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What Is a Medium?

Karen Frazier
Two women sitting opposite one another during a session with a medium

Mediums, sometimes called psychic mediums, spiritual mediums, or trance mediums, are psychics who are able to communicate with people or animals who have died (spirits). Using a number of different types of psychic abilities through which they receive information from spirits, mediums are able to communicate both with people and animals who have died and "crossed over" to the other side, as well as those that remain earthbound as "ghosts."

Difference Between a Psychic and a Medium

So what's the difference between a psychic and a medium? All mediums are psychics; that is, they use different psychic abilities to receive messages from the dead. However, not all psychics are mediums. In other words, not all psychics are able to communicate with dead people, but all mediums do have psychic abilities.

How Mediums Communicate With the Dead

Mediums communicate with the dead using one of the various psychic abilities. They may receive communication in any of the following ways:

  • Seeing flashes of images in their mind (clairvoyance)
  • Having visions (clairvoyance)
  • Hearing spoken words or sounds or hearing them in their mind (clairaudience)
  • Having information suddenly appear in their mind (claircognizance)
  • Receiving information or visitations in dreams or during astral travel
  • Experiencing physical sensations in their bodies (physical empathy)
  • Experiencing the emotions of dead people as their own (empathy/empathic)
  • Noticing aromas (clairolfaction)
  • Noticing taste (clairgustance)
  • Feeling touches, taps, pulls, or pushes (clairsentience)
  • Performing automatic writing
  • Through trance channeling where the dead person speaks through the medium (like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost)

Some psychics are able to tap into all of these sources of information from people who have died, while others may only be able to work with one or a few of the various types of communication.

A medium connecting with an elderly lady

The Nature of Medium Communication

Being a medium isn't like having a telephone to the dead. Very seldom are messages from spirits so clear that it's like having a face-to-face conversation, although with particularly strong or powerful spirits, it can be that clear for at least a short period. Instead, much of the information mediums receive comes in quick flashes of sensory data or images, or the medium may receive unclear or symbolic communication that requires interpretation. Over time, mediums who receive symbolic communication learn to understand and interpret what the symbols they experience mean, which helps them to provide clearer readings. Some examples of symbols:

  • A medium may smell roses, which could be his or her symbol for love.
  • He or she may taste blood, which might be a symbol for a violent death.
  • He may feel dizzy, which could indicate a head injury or a stroke.
  • She may experience pressure in her ears, indicating the presence of a spirit who wishes to communicate.
  • He might see flashes of images from the dead person's life, such as a car, a house, a yard, etc., to communicate information about the spirit's life on earth.

Examples of Medium Communication

I work as a psychic medium with clients and frequently communicate with people who have died. Sharing some examples of things that I experience during a medium session may help you better understand the nature of the communication.

  • Often when a spirit is present and would like to communicate, the first way I notice this is pressure in my ears, ringing in my ears, or the scent of ozone. I may also see hazy auras that look a little like a circle of heat waves (similar to a migraine aura). Occasionally, all of these occur simultaneously, although it's typically only one or two of these things at a time.
  • In one reading I did with a client, I began to hear a specific word in my head over and over, which I repeated to my client. It turned out the word was her nickname as a child.
  • I then began seeing flashes of family images - like snapshots - that came and went very quickly. As I described these flashes, they described images of my client's family vacations.
  • In another case, even before I met with the client, I began experiencing flashes of images in my mind of the desert with reddish rocks that looked similar to the landscape near Las Vegas. When I talked to the client on the phone and described these images, it turned out she was living in Las Vegas at the time of our appointment.
  • In another case, I walked into a bedroom in the house of a client and immediately felt my head spin three times and then saw everything go black. This happened several times, so I asked the client if someone had suffered a stroke or similar. It turned out her mother had suffered an aneurysm in the room and died there.
  • In another residential case, even before I went to the client's house, I began to experience what I can only describe as "cop energy" - the sense of someone who is in public service in some way - usually military, police officer, firefighter, etc. It turned out her husband (who had died) was a fire fighter.
  • In the same case, when I first walked in the client's house, there was a spot where I knew (without knowing how or why I knew) there should be a recliner with a person in it, but there was only an empty space. It turned out that was the spot where her husband's recliner had sat where he would sit, and she often still sensed he was there.

Purpose of Medium Communication

Spirits may communicate with mediums for a variety of reasons.

  • They remain "earthbound" (ghosts) due to unfinished business or misunderstandings and seek help from the medium to better understand or finish their business so they can cross over.
  • They wish to communicate loving messages to loved ones.
  • They wish to impart specific information to loved ones. This may be about health, something that happened in their life they want to clarify, or even to help loved ones recognize significant events and moments in their lives.
  • They come to acknowledge major events such as marriages, graduations, or the birth of children.
  • They want their loved ones to know they are still present in their lives.
  • They wish to offer guidance or reassurance.
  • They wish to apologize for their actions in their lives.
  • They wish to help you come to terms with their death.
  • They just want you to know they're there.
Emotional reaction during medium session

Accuracy of Medium Communication

Mediums are humans, and therefore they are not 100% accurate. Still, even with that, mediums can be quite accurate depending on how well they do at imparting and interpreting the information they receive. The best mediums are those who are able to set their egos aside and avoid interpretation, conveying the message to their clients exactly as they receive it. It is then up to the client to see how those messages and that information fits within their own life and framework. Some clients note that while they don't think certain information is accurate during the reading, after the reading it makes sense when they've had more time to reflect on it. Still, you can expect during a reading that you'll likely notice a few pieces of information that don't make sense to you. These can be due to improper interpretation, interference from other spirits coming through (they often piggyback on one another), the medium simply having an off-day, or even information that is presented in a way you are unable to recognize it. Best advice: look for a medium you feel a connection to, and if the medium promises 100% accuracy, consider going to another medium since no one can guarantee they are 100% accurate.

Services Psychic Mediums Offer

Psychic mediums may offer several different types of services.

Gallery Readings

Gallery readings are like a psychic medium show. The medium is on stage in a room full of people, and he or she receives information from spirits that arrive with the audience. He or she then picks up impressions, relates them to the crowd, and provides public readings for the members of the audience.

Group Readings

Group readings are typically small, private events (such as a party) where the psychic is invited to come and provide a reading for the guests as a group. These work similar to gallery readings, but in a smaller group setting. Because there are fewer people, there's less likelihood of interference in the messages, so these readings may be more personal and accurate.

Private Readings

Private readings are usually scheduled by appointment for one or two people. In general, these readings tend to be very personal and specific to the people there. The readings can be in person, on the phone, or via some type of a computer or app program such as Skype or Zoom.

Pet Readings

Some mediums specialize in animal communication and are able to communicate with your pets who have died. However, even psychic mediums who don't bill themselves as pet psychics sometimes receive communication from animals.

Home or Space Readings

Some psychic mediums come into homes, businesses, or spaces where people suspect they have a ghost, spirit, or haunting. In these cases, the mediums can read the situation and communicate with any spirits who are there. They may be able to help resolve issues so the spirits can finally cross over, but that isn't always the case. In some cases, they can communicate and help you get a better understanding of what is happening in their space and/or broker an agreement between you and the spirit so that the activity is less disruptive in your life.

What to Tell the Medium Before a Reading

When you make an appointment with a medium, typically the only information they'll require is your name, a phone number or email address, and the appointment time. Communicating any other information may contaminate the reading. However, it's okay to prepare some questions before the reading - some mediums do like to work with your questions as well.

Remain Open During a Medium Reading

When you have a medium reading, be in a space of openness and allowing. Be open to the information you receive and try to set aside expectations. While it's natural to want a certain loved one to come through for you, if you're so focused on hearing from one person, you may fail to recognize the messages from others. The medium can't control which spirits contact you during your reading and can only impart the information they receive. Some information may be incredibly specific and accurate, while others may be vague or symbolic. It all depends on the quality of the communications from the spirit as well as how the medium is able to understand and/or filter that information and how open you are to hearing it or understanding it. It may help to record the session so you can refer to it later. Many mediums make a recording themselves and then give it to you after the reading so you can go back and listen to it again.

After Your Psychic Medium Reading

After your reading, allow yourself to feel anything you feel. Many people report feeling uplifted after a reading because they've communicated with someone they thought they'd never hear from again. Others may experience sadness or a sense of loss. All of these things are normal; allow yourself time to process any emotions you have. If you received information you can't place, consider checking with friends or family to see if they recognize it. You may also suddenly have an insight about what that specific piece of information meant days, weeks, or even months after your reading.

Mediums Receive Messages From Spirit

Psychic mediums are normal people with an extraordinary gift. They receive messages from spirit and serve as conduits to provide messages of love, guidance, and comfort to the living who remain in the wake of the death of a loved one.

What Is a Medium?