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  • Writer's pictureAnthon St. Maarten

Clairolfaction – The Gift Of Psychic Smell

Distinctive smell perceptions have long been associated with a variety of psychic and supernatural phenomena. Some psychic mediums with this unusual talent rely on their ability to ‘smell spirit’ in order to validate loved ones who have crossed over, or to identify the presence of spirit entities. Some psychics also use this rare psychic ability to gain insight into events of the past, present and future. It is the unique psychic ability known as clairolfaction, the gift of psychic smell.

Psychic smell or clairolfaction is a lesser-known psychic preference involving olfactory or smell perceptions, which may include both pleasant aromas and putrid odors.

Psychic smell or clairolfaction is a lesser-known psychic preference involving olfactory or smell perceptions, which may include both pleasant aromas and putrid odors.

The term olfaction means ‘sense of smell, faculty of smelling,’ from Latin olfacere ‘to smell, get the smell of,’ and olere ‘to emit a smell.’ However, despite clairolfaction being a rare phenomenon there are many synonyms in everyday use for this psychic perception preference, including:

Clairosmesis from Greek osmēsis, from osmasthai to smell, perceive by smell.

Clairessence derived from ‘ingredient which gives something its particular character,’ as in ‘distilled oils from plants, fragrance, perfume.’

Clairscent from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; perceive;’ and Latin sentire ‘to perceive, sense, discern.’

Clairalience (etymological origin unknown)

In psychology and medicine, smelling an odor that is not physically present in the environment is considered to be an olfactory hallucination, or a medical condition known as phantosmia, or ‘phantom smell.’ Cacosmia, its ‘unpleasant’ version is however found to be more common and typically described as the phantom smell of something burned, foul, spoiled, or rotten.[1]

While distortion in ordinary smell perception does indeed occur and certainly requires medical attention, assuming that ‘phantom smells’ are always due to hallucination or medical pathology does not explain why some psychics, mediums, healers, exorcists, and paranormal investigators experience these unusual smell perceptions, while their normal smell otherwise remains unaffected?

This article is an excerpt from the bestselling book The Sensible Psychic: A Leading-Edge Guide To True Psychic Perception

Clairolfaction is not frequently acknowledged or discussed in the psychic community, probably because it is not a common psychic preference. It is most often associated with unusual mediumship experiences and spirit phenomena. Whether it is purely a mediumship phenomenon, or simply misunderstood or underreported by psychics is unclear, but accounts of this phenomenon traditionally focus mostly on extreme paranormal phenomena, such as poltergeist activity and demonic possession. The case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren include, for example, numerous accounts of foul ‘cacosmic’ odors and bizarre smell phenomena. [2]

Psi research data on clairolfaction further appears to be limited mostly to physical mediumship, for example the anecdotal accounts of physical mediums Indridi Indridason and Franek Kluski. Indridason produced a fragrant smell when he was channeling, as well as other smells, such as seaweed. These smells would sometimes cling to other people after he touched them.[3]

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel. ~ Oliver Wendell

Various odors also permeated Kluski’s body during séances, including the smells of fruit, leaves, flowers, incense, disinfectant, animal smells, rotting flesh, sweat, and dirty clothing. These smells reportedly clung to him for a long time and were emitted from different parts of his body.[4]

It is unfortunate that psychic smelling is generally overlooked in both psi research and the psychic community, as smell perceptions are some of the most psychologically and emotionally meaningful ‘qualia’ people experience. “Not only is it a chief component of taste,” writes Amelia Buckley, “but it holds the key to our emotions. It is a primary factor in memory and can manipulate our feelings in a way that sight or sound can’t quite do.”[5]

Smell is indeed a powerful sense. We all experience smell associations that instantly take us back to moments of heightened emotion or special memories. It is no accident, for example, that when we experience a negative intuition or gut feeling we say things like, ‘I smell a rat,’ or ‘it smells to high heaven,’ or ‘something smells fishy.’ Smells have the unique ability to immediately evoke emotions or trigger vivid memories. No other sense can so instantly bring back a meaningful moment from the past, or invoke the memory of a special person or event.

This class perception phenomenon is an exceptionally meaningful aspect of channeling or reading for those practitioners who do experience it. Clairolfactory psychics and mediums tend to also perceive clairgustance or psychic taste impressions along with certain smell perceptions. It makes sense that this mental partnership would exists in a metaphysical context, since our physical perception of taste and smell also go hand-in-hand.


The most commonly reported experiences of psychic smell involve the smell of a deceased loved one’s perfume, as well as smells associated with cigarette and cigar smoke.

I had a very striking personal experience of this while having lunch at a restaurant one day, when I began to smell the stench of second-hand tobacco smoke. I complained to the waiter, as it was supposed to be a non-smoking area, but both my companion and the waiter were perplexed, as neither of them smelled anything, and there was clearly nobody smoking inside the venue? Driving home, I soon realized the truth. Whoever had been ‘stinking up’ the restaurant was now also ‘chain-smoking’ inside my car.

Later that evening, the ‘culprit’ made himself known during a mediumship reading. The first thing I said to my client was, “whoever the person is you were hoping to connect with today, I can already tell you one thing for sure…he must have smoked like a chimney!” She confirmed that he indeed used to smoke two to three packs a day.

Smoke and perfume are however not the only smell perceptions clairolfactors perceive. In readings I have perceived the smell of flowers (especially roses), perfume or cologne, cigarette smoke, leather, incense, spices, fresh bread, fast food (hamburgers and pizza), animals (including dogs, cats, and horses), sea water, and even ‘wet sand.’

Sometimes these smell impressions can be very unpleasant, but fortunately for me that does not happen very often. Foul smells I have had to endure include urine, dirty laundry, and chemicals (alcohol, turpentine, and disinfectant). I have however heard of psychics and mediums who smell even worse things, like ‘burning rubber,’ ‘wet dog,’ and ‘rotting eggs.’ Paranormal investigators also report the smell of sulphur as one of the classic signs of a haunting or demonic activity. [6][7]


The most interesting aspect of my own ‘smelling ability’ is an unusual odor I began perceiving early on in my career. While I am channeling, spirit energy at times manifests clairvoyantly in the periphery of my ordinary vision as light orbs of ‘flickering, floating lights,’ comparable to ‘seeing stars,’ or the ‘flashers and floaters’ you see after looking into a bright light.

These orbs usually bring with it a distinctive smell. The best way I can describe it is that it smells like ‘electricity’ or ‘ozone.’ It is not unpleasant, simply unusual. For a long time, I had no way of describing it, until I bought a small air purifier many years ago. I soon discovered that the faint smell of ozone, generated in small quantities by the negative ions from the purifier, was quite similar.

I have since discovered I am not the only one to experience this phenomenon and that similar cases have been reported physical mediumship. A well-documented example is a report by psi researcher Gustave Geley of a séance conducted by physical medium Franek Kluski on March 17th, 1920, during which he produced ‘phosphorescent lights smelling of ozone.’

From these lights, floating in the air, came what looked like shining smoke, accompanied by a very strong smell of ozone, which the participants smelled until the end of the séance. Some of the participants were touched by what seemed like a shining, flowing stream which over a period continued to shine on the hands, hair, and faces which it touched. The little fires, which kept appearing in increasing numbers, started to travel through the medium and come out of him.[8]

According to Geley’s records ozone was the most frequent odor occurring around Kluski during his séances and was often associated with these ‘highly phosphorescent, moving lights.’[9]


I have been rather fortunate with clairolfaction, as I have in recent years begun to experience an unusual phenomenon of foreboding or portentous clairolfaction that is exceptionally positive, pleasant and uplifting. I suspect it may be something I have been experiencing all my life, but for some reason I only became aware of it more recently. I have also not been able to find any information on this phenomenon. I call it auspicious aroma.

Merriam-Webster defines auspicious as ‘having qualities which inspire hope’ and ‘pointing toward a happy outcome,’ while an aroma is ‘a sweet or pleasant smell,’ as well as a ‘special quality or impression associated with something.’

My ‘auspicious aromas’ are pleasant, happy, comforting ‘smells’ that are mostly indescribable, but always a good sign. One of the only significant associations I have been able to make thus far was a smell perception that somehow reminded me of the pantry in my maternal grandparents’ home (one of my favorite places when I was a child).

The feeling I have when I perceive these smells is vague excitement and a sense of joy. I have found that they are always a good omen or foreboding that something good, positive, reassuring, or fortunate is about to occur in my life. For me it is essentially the ‘phantom smell’ version of finding a four-leaf clover or seeing a shooting star.

Science writer Alexandra Michel argues that psychology textbooks have taught us for decades that there is a clear line of distinction between perception — how we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell — and higher-level cognitive processes that allow us to integrate and interpret our senses.

Yet, emerging interdisciplinary research is showing that the delineation between perception and cognition may be much blurrier than previously thought…New findings also show that our so-called low-level perceptual processes, such as smell, may actually be much smarter than previously thought. Discerning exactly what is top-down or bottom-up may be far more complicated than scientists once believed.[10]

Neuroscientist John McGann uses cutting-edge techniques to explore the neurobiology of sensory cognition in smell. He uses the olfactory system as a model to investigate neural processing of sensory stimuli. He argues that our nose knows more than we realize. He believes the myth that our ability to smell is ‘non-essential’ is a serious mistake that has caused science to neglect research in this critical and mysterious part of the human mind.[11]

In a recent series of experiments McGann discovered that “it was like the information coming into the brain from the nose already had the memory of bad things incorporated into it.”[12] In other words, we appear to be able to ‘know’ or ‘predict’ information from a smell, before the actual smell information even reaches our brain for sensory processing.


Similar to other psychic preferences, clairolfactory psychics and mediums also develop personal symbolism or subjective associations with their psychic smell perceptions. For example, I can tell someone is terminally ill whenever I smell ‘rotting peaches.’ This association comes from an early childhood experience when I was about five years old.

While visiting my grandparents, they introduced me to a sickly little girl who lived across the street from them. The day we met she was playing outside with her older brother. He was gently pushing her in a makeshift swing attached to the overhanging branch of a large peach tree.

The instant I saw her, it seemed like the bright sunlight of a perfect summer’s day suddenly vanished. A dark, depressing shadow descended for me over everything, and I was overwhelmed by a sense of profound sadness, anxiety, despair. In that gloomy moment, the air was thick with the unpleasant odor of rotting peaches on the ground around us. I felt that she was extremely sick and dying, and so I came to associate the ‘peach smell’ with terminal illness. Years later, I was told that soon after we met, she had passed away from leukemia.

Clairolfaction is especially meaningful in the context of health and healing, as some medical psychics, mediums and energy healers report the ability to ‘smell disease,’ or detect the early symptoms of illness, or identify affected areas of the body through smell impressions.

Research in this field is limited, but there has been renewed interest recently due to Joy Milne who unknowingly smelled her husband had Parkinson's disease — over a decade before his symptoms became severe enough for him to seek help and be diagnosed. Despite a keen sense of smell since childhood, Milne never realized she had a ‘superpower,’ until the couple attended a support group for people with Parkinson's.

There were many people gathered in the room and as soon as she walked in, she realized they all had the same ‘greasy, musty smell’ she begun smelling on her husband many years earlier, before he was diagnosed. Once she realized the connection, they approached a researcher in regenerative medicine, but he dismissed her claims, thinking it was impossible.

Several months later, he heard about research that showed dogs could smell cancer,[13] which reminded him of Milne. He then invited her to participate in an experiment in which she was asked to smell T-shirts worn overnight by two groups: people who had Parkinson's, and a control group. Not only was she incredibly accurate (she only made one mistake), but she was even able to tell if a person was in the early or late stages of the disease.[14][15]

Interestingly, there is another case of a man who happens to suffer from Parkinson’s hallucinations, during which he smells a ‘noxious skunk-onion excrement odor’ that would suddenly intensify two to three hours before a weather storm, and would last until it has passed. According to a 2013 study he is the first reported case of ‘weather-induced exacerbation of phantosmia.’[16]

© 2022 Anthon St. Maarten

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[1] Leopold, D.A. (2002). Distortion Of Olfactory Perception: Diagnosis And Treatment. Chemical Senses.
[2] Warren, E & Warren, L. (2014). In A Dark Place. Graymalkin Media.
[3] Haraldsson, E. (2018). Indridi Indridason (Medium). Psi Encyclopedia. The Society for Psychical Research.
[4] Weaver, Z. (2018). Franek Kluski. Psi Encyclopedia. The Society for Psychical Research.
[5] Buckley, A. (2020). Stop And Smell The Roses! An Ode To The Most Beguiling Sense.
[6] Pye, M. et. al. (2011). Exposed, Uncovered & Declassified: Ghosts, Spirits, & Hauntings: Am I Being Haunted? New Page Books.
[7] Wilson, C. (2015). Mysteries: An Investigation Into The Occult, The Paranormal, And The Supernatural. Diversion Books.
[8] Weaver, Z. (2015). Other Realities? The Enigma Of Franek Kluski’s Mediumship. White Crow Books.
[9] Weaver, Z. (2018). Franek Kluski. Psi Encyclopedia. The Society for Psychical Research.
[10] Michel, A. (2020). Cognition and Perception: Is There Really A Distinction? Association For Psychological Science.
[11] McGann, J.P. (2017). Poor Human Olfaction Is A 19th-Century Myth. Science.
[12] Science Podcast: 13 December Show. Listen To Stories On Fear-Enhanced Odor Detection.
[13] Experimental Biology. (2019). Study Shows Dogs Can Accurately Sniff Out Cancer In Blood.
[14] An Unlikely Superpower. (2020). Invisibilia: Season 6, Episode 3.
[15] Trivedi, D.K. et. al. (2019). Discovery Of Volatile Biomarkers Of Parkinson’s Disease From Sebum. ACS Central Science.
[16] Aiello, S. R. & Hirsch, A. R. (2013). Phantosmia As A Meteorological Forecaster. International Journal Of Biometeorology.


Anthon St. Maarten is a psychic medium and destiny coach with a global clientele of thought leaders, business executives, celebrities, politicians, academics, and luminaries in the arts and sciences in more than thirty countries spanning five continents.

He is also a metaphysics teacher, psychic development coach, podcaster, and spiritual blogger. Anthon is a hereditary psychic medium in professional practice since 2004 and a liberal arts post-graduate with a major in psychology.

psychic medium and destiny coach Anthon St. Maarten offers a range of professional psychic reading options, including psychic and mediumship readings, love and relationship guidance, soulmate readings, business and finance readings and annual forecasts and psychic predictions.


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