Clairvoyance is sometimes used as a catch-all term for psychic abilities, but it literally translates to “clear seeing.” In parapsychology, clairvoyance is defined as the “perception of distant events or images” (Real Magic by Dean Radin). It is sometimes thought of as any psychic ability that is an “extension” of our eyesight. In this blog, we’ll explore what clairvoyance is — both the direct experience of it and the abundance of scientific study about it.
The Direct Experience of Clairvoyance
All of the clairs (clairvoyance, clairaudience, claircognizance, etc.) are thought to be an extension of our physical senses; hence the term Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP.
Some occult and psychic teachers, however, have a different take. They believe our physical senses are an outgrowth of our psychic senses. Although impossible to prove, it’s an interesting idea that fits squarely within a post-materialist paradigm: Consciousness is fundamental and everything physical springs out of it.
So, does that mean everyone is clairvoyant?
Many people have their first clairvoyant experiences as children. Others start experiencing clairvoyance as adults. Some propose that these subtle energies exist all around us and that most of us may not be aware of them, even though we are interacting with them. Children and adults with strong clairvoyant abilities might be able to see these subtle energies that others can’t without training and practice. Many psychic instructors tell us that all the clairs are available to us and are simply dormant. They can be reawakened. For example, according to psychic teachers, most people can learn to see auras — the colorful halo of subtle energy that surrounds each living being.
Clairvoyance encompasses different types of experiences related to extended sight. We can categorize clairvoyance as either external and internal. External clairvoyance involves seeing an overlay on the world around you (such as the medium who can see spirits) similar to augmented reality. For example, there are people who report being able to see disembodied entities (such as the spirit of a deceased person) as vividly as though you or I were standing in front of them. Others report seeing disembodied entities in a more energetic form such as orbs, sparkles, and moving shadows. Perceiving other dimensions or subtle energies with our physical eyes is a kind of external clairvoyance.
Internal clairvoyance involves seeing something on your “viewing screen”; that place where you see images in your mind’s eye, such as when you are imagining something. For example, psychic dreams, premonition or precognition, and remote viewing are all types of internal clairvoyance.
Experiments in Remote Viewing
The trouble with clairvoyance as it’s described above is that we cannot study most of it directly. As of yet, we haven’t invented any technology that can reliably detect and measure subtle energies (i.e., energies that aren’t physical). The practical aspects of remote viewing, however, can be tested.
Remote viewing involves being able to perceive distant people, places, or events. It is a form of clairvoyance that was taught and popularized by Ingo Swann, an artist and psychic who was the linchpin of the Stargate Project — along with renowned laser physicist Russel Targ.
In his book The Reality of ESP, Targ writes that “In the actual chain of psychic events, Ingo taught us how to do remote viewing, we taught the army, and the army taught the world.” According to Targ, remote viewing is not a difficult thing to learn how to do. While Ingo would be considered a master psychic, Targ carried out dozens of trials demonstrating that most people can learn how to produce statistically significant results.
Remote viewing experiments by Targ and other researchers have produced positive results exceeding the six-sigma threshold. When a class of experiments (in this case remote viewing) exceeds that threshold, it means that the overall odds against chance are assessed to be over a billion to one. These studies adhere to the strictest standards, bulletproof designs, and have been repeated anywhere from a dozen to over a hundred times by various independent labs and investigators.
Let’s look at Project SCANATE as an example of what can be accomplished with remote viewing. Ingo believed he could describe any location based only on coordinates. In the first trial, the CIA provided him with coordinates of a geographical location. Except for the CIA, no one involved in the trial had any idea where the coordinates were or what they related to.
On May 29th, 1973, Ingo accurately described every detail of a top secret NSA listening post. After that, the SRI program ran for twenty years. One of the most incredible events was when Ingo accurately viewed a Chinese atomic-bomb test (which failed), based on coordinates alone…three days before the test actually occurred.
What Science Tells Us About Clairvoyance
At times, the line between clairvoyance and precognition can be blurry. This is likely why clairvoyance is sometimes used as a catch-all term — because, as some parapsychology researchers will say, psychic phenomena are actually all expressions of the same phenomenon. Dean Radin gives this example in his interview with Closer to the Truth:
“Clairvoyance is the ability to get information from a distance, through space. But in practice, it’s really difficult to do an experiment where you know exactly in real-time that’s when you’re getting it. In practice, it’s much easier to get it slightly ahead or behind. From a practical point of view, almost every case of a clairvoyant experiment is kind of like precognition.”
For example, after leaving the Stanford Research Institute, Targ went on to create a research group called Delphi Associates. They used remote viewing to psychically forecast changes in the silver market. They did this for nine weeks without error and made $120,000 (which was a lot of money at the time). This involved clairvoyance (remote viewing) but the information they were perceiving transcended space and time. Harary, K., & Targ, R. (1985). A new approach to forecasting commodity futures. Psi Research.
The question is not whether or not clairvoyance is real: The question is how can we study, harness, and even cultivate these abilities. This is one of many areas IONS is investigating.