Susan Hughes, a psychic and medium based in Dublin, recently sat down with Trinity News to divulge all about her life, abilities, and perspectives on spiritualism. She shares her experiences of working as a medium and explores what she finds to be the purpose of mediums in today’s world (and other worlds alike).
Firstly, Susan identified and classified her craft by establishing “I don’t call it a gift, it’s an ability.” Referring to her psychic intuitions as well as her mediumship, she continues by saying that, “everybody has a psychic ability[…]if we choose to listen to it”, and thus she does not consider it a personal gift or talent, but rather something she has chosen to explore within herself. She was led into developing the ability as a result of a difficult childhood, as well as pure curiosity. She notes that she often questioned her intuitions, asking herself “how did I know this stuff and they don’t? It seemed like common sense to me, but shocked others.”
“[the soul] cannot be destroyed, ‘it just moves and changes shape […] so when we leave our human bodies, the energy of us movies into a different dimension.'”
Beginning in childhood, her intrigue grew as she began to research psychics and mediumship; “I was really interested in humanistic things. The psychology of things, forensics, I wanted to know why, how, who, what..is this the same feeling I have? I was trying to find myself.” In an attempt to understand herself more, Susan found herself looking into these disciplines, ultimately finding an identity as both a psychic and medium.
Susan did not begin to fully expand and work on her abilities until she was in her thirties, doing courses including those covering tarot and angel cards. Susan states that she truly began tapping into her ability when she found a website associated with the Spiritualists’ National Union, a religious organisation based in the UK.
So, what is it that a medium does, and how does one classify themselves as a medium? Susan offers concise, if allusive, answers to these questions; “we read energy, that’s what it is.” Having left the Catholic religion around 2010, Susan now identifies as a spiritualist. Many of her beliefs are rooted in spiritualism, and through this doctrine she articulates her stance on spirits, energy, and communication with souls using quite concrete or real-world analogies. Referencing the law of conservation of energy to explain the human spirit, she notes that energy cannot be destroyed, “it just moves and changes shape[…]so when we leave our human bodies, the energy of us moves into a different dimension, a different vibration.” She explains that certain things can be retained in this energy, this soul, including memories, and that this spirit “survives forever and cannot be destroyed”, but “when we cross over, all human ailments drop away, all those hang-ups that we have drop away because we return to that pure spirit sense”. This can seem somewhat contradictory; a spirit can retain knowledge of its life, but sheds its inherently human concerns? Does this mean that the lasting memory is only positive, and thus the spirit does not have a comprehensive memory of its own existence? And if spirits can have multiple human existences, are these memories shed each time they re-exist as a physical human form?
She acknowledges the fears that people may have when first engaging with mediumship and contacting spirits, mentioning that she was at first confused and scared when she saw a spirit in her “mind’s eye”. She explains that “people speak of spirit attachments and evil spirits,” but admits that “spirits are not evil, they reside in a pure essence and dimension…the evil was done on this earth in their human self, and the memory of that is carried forward,” but not the action itself. This reinforces my confusion as to whether a spirit has total memory of its own human existence. However, one interpretation of this could be that a soul is a neutral entity: they carry what they have learnt in life forward as an instinct, while remaining detached from their human form.
This energy that comprises a spirit is integral to what Susan attempts to do, which she explains as “bring that essence and memory of love” of a spirit back to those who are still living. As a medium, Susan describes how she tunes into this energy, and attunes to the vibrations of spirits. “On this earth, it’s like we’re heavy, or we’re running through water. [Spirits’] vibration is really really fast”. In order to tune into the vibrations of spirits, she notes that mediums “change our vibrations and [spirits] change theirs, and we blend…they put thoughts into our mind.” This alteration of vibration allows her to connect with the spirit, and from there they engage in “mind to mind communication”.
Reflecting on whether her ability and beliefs would be able to uncover or clarify the meaning of life, Susan notes that that is a dynamic and changing thing; “people ask me about the purpose of life, it changes, because every time we achieve something [or] move forward, our purpose has changed”. She explains that individual purpose can be something inherent, that “the child always knows who they are, they come to the world knowing”, and that if someone does not know their purpose, “nobody’s ever lost, they’re just disconnected from the truth”. This is another integral part of Susan’s work; an attempt to reconnect people with their own truth.
“We’re connected to everyone on this earth energetically, of course we don’t know everyone on this earth, but we’re still all part of that one unit of energy”, she tells Trinity News. This is a core part of her doctrine. In extension of her beliefs, Susan shares her thoughts on the idea of soul mates, confirming her belief in them. “We all have our tribe” she states simply. Soul mates may not match conventional perception of the soul mate as a romantic partner, however, as she continues “the person who may have done us the most wrong may be our soul mate”. She defines a soulmate as “someone who has taught us a deep lesson in life, helping us to find ourselves and bring us to fulfilment”. Ultimately, she notes that soulmates “help to keep us humble, on a line of goodness and kindness” that she believes is fundamental within every belief system and religion.
Susan goes on to explain that “there is residual energy left in everything” and this offers an explanation why negative experiences with spirits may occur, often at night or in more sinister locations. “If you go to a prison, for example, you’re going to sense distress, violence, unhappiness[…]It doesn’t have to be done at night time in the dark, [mediumship] doesn’t have to be scary”. She continues: “there is scary stuff in life, but I don’t find spirit work scary at all, I feel very humble bringing that voice to someone who no longer has a human voice.”
“She trained thoroughly to hone her skill: ‘if I’m going to do this on behalf of people on the spirit side of life, we can’t be seen, I need to do it right for them.'”
This is a huge part of the integrity Susan feels as a medium; providing a true representation of the spirits she engages with. This is the reason she trained so thoroughly to hone her skill: “if I’m going to do this on behalf of people on the spirit side of life, who can’t be seen, I need to do it right for them.” She recalls a mentor’s advice: “when you return to the spirit side of life, every person you have said you are representing will be in a line to meet you; do you want them to say thank you, or that you didn’t do them justice?”. “Trying to represent the truth as it is” seems to be Susan’s main goal through her work.
When asked if she considers her work counselling, Susan says she doesn’t. What she tries to provide is “a message of hope and a validation of [a person’s] own positive thoughts”. She continues speaking about people’s expectations of her and her work, saying “people expecting me to change their life will be disappointed, because I give information, and you choose”. She describes herself as an enabler: “I enable the voice of the spirit, but also your own voice[…]to enable a better fulfilment in life”. She doesn’t consider herself a counsellor, and would be comfortable suggesting counselling to some people who come to see her and connect with spirits.
There are many difficulties that a medium can encounter in their line of work, and Susan discusses a few, including not being able to connect with a person who has come for a session with her. “It doesn’t always [happen], 95 percent of the time yes, but sometimes the blend doesn’t happen[…]It has nothing to do with the person who comes to see me, or myself”. Sometimes it simply doesn’t occur, and she asserts that this is nothing to be concerned over, “it is simply that it’s not working at that moment”.
When asked whether the move to Zoom caused by the pandemic had any effect on her ability to read energy, Susan confirms that it doesn’t. Her subject could be “anywhere in the world”, and this has its roots in her training, when she would use the Internet to connect with mediums all over the world. “It’s not a problem,” she says, “once I have permission, it’s not a problem.” However, Susan has only given her own permission to certain intuitions, and mentions that she has asked not to have intuition on larger events, such as world disasters. She doesn’t like to speak about death to her clients, explaining that “even if I see [death], I don’t say it, because that’s not my job […] my job is to bring the living alive”.
Perhaps the most obvious difficulty a medium can encounter is scepticism, but Susan welcomes this, in fact: “sceptics are great people to chat to, because they’re questioning, but a closed sceptic already has their mind made up, and it cannot be changed”. She is open to questioning, and happy to answer any curiosities, saying “ask me questions, don’t just assume…don’t ask me questions with the answer in your head.” She recognises that it is hard to validate a medium, and this opens up the possibility of frauds: “are there people that abuse it? Yes […] just because you name yourself to be a spiritual being, you may not be living it as that.” She calls them “charlatans”, and explains how they’re harmful for mediums, because they’re all grouped together, but “I get it”, she says. In fact, those who overestimate their psychic abilities seem to motivate Susan to provide a better service; “I realised that this [responsibility] that we hold as mediums and psychics, we can bring damage, so I needed to insure that I wasn’t bringing that, certainly not deliberately.”
Spiritualism and mediumship, like any belief system, faces a lot of questioning and scepticism. However, if, as Susan notes, it provides people with comfort and direction, and aligns itself with the fundamental values of goodness and kindness, then its purpose can be seen clearly. While many of its doctrines remain quite allusive from an external perspective, spirituality as a doctrine embraces its element of mystery. Anything that provides some comfort to those searching for answers to impossible questions, it fulfils a certain purpose for those who choose to believe.