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H.P. Blavatsky on Mediumship/Channeling

Sep 04, 2007 09:28 PM
by danielhcaldwell

H.P. Blavatsky on Mediumship/Channeling

H.P. Blavatsky writes a great deal on
what was once called mediumship and what
nowadays might be called "channeling".

Many of H.P.B.'s comments on this subject
have been compiled in a book titled:

Comments by H.P. Blavatsky on Magic,
Mediumship, Psychism and the Powers of
the Spirit.  Compiled by Lina Psaltis.

Another valuable book on the subject is Geoffrey
Farthing's book titled:


Other relevant material from HPB can be found in the following two
web sources:

Psychic versus Initiate Visions & Knowledge

Extract of a Letter from Mme. Blavatsky.

And finally I give BELOW two of HPB's articles (or extracts) which 
deal with mediumship (channeling):


"Are Chelas Mediums?" by H.P. Blavatsky

     According to the newest edition of the Imperial Dictionary, by 
John Ogilvie, L.L.D., 

"A medium is a person through whom the action of another being is 
said to be manifested and transmitted by animal magnetism, or a 
person through whom spiritual manifestations are claimed to be made; 
especially one who is said to be capable of holding intercourse with 
the spirits of the deceased."
     As Occultists do not believe in any communication with 
the "spirits of the deceased" in the ordinary acceptation of the 
term, for the simple reason that they know that the spirits of "the 
deceased" cannot and do not come down and communicate with us; and as 
the above expression "by animal magnetism" would probably have been 
modified, if the editor of the Imperial Dictionary bad been an 
Occultist, we therefore are only concerned with the first part of the 
definition of the word "Medium," which says: "A Medium is a person, 
through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and 
transmitted"; and we should like to be permitted to add: "By the 
either consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being." 

     It would be extremely difficult to find on earth a human being, 
who could not be more or less influenced by the "Animal Magnetism" or 
by the active Will (which sends out that "Magnetism") of another. If 
the beloved General rides along the front, the soldiers become 
all "Mediums." They become filled with enthusiasm, they follow him 
without fear, and storm the death-dealing battery. One common impulse 
pervades them all; each one becomes the "Medium" of another, the 
coward becomes filled with heroism, and only he, who is no medium at 
all and therefore insensible to epidemic or endemic moral influences, 
will make an exception, assert his independence and run away. 

     The "revival preacher" will get up in his pulpit, and although 
what he says is the most incongruous nonsense, still his actions and 
the lamenting tone of his voice are sufficiently impressive to 
produce "a change of heart" amongst, at least, the female part of his 
congregation, and if he is a powerful man, even sceptics "that come 
to scoff, remain to pray." People go to the theatre and shed tears 
or "split their sides" with laughter according to the character of 
the performance, whether it be a pantomime, a tragedy or a farce. 
There is no man, except a genuine block-head, whose emotions and 
consequently whose actions cannot be influenced in some way or other, 
and thereby the action of another be manifested or transmitted 
through him. All men and all women and children are therefore 
Mediums, and a person who is not a Medium is a monster, an abortion 
of nature; because he stands without the pale of humanity. 

     The above definition can therefore hardly be considered 
sufficient to express the meaning of the word "Medium" in the popular 
acceptation of the term, unless we add a few words, and say. "A 
medium is a person through whom the action of another being is said 
to be manifested and transmitted to an abnormal extent by the 
consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being." This 
reduces the number of "Mediums" in the world to an extent 
proportionate to the space around which we draw the line between the 
normal and abnormal, and it will be just as difficult to determine 
who is a medium and who is not a medium, as it is to say where sanity 
ends and where insanity begins. Every man has his little ,, 
weaknesses," and every man has his little "mediumship"; that is to 
say, some vulnerable point by which he may be taken unawares. The one 
may therefore not be considered really insane; neither can the other 
be called a "medium." Opinions often differ, whether a man is insane 
or not, and so they may differ as to his mediumship. Now in practical 
life a man may be very eccentric, but he is not considered insane, 
until his insanity reaches such a degree that he does not know any 
more what he is doing, and is therefore unable to take care of 
himself or his business. 

     We may extend the same line of reasoning to Mediums, and say 
that only such persons shall be considered mediums, who allow other 
beings to influence them in the above described manner to such an 
extent that they lose their self-control and have no more power or 
will of their own to regulate their own actions. Now such a 
relinquishing of self-control may be either active or passive, 
conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary, and differs 
according to the nature of the beings, who exercise the said active 
influence over the medium. 

     A person may consciously and voluntarily submit his will to 
another being and become his slave. This other being may be a human 
being, and the medium will then be his obedient servant and may be 
used by him for good or for bad purposes. This other "being" may be 
an idea, such as love, greediness, hate, jealousy, avarice, or some 
other passion, and the effect on the medium will be proportionate to 
the strength of the idea and the amount of self-control left in the 
medium. This "other being" may be an elementary or an elemental, and 
the poor medium become a epileptic, a maniac or a criminal. 
This "other being" may be the man's own higher principle, either 
alone or put into rapport with another ray of the collective 
universal spiritual principle, and the "medium" will then be a great 
genius, a writer, a poet, an artist, a musician, an inventor, and so 
on. This "other being" may be one of those exalted beings, called 
Mahatmas, and the conscious and voluntary medium will then be called 
their "Chela." 

     Again, a person may never in his life have heard the 
word "Medium" and still be a strong Medium, although entirely 
unconscious of the fact. His actions may be more or less influenced 
unconsciously by his visible or invisible surroundings. He may become 
a prey to Elementaries or Elementals, even without knowing the 
meaning of these words, and he may consequently become a thief, a 
murderer, a ravisher, a drunkard or a cut-throat, and it has often 
enough been proved that crimes frequently become epidemic; or again 
he may by certain invisible influences be made to accomplish acts 
which are not at all consistent with his character such as previously 
known. He may be a great liar and for once by some unseen influence 
be induced to speak the truth; he may be ordinarily very much afraid 
and yet on some great occasion and on the spur of the moment commit 
an act of heroism; he may be a street-robber and vagabond and 
suddenly do an act of generosity, etc. 

     Furthermore, a medium may know the sources from which the 
influence comes, or in more explicit terms, "the nature of the being, 
whose action is transmitted through him," or he may not know it. He 
may be under the influence of his own seventh principle and imagine 
to be in communication with a personal Jesus Christ, or a saint; he 
may be in rapport with the "intellectual" ray of Shakespeare and 
write Shakespearean poetry, and at the same time imagine that the 
personal spirit of Shakespeare is writing through him, and the simple 
fact of his believing this or that, would make his poetry neither 
better nor worse. He may be influenced by some Adept to write a great 
scientific work and be entirely ignorant of the source of his 
inspiration, or perhaps imagine that it was the "spirit" of Faraday 
or Lord Bacon that is writing through him, while all the while he 
would be acting as a "Chela," although ignorant of the fact. 

     From all this it follows that the exercise of mediumship 
consists in the more or less complete giving up of self-control, and 
whether this exercise is good or bad, depends entirely on the use 
that is made of it and the purpose for which it is done. This again 
depends on the degree of knowledge which the mediumistic person 
possesses, in regard to the nature of the being to whose care he 
either voluntarily or involuntarily relinquishes for a time the 
guardianship of his physical or intellectual powers. A person who 
entrusts indiscriminately those faculties to the influence of every 
unknown power, is undoubtedly a "crank," and cannot be considered 
less insane than the one who would entrust his money and valuables to 
the first stranger or vagabond that would ask him for the same. We 
meet occasionally such people, although they are comparatively rare, 
and they are usually known by their idiotic stare and by the 
fanaticism with which they cling to their ignorance. Such people 
ought to be pitied instead of blamed, and if it were possible, they 
should be enlightened in regard to the danger which they incur; but 
whether a Chela, who consciously and willingly lends for a time his 
mental faculties to a superior being, whom he knows, and in whose 
purity of motives, honesty of purpose, intelligence, wisdom and power 
he has full confidence, can be considered a "Medium" in the vulgar 
acceptation of the term, is a question which had better be left to 
the reader ? after a due consideration of the above ? to decide for 

Theosophist, June, 1884 


"Psychic and Noëtic Action" by H.P. Blavatsky

[Only one relevant extract is given from this article]

               This leads us to see the difference between the pure 
noëtic and the terrestrial psychic visions of seership and 
mediumship. The former can be obtained by one of two means; (a) on 
the condition of paralyzing at will the memory and the instinctual, 
independent action of all the material organs and even cells in the 
body of flesh, an act which, once that the light of the Higher Ego 
has consumed and subjected for ever the passional nature of the 
personal, lower Ego, is easy, but requires an adept; and (b) of being 
a reincarnation of one, who, in a previous birth, had attained 
through extreme purity of life and efforts in the right direction 
almost to a Yogi-state of holiness and saint-ship. There is also a 
third possibility of reaching in mystic visions the plane of the 
higher Manas; but it is only occasional and does not depend on the 
will of the Seer, but on the extreme weakness and exhaustion of the 
material body through illness and suffering. The Seeress of Prevorst 
was an instance of the latter case; and Jacob Boëhme of our second 
category. In all other cases of abnormal seer-ship, of so-called 
clairaudience, clairvoyance and trances, it is simply-mediumship. 

            Now what is a medium? The term medium, when not applied 
simply to things and objects, is supposed to be a person through whom 
the action of another person or being is either manifested or 
transmitted. Spiritualists believing in communications with 
disembodied spirits, and that these can manifest through, or impress 
sensitiveness to transmit "messages" from them, regard mediumship as 
a blessing and a great privilege. We Theosophists, on the other hand, 
who do not believe in the "communion of spirits" as Spiritualists do, 
regard the gift as one of the most dangerous of abnormal nervous 
diseases. A medium is simply one in whose personal Ego, or 
terrestrial mind, (psuche), the percentage of "astral" light so 
preponderates as to impregnate with it their whole physical 
constitution. Every organ and cell thereby is attuned, so to speak, 
and subjected to an enormous and abnormal tension. The mind is ever 
on the plane of, and quite immersed in, that deceptive light whose 
soul is divine, but whose body-the light waves on the lower planes, 
infernal; for they are but the black and disfigured reflections of 
the earth's memories. The untrained eye of the poor sensitive cannot 
pierce the dark mist, the dense fog of the terrestrial emanations, to 
see beyond in the radiant field of the eternal truths. His vision is 
out of focus. His senses, accustomed from his birth, like those of a 
native of the London slums, to stench and filth, to the unnatural 
distortions of sights and images tossed on the kaleidoscopic waves of 
the astral plane ? are unable to discern the true from the false. And 
thus, the pale soulless corpses moving in the trackless fields 
of "Kama loka," appear to him the living images of the "dear 
departed" ones; the broken echoes of once human voices, passing 
through his mind, suggest to him well coordinated phrases, which he 
repeats, in ignorance that their final form and polish were received 
in the innermost depths of his own brain-factory. And hence the sight 
and the hearing of that which if seen in its true nature would have 
struck the medium's heart cold with horror, now fills him with a 
sense of beatitude and confidence. He really believes that the 
immeasurable vistas displayed before him are the real spiritual 
world, the abode of the blessed disembodied angels.

    We describe the broad main features and facts of mediumship, 
there being no room in such an article for exceptional cases. We 
maintain ? having unfortunately passed at one period of life 
personally through such experiences ? that on the whole, mediumship 
is most dangerous; and psychic experiences when accepted 
indiscriminately lead only to honestly deceiving others, because the 
medium is the first self-deceived victim. Moreover, a too close 
association with the "Old Terrestrial Serpent" is infectious. The 
odic and magnetic currents of the Astral Light often incite to 
murder, drunkenness, immorality, and, as Eliphas Lévi expresses it, 
the not altogether pure natures "can be driven headlong by the blind 
forces set in motion in the Light" ? by the errors and sins imposed 
on its waves.

Lucifer, November, 1890 



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