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  The History of the Envelope Test
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By Kerstin Sjoquist

What began as research for a do-it-yourself book on ESP resulted in writer Jane Roberts speaking in trance for an entity called Seth for over 20 years (for more background information, see About this Website). Early in their sessions, a skeptical Jane felt the need for more 'proof,' results they could present to the larger world. This prompted a series of tests during which Seth described his impressions of the content of a sealed envelope.

Jane, who had no background in channeling, clairvoyance, or other metaphysical practices, had begun research for a book she would write entitled How to Develop your ESP Power. While researching the chapter on the Ouija® board, Jane and her husband Rob started communicating through the board with Seth, who eventually spoke through Jane.

What You Can't See is What You Get
Jane and Rob held 83 envelope tests between August 1965 and September 1966. The purpose of the tests, which began several months after Seth first began speaking through Jane, was to ascertain the breadth and limits of clairvoyance and extra sensory perception (ESP). Jane also used this time to further develop her abilities in an altered state.

During an envelope test, with Jane in trance, Seth described his impressions of the content of a sealed envelope. Though they were conducting concurrent and similar tests designed by a psychologist, the envelope tests served Jane and Rob's attempts to determine the broadness and limits of what they might expect during their trance sessions.

In The Seth Material, which describes the tests in detail, Jane writes of her growing confidence, how the tests prepared her for later out-of-body experiences, and gave Rob and her insights into the nature of inner perception. Though the psychologist never revealed the results of his tests, Jane and Rob felt their own envelope tests gave them a standard against which to measure their work, and Seth's.

The Procedure
Rob placed the test items (which varied from objects known to Jane to items she'd never seen, from great emotional value to neutral value) in a sealed envelope, placed that envelope between two pieces of light-proof cardboard and then in another sealed envelope. Occasionally friends would drop by unannounced with their own test packets. Sometimes Rob would prepare several envelopes and not know which one he was giving Jane. It didn't seem to make any difference whether or not Rob knew what was in the envelope; Seth's impressions were consistent throughout. Jane never knew when a trance session might include the test.

Jane was uptight about the tests. She wanted very much for Seth to be absolutely accurate at all times. Often she dreaded having a session for fear that there would be an envelope test, and that this time Seth wouldn't do well. She felt 'under fire' to prove Seth's abilities, and while she felt the tests were necessary to help validate their work, she was quite happy to conclude after a year. Even though she deemed the tests 'successful,' she felt the best examples of ESP came spontaneously and not when she was trying to prove something.

Seth supports this view. As he states in The Seth Material, "In extrasensory perception – as in so-called normal perception – the natural inclinations of the personality dictate the kind of information that will be sought from any available field of data.

"There are many areas of knowledge in which any given individual is uninterested. He will not bother to use [even] normal perception to obtain it."

Jane ultimately believed the purpose of the tests was not to prove or disprove ESP, but to expand the innate abilities that all humans possess, but often ignore. The Value Fulfillment Website envelope tests are inspired by Jane's work and can perhaps assist in flexing our consciousness. In keeping with Jane's attitude, our envelope test is not about 'hits and misses,' but rather about the experience of using and developing our inner senses. Have fun!

Further information on envelope tests can be found in the following (courtesy of Steve Nestor). This is by no means a complete listing; we will continue to add to this list as we come across additional resources.
  • "Conversations With Seth, Vol. 1," by Susan M. Watkins
    Chapter 3
    • pg. 62
    • pg. 69
  • "Conversations With Seth, Vol. 2," by Susan M. Watkins
    Chapter Fourteen
    • pg. 373
    • pg. 377

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