Talking with the spirits of the dead has intrigued mankind for time out of memory. Knowing what is beyond, accessing hidden knowledge, has captured the imagination and played it’s part in the evolution of religion and spirituality.
Many tools and methods have been employed but there is little more evocative than the Talking Board, or as most people know them the Ouija board. Make a no mistake whether you are using the term Spirit Board, Talking Board or Ouija Board you are referring to the same tool which is a method of communicating with dead. Apart from minor stylistic difference and a very colourful past in the case of the Ouija board there is no difference between them all.
Although the use of planchettes in automatic writing has a very long history talking boards as we know them did not start to appear until the start of the spiritualist movement in the 19th century. By the 1880’s the use of talking boards was widespread and their use widely reported on.
It wasn’t long before the parlor game ‘Ouija’ waa born. Elijah Bond was awarded patent rights on February 10th 1891 to the Ouija Board which included a printed letter board and planchette. Production was taken over by William Fuld in the early 1900’s and Fuld spent the rest of his life fighting legal battle to preserve the name Ouija for his product alone. Charles Kennard, founder of Kennard Novelty Company which manufactured Fuld’s talking boards, explained the name Ouija as coming from questioning the board itself, explaining being it meant ‘Good Luck’ in ancient Egyptian. Fuld himself was more prosaic and presented the now popularized origin of the word – the combination of the French and German words for yes.
Ouija and Talking boards may have remained a relatively benign tool of the parlor medium had it not being for the intervention of Hollywood. Any concerns that the religious community had about the use of Ouija board in the first 100 years of its existence were molehills compared to the fear and horror inspired from the 1970’s onwards.
It is the 1973 film the Exorcist is really responsible for the image of the Ouija board and effective assassinated it’s reputation far better than any attempts at scientific debunking. Although it is featured for all but a few moments it is the pivotal point in the story; with out the Ouija board to act as the gateway for Captain Howdy there is no possession of Regan and no need for the Exorcist at all.
Although the use of the board was hardly acknowledged in the original hype surrounding this classic horror it quickly became a go to plot device, whatever works right? In the 1980’s alone there were at least 5 more movies that centred around the use of a Ouija board and its still being used today (Charlie Charlie, are you there?)
It doesn’t take much for religious objectors to saddle themselves up against anything they take exception to but Hollywood gave them ample ammunition to persue this apparent ‘tool of demon possession and evil’. Throw in the missuse of a legitimate tool of mediumship and the way things get exaggerated and we reach the modern position on the Ouija board.
It’s amazing how tainted a word can become. Often when you bring up Ouija boards in pagan or spiritualist circles the reaction is often immediate and negative however if you use the phrase ‘Talking Board’ or even ‘Spirit Board’ people are much more receptive. I have seen conversations where people will insist on Spirit/Talking boards being ‘safe’ whilst Ouija are exclusive ‘bad’ and ‘dangerous’ whilst failing to appreciate that they are in fact one in the same thing.
Let’s look a little deeper at what these boards are in comparison to what they are not.
What They Are…
Talking and Ouija boards are a, above all things, a tool of divination and mediumship. They are a method of communicating with the spirit world and receiving knowledge and wisdom. ..or it could be. Let’s be honest they are more often used as the traditional parlor trick and sleepover scare tactic. However they have the opportunity to be a really effective tool for a medium.
The important fact that gets forgotten, both by kids and TV presenters alike is that for a Talking Board to work someone needs to be ‘pushing’. If the boards are a tool of mediumship you therefore need someone acting as a medium, leading the board session. We use the word ‘push’ but really we are talking about light pressure which is exerted according to the direction of Spirit. By realising this and identifying the session lead/medium ahead of starting it can be clearly communicated with spirit ahead of starting, and illuminate other sources of influence as being undesirable and possibly disingenuous.
Another reason to have a medium in control of the session is to ensure that the necessary protections and safeguards are in place before during and after a session. Having someone familiar with the ways of spirit also means that it is easier to identify and deal with undesirable spirits quickly and at the time. The most important maxim when using a board is ‘do not conjure what you cannot banish’.
Like any tool you need to know how to use it. Without planning and knowledge the best you will have a senario where everyone on the board is accusing each other of pushing and a planchette which does little or nothing decisive. At worst you might have you may encounter a trickster spirit which you are unable to deal with who speaks very clearly and not to a positive effect. Effectively all you will achieve is disappointment or even terror, further feeding into that which Talking/Ouija boards are not.
But They Are Not…
A couple of things that you are not going to achieve when you use a Talking/Ouija board.
Firstly, no portal to the demon realms, either as a visible spinning vortex or as an astral portal. The boards are for talking to spirit and whilst not all spirits are human souls or are helpful and wholesome they are a far cry from the deamons that you will find in the Key of Solomon (for example).
For the same reasons you are not participating in demon worship in any form. That’s number two.
Finally Talking/ Ouija boards can be closed down if you know what you are doing. Rather than viewing the board as creating a portal think of it as a line of communication, be it a thread or phone line. In the case of the board it is a link established by the living only, and one which can be severed by the living if you know what you are doing. Whilst spirit may linger or even return sparodically they do not reside in the board itself but are drawn to a location or persons that have acknowledged them in the past.
Ultimately these spirits cannot harm you, all they can do is make you feel fear and even then that might not be their intent. This is why it is important to know not only how to protect yourself and those around you but also space and property. Equally it is important to understand techniques of banishing energy and entities.
Using a Talking Board
I’ve used Ouija boards in a number of different settings and undeniably the best experience was as part of a medium lead séance, the intended setting. I would recommend that if you are interested in participating in a board you do so with a medium who is willing and familiar in their use. This might be someone you know or you may have to find someone in your community but it is important to have a level of trust and belief in the individual in question.
Regardless of who is acting as medium it us always a good idea, as a participant, to be versed in a number of different spiritual and magical techniques.
Raising Energy and Protection
Energy is a necessary part of communicating with spirit. There are many medthods however in a circle setting the easiest is a Cone of Power. Passing bright energy around the circle clockwise both raises energy and creates a circle of protection for the duration of the séance. It is important to release and ground this energy at the end of the séance as it is a visible sign to spirit that communication has come to an end.
Protection of Self and Home
As well as protecting the group it is important to remember to protect yourself and your home in some way. If you have a relationship with spiritual guides and guardians it is a good idea to call on them. Use visualisation to erect personal shields and protection and ensure they are in place before, during and after.
Also, take the time to protect your home. The chances are that something will follow you home simply out of curiosity and it is best to stop it at the door. There are a number of ways to achieve this such as salt sprinkled and invocations said at the windows and external doorways right through to witch bottles. What method you choose, if you choose to do so at all, is up to you. Personally I like to over prepare and wards around ones home are useful to have in any circumstances.
Test and Challenge
Spirit can be tricksy. To some spirits there is no greater fun than yanking a mortals chain. For this reason it is important to both test and challenge any spirit that comes through. If the spirit says it is a family member ask for information only family would know. If the spirit is unknown to people at or around the board ask things which you may be able to verify at a later date.
Two important things to remember; Firstly always challenge its name three times, there is power in that number. Secondly, of in doubt do not interact with that spirit. Bid it goodbye and command it to leave.
First and foremost remember to say goodbye, I realise I am repeating myself but this bears repeating. Whether you have been successful in communication or not you can’t just walk away from the board. The chances are you have actually gained the attention of Spirit, even if you haven’t actually communicated with them through the board. Not only is it polite to say goodbye but it is a necessary step in order to signal to spirits that proceedings have come to an end.
Usually this will be sufficient. Even if a spirit decides to hang around the area or yourself just to be inquisitive the chances are they will do little ‘harm’ and quickly move on.
On the other hand they might not. Whilst it is not common for spirits to linger and cause mischief it can happen and it is useful to know how to deal with it. I’ve found a particularly effect technique is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. It is a quite simple ritual which requires an understanding of visualisation but no tools to perform. If it to cleanse yourself then you only need do it once however if you feel that something has followed you home I recommend performing it in every room of the house and then salting and sealing any external doors and windows as well as access points to spaces you can’t enter (loft spaces for example) in order to prevent the spirit from returning.
Immediately after the session it is important to ground yourself. Spiritual energies can be very heady and whilst it feels very good it us important to stay grounded and focused on what matters in life. It is all too easy to get carried away.
The easiest way to do this is to remove yourself from the environment, ideally to an outside environment. Practice mindfulness techniques such as taking a few moments to focus on the five senses and what they tell you about the area around you. If you are practiced in meditation take five minutes to visualise yourself throwing off roots into the Earth, deep and secure, rooting yourself in reality.
If you take one thing away from reading this post it should be that Ouija boards are nothing more than a tool and like any tool you need to learn how to use it correctly. The Ouija board in the right hands has the potential to be a highly effective tool of divination, misused it it a tool of mass fear and terror of the imagery kind.