The search for life after death can lead us to the types of people who profess to have a connection to spirit. These may be psychics, mediums, spiritual teachers, channelers, gurus, and religious leaders. Many are wonderful, honest and truly gifted. However, both religion and the unaffiliated spiritual movement also has more than its fair share of deceivers. When seeking answers about the fate of a lost loved one, or when faced with mortality yourself, it is natural to want answers quickly. Quite often, we turn to whomever seems to be the most well-known or has many followers. We can be fooled by appearances and surmise that the most popular spiritual teacher or medium must be the most talented. I have found that fame does not always equate to talent. Many excellent mediums, channelers, psychics and spiritual teachers toil in near obscurity, and all are humble, compassionate people who care more for helping grieving families than their own bottom line.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a realist. I expect that anyone who offers spiritual services as their profession should get compensated. After all, we do live in the material world, and that requires money for food, shelter and clothing. Fair and honest pay in exchange for skills is the basis of our economy and spiritual services are no different. You wouldn’t demand that your plumber snake out your toilet for free, so why would we expect our mediums to take a vow of poverty and live in a cave, giving free readings all day? They aren’t saints, they are people. That being said, if money seems to the main motivation for someone offering spiritual services, I would be suspect. When you are considering paying for spiritual services of any kind, it is wise to research prices and use your own common sense. If the charge seems far too exorbitant for the service, move on.
As in every religion, business venture, educational setting and political body, there are people in apparent positions of power that seek to deceive. Many times the purpose is to acquire money, but in some cases, power and prestige itself is its own motivation. The so-called “new age movement” is no different. Sadly, grieving people, or those having difficulties in life will be drawn to whomever promises them relief. In this way, the new age movement is no different than the evangelical fringes of any religion. Don’t allow yourself to get taken advantage of. Keep your mind open, but keep your brain intact.
Potential Red Flags
If a medium, psychic, or spiritual teacher tells you that you are cursed and it will require x amount of money to remove the curse, it’s a scam. In my experience, so-called curses only have the power you give to them. Ultimately, it is the fear that you have that will cause the problems you might attribute to a curse. Fear can be a strong negative force in our lives. Remove the fear, and you cannot be harmed by so-called curses. You are what you believe. You can try guided meditation to help balance your mind and spirit or seek the services of a reputable Energy Worker or Reiki practitioner. If you are depressed or suffer from mental illness, however, you must seek true medical or psychiatric help. Spiritual healing must never come at the expense of the body or the mind. We must seek health in all three.
Channelers and Spiritual Teachers:
When seeking out channelers, read as much as you can of their channeled material before deciding. If a person is claiming to speak for a high-level discarnate entity, the material should be free of major contradictions over the length of time this person has channeled. The information shouldn’t feel like it was made up on the spot, or recycled from other teachings. A true spiritual teacher will always suggest that we look inward for the truth. If any channeler or spiritual leader suggests that only they have all the answers and you must be dependent on them to make spiritual progress, move on. Spiritual teachers or religious leaders should be attempting to raise you up, not the other way around. A spiritual teacher or religious leader should not care more for their own status and ego than the emotional or spiritual well-being of their followers. In any situation where you find yourself following a so-called teacher, remember to take the elements that help you, and leave those that don’t fit with your own spiritual path. There are many ways to experience the universal source (read: God), but ultimately the experience that you have while in this earthly body is your own responsibility and therefore your spiritual truth should be what you ultimately decide.
The following techniques may be used by frauds posing as mediums. Even mediums who are genuinely gifted may get nervous and rely on these tricks when they feeling pressured or worry about their performance. A good honest medium will never use any of these techniques. Whether in a crowd or a one on one reading, a good medium will ask you your name and possibly your birthday then they will begin telling you the impressions they receive. You should never volunteer information although it can be helpful to validate what a medium is saying. For example, if a medium says “I see a young man, short brown hair who passed due to a motorcycle accident. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and died from head trauma. Is this young man related to you?” It is perfectly okay to say, “Yes”. You don’t have to then explain who the person is, or how they are related to you, simply accepting the information allow the medium the confidence to continue with these impressions.
Skeptics will say that all mediums rely on cold reading to get information. A true medium will not ask you questions to glean information or fish around, throwing out one fact after another until they get a hit (I hear a G or an S name.. like a george or sally or sadie, or maybe a M name, or maybe it means mom, did your mother pass? maybe a mother-like figure, sister, aunt, grandmother? Oh grandmother? That’s the g name I heard, definitely. Was she like a mother to you?)
In fact, they will specifically ask that you not contribute additional information, although they may ask for your name or the name of the person you wish to contact. They should never ask you details about the circumstances of the person’s death, or any questions about the appearance or personality of the person in question. If the medium is fishing around and you find yourself helping them by nodding or shaking your head unconsciously guiding them to the truth, you’ve just been a victim of cold reading.
Another trick used, especially by big-ticket mediums who do large audience readings is hot reading. Usually, the audience members will be required to wait in a lobby before entering the theatre, which gives time for the medium’s associates to wend their way through the crowd and listen in as people talk to each other and say things like “I really hope I hear from my son today, I brought his baseball glove with me.” This is valuable information that is then used later by the medium to provide evidence. In some cases, associates will even walk right up to you and say, “So who do you hope to hear from today?” Mediums use hot reading with private clients as well, going so far as to google people, stalk their facebook pages, pay for information through various demographic databases or even going so far as to hire private detectives for information on the client beforehand.
The final fraudulant activity attributed to mediums is warm reading. This involves using general statements based on common statistics. For example, if the crowd contains a lot of older females, the medium might say “Who here lost their father?” knowing that most of the crowd will raise their hand. In addition, it’s common for audience members to bring jewelry or a piece of the deceased’s clothing with them so the medium only needs to ask “Who is wearing a necklace that belonged to someone who passed?” Then, judging on the person who raises their hand, they only need to guess if its a mother, sister or daughter when they can do by fishing and cold reading.
Not all mediums who do tours or large audience shows are using these techniques. There are many wonderful mediums who are honest and truly skilled. A good evidential medium will tell you the impressions that they are receiving without requiring you to submit information to them first. Some mediums may ask for verification, but this shouldn’t be necessary. The medium should provide you with enough information about the person that you are satisfied that they are truly in contact. They may discuss how someone passed away, what their major personality traits are, or what they looked like. The information given should be specific, not general. Use your intuition and avoid the temptation to ‘make the information fit’. On the other hand, even great mediums can make a mistake. Inter-dimensional communication is not an exact science.
Before investing in the time or money seeing a famous medium, try finding a less-well known medium with a good reputation. They are less likely to be frauds, especially if they are relying on word of mouth and good testimonials for their business. A good place to start is The Forever Family Foundation.
Snake Oil and Magic Beans:
The internet is filled with talismans, charms, spells, herbal supplements, and a myriad of other items that are touted to change your life, bring health, happiness, love and money. In my opinion, change in any form comes from within. I do believe that spells, when properly worked, can bring about positive change but only because of the faith and belief you bring to the process. The power of positive thinking, meditation or prayer can do the same thing. We create our own reality. When we have a positive outlook on the world, we attract positive things into our life. No magic spell or talisman can do this for us unless it is accompanied by the belief and understanding that spiritual change begins and ends squarely with our own perspective. I believe that symbolic physical items can be helpful because it is a physical representation of our goals that reinforce the non-physical intention that we give it. For example, inscribing a goal on a wax candle, then burning the candle each night while meditating on that goal. The important part of this ritual is not the candle, it is the meditation. The candle helps focus our intention and make it stronger. In the same way, tarot cards aren’t magical in themselves, they are a tool that can help bring our natural precognitive abilities to the surface. By ascribing our intuition to physical objects such as tarot cards, it is easier to access the information that was already latent.
The new-age movement, by definition, has very loose boundaries. It’s hard to know who is real and who is just trying to get your money. When seeking answers about life after death, we are tempted to head for the first person who seems to have all the answers. Please take a step back and keep a healthy dose of skepticism on hand before you jump in and become a disciple. Use your intuition and common sense. Don’t be swayed by the many followers who are blind in their adoration. If it seems as though the followers of a spiritual teacher are more interested in worshiping the person instead of the teachings, this may be a red flag. A good spiritual teacher will foster discourse of ideas, not cultivate a gaggle of admirers for their own vainglorious ambitions. A spiritual teacher should never make you feel ‘less than’ or use themselves as a paragon of perfection. We are all human, fallible and imperfect. A good spiritual teacher should inspire by virtue of their ideas. If you feel like you are supposed to engage in idol worship, especially if you are constantly being asked for donations where you get nothing concrete in return, you may be dealing with someone who is at best simply swept up in their own popularity, or at worst, a psychopath. Also watch out for those spiritual teachers who seem to spend far more time and energy on attempting to sell you merchandise. Magical cards, books, CDs, videos, cruises and expensive workshops are all ways spiritual teachers make money. Some marketing is understandable if this is the way they earn a living, but constant cajoling to ‘buy, buy buy!’ is not okay.
The number of bad spiritual teachers, mediums, psychics and channelers may overshadow the good ones, but don’t give up. Keep searching and you will be rewarded with a positive and perhaps even life-changing spiritual experience.