Ouija board is one of the most widely used methods that
young people use to "contact spirits." The name
is taken from the French and German words for yes "oui"
It consists of a flat board with the letters
of the alphabet, some numbers, punctuation marks and yes
and no. People using it place their fingers lightly on a
pointer or an upturned glass which moves. They claim that
the pointer then spells out 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 psychologists' 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. Here a psychology class
tries out a ouija board.
Mediums and psychic researchers from around the world say
that there are many case studies of people having very negative
experiences with the ouija board. They tell us that there
are many spirits who stay in the lower vibration regions
closest to the earth—sometimes called the lower astral
regions. These spirits are unhappy because they cannot experience
the things that they used to enjoy while alive—excitement,
alcohol, smoking and sex.
Many EVP experimenters have recorded voices
coming from this level that speak in obscenities, sinister
whispers and sometimes in a clearly hostile tone (Lazarus
Many psychic researchers claim that these lower level spirits
create poltergeist phenomena to amuse themselves, and in
some circumstances can influence the mind and hand of the
players and communicate through the ouija board.
Stoker Hunt, researched the effects of using
the Ouija board. In cases he studied he found that the "entity"
which supposedly communicates will often do the same things:
* tell the person that it needs help
* say "only you can help me
* pretend to be a deceased loved one
* encourage the person to use the board alone
* tell the person to drop their friends
* discourage healthy activities
* recommend dangerous activitites
(Hunt 1985: 86).
" 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."
(Hunt 1985: 87).
Dr Carl Wickland, an American Psychiatrist,
wrote his classic work on mental illness Thirty Years
Among the Dead in 1924. In it he claims that many cases
of serious mental illness were cause by people experimenting
with automatic writing and ouija boards. (Wickland 1924:
29). Many of these people ended up in insane assylums. Wickland
found that he was able to cure many of these cases of diagnosed
insanity by allowing his wife, who was a medium, to go into
a trance and invite the spirit who had been obsessing the
patient to talk through her. He found that many of these
spirits did not know that they had died. They had found
themselves after death in a kind of twilight condition.
They saw the aura of the patient playing the ouija board
as a kind of light. Sometimes they stayed with the patient
for years. Wickland was able to explain to them that they
were dead and that they should go with the higher spirits
to meet their loved ones.
Hugh Lyn Cayce, the son of the famous American
psychic Edgar Cayce, also has 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. He claims
that there are thousands of people in mental institutions
all over the world as a result of using the ouija board.
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'
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
A gifted medium who warned against the board
was 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 we 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 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 a spirit who said she
was Patience Worth, who was born in 1649 near Dorsetshire
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:
Dr Horace Westwood was a Unitarian minister in Canada at
the beginning of last century. After becoming interested
in spirit contact he bought a ouija board but nothing happened
until his eleven year old niece Anna began to touch the
planchette. Even when she was blindfolded it spelled out
long a detailed messages even when the letters were randomly
scattered. She soon was able to:
* type quickly while blindfolded (she had never learned
* read a book that was placed in the next room,
* play chess and play the piano far better than she had
previously been able to
* talk about hunting and trapping with professionals although
she had never learned.
All these things she did while fully conscious when "the
spirits" were present. When the spirit team left six
years later all these abilitites disappeared. Read
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).
Video: The Seth interview.
Jane Roberts and her husband Robert talk about how Seth
communicated through a ouija board. She says that at first
she thought the material was coming from her own unconscious
but eventually was convinced that Seth was a separate being.
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 we 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 mental mediums, with electronic voice phenomena,
with physical mediumship and poltergiests 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 cases
of drop-in communicators coming through the board. These
are entities which are totally unknown to the sitters and
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
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
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.
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.
On the Internet
Museum of Talking Boards
While there are plenty of sensationalist sites on the ouija
board, this is one of the few to comprehensively review
some the literature and to provide useful links and bibliography.