Channelling is a form of Mediumship in which a person allows himself to be taken over by or to receive messages from another personality while in a dissociated state of consciousness or trance. Whereas mediumship is a term most often applied to communication with the dead, channelling is used for interaction with various nonphysical beings, including Angels, nature spirits, totem or guardian spirits, deities, demons, higher intelligences, and extraterrestrials, as well as spirits of the dead.

Channelling, like mediumship, has ancient roots. The ancient Egyptians used states of mystical trance to communicate with the gods. In ancient China, shamanlike people used trance states to interact with the spirit world. Channelling is recorded in the history of early India, and in ancient Greece it was used for oracular prophecy. Many spiritual leaders have received their guidance through channelling; examples are the prophets of the Old Testament and Muhammad, who received the teachings of the Koran while in trances and in DREAMS.

In contemporary times, it has been fashionable to channel “entities,” who dispense their own unique brand of wisdom.

There are different types of channelling: intentional, spontaneous, classic (of a particular entity), open (inspired speaking from an unknown source), sleep and dream, clairaudient and clairvoyant, Automatic Writing and other automatisms. In full-trance channelling, the channel becomes unconscious while an entity enters the body and takes it over. Like full-trance mediumship, this type of channelling is not common.

More common is interdimensional telepathic communication in which the channel induces an altered state of consciousness and intentionally contacts an entity. The channel remains conscious and may be aware of what the entity says or does.

In the United States, channelling came into vogue in the 1970s when the channelled writings of the entity Seth, speaking through Jane Roberts, became best-selling books. Similar to the rush of popular interest in Spiritualist mediumship that occurred in the 19th century, channelers went into business, some charging exorbitant fees for sittings. Fad interest was over by the end of the 1980s, although the more prominent “channels,” as some individuals prefer to be called, retained their followings.

The development and performance of channelers is comparable to that of mediums. Researchers who have studied channelling propose some of the same theories: that the channeler does not literally communicate with another entity but draws material from his or her own unconscious that takes on the personality of an entity in order to be expressed. Most channelers believe they contact an outside entity. According to researchers, an estimated 5% of channelers engage in deliberate fraud. Some psychologists believe channelling is pathological in origin and is symptomatic of multiple personality disorder. However, channelers, like Mediums, control access to their communicators, while mentally ill people typically do not have such control. Other theories purpose that everyone has multiple consciousnesses, but only a few become aware of some of the layers and gain access to them; or that channelling taps into a “Universal Mind.”

Most channelers are average people who seem to function normally. They find their channeling to be a source of happiness, fulfillment and personal growth. Unresolved personal problems, however, can interfere with channeling, causing the quality of the information received to deteriorate.



  • Anderson, Roger. “Channeling.” Parapsychology Review 19 (1988): 6–9.
  • Decuypere, J. M. “Channelling: Sick or Scientific?” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)63 (1999): 193–202.
  • Kautz, William H. “Channeling: Mediumship Comes of Age.” Applied Psi (Jan./Feb. 1987): 3–8.
  • Kautz, William H., and Melanie Branon. Channeling: The Intuitive Connection. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.
  • Klimo, Jon. Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007

Channeling refers to an activity in which a person seems to be possessed by another consciousness, spirit, force, or entity that uses the person to communicate or interact with the physical world. Popularized in the early 1970s, the word comes from the notion that, under the right conditions, some people can act as a channel, or conduit, through which an unseen entity communicates with the physical world. The method of communication employed by the channeled entity varies. It might speak in the channeler’s voice or in its own voice, or it might take over the channeler’s hands in order to write messages, a phenomenon known as automatic writing. Alternatively, it might possess a person not in order to send a message, but to heal, supposedly using psychic powers to eliminate illness in people who come to the channeler. In any case, the channeled entity means its host no harm. This is what distinguishes channeling from demonic possession, in which the spirit’s intent is to destroy its host. One of the best-known and most controversial channelers of modern times is J.Z. Knight, who claims to be regularly possessed by an ancient warrior, Ramtha, from the lost world of Atlantis. When channeling Ramtha, Knight talks and walks very differently from her normal voice and gait. To her believers, this transformation is so profound that they are convinced her words about Atlantis are genuine, but skeptics dismiss her as nothing more than a gifted actress.


  • automatic writing, art, and music;
  • psychic healing;
  • Ramtha


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning