The Nine Families of Consciousness
Compiled by Paul M. Helfrich, Ph.D.
~ from The “Unknown” Reality, Vol. 2, originally published by Prentice Hall, 1979.
It’s interesting to note that The “Unknown” Reality contains 17 Practice Elements, the only organized course of exercises in the entirety of the Seth books. This information on counterparts and families comes after the final Practice Element.
Seth then introduced the counterpart metaphor in session 732. This set up the nine families metaphor that immediately followed in sessions 732 - 740 and closes out this magnum opus.
“... these counterparts form psychic families. They are family representations on another level.“... now there are races, physically speaking. There are also psychic counterparts of races – families of consciousness, so to speak – all related, yet having different overall characteristics or specialties.” [session 732]
Seth describes eight of these families (all except Sumari which he covers in greater detail earlier), in sessions 736 - 737.
More information on Sumari can be found in Jane Roberts’s Adventures in Consciousness, The Nature of Personal Reality, Psychic Politics, Dreams, “Evolution,” and Value Fulfillment, Vol. 1 and 2, and Sue Watkins’s Conversations With Seth, Vol. 1 ,and 2.
Is the Concept of “Families” Really Discrete?
“We regard Seth’s material on counterparts and families of consciousness as excellent explanations – as thematic frameworks that help us perceive and organize aspects of our greater reality that are ignored by conventional academic disciplines. Seth’s explanations stand for aspects of reality that usually escape us.” [Rob’s notes, session 737]
To further understand the concept of “families” try to imagine the psychic reality of the collective consciousness; sort of like the science fiction species – the Borg – from the TV series Star Trek. But imagine that this human collective is psychically related and holds the ability to communicate telepathically and clairvoyantly. Next, try to imagine the reality of six billion human beings as individuals that make up this vast group. If you were to think of this group, figuratively speaking, as a Rainbow of Consciousness, then each discrete color would represent an innate “family” leaning or intent. When viewing this Rainbow from afar, you can’t find the exact place where red ends and orange begins, yet you can clearly distinguish both colors. As your vision zooms in each color also reveals infinite shades of gradation and the edges, that seemed separate from a longer distance, literally disappear. So the foundation of nine can easily be extended into an infinite spectrum with plenty of room for individual variations. Therefore, we really aren’t limited to nine discrete “colors”.
Another way of looking at it is to multiply 9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1. You get 362,880 whole number permutations. So there’s plenty of room to explore a rich variety from the fundamental nine. And if you think of these “families” of consciousness in terms of human energy – frequency and personality tone – you get a sense of just how wide and vast this spectrum of consciousness really is.
The concepts of counterparts and nine “families” introduce an important foundation for the deeper understanding of this vast spectrum of human consciousness in relationship to its nonphysical source. And just because something is nonphysical or “beneath” the normal range of our five senses doesn’t mean that it’s not real! We need to remind ourselves, again, that these concepts are not absolutes offered in some type of mathematical language or philosophical dialectic based upon the pure reason of the five senses. They must be experienced, conceptualized to be more fully understood. And the gateway to this type of conceptualization is to be found by looking “inward” through our own intuitive, subjective perception by means of our own inner senses.
Here are some additional excerpts from Jane Roberts on counterparts and the nine “families” that shed some light on these related concepts.
“Now it seems so obvious that there must be such alliances as Seth’s families of consciousness, and that each of us alive at any given time takes part in one or more of such psychic groupings – just as we form, say, nationalistic affiliations on ordinary levels.“But the names and designations aren’t meant to be taken too literally; these aren’t to be interpreted as esoteric clubs or brotherhoods, but as natural psychic ‘conglomerations’ to which we all belong.” [session 737]
That last paragraph serves as a very important reminder that it’s all to easy to limit our thinking to nine “clubs” that we can now belong to, using this as yet another means to separate and promote our individuality. In fact, you will discover that this is the first stage that people usually go through when first introduced to the idea. Instead, we need to remind ourselves that the primary “club” we belong to is humanity, and even that distinction will need to blur when we encounter new races in other solar systems and galaxies. So we should afford ourselves the same luxury when identifying with any of the nine family intents.
Now according to Seth, Rob, Jane, and many of their students belonged to the Sumari “family” of consciousness, the very first one introduced:
“Now these families fall generally into certain groups. In greater terms you can ‘cut the pie’ however you want to, but you will still share an emotional and psychic feeling of belonging with the family of which you are a part. And (with broad amusement) most of you here are Sumari, and it demands great discipline of Sumari to take down lists – even of psychic families.” [Appendix 26, session 734]
That last sentence offers a very important clue about Seth’s agenda in offering this information. I have to admit that I felt an initial resistance to the validity of this concept when I first read it in 1979. And in my subsequent experiences and explorations of this particular concept I have discovered that many people share this initial aversion. I mean really, nine families? Not seven? Or sixteen? How can our collective psyches, something that is surely infinite, be expressed in such discrete terms?
I’m reminded of that Monty Python moment from The Search for the Holy Grail in which they explain the use of “the holy hand grenade of Antioch” as a metaphor for the manner in which the original intent of a religious or mystical experience inevitably gets distorted into calcified dogma. When pulling the pin to detonate the holy hand grenade, “the number to count before releasing shall be three, not two, not four, and five is right out!”
Laughing out loud! But seriously, just what is really going on here!? Seth says that you can cut the proverbial pie – of consciousness – any way you wish. And it’s a pretty vast pie that we’re dealing with here. So it’s clear that this is Seth’s best attempt at explaining these very subtle and exceedingly complex ideas within the limits of our linear-based language that reflect nonlinear perception in Framework 2 again. And it takes time to reconcile nonlinear perception into a mind that is culturally habituated to linear thinking and perception.
Even Rob and Jane experienced some initial skepticism with Seth seeming to be so discrete in terms of nine “families”:
“I told [Jane] I’d been rather surprised when Seth had so boldly stated that there were only nine families of (human) consciousness upon our planet. The number seemed too small, too arbitrary. I also remarked upon my understanding that usually neither she nor Seth liked to categorize new information so definitely. Jane, while agreeing, couldn’t elaborate upon this very much, beyond saying that she felt each family could have subdivisions and/or combine with others, so that mathematically at least there existed the possibility of ‘a lot’ of them. I liked that idea much better. Strangely, neither of us had ever asked Seth to name any of the other families of consciousness, following Jane’s Sumari breakthrough some three years ago.” [session 732, notes during break at 10:45]
A reminder from Seth:
“Now these categories do not come first. Your individuality comes first. You have certain characteristics of your own. These place you in a certain position. As you are not a rock or a mineral, but a person, so your individuality places you in a particular family or species of consciousness. This represents your overall viewpoint of reality.” [session 732]
It’s important to remember that our individuality – our own innate intent – precedes, so to speak, any physical incarnations. So our unique intent within nonphysical consciousness, our source consciousness, does express itself through the choice of entering into an incarnational “cycle.” This choice occurs in a nonphysical state which is somewhat beyond the scope of this essay. But the main point here is that once the choice is made and the “cycle” manifests, our pre-existing intent then gets translated through the filter of this nine “families” concept into all of the personalities that manifest and participate in the physical Framework 1 experience. Seems pretty simple.
Therefore, the nine “families” concept is most importantly about the innate intention of consciousness. And by intentions we mean a predisposition to being a healer, scientist, artist, parent, soldier, shaman, teacher, entrepreneur, etc. And within the principle of value fulfillment, it’s clear that these innate intents must complement each other in such a way as to create a propensity for equilibrium, balance, and healthy communities and ecosystems. So the nine “families” of consciousness is just Seth’s way of presenting a concept that hints at the innate intention toward value fulfillment of the collective human consciousness, our inner egos, whose source is found in the “unknown” reality of Frameworks 2, 3, 4, and inward.
“Now you can expand the functions of any particular family group, or you can cut it down, by deciding how precise you want to be. If one family deals with the nature of healing then you can slice it down to the healing of a toe … and ear … an eye.“The categories [healing, teaching, or whatever] are general descriptions of the families of consciousness. You can split them up also and make further distinction if you choose. You cut those divisions down. They merely represent interpretations that you can understand in you realty. In the most mundane terms, some families are travelers, and some prefer to say at home. But generally speaking I have simply given you an outline which follow the characteristics of consciousness as it is embarked in physical form. I am mot giving you these groups to set up divisions, but to help you understand that consciousness is diversified – that usually each of you falls, because you want to, into a certain family. And there you acquire friends, alliances and counterparts.”
Sue Watkins, former ESP class member, family friend, and author tuned into the Grunaargh family, a sub-group of Gramada during session 598. From her note to Rob:
“In a session on Sumari I witnessed in 1971 or early 1972 – I picked up a family-of-consciousness name, and Seth said it was ‘Grunaargh.’ It wasn’t on the list given last month [referring to the nine families given in session 732].”
“Sue had picked up on the Grunaargh during the 598th session, which she’d recorded for me the evening after Jane had made the whole Sumari break through in [ESP class], on November 23, 1971.“The point I want to make here is that others beside Jane can intuitively divine material on the families’ of consciousness. Actually, for whatever reasons, Sue had glimpsed a family other than Sumari before Jane had.” [session 737]
So Sue actually was the first person on record to really dive into and explore this concept!
The Nine Families of Consciousness
- SETH: deals primarily with teaching, passing on their knowledge or that of others.
- ROB: to transmit “originality” through teaching.
- SETH: composed of mystics, most of their energy is directed in an inward fashion, deeply involved in nature, in that sense more highly attuned psychically than most.
- ROB: to mystically nourish mankind’s psyche.
- SETH: specializes in organization, founders of large businesses, statesmen, politicians, vital, active, creatively aggressive.
- ROB: to found social systems.
- SETH: primarily reformers, activists, revolutionaries, with excellent precognitive abilities in terms of probabilities, one purpose in mind: to change the status quo in whatever the area of primary interest.
- ROB: to reform the status quo.
- SETH: they deal primarily in the great play of exchange and interchange of ideas, products, social and political concepts. They are travelers, carrying with them ideas of one country to another, mixing cultures, religions, attitudes, political structures. Seth has great affection for these folks!
- ROB: to spread and exchange ideas.
- SETH: innovators, naturally playful, humorous, relatively unfettered. They are impatient however. They will be found in the arts and in the less conventional sciences.
- ROB: to provide the cultural, spiritual, and artistic heritage for the species.
- SETH: primarily devoted to healing, though don’t have to literally be practicing medicine, found as psychics, social workers, psychologists, priests/shamans, florists, politicians, royalty in past history.
- ROB: to heal, regardless of individual occupation.
- SETH: involved mainly with the fulfillment of bodily activity, athletes, dedicated to perfecting the beautiful, elegant, and performance capacities of the body, often appear at the beginnings of civilizations where direct physical bodily manipulation within the environment was of supreme importance.
- ROB: to serve as physical athletic models.
- SETH: deals primarily with parenthood, often have large families, focus on nurturing healthy children with brilliant minds, healthy bodies, and strong clear emotions. Their ideas often spring to prominence before large social changes, and help initiate them. Closest to Sumari.
- ROB: to provide an Earth stock for the species through parenthood.