Channgling – An Introduction

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr.John Weldon; ©2012
Channeling is a New Age euphemism for mediumship or spirit possession.

Channeling – An Introduction


Channeling is a New Age euphemism for mediumship or spirit possession. When men and women willingly give over their minds and bodies to spirit entities, and these spirits enter and control them, using them to “heal,” or to give occult teachings and other information, this is called “channeling.” Recent books that promote channeling include Sanaya Roman’s and Duane Packer’s Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide,[1] Kathryn Ridall’s Channeling: How to Reach Out to Your Spirit Guides,[2] and Laeh Garfield’s and Jack Grant’s Companions in Spirit: A Guide to Working with Your Spirit Helpers.[3]

Throughout the world, channeling is a multi-billion-dollar business. Famous movie stars, corporate executives, scholars, artists, and businessmen are turning to channeling. Various retreat centers and workshops are springing up around the country, which teach people how to open themselves so that the spirits can possess them and they can become channels themselves.[4]

From a historical perspective, we may understand the influencing potential of channeling. For example, in 1851, just three years after the spiritualist revival of 1848, there were an estimated 1,200 mediums in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as hundreds of mediums in other major cities.[5] By 1855, America boasted several thousand mediums and some 2 million followers, which eventually grew to an estimated 8-11 million.[6] These channelers (then called mediums) and their followers undergirded an entire century of parapsychological research (the scientific study of the occult) in our country.[7] This research helped to pave the way for the modern occult and New Age revival.[8]

Today, Los Angeles is estimated to have over a thousand channelers.[9] There are hundreds listed in the psychic yellow pages. There are also hundreds of practitioners in other major cities, indicating that we are experiencing another occult revival. But the spirits today are turning to highly sophisticated marketing techniques through books, radio, television, video, and cassette.[10]

There have been many psychic movies portraying channelers as the only ones who know the truth.[11] In recent years, The Medium TV series ran from 2005-2011, and The Mentalist debuted in 2008 and continues to air on CBS.[12]

Today, thousands of channeled books, CDs and DVDs are sold to the public. For example, numerous titles are being marketed by LuminEssence Productions, a New Age business begun by channelers Sanaya Roman (who channels an entity called “Orin”) and Duane Packer (who channels “DaBen”).[13] Some of “Orin’s” audios include the following titles (note “Orin’s” emphasis on the “laws” of prosperity and abundance, a teaching popular in the “Christian” “faith” movement):

  • Discovering Life Purpose—What Am I Here to Do?
  • Manifesting Your Destiny
  • Radiating Unconditional Love—Becoming the Source
  • Self-Love—Learning to Respect and Honor the Self
  • Being Your Higher Self
  • Opening Up All Your Psychic Abilities
  • Lucid Dreaming—Interpreting, Remembering Dreams
  • Getting in Touch with Your Power
  • Opening the Chakras
  • Clearing Blockages
  • Taking a Quantum Leap
  • Losing Weight., Looking Younger
  • Attracting Your Soul Mate
  • Having What You Want in a Relationship
  • Public Recognition—Getting Your Work Out to the World
  • For Self-Employed People: Attracting Business
  • Flowing with the Universe
  • Living with Joy
  • Personal Power Through Awareness
  • Creating Money: The Spiritual Law of Prosperity and Abundance.
  • Creating Money: Magnetizing Yourself
  • Creating Money: Clearing Beliefs and Old Programs
  • Creating Money: Releasing Doubts and Fears
  • Creating Money: Linking with Your Soul and the Guides
  • Creating Money: Aura Clearing, Energy and Lightwork
  • Subpersonality Journey: Awakening Your Prosperity Self
  • Success: Releasing Fear of Success, Failure, Going for It!
  • Abundance: Creating Plenty in EVERY Area of Your Life.[14]

A single channeler can easily channel 50-100 CDs/DVDs each year. In addition, the endorsement of channeling by famous television and movie stars has made the practice much more socially acceptable. Shirley MacLaine; Linda Evans, who starred in the 1960s Western TV series, The Big Valley (1965–1969) and in the 1980s ABC prime time television soap opera Dynasty; actress Sharon Gless, who played “Cagney” on the 1980s TV series “Cagney and Lacey.” When Sharon Gless won a 1987 Emmy for her role on the series, in her acceptance speech, she said that her success was due to “Lazaris,” a spirit entity who speaks through medium Jach Pursel. Other famous “friends of Lazaris” have included Lesley Ann Warren, Ted Danson, Barry Manilow, and noted New Age promoter Marilyn Ferguson.[15]

The popularity of channeling can also be seen through new retreat centers and workshops around the country where people are taught how to open their minds and bodies to the spirits to become channels themselves. In these gatherings live teaching sessions are conducted by the spirits themselves, speaking through the channelers and motivating people to start study groups, research centers, and magazines devoted to the study and development of channeling.[16]

Another area of popularity is the growing influence of channeling in the social sciences, medicine, and other disciplines. We have provided an example in the area of medicine that follows. The spirits are speaking through their human hosts about theories in psychology, medical diagnosis and treatment, the investigation of parapsychology, the study of physics, the application of sociology, and the development of new ideas in theology, archaeology, and other disciplines.[17] In New York, spiritism has been used for several years as an adjunct to psychotherapy in some community mental health centers,[18] and the practice is spreading to other cities. There are even websites that promote channeling.[19]

Not only in America is channeling popular; there is an increasingly visible channeling movement emerging throughout the Western world, including Canada, England, and West Germany.[20] Brazil boasts over a million channelers, or spiritists, with tens of millions of followers.[21]

Induction Methods

What are the most common methods recommended by channelers and their spirit guides for those seeking to learn how to channel? Various combinations of relaxation techniques, meditation, visualization, and self-hypnosis are usually encouraged. For example, Dr. Kathryn Ridall, a channeler and psychotherapist, offers the following endorsement of meditation: “Meditation transports us to a state which is receptive to spiritual or nonphysical realities…. [B]ecause meditation is a tool for expanding consciousness, we can also use it to help us open to our spirit guides…. [A]ll willful techniques of meditation share this common thread: they still the mind, the working of the personality, by focusing on an object of meditation.”[22]

In Dr. Ridall’s Channeling: How to Reach Out to Your Spirit Guides[23] she discusses the importance of relaxation. If anything hinders the aspirant’s ability to relax, “You will need to address this difficulty before you channel.”[24] Breathing exercises, color work, use of visualization and mantras are also cited as important components in learning how to relax for channeling.[25]

Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide is a book specifically produced by two spirit entities calling themselves “Orin” and “DaBen.” Its purpose is to help readers through a step-by-step process for meeting their own spirit guides. As these spirits tell readers, “We have designed this book for you to show you how to contact your guide.”[26] The two channelers for these spirits state that “several hundred people have used these procedures to effectively open to channel.”[27]

In their chapter on achieving a trance state they recommend relaxation techniques and meditation as prerequisites for successful channeling. “Spend a few days becoming familiar with relaxation techniques and learn to concentrate as shown in the exercise on concentration. One way to condition yourself to the trance state is through guided meditation tapes.”[28] In the spirits’ exercises for “attuning with life-force energy,” they recommend using crystals.[29]

The specific exercises recommended by “Orin” and “DaBen” include deep, slow, rhythmic breathing, various visualization exercises, progressive relaxation techniques, meditation, and so on. They write that while their stated regimes are not absolutely necessary for learning to channel, they are intended to help people “become accustomed to the state of mind that is best for a guide’s entry.”[30] Below we will supply several illustrations; all quoted material comes from the spirits themselves.

After one becomes familiar with the preliminary exercises, “Orin” and “DaBen” comment,

This is it! The time to Open to Channel is now. You’ve dreamed of it, read about it, thought about it, and now you will do it! In the first process, you’ll be welcomed by the guides, care for your special guide, and carry on a mental conversation with him or her. You will be able to determine if this is the guide you will verbally channel; if it is you will proceed to the next process, Verbally Channeling Your Guide.[31]

Eleven specific points are cited for the initiate Visualization procedures are crucial (e.g. “imagine that many beings of light are coming closer to join you”; “imagine that there is a doorway in front of you. On the other side of this doorway is a world of light…. When you are ready, walk through this doorway”). Their point 7 also underscores the importance of the imagination:

Ask for the highest guide and teacher who is aligned with you to come forward. Imagine that your guide, a special guide, is coming forward. Sense this guide, feel his or her love for you. Be open to receive. Feel your heart welcoming this guide. Feel the response. Believe that it is really happening! Your imagination is the closest ability you have to channeling, and it is the easiest connection your guide has to you at first.[32]

Their point 10 encourages the reader to ask for and submit to the spirit’s influence: “Ask your guide to begin doing all that he or she can to open the channel, now that you are committed and ready to verbally channel.”[33]

For actual possession and trance channeling, the spirits recommend the following:

Preparation: have completed all prior exercises and processes. Read through this entire process before you begin, so that you are familiar with its overall direction. Whenever you verbally channel, use a tape recorder. You will gain invaluable insights from listening again to your channeling…. Test the recorder and the microphones…. When you are in a trance state you may find that mechanical things can give you difficulties…. Be sure you have read the earlier sections about a guide’s first entry and getting your guide’s name Have the Questions to Ask Your Guide ready, including the Personal Questions…. We suggest that you remain in trance no longer than about 40 minutes the first time….[34]

After the first session is over:

You have made the first connection, there will be many more. Wait an hour or so before going into trance again…. if you wish, put on some special music that will assist you…. Your guide is going to some through your personality and your voice…. As you grow and understand more, we can convey more complex messages to you or messages of a broader scope. We give you the advice you can use and understand in the present.[35]

The spirits also seek to comfort the novice channeler by assuring him or her that they, the guides, are able to assume literally any form or nationality, and that they will do their best to make the experience of channeling as easy and comforting as possible:

Guides can appear to your inner eye as particular nationalities with clothing that is appropriate. I, Orin, appear to Sanaya as a radiant shimmer of light that slides around her body when she channels. She is aware that I am about eight or nine feet tall. All that she can see whenever she tries to see my face is brilliant white light. I often appear in robes such as your ancient monks wore.

Some report seeing their guides as color. Some perceive their guides as sounds, others feel their guides are openings in their hearts…. Some people picture their guides as familiar figures they have known…. Guides can appear as American Indians, Chinese sages, East Indian masters…. Guides may appear as either male or female…. Guides will choose an identity that will best accomplish what they are here to do, or one that you can most relate to…. There are as many identities for guides are there are for people, so be open to whatever form or appearance your guide presents him or herself to you in.[36]


  1. Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer, Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide (Tiburon, CA: H. J. Kramer, Inc. 1987).
  2. Kathryn Ridall, Channeling: How to Reach Out to Your Spirit Guides (NY: Bantam Books, 1988).
  3. Laeh M. Garfield, Jack Grant, Companions in Spirit: A Guide to Working with Your Spirit Helpers (Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1984).
  4. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Facts on Spirit Guides, eBook.
  5. Slater Brown, The Heyday of Spiritualism (NY: Pocket Books, 1972), pp. 159-60.
  6. Nandor Fodor, An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science (Secaucus, NJ: The Citadel Press, 1966), p. 362; G. H. Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages and Their Connection with Modern Spiritualism and Theosophy (NY: Revelle, n.d.), p. 318.
  7. This is evident from any number of historical studies. See Paul Kurtz, “Introduction: More Than a Century of Psychical Research,” in Paul Kurtz, ed., A Skeptic’s Handbook of Parapsychology (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1985), pp. xii-xiv; John Beloff, “Historical Overview” in Benjamin B. Wolman, ed., Handbook of Parapsychology (NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977), pp. 4-7; J. B. Rhine, “A Century of Parapsychology” in Martin Ebon, ed., The Signet Handbook of Parapsychology (NY: Signet, 1978), p. 11.
  8. E. J. Dingwall, “The Need for Responsibility in Parapsychology: My Sixty Years in Psychical Research,” in Paul Kurtz, A Skeptic’s Handbook to Parapsychology (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), p. 161,174; John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness, eBook .
  9. Lynn Smith, “The New Chic Metaphysical Fad of Channeling,” Los Angeles Times, December 5, 1986, Part 5.
  10. Nina Easton, “Shirley Maclaine’s Mysticism for the Masses,” Los Angeles Times magazine, September 6, 1987; Jon Klimo, Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987), p. 49; John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on the New Age Movement, eBook.
  11. For a list of the “best” psychic movies see
  12. See
  14. Roman and Packer, Opening to Channel, pp. 231-32.
  15. Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1991), p. 490.
  16. Klimo, Channeling, pp. 4-6, 62-68; Easton, “Shirley Maclaine,” p. 10
  17. e.g., Mark Vaz, “Psychic!—The Many Faces of Kevin Ryerson,” interview, Yoga Journal, July/August 1986, pp. 26-29, 92; John Klimo, Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1981), pp. 3, 20, 39, 64-69, 131-32, 167, 237-53, 205-320; Stephan Schwartz, The Secret Vaults of Time: Psychic Archaeology and the Quest for Man’s Beginning (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1978); Gerald G. Jampolsky, Goodbye to Guilt: Releasing Fear Through Forgiveness (NY: Bantam, 1985), (based on A Course in Miracles); Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: A Introduction to Aspect Psychology (1975); John Weldon and Zola Levitt, Psychic Healing (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), pp. 7-22, 42-46.
  18. A. Harwood, Rx: Spiritist As Needed (NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1977), cited in Albert Villoldo and Stanley Krippner, Healing States: A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism (NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 198.
  19. For example,
  20. Klimo, Channeling, pp. 61-67; George W. Meek, ed., Healers and the Healing Process (Wheaton, IL: Quest/Theosophical Publishing House, 1977), pp. 13-70.
  21. Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1985, rev.), p. 227.
  22. Ridall, Channeling, pp. 84-86.
  24. Ridall, Channeling, p. 83.
  25. Ibid., pp. 84-87.
  26. Roman and Packer, Opening to Channel, p. 53.
  27. Ibid., p. 65.
  28. Ibid., p. 66.
  29. Ibid., p. 73; See information on Crystal Work elsewhere on this website.
  30. Ibid., p. 69.
  31. Ibid., p. 79.
  32. Ibid., p. 81.
  33. Ibid., p. 82.
  34. Ibid., p. 51.
  35. Ibid., pp. 51-52.
  36. Ibid., pp. 36-37.

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