How I Met Charles

I first began to develop my channeling abilities in 1980. I’d been reading the works of the medium Jane Roberts (1929-1984) for several years. She channeled a nonphysical entity named Seth, whose books were popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. Seth's books talked about the nature of the soul and the Afterlife, and about how we each create our own realities through our beliefs.

Seth’s teachings made a lot of sense to me. I was in graduate school studying music at the time, but felt alienated from university life. I also had too much time on my hands.

I conceived a bold plan: Why not try to make contact with my own nonphysical teacher? At that time there were no books or seminars on the subject of channeling. I’d have to make my own way.

I studied the books in which Jane Roberts wrote about how she developed her ability to speak for Seth and made up a time line. She’d started her journey with a Ouija board. So I went out and bought one at a local toy store.

I’d met a piano major named Dennis who shared my interest in spiritual matters. We would get together late in the evening, after both of us were finished with the duties of work, study, and practice, and ply the Ouija board with questions.

In the beginning it didn’t seem as if either of us had much talent for working with the board. In our first session, on October 26, 1980, we spent two and a half hours asking questions and writing down the letters the planchette pointed to. We didn’t get a single intelligible word, not even the.

In subsequent sessions, the board ignored our questions. It performed odd sweeping motions, passing over one letter at a time, as if there really were a nonphysical being behind its movements and its purpose was to familiarize itself with the layout of the board.

Dennis and I kept asking questions. Session by session they got more complicated, despite the board’s apparent inability to do anything but run through the alphabet.

Frustrated by the lack of response, we began to have arguments over terminology. Dennis was familiar with spiritualism. He used words like astral, etheric, and ectoplasm. I insisted that this vocabulary was old-fashioned, wanting to substitute equivalent terms from Seth’s books.

Exasperated with each other, we asked the board what it thought of our argument.  We got our first complete word: SILLY.

Before long we were able to get short, simple, noncommital sentences. Their source was an entity who identified itself as A.M. 

We must have been as exasperating to A.M. as we were to each other. Excited about the possibility of receiving past-life information through the board, we asked a lot of leading questions. The board would patiently answer by pointing to the YES or the NO, or simply rowing around in the uncharted areas at the edges of the alphabet, letting us know that our questions weren’t clear or useful.

In the midst of these experiments, Dennis took his hands off the planchette. It continued to move with only my hands on it. I thought this an interesting development to try on my own, without Dennis.

I sat on the floor of my cramped dorm room, with the board between my legs. Placing my hands on the planchette, I was struck with how much more sense the semi-circular arches of the alphabet made from this position. When I got proficient at using the board in this manner, the planchette would shoot forward and touch a letter with its point, reminding me of the inner workings of old-fashioned typewriters.

During my first solo session, on November 16, 1980, I received the following odd message from A.M.: YOUR PARTNER IS NOT YET OK. I didn’t know what was meant. I didn’t have a partner.

The telephone rang. A nurse friend of Dennis's told me he was in the hospital. He'd taken an overdose of migraine medication.

The message that preceded this call was my first indication that A.M. was something more than Dennis’s and my overactive imaginations.

I didn’t receive any earth-shaking revelations from A.M. But my contact with him, her, or it was endlessly entertaining.

In that first solo session, there was a point when A.M. spelled out the word HUMOUR several times. I asked why. The answer was: BECAUSE I’M TOUCHING THE ENGLISH CHANNEL. When I naively asked what other channels A.M could touch, the planchette spelled out with a flourish: ABC, CBS, NBC.

Jane Roberts made stronger contact with the Other Side much sooner than I did. Within a week of her first session, she was already receiving messages on the nature of consciousness. I had wait two months before I was able to receive anything more than banter from the board.

I had to let go of the time line I’d sketched out from her books. My own abilities were developing along their own trajectory.
During Christmas break, after reading a book about the Ouija board, I realized there was something wrong with my approach. I kept asking questions and getting humorous but noncommital answers. There was no depth to the material, no way of telling whether it truly came from the Other Side or was a fabrication of my subconscious mind. Much of it was  frankly nonsense--but so were my past-life-obsessed questions.

I decided on a radical change in my approach. I would ask the board itself if there was anything I could do to improve communication. A.M. requested that I get some letter decals from the store, including punctuation, then dictated where to place them. I was to attach an old Mercury-head (silver) dime to the pointer end of the planchette to improve reception.

Reception improved so much that I was soon able to hear in my head the messages the board had been laboriously spelling. I began to write them down without the help of the board, only going back to it when I lost the train of thought. I was taking trance dictation.

By this time, I’d met another new friend, a graduate student in economics. Allan was also into things spiritual. We lived in the same dorm. We would get together in my room. He’d ask questions, I’d work the board, and he’d write down the answers provided by A.M.

Allan soon got impatient with the process. On the night of February 8, 1981, he was thinking, “Okay, A.M., let’s cut this bullshit and see if we can get Kurt into a deep trance state.” Before he could say anything, A.M. spelled out that I should set aside the board and see if I could go into trance.

I had no idea what to do. I’d recently learned a yogic breathing technique for meditation. That seemed like a good place to start. I felt my head rolling around on my neck and numbness developing in my limbs. Hadn’t I seen something like this in an old black and white film on TV?

I began whispering, saying the same syllables over and over again. I progressed into humming, then chanting, and finally  speaking. A.M expressed joy over being liberated from the board.

I wasn’t sure what to make of what was going on. I was still conscious of all that I said and did, even though I no longer felt like the source of the words and actions that were expressed through me. 

I got together with Allan once or twice a week for spoken trance sessions. I also kept up the solo sessions with the Ouija board and trance dictation. The pattern of entertaining, but usually noncommital messages continued in the spoken trance sessions, while the information content of the solo sessions gradually deepened. 

I can now see the wisdom of the approach that A.M. took with me. I needed to become proficient in both writing and speaking while in a trance state. I wasn’t ready yet to deliver information of any depth. The quips and banter made the process of acclimating myself to the trance more enjoyable, and kept Allan and me coming back for more.

I continued my course work, composition lessons, clarinet and piano practice, and job at the library. Every Thursday, when I had no classes, I treated myself to lunch at a vegetarian coffeehouse in the basement of a church near the music building. There I met yet another new friend.

Brian was a cook at the coffehouse. He only worked there a couple of dyas a week. Once, when I went through the line, he  sized me up, and asked if I was into astrology. He seemed to sense I was involved in spiritual exploration. Shortly thereafter I invited him to my room to see what would happen if I attempted a trance without Allan.

The trance was not only successful, but also changed both my own and Brian’s life. Brian asked a question about the symbolism of tarot cards. In trance, I responded with a statement that has since become the cornerstone of decades of channeled spiritual teachings: “Symbols are a means consciousness uses to monitor its own development.” That was on April 25, 1981. Charles had arrived.

During the first months of experimenting with spoken trance, a few voices other than A.M. came through. After this first session with Charles, I continued to speak intermittently for A.M. and a few other entities. Within a year, Charles had taken over completely. He has remained with me ever since. The other voices disappeared. 

Brian and I kept doing sessions together after he graduated and moved back home to Chicago. When I was finished with my class work, we got an apartment together in Chicago and began holding a weekly Charles class. He and his future wife, Judy, met in that class.

When I decided to move to Boston, Brian’s job transferred here. He and Judy moved in together and soon married. They attended the Boston version of the Charles class for a number of years, and made me a Dutch uncle for their children.

The class has continued to meet once a month up to the present.