Learn about the origins of clairvoyance and psychic abilities. Understand how to spot their grifter con-man tactics, so you can avoid being a victim.
Psychic and Clairvoyance Abilities
The word Clairvoyant is French. It comes from the word “Flair,” which means clear. They combine this with the word “voyance,” which means extraordinary vision. The guise of extraordinary perception is the basis for spiritualist confidence games, and this is where the term con man comes from.
Spiritualists have a rich heritage dating back to the 1600s. The Gypsy and Traveler cultures of Europe include those traditionally known as the Roma (1). It also includes Sinti, Calé, Romnichels, Ludar, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers. The Roma made their living as grifters. They often used the cover of doing odd jobs and maintenance work tasks. They used these jobs to gain intelligence to find the right mark for their next confidence game.
These nomads used various confidence games under the umbrella of psychic and clairvoyant abilities. The umbrella of these abilities includes spiritualists, mediums, and fortune-tellers.
Some claim this extrasensory ability is like that of the Shaman. This is because they claim to act as intermediaries with the spirit world. The intent of the clairvoyant overshadows this similarity. The medium or clairvoyant performs a show to gain their client’s trust. They use this trust for financial exploitation.
Those selling clairvoyance abilities set up shop in North America in the 1800s. This band of grifters became The Modern Spiritualist Movement. They traveled to North America, where they offered their services to the wealthy aristocrats. This movement spawned several performers. They perfected the showmanship, enabling them to become very successful and sought out high-society acts.
The Fox sisters (2) (1814-1892) set the bar high for showmanship. They became famous and wealthy, traveling the circuit of rich merchants. Their success spawned more and more people to begin using these con man tactics. Channeling took on new heights with the likes of Esther Hicks and Abraham (3). Séances and automatic writing became staples on the spiritualist tour.
The Litany of Clairvoyance Abilities
As we discussed above, the confidence game has gone virtual. Not only can you get your fortune read, but you can also learn how to do it yourself. Psychic and clairvoyant abilities are for sale.
- Astral Projection — The ability to project the consciousness or the astral body to another vantage point is also known as an out-of-body experience. Those who practice certain types of meditation like the Siddhis say this is the natural growth of consciousness. It is not supernatural but a natural progression.
- Automatic writing — The ability to draw or write without conscious intent. This is a technique to open the subconscious mind. Anyone can do this one. All you need to do is follow the process.
- Divination — The ability to gain insight into a situation via some mystical process.
- Dowsing — The ability to locate water, sometimes using a tool called a dowsing rod.
- Energy medicine — The ability to heal with one’s own empathic etheric, astral, mental, or spiritual energy. Also known as Pranic Healing.
- Levitation — The ability to float or by mystical means. This, too, is a claim of some Eastern mystics. Those who practice the Siddhis are also familiar with the Sutra that makes one “lighter than air.”
- Mediumship or Channeling — The ability to communicate with spirits. This has proven to be one of the most profitable spiritualist circuit scams.
- Precognition— The ability to perceive future events. This is the domain of the fortune teller. The most well-known fortune teller is Michel de Nostredame or Nostradamus. He was a French astrologer, physician, and Seer. His book Les Prophéties, a collection of 942 poetic quatrains, makes future events predictions. It was first published in 1555 and has rarely been out of print. The fortuneteller is a skillful interrogator. They learn to use questions and generalized statements to find the marks “soft spots.” They use various research techniques to learn about their marks so they can exploit them.
- Psychic Surgery — The ability to remove disease or disorder via an “energetic” incision that heals immediately. Another magic trick uses a variety of sleight-of-hand techniques to conceal and then produce blood or tissue.
- Psychokinesis or Telekinesis — The ability to manipulate objects by the mind. These psychic abilities are the showcase of the famous spoon bender Uri Geller. He is known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other illusions in the 1970s. After they exposed his psychic powers as stage magic, he fell back into obscurity.
- Psychometry or Psychoscopy — The ability to gain information about a person or an object by touch. This was another one of the stage tricks exposed by researchers. Peter Popoff was a popular televangelist. They exposed Popoff in 1986 when he was caught using an earpiece to receive radio messages from his wife. She gave him the names, addresses, and ailments of audience members during Popoff-led religious services. He still performs his routine on the Christian Faith movement.
- <Teleshesia — Remote viewing or sensing is the ability to see a distant or unseen target using extrasensory perception.
- Retrocognition or post cognition — The ability to perceive past events. Using memory recall techniques, almost anyone can gain insight into their history. Misuse of the imagination can stretch genuine memories beyond actual events.
- Telepathy — The ability to transmit or receive thoughts.
- Teleportation — The ability to undergo materialization, disappearance, or teleportation of an object. This is one illusion you see done on TV. Making something disappear with a trapdoor or mirrors.
Psychic and Medium Abilities
Magical showmanship is still the main cash generator. Spiritualists moved to the USA in the early 1900s, pandering to the new wealthy industrialists. Since that time, psychic readings moved to the telephone and now are online. Here they use the internet to research their prospective clients. Beware. They can use any information online as a “sweet spot” to be leveraged.
Above all, the Spiritualist must be a good showman. They often begin their training by conducting sleight-of-hand tricks at magic shows. Spiritualists claim to have precognition. They will contact the deceased and relay messages or act as an intercessor to facilitate miracles of healing and prosperity for a price.
In short, it’s an expensive parlor game. It is a grifter tactic that preys on the emotions of people. They design the entertainment to gain the trust and confidence of the audience or participant. Mediums or clairvoyants use a variety of confidence tactics. This is where the term conman comes from. They use staged events to distract and perform sleight-of-hand tricks. These include séances, gazing in a crystal ball, spirit channeling, fortune-telling, and tarot card readings.
Rebranding and Selling Clairvoyance Abilities
This profitable showmanship caught the eye of the early Christian faith movement. They turned the stage theatrics of the spiritualist to work for the Church. Out of this show were born the Christian Faith movement and Spiritualist Churches.
Some of the most famous Christian teachers built empires cashing in on selling faith. This is also one tool of the clairvoyant. There is a long list of Christians that use these showmanship stage tactics. Some well-known spiritualists include Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947). He was an early pioneer televangelist. Aimee Elizabeth Semple McPherson (1890-1944). She was another radio show pioneer. Johanna Kuhlman (1907-1976) was famous for her showmanship healing services. Finally, and Granville Oral Roberts (1918 — 2009).
Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner (born January 14, 1944) is a former evangelist preacher. He first gained attention on the revival circuit as an ordained minister at age four as “Marjoe.” He possessed extraordinary memory and speaking ability. He was the youngest known in that position.
Marjoe was just a child when he began performing on the revival circuit. He made his family a fortune in the church revival circuit. Then, in the early 1970s, he exposed the Church’s tactics in a documentary. He showed how prayer cards were used to garner information that would be used during the show to prompt donations. He also exposed how healthy people paid to come in wheelchairs to be healed. They had their own actors who would mimic healing. It works because it preys on people who are desperate and in need. He isn’t the only one exposing the blatant fraud and deception of the clairvoyant grifters.
Exposing The Fraud in Clairvoyance Abilities
James Randi (4) was a modern-day skeptic. He trained and performed stage magic for many years. As such, he gained valuable experience at performing sleight-of-hand illusions. This led his career to investigate supernatural claims made by these grifters. He could unmask their claims of supernatural abilities as sleight-of-hand acts. He debunked every type of clairvoyant, everything from astrological horoscopes to psychic surgery.
The sad part about it is that the people who use these grifter tactics taint those seeking their real spiritual gifts. The counterfeit of the clairvoyant gives spirituality a terrible reputation. There are indeed spiritual gifts and spiritual technologies that can change awareness. Some techniques can open doorways to higher states of consciousness.
The best way to keep from becoming a victim is to shy away from anyone who claims they are a clairvoyant, medium, or psychic. We suggest you watch any of the TV shows with magicians. They will demonstrate the sleight-of-hand techniques used by clairvoyants. You will see how people mistake these illusions for clairvoyant ability.
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(1) The Roma, Wikipedia
(2) The Fox Sisters, Wikipedia
(3) Esther Hicks, Wikipedia
(4) An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural by James Randi
(5) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia