Why Is Physical Mediumship Rarely Done?

The lost art of Physical Mediumship describes the outward phenomena that a Physical Medium produces. In this post, you’ll find out what the manifestations of a Physical Medium are and how the practice of Physical Mediumship almost ceased to be.

The Spiritualist Movement Begins in 1849

At the beginnings of the Spiritualist Movement in 1849, Physical Mediumship was the only form of spirit communication demonstrated. From the onset of spiritualism to the mid 20th century, mediums manifested physical phenomena in public demonstrations, spiritualist camps, invitation-only séances, and people’s private homes.

What Is Physical Mediumship?

First off, Physical Mediumship involves a form of phenomena whereby spirit beings manipulate the energies of a medium to form spirit manifestations. Moreover, Physical Mediums provide evidence of spirit contact exhibiting various physical events.

Ultimately, the Physical Medium allegedly provided definite proof of an afterlife through outward manifestations of spirits.

How Physical Mediumship Works

Essentially, a Physical Medium produces physical phenomena–usually with the help of a Spirit Control. Specifically, a Spirit Control is a unique guide that works closely with the medium. Importantly, it’s the Control Guide that assists the medium in causing the physical activity to occur.

By mutual consent, the Control Guide uses the body of the Physical Medium to extract fluids and vapors. Amazingly, a substance called ectoplasm exudes from the medium’s body. Purportedly, the ectoplasm causes spirit phenomena to happen.

Without a doubt, the most sought-after function of ectoplasm is causing the formation of an apparition of a spirit. As a result, some present may well recognize the spirit as their departed loved one.

Interestingly, another excellent example of the use of ectoplasm is the levitation of objects. Indeed, by using the near-invisible ectoplasm, a Spirit Control lifts or moves an object. To illustrate, some examples of levitation include spirit trumpets floating in mid-air and flowers, candles, and other objects present lifting.

Why the Insistence of Producing Physical Manifestations?

At the time, the accepted belief maintained that only outward spirit manifestations provided verifiable proof of an afterlife. The departed must exist if there is physical proof of their existence.

Setting the Stage

In past times, Physical Mediumship was primarily performed in a dimly lit room. Ensconced in a wooden cabinet, or stationed behind a curtain.
The sequestered medium required darkness for participants to witness the luminous substance called, ectoplasm (see above). Additionally, the medium’s neurological system is severely damaged if they are is touched or startled during a demonstration,

Yet, many Physical Mediums did not use a seclusion device when summoning spirits. The best known of these were Helen Duncan, Leslie Flint, Eusapia Palladino, and Florence Cook.

Rampant Deception Nearly Led Physical Mediumship to Extinction

From its humble beginnings starting with the Fox Sisters in 1849, and during the heyday of séances of the 19th to the 20th century, the popularity of Physical Mediumship was at its height.

Physical phenomenon is mysterious as it is startling to those who’ve never witnessed a demonstration. Of course, it brings to mind the question, “Was the physical phenomena real or faked?” And, you would not be the first to question this.

Sadly, with the advent of spiritualism in the 19th and 20th centuries, multitudes of fraudulent mediums popped up to bilk grieving and gullible people of their money.

Criminally-minded individuals are incredibly clever. Tragically, deceptive mediums devised numerous ingenious devices to sucker individuals seeking messages from the beyond.

Eventually, séances and demonstrations largely disappeared from public awareness around the 1920s due to ongoing allegations of fraud and deception.

Yet, far from being entirely lost to history, Physical Mediumship is still actively seen and taught in countries such as Great Britain, Scotland, Brazil, India, and Japan. In fact, around the world, numerous dedicated mediums sit for years (meaning training) to develop these incredible abilities.

Demonstrations of Physical Mediumship are rarely open to the general public and are usually by invitation only. However, if you join an established spiritualist group and are serious about attending, witnessing a demonstration of authentic Physical Mediumship is highly possible.

Mental Mediumship Has Replaced Physical Mediumship

Interestingly, it’s only been in the last three decades or so that Mental Mediumship replaced Physical Mediumship as the primary kind of Mediumship demonstrated.

Indeed, if you want an excellent example of what a Mental Medium is, think of James Van Praagh. Van Praagh is a Mental Medium. For the most part, he’s fully conscious and aware when connecting with the Spirit World. As a matter of fact, Van Praagh demonstrates the ability to relay messages from spirits to others without having to be in a trance or utilizing a Control Guide.

Interested in Developing Physical Mediumship?

It takes years of diligent work to develop authentic Physical Mediumship. The only way to train in this style of Mediumship requires sitting in a development circle with a highly experienced facilitator.

Authentic training for Physical Mediumship is found at: Lily Dale Assembly, New York, Cassadega Spiritualist Camp, Florida, Harmony Grove, Escondido, California.

Spirit Hands-Franek Kluski 

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Common Manifestations of Physical Mediumship

The Appearance of Full or Partial Human Apparitions:

Significantly, apparitions of the dead are produced by the medium with the aid of their Spirit Control. In this case, the figures appear as solid, semi-transparent, and either partially or fully formed.

Apports and Asports:

Importantly, Apports are objects which are gifts from the Spirit realm. Indeed, the objects seem to fall from the ceiling. Conversely, an asport describes the same object mysteriously disappearing at the end of the séance.

Automatic Writing:

Essentially, Automatic Writing occurs when a spirit to takes control of a person’s arm and hands to facilitate communications from a spirit entity. To begin with, the writer disengages their conscious mind and allows the energy of the spirit to assume control of their writing hand— usually the non-dominant writing hand.

Mainly, words and sentences appear paper without the individual consciously moving their pen. In particular, the words and sentences write out with unbelievable speed. Not surprisingly, some mediums also use this method to produce works of art and portraits of the dead.

Breezes and Hot or Cold Spots:

Basically, this describes unexplainable movement or pockets of warm or cold air which have no explainable cause. Specifically, air conditioning, rotating fans, or open windows that might cause the air to move.

Direct Voice Communication:

Amazingly, the medium speaks with the actual sounding voice of the Spirit who’s crossed over to relay messages. Actually, it’s Spirit who produces the phenomena with the aid of ectoplasmic materials.

Leslie Flint, (1911 – 1994), is one of the best know modern direct voice mediums of the 20th century. In fact, Flint was tested many times and always passed the rigorous testing with flying colors.


Used for materialization, ectoplasm is a rarified milky substance emitted from various bodily orifices of the medium. The ectoplasm hardens into rod-like forms. Then, the Spirit Control directs the rods to move large objects such as a table, and causes them to rise.

Amazingly, ectoplasm is used to create an artificial voice box in the medium’s throat. Hence, the spirits present, speak through the medium in their familiar voices to relatives present as proof of their afterlife existence.


The act of lifting from the ground or table, persons or objects. Ultimately, it’s the Control guide that directs the action.


A partial apparition of a spirit or spirit hands. The ability to touch the apparition or hands was possible and indeed even encouraged. Sometimes, hands formed a wax mold as witnessed in the séances of the famous Polish Medium, *Franek Kluski .


In 1922, Franek Kluski produced spirit hands on more than one occasion under the strict observation to preclude fraud.


The appearance of strong fragrances and odors of which the source cannot be explained.

Sound Phenomena:

The ability of the medium to produce voices, music, bells ringing, and similar sounds in the room. Sounds emanate from the air around the medium. (see Direct Voice above.)

Spirit Lights:

The phenomena of lights and orbs of different colors and pulsations which move and rapidly dart about a room.

Spirit Photography:

The medium causes images, ghostly apparitions of the dead, and mists to appear on film or photographic plates which have allegedly been checked for tampering or fraud by non-partial observers before the session.

Spirit Rapping and Tapping:

Sounds such as tapping and rapping noises produced by spirits. The medium asks questions of the spirits. A kind of code is in place to decipher the answers tapped out by spirits. Moreover, this usually works best with Yes/No questions. However, some adept mediums that produced rapping noises, such as the Fox Sisters, obtained whole sentences.

Table Tipping:

Table tipping is a form of Physical Mediumship but can also be placed in the category of Mental Mediumship. Participants gather around a 3 or 4-legged table and with fingers lightly touching at the pinkies, and start asking spirits questions. The table begins to move, rock, and even levitate.

Other phenomena associated with table tipping is rapping sounds that can answer questions in some kind of code if a code has been set by the participants beforehand.

Not surprising, Table tipping is alive and well in groups today. In fact, I’ve participated in table tipping and have even taught it in some of my classes. It’s quite real and astonishing when you know that a human agent isn’t causing the table to move or lift up!


Objects moving through the power of the mind and with the help of Spirits present.


An instrument which looks like a musical horn and is used to amplify and bring through Spirit voices and/or musical sounds.

by Carol Nicholson, Ph.D., and Certified Psychic-Medium

Hi! I’m Carol Nicholson and I hope you enjoyed this post! I’m dedicated to providing helpful, valuable, and fascinating blogs on a wide range of spiritual and psychic arts topics. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss out on my most recent posts and announcements of new courses!


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