As its name suggests, the medium is an intermediary. But more specifically, his role is that of a mediator between the kingdoms of the dead and the living. The word mediumism was in common use from the 1860s, at a time when the possible skills, gifts and powers of the medium were enjoying a huge success.

It was Marguerite Yourcenar who, during a televised interview, remarked that eyewitness accounts of apparitions and contacts with the spirits of the dead had never been so numerous as at the time when photography and wireless telegraphy (radio) simultaneously came into being. As if the fact of being able to fix pictures of reality and transmit sounds, words and music by waves had been connected to the ability that certain people have to enter into communication with what we call the invisible.

We might add that, from now on, we are provided with technological tools which allow us not only to see what, to all intents and purposes, is invisible, but also to intervene directly or indirectly in areas which are not perceptible to the naked eye: microbes, viruses, genes and atoms, for example.But there is invisible and invisible. That is why, we remain guarded when talking about phenomena to do with mediumism because, in any case, we do not wish to influence the beliefs or convictions each of you has about that.

We shall content ourselves with revealing the powers of the medium, in the sense of what qualifies him and distinguishes him from a clairvoyant or a visionary. It appears that the word medium was been used for the first time by the Swedish researcher and scientist, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), who founded the first Swedish scientific journal, but became famous above all for his inventive mind and great scientific imagination.

So, it was he who defined the great principles of the submarine, of a new system of river locks, of the future steam engine, a flying machine and a mercury pump. But he was also interested in geology, physics, chemistry and, especially, biology. Elected a member of the Royal Academy of Stockholm in 1741, he was taken then - and it is still the case today - for a genuine philosopher of nature and was largely responsible for the development of the arts and industry in Sweden.

At the same time, from about 1736, with his inquiring, scientific mind, he looked with the utmost seriousness into certain psychic phenomena concerning himself And so he noticed that he was sometimes prone to vertigo and flashes of insight. Of course, from a clinical, psychoanalytical point of view, the phenomena which Swedenborg witnessed have since been regarded as those which often precede conditions of schizophrenia.

However, from 1747, it appeared that a great turning point took place in his life and in his thinking. In fact, this serious, strict, perceptive, thoughtful man, who was recognised unanimously for his qualities as a man of science, suddenly declared that he was in a position to enter into communication with the spirits and angels. From then on, until the end of his life, he dedicated himself mainly to the physical and biological sciences.

And his reputation was never sullied or tarnished by the fact that, at the same time as his scientific work, he showed a close interest in the phenomena inherent in the soul and body, in psychic relationships with the world of spirits and in supernatural visions and manifestations. The works he devoted to his visions and the strange phenomena in which he played a part or witnessed had a deep repercussion throughout 18th century Europe and on the scientific and philosophical thought at the beginning of the 19th century.

His reputation was such that the German philosopher Emanuel Kant (1724-1804) wrote a book drawing his inspiration from the eyewitness accounts and works of Swedenborg, Dreams of a Visionary Explained by the Dreams of the Metaphysical, published in 1766. Although he was declared a heretic by the Church on 22 March, 1769, his peers never doubted his clear-sightedness and he is still thought of as a forerunner in the field of crystallography and modern biology.

Honore de Balzac said of him: 'Swedenborg takes up with Magism, Brahminism, Buddhism and Christian Mysticism what these four great religions have in common, that is real and divine, and gives their doctrine a mathematical meaning, as it were. His religion is the only one which can acknowledge a higher spirit.' (Quoted by Pierre Hadot, in the Dictionary of Authors, published by Robert Laffont, 1988.

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, the medium is someone who is endowed with the kind of psychic powers which allow him to enter into communication with the spirits of souls who are dead and gone. However, a distinction must be made between the medium, the clairvoyant and the visionary. Putting it in simple terms, we shall say that this is someone who is in a position to communicate with the dead.

In order to admit that such a phenomenon exists, it is necessary to start from the postulate which states that there is another form of life beyond the earthly, material life, in a dimension which is found beyond or over the universe of the world imperceptible to the naked eye but which, we now know, does exist. It is the world of cells, atoms, waves and structures of matter and light.

It is said that the spirits of the dead as it were, use this channel, if you can call it that, to communicate with the spirit of the medium. Nowadays there is a technique, transcommunication, which starts from this postulate and would seem to offer new perspectives in this field of investigation.

The clairvoyant is someone who, either by induction (by using his spontaneous, cognitive powers, without any help) or by deduction (by practising various arts of divination) can go deep into the intuitive consciousness and memory of a stranger and reveal events and facts relating to his past and future.

The visionary is someone whose concerns or states of mind are in the sphere of mysticism or religion and who, either by induction (in the grip of spontaneous phenomena due to great psychic receptivity) or by deduction (by using methods of meditation and prayer) can be the subject of prophetic visions.



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