen and dreamt of those in spirit on several occasions - but I also felt fundamentally unworthy to be any kind of witness.

Sadly, recognizing that these beliefs stemmed from a difficult childhood and a tendency to compare myself with others did not dispel my well disguised but persistent pessimism about my own spiritual potential.  I spent the night before the class tossing and turning and fell asleep within a couple of hours of my pre-dawn alarm.

Having done a lot of praying in between the tossing and turning, I continued to pray on the long drive from PA to New Jersey.  "Give me a clear sign," I said out loud. "Tell me if I should pursue this. Let me know if I am wasting my time.  Let me know if I should go ahead with it.  Just let me be sure!"

The class took place inside the Journey Within sanctuary, a beautiful bright space filled with sunlight, soft colors and angels of every description.  I felt at home there and I loved Joseph Sheil's style of teaching.  The information he gave us was comprehensive, understandable and very engaging.  

In addition to the lecture, Joseph gave us several exercises.  The first was a guided meditation during which we were to imagine ourselves traveling through a city, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds and smelling the scents that were described.

At the end of the exercise Joseph asked us what we had experienced.  It made me nervous to report that I had experienced nothing.  Trying to help, I think,  Joe told me that if I dreamt in color, color might be a system which would work for me in my communications with spirit.

The second exercise was a psychic exercise in which we were to describe the images on two cards not shown to us.  My partner, Eileen, was quite accurate.  I made a couple of lukewarm guesses and felt my insecurities soar.  In the mediumship segment of the exercise Eileen talked about someone who might have been my paternal grandmother and I described someone who could have been Eileen's deceased uncle but nether of us felt particularly confident about either reading.

Breaking for lunch, Eileen and I sat outside and ate the lunches we had brought from home. In the course of our conversation, we found that we were both drawn to hawks and that each of us saw violet at our third eye when we closed our physical eyelids. Seeing that I was discouraged, Eileen did her best to encourage me.

"I'm not sure if this is for me," I said.  "I just want to know one way or the other."  Before we went back to class, I prayed again.  'Please clearly show me, in a way I cannot doubt, if I should pursue this or if I'm wasting my time.'

The lecture continued.  We were given sheets listing the information that an evidential medium must be able to provide.  This included the gender, age of passing by decade than year, physical description, manner of death and other identifying details.  Later in the afternoon we broke into groups of four. Joseph told us he wanted each of us to get eight pieces of specific information from spirit.  

For a moment I felt quite sure that I would not only fail to get eight pieces of information but that I would probably not even get one or two.  Then a funny thing happened.  I noticed green light around the hands of the woman sitting across from me.  I thought about what Joseph had said earlier about color. 

"Can I ask you a question?" I asked.  "Do you do any kind of healing work?"  As it turned out my fellow student was currently studying Rieki.  I felt a little better.

I was the second of our group to shut my eyes and try to describe a communication from spirit.  When I did, I saw a woman with dark hair and pale skin.  A field of tall yellow grass and old fashioned rope swing.  The woman seemed young but I got thirties, then specifically the age of 38.  I described the information as I was given it, skipping the rope swing.  No one confirmed or denied.

Opening my eyes I saw that our instructor had come up in the interim.  "You're giving a lot of information," he said, "without asking if it means anything to anyone.  Ask if anyone can take any part of it."

"I think this is for you," I said to the student directly across from me.  "Does any of it make sense?"  She shook her head.  One by one the other members of the group shook their heads too.  

"Try to get more," Joe advised.

I shut my eyes again and let myself drift as Joe had advised us to do, I saw several splotches of deep rose pink.  The letter E.  The meadow grass passed by again along with the rope swing.  I experienced a feeling of gentleness and of peace.  I got nothing on the manner of passing aside from a hunch that the woman I had been describing had been somehow not present for her own death.

Eyes open I relayed the new info but no one seemed to relate.  "Put it together," Joe advised.  So I did.

I described a 38 year old woman, with dark hair and pale skin. Deep rose pink, summertime, a meadow and an old fashioned rope swing.  An E connection.  The sense of not participating somehow in her own passing.  "Ask if anyone can take any part of it," Joe said.

I asked and everyone said no.  I had my answer or thought I did.  Then Joe said, "Well I can.  I can take all of it."

He described his mother who had died at 39 years of age.  She had light skin and dark hair. He didn't tell me her name but he did say that her sister was Ellen.  Next to the house he had grown up in was an old rope swing and he and his brother's had crossed a tall grass field in order to reach it.  There was no rose pink but his mother was known for growing the best roses in town.  When his mom had died, he told us, she had been heavily medicated and largely unaware of her surroundings.

As Joe relayed the information I felt strong slow chills travel from the top of my head to my toes.  

"Try again," he asked.  "Did she die quickly or was it an illness?"

I shut my eyes.  I again got the sense that Joe's mom was not present as she transitioned but no sense of how she had died.  "I don't get the death," I said.  "So I think that it must have been quick."

Joe said that I was inaccurate in this regard and that his mother was sick for some time.  And he went on to explain how my use of the word 'think' indicated that I had lost the connection.  He asked me to remember how it felt when I switched from right brain to left.  

I made a note to remember but all I could think was that I had done it.  That I had given nine separate pieces of information.  That each was accurate or quite close to accurate.  It was miles beyond my earlier expectations.

After the class, I hurried to catch up with Eileen who had been assigned to a different group for the final mediumship exercise.  She was already in her car and about to back out of her parking spot.  "How did it go?" I asked stopping her.  "How did you do?"

"Not good," she said sounding discouraged.  "Nobody could identify with anything I said."

I was surprised.  Eileen had been so accurate during the card exercise.  It seemed unlikely that she would come up cold.  "That happened to several people in our group too," I said.  "I wonder if sometimes, if the information is meant for someone else."  On impulse I asked her, "What did you see?"

"An older man.  Tall, kind of thin.  Red, bleeding into the head, like an aneurysm.  Holding a hammer when he died.  And the letter V."

I was stunned.  It was not enough information to be certain, but the man that Eileen described could have easily been my grandfather. Harold Van Tuyle.  Tall, thin and strong.  And working hard (though possibly not physically holding a hammer) when he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm on his Northeast PA farm.  

I imagined him as I remembered him, tall and straight in his pressed Dickie work clothes, and too polite to intrude on anyone.

For a moment, I could almost see him, walking around the small groups of students, politely looking for an opening and eventually finding the perfect person to relay his message.  Eileen was not in my group, for that exercise.  But she was the only person I had talked to at length and the only one I would look for after class ended.

As I told Eileen that I felt her message might have been intended for me, I saw her eyes brighten.  Because of our conversation, she left the workshop feeling hope instead of discouragement.

Spirit works with us, as I am frequently reminded, very directly.  Subtle and fleeting as this communication may be, it speaks to us in infinite complexity.  Answering prayers and relaying messages of hope and affection simultaneously in every direction.

I was changed by my experience at Journey Within.  Driving home, I realized that  I had a lot to learn about mediumship and that I probably would not receive consistent communication for a very long time. I knew that my confidence issues were serious.  I doubted that I would ever have what it takes to stand up in front of a room full of people and speak out for spirit.

But I knew other things, too.  I knew that love was eternal and that spirit works on multiple levels in the best interests of all. I knew that spirit had spoken to me for a reason and I was beginning to believe that there was indeed a plan.  And it occurred to me that I didn't have to know that plan in full because I was being guided by the energy that did.

And the long road home was fundamentally different from the one upon which I had arrived.

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  1. Wonderful post, Barbara. I have been trying for some time to find a credible teacher of mediumship, but no one felt right, so I am waiting to let things happen on their own. I have had spirits communicate with me, but I am no medium, and you describe perfectly the self-doubts that I still feel about my mediumship potential. Yet I am continually drawn to that kind of work, so there must be something to it. We just don't have the range and quality of metaphysical teachers that i know can be found in the U.S. and the U.K., but if this is a right path for me, the opportunities will come. I'm sure you've heard of the New Leslie Flint Trust, which has a set of wonderful recordings of spirit communications. I listen to them, and feel perfectly comfortable with the whole experience, so maybe that's all I can do for now .... though I do get an occasional message. Best wishes with your mediumship, Barbara.

    1. Hi Tosca. And thank you!

      I agree that if you are drawn to something, you should explore it. In my experience there is always something there. That something might not necessarily a new path but I find that it always gives me some meaningful info about the path I'm already on - if I'm paying attention. And that's what happened for me with mediumship.

      As far as teaching goes, finding a good local Spiritualist Development Circle is ideal IMO but there are online options too and I know that Arthur Findlay College offers courses online. One of the pastors at the church I talked about in the article trained there and she is amazing. As are all of the UK (Arthur Findlay trained) mediums who come to Journey Within to do workshops.

      I have actually not heard of the Leslie Flint Trust. I will check it out!

      Best of luck with your mediumship too, Tosca!

    2. Speaking of mediumship, Tosca, you might like this post: (The link is above under "related posts" but here is the URL too.)

      It's about the experience that taught me how healing personal (not for other people or clients) mediumship could be.


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