I have a question for those familiar with the dark arts. I am looking for answers from people with knowledge of clairvoyance and psychic abilities (no matter how they came upon this knowledge!) to help with a specific aspect of my fictional world.

Magic system

I'm trying to base my magic system on 20th century occultism / alternative medicine etc. This is as far as I have gotten. The magic system is:

  • Based on Western occult and spiritualist traditions
  • Employed directly, without much intervention from helpers or gods from beyond the grave or from other realities. For example, my protagonist uses Tarot cards, which sometimes tell the future, and sometimes they influence the future by creating hexes and curses. She carries them around like any other fantasy character would pack a sword or a pistol.
  • Does not drain energy, or not in a dramatic way.
  • Might use up magic powders or artifacts.
  • It just so happens that some people can do it, and those people can use it as much as they like.

A small amount of more powerful magic exists, based on artifacts and powders. These are heavily controlled by governments and international bodies. Hence, the main characters are involved in smuggling magic powders between various coastlines by sea.

Uses of magic

Although the time period is modern-day, I wish to rid my narrative of modern weapons and firearms.

How am I doing this? Through psychic abiities. The Coast Guard employs psychics, sourced from the military, who are very good at tracking firearms. Which means keeping guns on a smuggling vessel is a sure-fire way to be discovered by the Coast Guard. My characters don't want to get caught. Therefore, they rarely bring guns on trafficking voyages.

My question is:

  • How would the Coast Guard psychics go about their jobs?

Surely guns are not the only things they can perceive. I am trying to base their abilities on real ideas of what psychics can do. I figure they are most likely to see/predict things with a lot of emotions attached. Also perhaps things with a connection to death or the afterlife. This might explain why the Coast Guard psychics are especially good at sniffing out guns.


  • Are there any models of how a specific psychic ability works, either generally, or where applied (successfully or not) to law enforcement in particular?

I'd like a specific set of psychic abilities employed by a real-life famous psychic or clairvoyant or card-reader that I can use, that would work for the Coast Guard or law enforcement in this context. I feel it's better to have a plausible model of how detection/prediction by a psychic might work, rather than just patch something together to suit my plot. Basically I am looking for something that reads true to people who know about / believe in (practice? wield?) this stuff.

Help, please!

  • $\begingroup$ Some psychics claim that they can sense strong emotion so you could use that although why smugglers would be emotionally attached to the powders they smuggle I don't know. Maybe they can sense the need of the people receiving the powder and trace it backwards from there? $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2016 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ Work back from the buyers? That's an angle I hadn't thought of. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Ryan Mills
    Dec 11, 2016 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


Vedic Siddhis

One widely recognized system is that of Yoga from the Vedic culture of India. When properly practiced, yoga can result in manifestation of siddhis (special abilities).

The Shiva Samhita describes a number of siddhis related to perception (see chapter 3 particularly):

  • Sukshma drishti (the ability to see non-physical things): this could be useful in detecting if any of the smugglers are doing illegal things in a non-physical plane

  • Dura drishti (ability to see far away things): this could be used to inspect ships, watch smugglers, examine cargo holds, etc.

  • Dura Shruti (clairaudience): this enables one to listen to smugglers, eavesdrop on their plans, etc.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) and it's advanced techniques, such as the TM-Sidhi Program (which includes Yogic Flying), are designed to lead one effortlessly to enlightenment, and to the development of such accomplished mind-body coordination that siddhis are a natural result. So, practicing TM and the TM-Sidhi Program are techniques for acquiring siddhis.

The Maharishi Jyotish program is a set of techniques designed lead the practitioner to become intimately familiar with the level of reality known as "jyotishmati pragya":

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When capable of accessing jyotishmati pragya, the practioner can know the past, present and future. This could be used by the coast guard to catch smuggers by knowing when and where smugglers will be, where they keep their guns, etc.

Difference of Interpretation

One primary difference between schools of yoga is how yoga is achieved. Different proponents of yoga translate Vedic texts differently, sometimes fundamentally differently. For this reason, if you read translations of Vedic Literature made by unenlightened people, it is said you can very easily be led astray in terms of proper practice of yoga.

For this reason, it is recommended you seek out an enlightened Guru. Once found, do anything it takes to become their disciple so one can attain enlightenment in this lifetime.

I mention this in the hope that you, as a writer, don't get confused by many different techniques different translators and teachers publicize. The only reliable modern guidance I have ever found is the teachings and translations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who prescribes effortless techniques like TM.

  • $\begingroup$ This is not really an answer to the question. An edit to explain how these yogic practices could be used by law enforcement / border protection agents to detect or apprehend traffickers would be much appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan Mills
    Dec 11, 2016 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, is that clearer now? $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2016 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ No problem. I have TONS more of that kind of stuff, but I didn't want to take all day to write it all down if it wasn't what you were looking for. If there is an aspect of what I wrote that you liked that other answers are not providing, I might have more I can add...just let me know. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ I mean, I literally spent most of my life studying this exact topic (just not for helping the coast guard). $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ Are you wanting chapter and verse of actual texts describing how to develop specific siddhis? Because there are siddhis for just about anything...walking on water, flying, invisibility, etc. Just about any siddhi can be used in some way for law enforcement. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 0:06

There aren't a lot of models connecting psychic abilities to law enforcement but there are some abilities that people report which I can apply uses to. Since this is pseudoscientific, people can report what they want and it will be believed; expect some of the items on this list to be unrealistic.

Astral Projection


  • Having "out-of-body" experiences and drifting to new places, physical or supernatural
  • Some may be able to do so with their eyes open and describe what they see
  • Others may need to be unconscious


  • Bag checking
  • Following suspicious individuals
  • Reporting remote problems; general surveilance

Aura Reading


  • Sensing auras (souls? electromagnetic radiation? supernatural vapors?) around individuals
  • Reported somewhat often (not hard to find)


  • Telling if a person is "good" "evil" or some complex alternative
  • Determining motives, guilt, etc
  • Determining the general safety of a location

Clairvoyance or Scrying


  • Sensing the present or future of objects, people, places, and things
  • May be associated with a sense (one individual may see the future, another may hear it)
  • May not work at all times or at will
  • May be able to see the metaphysical (ghosts etc)


  • Projecting the futures of those associated with illegal powder distribution; watching the people who buy contraband to identify them if they arrive at customs
  • Identifying future threats or attacks on customs by magic users
  • Spying on "no fly list" individuals associated with magic to prepare if they will arrive



  • Summoning and banishing supernatural entities
  • May apply to metaphysical entities "ghosts" or physical "demons"/possessed people


  • Processing and potentially removing metaphysical beings; like border patrol for ghosts



  • Inducing a dreamlike state
  • Making individuals complacent
  • May include getting them to do things or divulge information


  • Interrogation
  • "Safer" processing
  • Bag checking



  • This is a broad category encompassing things like teleporting objects, making new objects spontaneously, moving the air around you, creating fire, etc.
  • Little actual evidence (even pseudoscientific) for this exists so I'm lumping it together


  • Defense
  • Bag-checking
  • Restraining individuals
  • Interrogation / torture



  • Acting as a gateway between the physical and supernatural; allowing metaphysical consciousnesses to manifest and speak
  • Mostly just for communication


  • Identifying victims of crime
  • Physical guards (if "posessed")
  • Surveillance (this assumes that there are friendly supernatural being who can observe the crime and then report it)



  • Being in multiple places at once
  • May be physical or mental


  • Surveillance
  • Security (multiple strong guards)



  • Moving objects and systems with the mind
  • May require energy or have constraints


  • Security (guarding places)
  • Restraining individuals
  • Torture and interrogation
  • Sifting through suitcases efficiently



  • Intercepting human thought
  • Communicating via thought
  • May or may not be clear that a telepath is observing you at any given time
  • May also work on animals


  • Spying at any place or on any level
  • Interrogation and torture
  • Long-distance communication


May I say some different key words that you could google, so you can find a method that rings a good bell in your own Mind?

Astral projection/shamanic journeying, lucid dreaming, crystal gazing, tea leaf gazing, cloud gazing, fire gazing (like in the red priests/priestesses in The Game of Thrones), bone throwing (used in ancient China), black mirror gazing, smoke gazing.

Maybe the psychics would like to draw a circle of protection first, using the four elements (Earth in the north, Water in the west, Fire in the south, Air in the east). A stone in the north, bowl of water in the west, lit candle in the south, feather in the east).

I would choose the astral projection root (because for me it is something I am familiar with), where they would breath in a specific way while completely relaxing the body, draw white light throughout their egg shaped aura (for protection), descend to the underworld/spirit world (always through the same entrance) meet their spirit guardian/s, and get help from them, or be escorted by them to get the information from another astral being(whether an animal spirit, alien, faerie or god/goddess. It would be nice to offer a gift in return for the information.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the detail about how someone would actually go about performing astral projection. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan Mills
    Dec 11, 2016 at 23:30

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