He had little education, though probably much more than he and his friends pretended. In 1843 he heard lectures in Poughkeepsie on animal magnetism, as the phenomena of hypnotism was then termed, and found that he had remarkable clairvoyant powers. In the following year he had, he said, spiritual messages telling him of his life work.
For the next three years (1844–1847) he practised magnetic healing with much success; and in 1847 he published The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind, which in 1845 he had dictated while in a trance to his scribe, William Fishbough. He lectured with little success and returned to writing (or dictating ) books, publishing about 30 in all including:
The Great Harmonia (1850–1861), an encyclopaedia in six volumes;
The Philosophy of Special Providences (1850), which with its evident rehash of old arguments against special providences and miracles would seem to show that Davis' inspiration was literary;
The Magic Staff: an Autobiography (1857), which was supplemented by Arabula: or the Divine Guest, Containing a New Collection of New Gospels (1867), the gospels being those according to St Confucius, St John (G.Whittier),St Gabriel (Derzhavin),St Octavius (Frothingham), St Gerrit (Smith), St Emma (Hardinge), St Ralph (W. Emerson), St Selden (J. Finney), St Theodore......