How Many Different Kinds of Mediums Are There?
Allan Kardec, a French Educator who lived during the late 1800s, enumerated at least 73 different kinds of psychic mediums.
He separated them out by whether they could produce intellectual versus physical manifestations, what and how they could sense, their moral character, their personal energy disposition, by their level of literacy, and more.
While many of these medium types may have different names today, many of the same themes apply.
Below you will find the 73 different kinds of spirit mediums, as first listed in Kardec’s The Book on Mediums published in 1861 (Amazon Link) including what they do, how their gifts work and what was being said about them by society at the time.
The content that follows has been directly transcribed from The Book on Mediums, 1861:
The 73 Different Kinds of Mediums Described By Allan Kardec
1. Physical mediums; those who have the power of obtaining physical manifestations.
2. Intellectual mediums; those who are more especially apt for receiving and transmitting intelligent communications.
All the other varieties belong to one or other of these two categories; some belong to both. If we analyse the different manifestations obtained through medianimic influence, we shall see that there is, in all of them, a physical effect, and that, with the physical effect, there is usually combined an intelligent effect. It is sometimes difficult to establish a line of demarcation between the two; but this is of no practical consequence. We include, under the denomination of intellectual mediums, those who are specially able to serve as intermediaries for the transmission of regular and continuous communications (133).
3. Sensitive medium; persons who feel the presence of spirits by a peculiar impression, general or local, vague or decided. Most of these distinguish good or evil spirits by the nature of the impression caused by them (164).
"Mediums who are very sensitive and delicate should abstain from communicating with violent spirits, or with those who cause painful impressions, on account of the fatigue which results from such communication."
4. Natural or unconscious mediums: those who call forth the phenomena spontaneously, without any action of their will, and for the most part unconsciously (161). Natural or Involuntary mediums are those who are influenced without their knowing it.
They have no idea of their power, and the abnormal occurrences which take place around them. Their peculiar faculty seems to them to be a part of themselves, as is the case with persons who are endowed with second-sight, and who have no suspicion that such is the case. Mediums of this description are well worthy of observation; and we should not neglect to collect and study all the facts that may come to our knowledge in regard to them. They are of all ages; young children often possessing this faculty in a high degree.
5. Voluntary mediums; those who have the power of calling forth the phenomena by an act of their will. Voluntary mediums are those who exert their power consciously, and obtain spirit-phenomena by an act of their will.
Special Mediums for Physical Effects
6. Rapping mediums; those by whose influence noises and raps are produced. A very common variety of medianimity, whether voluntary or involuntary.
7. Motor mediums; those who produce the movement of inert bodies. These, also, are very common (61).
8. Mediums for displacements and suspensions; those who obtain the displacement of inert bodies, and their suspension in the air without any visible prop. There are some who are thus raised themselves, but these are very rare.
9. Mediums for musical effects; these obtain the playing of certain instruments without human contact. Also very rare (74, quest. 24).
10. Mediums for apparitions; those who obtain apparitions, whether fluidic or tangible, which are visible to lookers on. Very exceptional (100, quest. 27; 104).
11. Mediums for the transport of objects; those who are employed by spirits as auxiliaries in bringing objects to a circle. Exceptional (96).
12. Nocturnal mediums; those who only obtain certain physical effects in the dark. Here is the answer of a spirit to our inquiry as to whether such mediums should be considered as forming a separate variety: -
"This form of medianimity may certainly be spoken of as a specialty, although the necessity of darkness has to do rather with surrounding conditions than with the nature of the medium, or with that of the manifesting spirits; for, in fact, some of these mediums get over this peculiar necessity, and the greater number of those who are mediums only in the dark could, by exercise, obtain the same manifestations in the light. There are but few of this variety of mediums; and we feel bound to point out that this peculiar form of medianimity offers a wide field for trickery, ventriloquism, acoustic tubes, etc., enabling charlatans to play upon credulity, and to pocket money. But jugglers in rooms, like jugglers in public halls, will be unmasked in the long run, and spirits will show them that it is not prudent for pretenders to intermeddle with their work. There are charlatans who will by and by get such raps on their knuckles as will disgust them with playing at medianimity; it is only a question of time.
13. Pneumatographic mediums; those who obtain direct writing. This is a very rare phenomenon, and one easily imitated (177).
14. Healing mediums; those who have the power of curing disease or relieving pain, by the imposition of hands or by prayer.
"This faculty is not essentially medianimic; it appertains to all true believers, whether mediums or not; it is often only a super-excitement of the mesmeric power, strengthened, in case of need, by the co-operation of benevolent spirits" (175).
15. Developing mediums; persons who, by their influence, have the power of developing the faculties of medianimity in others.
Special Mediums for Intellectual Effects
16. Hearing mediums; those who hear spirits. Very common. (165). "There are many who fancy they hear what is only in their imagination."
17. Speaking mediums; those who speak under the influence of spirits. These are very common (196).
18. Seeing mediums; those who see spirits when awake. An accidental and fortuitous sight of a spirit under some peculiar circumstances is very frequent; but the habitual view of spirits at will, and without distinction, is exceptional (167).
"This is an aptitude to which the normal state of the human organism is opposed; for this reason it is prudent not to accord a too ready belief to those who say that they see spirits."
19. Inspirational mediums; those to whom thoughts are suggested by spirits, most frequently without their being aware of it; whether in regard to the things of their every- day life, or to their intellectual labours (182).
20. Presentient mediums; persons, who, under certain circumstances, have a vague intuition of future events in the domain of ordinary life (184).
21. Prophetic mediums; these are a variety of the inspired mediums, or of presentient mediums; they receive, by God's permission, and with more precision than do the presentient mediums, the pre-announcement of future things of general interest, which they are charged to predict for the enlightenment of mankind.
"Though there are true prophets, there are many more false ones, who mistake the dreams of their imagination for revelations, when they are not pretenders passing themselves off from ambition, for what they are not” (See The Spirit’s Book Amazon Link, No. 624, Characteristics of the true Prophet).*see notes below on quotations
22. Somnambulist mediums; those who, when in a somnambulic state, are assisted by spirits.
23. Trance mediums; those who receive revelations from spirits when in a state of trance.
"Many ecstatics are the sport of their own imaginations, and of deceitful spirits, who take advantage of their state of mental excitement. Ecstatics worthy of entire confidence are extremely rare."
24. Painting and Drawing mediums; those who paint and draw under the influence of spirits. We are speaking of those whose medianimically-produced works are worthy of attention, for we cannot apply this designation to mediums who, under the influence of mocking spirits, obtain absurd productions that would disgrace the merest schoolboy.
Frivolous spirits are often imitators; when some very remarkable drawings of scenes in Jupiter * first appeared, there arose a vast number of pretended drawing mediums, through whom mocking spirits produced the most ridiculous things. One of them, desirous of eclipsing the drawings referred to, in dimensions, if not in quality, made a medium draw a picture filling so vast a number of sheets of paper as to attain the height of two storeys of a house. A number of other mediums were made to draw what claimed to be portraits, but which were mere caricatures (Revue Spirite, August, 1858).
25. Musical mediums; those who execute, compose, or write music, under the influence of spirits. They are mechanical, semi-mechanical, intuitive, and inspired; as are the mediums for literary communications (See Mediums for musical effects).
Varieties of Writing Mediums
26. Psychographic mediums; those who have the faculty of writing under spirit- influence.
27. Mechanical writing mediums; those whose hands are acted upon by an involuntary impulse, and who are unconscious of what they write. Very rare.
28. Semi-mechanical mediums; those whose hands are made to write involuntarily, but who are conscious of the words or the phrases thus written by them. These are the commonest of all..
29. Intuitive mediums; those with whose thought the spirit communicates, but whose hands are guided by their own will. They differ from inspirational mediums in as much as the latter do not necessarily write, while the intuitive writing-medium writes the thought which is suggested to him at the moment, on some subject previously determined upon (180).
"These are very numerous, but are also very subject to error, because they are often unable to discriminate between what comes from the communicating spirit, and what proceeds from their own brain."
30. Polygraphic mediums; those whose writing changes with the spirit who communicates, or who reproduce the handwriting of the spirit when in the flesh. The first of these are very common; but those who obtain the reproduction of the handwriting are much less 50 (219).
31. Polyglot mediums; those who have the faculty of speaking or writing in languages that are unknown to them. These are very rare.
32. Illiterate mediums; those who write, as mediums, without knowing how to read or write in their ordinary state.
According to the Development of the Faculty
33. Novice mediums; those whose medianimic faculty is not yet completely developed, and who lack experience.
34. Unproductive mediums; those who obtain only insignificant results, such as monosyllables, letters, or mere strokes.
35. Fully formed mediums; they whose medianimic faculties are completely developed, and who transmit spirit-communications easily, quickly, and without hesitation. It is evident that this perfection cannot be obtained without practice; in the case of novice mediums, the transmission is usually slow and difficult.
36. Laconic mediums; those who, though easily influenced, obtain only short and undeveloped communications.
37. Explicit mediums; the Communications obtained by these mediums have all the length and amplitude that could be arrived at by a writer of first-rate ability.
"This aptitude depends upon the expansibility and facility of combination of the fluids required. Spirits seek for mediums of this nature, for treating of subjects which demand full development."
38. Experienced mediums; facility of writing, drawing, etc., is a result of habit, and is often quickly acquired; while experience is the result of a serious study of all the difficulties of practical spiritism. Experience gives to the medium the tact necessary for judging of the quality of the spirits who manifest themselves, ascertaining their good or bad qualities, and discovering the tricks of deceptive spirits who falsely assume the appearances of truth. The importance of this quality is easily understood, for, without it, all others are useless. Unfortunately, many mediums confound experience, the fruit of study, with aptitude, the result of organisation, and fancy themselves to be perfect, because they write with facility; they often reject counsel, and become the prey of hypocritical and lying spirits, who lay hold of them by flattering their vanity (See Chap. XXIII. Obsession).
39. Flexible mediums; those whose faculty enables them to lend themselves with great facility to a great diversity of communications, and through whom, all spirits, or nearly all, are able to manifest themselves, spontaneously, or in response to evocation.
"This variety of mediums differs but slightly from sensitive mediums."
40. Exclusive mediums; those through whom one spirit manifests himself to the exclusion of all others, and answers for all the other spirits that may be called for through the intervention of the medium.
"Such exclusiveness is always the result of defective flexibility on the part of the medium. A good spirit may attach himself to a medium from sympathy, and for a laudable end; but, when the spirit is an evil one, he does this invariably with the view of keeping the medium dependent upon him. Such exclusiveness should be avoided, as it borders too closely on obsession " (See Chap. XXIII. Obsession).
41. Mediums for evocations; flexible mediums are naturally the fittest for obtaining this kind of manifestation, and for queries of detail that may be addressed to spirits.
"The answers of such mediums are almost always confined within a very narrow compass, incompatible with the treatment of general subjects."
42. Mediums who receive spontaneous communications; they are used for the transmission of information spontaneously given by spirits who come without having been evoked. It is always difficult, and often impossible, to make the evocation of any given spirit through mediums in whom this aptitude exists as a special faculty.
"Nevertheless, these are better provided with medianimic tools than the mediums previously named. This expression, provided with tools refers to brain-material; for a larger amount of intelligence on the part of the medium is needed for spontaneous dictation than for evocations. By 'spontaneous dictation' I mean communications worthy of the name, and not mere fragmentary sentences, or a few commonplace thoughts such as may be found in all human heads."
According to the Kind and Speciality of the Communication
43. Verse-making mediums; those who most easily obtain communications in verse. Inferior rhyming is common with mediums of this class; but good poetry, extremely rare.
44. Poetic mediums; without obtaining verse, these mediums usually get vaporous and sentimental communications. Such mediums are specially fitted to convey tender and affectionate messages. They are often, however, rather vague, and it would be useless to seek any definite instructions from them. This sort of mediumship is very common.
45. Positive mediums; their communications have usually all the clearness and precision required for the transmission of circumstantial details and exact information. Mediums of this class are rare.
46. Literary mediums; they have neither the vagueness of poetic mediums, nor the dryness of positive mediums. Their dissertations show sagacity; their style, always correct and elegant, is sometimes remarkable for its eloquence.
47. Incorrect mediums; they sometimes obtain sensible and moral communications, but their style is diffuse, ungrammatical, and loaded with repetitions and ill-assorted terms.
"Decided inelegance of style arises generally from a defect of intellectual culture on the part of the medium. A medium with this drawback is therefore not, in this respect, a good instrument for a spirit to work with; but to this the spirit often attaches comparatively little importance, provided he can get his thought correctly conveyed, that being for him the essential point. When he can secure the correct expression of his meaning, a spirit generally leaves you free to turn your sentences in your own way. It is different with regard to the false or incoherent ideas which a communication may contain; for these always indicate inferiority on the part of the communicating spirit."
48. Historical mediums; those who have a special aptitude for treating of historical subjects. This faculty, like all the others., is independent of the medium's knowledge; for ignorant persons, and even children, are often made to treat medianimically of subjects far beyond their natural grasp. This is a very rare variety of the positive medium.
49. Scientific mediums; these, even though very ignorant, are especially adapted for obtaining communications relating to scientific subjects.
50. Medical mediums; their specialty is to act with greater facility than others, as interpreters of spirits for medical prescriptions. We must not confound these with healing mediums, for they do nothing more than transmit the spirit's thought, and possess no curative influence whatever. They are frequently met with.
51. Religious mediums; they usually receive communications of a religious character, and are employed by spirits to treat on religious questions, sometimes in opposition to their own beliefs and mode of worship.
52. Philosophic and moralistic mediums; the communications of this class of mediums have generally moral and philosophical questions for their object. Mediums who treat of morality are especially numerous.
53. Mediums for trivial and obscene communications; this qualification sufficiently indicates the sort of communications which certain mediums habitually receive, as well as the nature of the spirits who control them. Whoever has studied the various ascensional degrees of the spirit-world is aware that there are spirits whose perversity equals that of the vilest of men, and who delight in expressing their thoughts in the coarsest language. Others, less abject, content themselves with communicating absurdities. We can well understand that mediums should wish to be delivered from so undesirable a preference, and that they should envy those who, in the communications they receive, are never troubled with unseemly words. Only through a strange aberration of mind, and an utter want of common sense, could such language be supposed to proceed from good spirits.
According to the Physical Qualities of the Mediums
54. Calm mediums; these always write slowly, and without showing the slightest agitation.
55. Rapid mediums; these write with greater rapidity than they could do, voluntarily, and in their ordinary state. Spirits communicate through them with the swiftness of lightning; there would seem to be in them a superabundance of fluid, enabling spirits to identify themselves instantaneously with their organism. The rapidity with which these mediums write has sometimes the inconvenience of rendering their writing very difficult to read for any but the medium himself.
56. Convulsive mediums; they become excited almost to feverishness; their hand, and sometimes their whole person, is agitated with tremblings which they are unable to control. Much of this excitement may doubtless be attributable to their organisation; but it also depends, to a considerable degree, on the nature of the spirits who communicate through them. Good and kindly spirits always produce a gentle and agreeable impression; the bad, on the contrary, excite a painful one.
"Such mediums should exercise their faculty but rarely; for a too frequent repetition of such excitement might injure their nervous system." (See Chap. XXIV., Identity, Distinction between good and bad spirits.)
According to the Moral Quality of the Mediums
57. Mediums who are obsessed; those who cannot rid themselves of importunate, deceptive spirits, but who are fully aware of; and regret, this obsession.
58. Fascinated mediums; those who are acted upon by deceptive spirits, but who are not aware of this obsession, and who are consequently under a delusion as to the nature of the communications they receive.
59. Subjugated mediums; those who are under the moral, and sometimes the physical, domination of evil spirits.
60. Frivolous mediums; those who do not regard their faculty in a serious light, and who exercise it only for amusement or for futile objects.
61. Careless mediums; those who derive no moral profit from the instructions which they receive, and whose conduct and habits are not improved thereby.
62. Presumptuous mediums; those who assume themselves to be the only ones who are in communication with superior spirits. They believe themselves to be infallible, and regard as worthless and erroneous whatever does not come through themselves.
63. Proud mediums; those who feed their vanity with the communications which they receive, imagine themselves to have nothing more to learn in regard to spiritism, and do not apply to themselves the lessons often read to them by spirits. Not contented with the medianimic faculties they possess, they imagine themselves to possess all the others.
64. Touchy mediums; they are a variety of the proud ones, and are hurt at the criticisms of which they are the object; they take offence at the slightest contradiction, and, if they show what they obtain, they do so in order to be admired, and not at all to profit by the opinion of the listeners. They generally take an aversion to those who do not applaud them unreservedly, and desert the meetings in which they cannot take a leading part.
65. Mercenary mediums; those who make their faculty a source of pecuniary gain.
66. Ambitious mediums; those who, without putting a price upon the exercise of their faculty, seek to turn it to their own advantage, social, or other.
67. Dishonest mediums; those who, possessing some genuine medianimic faculties, simulate others which they do not possess, in order to give themselves importance.
68. Selfish mediums; those who use their faculty only for personal ends, and who keep to themselves the communications they receive.
69. Jealous mediums; those who are vexed at seeing other mediums better developed, and more highly appreciated, than themselves.
All these bad qualities of mediums have necessarily their counterparts in good ones.
70. Serious mediums; those who only use their faculties for good and really useful ends, and who would regard it as a profanation to use them for the satisfaction of the curious and indifferent, or for any futile purpose.
71. Modest mediums; those who make no merit of the communications they receive, however good they may be they look upon themselves as being only the instruments of others, and do not regard themselves as infallible. Far from shunning disinterested counsel, in regard to the exercise of their medianimity, they seek it.
72. Devoted mediums; those who understand that the true medium has a mission to fulfill, and that he must be ready, when necessary, to sacrifice his tastes, habits, pleasure, time, and even his worldly interests, to the good of others.
73. Safe mediums; those who, in addition to their power, are worthy of confidence on account of their personal excellence and the elevated nature of the spirits who assist them, and who are thus the least likely to be deceived. We shall see hereafter that this security does not depend in any way upon the honourability of the names assumed by the communicating spirits.
"You must understand that, by thus classifying mediums according to their good and bad qualities, you are exposing yourself to the animosity of some of them; this, however, is of no importance. The number of mediums is increasing daily, and any who should take offence at these remarks would prove one thing, viz., that they are not good mediums, in other words, that they are influenced by inferior spirits. But, as I have already said, all this is only for a short time; and mediums who misuse their faculties will undergo the painful Consequences of their acts, as has already occurred to some of them; they will learn, to their sorrow, the cost of turning, to the satisfaction of their earthly passions, a gift of God, accorded to them only for their moral advancement. If you are unable to bring them back into the right road, pity them, for they will have to undergo a heavier expiation. "ERASTES."
"This table is of great importance, not only for the mediums who seek sincerely and honestly, by studying it, to preserve themselves from the stumbling-blocks to which they are exposed, but also for those who make use of mediums, because it will give them the measure of what may be reasonably expected from them.
This table should be constantly before the eyes of every one who occupies himself with spirit- manifestations; it embodies all the principles of the doctrine, and will contribute, more than you think, to keep spiritism on its true road. "SOCRATES."
All these varieties of medianimity present innumerable degrees of intensity; many of them, strictly speaking, are but different shades of the same colour, but they are nevertheless the result of special aptitudes. Although the faculty of a medium is rarely circumscribed within a single specialty, and although the same medium may possess several aptitudes, he has always one predominant aptitude, and that is the one he should cultivate, provided it be a useful one. It is a serious mistake to endeavour to force a medium to acquire faculties he does not naturally possess.
The study of the specialty of mediums is absolutely necessary. Not only on their own account, but also for those who make use of them for evocations.
It should be further remarked, that the shades presented by medianimity, and of which we might add others to those classified above, are not always identical with the character of the medium himself; thus, for example, a medium, naturally gay and jovial, may habitually receive serious communications, and vice versa; which fact is an evident proof that he is acted upon by the impulsion of an influence exterior to himself. We shall return to this subject in treating of the moral influence of the medium (Part Second, Chap. XX).
- Excerpt from The Book on Mediums (1861) (Amazon Link)
If you’re a medium and want to start making sense of your gifts, please check out the eBook, The Medium’s Toolkit.
*All quotations above are author’s own and represent direct messages from the spirits.
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