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On Professional Mediumship


by Xavier Neto

Question 550: How should we interpret the fantastic legends of persons who sell their souls to Satan in order to obtain certain favours?

Answer: Every fable contains a teaching and a moral. The mistake is to take fables literally.The one you have just referred to is an allegory, and it can be explained as follows. People who call forth wrong-doing spirits to help them achieve wealth, fame or any other favor, rebel against Providence. They abandon their own life plan. They seek to avoid the learning experiences they were to have undergone in the earthly life.They will, needless to say, reap the consequences of this rebellion in the future. We do not mean, of course, that their souls will be condemned to misery forever. The fact remains, however, that, instead of detaching themselves from matter, they have plunged deeper and deeper into it. Consequently, in the spirit world, they will experience pain of conscience until they have redressed their ill-fated choices through new trials. And these trials will, more than likely, be even harder and more distressing than the ones they rebelled against. But in the here-and-now, their self-indulgence brings these individuals into a coalition with unscrupulous spirits and creates between them a tacit agreement that will, if unbroken, lead to their moral ruin. Fortunately, if they have a firm determination to do so, it is always possible for them to break away with the help of good spirits.

In: "The Spirits' Book", by A. Kardec. Published by Allan Kardec Educational Society (1996).

The Spiritualist movement has always relied on mediums for the updating and development of the Spiritualist principles in the material world. A question of prime importance concerns the system of work which a medium should obey. Should he (or she) be paid for his (her) work ?; should a medium charge for his channeling with the spirit world? I would like here to analyze such a problem by exposing different lines of argumentation (the notion of medium work will be particularly addressed) and by showing that the very Spiritualist principles that we claim to believe do not allow direct approval of professional mediumship as far as a serious commitment with the good spirits is concerned.

The most common argument I had heard supporting professional mediums is that they can charge for the time they spend in a seance. In our modern world and specially in the so called advanced societies, the current point of view proposes to charge for everything you do and so, if a medium charges, he is in fact accounting for the time he dedicates in his psychic work. Some may say the medium is not profiting from his work but just adjusting himself to a time consuming world. From this point of view alone, professional mediums are well justified.

However, when dealing with questions which concern the spirit, it is obligatory to apply spirit principles. If the case were to judge a material act, one would be on a firm ground in applying material laws. A material work, as the result of a contribution of several hands or as individual effort, requires special skills which deserve, by their turn, special retributions. In the form of a material payment, the worker sees the consequence of his work, which allows him not only to live but also to continue working. A worker (and specially the good worker) transforms the world around him and, therefore, has the right to be sustained by the world he has transformed. The material help is extended also to the so called intellectual activities because these are generally the product of an individual effort. In every work of this world we can always locate the source of work which is either the worker himself or partially the people around who help him.

Let us then translate the principles above to a medium. We make use here of what we have learn from the Spiritist Doctrine that we claim is the most extensive research program on the "psychic". Clearly a medium can not be classified as a worker in the material sense. We could even go further and ask if mediumship can be taken as a kind of work at all. It does not comes from a special effort of the medium, but it is the result of his inner and inborn capabilities. If the person was born without them, he or she will never become a medium, no matter how much time and effort is dedicated to the frequent illusion of mediumship development. However, the most important argument against professional mediumship is related to the source of psychic information. No one in this world can prove that a medium operates without spirit intervention. By definition, mediumship is the ability of a person to serve as the intermediary stage (therefore the name medium) between us and the spirits. The source is then spiritual. If one could charge for the mediums work, how would the spirits be paid? Could they bill a credit card? If mediumship is a material work, what should they receive in return? Who will pay for the time of the spirits?

Charged mediumship also implies several negative ethical consequences. Mediumship is inherently a neutral faculty. It is similar to intelligence, one should use it for the good or for the bad. The difference lies in the fact that mediumship requires spirit influence while intelligence is the result of the person's effort (that is, of the spirit development after countless reincarnations). Spiritism however has unveiled some ethical aspects related to the condition of being a medium: The medium is, in general, an indebted person committed to repair several past mistakes. Once the law(*) was infringed, the spirit receives the important mission of redeeming itself in a new life by helping the sufferers and its dear fellows. Consequently, the medium is far from being a privileged creature, a super version of a human person endowed with special powers. The proponents of professional mediumship are not frequently aware of such important hidden aspect. Therefore one must be careful in defending professional mediums who may become favorable targets of the inferior spirit plane which is always ready to caught out those who deviate from the right path; a path they had sworn to follow. A medium who insist in using his psychic capacity to make money, for instance, will be asked to account for the wrong use of his ability. As every common creature in this world, the medium should work and profit from his material work alone. On the contrary, his spiritual work is the part that has been added as a bonus from the Heaven. By helping in the right way, he receives his part in spiritual advancement and liberates himself from his ignomous past. Mediumship should therefore be considered as charity in action, a way for the Heaven to distribute its treasures and, at same time, to redeem the distributor. Behind gratuitous mediumship there is the subtle principle that material retributions are transitory and can never account for the benefits of a well guided mediumship. The medium should be the first person to understand this.

There is also another important aspect. Spiritualism has frequently suffered from the wrong behavior of some of its members. Professional mediumship may be taken as another way of making money (mainly by the majority of non-Spiritualist people). In this case there is no way to call attention to the often subtle spiritual relations involved. In some parts of the world, payment is often required as a social need. It is interesting to note, however, that in such parts Spiritualism is often discredited, it loses its sacred objectives and adherents along with. Advancements in the acceptance of the Spiritualist thesis will only be effective if mediums could definitely demonstrate the action of the spiritual world without any other retribution. The material payment adds leaven to the negation of the Spiritualist opponents.

We could also continue by arguing that professional mediums are sooner of later discredited by the very spirit world. Serious and elevated spirits will hardly contribute with them who become instruments of the perturbing ones.

Mediumship as a human recent sensibility is destined to ever increasing development and can reach a very high level provided it is correctly practised. As a modern example of a successful and thoroughly non-profit mediumship, the reader is invited to study the life and work of Francisco Candido Xavier (known as Chico Xavier, he is now 88) who has channelled almost 500 books and received thousands of detailed communications of recently departed people (the exact number is unknown). His work is so vast that only future generations will be able to appreciate it properly. The important point is that Chico not only has never charged for his work but also has entirely donated his books' copyrights to several social institutions which help sick and poor people. But how Chico lived? He is now retired from his work as civil servant of the Minas Gerais state government. Chico Xavier and also other notable mediums definitely proved that mediumship can peacefully coexist with a normal life work, exposing, therefore, its non-profit character. Such character is not a question of choice or a cultural demand, but a continuous requirement for the establishing of the Spiritualist ideas in our modern but spiritually needy society.

(*) The "law" is the set of ethical precepts which regulate the future state of the spirit according to its past acts. It is a natural law and has very little to do with our personal or social judgment and much less with our prejudices.