VICTOR ZAMMIT
A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife
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The Book 4th Edition

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21. The Ouija Board

“The borderland between the worlds of the living and the dead appears to be a kind of psychic jungle or 'outlaw territory', thronged with vicious, psychopathic personalities. If they can find and attune themselves to a victim, their destructive natures can operate with even less restraint than they did while embodied.”
Ian Currie

The Ouija board is one of the most widely used methods of 'untrained' spirit communication. The name is taken from the French and German words for yes?oui and ja. It consists of a flat board with the letters of the alphabet, some numbers, punctuation marks and yes and no printed on it. People using it place their fingers lightly on a pointer which then rapidly, and without the conscious knowledge of the members present, moves to spell out a series of messages. Sales of Ouija boards in the United States peaked during World War 1, and the thirties, forties and sixties witnessed national Ouija crazes during which the 'Mysterious Talking Oracle' became very frequently used by students (Hunt 1985: 5).

The Ouija board is included because it is often the first method used by amateurs to try to investigate psychic phenomena. It is scientific in the sense that people following the formula will get a similar result. Some will get intelligent messages. Intelligent in the sense that answers are given to specific questions. Depending on who or what is answering of course will depend the quality of responses.

Psychics and experienced mediums believe in the reality of spirit contact that the responses to the Ouija board are sometimes made by human and non-human entities of different levels of refinement but most often by the lowest entities who operate close to our own 'wavelength'. If contact is made with a more refined entity, the response will usually be sophisticated. If the contact is made with uncouth, very lowly placed entities, then the information is usually the same as from a person on earth who is uncouth, vulgar, stupid, arrogant and blasphemes for the purpose of shocking those around him or her. Psychic investigator Archie Roy likens using a ouija board to the practice of picking up total strangers in a bar and inviting them home (1996: 176).

The materialist view is that the messages come from the action of the subconscious or unconscious minds of the 'players'—a form of 'automatism'. For years the Ouija board has been sold in toyshops and game departments in the USA and people have tended to use it for fun or for personal advantage such as trying to get winning numbers for gambling etc.

But no skeptic has been able to explain how groups of normal decent people have elicited horrible blasphemies, curses and all kind of terrifying threats from the Ouija board in a way that they certainly did not from other methods which supposedly projected the unconscious.

Stoker Hunt, who researched the effects of using the Ouija board, summarizes a common pattern of communication that develops between users of the board and the 'force' with which they communicate:

The invader focuses on the victim's character weaknesses... If one is vain, appeals to vanity are made. 'I need your help, ' the seducer will say, 'and only you can help me.'... The entity is malicious and does not hesitate to lie, misrepresent itself (usually as a deceased loved one) and flatter. It's better for the invader, of course, if the victim is alone, isolated, exhausted and ill (Hunt 1985: 86).

Thus, the entity will encourage its victims to drop real friends and rely only on Ouija communication for counsel, advice and companionship. To this end it will recommend dangerous stunts and wild adventures while discouraging healthy activities and proper medical care. The victim will feel an uncontrollable desire to use the board or write automatically at all hours of the day and night. If needs be the invader will terrify its victim, materializing in ghastly form, inducing grotesque visions, inciting poltergeist activity, causing objects to appear out of the blue, delivering false or tragic news, levitating objects, perhaps levitating the victim. All these things and more might be done?not as ends in themselves but as a means to an eventual complete possession (Hunt 1985: 87).

Mediums from around the world consistently report that those who are dead and living in despair in the lower vibration regions closest to the earth—sometimes called the lower astral regions—are very much jealous of those living on earth; they know that while on earth a person can increase his/her vibrations it is very difficult to do so in the lower spheres of the spirit world.

Despair is pushed to the extreme simply because they cannot experience the things that they used to enjoy while alive—excitement, alcohol, smoking, sex. If those uncouth who are responding to the Ouija board had the capacity for love, or a loving thought, or had some other positive spiritual attribute, they would not be in the condition they are in. If they even had the capacity to ask for help to relieve their misery, we are informed by the afterlife, help would be given to them.

Many EVP experimenters (see Chapter 4) have recorded voices coming from this level that speak in obscenities, sinister whispers and sometimes in a clearly hostile tone (Lazarus 1993: 158).

Whichever explanation you accept—the spirit hypothesis or the subconscious minds of the players theory—there are many cases of psychiatric illness that need to be taken seriously having come about as a direct result of playing with the board.

A Ouija board can be highly dangerous to anyone who is highly suggestible, anyone with any type of emotional or personality disorder or to anyone who has been using mind-altering drugs. The experts advise that under no circumstances should it be used by a child or by anyone who does not have a strong sense of their own identity (Covina 1979).

Dr Carl Wickland, an American Psychiatrist, wrote his classic work on mental illness Thirty Years Among the Dead in 1924. In it he warns:

The serious problem of alienation and mental derangement attending ignorant psychic experiments was first brought to my attention by cases of several persons whose seemingly harmless experiences with automatic writing and the Ouija board resulted in such wild insanity that commitment to asylums was necessitated... Many other disastrous results which followed the use of the supposedly innocent Ouija board came to my notice and my observations led me into research in psychic phenomena for a possible explanation of these strange occurrences (Wickland 1924: 29).

Wickland found that he was able to cure many of these cases of diagnosed insanity by using an entranced medium (his wife) to be taken over by the spirit which was obsessing the psychiatric patient. He found that many of these entities were unaware that they had died. Without any knowledge of the afterlife they found themselves in a kind of twilight condition. With help from higher intelligences on the other side he was able to persuade them to leave the aura of the patient whose light had attracted them.

Hugh Lyn Cayce, the son of the famous American psychic Edgar Cayce, has likewise many case histories of negative Ouija experiences. In his book Venture Inward (1964) in a chapter on Automatic Writing and Ouija boards, he states that stories of people getting into extreme difficulties following both these practices are:

Not uncommon, unfortunately. The frightening thing about them is that they can be duplicated by the thousands from the case histories of present-day inmates of mental institutions all over the world (Cayce 1964).

Paul Beard, as President of the College of Psychic Studies in England, studied many cases of Ouija board obsession and concluded that habitual use of the board or automatic writing can bring about prolonged contact with a malevolent dead person who can infiltrate the victim's protective aura and then make contact with the victim at any time by 'talking' in a 'voice' or through 'thoughts' in the victim's head. This can lead to 'practically continuous evil suggestions which may involve visual hallucinations' (Beard 1970). Ian Currie cites one case where a young mother was shown hallucinations of herself torturing and killing her baby (Currie 1978: 190).

Martin Ebon outlines his negative Ouija experiences in The Satan Trap (1975). He claims that he began by being thoroughly skeptical about anything to do with the occult but became hooked on the board when it accurately predicted New York's 1973 flood and gave him accurate 'inside' information about the death of a famous gossip columnist.

Another woman who warned against the board was medium Susy Smith in her 1971 book Confessions of a Psychic. She wrote:

Warn people away from Ouija and automatic writing until you have learned how to be fully protected. They say that innocent efforts at communication are as dangerous as playing with matches or hand grenades. They have me as Exhibit A of what not to do, for I experienced many of the worst problems of such involvement. Had I been forewarned by my reading that such efforts might cause me to be mentally disturbed, I might have been more wary (Smith 1971).

A few years ago I came upon a serious case of a young man who had been using a Ouija board, asking for winning numbers for gambling purposes. For some time he had indeed been winning and became very excited about the information given him by his new 'friends'. But when he tried to give up using the board he began to be obsessed by voices and found himself woken up at one or two in the morning in great terror, literally being squeezed and suffocated by a vengeful presence, who claimed that it was owed a debt.

Some positive communications

But while experienced psychics warn of the dangers of the Ouija Board and point out that many communicators through the Ouija board are definitely not who they claim to be, there have been many positive long-term communications which began through it.

One spectacular case of positive communication was that of Pearl Curran who tried a Ouija board with her neighbor on July 12th 1912. After a year of experimenting she began to receive messages from Patience Worth, who claimed to be a spirit entity born in 1649 near Dorsetshire in England.

Between 1912 and 1919 she dictated through the board five million words—epigrams, poems, allegories short stories and full-length novels. Her collected works fill twenty-nine bound volumes, 4375 single-spaced pages. There were five full-length novels, the most successful being The Sorry Tale a 300,000 word story of the earthly life of Jesus which was reviewed as follows in the The New York Times, July 8, 1917:

This long and intricate tale of Jewish and Roman life during the time of Christ is constructed with the precision and accuracy of a master hand. It is a wonderful, a beautiful and noble book.

Patience Worth also wrote over 2,500 poems. She won a national poetry contest in which forty thousand contestants submitted multiple entries. She was regularly published in America's most prestigious annual poetry anthology.

One of her greatest admirers was the publisher William Reedy who was on the award-selecting committee for the first Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He was a regular visitor to Pearl's house and he said of her poems:

They contain passages of bewitching beauty, of rare high spirits, of pathos. It does not equal Shakespeare or Spencer. It is not so great as Chaucer. But if there be any intelligences communicating poems by Ouija board or otherwise... it is good poetry, better poetry than we find in our magazines as a rule—poetry with a quality of its own (Hunt 1985: 31).

The Seth books

Another famous literary relationship which began with Ouija communication was that between Seth and Jane Roberts and her husband who began using a Ouija Board in 1963. On their fourth try an entity introduced itself as 'Frank Withers' who said that he had most recently lived on earth as an English teacher and had died in 1942. Later he explained that he preferred to be called 'Seth' and that he had a special mission to help people better understand themselves and reality.

Through Jane, Seth has dictated several best-selling books which have dealt with the nature of reality, reincarnation, dreams, astral travel and the nature of God. He has given step-by-step advice to his readers on the development of meditation techniques and ESP. He has diagnosed illnesses, correctly described the contents of building and rooms many miles away and materialized as an apparition in well-lit settings (see Roberts 1974, 1994, 1997a 1997b).

There are many other stories of successful literary and creative relationships that have developed through using the board including that of James Merrill, a Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote The Changing Light at Sandover (1982) working with a Ouija board.

His frightening experiences (visions, bodily transformations, felt powerful presences) as well as his positive and joyous ones are vividly reported in the poem. However after more than thirty years experience with the board Merrill claims that he no longer recommends that friends use it because:

One can never tell in advance how susceptible a given person will be.

Strong evidence for the afterlife

What I personally find staggering about the Ouija board literature is the extent to which it is consistent with the findings of researchers who have worked with top level mediums, with electronic voice phenomena and with the other areas of scientific research mentioned in this book. It is simply impossible to explain the staggeringly different kinds of communication that one receives when entities of different levels are communicating—often in quick succession—purely on the basis of projection of the unconscious of an individual or a group.

As well there have been a number of startling cases of drop-in communicators coming through the board. These are entities which although totally unknown to the sitters give correct and verifiable details of names, address, occupation and sometimes a large number of other details. Dr Alan Gauld investigated 37 of these who had appeared among 240 alleged communicators in a Ouija board circle which met in a Cambridgeshire home between 1937 and 1954 (Gauld 1966-72:273-340).

In his paper for the Society for Psychical Research he explains how he followed up the details of some of these in some cases more than twenty years after the original communication had been made and had been able to verify a significant number of details in at least four cases.

In the case of Gustav Adolf Biedermann Gauld was able to verify the personality of the communicator and the following specific information:

I lived in London.
My house was Charnwood Lodge.
Nationality German.
Correct name Adolf Biedermann.
I was always known and called Gustav
I was a Rationalist
I was turned seventy when I passed away
I had my own business
I am associated with the London University
I passed over a year ago

In these cases, Gauld points out, the sitters did not seek publicity or money and he was convinced that there was no way they would have gone to the trouble of accessing the public documents he obtained from a huge number of sources to fool the other circle members and then leave them for more than twenty years on the off-chance that somebody would happen by to investigate them.

 

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