The Seth Material
In late 1963, Jane Roberts and her husband, Robert Butts, experimented with a Ouija board as part of Roberts' research for a book on ESP. According to Roberts and Butts, on December 2, 1963 they began to receive coherent messages from a personality who eventually identified himself as Seth. Soon after, Roberts reported that she was hearing the messages in her head. She began to dictate the messages instead of utilizing the Ouija board, and the board was eventually abandoned. For 21 years until Roberts' death in 1984 (with a one-year hiatus due to her final illness) Roberts held regular sessions in which she went into a trance and purportedly channelled messages from Seth (hereinafter referred to as the "Seth personality" or simply "Seth"). Butts served as stenographer, taking the messages down in homemade shorthand, although some sessions were recorded.
These messages from the Seth personality, consisting mostly of monologues on a wide variety of topics, are collectively known as the "Seth Material" (sometimes referred to herein as the "Material"). The Material through 1969 was published in summary form in The Seth Material, which was written by Jane Roberts with substantial excerpts from the Seth personality.
Beginning with the 511th session in January, 1970, the Seth personality began to dictate his own books. This series of "Seth books" eventually totalled nine volumes, although the last two books appear to be incomplete due to Roberts' illness. The list of titles includes Seth Speaks; The Nature of Personal Reality; The Nature of the Psyche, Its Human Expression; The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events; The Unknown Reality; and Dreams, Evolution and Value Fulfillment. Robert Butts contributed notes and comments to all the Seth books, and thus he was a co-author on all of them.
The Seth personality described himself as an "energy personality essence no longer focused in physical form" who was independent of Roberts' subconscious, although Roberts herself expressed skepticism as to Seth's origins. The Seth personality said that he had completed his earthly reincarnations and that he was speaking from an adjacent plane of existence. He described himself as an educator whose task was to impart the Material to the current generation of human beings. The Seth personality's demeanor was notably different from Roberts', as reported by witnesses which included Robert Butts, friends, acquaintances and students. He was at times stern, jovial or professorial, and he frequently assumed a distinct foreign accent that wasn't readily identifiable. Unlike the psychic Edgar Cayce, whose syntax was decidedly convoluted, Seth's syntax and sentence structures were modern and clear.
Sessions were held at regular intervals, usually three per week lasting two or three hours. Roberts consciously initiated most sessions, although during some sessions she seemed to slip in and out of trance spontaneously. With the exception of a weekly ESP class in which the Seth personality spoke to class members, Roberts gave few readings to the public and was mostly focused on publishing the Material in printed form.
Tenets of the Seth Material
The Seth Material covered a wide variety of topics, including the nature of physical reality, the origins of the universe, the theory of evolution, the Christ story, the nature of God, and the purpose of life, among other subjects. The Seth personality, as dictated by Roberts, made the following assertions, among many others:
That time and space are illusions and that both the past and future coexist with the present; that each person lives many lives simultaneously, rather than consecutively; and that each person creates his own circumstances and experiences within the shared earthly environment, similar to the doctrine of responsibility assumption. In an argument reminiscent of the "many worlds hypothesis", the Seth personality said that there are multiple realities, each as valid as any of the others.
That there is a God (whom Seth referred to as "All That Is"), that God is composed of self-replicating and inexhaustible mental energy, and that God contains all of Creation within it. God is therefore a gestalt of all life, and it can be said that only one being exists in the universe, as in Pantheism. The Seth personality said that the mental energy of God permeates all of existence and is the building material for all beings and things. Thus, inanimate matter has life and consciousness.
That at the time of Christ, the Christ entity reincarnated as three individuals -- John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and an individual named Paul or Saul of Tarsus -- and each was aware of his role in founding a new religion. The Seth personality said that Jesus was not crucified; rather, a deluded surrogate was substituted in his place, and it was this surrogate that Judas supposedly betrayed. Seth said that the crucifixion of Jesus did occur, that it was a shared psychic event and not a physical event.
That Paul/Saul will reincarnate in the 21st century to correct mistakes that he made that set Christianity on the wrong course, and that a new period of spiritual awareness will ensue. Paul/Saul will not identify himself as Christ, and some will view him as the anti-Christ since his appearance will hasten the end of Christianity. The Seth personality said that Paul/Saul will be known as a psychic, that he will strive "to straighten out Christianity, which will be in shambles at the time of His arrival", and that he will form "a new system of thought when the world is sorely in need of one". All these events will be completed by the year 2075.