Before delving into the nitty-gritty of the nature of clairvoyance, let’s answer the two most basic questions relating to the topic: “Where does the word clairvoyance come from?” and “What, exactly, does the word clairvoyance mean?”
The word clairvoyance is a French portmanteau of clair, which means clear, and voyance, which means vision. A clairvoyant is a person capable of perceiving elements and energies unrecognizable to a person without the “sixth sense”.
Sometimes clairvoyants are defined as people who can “see clearly” or “see hidden things”.
In recent years, due to their apparent ability to gather extra-sensory information, clairvoyants are sometimes called upon in missing person cases to assist law enforcement officials.
Categories and Types of Clairvoyance
In psychical and paranormal circles, clairvoyance is usually broken down into three prescient categories and five sensory types. Most paranormal researchers classify clairvoyance under three categories, retro-cognition, precognition and present cognition.
Retrocognition is a term coined by late 19th century classicist thinker and founder of the Society for Psychical Research, Frederic W.M. Myers. It means “the knowledge of a past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.”
Precognition is often described as “future sight” – meaning the ability to sense the future in some regard. Present-perception clairvoyance is when an individual can perceive current-time occurrences imperceptible by non-clairvoyant people.
Clairsentience is clairvoyance that involves touching and feeling. A clairsentient may gather information by holding a relevant object or touching a person involved in the situation. A clairvoyant with the ability to hear paranormally is called a clairaudience.
Clear seers with extra-sensory olfactory gifts are referred to as clairaliences, while people who can taste things without putting the actual food or object in their mouths are called clairgustances.
The last type of clairvoyance ability is claircognizance – meaning the clairvoyance receives their extra-sensory knowledge “intrinsically” like a gut instinct.
A Super Short History of Clairvoyants in Western Culture
Perhaps the first recorded instance of a clairvoyant occurrence that of Marquis de Puységur in 1784. A fervent follower of mesmerism – which later became hypnotism – Puységur worked with an allegedly “dull-witted” farmer named Victor Race.
According to the Marquis’ journals, Race was able to enter into a trance-like state and while in said state transformed into a medical aficionado able to articulate all manners of ailments afflicting him and other people.
When the spiritualist revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries rolled around, fearing less the consequences of being declared a “witch” clairvoyants began to reveal themselves more and more.
Today, clairvoyants have a visible presence in public life – from Hollywood sets to police stations. You don't even need to travel to exotic places to find a clairvoyants. It is not uncommon to find a local clairvoyant offering an absolutely free psychic reading to new customers.
Government and Academic Clairvoyance Research
Lest one think that clairvoyant research has always been relegated to fringe scientists and new age spiritualist, it should be noted that both the United States and Russian governments conducted extensive studies involving clairvoyance.
The two nations tried to harness clairvoyant energy to use in “remote viewing”. In other words, they tried to develop ways to use clairvoyants as spies – the thought being that clairvoyants could provide information about an area without being physically present.
According to recently declassified information, between 1975 and 1995, the U.S. military poured $20 million into clairvoyant research. Officials called it the Stargate Project. And in more recent years, a Duke University study by J.B. Rhine on extrasensory perception touched on various aspects of the scientific possibility of clairvoyance.
Clairvoyance: Is It A Gift Or A Muscle?
Whether or not clairvoyance is achievable by every human or a special gift bestowed on a select few is a topic still up for debate in certain circles. Several spiritual and paranormal worldviews contend that clairvoyant abilities can be harnessed by every human via meditation and communion with a higher entity.
Other belief systems, however, see clairvoyance as spontaneous and a special gift only available to a chosen few.
What Is the Difference Between Clairvoyants, Mediums and Psychics?
Though often used interchangeably in public discourse, psychics, mediums and clairvoyants are not all the same. While a person may be both psychic and clairvoyant, they are three distinct gifts.
In brief, psychics can transfer information to another person without using traditional senses; a medium can communicate with people – both dead and alive; clairvoyants have supernormal sensory abilities that help them to see and sense things the average person cannot.
The Most Famous Clairvoyant Ever To Live
If you ask the average person on the street to name a famous clairvoyant, depending on his or her age, he or she will probably say Miss Cleo or John Edward.
And while both gained nationwide recognition, neither is considered the most prolific clairvoyant ever to live. In fact, Miss Cleo and John Edward aren’t even clairvoyants; she is a psychic and he is a medium.
So, who is considered the most famous and most prolific clairvoyant ever to live? It is the seer out of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the godfather of all things prescient, Michel de Nostredame, a.k.a., Nostradamus.
Since Nostradamus lived between 1503 and 1566, his exact paranormal abilities are not certain; however, he is often credited with having precognition clairvoyant abilities. Judging from available reports, Nostradamus was probably claircognizance.
Whether or not clairvoyance will ever be accepted in scientific communities is something for Father Future to reveal at a later date. Regardless, one thing is for certain: the belief in extra-sensory skills has been around since the beginning of time, and it will undoubtedly endure into the future.