My first experience with feeling or sensing a spirit being happened when I was six years old.
My family and I had moved from the suburbs to a house in the countryside. My father grew up on a farm. As a teenager, my mother had a passion for riding and competing in the Five-Gaited English Saddlebred Horse Division of her area. My parents had moved around a lot in their early years of marriage, especially when my siblings (who are quite a bit older than me) were younger. However, my mother dreamed of living on in a house with acreage where she could have a horse or two.
The day we moved into the country house, I raced up the stairs to the room picked to be mine. I loved it! A big tree stood outside my window, I could see the neighbors fields, and a big yard to play in. Best of all, no sharing the room with my older sister. Not long after moving in, as I sat on the floor playing with my dolls, I got the sense of someone standing in front of my closet. I remember how close they felt and looking behind me but nobody was there.
Now, being a six-year old I didn’t really understand who the spirit being was or what it meant that I could feel them in the room with me. I just knew someone was there and chose to ignore them because they were invisible. Sensing this being became a regular part of my life. So much so that I began having recurring dreams of the being coming from my closet and hovering over me throughout most of my childhood. And though I’d been going to church with my family for as long as I could remember (which is from around age four) there wasn’t language or context for these “invisible people” in my personal lexicon as a small child.
As I grew older words like “ghost” (thank you, Scooby Doo) and “demon” (some credit for that goes to William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist) filtered my perception of these continued and varied spiritual encounters. So much so that as a teenager my view of the spiritual world became very black and white, good and evil, angel or demon, as tends to happen with a Christian upbringing.
For instance, I’d go for a walk in the woods on our property and “felt” the surrounding energy, which I now recognize as the spirits of the land, which were at that time perceived as angelic or even the presence of God. However, I’d go past a cemetery or into someone’s home and there would sometimes be this sense of a “being” or “beings” watching or following me. These entities often got the label of evil spirit or “demon.”
You can imagine such experiences were strange and confusing for a young Christian being trained to believe Satan and his demons were dogging my every step, tempting me into “sin” at every turn. I never spoke of these encounters or feelings to anyone. However, I believe wanting some kind of explanation other than “evil” or “demon” is why I was drawn to the supernatural, psychics, mediums and magick from an early age.
Indeed, a new explanation and clarity presented itself when I began to explore Wicca in my mid-thirties.
Don’t get me wrong. As a kid I learned about psychics and mediums from reading books and watching television. Those people were fascinating to me but I never thought to apply the term to myself, even though I wanted to read palms and tell fortunes. As a teenager and adult the idea of speaking to spirits other than the “Holy” one was an absolute no go.
What if I was courting demons! Straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
But opening myself to the concepts and spiritual beliefs of traditions outside of church or the Bible gave me permission to take an honest look at a lifetime of supernatural encounters and how my spiritual sensitivity played a part in them. I began to regard such beings not as a potential threat but as people who had something to say.
Additionally, I accepted the best descriptor for my ability to feel or sense spiritual energy and entities as clairsentience (clear-feeling). Empathic (feeling other people’s emotions) ability tends to work hand in hand with being clairsentient and is something I’ve learned to accept about myself as well. There is a great article on Exemplore called Clairsentient Traits: The Signs of Clear-Feeling which provides good information, including how the ability to sense clearly can manifest in daily life and how clairsentience might assist in a variety of jobs or careers. Here is a list of ways to determine if you might be clairsentient, which I’ve borrowed and adapted from the article cited above:
- You were “emotional” or overly sensitive as a child (i.e.: your feelings were deep and easily hurt).
- Crowds and loud noises can feel overwhelming at times.
- You sense the atmosphere of buildings, including homes and places of work.
- You know things without being told.
- You sense what people are feeling or the undercurrent of a conversation, even if the other person is not willing to explain or share their emotional state.
- You feel the suffering of other people to the extent that their emotional and/or physical pain affects you deeply.
- Your intuition is more than a vague feeling. You just “know.”
- You can make quick and deep emotional connection to certain people.
- Your ‘knowing’ can manifest as a physical sensation (tingling, chills, hair raising on arms or neck, twisting/churning sensation in your gut, pain in your chest, etc.).
- You are able to instantly form an impression about someone you just met.
- Places and people that emanate negative energy make you feel very uncomfortable (even ill in extreme cases).
Clairvoyance: Clear-knowing. Probably the most well known of the abilities, this is a form of discernment of information. People with clairvoyance have a very strong intuitive knowledge (or seeing beyond the five senses) and know how to interpret the information for themselves or others.
Clairaudience: Clear-hearing. This is someone who has the ability to “hear” messages from Spirit, the dead, angels, guides, etc. Channeling and mediumship often fall under this category.
Clairguscience: Clear-tasting. This is someone who can taste or smell “phantom” foods and fragrances such as flowers, smoke, coffee, etc., when a spiritual being is present.
Claircognizance: Clear-knowing. This is a person who can know something as if the information has been downloaded out of nowhere without knowing why or how they know.
Everyone has some level of psychic awareness whether it’s recognized or not.
As a Clairsentient Medium, some of the people for whom I perform a reading will tell me of a particular smell they experience when their deceased loved one is present, or they hear their name being called when they are at home alone. Many people can walk into a room that feels “off” or a situation which “feels” tense. Every single one of us has basic human intuition. The difference with a psychic and/or medium is their intuitive level is a little more fine-tuned or stronger than most.
I’ll admit that being able to feel and talk to “dead people” can seem a little weird. I’ve even been called spooky by an individual who believes spirit communication to be strange and evil. Regardless, I find those spirits who seek me out are filled with love, fear, longing, happiness, regret, anger, self-righteousness or any number of regular human emotions which they need to express. I happen to be a person who can sense and (for the most part) understand what they are attempting to communicate. And for the living who come to me for a chance to reconnect with a loved one who has crossed the veil, well, it can be an experience or answer to a question they might not be able to receive otherwise. And yes, there have been times I’ve needed to help a person clear a nasty or hateful spirit from their life or home. Do I believe these to be demons? Not really. Some spirit beings were mean, spiteful, selfish or vengeful in life and remain so in death. Some spirit beings are confused, clinging to something, or had a traumatic death and this affects how they interact with the living. And in the words of my favorite author, Stephen King, there are just some places where the ground is “sour” which means negative spirits are drawn there.
If you are a person who feels, sees, hears, tastes or just knows “stuff” (and you know it’s not because of a mental or physical health issue because you are a smart person who gets stuff checked out) but are not sure how to deal with your ability, here are a few ways to start unpacking what’s happening:
- Recognize that you are a spiritually sensitive person and it’s normal – for you anyway.
- Learn how to ground and shield yourself (Listen to our podcast episode #20: First Steps – Grounding, Centering and Shielding for more information on how to do that).
- When you notice your ability tweaking, take a moment to examine where you are, what you are feeling, hearing, seeing, knowing, etc. Decide if there is an action you can, need or want to take in response. If you are at work, in a crowd or just don’t have time then write the experience down to examine later. With practice, you will be able to process/interpret the information being perceived as it happens and go from there.
- Understand that you are never obligated to speak to or assist a spirit being. You can ask them to leave you alone. You can set up a ward around your home to prevent unwanted supernatural visitors (and yes, I’ve had to do this. Time and place, people!). You can acknowledge what you are experiencing and then ignore it. You do not have to make an announcement every time you have a psychic twinkle.
- If you do want to speak to spirit beings (for yourself or on behalf of others) meditation is very helpful in learning how to identify what a spirit might be saying or trying to show you. You will find the more you exercise a dominant ability, the other “clair” abilities will grow and become available as needed.
- If you ever feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way, stop, tell the spirit to leave, and do a spiritual cleansing of yourself and/or space to remove any residual negative energy.