In fact, the Ouija board was invented as a parlor toy in the early 20th century, though less formal methods of spirit communication involving pointers and letters date back a bit further. To my knowledge, no product liability suit ("spiritually unsafe as designed") has ever been brought against Parker Brothers.
Ouija Boards were indeed marketed as a toy as recently as the
nineteen seventies. I remember a friend had one and they were
on display in Boots and other Toy Departments. In the UK, they
were made by Waddingtons, the biggest games company of the
This version used arcs of letters and came with a circular plastic
indicator on felt feet
In the face of opposition from the clergy and tabloid tales of them
precipitating mental crises among teenagers, they retreated to
the occult shops.
As is pointed out above, the ouija board was just a convenient
variation on spirit writing methods. The older methods involved
recitations of the alphabet at which the spirits would rap to choose
a letter. The planchette was slightly different: a heart-shaped piece
of wood on little castors with a pencil stuck in it. This would write
words or sentences in answer to questions. There were various
patent variations on the Ouija method, all derived from the glass
and letter-cards method.
Like dowsing or using pendulums the indicator can seem to have a
life of its own and the tendency is to regard the messages as a way
of tapping the subconscious minds of the participants.
In the nineteenth century, there was an industry of spirit writings.
Victor Hugo and his family, exiled in Jersey, were great enthusiasts,
messages told of how Hugo's works were received in Heaven and
read by the angels!
Hey Kids! Contact the Spirit World in your own home!
Not only were Ouija boards marketed in the 70's and before, but they're now really sought after collectors items. I suspect you'd be able to get £100 for one in good condition!
I have to say I've seen pretty impressive results from Ouija boards in terms of stirring up 'something'. They were very popular in my teenage/student days. Strange effects on audio cassettes, apparently verifiable information etc.
However, only damage I can ever recall being caused by an OUija board was on the university campus. Knowing that some of their friends were going to have an Ouija session, a group of pranksters started tapping on the room windows, and then shut off the power. One student's leg was broken as the seance broke up in panic.
The old axiom of being careful of what you call up ("...'less you can't put it down") is especially true here.
What you call up tends to be what you're expecting and years, in the minds of joe public, of expecting Ouija boards to call forth demons and other evil spirits have biased the boards to bring us the very worst that our subconcious can produce.
And to top it all there are some *really* nasty ultraterrestials/cthuloids out there to mess up your whole day.
I invite your attention to "The Changing Light at Sandover," a huge epic by our poet James Merrill. It is the attempt to morph years of ouija board working into Literature by a poet whom the U.S. is recognizing as one of the 20th Century's great, very, very great American poets.
That he had the cujones to turn ouija work into epic is remarkable enough...that it transformed in great poetry indicates...what? genius?
I invite your attention thereto.
Not as a source of truth -- Merrill is much too fine for THAT -- but as a pointer in the more constructive metaphysical direction....
Evil beings hanging about or just our subconcious very scary
You would n't catch me participating in any activity like that... you cant call me a scaredy cat if you like, but here's what happened to my friend and her brother :
For a variety of reasons they decided to have a ouija board session and made contact with thier uncle, they then asked him if they should be doing this and he said 'no' they then asked why and he replied 'U U U' ... the girl then asked if he was refering to the three people there (the girl, her brother and her boyfriend)meaning you, you and you and he said 'no' - they could get no further communication with thier uncle and asked 'who is there' then came the reply 'U U U'
Needless to say this really scared them and they each left the board in turn.
Very frightening indeed, especially the unknown element of it all. ie that nobody really knows how it works....
New York City's Time Square has been cleaned up and now is a tourist paradise. Those of us who knew it 15 or 20 years ago remember walking west and being confronted with just about every human disaster one could imagine...sexual, chemical or spiritual. And disasters in the making. One would see kids of all sexes (depending upon their customers' desires) on the Way Down before reaching 16. And of course the older ones, who'd made perhaps into their wigged out 30's, and were headed deeply into who know what unimagined chaos. One learned quickly never to make eye contact...
Whenever I used a ouija board, which for a while was often, because those damned planchettes literally take off the moment I touch them and their action fascinated friends, I always felt as though I were living on a street level apartment on 42nd Street, and anyone at all could walk in. And do whatever.
Which is exactly how, I think, a ouija board works: it is the psychic equivalent of a Parisian pissoir.
And so long ago I lost interest.
Earlier in this thread I recommended Bob Merrill's work, not to justify ouija, but to show how one person managed to turn crap into literature...
Of course, turned over, the boards do make useable lap trays...suitable for tv dinners.
I have a theory about Ouija's. And I'm going to tell you whether you like it or not.
I have heard a lot of horror stories about the board over the years. And while they are disturbing I doubt that they are evil spirits. I don't believe in evil spirits or demons (that doesn't mean you can't get some spirit that's a jerk like they were when they were alive )
We can all agree that a possible theory for Poltergeist activity is unconscious psychic energy from an adolescent living in the home. Is it possible a Ouija board is a doorway for this kind of activity, a focusing device? I've noticed that most cautionary tales about Ouija's revolve around kids aged 12 - 20. Interesting....
It's just a theory....which can also be applied to demonic possession. But I could be terribly, terribly wrong....Bwa Ha Ha Ha!
I think, for reasons whatever, ouija opens the channels for any ol' jerk to come through...and most of them, having accomplished little or nothing in their last life, yearn for recognition...and will put on whatever airs they can to get it.
The truly demonic, I expect, would sidle in in ways for more subtle...
What I've never figured out is why the ouija board is so damned efficient...stuff, whatever it is, DOES come through easily.
The writings of this circle in tone and subject were very like the
writings of Hugo. On occasions, he would recognize echoes of
his own work and leave the circle. Oddly his son could not write
in the style of his father, except when the spirits dictated. The
"Shakespeare" play is very strange and surreal with talking
curtains, lamps and coffin-nails retelling a story of abduction,
somewhat like Le Roi s'amuse.
Until I can relocate the original page, there is a short account of this
weird episode in the last section of this page - scroll to the
bottom, unless fascinated by Verdi's Rigoletto.
Another odd musical footnote concerns the madness of Robert
Schumann. It is fashionable these days to put it down to syphilis
but some commentators have pointed out that Robert and Clara
had become enthusiastic table-turners shortly before his breakdown.
Schumann was already inclined to section off different aspects of
his personality. When young this was conscious and creative but
towards the end of his life, the theme "dictated by the angels"
turned out to be taken from his own Violin Concerto!
Hey, Lucy...what did the writing feel like? Did youfeel the pencil moving out of control?....and was it wierd?...and did you get freaked out?...and how did you do it?..and ahhhhhhhh...the future is now:eek!!!!:
The reason I ask is I've done automatic writting a lot, but seem to talk to only one spirit, who calls himself 'Leo' and I couldn't get rid of him and he wasn't very nice after a while, so I stoped. But It's a wierd experience, you hand tingles,
and pulls the pencil across the page. The wierd thing with Leo is
we had this sort of mind connection, where I could hear in my mind what he was going to write. Other people tell me they have similar experiences as well.
Back to ouija boards, although I've never tried one, I once heard a theory that the subconscious part of the brain could pass tiny electrical pulses down to the fingertips to move the glass how the person subconsciously wished. I also read about an experiment performed in America where a team of scientists tried create a 'ghost' by inventing, a name, personality, history etc. and then trying to contact the ghost through mediums such as ouija boards. They were successful and made contact using a board in the first attempts, but in one of the sessions a member of the team involved denied the actual existence of the entity in it's 'presence'. The entity promptly stormed off and I don't think they heard from it again.
I also find the popularity of the ouija boards interesting. In my experience, even if someone hasn't used an ouija board, then they probably know somebody who has. It'd be good to know what percentage of these were 'bad' experiences. Has anyone had a good experience with one?
How do spirits deal with being summoned to a number of ouija boards at once? Do they operate a queuing system? If so, is it first come first served, or do they base it on the potential fun factor? I mean, Joan Of Arc and Hitler must spend all their time visiting sallow youths in beer-can strewn bedsits. You'd think they'd have something better to do. I reckon if spirits are actually summoned then they're not who they claim to be. They're just minor dervishes, lying little tossers of the underworld, spectral versions of the kids who hang around on street corners and drink cider.
They were all good except the one where someone threw a fit. It has to be said though that some of the sessions I really enjoyed had quite a negative effect on some of the attendees. We even had a conversion to Catholicism which I'll never be able to attone for.
I know the story of the 'artificial' ghost mentioned above; wasn't his name Phillipe or something? I don't think he stormed off in a huff though; ISTR that he hung around for a year, even making tables levitate (allegedly). What really disturbed the team was that he would often give them snippets of historical data which later turned out to be accurate. Presumably, there was some unconcious stuff going on, but you never can tell.
Yes, Dan, the tale of Philip, a manufactured entity is told by Colin
Wilson in his book Poltergeist, 1981.
A product of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research under the
direction of A. R. G. Owen in the early 1970s, Philip was an imagined
case history. The tale was from the English Civil war period and
involved tragic love, witchcraft, burning at the stake and suicide.
In this they were sticking close to the everyday tales told by half-wits
under hypnosis. Especially the burning at the stake, which
was ultra-rare in England - witches were hanged. Never mind, it
did the trick.
The account says they created a suitable background, an ancient
manor house. Whether this was imagined, built as a theatrical set
or resorted to, I don't know. They tried to contact the invented
spirit for some time until he manifested by rappings. He repeated his
story for them and then made the table dance. It is even said to have
levitated the table in the presence of tv cameras.
Nothing in Wilson's account suggests that 'Philip' gave the group any
checkable historical information. There are many accounts of regression
which claim this trick - I was reading one last night in which the discovery
of a woman called Sarah was regarded a significant hit!
It all suggests that real phenomena of altered group consciousness
have been attributed to disincarnate entities. Good! I was not looking
forward to waiting in the dark to contact bored teenagers. :blah:
I dont for a second believe that using the ouija can put you in touch with your dear departed or anyone else from the spirit realm, but I do believe it can be dangerous psychologicaly, I remember trying it as one of the aforementioned bored teenagers and one of our group, a young girl was badly affected by the experience, my advice would be to avoid it.:monster:
Having never actually done an ouija board, I can't really comment on validity or scariness, but I have done another method of communication involving a glass, two people sit opposite each other in a circle and ask questions, if something/one is contacted, the glass when spun should only point at one or other of the two people for yes and no, and should not stop pointing either side. you only get yes no answers, but you can get a reasonable amount from that.
I never did this agin after one night at a sleepover with frinds we always thought it was just a fluke, so half way through the questions we asked the "spirit" to give a sign of existence by on the next spin making the glass stand up on it's edge.
The glass was spun, it stopped directly between the yes and no person, pointing left, and then slowly stood up. We all screamed disturbing my friends parents who came in and yelled at us, we had shat our pants and dived under covers.
We then had to end the session, however the spirit refused to end for quite some time, this scared us, as there is a local myth that a girl we had known about had died at the school, having been told by a spirit the day before that she would.
The relief when the "spirit" finally agreed to leave us was amazing:eek!!!!:
I think everyone's got their own ouija board story. I never did one myself but when i was a teenager my then girlfriend phoned me while her and her friends were using one.
They were apparently in touch with some sort of spirit that claimed to know me and her, to have been watching us, and made predictions about our futures.
Naturally sceptical, i asked her toask it a question about me that she didn't know the answer to. I said, "ask it what my grandmother's maiden name is". Her name was Bird. I listened in shock as she read out the letters - "B...I...R...D!" I'm sure i wouldn't have mentioned my grandmother's maiden name before. We hadn't even been going out that long!
I personally don't go for the whole "don't mess with what you don't understand" viewpoint - how the hell else are we going to discover anything? However,I wouldn't reccomend using these boards without an experienced occultist present. Some of the stories I've read here are terrifying.
My mother used to have regular board meetings at work. In the 1960s she worked for an design firm in Glasgow and her and the other 10 tracers in the department used to close the curtains and have regular meetings with the dead, then after they would all head out for a fish supper.
Odd behaviour for my mother, she said she must have done it a hundred times and said had no ill effects. She said they regularly had all manner of people "comming through". An interesting thing was that this was a popular Office event throughout many different companies and wasnt considered very unusual... I blame the lack of good TV shows back then.