How Do You Know If You're Intuitive? 11 Professional Intuitives Tell When They First Realized Their Abilities

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I’ll start with a story.

A long time ago, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. (Put down your tiny violin, everything’s fine! I haven’t had a seizure in seven years — we’re good.)

My doctor was alerted to my brain disorder because I experienced a very embarrassing, very public grand mal seizure — the kind of freaky event that looks like it should be on Grey’s Anatomy.

As we slowly began to create a picture of my day-to-day health to explain this seemingly out-of-the-blue experience, it became clear that the “everyday” occurrences that I thought were normal were, in fact, not at all normal.

This revelatory doctors appointment was when I learned:

  • No, not everyone loses up to an hour of their day in a blackout. And no, this is not what people mean when they say, “Oh, I was spacing out.”

  • No, most people don’t hear voices, kind of like they can hear people’s thoughts.

  • Nope, it’s actually pretty, pretty unusual to feel like you’re having an out of body experience while awake.

I still contend that it wasn’t my fault I thought these experiences were ordinary ... no one ever told me that they weren’t.

One of the biggest questions that we get over and over in our inbox is, “How do I strengthen my intuition?” But I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s another question lurking under that: “How do I know if I’m intuitive?

Many of us didn’t grow up regularly talking about psychic or clairvoyant intuition with our parents. If you did, hi, can I come to *your* family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year? Cause it sounds dope.

Because we didn’t grow up exposed to how intuition manifests, my guess is that a lot of us had intuitive gifts reveal themselves at a young age — and instead of acknowledging that these were indeed psychic gifts, we just assumed they were routine until someone explained to us otherwise. And maybe you’ve never given these experiences a second thought ... until now.

We interviewed 11 of our favorite intuitive teachers and practitioners to learn about when they first discovered their intuitive gifts. Some were young — Julie Evonne Washington was just three when she spoke to her first Spirit! And some had their intuitive awakenings at an older age, after study and practice.

Read on to learn more about these powerful womxn’s stories — and don’t be surprised if an experience feels familiar to you ...


11 Intuitives Explain Their First Experiences With Intuition

Imani Quinn

Clairvoyant, Oracle card reader

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My mother is a natural born intuitive, so being intuitive in my household was a regular occurrence. We had oracle decks, we went to tarot and palm readers as well as healers, we had a ouija board in the house, my mom used a pendulum and consistently tapped into spirits within the homes that we inhibited.

When I was a young girl I used to see this little girl everywhere I went, she didn’t harm me, but I would just see her. I have been using oracle decks as long as I can remember, but to set a date on it, I say I’ve been using them since 15 proactively as a source of guidance, with that came tapping into my intuition. As I have focused more and more on my intuition, my experiences and abilities have strengthened and shown be the wildest magic of the universe.


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Zoie Harmon

Artist and Tarot reader

When your intuition tells you something, but the people around you deny it, it leads to a lot of anxiety and self-doubt. Growing up as an intuitive was painful, I saw things people wanted to hide.

Nothing proves your intuition like seeing something you don’t want to be true.

I came up with an affirmation, “I surround myself with people I will not lose by telling the truth.” I lost a lot of people. I also gained more honest and formative friendships and chosen family. Intuition is not something you build, create, or find. You have to shed the myriad of ways people have filled you with doubt. We are born intuitive and convinced otherwise. The specific occurrence for me was believing my truth and being willing to accept the pain of losing people who did not. It wasn’t as simple as people not believing me, it was people saying, “fuck you for seeing me.”

 
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Julie Washington

The Third Eye Goddess, Curandera, Intuitive Oracle Reader, and Espiritista

I realized that I was intuitive at a very early age, my first memory of knowing my gifts was about the age of three. The first event I remember as a young child was playing with a spirit child. And I was communicating with her name is Cindy. She died from choking when she was my age, three. Throughout my childhood and like I’ve always been connected to Spirit I’ve seen them, speaking with them, and a powerful sense of feeling as well as knowing a spirit was around and when things were about to happen. Good or bad... I also have very fond memories of seen non-physical colors and lights, and experiencing a greater sense of the Simplicity of the world around me even with the dysfunction of my family dynamics ... and just about that time I would have reoccurring visions of my father lying in a box with birds on it, and there were words inscribed in blue... Well, fast forward 17 years later... That box was my father’s casket, with bluebirds that but read the words “Going Home”...

 
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Emily Ackerman

Spiritual Psychology and Creative Recovery.

I think I was highly intuitive as a kid but had no consciousness of it being intuition. From a young age, I had a love of storytelling and would write poetry and plays that seemed to just flow through me. I remember my parents and teachers always being somewhat shocked by the depth of the work that was springing forth from my prepubescent self.

Looking back, it’s clear I was channeling divine inspiration, and I was receiving it because I was open and wholly in touch with my authentic self. But then, of course, conditioning slowly got the better of me. It wasn’t until I began my training in Spiritual Psychology and started to work with people one-on-one in a facilitator role that I began to experience claircognizance.

A client would be sharing about their life, and out of nowhere I’d experience this sensation of deep knowing or a specific word would pop into my brain. I’d share this information with the client, and it always seemed to be precisely what they needed to hear and would often result in a breakthrough for them.

 
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Ambi Kavanaugh 

Astrologer, Alchemist

When did you first realize you were intuitive? Was there an event or occurrence that made you aware?* I knew from a very young age. I had visions and intuitive insights as a small child which continued into adolescence and adulthood. I knew the night my maternal grandfather had passed on as I had a vision of him, which was akin to a dream. He had been ill for some time, and his passing on was expected but I literally ‘saw’ it the night he did pass on and had a conversation of sorts with him about his passing!


 
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Helen Vonderheide

Elite Certified Akashic Records Teacher and Practitioner

When did you first realize you were intuitive? In 2007 I started to become aware and observe my inner voice as being wise, compassionate, and perceptive. I just thought, “Wow, that is a talkative inner-voice” and thought nothing more of it. I knew it wasn’t my mind. I was in my mid-twenties. At the same time, I was beginning to practice Buddhism from the Lotus Sutra, which translates as all beings are entitled to enlightenment. I was being called to explore spiritual development but through Buddhist Philosophy.

 
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Lindsey Kimura

Healer, Reader

As a child, I used to draw “my psychic door” for people with my finger in the air opening it with a “special code” and tell them what I saw.  When younger, I thought the feeling of knowing what would happen or creating experiences with the mind were senses that everyone was using.


 
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Ashley Wood

International Akashic Records Reader

I grew up as a psychic child and didn’t really know this until I was a teenager. My grandma read tea leaves, tarot cards, had crystals, and would tell me stories about seeing her mother in the middle of the night, dressed in white. Looking back I now know that I communicated with spirits, saw things, heard things and was very in tune as a child, but it wasn’t until I had a very vivid dream when I was around 19 years old that I knew I had a gift.

In that dream, I was visited by my grandma’s brother (who was deceased, I had never met him). He told me the date of “June 4, 1942” and to “tell her I’m sorry.” I woke up and wrote down the information. The following day I took it to my grandma, and she became very emotional. She told me that the date was her father’s funeral and that her brother had taken everything from her that was left for her in the will. I then realized that I had traveled to a different dimension in my dream and communicated with a soul on the other side. Once I was aware of this, I realized how often it had happened before that moment and then continued to happen more and more onwards. 

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Pilar Lesko

Medicine Woman & Lover Priestess

I have known I was intuitive from a very young age. I had a very pivotal experience as a child where I *saw* that the other side was a real thing and felt the Spirit of my Mother come into the room. As a child, I was able to feel into people and know if they had a dead relative near them, if they had gone through something highly traumatic such as physical or sexual abuse, and other things.

 
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Lenea Sims

Energy Educator, Founder of Inner Play

My heritage is both African American and Native American, so a lot of my family’s beliefs and traditions stem from a long lineage of people who are one with the planet and therefore profoundly intuitive. I saw my first spirits as a child in my bedroom, and I’ve always had a sixth sense of energy.


 
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Maryam Ajayi

Energy Healer, founder of Indagba

I remember always “knowing” things since I was a little girl. I remember being very young, maybe 10 and looking at my cousin who was then pregnant, but not showing and asking her if she was having a baby. I ran away from my knowing until 2 years ago—so most of my life. I would lie to myself and try to numb thoughts and feelings with substances.

When I learned what this knowing was called—being an intuitive and seeing other people navigate their knowing gave me the strength to face it. Then, I started to harness it, and it completely changed my life, and I love using my intuition to help others do the same!