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 supernatural perception is the basis for spiritualist confidence games, and this is where we get the term con man.
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 Travelers, Scottish Travelers. 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 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.
Selling clairvoyance abilities in North America became a profitable industry 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 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 specific meditation types like the Siddhis say this is the natural growth of consciousness. It is not supernatural but a natural progression.
- Automatic writing — It is the process of writing without conscious intent. It is a technique to open the subconscious mind. Anyone can do this one. All you need to do is follow the process.
- Divination — This is the ability to gain insight into a situation via some mystical process.
- Dowsing — This is a technique to locate water using a dowsing rod tool.
- Energy medicine — The ability to heal with one’s own empathic etheric, astral, mental, or spiritual energy. Also known as Pranic Healing.
- Levitation — To float in the air using mystical or supernatural power. It 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 — Communicating with the spirits of those who have passed away has proven to be one of the most profitable spiritualist circuit scams.
- Precognition— This is the essence of fortune-telling, the ability to perceive future events. One of the most well-known fortune tellers was Michel de Nostredame or Nostradamus. His book Les Prophéties published in 1555, is a collection of 942 poetic quatrains that contains his famous predictions.
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” to exploit them.
- Psychic Surgery — This is a famous sideshow magic trick that showcases the ability to remove disease or disorder via an “energetic” incision that heals immediately. Another magic trick uses various sleight-of-hand techniques to conceal and then produce blood or tissue.
- Psychokinesis or Telekinesis — Manipulating objects with the mind’s power is another famous magic trick. 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 — is the ability to gain information by touching a person or an object. Peter Popoff was a popular televangelist who used this ploy. But he was caught red-handed 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 sense a distant target using extrasensory perception.
- Retrocognition or post cognition — This is 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 — Reading the minds of others goes along with psychoscopy. It is the ability to transmit or receive thoughts.
- Teleportation — Making an object disappear is, by far, the most popular magic trick. It is an illusion you see magicians do on TV. They accomplish this illusion using trapdoors, hidden compartments in a box. Mirrors are integral tools for hiding people or objects.
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, the clairvoyant persona is a parlor game used by grifters. They use them to gain the trust of their “marks” to exploit them. Mediums or clairvoyants use various confidence tactics, including séances, gazing in a crystal ball, spirit channeling, fortune-telling, and tarot card readings.
Rebranding and Selling Clairvoyance Abilities
This lucrative 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. There is a long list of Christians who use these stage tactics, including some well-known spiritualists like 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 explained how they use the guise of prayer cards to obtain information to prompt donations. He also revealed how they paid people to come in wheelchairs and then mimic healing by his touch. 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. It led his career to investigate supernatural claims made by these grifters. He could unmask their claims of magical abilities as sleight-of-hand acts. He debunked every type of clairvoyant, everything from astrological horoscopes to psychic surgery.
“Predictions are uttered by prophets (free of charge); by clairvoyants (who usually charge a fee, and are therefore more honored in their day than prophets); and by futurologists (salaried). Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin
The sad part about it is that the people who use these grifter tactics taint those seeking their actual spiritual gifts. The clairvoyant gives spirituality a terrible reputation. 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 show 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