The Seth Material

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The following originally copied and pasted from nationmaster encyclopedia.

In late 1963, Jane Roberts and her husband, Robert Butts, experimented with a Ouija board as part of Roberts’ research for a book on extra-sensory perception. According to Roberts and Butts, on December 2, 1963 they began to receive coherent messages from a male 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 spoke on behalf of the discarnate entity 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 simply as the “Material”). The Material through 1969 was published in summary form in The Seth Material, which was written by Roberts with substantial excerpts from the Seth personality.

Seth Jane Roberts Painting
Beginning with the 511th session in January, 1970, the Seth personality began to dictate his own books. Roberts claimed no authorship of these books beyond her role as medium; and according to Roberts and Butts, these “channelled” books were published verbatim with only minor editorial corrections. This series of “Seth books” eventually totalled ten volumes, although the last two books appear to be incomplete due to Roberts’ illness. The list of titles includes Seth SpeaksThe Nature of Personal RealityThe Nature of the Psyche, Its Human ExpressionThe Individual and the Nature of Mass EventsThe Unknown Reality; and Dreams, Evolution and Value Fulfillment. Robert Butts contributed notes and comments to all the Seth books, and thus was a co-author on all of them.

The Seth personality described himself as an “energy personality essence no longer focused in physical reality” 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 (or “system of reality” or “universe”, all terms which Seth used). He described himself as an educator whose task was to impart the principles set forth in the Material to the current generation of human beings.

The Seth personality’s demeanor was notably different from Roberts’, as reported by witnesses who included Butts, friends, acquaintances and students. He was at times stern, jovial or professorial, and he frequently assumed a distinct accent which was not identifiable. Unlike the psychic Edgar Cayce, whose syntax when speaking in trance was antiquated and convoluted, Roberts’ syntax and sentence structures were modern and clear when speaking as Seth.

Sessions were held at regular intervals, usually two per week. For a period of years Roberts conducted one, and then two, ESP classes in addition to the regular sessions. With the exception of the classes, 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 covers 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. The Seth personality made the following assertions, among many others:

  • The physical universe is one of a multitude of universes or “systems of reality”, some physical in nature, some mental or spiritual, and some completely foreign to human concepts, each with its own natural laws, and each as valid as any other. As in the “many worlds hypothesis“, our physical universe has multiple “probable” renditions. Any event or action which is likely to occur in one probable universe will be actualized in that or another probable universe, or will be actualized in the dream universe or in some other system of reality. There are, as examples given by Seth, probable universes in which the dinosaurs are still alive, and probable universes in which Christianity did not develop. Each individual has many counterparts within the probable renditions of the universe, not all of whom have the same name, occupation or personal relationships. All systems of reality are, to some extent, camouflages since all beings have an existence which is independent of any system. The number of systems is infinite since new systems come into existence constantly. No system of reality is closed or finite; energy and information pass through all systems.
  • Reincarnation is the rule, although many misconceptions abound. For example, human beings never reincarnate as animals; cause-and-effect does not operate from one life to the next; and reincarnation does not end in a state of nirvana. Each individual must experience fatherhood, motherhood and childhood, and thus must incarnate at least twice; the maximum number varies, depending on the temperament and needs of the individual.[1] There is a period of rest between incarnations, and sometimes individuals will occupy other planes of existence before returning to the Earth. When an individual’s reincarnational cycle is over, the individual moves on to other systems of reality.[2] There is no heaven or hell,[3] only continued existence.
  • The majority of souls who are reincarnating enter the fetus shortly before, during or after birth. If the mother is considering an abortion, the soul will be aware of that and can choose not to incarnate. If the soul enters the fetus and the fetus is then aborted, the soul continues on to other lives. Some souls seek the in utero experience and do not wish to be born. According to Seth, there is no actual death in the universe; even the cells of the fetus reincarnate.
  • Each human individual has many layers, most notably an “outer ego”, which interacts with the physical world, and an “inner ego” or “inner self” which is concerned with the mechanics of constructing the physical world, and which existed prior to any incarnations. The entire self (which Seth referred to as an “entity”) is a gestalt consisting of the various selves that the entity has been through all past existences (physical and nonphysical), plus all the currently reincarnated selves, and all their probable counterparts. According to Seth, human beings are generally unaware of the inner self, although it comes through as intuition and the “inner voice” that many people believe they hear. At death, the outer ego lives on and continues to develop; it becomes part of the entire gestalt that forms the entity, but is free to evolve as it chooses and to develop new associations.
  • Each incarnated self exists in four universes simultaneously: the physical universe, which is the result of coordinated mass mental projections on the part of its inhabitants; a dream universe, which is created in the same way but has less rigid natural laws; an adjacent electrical universe, where the inner self resides and all mental activity occurs; and an anti-matter universe of which Seth said very little. The various portions of the self, and the various universes, are all aspects of a single whole, though Seth referred to them separately for the sake of explication. Ultimately, there are no boundaries to the self just as there are no boundaries to any system of reality. All portions of the self contribute to dreams, which continue when the outer ego is awake.[4]
  • Time and space are illusions, and both the past and future coexist with the present in what Seth referred to as a “spacious present”; therefore, a person’s incarnations in different time periods are actually lived simultaneously, as opposed to consecutively. Communication among the various past, present and future selves occurs during the dream state. Time appears to exist in a linear form because of limitations inherent in the physical human brain.
  • All individuals create their own circumstances and experiences within the shared earthly environment, similar to the doctrine of responsibility assumption. The phrase “you create your own reality” was frequently used by Seth and may have originated with him. The inner self is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the individual’s physical body and immediate physical environment. Events, however, unfold according to the outer ego’s beliefs and attitudes. Both productive and unproductive attitudes are translated into reality, and thus one of the tasks of the individual is to learn how to direct his or her thoughts in positive directions. In a private session given to a friend of Jane Roberts, the Seth personality said:

“You must watch the pictures that you paint with your imagination, for you allow your imagination too full a reign. If you read our early material, you will see that your environment and the conditions of your life at any given time are the direct result of your own inner expectations. You form physical materializations of these realities within your own mind.

“If you imagine dire circumstances, ill health, or desperate loneliness, these will be automatically materialized, for these thoughts themselves bring about the conditions that will give them reality in physical terms. If you would have good health, then you must imagine this as vividly as in fear you imagine the opposite.

“You create your own difficulties. This is true for each individual. The inner psychological state is projected outward, gaining physical reality — and this regardless of the nature of the psychological state. … The rules apply to everyone. You can use them for your own benefit and change your own conditions once you realize what they are.

“You cannot escape your own attitudes, for they will form the nature of what you see. Quite literally you see what you want to see; and you see your own thoughts and emotional attitudes materialized in physical form. If changes are to occur, they must be mental and psychic changes. These will be reflected in your environment. Negative, distrustful, fearful, or degrading attitudes toward anyone work against the self.”[5]

  • There is a God, whom Seth referred to as “All That Is” and described as a “primary energy gestalt”. God is composed of self-replicating and inexhaustible mental energy, and contains all of Creation within it. God is therefore a gestalt of all existence, as in Pantheism andPanentheism (a gestalt being a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts). The mental energy of God is the composite substance of all things, including all beings, all universes, and all events and phenomena. God’s consciousness extends into all things as they are created, and is therefore omnipresent. For these reasons, all things in existence, including physical matter, have life and consciousness. God wishes to experience existence in all its forms and ramifications, and through its creations is able to do this. God is therefore dynamic and ever-changing and shares in the failures, triumphs, perfections and imperfections of its creations. The individuals that exist within God, though part of God, have free will and self-determination. If there is reality outside of God, the Seth personality was not aware of it.[6]
  • There was a Creation, but it differs markedly from the Christian version. In God’s early stages, the universe existed in a state of potentiality within what Seth referred to as God’s dreams. The power of God’s consciousness was so great that the individuals in its dreams had self-awareness, and they clamored to be made real. The creation occurred when God learned the means to make its dreams real.
  • Christ, who still exists, is a highly evolved entity who has existence in many systems of reality. However, Christ has the same relationship to God that all other individuals do — i.e., he is part of God. At the time of Christ, the Christ entity incarnated as three individuals — John the Baptist,Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul or Saul of Tarsus — and each was to some degree aware of his role in founding a new religion (although Paul/Saul was not aware of his role until after his conversion to Christianity). Seth said that Jesus was not crucified, and that it is not in the nature of enlightened individuals to sacrifice themselves. Rather, a willing and deluded surrogate, who believed himself to be the Messiah, was substituted in Jesus’ place, and it was this surrogate whom Judas betrayed (and who was then crucified). Jesus was then able to be “resurrected” because he had not actually died. Seth said that the crucifixion of Jesus did occur as a shared psychic event, but it did not occur as a physical event.
  • Paul/Saul will reincarnate in the 21st century to correct mistakes that he made that setChristianity on the wrong course, and a 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 decline of traditional Christianity, along with other organized religions. Paul/Saul will be known as a psychic; he will strive “to straighten out Christianity, which will be in shambles at the time of His arrival”, and he will form “a new system of thought when the world is sorely in need of one”. The events surrounding the return of Paul/Saul will substantially be complete by the year 2075, but the ensuing changes to society will take a century to unfold.[7]

The 1979 TV adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven included a cameo appearance by Jane Roberts in apparent recognition of the similarity between the “effective dreams” in that story and her ideas.
Jane Roberts died in 1984 at the age of 55 after a long battle with what appeared to be anautoimmune disease. In 1996, sessions 1 through 510 (the “early sessions” which preceded the dictation of the Seth books) were published posthumously by Robert Butts in nine volumes, along with six volumes of previously unpublished personal messages which accompanied the later sessions. Roberts’ and Butts’ manuscripts, notes and recordings were donated to the Yale Library. Butts currently lives in Sayre, Pennsylvania.

Non-Seth books

Roberts wrote a number of books that she did not attribute to dictation by Seth, which discuss the same ideas and how they affected her life. They are, among others, Adventures in Consciousness,Psychic PoliticsThe God of JaneThe Education of Oversoul SevenThe Further Education of Oversoul Seven, and Oversoul Seven and the Museum of Time. She also purportedly channelled other personalities, including the philosopher William James, the painter Paul Cézanne, and the painter Rembrandt, all deceased.
Roberts also wrote poetry, short stories and novels.



  1. ^ Chapter 12, The Seth Material, by Jane Roberts (1970).
  2. ^ Chapter 12, The Seth Material, by Jane Roberts (1970).
  3. ^ Session 203, The Early Sessions; Book 4 of the Seth Material, by Jane Roberts (1998).
  4. ^ Session 188, The Early Sessions; Book 4 of the Seth Material, by Jane Roberts (1998).
  5. ^ Chapter 13, The Seth Material, by Jane Roberts (1970).
  6. ^ Chapter 18, Roberts, Jane. The Seth Material (1970) (pg. 241 in the original Prentice Hall paperback edition).
  7. ^ Chapter 21, Sessions 586 & 588, Roberts, Jane. Seth Speaks (1972). ISBN 1-878424-07-6

Selected writings

  • Roberts, Jane (1974). The Nature of Personal Reality. Amber-Allen Publishing. ISBN 1-878424-06-8
  • Roberts, Jane (1981). The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events. Amber-Allen Publishing. ISBN 1-878424-21-1
  • Roberts, Jane and Robert F. Butts (1994). Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul. Amber-Allen Publishing. ISBN 1-878424-07-6

Seth-related works from other authors:

  • Watkins, Susan M. (2005 and 2006). Conversations with Seth 25th Anniversary Edition, in two volumes. Moment Point Press. ISBN 1-930491-05-0 and ISBN 1-930491-09-3
  • Dahl, Lynda Madden (1995). Ten Thousand Whispers. Moment Point Press. ISBN 1-889964-06-9
  • Stack, Rick (1988). Out-Of-Body Adventures. McGraw-Hill Companies. ISBN 0-8092-4560-4
  • Watkins, Susan M., (November 1, 2000) , Speaking of Jane Roberts, Remembering the author of the Seth material, Moment Point Press ISBN 0-9661327-7-7