Our 12 Senses

By Celia Coates

This is a small post about a huge subject – our senses. We’ve been taught (in the West) that there are five senses, five ways in which humans can perceive our surroundings,

We take in information through neurological systems connected to specific parts of the body: eyes, ears, body surface, tongue and nose. Physical responses to external stimuli are then translated into several kinds of  awareness.

These are the five physical senses and senses also exist at the subtle, non-physical level. Although the subtle senses have customarily been down-played or denied, we can all experience that there is another level of what’s “real” through our experiences of the clair senses. “Clair” means clear although for many people they are anything but clear,
Clairvoyance – clear seeing/vision
Clairaudience – clear hearing/audition
Clairsentience – clear sensing/somatosensation
Clairgustance – clear tasting/gustation
Clairscent – clear smelling/olfaction

When your awareness of something arrives without any obvious source or signal, you are experiencing one of the clairs. For example, out-of-the-blue you might see something that is going to happen, or you might hear a voice when no one is there. You might quickly wonder if you are crazy, and, if you tell them, other people often wonder the same thing. This is one of biggest hindrances to experiencing and using the subtle senses, but that’s a topic for other posts.

We also have a sixth sense – intuition, a subtle sense that does not rely on physical signals and is not tied into the neurological system. It is named in Western cultures but often diminished, side-lined as feminine intuition or it’s seen as flakey, something not real that comes from the fringe. This subtle sense might be called claircognition, knowing something without any of the usual means for receiving information.

In Eastern belief systems there are six ordinary senses rather than five and the brain is the sixth part of the body that perceives the world around us. The signals become cognition – perceptions and thoughts – in our awareness. There is much more to say about the gates of perception in belief systems based in India and in Buddhism, but here I will just point out that other ways of thinking about our senses exist.

People vary in which physical senses are dominant. Some of us are more aware of what we see than what we hear, and some chefs earn their livings with the sense of taste. Overall, humans do not have senses as strong as other animals. Dogs, for example, have us beat in the ability to smell. There are many stories about the subtle senses and pets, observations made about cats and dogs perceiving energies that cannot be seen or heard by their owners. Humans also vary in their abilities to perceive through the subtle senses, with some people having extraordinary psychic skills. In using the word “psychic” we are again off and running into trouble with discussing our subtle senses. It is part of my hope that WINN will publish experiences and experiments that show that the subtle dimensions are as real as the material realms so that more people are willing to explore them.

I turned to Wikipedia to see what the consensus statement about the senses was and was delighted to read,
“Flies and butterflies have taste organs on their feet, allowing them to taste anything they land on.”
I was immediately captivated. It made me want to take my shoes off because, in my imagination, my feet had become butterfly feet and I could feel and taste the rose I’d just landed on.

Back to ordinary reality – This post is a greatly simplified description of the 12 senses that are part of the gift of being human. It’s just a beginning. There’s much more to discuss in the weeks ahead.


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