No look at the psychic community would be complete without a serious nod to all the African American mystics and psychics who push forward spiritual traditions. Let's explore the contributions made by African Americans to the psychic community.
African American Contributions to the Psychic Community
Black Psychics and spiritual folks have contributed greatly to the psychic community. From bringing African mystic traditions from their homelands to embracing the spiritual realm through art and beyond today, the influence of African Americans has extended throughout the years. African American traditions like Hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork, not to mention practices of divination, spiritual protection, and healing, are considered ancestral practices.
African American magic originates in the context of slavery in America, and that magic persists today. Just like their enslaved ancestors, practitioners today lean on ancestral spirituality to support individuals and communities in healing from intergenerational trauma.
Reclaiming Spiritual Traditions
Black women, in particular, are reclaiming traditions and embracing the spiritual realm. For some, that may look like a fascination with the occult and witchcraft. Other Black creatives and artists lean into the spiritual tradition by producing things like tarot decks that highlight the Black experience, culture, and beauty. Just like Americans overall identify more and more as spiritual, more and more Black people are choosing to identify this way.
Black people, especially women, host Black girl magik meet-ups, attend witchcraft conventions and Hoodoo festivals, launch goth clothing lines, and write about tarot, astrology, and the Black gothic. If you're looking for a way to embrace spirituality in your day-to-day life, an intuitive Psychic can help you find a spiritual practice that works for you. Before finding your own path to mysticism, let's first celebrate some important African American mystics who have paved the way for the current movement.
Youree Dell Harris
Better known as Miss Cleo, Youree Dell Harris played a big role in elevating the profile of psychic work. The television personality was best known as the Psychic Readers Network service spokeswoman and appeared in a series of TV commercials from 1997 to 2003.
Born in 1962 (likely in Los Angeles, not Jamaica as her Miss Cleo persona claimed), Harris was always interested in theater work. Harris opened a production company in Seattle in 1996 and produced several plays she wrote, also acting in an autographical play. After an unsuccessful final project the following year, she left Seattle. Of course, Harris is best known for her work with the Psychic Readers Network, which she began in the late 1990s.
Harris's work with the Psychic Readers Network is the basis for her fame and the controversy surrounding her. As Miss Cleo, Harris appeared in television infomercials portraying a shaman born and raised in Jamaica. However, the network faced complaints of fraud and deceptive advertising. The network was sued in a range of lawsuits, but Harris herself wasn't indicted. Friends who experienced Harris's readings spoke of her psychic gifts, and even those who fell victim to the hotline scheme could sense her otherworldly leanings.
All in all, Miss Cleo is an enigmatic figure. She rose to fame by appropriating a Jamaican accent and captured the broader public's attention with her over-the-top performances. Still, in her "Hotline" interview, Harris explained that she connected with energies from those who had left this earth. She quickly became famous after reading tarot cards on camera and continued doing live readings that amazed people with their accuracy.
Many believe the network took advantage of her and her gifts. So, while she was a bit divisive and polarizing, there's no denying the work Miss Cleo did in raising awareness of the psychic community.
Shirley Ajayi is another name you need to know if you're learning about famous Black Psychics. Ajayi is known for being the first successful African American Telekinetic Psychic. In 1986, she started working on television in Chicago, Illinois. She broke into the television field during a time when African American people did not frequently appear on air in this type of role, blazing a path for those like Miss Cleo who came after her.
Ajayi was the first African American psychic given a part on a television show as a Psychic after auditioning with other Psychics to get the part. The show she appeared in lasted for about six months, and her predictions came true, and she gained notoriety, getting renamed Aura as she signed on to do the remaining shows.
Harriet Wilson contributed to the psychic community, but she's also known as the first African American to publish a novel in North America. Wilson was born in 1825 as a free person of color. However, after she was orphaned at a young age, she was bound as an indentured servant until she turned 18. She struggled to make a living in later years, marrying twice and seeing her only son die at age 7 in a poorhouse.
Wilson's novel "Our Nig; or, Sketches From the Life of a Free Black" was anonymously published in 1859. The work was not widely known until Henry Louis Gates Jr. discovered it in 1982. In the 1860s, Wilson lived in Boston and became known in the Spiritualist church community as "the colored medium." She worked as a trance reader and lecturer from 1867 to 1897, giving lectures sometimes while entranced and other times using normal speech at places like theaters, meeting houses, private homes, and camp meetings.
Most of her lectures took place throughout New England, but she traveled as a delegate to the American Association of Spiritualists convention in 1870. Wilson's lectures covered topics like children's education and labor reform. She also worked as a Spiritualist nurse and healer and was known as a clairvoyant physician. Wilson's spiritual healer work meant she would make house calls and give medical consultations.
Ready to deepen your own spiritual practice? Speak with a Psychic today at PathForward to find your path to connecting with mystic traditions.