As we browse the Internet, metaphysical bookstores and listings for spiritual advisers, we get confronted with many terms explaining spiritual advisory work. Many people lump them all into the same category and some people who use the terms for themselves aren’t really sure what they mean. In connecting to a guide it’s important to know what type of work they will be performing for you, what their style is and where they get their information.
Psychic, Intuitive, Empath, Channel, Medium… what do they all mean? And how are they different from one another? Let’s explore!
Psychic work is anything that involves sensitivity to non-physical or supernatural nature. Before we can understand what psychic work is, we have to understand what it is not.
The normal means for gathering and processing information relies on our five senses (sight, taste, hearing, touch, smell) and our logical/linear brain. Psychic work is the process of obtaining information not using these methods. In psychic work, extra-sensory (‘beyond the senses’) methods are used to gain insight to people, events or situations that would otherwise not be available to the normal range of senses. An example of this would be reading the personality of someone who has not yet been met, therefore negating the possibility of logically assessing them using the five senses.
Psychic work is often described by those who are psychic in terms of the extra-sensory way in which they receive insight. Examples include clairvoyance (‘seeing’ without the physical eyes), clairaudience (‘hearing’ without the physical ears) and clairsentience (‘feeling’ without the physical body itself). This may seem confusing, but think of it this way:
The physical senses are only physical/material expressions of spiritual senses. Just like electricity precedes the toaster turning on, so too does energetic or spiritual sense precede the physical sense. That means behind the physical eyes there are spiritual eyes. Behind the physical ears there are spiritual ears, and so on. A psychic is able to hone in on the very subtle workings of these spiritual senses and interpret the information gathered by them.
A psychic can perceive those subtleties in the same way we normally perceive the road in front of us, a conversation with a friend or the taste of a fresh strawberry. All people are blessed with the ability to negotiate on the spiritual/psychic level — a psychic is just someone who has fine-tuned the art of perceiving incoming information that is normally overlooked.
Psychics differ from other types of spiritual guides in that logic is required to translate the information they receive. In order to convey information to another person, they must decipher the images, words, feelings, sounds, etc. they receive in a way that makes sense to the person they are guiding. Therefore, psychic work involves both extra-sensory and sensory organs when serving a seeking client.
Most experienced psychics are very much in control of turning on or off their psychic senses. Great psychic advisors have the ability to connect to a person or circumstance and quiet their normal senses so that the information received by the subtle senses is loud and clear. They can then literally dialogue with a person, place, event, issue, etc. on the psychic platform and receive information in a similar way to how we might dialogue with someone and get information from that person.
Psychic work and intuitive work happen on very much the same level, but there is a fundamental difference in these styles. Psychics must ‘process’ or ‘translate’ the insight they receive on the psychic plane into real-life meaning.
Intuitives tend to get a flash of insight that needs no translation at all. Intuitive insight cannot be controlled the same way that psychic insights can, and tends to ‘hit’ people from out of the blue. Common examples of the intuitive ‘flash’ can be found in almost every mother on the planet — what we often call ‘mother’s intuition.’
Intuition is something most people experience all the time. We get ideas, creative inspiration, feelings of apprehension, etc. and hopefully we act on them. Intuition is literally our back-up system, so that when our psychic senses are in a state of atrophy due to disuse, intuition kicks in and sometime kicks our butts!
Often intuition speaks to us in a very familiar voice. It ‘feels’ and ‘sounds’ within like our own thoughts… and that’s because it is our own. Like psychic work, our intuition connects us to a more subtle frequency of communication between where we are and where the rest of the universe is.
Intuition is best reserved for personal revelation and insight because it tends to speak only about circumstances that affect OUR lives, loves and journeys in a specific way. Intuition is a spiritual safety net that grows more and more clear the more it is honored and followed. Words of gratitude after every intuitive flash will ensure that they become more frequent and more clear. Think of intuition as a muscle — the more you flex it, massage it and attend to its needs, the bigger and stronger it will grow!
Empathy is best described by also understanding its counterpart, sympathy. Sympathy means ‘relative/same/with symptoms’ — that implies if a friend is sad we also ‘become’ sad, taking on the symptoms of the person we are helping. The issue with sympathy is that when you are in the middle of the sensation, you lose the big picture of what’s happening and cannot ‘read’ it with the same clarity that an empath is able to do.
Empathy means ‘beside symptoms’ — that means we are fully aware of the depth and intensity of any particular emotion, thought or situation, but are not swimming in it ourselves. For example, we may have a friend who is experiencing grief — we are able to literally feel and experience the depth of their sadness, but we still keep one foot in our own space so that we do not identify with it or make it our own.
Empathy is a strong healing force because it allows people to share in a deep and spiritual way what they are experiencing with another. Sometimes we don’t feel like anyone around us really ‘gets’ how bad it is, but an empath always does. Empathic guides simultaneously perceive where and how you are while maintaining their own perspective. This allows them to be in the water and on the land at the same time, thus enabling them to help you get to shore in a quick and effective way.
Most advanced empaths are also very psychic. They are able to use empathy to connect to a client for deep understanding and healing release, while using psychic abilities to help the client solve any problems. Most, if not all, advanced psychics are empathic, but not all empaths are psychic-aware. Many people who have not tapped their psychic potential get sick or sad when anyone near them is experiencing those distresses. Motivated empaths can learn how to control their empathic abilities, create personal energetic and spiritual protection and learn to unfold empathic abilities into full-blown psychic ones.
Channels and Mediums
Channels are able to turn down their own rational mind, ego, logical processor and personal belief system to allow spiritual/psychic/intuitive messages to flow through them, just as if they were a telephone wire. These messages usually come from a defined and known source.
Channel work can be very difficult for most humans because we all have very strong personal beliefs, ideals, logic and dependence on our rational minds. If any of these things turn up while channeling, purity is lost and messages become filtered by the channel’s own paradigm. Think of channeling as a message going from one telephone to another and the personal paradigm of the channel as static. It becomes challenging to get a clear and accurate message.
Channels tend to be a conduit for complete forces. That means, they channel the soul, the Universe, the Divine, specific vibratory forces like love, healing, etc. Many channels are both channels and mediums and excel at both when they are well experienced and dedicated to the art. Which takes us to…
Mediums tend to channel complete personalities rather than complete forces. While a channel might be a conduit for the cosmic flux, a medium might be a channel for your deceased Aunt Suzy, the medium’s own spiritual guide, Archangel Michael, etc. This person is aware of the personality being channeled and is versed in the quirks that may come up in a session.
Some mediums work only with spirits with whom they have a long-standing and comfortable relationship, while others seek out a specific or unique spirit depending on the client they are serving. Archangels and Saints from the Judeo-Christian paths, celebrities and personal spirit guides are common personalities seen in medium work.
When considering a medium session, you have twice as much research to do. You must first explore and get to know the medium and ensure that you feel comfortable with this person. Then you must ensure the same about the spirit working with the medium. Please keep both aspects of this in mind when selecting a medium guide so that you get the most out of your session. The doors to the spiritual realms are blown wide open in a medium session and it takes a great guide to know how to make sure everyone stays where they should and influences don’t go further than they are welcome.
Use the above as a guideline to help you decide what kind of spiritual advisor would work best for you. Continue your own research and jump in (if you haven’t already) and experience a live spiritual guidance session for yourself.