Clairvoyance in Different Forms
First off, it’s worth noting clairvoyance is actually a French term. “Clair” meaning “clear,” and “voyance” meaning “sight.” So clairvoyance is the ability to see clearly. That does not mean you cannot be a clairvoyant if you wear glasses.
To the contrary, actually. Blindness is sometimes seen as a predisposition to clairvoyance because it is more about seeing differently than seeing better. The fact that clairvoyance is a word borrowed from French is a clue that it may not be as legitimate as it seems.
Much like the words “croissant,” “envoy,” “gratin,” “balayage,” or “beige,” the foreign sounds of the word “clairvoyance” are supposed to give it a certain unwarranted… caché.
Clairvoyance and Abilities
Leaving international linguistics aside, clairvoyance is often divided into three abilities: retrocognition, remote viewing, and precognition. Cognition is another fancy word (of Latin origin this time, not French) which basically means mentally analyzing what your senses experience; common use of the word is found in “recognize.”
The retro in retrocognition means the past. Like how at a “retro party,” everybody comes dressed in clothing style from the ’60s and ’80s. Therefore, retrocognition is the ability to experience the past.
I used the term experience rather than see because the clairvoyant doesn’t necessarily “see” things as a muggle would. All the senses can be triggered. Some clairvoyants will smell things. Others feel, taste, or see. Some even describe it as a feeling, an intuition.
A power often wished by archeologists and historians, or CSI detectives, people with retrocognition can see the past. The appeal of such a power is obvious when thinking in terms of murder or any other crime. A clairvoyant can delve into the past to see what happened to the victim and who the culprit was.
Examples of Retrocognition
Many books, movies, and games feature this ability, but one, in particular, is noteworthy. The game franchise Assassin’s Creed blends the idea of retrocognition with modern knowledge of DNA. In this game, a person can relive the lives of their ancestors because the information is transmitted through their DNA.
This allows the player to experience Jerusalem in the days of the crusades, Italy during the renaissance, the American Revolution, Revolutionary France, and much more. (If you are a history enthusiast, check out this game, the experience is surreal). As I said, a historian’s dream!
One of the big issues with retrocognition is that it is scientifically unverifiable. If, for example, someone said they had had a vision of the past and saw the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The only way to verify if the person’s vision is true would be to check eye witness statements of people at the theatre.
But that means the clairvoyant could have also accessed these eyewitness testimonies or could have had access to someone who had access to the information. The only real way to check if someone is really a clairvoyant capable of retrocognition is to jump into the TARDIS with the Doctor of seeing for yourself.
To a certain degree, any reflex is born of retrocognition. We have reflexes today because of our past experiences or the past experiences of our ancestors transmitted to us through our DNA. So all conscious living things have retrocognition. Clairvoyants can experience more than the average human.
Moving on to remote viewing. This is the ability to see what is happening now but elsewhere. All mums have this power, they know when you’re up to no good, and it’s terrifying. The interesting thing is that in the 21st-century remote viewing is extremely common. You probably experience it every single day.
Live TV, video conferences, Skype… all these are ways to see what is happening now, but elsewhere. In our modern age, remote viewing may seem less awesome because we have the tech to do it, but as Arthur C.Clarke said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” If someone from the 16th century came to know, they would think we were all clairvoyants and witches.
Examples of Clairvoyance
They’d also wonder why we speak so weird because English has evolved a lot since then, but I’m getting distracted by linguistics again. The award-winning show “Game of Thrones” features a good example of remote viewing: Warging. In the show (or the books), a Warg has the ability to enter the mind of an animal and see what the animal is seeing.
Many world mythologies and religions worldwide have people who can see more than meets the eye. In Norse mythology, for example, Heimdal can see everything that is happening in the nine realms, which by the way, is a HUGE plot hole in the movie Thor: The Dark World, but never mind.
In a world without electricity, the phone, the radio, or the internet, the appeal of seeing or communicating over great distances is obvious. That is certainly a reason why clairvoyants were in such favor in many European courts centuries ago. Fantasy novels set inquiry medieval settings often feature some form of remote viewing.
For example, in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the Palantir are tools that allow communicating over great distances, but Sauron also uses them to trick weaker minds. Seeing is one thing, rightfully interpreting the vision is quite another.
When talking about clairvoyance, the most common thing that comes to mind is precognition, or the ability to see and predict the future. There are so many books, games, and movies based on this idea that it is hard to choose which to talk about. “Minority Report” is a very famous example. In this movie, starring Tom Cruise, the police have found a way to see crimes before they happen and therefore stop them.
While a person with retrocognition can see a past crime and identify the culprit, and someone with remote viewing can see a crime as it is happening, a precog (a person with precognition) can see a crime before it happens and therefore prevent it. The usefulness of precognition is, of course, dependent on the idea that the future is not fixed and that it can change.
If the future is unmovable, unchangeable, seeing it is an only great stress and anxiety source. Here lies the irony of precognition. If we are told something good will happen, then we want the future to be set in stone. But if we are told something bad will happen, we want to be able to shape our future.
Proving someone is capable of precognition is simpler than proving retrocognition or remote viewing due to the lack of sources for the information. All one needs to do is predict something before it happens. And, then when the event does happen, you have proven your ability. One famous example of precognition is Paul the Octopus. Paul was able to accurately predict the result of all seven of Germany’s games in the 2010 Football World Cup.
The problem comes when you take into account other predictions where the Octopus was wrong. While it was statistically predicting the future, how do we explain the failures? Misinterpreting the signs? The future changed? Or is it all just luck?