Exploring the Line between “Reader” and “Medium”

I’ve never claimed to be a medium. Honestly, I’m still not sure whether or not I even know what a medium is. A spirit channeler, a seer, a prognosticator—semantically speaking, I understand the concept. But how can you tell the difference between spirit speak and the rumblings of your unconscious mind? Where’s the demarcation between prediction and intuition, and how do you find it?

Before that fateful Lyft ride  (epic, right?), I’d never given it much thought. Yet, there we were—my sister, a woman named Beth, and I—chatting with Brian, our driver, about mediumship. A few minutes prior, he had casually mentioned that he was writing a book. A pregnant pause indicated that it was someone’s responsibility to say, “Oh really? What about?” and I decided to take the reins and be that someone. His reply was direct and confidently expressed: “I’m writing about my spiritual path and coming into my abilities as a psychic.”

My ears perked up. “Oh yeah?”

“It wasn’t anything I was expecting, but it happened, and here I am. What do you do?”

“I read tarot, actually.”

“No kidding! My girlfriend does that. She’s incredibly talented. You know, it’s an interesting life being a medium.”

“Oh no, not like that. I mean, I don’t consider myself a medium. I’m more of a guide, really. I approach tarot reading as a method of self-reflection.”

He gave me a sly grin and simply said, “You’re more talented than you think you are.”

Part of me wanted to scoff, but another part of me wanted to be curious. What did he mean by that? How can he assume he knows anything about my abilities at all? And whatever information he’s getting, where is it coming from?

* * *

I’ve seen many a general reading where the reader begins with the phrase “they’re saying” instead of “I think”. When I read, I very much feel as if I am the genesis of my interpretation; it’s coming from my mind and is being expressed through my lips. Yet, there are times when I feel like a force beyond is compelling me to take the reading in a different direction, and I follow that force because I subscribe to the idea that your intuition knows where you need to go. Is my intuition someone else’s spirit? Is my gut feeling that something momentous is about to happen in my client’s life really the universal mind shifting me into prediction territory? Or is it simply a tear in the fabric of time that I’ve stumbled upon, and just because the latter is “more scientific,” does that make it any different?

Lately, I’ve been giving some thought to my reading style—I’ve been analyzing it to consider whether or not it’s intended solely as a vehicle of guidance and reflection. There are definitely instances when the cards come up and I’m like, “Well, her father’s the source of the conflict and she’s going to need to distance herself from him if she wants to regain her self-confidence.” That doesn’t sound like guidance—that sounds like reading the cards and telling it like it is. Ever since I began offering $5 readings in my shop and in person, I’ve had more instances where this directness seems to take primacy. For a long time I questioned whether or not this conflicted with my ethics, and I’ve determined that it doesn’t. And frankly, the readings that I’ve gotten the most out of have been those that have told me how it is. When I’m met with that sort of clarity, I have something to hold onto as I move forward. It might sting a bit, but at least the band aid’s been ripped off and I can see the wound for what it really is. I guess that’s why there are so many of us in the metaphysical community—different styles, techniques, and practices to serve different desires, tastes, and needs. Brian might not be for everyone (and neither might I, for that matter), but he’s for somebody, and that somebody will be so lucky to have him when their need arises.

I view the archetype of The High Priestess as one of initiation into the world of the occult—of the unseen that lies beneath the seen and the methods of tapping into it. Anyone who’s read tarot or who’s received a reading has at least a part of themselves that buys into this notion of mystery and hidden messages. I guess when it comes down to it, it’s simply a matter of degree, and a matter of semantics–“a rose is a rose by any other name.” But perhaps there is something distinctly different between intuition and channeling. And if there is, how can it be measured? I’m sure that plenty  woo-woo folks have an opinion. And if you want to educate me, go for it.

Your Partner in Exploration,


One thought on “Exploring the Line between “Reader” and “Medium”

  1. Loved this, Jessi!
    As a medium and also an intuitive reader, here is how it works for me. When I am doing an intuitive reading — using cards, or other divination tools, I get “feelings” , for example, a lightness in my body, means YES, or a heavy heart for No. These messages feel like they come from some part of me (Higher Self, or Subconscious, or Intuition) When I am in a Mediumship Reading, often “hear” with my inner hearing, words, phrases, even accents and tones of voice that are definitely not mine. When I repeat word for word what I heard, often my sitter will say “my father used to say that all the time!”, or “that sounds just like my mother”. I also notice that sometimes the passed spirit’s mannerisms and personality traits will come through my body and voice as i am in the reading, reminding my client of their deceased person.
    I believe the difference in Intuitive Guidance and Mediumship is that in the 1st we channel our Higher Selves, and in the 2nd we are channeling someone else.
    Seems to be how it works for me!

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