An Exploratory Study of Channeling

September 18, 2018
Nina Fry-Kizler, Science Team

Our IONS scientists Helané Wahbeh, Loren Carpenter, and Dean Radin have just published an exciting paper about full-trance channeling in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research! The paper, titled “A mixed methods phenomenological and exploratory study of channeling,” details research conducted with five full-trance channelers in a pilot study at Mt. Shasta, California, in March 2017.

Channeling has been defined as: “The communication of information to or through a physically embodied human being, from a source that is said to exist on some other level or dimension of reality than the physical as we know it, and that is not from the normal mind (or self) of the channel” (Klimo, 1998, p.2). Trance channeling is a practice in which an individual (a channeler) willingly enters into a dissociated mental state with the intention of bringing forth an intelligent “entity” that speaks and acts through their mind and body. During such states, the person acting as the channeler may or may not be consciously aware of what they are saying or doing. Numerous world cultures believe channeling provides genuine information, and channeling rituals in various forms are regularly conducted in both religious and non-religious contexts (Crook, 1997; Hageman et al., 2009; Kua, Sim, & Chee, 1986). Trance channelers use their bodies as “vehicles” for the purported disincarnate “being” to incorporate into and to communicate directly via speaking or movement. This study aimed to contribute to the conceptual framework for understanding the nature of channeling, as well as to further understand the phenomenological experiences of such individuals.

The study’s objectives were to learn more about how channeling could work from channelers themselves and to understand more about the subjective experience of channeling. Before the Mt. Shasta meeting, each channeler completed a survey that collected demographic measures, spirituality and religion measures, experience with medication, and personality, dissociation and psychotic symptoms. The survey results showed that the channelers were similar in many ways to the general population. However, not surprisingly the scientists found that the channelers had higher paranormal belief scores and reports of “anomalous information reception.”

During the Mt. Shasta meeting, a custom-built, random number generator (RNG) system was placed in the same room as the channelers and continuously recorded data for exploratory purposes. A modestly significant difference between RNG data obtained during channeling versus non-channeling periods was found. This encourages additional research and development of other physical detectors which can objectively measure fluctuations in the environment that may occur during the act of channeling. Such techniques may also provide an innovative means of discriminating among different “beings” or “entities” which are said to arise (or be channelled) during channeling sessions. Qualitative analysis of the channeled content revealed five common themes: 1) mechanisms of channeling; 2) the need to awaken humanity and methods by which to do so; 3) the nature of reality; 4) descriptions of multi-dimensional beings and worlds; and 5) suggestions for advancing channeling research. In conclusion, this phenomenological and exploratory study found that channeling for our participants was a non-pathological, consensual, and integrative process with positive impact on their lives. Unique to this paper was the objective number generator data demonstrating differences in the environment during periods of channeling and non-channeling.

For more information on this study and the paper, please visit: Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2018 Vol. 82, No. 3, 129-148,


Crook, J. H. (1997). The indigenous psychiatry of Ladakh, Part I: Practice theory approaches to trance possession in the himalayas. Anthropology & Medicine, 4(3), 289-307. doi:10.1080/13648470.1997.9964539

Hageman, J. H., Peres, J. F. P., Moreira-Almeida, A., Caixeta, L., Wickramasekera, I., & Krippner, S. C. (2009). The Neurobiology of Trance and Mediumship in Brazil. In S. C. Krippner & H. L. Friedman (Eds.), Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People, (pp.85-111). USA: Praeger.

Klimo, J. (1998). Channeling: Investigations on receiving information from paranormal sources.

Kua, E. H., Sim, L. P., & Chee, K. T. (1986). A Cross-Cultural Study of the Possession-Trance in Singapore. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 20(3), 361-364. doi:10.3109/00048678609158883

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