What is this ‘Standard’ are we expecting?

It seems almost the norm to read or hear about the need for the standard of mediumship to improve with quips about how much better it was in the past. Listening to thespeech made by Minister Judith Seaman, during one Open Week at the AFC, this was the basis as to why the Spiritualists’ National Union initiated the Platform Accreditation Scheme, to improve standards on our platform. Leaving to one side the debate upon the success or not of the scheme, it is apparent that there is the general perception within the Spiritualists’ community that the standard of mediumship has declined. Interestingly I came across a small video clip of Gordon Higginson recorded in the 1980’s where he states that he felt that the standard of mediumship was far better in his mothers’ time than currently seen today. So this leads me to think that either the standard has been declining for sometime or perhaps something else is happening.

I personally believe what we are actually seeing is quite positive, because what we’re seeing is something referred to as the normal spread (distribution) of abilities, due to the increasing acceptance and interest of Spiritualism and mediumship within society.

I’ve always advocated the assumption that the faculty of ‘mediumship’ is like any other ability, and an ability that everyone has to more or less a degree. Just as many of us can pick up a pencil and sketch or kick a football or cook to more or less a degree, it doesn’t mean we’re all going to be highly successful or competent in those abilities; but instead we accept that there is a natural spread of abilities. There are some no matter how hard they practise and work at it, their successes come painfully slowly, whilst others seem to progress quickly and at ease demonstrate their shockingly apparent ability in their chosen field. Mediumship as an ability is the same, as demonstrated in the figure below.

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The graph is showing that if we treat mediumship like other abilities then we can expect roughly 2 out of 3 mediums would be regarded as having an average level of mediumistic ability, whilst only 1 in every 7 mediums can be thought of has having abilities that are may be regarded as above average with 1 in 40 having exceptional ability, and likewise with mediums with below average ability. So using these odds a regular church having one divine service per week and booking a different medium each week, the congregation will see during a 1 year period typically:

1 Exceptional medium,8 above average mediums, 34 average mediums,8 below average mediums and 1 appalling medium!

Then when we accept to this mix the possibility of mediums having good and bad days, the effects of congregation upon the communication and remembering mediums are human and so add the psychological, emotional and physical complications that brings - I frankly believe its a miracle we get any communication. But perhaps the question we should be asking with the majority of mediums being ‘average’; is what do we expect this ability to be? And is it realistic?

Now, some may say, “Why do we see such apparent poor standard in our churches today when it was allegedly so high in the past”. The answer here is ‘acceptance’.

To put simply the increasing acceptance and popularity of mediumship and Spiritualism within society has afforded more and more people the opportunity to develop their mediumship and demonstrate within the churches (remember anyone can call themselves a medium). Along the increasing number of churches and centres being opened around the country, means we are going to see more and more of the normal spread of abilities. Where in the past the orthodoxy, societal restrictions and conservatism would have prevented people access to development circles, churches etc. Meant with a limited pool of mediums (referred to as a ‘skewed spread’ because of low numbers not being realistic of the ability of the population overall) it was only those mediums who were above average or exceptional and were able to challenge the orthodox views that were seen. Societal pressures acted as a natural filter restricting the public exposure to average and below average ability mediums.But it’s a double edged sword because as Spiritualism becomes more accepted so more and more exceptional and above average mediums can be discovered but they do so at a cost of discovering more below average and appalling mediums!

Of course I’m not justifying poor development or education and I would always expect a medium to strive to be the best they can and keep their educational knowledge up to date. What I am suggesting is that along with encouraging new students and mediums tocontinue with their development and education we must also learn that in todays more open society to also accept the normal spread of abilities that will naturally occur and see within the churches.


Chris Connelly 2017