Who you gonna call?

Many Israelis, searching for direction and advice, are paying up to 1,000 shekels per session for professional channelers to connect them with the spirit world.

spirit 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
spirit 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the fourth-floor office of a successful hi-tech company in the heart of Ramat Gan, a meeting is taking place. It begins with a brief meditation, and then a third party is invited to join. Question: Why do I get turned down, and [why] don't things go as I want? Answer: It's important to see the goal all the time, and not analyze things and see only the difficulties. Sometimes it takes time to find the right path, and that's why sometimes it's not right to put all your expectations in one area. Keep moving on several paths at the same time until you find the right way to promote the company. This meeting is between a channeler, her client, and a "spiritual entity." The answer comes in deep, heavy breaths. In the background, a candle burns and a table-top water fountain gurgles. A series of questions and answers follow over the next hour. "Channeling," according to the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary is "The process that conveys thoughts or energy from a source believed to be outside the person's body or conscious mind; specifically - one who speaks for nonphysical beings or spirits." Communication can take place through various methods, but no matter what the method, the channeler contacts spiritual entities who are referred to as "guides," "masters," "aliens" or "angels." Channeling can also happen through full body possession, automatic writing, crystal gazing and the use of tarot cards or ouija boards. According to Alan G. Hefner (www.mysticnet.org), "The desire and need to communicate with supernatural identities is as old as humanity itself. Revered individuals such as priests, wise women, shamans, oracles and others did so in prehistoric and primitive cultures. They sought help from non-worldly beings and delivered it to the populace." He continues, "Communicating with the gods in a trance was highly developed among the priestly class of ancient Egypt. The Greeks had their oracles. The early Chinese, Tibetans, Japanese, Indians, Assyrians, and Celts channeled discarnate spirits or deities. The prophets, saints, holy men and women of Judaism, Christianity and Islam received divine guidance through a means resembling channeling." However, spiritualism waned over the centuries, becoming popular again in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Jane Roberts began publishing her "Seth" books. She started a resurgence in channeling higher entities, rather than spirits of the dead. Seth is a young boy entity from whom Roberts received messages. Merav has been channeling for seven years. With a background in management, she has always worked closely with people, and in major communications companies. Prior to becoming a channeler, she served as vice president of human resources at Internet Gold. She enjoyed her work and was successful, but something was missing. "I had everything I wanted as a woman, but still I wanted more," the busy mother of two explained. So she found a spiritual teacher and took private lessons in Buddhism, karma and reincarnation. She found herself developing an interest in channeling and enrolled in a class. For Merav, channeling came easily. She felt that "it was there all the time," but she just needed to learn the techniques to use her "new" skill. She remembers that the first time she actually channeled, she had imagined herself on the beach. She saw a person and his shadow, and then a white light. She knew then that it was a spiritual entity. Merav begins channeling with meditation and focusing. When she sees a light, and hears a name mentioned, she knows that the entity she is calling is with her. She then will begin to speak to him. Her entities are not the souls of people who have been present on this earth, but rather are from another dimension; light and energy that never occupied physical bodies. She communicates with entities that suit her clients' needs. "The soul of the person I am channeling for will attract the right entity," she says. While channeling, she does not actually hear a voice in her head speaking, but can sense that the entity is with her by "very soft poking sensations and changes in energy." Merav sees herself as "a consultant, helping people find their way. The main thing is to give people instruments on how to handle their lives." She compares herself to a pipe through which the entities' knowledge passes. Q. has attended sessions with Merav for three years, mostly addressing business concerns. He trusts the information that she conveys to him, and uses it to "better understand people and things, and as a means of receiving accurate advice and direction." After a session, he uses the information when making important business decisions. Q. says that "this form of consultation requires a strong belief." When Metro asked why he didn't rely on religion or another form of help, he said, "I'm not a religious man, and an ordinary consultant will give an answer from what I say; from a narrow angle. Merav gets information from an external source, and there is something energetic and healing about the meetings." Q. knows he can trust her. "It works for me," he says. He was pleased with this last meeting, and said all his questions had been answered. H. has been channeling for 17 years. Unlike Merav, she was not drawn to it, and had never even thought about reincarnation. Channeling was something that fell in her lap unexpectedly. Feeling down about her life, she began to attend group meditation sessions held by a psychologist at the suggestion of a friend, Unbeknownst to her, the psychologist was, in fact, a channeler, and she was being introduced to a path she hadn't known existed. During one session, something strange happened. She felt as if she could see inside herself, as if the back of her head had opened and something moving in a bright light went out of her and exploded. She felt that "I was holding the world in my hands." She was frightened and checked to see whether she were alive. A cloud appeared, and she saw a smiling face. The cloud faded in and out. A voice said, "Hi, open the door." H. was unfamiliar with reincarnation, but nevertheless she was having visions of a past life in Tahiti. She could even remember specific things from that life. She had no plans to use this professionally, but said that the voice told her she would. So she cut back on her work hours and began channeling for groups and individuals all over the country. It became an obsession and a priority, and she found herself practicing for hours. Now her husband is "proud of her," says H., but initially she hid her channeling from friends and family, afraid that they would not believe her. Eventually, though, her husband noticed the flow of clients, and H. had to tell him about it. She still had reservations though, afraid of the perception that she was taking God's place. This was before channeling became popular in Israel. At that time, there were only about 20 channelers in the country. Her method of channeling differs from Merav's. H. has only one entity, and he is the only one with whom she feels comfortable. She explains that it is "a contract between souls before her birth; their souls picked each other." This entity "fits" her, and no other feels right. If another tries to enter her "circle," she pushes it away. Her entity is Yehoram. He is, according to H. - "a collection of intelligent memories" - a combination of three souls who previously lived on earth. This is not to say that every person who dies will automatically become an entity for channelers. Each being passes through many levels of reincarnation, and when all the levels have been completed and the person will no longer return to earth, he or she might become a spiritual entity. Yehoram, H. says, does not decide things for the client. Instead, like "most other serious entities," he shows them possibilities and lets the client make the decision. He does not take away a person's power by manipulating them into making the decision that he wants them to make. His purpose is not to make people happy, but rather to "keep them on the track that their souls have chosen." He "tells them the way to bring the future to themselves." Yehoram uses a sophisticated vocabulary that is similar to ancient Hebrew. He has a psychological and educational outlook on the world, as evident by the words he conveys. He is also versatile and accurate. He has the ability to talk about things that are of concern to the person sitting with H. It doesn't matter if the person is a builder or a chef - he will "explain things from their perspective," H. says. T., a client and a friend of H.'s, has used Yehoram's words to recover from both cancer and a broken back. She relates how she drew a picture of a vertebra and "stretched it out." Her back healed without an operation. She tackled cancer by "drawing smiles on her illness with her mind." She describes her year working with H. and Yehoram as "totally fascinating." "At first, I wanted answers to life. Now I go because I want a higher perspective. I want to be all that I can be from the inside out," T. says. She describes H. as an "amazingly pure, clean, honest channeler." She adds that "Deep, serious information is conveyed through her about my life." Over the years, H. has had many clients. Why do they go to her? Many people don't want to take life at face value. According to H., "Sometimes a person doesn't know how to decide things, and needs to hear a voice from a sacred place. Some people are just curious." The client asks questions, but so does Yehoram - often querying about specific details. What kind of person can be a channeler? "Everyone has the ability to channel with their inner voice," Merav said. She describes channeling as having "good intuition and developing it to be more than intuition. It is like getting on your inner Internet." H. says that people tend to use her as a therapist, and grant her status. Therefore, a person who channels must be "honest, and comfortable with herself, and be pure in mind and soul." Merav echoed that: "One can't be a good channeler if he is not aware of himself. He cannot mix his own thoughts with what the entity is saying." People from all walks of life seek the guidance of spiritual entities. Most of the people who go to H. are from the higher end of the socioeconomic and educational spectrum and Merav points out that some of her clients are religious. Some prefer this method of "therapy" to organized religion, because religion is structured, and they find it limiting. Channelers charge anywhere from NIS 350-1000 per session. So what role does religion play in the life of a channeler? Merav cannot speak for other channelers, but she does "believe in God and respects Judaism. My roots are in Judaism, and I do feel that there is a great power." However, she is not a practicing Jew. She depends on her entities for advice and guidance, but for serious situations she depends on her faith in God. According to a poll conducted by the German Bertelsmann Foundation and published on Ynet in March 2008, 38 percent of Israelis say they believe in a higher power, 16% profess a belief in ghosts and spirits, and 45% say they believe in angels. However, both Judaism and Islam find the practice of channeling highly unacceptable. According to M., an imam and member of the Islamic Movement in Taibeh, "The channeling of any type of spirit is considered to be in the same category as magic. When a soul returns to its creator, it will not return to earth until Judgment Day." He backs this up with a hadith (a saying) from the Prophet Muhammad: "Anyone who visits a fortune teller or soothsayer and believes him is considered a non-believer of what was sent to me." Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri of Yeshivat Hashalom in Jerusalem echoed the imam's words, saying that channeling is "doresh el hametim" (necromancy). Leviticus 20:6-8 clearly states: "If a person turns to mediums and wizards, playing the harlot after them, I will set my face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy." Deuteronomy 18:11 decrees: "There shall not be found among you… one that useth divination, a soothsayer… or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or familiar spirit." Merav thinks, based on her experience, that some people are frightened by the concept of channeling. This disturbs her, because she feels that a "channeler has great power, and people do not see that power within themselves." She feels that she has to explain to people that "it's not weird." She is very grounded. H. also says that her feet are firmly planted on the ground. "If channeling was fake, it wouldn't have existed for so many years. It all comes from the heart."