The term “psychic” has been around since ancient times, but its use in modern
culture is relatively new. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that people began using the word to refer to a person who claimed to possess supernatural powers or knowledge. So, who was the first ever psychic? Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating phenomenon and find out.
The Practice of Divination in Ancient Times
The idea of being able to see into the future dates back thousands of years. In fact, some form of divination—the practice of seeking knowledge about the future and one’s destiny—was practiced by most ancient cultures. The Babylonians and Egyptians used astrology, while the Greeks and Romans relied on augury (the interpretation of omens based on natural phenomena). Though these practices predate recorded history, they were considered essential for understanding and navigating an unpredictable world.
The Ancient Greeks
One of the earliest recorded references to psychic phenomena can be found in ancient Greek
literature. Plato wrote about clairvoyance, which he described as an ability to see things beyond physical sight. He believed that clairvoyants could access knowledge that was otherwise inaccessible to humans—such as information about the future or events in distant places. Other classical authors also wrote about divination and prophecy, suggesting that these practices were accepted by society at large during this time period.
The Middle Ages
As Christianity rose to prominence in Europe during the Middle Ages, psychic phenomena became associated with witchcraft and heresy—and thus, it was largely shunned by religious authorities. Despite this opposition, though, some mystics still managed to gain popularity during this time period; for example, Nostradamus was well known for his prophecies which he claimed were revealed through supernatural means. His predictions are still studied today and remain one of the most famous examples of psychic phenomena from this era.
In recent years, psychic phenomena have become more mainstream due to their use in popular culture (e.g., television shows such as Ghost Whisperer) as well as its acceptance among celebrities like Demi Lovato and Kim Kardashian West have all publicly declared their belief in psychics and their abilities. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in research into psychic phenomena; leading scholars are studying topics such as remote viewing (the ability to perceive events happening in distant locations) and telepathy (the transfer of thoughts between two minds without physical contact).
Now, psychics are seen as people who can see into the future or read people’s minds through supernatural means. This type of paranormal activity has always fascinated people, but it wasn’t until 1882 that someone was officially recognized as a “psychic”—a French woman named Helene Smith. She gained fame after claiming that she could communicate with Martians during her trance-like states, which were induced by self-hypnosis or drugs like nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
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The Rise of Professional Psychics
Helene Smith was one of the first professional psychics in history, paving the way for many more people to make their living by offering psychic services such as tarot card readings and palmistry (reading palms). By World War I, these services had become incredibly popular among soldiers looking for comfort —and perhaps a glimpse into their own futures—in a time filled with so much uncertainty.
Today there are countless psychics operating all over the world; from television personalities like Uri Geller and John Edward to local practitioners offering services out of their homes or online businesses. Few can rival Helene Smith in terms of notoriety but she will forever be remembered as the first person ever to be recognized as a true psychic practitioner—a title that changed our view on what is possible forever!