We went to Lily Dale recently with some friends of ours, and my parents. I was looking forward to it because our friends have never been to Lily Dale before, they weren’t very familiar with Spiritualism, and I enjoy helping people understand what it’s all about. From Rochester, we met our friends in Buffalo, and went from there. The weather was comfortably warm, and somehow avoided the blazing sun and searing heat that’s been gripping the Northeast of the country for some time now.

I pay attention to energy and vibration most everywhere I go, and am certainly aware of it when going to a place such as Lily Dale. When we got there, I noticed something missing right away. I felt ok, solid, good so-to-speak, but I wasn’t feeling that raised vibration that I normally feel whenever I’m there. I thought about it, and figured that there may be other reasons for it. I had just come back from a 3-day trip to the West coast, had a haircut at 7:30 am that morning, then drove to Buffalo, where we car pooled to Lily Dale. My jet lag was minimal, and I’m used to being up early, so a 7:30 appointment wasn’t a big deal. I figured that these things shouldn’t have too much effect, but set the question aside for the time being.

After lunch, we went to the stump for the message service. If you’ve never been, it’s an outdoor venue in the middle of the Leolyn woods. It’s beautiful. Very inspirational. I haven’t been there in a few years, and immediately noticed the additional benches and a microphone set up, which was smart. We got there early, so it was easy to get a seat, and it filled up rapidly.

When the message work began, I noticed that a few working mediums were giving out material without direction, and expecting the audience to step up and claim it. For example, a medium might say that they have an elderly woman who always wore red shoes and passed from a heart condition, and they asked the audience if anyone could relate to it. Once someone claimed it, the medium might ask a question or two about who the spirit was to the recipient of the message (the seeker), and then go on from there. The material coming out was pretty bland, generic, and not particularly evidential – it sounded like anyone could have said it. I was shocked.

My friends picked up on the blandness of the material right away. I told them that I agreed with them, and how surprised I was. I explained that the lack of direction for the intended recipient was bad form, like a left handed handshake, or a limp one. One of my friends questioned why everything was so positive, and why was it that no one seemed to be missing anyone, i.e. why wasn’t there any messages indicating that spirits (or Earth plane people) were missing each other. I explained that messages are generally too public to have a bunch of detail, and things could be different in a reading. Later on, we went to a different service, which was much better, and I told my friends that it was more representative of Spiritualism and Lily Dale in general.

As I write this morning, I am still shocked. To my knowledge, there is no word to describe the giving out of message material and expecting someone in the audience to claim it as the recipient of the message, so I’m coining one – message casting. As the medium, you’re casting out the message, like the lure on the end of your fishing line being thrown into the pond, and waiting to see who bites. I’ve seen a little bit of message casting here and there over the years, but nothing as blatant as I saw that day. The problem with message casting is four-fold. To the experienced, it’s bad form. To the skeptical, it’s very questionable. To the cynical, it’s easy pickings. Finally, and perhaps worst of all, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of the message work. You could receive a perfectly valid message that was delivered via message casting, but it may not received as such, and won’t look as valid to everyone else, simply because the form is bad!

A few more analogies and comparisons to bad form come to mind. Double dipping. Farting in church. Getting picked up to go to your wedding in a garbage truck instead of a limo. Taking your bread out of the grocery bag to find it miserably crushed. I’m sure you could come up with a few more.

When it comes to mediumship, the medium has a considerable say in how things go, what the process of working together will be like. It is (and should be) a partnership between the medium and the spirits, not merely a one-way type of thing. There are only a few things that I’m a stickler about, and directing the message to the seeker is definitely one of them. Now, I have seen mediums hit the person next to the intended seeker, for example, but that’s not a huge deal, and it is not what I’m talking about. When the spirits want to talk to somebody on the Earth plane, they damned well better know who they want to talk with, and I’m not about to put up with message casting to find out! I don’t like it, it’s bad form, and I’m not about to accept it. If they can’t direct me to the seeker so that I can provide the message, they shouldn’t be working through me. Find another medium instead. Better yet, don’t find a medium, and forget about giving a message to the seeker, because it’s not we can’t have good message work look bad because of a delivery issue at the spirit end.

There are two elements of this that I find most disturbing. First, that these mediums have been taught. All mediums are taught in one way or another, that’s normal, but taught like this? It’s like looking at someone’s kids in dismay and asking yourself why they were brought up that way. Second, that this was in Lily Dale.  Not just any old Spiritualist church (not that there’s a ton of them), but Lily Dale. I expect more than this.

To those of you who are teaching mediumship development classes – if you teach, allow, or condone message casting, and don’t teach your students to have the spirits direct them to the seeker without ambiguity, you are hurting us. You are hurting the student, you are hurting the perceived quality of the message, and you are opening the door to the cynics who will tear you and/or your students up over it, and unfortunately, the cynics will be in the right.

To the mediums who work via message casting – stop this practice. Stop it NOW. Send the thought out that you will no longer work this way, that you expect the spirits to direct you to the seeker, and if they can’t do that, then you don’t want them to work with you. Ask them to direct you to the seeker without ambiguity. Send these thoughts out on more than one occasion. Have the courage to do this, and do not fear that the spirits will abandon you. It’s doubtful that they will, and if they happen to, it’s no great loss, because they don’t get the message, pun intended. Don’t worry, you’ll get other spirit folks instead, presumably better ones.

Whew! OK. I’m down now. I’ve come off of the soap box. Those last two paragraphs made me feel like I was Dear Abby or Ann Landers or something. Or maybe a Dear Abby or Ann Landers with a lot more rant.

…. <sigh>…..

Rant or not, I do hope it changes someone’s behavior in the world at large, and makes mediumship just a little better. We really need good quality message work.