Jane Roberts: Channeling a New Metaphysics

Was she a medium, an author, a poet or all of the above? Her best-known works are said to be the product of channeling, a process whereby she allowed an entity called "Seth" to speak through her while she remained in a trance. While she did not claim a true authorship of some of these works, which were transcribed by her husband from the sessions with Seth, Jane Roberts may be best described as an influential voice within a time period when people were willing to examine rigid belief systems. These belief systems emanated from religious, social, and scientific arenas that trapped people into viewing the material world as separate from their inner spirit. After she died, the metaphysical community was firmly rooted in the concept that a person’s inner world, as represented in their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, had much to do with how they created their reality in everyday life.

Her Early Life

No one could have suspected that this heavily bespectacled woman with short black hair and equally piercing eyes, who seemed to always be sickly, would end up being one of the biggest voices in modern metaphysics. Jane Roberts was born in 1929 to a couple that divorced at the early age of 2. Her mother, Marie Burdo, became a single mother and soon moved back into her parent’s home to survive economically. Yet, their family ended up on public assistance to make ends meet. Jane’s health was constantly challenged, starting when she reached 10 years of age. She was diagnosed with colitis, then, and in her teens it was later discovered that she had an overactive thyroid gland. Her vision was so poor, it required thick glasses to correct.

Her mother deeply resented Jane’s presence in her life and blamed her for her subsequent misery. The mother eventually had to be sequestered in a hospital due to rheumatoid arthritis, after Jane could no longer care for her in her home. That landed Jane in a Catholic orphanage by the early 1940s where she was exposed to a Catholic background. She took to this religion fervently, as a means to ease the suffering of feeling abandoned by her parents. Despite this, she later managed to move from this set of beliefs to ones that were unique within her time framework, subsequently challenging the religious beliefs she had adopted early on.

Jane Roberts married twice, with her second husband, Robert Butts, being the partner who transcribed the Seth material when it appeared after an initial session with a Ouija board. Later, Jane was able to channel the material by dictating it while she remained in trance from a voice in her head. Jane and her husband went on to hold ESP classes together in their home to help put the material being delivered through the channeling sessions into practice. The psychic work was done in trance and her workaholic tendencies (which allowed her to publish 30 Seth-channeled books) was deeply influential in the birthing of the New Age metaphysical movement. Unfortunately, Jane’s constant efforts were stressful and made her eventual long-term, illness, rheumatoid arthritis, that much more difficult to deal with. After two years of being bedridden, sometimes lying in bed too stiff to move, Jane Roberts died on September 5, 1984. She continued to channel the Seth teachings up until her last days. Jane Roberts also wrote numerous short stories and pieces of poetry for which she took personal credit, unlike some of the transcribed Seth material that she channeled.

The Teachings of Seth

The Seth material exploded into the public stage with the publication of The Seth Material in 1970 and Seth Speaks in 1972. It literally spawned the New Age movement with its holiest of creeds that embodies the Seth Material and was coined in Jane Roberts works, which stated: You Create Your Own Reality (YCYOR). The Seth entity claimed to be a non-corporeal entity whose mission it was to elaborate on new concepts of consciousness that helped to define how a person created their own reality and included the following original teachings:

YCYOR – Seth began his teachings by stating that physical reality was a manifestation of consciousness, and not the other way around. He maintained that reality was created via the inner world of being and filtered through belief systems instead of through outer external factors. Thus, a person who could tap into better states of consciousness and learn to alter their beliefs, as illustrated in the The Nature of Personal Reality, could also learn to alter their reality.

Oversoul – Above the human personality in consciousness, was the "Oversoul." This concept was best elucidated in the The Oversoul Seven Trilogy, a collection of three science fiction/fantasy books, written from the point of view of the Oversoul managing and experiencing reality through several personality aspects across time and space. Seth maintained that an individual was a small part of a greater whole, called the Oversoul.

Multidimensionality – Each individual had access to the multidimensional nature of reality via their Oversoul. They could tap into alternative realities, parallel lives, the future, the past, and engage in a variety of paranormal activities from remembering past lives to learning new psychic techniques. The concepts of reincarnation, past lives, and karma were reinterpreted using a multidimensional lens. The multidimensional concept was even extended to the nature of God in The Seth Material and The God of Jane: A Psychic Manifesto.

Alternate Myths – Seth also dictated a number of new myths to replace the traditional ones from the creation myth to the story of Christ. This tended to alienate more traditional members of established religions.

Transpersonal Aspects – The model of the personality, the soul, and the Oversoul were described in their transpersonal aspects in Seth Speaks and Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology.

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It was by getting in touch with other aspects of the self that followers of the Seth teachings could generate paranormal phenomena and ESP experiences that helped them to change their lives, or at least get a grander view of their lives.

Jane was prolific in her writings and teachings. She was a fearless explorer of the subconscious who even engaged automatic writing to channel world views from such notable, diseased, personalities as William James and Paul Cezanne. In the decade of 1965 to 1975, she and her husband held weekly ESP classes. Some of that material was recorded in The Early Class Sessions and helped their students practice their ESP abilities within the framework of the Seth teachings. However, she is best remembered as the messenger of a new metaphysics that turned the world upside-down, in which the nature of reality could be explored through the inner self.

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Interesting Resources:
Seth Learning Center
Seth/Jane Roberts
Introduction to Jane Roberts
Books By Jane Robertstracking