[Note: The writer of this article, in the past, attended several Spiritualist churches; used the Ouija Board many times; participated in seances; received a spirit guide in the mid-1970's who stayed with her for a number of years; and attended sessions where spirit contact was being done.}
Spirit contact is growing today. People who have lost loved ones want to know their loved one is okay. People may seek advice from the departed loved one, or guidance from a spirit being on a 'higher' dimension, from a guardian angel, or from an advanced spiritual master.
What is Spirit Contact? It is contacting a disembodied being, whether it is believed to be a dead person, an angel, a being in another dimension, an alien, a spirit guide, a spiritual being, an advanced soul, a demon, a higher evolved Master, or any spirit. Spirit contact has been and is common in many cultures that contact dead ancestors and contact the spirit world for advice or for information on the future. In the United States, the religion of Spiritualism, which still exists, teaches that one can and should contact departed souls for advice.
Types of Spirit Contact: There are mediums, channelers, and psychics, most of whom are involved either knowingly or unknowingly in spirit contact. Mediums usually contact beings they believe to be the dead by allowing the spirit to speak through them or by passing on messages from the spirits. Some mediums admit to having several spirit guides; often they will have a main spirit who speaks through them called a "control." This term, however, is not as common as it used to be. These readings are done at seances, in private readings, or in public settings.
Seances are done with a group of people gathered together, usually in a dimly lit room; someone calls for protection by asking to be surrounded by white light or protective spirits; the medium summons spirits interested in contact, or tries to contact the spirit of a departed loved one of someone present.
Private readings are done between the medium, channeler or psychic and an individual. Public readings are often done on television shows, such as "Crossing Over" with John Edward, who claims to receive messages from the dead relatives of those in the audience. Some popular mediums in the U.S. are Sylvia Browne, John Edward, and James Van Praagh.
Channelers usually contact spirit beings other than the dead -- angels, aliens, advanced spiritual beings, enlightened beings. They may do this by allowing the spirit to speak through them, or they may simply pass the message on. J Z Knight claims to channel Ramptha, who claims to be a 35,000-year-old warrior. Lazaris is a being channeled by Jach Pursel. Jane Roberts claimed to receive messages from an entity calling himself "Seth." These messages are chronicled in the book Seth Speaks and other Seth books. Ruth Montgomery, a former journalist, wrote several books which she said contained teachings channeled from aliens who guided her. The popular Course in Miracles was channeled by Helen Schucman, an atheist, who said that the spirit talking to her was Jesus Christ. More recently, Neale Donald Walsch wrote a series of books that purport to be answers from God to Walsch's questions [see CANA documents on Conversations with God and Friendship with God for further discussion].
Psychics may use spirit guides, angels, or the spirits of deceased teachers or gurus as a way to help them do their reading, though this is not always the case. Sometimes psychics may be unaware of the help they are getting from spirits.
One thing all these spirits -- whether claiming to be the dead, angels, spiritual masters, Ascended Masters, aliens, or evolved souls -- have in common is that they give messages often contradictory to the Bible and to Christian doctrine. The messages are sometimes blatantly hostile to Christ or Christianity, or promote ideas contrary to Christianity. The messages also often deny the reality of evil [see CANA document "The Dark Side" on ideas of good and evil in the occult].
The Messages from the Spirits: John Edward's show, "Crossing Over," was so popular on the Sci-Fi channel, that it 'crossed over' from cable to regular network. Edward approaches a section of the audience and starts giving his 'impressions' of what he is getting, whether it be a name, numbers, or a date, until someone responds with information that matches. He also asks the person questions as he tosses out 'clues' he says he is receiving. Sometimes it seems that he is throwing out very general information and that the person in the audience is filling in the blanks for Edward. Other times, Edward seems to be uncannily accurate. Is he really receiving messages from dead people?
Interestingly, it seems the dead have a hard time being very clear. For example, they may show Edward pink roses to say that everything is alright, according to Edward, or they may show Edward a flag to indicate their past patriotism in this life. It is sort of like a game of spiritual charades. One wonders about this. Why can't the dead just speak words to Edward, or write them out on a "spirit chalkboard" so to speak? James Van Praagh, in explaining the difficulty he has in interpreting the symbols shown to him by spirits, said that the recently deceased spirits were just learning to communicate, and so one could not expect all messages to be clear. This raises other questions: Why do recently dead people have trouble communicating? Where do they get these objects that they show Edward and Van Praagh? Why can't they just project their thoughts into Edward's mind? Why are their messages so prosaic and, well, boring? The picture one gets of these creatures certainly does not present a very interesting company of people to pass the time with. Why would these spirits have any special wisdom just because they are dead?
Though the spirits always claim to be happy and to be doing well (is Hitler also there with them, doing okay?), we do not know why they are happy and doing well. What do they do, exactly? And if they told us, how do we know it's true? How can we test these spirits to see if they are lying about anything or everything they tell the mediums? The answer is that we can't test them based on our own experiences since we haven't been to the other side. Only God really knows if these spirits are telling the truth, and who these spirits are.
Note that the messages from the "dead," from the spirits, and from channeled entities never encourage people to believe the Bible, never urge people to trust Christ for salvation, and often openly contradict God's word or even speak derisively of Christ as Savior. For example, the "God" in Walsch's books attacks very early on the credibility of the Bible, which he mentions specifically, saying that words cannot contain truth (of course, that should apply to Walsch's books as well since they are nothing but words!). This "God" also attacks the idea that there is right and wrong, and urges Walsch to abandon previous beliefs. At one point, "God" even tells Walsch that he (Walsch) is God's equal, and that Adam's fall was actually his "upliftment," and that it was not sin, but was a "first blessing," (Conversations with God, book 1 [NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1995}, p. 75). This is directly opposite of God's word.
Some movies that have popularized spirit contact are "The Sixth Sense," "What Lies Beneath," and "The Others." "The Sixth Sense" gave the message that receiving communications from the dead is a special gift. The young boy in the movie finally accepts this as his gift, and he is able to help someone who is grieving over a death.
In addition to the mediums and the movies, there is the angel phenomenon. Angel books abound. Angels are popularized in movies and on TV shows like "Touched By an Angel." Workshops are offered to teach one how to contact one's Guardian Angel. Angels are promoted as guides. In fact, angels are the new spirit guides, and it seems so much safer to contact an angel than just any old spirit.