The Skeptical Medium

I’ve recently returned to the East Coast after a dozen years in California, and as I talk to a lot of people in New York about my mediumship, people will often tell me they’re skeptical about the whole idea of being able to communicate with loved ones who have crossed over. And at first when I heard this sentiment I thought, that’s okay, I’m skeptical too, even though I do it. I mean, how does anyone really know what will happen when we die, until we cross over ourselves, with no possibility of return (in this lifetime, anyway)? I’m just working on an operating principal, I’d tell myself. That was until I really bothered to learn the difference between the words skeptical, cynical, and open-minded, and consequently, how deeply I held my beliefs.

Skeptical, says the dictionary, is doubting of everything. Cynical is defined as disbelieving in the reality of any human purposes which are not suggested or directed by self-interest or self-indulgence. And Open-Minded is defined as having or showing receptiveness to new and different ideas or the opinions of others. Could I, as a medium, both doubt the possibility of after-life communication and be open-minded at the same time? Can any medium do this? Do we as mediums need to stand in the shoes of absolute belief to do what we do, or is there room for saying, I don’t know, I don’t have all the answers? My conclusion: we have to be able to say we don’t know, because the alternative is maintaining a belief system that is fixed and static, rather than dynamic and open to influence by new experiences. To grow as humans, as spiritual human beings, we need room to be able to say, maybe.

In my work, skeptics are one of three clients I get, but they’re by far the minority. The majority, not surprisingly, are not skeptics, but instead believers and open-minded people, often booking a sitting to have their own after-death communications validated. They feel their loved ones around them, or notice signs, but have a hard time believing themselves, or as we say in mediumship, they have a hard time trusting their own information. Objective information coming through a medium can validate those experiences, most ideally when the medium knows nothing about a client s loved ones.

On the far end of my clientele are the cynics: rare, but I get one every now and then. They are the naysayers who, disbelieving in life after death, say prove it, prove the existence of a soul that can communicate after bodily death. Yet they often fail to realize they cannot prove it either, because neither one of use can prove beyond a reasonable doubt a reasonable skepticism, even that we are entirely sure of what happens in the Great Beyond. Certainly, many of us, mediums and non-mediums alike, can make an excellent case for the soul, and in The Afterlife Experiments, Gary Schwartz, Ph.D., provides us with some excellent scientific evidence, too. Yet there could be other explanations for the information other mediums and I get and there s my own maybe. So in turn, I don t claim to have all the answers, and I don t ever try to prove anything. Yet I confess it s a rewarding experience when a client comes in as a disbeliever, and comes out scratching their chin or even saying maybe themselves. In fact, it’s even better when the information touches their heart, because if there is one thing I definitely believe, is that love lives on.

Still, I ve seen the effect of belief and doubt in my practice, time and time again, and if you talk to other mediums, you ll probably hear agreement with the following: In short, the more absolute my trust in spirit, the greater my belief in the afterlife, and the greater my belief that the living and the dead can communicate, the more perfect are my sittings. The energy flows, more specific information comes through, and my clients get more of the experience for which they came. Yet the greater my doubt and ultimately distrust of spirit the poorer are my sittings. In mediumship, trust is the name of the game: not just trust in ourselves and our own abilities as mediums, but trusting in the process, trusting Spirit, and trusting enough to let go of our own egos for the duration of the sitting. It s a leap of faith, no matter how many times I ve done it. And it s just the same as trusting that still, small voice within yourself, your gut, your first impression. Haven t you regretted it when you didn t? Mediumship works exactly the same way.

My belief system, my personal belief system, is based largely on my experience. Providing solid mediumship sessions over and over again has strengthened my belief in the afterlife, as has the experience of being a sitter, or the receptive party, to other mediums refining their own skills by practicing with me. And then there is the rest of my life experience that guides me. In turn, I m not in the business of asking anyone to take my word for it: it’s up to each of us as individuals to develop our own belief systems. Even so, I do encourage people to be open to the experience of after-life communication, especially in their hearts, and then draw their own conclusions. My work, mediumship, makes one kind of these communication experiences possible. It’s work that challenges us to make a leap of faith: with our heads, with our hearts, and maybe, even, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Dictionary definitions cited from , November 22, 2004.