Six Psychic Gifts

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop!

Today’s topic is gifts, provided by Arwen of Tarot by Arwen. She asked, “Do we have them? Do we not? Do we need them?” With this post, I am taking one step back and addressing what the six psychic gifts are.

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“Are you clairvoyant?” My client asked from the small screen of my phone.

“No, clairsentient and claircognizant,” I replied.

I was doing a reading via Zoom.

“You always say things that I’m thinking about, so I thought you were clairvoyant.”

“Oh, right, that’s claircognizance, clear knowing. Clairvoyance is seeing.”

This exchange describes a fairly common misunderstanding. Many people misuse the word “clairvoyant” as an umbrella term to cover all forms of psychic communication. But it has a specific meaning. Clairvoyance is one of the standard six psychic senses. Read on for definitions of what these six psychic gifts are, examples of how they work, and tips on how to develop your own psychic gifts. I also include my gift to you, a list of correspondences you can use to learn standard symbolism that your psychic senses can pull from to communicate with you.

The Six Psychic Gifts

“Six of Cups” from the Mystic Faerie Tarot by Barbara Moore, Linda Ravenscroft, Llewellyn Publications, 2007.

There are six psychic senses that are most common. These senses are collectively called the “clairs,” meaning “clear.” Familiarity with the six clairs will help you understand your reader better and also help you come to know your own abilities as well. The six clairs are the psychic senses that allow us to receive information otherwise imperceivable to our common five physical senses.

These six psychic gifts are:

  1. Clairvoyance (clear seeing)
  2. Clairaudience (clear hearing)
  3. Claircognizance (clear knowing)
  4. Clairsentience (clear feeling)
  5. Clairgustance (clear taste), and
  6. Clairalience (clear smell)

Read on to learn more about each of these six psychic gifts.

Clairvoyance

Clairvoyance is the ability to receive information via psychic sight. People with this gift often see visions, images, or just colors or patterns with the mind’s eye. Although perhaps the most widely known of the clairs, I rather doubt it is the most common. It seems to me that it is simply the most surprising. Unlike some of the other psychic gifts, clairvoyance distinctly interrupts the usual thought process. In its most typical form it produces a distinct mental picture of something that is not present, yet is relevant to the topic at hand.

Frequently, clairvoyant visions still have to be interpreted. For instance, a clairvoyant reader might see a plane, but still has to determine what that means. Is it a reference to the profession of being a pilot, the hobby of building models, or symbolic of swift advancement?

Clairaudience

Clairaudience is hearing on the psychic level. Hearing words from guides, spirits, those who have passed over, or those who are not physically present are typical clairaudient experiences. But this can also include hearing bells, knocks, sounds of nature, animal sounds, or any kind of noise that is not physically present and that others can’t hear. Like clairvoyance, this is one of the more well-known psychic gifts. Also like the previously discussed clair, it is one of the more impressive techniques. If a psychic says, “My guides just told me that you make beautiful candles,” and you do makes candles, and they’re pretty nice, and you never mentioned this fact to this person or any friends or colleagues the two of you have in common, that’s reasonably impressive.

Claircognizance

When you just know something, you are experiencing claircognizance. To understand this psychic gift, let’s compare it to the one explained above. Clairaudience produces a clear psychic experience, such as hearing a spirit being say, “Ask them about the candles they make; they’re beautiful.” However, let’s say you’re talking to someone you’ve never met before, and you mention how you’ve always had an interest in making candles. It seems fortuitous, but not psychic, if your new friend says, “Actually, I love to make candles!” Yet, you might have been using your psychic senses consciously or unconsciously to steer the conversation toward an interest of this person you never met.

This is one of the main psychic gifts I have. One example occurred in the days when I used to temp in between theatre gigs. A company had hired me to do some word processing. My first day on the job I met the boss. He mentioned he had just been on a hunting trip. I knew nothing about hunting but wanted to appear interested. I cast around in my mind for something to say and suddenly the idea of a dog came to me. Of course, I still had no idea what that meant. I stumbled a bit then managed to clumsily ask, “So, when you hunt do you take dogs with you?” The boss’s eyes widened as he said, “You know, that’s interesting that you mention that.” He then relayed a story of an unusual and isolated incident about one of the dogs on the trip.

Clairsentience

Clairsentience is psychic feeling. It can be a sensation in the body of comfort or discomfort, or can include more specific impressions. It is not to be confused with the modality of psychometry, which is the practice of touching or holding an object in order to receive psychic information. Clairsentience is simply having a sense of something. It is following your gut.

This is a common psychic sense but also another complicated one, because we all have senses about things all the time. A psychic sense is something that provides information that is not available to the ordinary five senses. Our five physical senses allow us to gather so much information in such a short time that sometimes it seems like we are having a psychic experience, but in reality we are simply processing physical experiences very quickly. Clairsentience relies on data that is imperceptible to the physical senses.

Clearing the Channel

Unfortunately, our personal prejudices, fears, and emotions can compromise clairsentience. With all the clairs, it is important that we clear our channels of perception so that we can receive this psychic knowledge unimpeded by our limitations. The fact that many of the other clairs “interrupt” our normal thought processes helps us to see that they are coming from beyond us rather than within us. But our own emotional state is constantly moving, and much that we sense only on the physical or psychological level washes over us with varying degrees of intensity. The experience of interruption is less distinct with clairsentience. If you are interested in developing your own psychic gifts, I recommend developing a daily practice, including energetic clearing, meditation, divination practice, and record keeping to help keep the psychic channels open and free flowing.

Clairgustance

Like the physical sense of taste, people who experience clairgustance might have the sensation of a flavor that is not actually present. I think this is an unusual one, because I don’t have any personal experiences or stories from colleagues about this one. If you have a story to tell about this psychic sense, I’d love to hear it in the comments!

Clairalience

Clairalience is psychic smell. A common example is smelling pipe smoke or perfume when none is present. I had a very interesting experience of this clair in the early days of my spiritual studies. A friend of mine had created some powerfully charged gem elixirs. A gem elixir is made from placing a gemstone in distilled water and charging it with psychic energy. Then you decant the water off the stone into a bottle for magical or healing uses.

My friend wondered if her new technique was effective and showed her freshly made elixirs to me. She handed me two amber bottles, which for all practical purposes contained nothing but distilled water. For some reason when I opened the first, I smelled it. It smelled distinctly of oranges.

Not long before I had been making candles with a friend (yes, I was the candle maker in the above example, and someone’s kind guides really did tell them I made nice candles). I let her choose the color and the scent. She chose blue coloring and orange essential oil. I suggested some alternatives, but that’s what she wanted. It drove my logical mind crazy that someone would pair those two incompatible things.

So now as I was smelling this amber bottle of water, I smelled oranges and was flooded with the memory of those candles. I said, “Was this a blue stone, like lapis lazuli?” It was. I smelled the other bottle and it smelled like roses. “I think this is pink, like rose quartz.” Right again. In this example a uniquely personal association clued me in. A properly trained psychic would have a series of commonly used correspondences to pull from when making such correlations.

Gifts vs. Training

I bring up an important point in the previous paragraph. Psychic information can be relayed in many ways. Often we have to interpret the raw data in order to correctly understand the information. Under normal circumstances, if I smelled oranges it would make me think of the color orange. It was only due to a very personal and, at the time, recent experience that caused me to associate that scent with the color blue.

We all have psychic abilities. Some people are more gifted than others, but everyone has them and can use them. Just like innate abilities in music or dance, we can use, ignore, or develop our gifts. And as in music or dance, we can train classically or we can develop our own system from scratch. In either case, we can achieve competence or strive toward excellence. And the truly talented can achieve virtuosity.

My Gift to You

One of the things a well-trained psychic will do is build up a repertoire of traditionally standard correlations. Of course, there are many traditions to follow, but choosing one and sticking to it is a good way to start. If you would like to develop your psychic gifts, it is useful to start developing a list of psychic vocabulary. Tarot cards are a great system of psychic correspondences! In the Western Mystery Tradition, we also build up correspondences based on the spheres and paths of the qabalistic Tree of Life. This includes planetary associations, tarot cards, colors, scents, symbols, animals, and a variety of other related signifiers.

If you would like a tarot deck that includes the correspondences, including incense, stone, and planet or sign for the Major Arcana on the cards, I recommend the Ifdawn Tarot by Rafi Metz.

As my gift to you, here is my Sephiroth Short List. I compiled this list of common correspondences for the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The list is not exhaustive, and actually omits some important correspondences, but is easy for the beginner to use. Use this list as a basic glossary of psychic symbols. Click on the image to open and download the complete six-page pdf.

Sephiroth Short List cover page
The Sephiroth Short List provides standard correspondences between the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life and the tarot Minor Arcana, planets, stones, incenses, animals, and many more. Use this list as a basic glossary of psychic symbols. Click on the image to open and download the complete six-page pdf.

Next Gift

If you’re ready to open your next gift, please hop on to the next blog. Use the navigation links below to move around the circle and read what all the bloggers said on this topic.

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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11 Comments

  1. […] who don’t have the discipline to learn the system of tarot. On the other hand, I do have psychic gifts, we all do. And they do come out in my readings. And they’ve increased over the decades too. […]

  2. The deck you suggested sounds like a great one for teaching Tarot. Is there a website for this one with more pictures of the cards?

  3. This is a brilliant and hand reference guide to the sense, really love it! – It’ll be one I will referring any of my future students to as well. I’m at that stage where I am working with the clear senses alongside my own natural five sense, it does make life very interesting. Thank you again Joy for being the very definition of your name, bringer of Joy (and Wisdom)

    • Thanks for the referrals, Jay. <3 Please also point out to your students the response I made to Bonnie's questions -- I was able to describe clairsentience in much more detail.

  4. I enjoyed this. Really cool about the blue oranges. 😀

  5. This is a lovely post; though I’m reading a bit late!

    One thing I have always wondered about is the difference between claircognizance and clairsentience. Does clairsentience necessarily have a physical bodily sensation? Plus, if words come to you, but you don’t hear them, is it still clairaudience? Likewise, if you see something but it’s in your mind’s eye, is it still clairvoyance? Or are both those examples just types of claircognizance?

    I loved your comment about clairvoyance being the most startling in that it interrupts the thought process. I think that’s very well put. For me, I feel like all sorts of perceptions can coexist with my thoughts, and if I don’t get my thoughts to just shush!, then I might not even notice.

    • Thanks, Bonnie! That’s funny that you asked those questions — I had been thinking about adding more to the post to try to explain some of these things better. Overall, I find it helpful to consider that these are simply imposed categories, and not everything will sort perfectly into them. This is one set of psychic types, but if you search on the topic, you’ll find a variety of approaches of breaking it down, often listing more types. I’m also familiar with a system that recognizes twelve types of psychic abilities. For instance, the way I see it, if you *hear* the word “dog” that’s clairaudience, if you *see* the word “dog” floating in front of you, it’s clairvoyance, and if the concept “dog” occurs to you as an *idea*, that’s claircognizance. If you have that exact feeling of what it feels like when your dog is curled up at your feet, or begging to go outside on a sunny day, or growling at something unfamiliar, those are examples of clairsentience. And so on. It’s all just about how we each individually receive information from the psychic realm. And some people might get information in a way that I can’t even understand or conceive of.

      Yes, it is my understanding that most psychics define something seen in the mind’s eye as clairvoyance. Really, it has to be seen in the mind’s eye because it’s not about something you are literally seeing (although you might think you see it and then realize it’s not actually there). However, I think I get where you’re going with this. A number of years ago I took a class on scrying. I’ve never been able to see things other than some vague colors or shapes take place in front of my open eyes, but if I shut my eyes I can see more. I thought shutting my eyes didn’t count, that I was no longer scrying. I asked the instructor about this and she said that’s fine — the technique is legitimate, and still accurately called scrying, if you have to shut your eyes to see the images.

      Yes! I think meditation, otherwise known as learning to control your own thoughts, is a very important thing to practice to develop your psychic gifts!

      I did want to go into more detail about clairsentience, because that’s one of my main psychic abilities, and it’s hard to explain. In this post, I mostly just described basic gut feelings. But I get quite complex feelings, not simple go for it/avoid it binary responses. Very frequently when I’m doing a reading, I have to pause because I’m processing not just the cards, symbols, and patterns, but I’m also getting ideas popping into my mind, memories of other readings (they will be relevant if I’m focused and controlling my thoughts), and feelings in my body. The feelings are hard to describe. People are constantly saying, “just spit it out” or “I can take it.” But they are misunderstanding what’s going on. They think that I want to say something and am trying to think of a nice way to say it. To be honest, sometimes I do say, “let me think how to describe this,” as a placeholder, but it has nothing to do with how to arrange the words in a nice, polite way. It has everything to do with unraveling an important inner experience that I’m having and then figuring out how to translate it into words. The client interrupting doesn’t help, honestly. And the only way to express it once I’ve figured it out is as a metaphor, so I’m always coming up with very detailed, usually strange, analogies. I frequently am surprised by them, and say I have no idea where these weird examples come from. The client usually responds by explaining how specific details I mention are directly relevant to their experience. So, to your point, clairsentience is a feeling, not an idea. Clairsentience needs to be translated into an idea, usually the idea of an experience that might create these feelings, and then into words. So it’s a rather clunky ability. But I think it’s very detailed and accurate, at least for me.

      Thank you for reading and for the questions!

      Joy

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