Spirit Possession and Channeling Spirit: What’s The Difference?

Ghosts, Paranormal, Unexplained
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By bestselling paranormal author Gare Allen

To answer this question, we’ll need to clearly define each of the terms.

The act of spirit possession commands the storyline in many paranormal, horror books and films where an unseen entity seemingly assumes a forced control of a physical body. The unfortunate character is deemed possessed and often subjected to an exorcism to cast out the intrusive spirit. Generally it is deemed an evil demon from hell and clearly intent on occupying the body in an effort to inflict pain and fear in, presumably, a previously inaccessible, physical plane. The spirit is unwanted, unseen and unwilling to leave.

The most famous case of spirit possession was told in the movie, The Exorcist, which was the “real” story behind the tale of a fourteen year-old boy named Roland Doe. Days after the death of his aunt, invisible claws scratched deep lines into his body, including the words Saint Louis. Immediately following the physical markings, Roland began to speak in tongues and spew curses in a deep, hateful voice. Soon, it was determined that the young boy had become possessed, as his family witnessed his body levitate in the air and contort, painfully, while suspended above his bed.


Above: Roland Doe (Also know as: Ronald Edwin Hunkeler and Robbie Mannheim)

Perhaps not coincidentally, the family drove Roland to the city of St. Louis where a priest suffered injuries inflicted by Roland’s contorted, flailing limbs. After completing the exorcism ritual a total of thirty times, the boy finally cried out in painful release of the invasive spirit which left behind the formidable and not unusual, smell of sulfur.

The act of channeling spirit has been performed by such famous people as Jane Roberts. She explained that during the process, her spirit guide, Seth, inhabited her physical body for the sole purpose of communication. Seth brought forth enlightened teachings of the nature of our physical dimension to enhance our secular experience and spiritual growth.

I asked J. David, a psychic who has been channeling his spirit guide for over thirty years, for his professional distinction between spirit possession and channeling spirit. “The main difference between possession and channeling for me is…possession is an invasion, and channeling is an invitation. More specifically, possession is when a lower-level, etheric-world entity, such as an earthbound spirit or negative “thought-form”, attaches itself to a weakened aura, and invades the mind and body of the host—usually against the will of the host. The negative entity will feed off the energy of the host, weakening the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. As a result, the host may experience physical aches and pains, and exhibit radical changes in mood and personality.


Channeling is when a higher-level, etheric-world entity, such as a spirit guide or master teacher, is invited to borrow the mind, body and voice of the host for the purpose of communicating wisdom and higher knowledge. The host must step-up his or her energy vibration to find a common ground to meet the energy of the spirit entity who will down step his energy to meet the channel. This is achieved through meditation and by maintaining clean and balanced energy centers in the aura.”

J. David’s explanation suggests that when our energy is low or weakened, we can “open the door” so to speak, for unwanted negative spirits. In the case of Roland Doe, his possession occurred while he mourned the passing of his aunt.

Alternately, when we maintain a strong, positive state of being, we bring ourselves closer to our spirit guides who, as their designations imply, are here to help us along our path. There is no shortage of documented accounts of possession at our fingertips that arguably present the experience as less than desirable. Acceptance of J. David’s distinction coupled with Jane Robert’s willingness to release herself to her spirit guide, Seth, provides a much more attractive option when exercising our innate ability to be closer to spirit.

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