(Editors Note: This article was originally written for The Ozark Research Institute’s Spring 2019 Members Journal.)
Where to Begin
By Brandie Chrisman
I remember the first time I stepped out of the cab in England onto the gravel in front of AFC. The tall, old estate seemed like a castle to me. It was stuck in time, all the way from the front desk check in to the beautifully tended gardens surrounding the grand building. I was speechless as the unique energy flooded my system all at once. It was overwhelmingly captivating. On the side of the entryway there is a plaque that reads, “Stansted Hall”. Such a simple group of words to explain what goes on inside it's beautifully preserved walls. For those of you that don’t know, Arthur Findlay College is a donated estate to the Spiritualist National Union that holds weekly classes in Mediumship, Psychism and the Healing Arts. I was told by my first mentor at the ripe young age of twenty-one that I needed to attend if I was seriously considering a life as a Medium. At twenty-three I stood with my suitcase in hand, neck stretched up as I lifted my hand to shield my eyes from the sun so I could see the top of the school. I had never left Tulsa, Oklahoma for more than a few days and now I had flown across the ocean in search of something to help me understand myself, to help me understand this connection with the Unseen.
Arthur Findlay College was where I was introduced to the concept of “Sitting With Spirit”. A practice long seeped in tradition and reverence. The practice of becoming still, inviting the Spirit World into your space and blending with a power so much greater than our own. It was the first time that it dawned on me that Mediumship was SO MUCH MORE than what I had been exposed to in America. In America, my only real exposure to it was more on the entertainment side. Watching Mediums on television shows walk up to people on the side walk and start spewing information about them and their deceased relative, or spitting out objects, letters and the occasional occupation to an audience member. I had no doubt that those individuals were having an experience, but upon instruction by my first mentor I was told that it goes so much deeper than that, so much deeper than a weekend workshop. Deeper than standing in front of a crowd and nervously producing bits and pieces of insight into someone’s life.
That conviction had landed me in a different country, in a class room, where I knew no one. It was the first time I was being told that there was a HISTORY and PHILOSOPHY to Mediumship. I understood then, that if I didn’t know about this history and philosophy behind mediumship, that I didn’t know myself and I couldn’t fully understand the ability that I had. I was a sponge, soaking up absolutely everything in our classroom sessions , walking the gardens and considering every aspect of the lessons (and my belief or disbelief in them) on our breaks.
When I saw the Mediums work on platform during the Spiritualist Service I was blown away by the information they gave. They could tell you not only the name of the Spirit person, but their last name, how many children they had and their names, what their street address was, what their home looked like, WHO THEY WERE to the person in the congregation, jokes they use to tell, and really the list could go on and on. How did they do that? How did they know such intimate, mundane and meaningful things? How did they TRUST the Spirit World SO much that they had no qualms about voicing every thing that they perceived?
The answer was given to me by the late (and magnificent) Medium Glynn Edwards in a lecture the next day. In such an eloquent way that only Mr. Edwards could, he explained to all eighty of us in the room that the most important thing we will ever have as a Medium is our relationship with the Spirit World. The only way to build that relationship was to make time to sit and blend with our “helpers” (Spirit Guides) and the collective energy, knowledge and love of the Spirit World.
Ten years later these words are still my anthem. They are sung to EVERY student that sits in my classroom, every attendee that comes to hear a public message. It is the most valuable lesson I was ever taught. It took me from being an “American Psychic Medium," to proudly holding my head up high and being a “Medium”. The practice has helped me understand that mediumship is a life of service and surrender rather than a party trick that feeds our ego. It isn’t about how good WE are, its about how AMAZING the SPIRIT WORLD is. It is about the relationship that we build with the Unseen that helps us accurately, humbly, and beautifully prove that we do not die, we simply transform. If we are to adequately bring Mediumship to the masses we have to first understand our role in the communication. I whole heartedly believe that Modern Mediumship is the fusion of our history and our potential. Without making time to sit with the Spirit World, we do not know the depths at which they can truly work with us, inspire us, and lead us into the future. Just as there was a movement one-hundred and seventy years ago, I believe that the community is headed towards (or perhaps even in the beginnings of) a new movement, one that holds the teachings, philosophy and inspiration of our pioneers from the past as a map, as a doorway into the potential of the Modern Medium to once again prove the Soul’s existence. So if you, my dear friend, are reading this and you believe you are a medium ask yourself, “Am I making time for them? Am I sitting in their knowledge regularly? Am I coming from a place of service,” and if the answer is “no," at least now, you understand where to begin.