About Channeling

Rose interacts through Joanne Helfrich through a bridge personality to express her highly informed perspective on the nature of reality. Because Rose is not Joanne’s essence, the interaction is sometimes referred to as an energy exchange, but the phenomenon is more widely known as channeling.

Rose defines channeling as each person’s innate ability to accurately translate inner experience to outer experience through artistry, healing, and other natural, inspired acts that align with their intent.

Here is a scholarly take by Paul Helfrich, Ph.D. (for more information, see paulhelfrich.com).

Is channeling old or new?

The channeling phenomenon can be found in some form in every culture with a recorded history. Arthur Hastings, former president of the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, traces it back to a Babylonian oracle of the goddess Astarte in the eleventh century BCE.[1] He notes that ancient channels who,

…Spoke in trances and ecstasy and were considered prophets or oracles for the gods. Even now, in various mainstream and minority religions, within many cultures, possession by the Holy Spirit, speaking in ecstasy, or possession by spirits is considered a sign of spiritual development, and is often encouraged and facilitated by ceremony and ritual. Channeling may be the current equivalent of ancient prophecy, bringing spiritual guidance and teachings for this time.[2]

We should note that Hastings’ definition of prophecy isn’t limited to predicting the future, but includes “speaking under the inspiration of the god or interpreting the will of god.”[3] To be clear, no one is suggesting that Rose is “the voice of God,” because mystics repeatedly claim that God is not comprehensible or translatable through words alone. But it’s important to situate the channeling phenomenon in a historical continuum: a religious era that reaches back over the past six thousand years. Its dominance began to erode only recently – less than five hundred years ago – with the rise of modern science and the Enlightenment in the West.

So, we have tradition of people speaking in an “inspired” state, delivering helpful information geared toward the cultural milieu of the locals documented over three thousand years ago! And it’s likely that it extends even further back if we account for the Jewish prophets in the Old Testament who “spoke to God” back to the time of Abraham. Sometimes the information pushes and pulls at the officially accepted, consensus reality of the times, helping to facilitate change from calcified dogmas that the collective consciousness has outgrown. Other times the information helped to avert catastrophe, reduce warfare, and promote peace and cooperation between disparate tribes. In this light, the channeling phenomenon has always been part of grass roots or populist movements.

Billy Crystal Channeling OscarPsychologist Jon Klimo, one of the world’s leading researchers on channeling, stated that “since 1986, channeling has reached into the grassroots. It has entered the popular vocabulary as channeling now is part of current mainstream consensus reality.”[4] A good example is the imagery that graced the cover of the March 26, 2000 Los Angeles Times Calendar Magazine, reporting on the local entertainment scene. It pictured comedian Billy Crystal, sitting barefoot and cross-legged, eyes closed in deep concentration, surrounded by icons of the year’s best movies nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards T.V. show. The headline simply read, “Channeling Oscar.”

Is channeling different from mediumship?

Since the mid-19th century Spiritualist movement in the West, the most prevalent form of channeling has occurred under the name of mediumship – when a diseased person communicates through a medium in an altered state. They were studied by such notable modern psychologists as F.W.H. Meyers (1843-1901) and William James (1842-1910), among others. While they debunked many mediums as frauds, there were still a small number of authentic cases that eluded clear scientific explanation (e.g., Leonora Piper, Violet Parent). However, today we make an important distinction between mediumship and channeling – channeling deals with communication from wider spiritual Aspects within All-That-Is, from within what psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) called the collective unconscious. Thus, a key emphasis of modern channeling is the transmission of teachings meant to enhance personal and collective fulfillment.

Mediumship remains alive and well, as seen from the successful careers of John Edward, Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh, and others. But with the success of Jane Roberts (1929-1984) who channeled Seth from 1963 until her death, the modern channeling movement exploded. Arthur Hastings cited Jane Roberts’s work as marking “the dividing point between classical mediums, who called up spirits of the dead, and contemporary channeling, with its teachers, sages, and guides.”[5] Jon Klimo cited Roberts’s work as defining “the modern era of channeling.”[6] Still, channeling can be traced in the United States back to Helen Shucman (1909-1981) and The Course in Miracles, Alice Bailey (1880-1949), Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), Helen Blavatsky (1831-1891), and others.

The lines between mediumship and channeling may sometimes blur. There are examples of channelers going into a trance state and speaking as a deceased person, sometimes taking on vocal, facial, and bodily gestures of the deceased personality through a kind of deep empathic mergence. On the other hand, mediums like Edward, Brown, and Praagh communicate their impressions from the dead without changing personality traits. Though Jane Roberts engaged deep empathic mergence with deceased individuals several times, she chose not to pursue that direction. Instead, she focused on the Seth persona who claimed to be an “energy personality essence” that transcended yet included his many physical lives. All of which suggests that what we call channeling today is really a spectrum of abilities.

How do scholars define channeling?

Jane Roberts and husband Rob Butts didn’t like the term channeling. They found it too narrow a term to describe the rich complexities between Jane and Seth. And yet the term persists, because it is derived from two ubiquitous twentieth century technologies: radio and television. It’s easy to imagine tuning into one channel after another and picking up a different program, or in this case, a different personality essence.

So the term remains, though as scholars continue their research they have begun to greatly expand our understanding. A good example is Ken Wilber’s Integral Map that includes states and stages of development, as well as multiple intelligences. Jon Klimo offers a useful working definition for channeling as “the communication of information to or through a physically embodied human being from a source that is said to exist on some other level or dimension of reality than the physical as we know it, and that is not from the normal mind (or self) of the channel.”[7] Additionally, we can glean deeper understanding from the names and social roles channelers play in various cultures. According to Klimo:

Throughout history and among various peoples, channels have been named according to what they do. Besides the term ‘medium’ and the more recent ‘channel,’ other names have included shaman, witch doctor, healer, and medicine man in native cultures. They have also been called fortune-tellers, oracles, seers, soothsayers, savants, and visionaries. In religious contexts, they have been known as priests, gurus, prophets, saints, mystics, and holy ones. And in the esoteric schools they are called light workers, initiates, teachers, adepts, or masters. The majority of mainstream psychologists and psychiatrists would probably regard the channels as hallucinating, delusional, suffering from dissociative identity disorder (once called multiple personality disorder), schizophrenic, or simply as persons with runaway imaginations, or even as downright frauds.[8]The latter thoughts reflect the narrow, incomplete view of human personality found in contemporary cognitive sciences more than anything else. While acknowledging that people make fraudulent claims in every discipline, ultimately each individual must make their own assessment regarding the utility of the information delivered by any source, be it a channeler, scientist, minister, philosopher, politician, or whomever.

Sociologist Michael Brown defined channeling as “…the use of altered states of consciousness to contact spirits—or, as many of its practitioners say, to experience spiritual energy captured from other times and dimensions.”[9] Arthur Hastings defined channeling as “…a process in which a person transmits information or artistic expression that he or she receives mentally or physically and which appears to come from a personality source outside the conscious mind. The message is directed toward an audience and is purposeful.”[17]

Again, while there are many different definitions of channeling, the term has become part of mainstream, consensus reality. So we’ll continue to use the term “channeling” as a broad category in which to explore the above definitions. With this in mind, let’s briefly explore Jon Klimo’s robust taxonomy of channeling phenomena that now include a much wider spectrum of abilities than acknowledged by previous scientific or New Age sources[11]:

– Spontaneous and intentional volition.
– Mental (guidance, growth) and physical (communication, healing, painting, music).
– Entity (strong dissociation, secondary proximate self) and open (mild dissociation, enhanced creativity).

Types of Channeling:

– Conscious (intuitive, telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance, clairsentience).
– Unconscious full-trance, possession.
– Sleep and dream.
– Automism (a variant of conscious, but includes kinesthetic expressions of automatic writing, Ouija board movement, pendulum movement).

Types of Sources (secondary persona):

– Discarnate spirits of “deceased” human beings (the largest category).
– Past-lifetimes.
– Advanced human beings (e.g., highly evolved spiritual teachers).
– Non-humans (e.g., “aliens,” spirit beings, angels, gods, archetypal energies, akashic, higher self).

Types of Channeled Content:

– General intuitive feelings of loving presence and support.
– Personal messages and guidance.
– Detailed descriptions of an “afterlife.”
– Information about the past and future.
– Artistic material (e.g., literature, painting, music performance and composition).
– Healing and medical material (e.g., Edgar Cayce).
– Scientific or technical nature.

Klimo’s taxonomy is now over twenty years old, and reflects an important trend for contemporary scholars: they no longer define channeling singularly as a phenomenon, but, more aptly, as a spectrum of related phenomena.[12] There is still much to learn about what causes these abilities to manifest, and further, how they develop over time, possibly like other multiple intelligences as researched by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (e.g., language, mathematics, music, kinesthetic, emotional, morals, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and so on). The good news is that we now stand on the horizons of ever greater scientific understanding, but there remains more research to be done. The above refinements provide new ways to better understand how the Rose phenomenon fits into the larger tapestry of channelers since the time of Jane Roberts.

So what?!

Rose defines channeling in very broad terms, and as such it is something innate within all of us:

The phenomenon that the world calls channeling is in many ways not a phenomenon at all. Channeling is occurring in your world all the time, but you have blocked your view of channeling because of your religious, scientific, and political views, that will always tell you that the experience of channeling is unnatural. We suggest that channeling is perhaps the most natural thing that a person could do. We are aware that you may feel otherwise, so allow us to explain.

Channeling has been around since the beginning of mankind, …for channeling is nothing more than the accurate translation of inner experience to outer experience.

The channeling state can, in your terms, be considered a “higher state,” but in our terms would only be a more inner state that would be freer of internal pain and strife. For this reason, your state of consciousness would be more intuitive, for your intuition is indeed your trusty tool that allows you to connect with your Divine Source, which is most allowing of your bliss. ~ [Session 93, July 14, 2007]

Moreover, channeling is one aspect of an even larger spectrum of altered states of consciousness that connect us with our own inner knowing (e.g., peak experiences, meditative, lucid dreaming, out-of-body projections, shamanic-drug induced, etc.). These states have been consistently experienced throughout recorded history. While not new to the species, they’re still excluded from mainstream Western scientific understanding. Still, mystical experience via altered states seems to be a natural part of humanity’s evolutionary trajectory.

The words that describe an individual’s mystical experience, in themselves, hold incomplete and symbolic meanings. But the concepts hinted at, as well as the more recent channeled bodies of information, serve as a trigger for our own inner knowing. In other words, this knowing is latent within each of us and doesn’t exist “out there.” Altered states serve to open the doors of perception to further exploration and self-realization. Thus, Rose focuses on the importance of our own direct experience, not the spoken languages that describe those experiences.

It is only through our own personal experience that we identify the many belief systems we hold. Through learning how our perception – desire, intent, imagination, expectation, thoughts, and emotions, filtered through our belief systems – influences our everyday creations, we begin to come to terms with the many ways we create our own reality. Like any body of spiritual knowledge, the information that Rose offers has its own learning curve. It is not intended to be embraced by all people or solve all the world’s problems. It concentrates on the individual’s right to decide what is fulfilling for him or herself. It does not claim to be Universal Truth, but to offer a view on understanding Universal “Truths” filtered through our current, cultural belief systems.

Rose’s information, regardless of its source, can be extremely useful in the process of noticing, identifying, and addressing to the belief systems involved in reality creation. In this way, the Rose phenomenon can be considered a legitimate reminder from our inner selves that we are all conscious creators. Therefore, we each hold the responsibility to pursue an open-minded inquiry – combining the rational (skeptical) and the intuitive (imaginative) – in the search for personal and collective truths. So pour a hot or cold one, put your feet up, and enjoy!


[1] Arthur Hastings, Charles Tart, editor, Body, Mind, and Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1997, p 199.

[2] Hastings, pp. 198-199.

[3] Hastings, p. 199.

[4] Jon Klimo, Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 1998.

[5] Hastings, p. 78.

[6] Klimo, p. 22.

[7] Klimo, p. 2.

[8] Klimo, p. 103.

[9] Michael Brown, The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age, Harvard University Pressm, Cambridge, MA, 1997, p. viii.

[10] Arthur Hastings, With the Tongues of Men and Angels: A Study of Channeling, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Orlando, FL, 1991, p. 4.

[11] Jon Klimo, Channeling Research: A Progress Report with Recommendations. Proceedings of the International Conference on Paranormal Research. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University, 1988, pp. 894-904.

[12] Elias outlined a typology with interesting similarities that complements Klimo’s academic work. The nine essence families each have a preferred style or type of energy exchange based on intention. See Elias’ Digests: essence families; energy exchanges by Paul M. Helfrich.

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