“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. Continue reading “Clairvoyance: Physical and Spiritual”