List of Famous Mediums below

A medium is a person who has marked psychic ability, including the ability to communicate with the dead. Mediums are psychic, but not all psychics are mediums.

Mediums have been known by various names, among them oracle, soothsayer, wizard, cunning woman, wise woman, fortune-teller, witch, witch doctor, medicine man, sorcerer, shaman, mystic, priest, prophet, and channeler. However, distinctions are also often made between these terms. According to anthropologist Michael Winkelman, the role of the medium—and of several other magicoreligious practitioner types—developed historically out of that of the shaman (see Shamanism).

Mediums usually know early in childhood that they are different from others. There is some evidence that mediumistic ability—like psychic ability in general—may be inherited, but this is controversial. At a young age, a medium sees and communicates with the dead, usually family members and friends. As their ability progresses, they are able to communicate with the dead who are not personally known to them. They work with spirit Controls who help to organize their access to the dead and the Afterlife.

Sometimes mediumistic skills open up after an accident, especially trauma to the head or brain, or after a severe emotional shock. It is thought that the person already is predisposed to mediumship and needed an event to activate the ability. Some people become mediums in adulthood.

Most mediums are women, not only in the West but in other cultures as well. This may be due to women’s ability to access intuition more easily than men, but also may have to do with the low social status traditionally held by mediums. Nonetheless, some of the most famous and successful mediums have been men (see John Edward; D.D. Home; James van Praagh).

Most modern Western mediums are mental and receive communication via Telepathy and mental impressions. Some are physical mediums, manifesting physical phenomena such as Apports or Materializations.

Mediumship is hard on the body, and many mediums suffer health problems.

Mediums are a focal point of Spiritualism, and they have been studied by psychical researchers. Spiritualist churches and organizations offer training to mediums, who give readings, perform pubic Demonstrations called messages or platform readings, and do Spirit Releasement.

Many paranormal investigators work with mediums in investigations of Hauntings. Mediums, as well as other psychics, can provide details that can be researched and validated. However, no medium has ever been shown to be 100 percent accurate, making their use in investigations problematic to some in the field.



  • Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death. New York: Penguin, 2006.
  • Weaver, Kelly with John D. Weaver. Whispers in the Attic: Living With the Dead. Camp Hill, Pa.: Spirit House Press, 2004.
  • Weisberg, Barbara. Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism. San Francisco: HarperSan- Francisco, 2004.


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