Roberts, Jane

Roberts, Jane (1929–1984)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Jane Roberts grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York, and attended Skidmore College. She later married artist Robert F. Butts and they took up residence in Elmira, New York. She said, “I was not ‘born psychic’ with a background of paranormal experience. Neither Rob nor I had any knowledge of such matters. Even after my first enthusiasm, I didn’t accept these developments without serious self-questioning and intellectual analysis. I wanted to keep my experiences on as scientific a basis as possible.”

Roberts first met Seth, indirectly, on September 9, 1963. Sitting at her desk, she went into a spontaneous trance and automatically writing extremely rapidly—began scribbling into her notebook. As she said later, “a fantastic avalanche of radical new ideas burst into my head with tremendous force, as if my skull were some sort of receiving station turned up to unbearable volume. Not only ideas came through this channel, but sensations, intensified and pulsating.” From this wild accumulation of ideas, she was inspired to write her first nonfiction book How to Develop Your ESP Power. As part of her research, she and her husband borrowed a Ouija® talking board from their landlady and started using it. The first messages they got were from Roberts’s grandfather but these soon gave way to other personalities, including one named Frank Withers who claimed to have lived in Elmira some years before. On December 2, 1963, Withers came through four times but the fourth was a very brief appearance. He was replaced by a personality calling itself Seth. Roberts said, “We found ourselves dealing with a personality who was of superior intelligence, a personality with a distinctive humor, one who always displayed outstanding psychological insight and knowledge that was certainly beyond our own conscious abilities.”

Early in the sessions Seth insisted that reincarnation was “not only a possibility but a fact of human existence,” and began listing previous incarnations of both Jane Roberts and her husband, giving names, dates, family relations, and other details. Roberts then found that she was hearing the words in her head, clairaudiently, as the planchette of the Ouija® board moved. Soon Seth came to speak through her fully, with her husband taking dictation and the Ouija board discarded. Eventually dozens of notebooks were filled with Seth’s teachings, as he communicated for more than twenty years. The teachings were passed along in private classes, public lectures, in books, on radio and on television. The notebooks eventually were taken into the archives of Yale University.

Jane Roberts developed rheumatoid arthritis and died from its complications in September, 1984, at age fifty-three.


Roberts, Jane: How to Develop Your ESP Power. New York: Frederick Fell, 1966
Roberts, Jane: The Seth Material. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970

Roberts, Jane: Seth Speaks. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1972

Speaking with Spirits:

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