There is no more misunderstood or misapplied word than "Medium." Having been appropriated by the Spiritist, it is as a natural result, today supposed to mean just what he makes it mean.
Men take a word, saddle it with a meaning, ride it rough shod on a full gallop over and into everything until other men shrink in terror from it; or else they stand and curse it for a vile and useless thing. Those who have given the word its present meaning, ascribing all things to the work of disembodied spirits, have made the Medium what he is, and taking to their bosoms the Frankenstein whom they have raised -- hug him close, whether he be angel or devil. So long as the Medium gives forth the utterances of "Spirits" it matters not at all whether they are the words of divine truth, pure lies, or the thoughts of the Medium; without the slightest true effort to discover the source, all is accepted and claimed for Spirits. This and some other modes of proceeding have discouraged many intelligent students from researches touching Mediumship, and caused all men, outside of a limited number, to distrust or fear the name.
Nevertheless Mediumship does exist, no matter how much it may be reviled or we be prejudiced against it. But Mediumship does not consist wholly in reality of so-called communications from dead men, or the alleged materialization of Spirit forms through whose veins the red blood of Nature courses, and whose breaths frequently bear a suspicious odor of onions. While there is not one of the phases of Spiritism which is not founded upon a truth, yet these demonstrations almost generally are the results of unscrupulous persons seeking gain for self. A Medium gaining a little knowledge of some unfamiliar occult law, takes it for granted that all is learned, calls it a spirit, and immediately applies it to his own purposes. Finding he can go only a certain length with it, instead of seeking further knowledge, he strains and improvises upon it, to gain his ends or the gold he covets. We do not say they are not Mediums, for they are. All the charlatans and pretenders who cling to the skirts of Spiritism also. They are Mediums for the lower passions and elementals. The error of Spiritists lies in the fact that they ascribe all things to Spirits. Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Psychometry, Hypnotism, etc., are all claimed as the work of a Spirit or Control.
All men are Mediums or Sensitives, and to what extent they little know. We do not claim that all men are Mediums for Spirits of dead men, or that they are all instruments for the most exalted Intelligences, but they are Mediums for Elementals -- the embodied, the disembodied, for those who never have or may never be embodied -- for all that the Astral holds, and sometimes for that which is beyond the Astral. They are Mediums for their own Inner and Higher selves or those of other men, and frequently failing to recognize them, they call them "Spirits."
The Psychometrist is a Medium or Sensitive, but he is such for the manifestation of the souls of things. The Hypnotic also, but he is for the manifestation of his own and the latent powers of other mortals. The Clairvoyant sees that which is recorded on the Astral.
The Clairaudient may hear the voices of Spirits, he may quite as easily hear the thought, but unspoken words, of other living men, the voices of forces or that of his own unrecognized Inner or Higher Self.
Upon the Astral Light all things are recorded; the knowledge of ages, the acts of all time, the forms of all who have died and all who live, the thoughts of all who have ever existed or do exist are photographed upon it. It has been and is being daily admitted more freely by wise men, that there are other forces and powers in Nature of which we, largely, have little knowledge. The souls of animate and inanimate things, the lights, colors and auras of non-luminous bodies, the powers of and forces exerted by immovable or quiescent things, and the effects of all these upon the human organism, are realized only to a slight extent by the enlightened and unprejudiced scientist, and fully known only to the true occult student.
Thought passes to and fro from man to man. At a higher level it does the same from higher intelligences to man, and all in a sphere beyond the material. Men, from different causes, rising to different levels above their ordinary outer selves, come into the Astral where all is spread out before them. They see and read only that for which they are fitted, and comprehend only that for which they are prepared. Through conscious or unconscious exaltation they rise into or come in contact with some current of thought or unspoken word which enters their brains by divers roads. Comprehended partly perhaps, but being entirely foreign to their normal personal manner of thinking -- knowing they have heard a voice -- it is ascribed to a Spirit, although in fact it may be the thought of a living man they hear, feel, see or are repeating. All men who by effort, training, or super-sensitive personality, lift themselves consciously or are lifted unconsciously above the material, and secure the wisdom, knowledge and inspiration of other planes, are mediumistic.
Every student who has sought the Occult and attained his object has been a Medium, from Buddha, Pythagoras, Zoroaster, Apollonius, Plato, Jesus, Bohme, down to those of later times or of today.
The Adept as well as the Chela, the Initiate as well as the Neophyte, the Master as well as the Student. The Chela is but the Medium for his own latent possibilities -- his Master and Nature's laws. The Neophyte likewise, for all by a striving for a high ideal, seek to place themselves upon a plane where Occult laws may make themselves visible or intelligible through their agency, and the silent voices of the Great Unseen become audible, be they individualized or diffused through all space as forces are. All things speak and convey a meaning, nothing is silent -- all things speak from the monad, through all nature, forces, spheres, and space to the Omniscient silence -- the ever living Word, the voice of the All Wise, and all men hear or feel some of these in some way and are Mediums for them.
Forces there are which wait but the will or desire of souls to spring into a certain degree of human intelligence, and make themselves heard to and through the one who has brought them into Material life.
Man's body is but a Medium. If it be not for his own Inner and Higher Self; then it is for those of other men; for we express the thought and acts of others quite as often as our own.
There has never been a wise or good word spoken, a note of true music sounded, a line of true poetry penned, a harmonious blending of color painted that was not the result of Mediumship. There never was an occult law explained, a divine mystery revealed through man, chela, student, Adept or Master, that was not the result of Mediumship.
The Master is higher than the chela who is his Medium. There is something higher than the Master, and he is Its Medium; looked at in its true light Mediumship is one of the wonders of the Creator. He who possesses most of this gift, realizing what it is and knowing how to wisely use it may feel himself supremely blest. The Mystic and true Theosophist realizing what a Medium really is, may well hesitate before he joins with those who cast aside divine wisdom because it has come through an instrument declared in horror by some to be Mediumistic.
[From The Path, Vol. II, November, 1887, pp. 231-33]