The History of Psychic Practices in Chicago

Chicago, a city with a rich and varied history, has also played a significant role in the development and evolution of psychic practices in the United States. From the spiritualism of the 19th century to the New Age movements of the late 20th century, Chicago has been a significant hub for those interested in the metaphysical and the mystical.

Early Beginnings: Spiritualism and the Fox Sisters

The history of psychic practices in Chicago can be traced back to the mid-19th century with the rise of spiritualism in America. Spiritualism, which revolves around the belief that the living can communicate with the dead, was popularized by the Fox Sisters in New York during the 1840s. This movement quickly spread to Chicago, where séances and mediumship became popular social gatherings among the city’s elite and middle classes.

By the 1860s, Chicago had become a center for spiritualist gatherings, attracting renowned mediums from across the country. These mediums conducted séances, claimed to communicate with the dead, and performed various psychic feats, drawing both skepticism and belief among the populace.

The Great Chicago Fire and a Surge in Spiritual Seeking

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which left a significant portion of the city in ruins, also sparked a surge in spiritual seeking. Many turned to psychic mediums, hoping to find solace or connect with loved ones lost in the disaster. During this period, the number of spiritualists and mediums in Chicago grew, establishing the city as a significant center for psychic practices in the Midwest.

20th Century: Regulation and the Rise of Psychic Entertainment

As the 20th century progressed, the landscape of psychic practices in Chicago began to change. The early 1900s saw the implementation of regulations aimed at controlling fraud associated with psychic practices. These laws were intended to protect the public from scams often perpetrated by those claiming psychic abilities.

Despite these regulations, the interest in psychic phenomena continued to grow, especially with the advent of the New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s. This era brought a renewed interest in astrology, tarot cards, and other forms of divination, which were now being explored not just for entertainment but as tools for personal growth and spiritual development.

Establishment of Psychic Schools and Shops

The latter half of the 20th century saw the establishment of various psychic schools and shops across Chicago. These institutions offered courses on psychic development, tarot reading, and other metaphysical subjects. Shops selling metaphysical books, crystals, and tarot decks became common, serving a community increasingly interested in New Age philosophies and practices.

One notable institution is the InVision Psychic School, founded in the late 20th century, which offers classes on psychic development, energy healing, and meditation. Such schools have played a crucial role in not only continuing the traditions of psychic practices but also in framing them within a modern context that emphasizes personal empowerment and spiritual wellness.

Contemporary Scene: Integration and Acceptance

Today, the psychic and spiritual practices in Chicago are as vibrant as ever, integrated into the city’s cultural fabric. Annual psychic fairs and expos, such as the Body Mind Spirit Expo held in Northlake, draw thousands of visitors interested in psychic readings, spiritual healing, and metaphysical products.

Moreover, the internet has enabled Chicago’s psychic practitioners to reach a global audience, offering readings and consultations online. This digital evolution has helped demystify psychic practices, making them more accessible to a broader audience and continuing Chicago’s legacy as a significant center for psychic exploration and practice. Check out our article on How to Choose the Right Psychic in Chicago for more information.


The history of psychic practices in Chicago is a testament to the city’s dynamic cultural evolution. From the spiritualist séances of the 19th century to the digital psychic consultations of today, Chicago has both shaped and been shaped by the psychic and spiritual currents that flow through its history. As society continues to evolve, so too will the role of psychic practices in urban life, potentially offering new ways to understand the unseen and the mystical in the heart of the Midwest.