Between the growing popularity of television’s John Edwards and Center Stage’s production of Blithe Spirit, “The Next Stage” decided to get the straight talk on what Mediums do from Janet Cyford, a traditional British Spiritualist Medium living and working in Baltimore, Maryland USA

Q: Clarify for us the difference between a psychic and a medium.

A: The word “psychic” refers to a soul-sensing. Psychic’s attunes to the auric energy of the client. I’ve found that psychics don’t want to discipline their gift by learning to raise their vibration to an awareness of Spirit as Mediums do. That’s sad because people are desperate for “telephones” like me. I’ve known hundreds of mediums whom, from their childhood, had an awareness of Spirit (life after death). It requires a great discipline to work for Spirit. This is the bottom line: my work is to bring evidence of life after death and to comfort the bereaved.

Q: Is there a difference between Spirit and a ghost?

A:  I think “ghost” is a silly word from the Middle Ages. If someone see Spirit, they may call it a “ghost” because it’s seen very ethereally, mistily registering on the periphery of one’s sight.

People talk about earth-bound spirits–poor ghosts trapped in a house–it’s ridiculous. Nobody is trapped when they die or left to die alone there are always loved ones there to meet them.

Q: Do mediums tend to agree on the nature of the spirit world and communication?

A: There are many different types of mediumship. Mediums receive Spirit communications in different ways. Most mediums agree Spirit aligns with our nervous system. It is a ‘mind to mind’ attunement, and a shared energy. All agree when the physical body dies our Spirit, Soul and individual consciousness returns to Spirit life. Life on this earthplane is likened to attending a university of hard knocks. The Soul draws experiences to the personality to gain Soul growth. We are all of Spirit. Not just mediums, everybody. All living things hold a spark of the Divine Energy.

Q: Talk a bit about your background and how you discovered you were a medium

A: I was born in a suburb of London, my family were Spiritualist. During the war my aunt’s mediumship, hers was a deep-trance mediumship, developed overnight. She comforted many who lost loved ones during the London bombings. Bringing evidence of the survival of young soldiers and airmen lost during the war before the telegram arrived confirming their death. My family held a regular home circle every Wednesday night, even during air raids. Our safety had been promised by Spirit. I had a wonderful background one not experienced by other mediums. My spirit playmates could be seen by my father and aunt, and my gift grew in fertile ground. I saw and talked to my grandmother soon after she died. So I grew up in this environment. The gift never left me.

Q: Is there such a thing as an unsuccessful reading? Is there ever a time where you sit with someone and Spirit says, “Nope, not today?”

A: No, Spirit never lets me down. I have had unsuccessful readings. One was with a man who wanted to resolve issues with his dead father. The reading began with people other than his father, but the client didn’t give me a chance to continue. He kept saying, “I don’t want to hear from them. I only want to hear from my father.” So I stopped the reading, because the client created such an antagonistic stream of thought that it was difficult for me and Spirit to work through. A client recently received evidence of a lot of relatives in Spirit but wanted one particular person’s name, and was unsatisfied when it was not given. I’ve put up a barrier with names having watched a lot of mediocre mediums struggling to place names in the Spiritualist churches. They say, “I’ve got George here,” and six people in the congregation put their hands up. It is very bad, uncontrolled mediumship. I think we can all find a “George” somewhere in our family. I find until I’ve let them (Spirit) get through what they want to say, I can’t questions them. The Spirit contact doesn’t automatically know how to do this. Sometimes I get half a description of a person identifying himself as grandfather, and the client will say, “Part of the description belongs to my other grandfather.”

Q: What don’t skeptics understand about you and your work?

A: Some people are scared because they think I can read their minds. Or that I’m going to tell them when they’re going to die. Spirit never gives information like that. Others think that I’m going to bring bad people to them. Well, I am well protected by those who work with me in Spirit, and no one of questionable character is allowed near me. Communication is not a hit-and-miss affair.

Let’s take it a bit wider than skeptics. A lot of people seem to think that Spirit can do absolutely anything for them–that they can solve every problem. This is silly, no one is allowed to interfere with our free will. One of the things I’ve had to deal with is keeping people at arm’s length. For instance, I don’t let a client come back for at least three, six months at the most. I’m not a therapist.

Q: Does a play like Blithe Spirit help or hinder your work?

A: I think it will stir people’s thoughts. I can remember thinking that Margaret Rutherford (actress who originated the role of Madame Arcati) did a very good job-she brought a lot of dignity to the part. You’ll be surprised how many people experience Spirit contact they cannot understand.