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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Clairaudience is, literally, “clear hearing,” or the ability to hear sounds and voices from other dimensions, usually from spirits of the dead at séances. Most clairvoyants seem also to be occasionally clairaudient. A Spiritualist medium can receive messages from spirits in various ways. The medium may “hear” inside their head what the spirits are saying, or may see and desribe the actions of spirits almost as is done in the game “charades.” The medium may also simply sense what is being passed on. These are the main forms of clairaudient communication, although there are others.

Hearing what is communicated can be just like hearing someone whispering in your ear, though no one else physically present will hear any sound. It can also be similar to sensing, in that you hear the voice and the words themselves, in your head, yet are not aware of the sound originating externally. Clairaudience can also include hearing music, songs, and other sounds.

Clairaudience can sometimes be experienced when in the hypnagogic and hypnapompic states, just as you are falling asleep and just as you are awakening. It can even occur during meditation.

A classic example of clairaudience was the case of Joan of Arc. In the fifteenth century, she heard voices that she attributed to God and various angels. In her father’s garden, at age thirteen, she first heard a voice she believed came from God. During the next five years she heard voices two or three times per week and was able to distinguish these as being Saints Catherine, Margaret and Michael. Her voices directed her to lead the French army against the English, in an attempt to restore the Dauphin to his throne.

Throughout history, people have been guided by voices they heard either internally or externally. Examples are Samuel, Moses, Solomon, and other characters in the Bible, who believed they heard God speaking. In the same way, the ancient Greeks heard whispered advice from daimones or genii, regarded more or less as guardian spirits. Socrates claimed to be advised by a specific daimon. The English poet William Cowper, in the eighteenth century, was advised of upcoming events in his life by voices he heard in his ear. Wolfgang Mozart heard music in his head and simply wrote down what he heard, note for note. Aura May Hollen, in the late 1920s, began to write her many books of poetry and song from what was dictated to her in her head.

Clairaudience is sometimes confused with “direct voice,” which is actually quite different. Direct voice occurs when the medium speaks with the voice of a deceased spirit or, more accurately, a spirit speaks through the medium, using the medium’s vocal cords.

Beginning mediums often use seashells as tools for initiating clairaudience. Holding a seashell to the ear and listening can gradually lead the listener to distinguish human voices, perhaps initially vague and far-off. Over a period of time these voices become louder and clearer, until distinct speech is heard and even individual voices are recognized. A disconnected telephone can also be used as a development tool. Even an imaginary telephone will serve the purpose. The medium takes up the receiver, or imagines holding it, and may hear a voice speaking on the end of the line. Some mediums use this as their way of “turning on” the clairaudience gift. They will imagine a telephone beside them and know that when it rings (in their head), there will be a spirit waiting to speak to them.


Buckland, Raymond: Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communications. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2004
Cowan, Tom: The Book of Séance. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1994
Hollen, Henry: Clairaudient Transmissions. Hollywood: Keats Publications, 1931
Klimo, Jon: Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987
Owens, Elizabeth: How to Communicate With Spirits. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2002
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
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