“The word ‘clairvoyance’ means ‘clear seeing.’ … In the glossary of the Society for Psychical Research, the term is defined as: ‘the faculty or act of perceiving, as though visually, with some coincidental truth, some distant scene; it is used sometimes, but hardly properly, for transcendental vision, or the perception of beings regarded as on another plane of existence’.
“Mrs. Henry Sedgwick, a distinguished writer on the subject of psychic phenomena, in one of her reports to the Society for Psychical Research, says: ‘The word clairvoyant is often used very loosely and with widely different meanings. I denote by it a faculty of acquiring supernormally, but not by reading the minds of persons present, a knowledge of facts such as we normally acquire by the use of our senses. I do not limit it to knowledge that would normally be acquired by the sense of sight, nor do I limit it to the knowledge of present facts. A similar knowledge of the past, and if necessary, of future facts may be included. On the other hand, I exclude the mere faculty of seeing apparitions or visions, which is sometimes called clairvoyance.’
“The above definitive explanation of the term clairvoyance agrees with the idea of the best authorities. … I personally accept this definition as both scientific in form, and as agreeing with the facts.” ~William Walker Atkinson
What clairvoyance means has been better defined since Atkinson and Mrs. Sedgwick wrote their opinions. While the general definition found in major dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster remains vague, and open to interpretation, we now have many other words that help narrow it down. So while Sedgwick says she doesn’t limit clairvoyance to sight, we now have other words for similar abilities that use other senses. Clairaudience is the same ability but through the sense of sound. Clairgustance is the ability to taste something without having to have physical contact with it. So we can limit clairvoyance to a psychic version of sight. While it can still mean seeing things that happened in the past or will happen in the future, it is generally considered to be about the present.
While we can certainly find many examples of professional psychics seeming to have clairvoyant experiences, we need to take those with a grain of salt. The simple fact is that while there are real psychics, the vast majority of the professionals are frauds. It is better to look at examples of these psychic abilities happening with people who did not plan for it or expect it.
An example that shows up in the news occasionally is that of a mother suddenly getting a vision of her child being in some kind of trouble. Another would be the homeowner who suddenly sees his house on fire and rushes home to find it is true. If you see a plane crashing and cancel your flight, only to hear later that it does crash, that too is clairvoyance.
One thing we have to be careful of is false clairvoyance. A common form of this happens in dreams. While it is true that dreams can predict the future or show events occurring far away, what we see in those dreams is most often symbolic, not literal. So seeing ourselves jumping off a bridge in a dream isn’t a vision of something we will actually do. It is more likely a symbolic prediction that we are about to go through some major changes.
Have you ever been listening to the radio and you knew what song was about to be played before it started? I do that often. But it isn’t clairvoyance, just subconscious memory. Here is what is actually happening. Most radio stations today rarely play live. Instead, everything is recorded in two, three, and four-hour recordings. Those recordings are played over and over again, perhaps as often as once-a-day. So after a while, you learn that when song A is ending, song B will be next. It is subconscious knowledge, not psychic at all.
While clairvoyance in the physical realm is interesting and helpful, it’s spiritual counterpart is far more important. This type of clairvoyance can be warning us that we need to get beyond materialism and develop our spiritual side. Or it may be warning us that the spiritual path we are following is a limited or false path. It can be positive also. We might be thinking of joining a spiritual school such as Cosolargy, but we are uncertain. We might be sitting quietly, or doing sun-gazing, and suddenly see ourselves attending that school. That would be an indication that we should do it.
Some years ago, I was practicing a well-known form of meditation. I won’t mention the name of the school, but it’s one we all know. An image of a woman appeared in front of me. While there was nothing scary about her appearance, I nonetheless found it frightening. I stopped doing the meditation and joined Cosolargy not long after that. I think the “woman” was probably a demon trying to trick me, though I may be wrong. But whatever this clairvoyance was, it convinced me to change my spiritual development path, and I have never regretted that.
A word of caution. While psychic abilities can be useful, they are not spiritual. The psychic level is between the physical and the spiritual. We don’t want to get stuck on that level and fail to move to the higher levels of pure spirit and higher consciousness.