What is Channeling?
By SHEPHERD HOODWIN
Channeling is a means of communicating with any consciousness that is not in human form by allowing that consciousness to express itself through the channel (or channeler).
We live in a multidimensional universe. Michael teaches that the physical plane is only the first (and most dense) of seven planes. The next plane is the astral; we dwell on the lower astral plane before birth and after death. The other planes are the causal, akashic, mental, messianic, and buddhaic. The planes are discussed in detail in the article, “Planes of Existence.” For now, let’s just say that these planes aren’t really separate from our lives here on the physical plane. Through channeling, we can make conscious contact with higher planes. We can also communicate with beings who are physical but nonhuman, such as devas (nature spirits), dolphins and whales, and extraterrestrials.
Most commonly, the term channeling refers to communication with spirit guides, who are astral, and with high-plane teachers, such as Michael, who are on planes above the astral. (Michael is on the causal plane.) Although the universe contains an infinite variety of consciousness that could theoretically be channeled, in practice channels usually tune in to that with which they have a meaningful connection and which is well-suited to the channeling process.
The most common form of communication with nonphysical consciousness is with people who have passed on, but that is usually referred to as “mediumship” rather than channeling. (The Whoopi Goldberg character in the movie Ghost was a medium.) Although there is overlap, channeling usually refers to accessing higher knowledge in order to support spiritual growth and to gain greater clarity about one’s life. For instance, my clients often ask Michael about what’s going on “behind the scenes” in a problematic relationship. Michael may give information about past-life connections, karmas, agreements, and larger issues being worked on by both parties, providing a “soul’s-eye” view of that relationship’s dynamic. This can be very useful, and is not the sort of information normally available from a therapist or counselor, although if a person is seeing a therapist, working with Michael as well can be complementary. A medium, as defined here, might also provide this kind of information, but the intent in seeing a medium is usually to communicate with a specific person who has passed on who would not necessarily be expert in accessing such information. Although those on the astral plane are generally more objective about physical experience than we are here on the physical plane, being nonphysical doesn’t automatically make someone skillful, knowledgeable, wise, or loving; every consciousness must earn its “enlightenment.”
There is much about the process of spiritual channeling that is unknown or difficult to put into words, and each experience of it is unique, but some generalizations can be made. Channeling occurs through what Michael calls the “higher centers,” which are dormant in most of us but which can be opened with practice. Higher centers are the parts of us that can connect with universal love, truth, and kinetic energy. They are like radios that can be tuned in to the frequency of the channeled entity. The “signal” is generally received first by the crown chakra. In verbal channeling, it then stimulates the sixth chakra (the third eye) and the brain, searching the subconscious for correlating words. Either the entity, the channel, or both, working together in cooperation, select the specific words that seem to best express the thoughts. Even if the entity selects the words, the channel doesn’t usually experience this as hearing external voices; it has the sound of his own thoughts, since channeled entities do not have physical voices. This is not unlike the process by which we translate our own thoughts into words, except that it is more difficult, because someone else’s thoughts are being translated through the channel.
By definition, teachers from higher planes work more with the invisible aspects of things, and come at information differently than we do. They often seem to “spiral in” to core insights, gradually unveiling one layer after another, like peeling an onion, rather than coming up with an instant analysis of what is occurring. This is a delicate process, an art as well as a science.
Some people channel or at least “tune in” to higher sources without being aware of it. They assume that the thoughts they are having are their own when that is not totally the case. This can account for several people coming up with a similar invention or song, for instance, at the same time–a higher-plane source is trying to get his idea to the physical plane and works with several people simultaneously, perhaps hoping that at least one of them will make it available to others. Not all inspiration comes from channeling, since we are each creative beings in our own right, but most creation involves some kind of collaboration. We receive more help than we realize.
My original impression was that channeling is a simple matter of dictation–that if Michael wishes to communicate something, it should sound the same no matter who the channel is. However, experience has taught me that channeling is a much more complex phenomenon. I now see it as a collaboration, with many variables.
Being physical, we lack the “equipment” to fully and truly understand what is not physical. We necessarily work with “two-dimensional” intellectual models. They can be helpful, but they cannot replace direct, “three-dimensional” experience, and some direct experience is simply not available to us now. Until we ourselves are nonphysical, we will not be able to fully comprehend how spiritual channeling really works, who or what Michael actually is, and many other things. Even regarding physical phenomena, science purports to explain many things that are not truly understood. Do we really comprehend photosynthesis, for example? We may appreciate an explanation of the mechanics, which may or may not be fairly accurate–science is always changing its mind–but surely that is not the whole picture. It is good to maintain a healthy appreciation of mystery. I am not suggesting blind faith or belief, but an awareness of the vastness of life.
WHO CAN CHANNEL?
Channeling is similar to playing piano: almost anyone who applies himself can probably learn to do it, at least a little, and even a casual study of it can be enriching. However, learning to do it well requires a lot of energy and commitment, and obviously, it comes more easily to some people than to others. Furthering our skills in this lifetime, whatever they are, can lead to being born with more “talent” in those areas in future lifetimes.
We plan each lifetime before it begins. If we desire to channel during that lifetime, we usually make agreements to do so with the particular source(s) we wish to channel, and plan the timing and the form of the channeling we will do so that it supports our life task. We can design our overleaves and even our body to facilitate channeling. Some channels have idiosyncratic bodies for this reason. Not every–one who channels planned to do so before his lifetime began, but someone is not likely to be motivated to invest the energy to learn to channel well unless channeling fits somehow in his life plan. Channeling is usually not of strong interest to the soul until the mature and old soul ages, because before that, our lessons emphasize external factors. If channeling is part of someone’s life plan, much preparation may occur on both conscious and unconscious levels during the channel’s lifetime before he begins to channel. Not coincidentally, I began channeling shortly after completing a year of intense emotional catharsis and healing, working with someone who was both a therapist and a psychic–I needed to empty my “vessel” of old baggage before I could become a clear channel.
According to my channeling, the channels who first brought the basics of the Michael teachings to the public through the Yarbro books studied extensively with Michael on the astral plane to prepare themselves before incarnating. They also set up their lifetimes to do a particular kind of spiritual channeling, focused in the intellectual center, allowing them to bring through highly concentrated, precise material. In addition, several members of the first Michael group had previously studied the Gurdjieff teachings, which use some ideas and terminology similar to some of those in the Michael teachings. (Michael has been channeled as saying that Gurdjieff was also one of their channels, although he was likely channeling unconsciously.) However, the majority of the material was wholly original, and even when Michael “recycled” from Gurdjieff, they often altered the material and used it in new ways.
The work of the first Michael channels was remarkable–I doubt that I could have done what they did. Of course, because they did it, I don’t have to; I can have a channeling practice suited to my life task, and still have the benefit of the material they generated.
I am what has been called a “heart channel”–the heart is where integration occurs. I set it up in my life plan to do channeling that incorporates words, energy, and sometimes emotion to help others not only have intellectual clarity, but to integrate what is being discussed into all levels of self. My practice is not so much informational as experiential.
Every approach to channeling has pros and cons. Even though I am careful to allow through the precise words Michael wants, the intellectual side of my channeling is probably somewhat diluted because of the other elements coming through me at the same time, particularly the energy work.
The question arises as to who can channel Michael. In Messages from Michael, Michael was quoted as saying, “We are an ancient entity that comes to all who ask.” However, Michael’s People states that Michael is not being channeled by priests, and lists a few locations as those of the sole Michael groups. I believe that this referred only to the particular fragments of Michael working with that group, not to the whole of Michael. No doubt there have been priests and people in other locations who have “asked.” (I know a couple of priests who channel or have channeled Michael.) Yarbro also mentioned certain factors that facilitate channeling, such as particular overleaves, being an old soul, and being in six or seven cadence positions (discussed in the following subchapter). However, none of these things are “required.” Michael might be able to penetrate more deeply and powerfully, with a larger perspective, through a channel more ideally suited for channeling them. However, the quote above from Messages suggests that they would welcome anyone who sincerely desires to make conscious contact with them. In the elegant way the universe works, someone who is not suited for channeling Michael will probably not be strongly interested in doing it anyway.
I offer a service I call “channeling coaching” for those who are learning to channel and need support and encouragement. In most cases, they don’t really need me–they are already making the connection, but they don’t trust it. I help them validate it. I also guide them through the process a step at a time, offering pointers and telling them what I’m seeing or being told by their guides. When beginning, I suggest that they ask for the highest, most appropriate source for them to channel now. It may be Michael, but often it isn’t–it may be easier to channel their essence or an astral spirit guide first. They may find that channeling from the astral plane is their “niche,” what they agreed to do, or what is most appropriate and comfortable for them. They may also eventually channel a higher-plane source other than Michael.
The key for those learning to channel is simply to practice a lot, taking everything they get with a grain of salt without worrying too much about accuracy. It’s like sketching in an art class, not being concerned about a final product at that stage.
WHAT CHANNELED ENTITIES SEE
Einstein taught that physical matter cannot be destroyed, only transformed into energy, just as energy can be transformed into matter. I would take that further and say that matter, and, in fact, everything in the universe, on every plane of existence, is energy. We perceive matter as such because it vibrates in the same portion of the energy spectrum we do. Channeled entities do not perceive physical matter in the same way we do except when they are being channeled and have the use of physical eyes, ears, and so forth. Otherwise, they perceive energy in the way they normally would on their plane of existence, just as psychics see higher planes in terms of the physical plane, since human beings have no means to directly perceive higher planes.
The substance of physical life is matter, the substance of astral life is emotion, and the substance of causal life is intellect. Although this is an oversimplification, it could be said that those on the astral plane perceive the physical plane in terms of its emotional substance, and those on the causal plane, in terms of its intellectual substance.
I feel a bond with the soul who was George Gershwin. (We are in the same entity.) I saw Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera a few years ago, and mentally communicated with him about it. I thought that it was a poor production, and was surprised when he said that it was exactly what he had had in mind. Later, I realized that he was mainly perceiving the astral (or emotional energy) component of it. From his vantage point, he could probably not tell too much about the acting or the appropriateness of the casting. Therefore, he probably wasn’t in a position to critically appraise the production, although what he was able to perceive–perhaps including the feeling of the music if not the precise physical sound–pleased him. (Also, he had originally planned for the Met to premiere it, and decided on a Broadway run instead in order to give it more exposure, so a Met production was probably gratifying.) Now, when I see a theatrical production with his music, I usually channel him so that he can see it physically rather than astrally. When I “took him” to the Broadway musical Crazy for You, he told me to get better seats next time–he would pay for them! (I was in the balcony.)
In 1983, I wrote narration for, directed, and sang in a musical review for the local community theater in Loveland, Colorado, where I was living at the time. A friend who is metaphysically inclined came to see it. She is normally unemotional and objective, but she cried throughout it, and thought that everything I did was absolutely wonderful (which was probably not objectively the case!). At the end, she heard herself thinking, “Now I can pass on.” She realized that she had been channeling my mother, who had continued to feel responsible for raising me. Being channeled, she could more directly look in on my physical well-being and see that I was safely on my path. This freed her to go on to other things. I was twenty-eight at the time, which astrologically is the time of the “Saturn return,” in a sense the beginning of adulthood. In terms of the Michael teachings, I was also moving in soul age from sixth- to seventh-level old, and I had just begun a career as a stockbroker (after substitute teaching and operating my own singing telegram business), so it was a time of major transition for me. It makes sense that my mother would have felt that she could relinquish responsibility for my well-being at that juncture. She didn’t actually need to be channeled in order to “see” me, but what she saw from the astral plane when she wasn’t being channeled was an astral rendering, a fluid astral “picture” of my feelings and thoughts, rather than a precise view of the details of my day-to-day life. Had she tried to stay close enough to my physical reality to continually perceive it in a physical-like way, it would have kept her earthbound, a prisoner of the life she needed to leave behind.
Certainly she had been aware of me, and had offered whatever help she could, ever since her passing. A few months after it, I was at summer camp (I was eight), lying in my bunk trying to go to sleep, but I couldn’t. Bedtime was eight p.m., and it was already eleven. My main thought was how tired I would be the next day. Then she appeared to me in a vision that reminded me in its vividness of looking through a View-Master (a toy through which one looked at intensely colored slides). With her was someone who I thought was Moses, but who was probably one of her guides (or one of mine). When I blinked, they were still there. I didn’t hear any words, but she made a gesture that communicated that everything would be all right. This kind of transmission takes a great deal of effort; the reason I couldn’t sleep for those three hours was probably that they were trying to get through all that time.
Incidentally, before she passed on, when she unconsciously knew that she was dying, she painted a painting with a symbolic message to me about her death; the canvas was found unfinished in the trunk of her car after her death. She was also a singer, and left behind a tape recording of herself singing a lullaby with the words, “Don’t you cry. Mama won’t go away.…Even when you’re a great big man, Mama won’t go away.”
Since the future, by definition, hasn’t happened yet, it is impossible to make consistently accurate predictions. Some psychics and channeled sources are adept at picking up probabilities based on where things are heading, but since each individual has free will–probabilities are constantly shifting as we make choices–nobody knows for sure. Even when certain changes are more or less inevitable, the form they take and the way people react to them are not. Timing is especially difficult to predict, and even when different channels and psychics agree in their predictions about specific events, the dates often vary.
Sometimes people tell me that a psychic or a channeled entity told them that something terrible was going to happen, which upset them a great deal. That strikes me as inappropriate. I’m not suggesting that someone should lie if he sees a strong negative probability on the horizon, but it should be conveyed in such a way as to empower the person listening. Michael doesn’t give “bad news.” If they see someone creating a situation that he probably won’t like, their approach might be to show him how he can create a more pleasing situation instead, if he’s interested. Besides, since nothing is carved in stone before it happens, it is misleading to say that something is definitely, without a doubt, going to happen. Furthermore, because Michael’s point of view is neutral, they may see what someone else might call “bad news” in a different light–for example, they might see a probable outcome as being simply another of the physical plane’s growth-promoting challenges. Their approach may then be to show a client how he can make the best of that outcome if it arises.
It is wise to take predictions with a grain of salt. Rather than asking if and when an event will happen, it might be more useful to ask what percentage the probability is, and if there are agreements or karmas putting force behind its happening. For example, at a given moment, a person might have a sixty-two percent probability of getting a particular job, and the employer might have an essence-level agreement with him to hire him. That is a very high probability, since probabilities rarely rise to about eighty-five percent until something is actually in the process of happening; even a fifty percent probability is quite high. Nonetheless, people don’t always keep their agreements, for a variety of reasons, and the person may not be hired. If, unexpectedly, someone comes along who seems better qualified or who is a friend of the company’s owner, the probability might drop to thirty-seven percent, which is still fairly high, but, obviously, not overwhelming.
If we have an agreement to meet someone at a certain time, we may not be able to keep the “appointment,” but if it’s an important agreement, chances are that we will reschedule it and it will eventually work out. This is an organic, ever-changing world. Nothing is carved in stone. Every significant choice a person makes can change relevant probabilities. (NOTE: Indented passages are excerpts from my channeling of Michael.)
We do not know for a certainty what the future will bring for ourselves or for you. That makes the game of life much more interesting and challenging. If everything could be predicted ahead of time, we would all have to be automatons, and if we are expressions of the Tao, then the Tao would likewise be an automaton. Fortunately, this is not the case. We cannot predict what others will do with assurance because others themselves do not know what they will do, and even if they think they know, they might change their minds. We can only give our best projections based on where things appear to be going, taking into account the relevant agreements and karmas. This is an art we are learning.
Imminent events are easier to predict. If an object is teetering precariously on the edge of a shelf, one could safely predict that it will fall. However, even in such a situation, someone might come along and move it.
It is a great fallacy that you need to predict the future to choose well now. Relying on predictions of the future weakens your capacity to make good choices. When you think that you have everything figured out, you may start to drift by on your preconceived notions rather than playing the game in the present moment with all the skill and attention you can muster.
Even if events do not go as our essence planned and predictions therefore prove wrong, sometimes things work out for the best anyway. A case in point was my apartment when I lived in Manhattan. Affordable apartments were next to impossible to find when I moved there, especially those larger than one-bedroom. However, my guides told me that I would find an inexpensive two-bedroom apartment to share. I got a photographic image of it, and a couple of my friends psychically saw similar images. Apparently, my guides were working on a few possible apartments that fit that description, but all of them fell through. I still found an affordable apartment, but it was a studio. It had been one of my guides’ “back-up” choices, but they hadn’t told me about it ahead of time. It was disappointing at first, but it turned out to suit my needs better in some respects than the envisioned apartment likely would have. I don’t subscribe to the idea that everything works out for the best–the highest outworkings are sometimes thwarted because, again, people have free will–but I do believe that the universe is basically benevolent, and as a whole conspires to our highest good if we let it. Perhaps sometimes it does so in ways of which even our guides and essence are not aware.
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE
No one on any plane of existence is infallible or knows everything we need to know. In addition, we all have our own experience of reality and ways of describing it. There is no right and wrong in this regard, only infinite facets of truth. We do have much to learn from each other, and those on higher planes usually have more experience, greater resources of information, and a larger perspective than we do on the physical plane. However, their counsel is more accurately viewed as coming from loving friends than from a deity. No one is more “God” than anyone else.
We are each responsible for ourselves. We experience more growth if we don’t do things merely because we think someone else, incarnate or not, told us to. It is well to examine what we hear others say with appreciation and respect, but we don’t always hear what is actually meant, for one thing. More importantly, no one knows us better than we know ourselves, at least potentially. We must make our own decisions and mistakes, and form our own understanding, if we are to learn to guide the course of our lives wisely. Besides, true teachers don’t tell people what to do. They give greater perspective and understanding so that their students can make well-informed choices. Beware of those who issue orders, or who are certain that they know what’s best for someone else, even if they are being channeled from a higher plane. Just because material is channeled does not mean that it is appropriate or a fully realized expression of truth.
Channeled material, like everything else, must be interpreted through the understanding of the hearer. Sometimes we draw conclusions or make associations that are not valid, or we simply misunderstand. I am sometimes amazed at what clients say Michael said. The truth is precise; it is as important to hear what is not being said as what is.
The ability to recognize truth is crucial. Truth is always associated with love. It has a certain feel about it. It is not necessarily comfortable, but it is penetrating and ultimately liberating.
Often the truth or value of channeled material isn’t fully apparent until later. It may seem at first to be deceptively simple or general. If we have that experience with something channeled for us, we have nothing to lose by living with it a while and seeing if it looks different later. One client told me that after her session, she wasn’t particularly impressed, but two months later, she listened to her tapes and couldn’t believe that Michael had said what they did; it was almost as if she hadn’t heard it the first time. This is a common reaction.
In my brochure for new clients, Michael says:
You will get the most out of this session if you review the material in a week or two. It’s hard for so much new input to soak in the first time. A defense against overload is to make it seem less than it is. This is normal, but often, our students find their channeling to be far more meaningful weeks or even months later. It is the mark of a good teacher (and we aspire to this) to give what the student is almost but not quite ready to hear. That way, we promote growth. Obviously, the material becomes more meaningful when the student is actually ready.
Our Western society’s model of truth is based on polarity: something is either true or it isn’t, and if it’s true, something else must therefore be false. In my experience, two statements that seem contradictory can both be true, or at least, mostly true. I have sought to demonstrate that throughout this book.
Michael speaks of personal, world, and universal truths. That concept points out that something may be true for an individual or even many individuals, but not be true for everyone in the world, let alone in the universe. Gravity, for instance, is different everywhere on the planet, partly because of varying distances from the earth’s core. If we didn’t know that and saw two different measurements of earth’s gravity reported, we would probably assume that one report was wrong. When we don’t have enough information, when we lack “bridge information,” we can tend to be judgmental and simplistic in our views. Truth is infinite, and is therefore vast enough to hold an infinite number of facets. Someone said that the measure of an idea’s greatness is the degree to which its opposite is also true.
If there are poles of absolute truth and absolute falsehood, there is a long continuum in between, the infinite shades of gray between white and black. But more likely, absolute truth and absolute falsehood do not exist in the dimensional universe–only in the Tao is absolute truth. Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, refuses to be rounded off–it just keeps going into infinity: 3.14159265…. We do round off pi so that we can work with it–that is a convenience, but it is not the whole truth. With any spiritual teaching, we are working with rounded-off truth, because we cannot work directly with the whole truth–it’s too big. I discussed models of reality in the Preface. We have no choice but to work with models. What else do we have?
However, a good model connects us to the infinite truth that it models, and although that cannot be fathomed, it can be felt. The more true we are to the truth of ourselves, the better we can recognize truth in models.
THE LARGER PERSPECTIVE
We are in the midst of a planetary transformation. There are many nonphysical beings who are assisting with it, whether we know it or not. Channeling is a means of consciously working with them. They are often as gratified to make the connection with us as we are with them. Used in a responsible way, channeling can be an important tool in our personal and collective growth.
Whether or not we call ourselves channels, it is becoming more and more essential that each of us develop our inner connections with the larger universe if we are to move creatively with the changes occurring