In the early days of modern Spiritualism it was quite common for a family to hold an ‘open circle’ in their home. Neighbours and friends were invited along and all sorts of experiments were considered, such as listening to the Ouija board, table tipping, attempts at levitation and so on.

This was considered their entertainment. Fewer homes had TVs, some only had radios and therefore social home gatherings were more common. Though they were often hard working and lacking funds, the neighbourhoods had communities and an ‘open door’ mentality was the way of life. So for a few of the neighbourhood to gather on a Sunday night for a ‘seance’ was quite common.

But then the technology generation arrived and everyone became busier and wrapped up in their own lives too much to enjoy such social events and gatherings at home. Social media came to be and although everyone seemed to be talking to each other, they remained miles apart.  During this time, experimentation with the spirit world became a less common occurrence and the growth of Spiritualism suffered because of it.

In the mid 1990’s there became a big interest in spooky phenomenon on television and some channels became aware of the ‘entertainment’ value of such shows. Over the coming decade programs such as ‘Most Haunted’ became compulsive viewing with the premise on ‘entertainment’ rather than fact or science. None the less, the public became interested again.

Mediums were given their own TV shows and an entire channel dedicated to the subject came about – paranormal TV. Every household became familiar with ‘big’ name mediums such as John Edward ‘Crossing Over’, Colin Fry ‘The 6ixth Sense’, and others such as Sally Morgan, Derek Acorah and Gordon Smith. The public were hooked!

And so a whole new generation of ordinary people sprung up, capable of talking to the dead and claiming to be mediums. Many were fake, without training, or without any real knowledge of the Spirit world. But the public wanted a reading from a medium!

Spiritual churches started offering open circles, whereby anyone interested could come along and sit in a circle and either give or receive a message from any of the budding mediums present. These open circles slowly moved away from the church and into the community centres and halls around the country. Anyone could start one up and run it. Most charged a fee. Pound signs!

So, if you feel you have potential to become a medium, should you join an open circle? Is this the right place to be to grow, to learn, and to improve? Is your improvement simply based on practising in different open circles?

The things you should be asking about an open circle is what do you expect to get from it. Who is running it? What sensible feedback will you receive? In a nutshell, what will an open circle give you?

Many open circles are simply a collection of different people each week that gather together to practise their apparent mediumship. Often, there is no tuition, no real expert, no feedback, no personal growth, no principle or foundations explored. I know hundreds of mediums that attend open circles across their region like it’s the end all and be all. Each would claim that it is a good place to practise, to learn and to develop. Personally, I would disagree. In fact, I would challenge any one of them to show me genuine evidence of what they have learnt from an evening at an open circle.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not against open circles. But in my experience, most are run poorly and offer no guidance, no feedback, no real gain to a serious student of Spiritualism. I’ve seen a lot of egos on display at open circles and I’ve heard a lot of nonsense spouted off to newcomers about things they themselves know next to nothing about.

So what about closed circles? These are often better. First important factor is that the people that attend each week are there by invitation and are regular sitters. Often, a closed circle will be called a development group. This usually means that there is guidance and support. A serious student wanting to unfold and develop their mediumship and spiritualism should find a suitable group and join it. Expect to spend a few years in it, learning all aspects of the subject. Learn how to develop under the guidance of someone that has more knowledge than you. Of course, it’s often hard to  determine if the tutor does indeed know their subject thoroughly and therein is the next challenge. If you join a circle and it doesn’t feel right for you for whatever reason – stop going. In my experience, unlearning is far more difficult than learning.

A good and proper development group will definitely move your growth on. You may have to pay a weekly fee and that is perfectly acceptable. But watch out for the tutors that are just money orientated. Yes, it’s worth paying for their time and knowledge, but when they’re not interested in talking to you outside of the meeting, perhaps be a little curious why not.

The closed circles that I’ve attended (and now run) have always had a structured plan. The leaders have often kept notes on individual’s progress, their weaknesses and their strengths.  A good leader will plan each session and know what is supposed to be taking place on the evening. That said – I’ve attended a couple of closed circles where the medium leader has claimed, ” I don’t need to plan ahead, Spirit will guide me and I trust them.” A nice sentiment, but not really a wise one.

Some students are super keen to learn – as I was and still am. So they like to attend more than one circle every week. I know of some who travel around the various circles each week, innocently expecting to advance their knowledge and abilities. Well, if you have unfolded enough to be able to connect to spirit, and to relay messages on, then a variety of circles won’t do you too much harm gaining experience, though the amount of knowledge you gain will be minimal.

There’s an old idiom that goes, ” Man with one watch knows the time. Man with three watches is never really sure.” That is the challenge when you attend various circles where each leader has their own way, their own set of beliefs and their own expectations. A fresh and enthusiastic student would likely end up picking up certain bits of information from each group that could well be inaccurate or without foundations.

My strong advise to any student of psychic and spiritual unfoldment would be to take time and find a circle that is properly run, where there is a structure and where the leader has experience and knowledge they want to pass on. If you’re fortunate to find a good circle, be it open or closed, you will see your own growth, gain knowledge and experience and meet new like-minded people that will become close friends.

I’ll finish this post with a final piece of advise. A good medium is not necessarily a good teacher or leader. Good luck in your pursuits. It’s hard to find a good group, but when you do – hang on to it – until you naturally outgrow it. ♥



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  1. By Roger Young Reply

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