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OUIJA BOARD

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www.cometamagico.com.arOuija Board, Myth & Mystery of Spirit Communication. Since the beginning of recorded time, man has claimed to be able to communicate with the spirit world.

However, it would not be until the heyday of the Spiritualist movement that he would begin claiming to do so as an everyday occurrence.

That particular movement was founded by two young girls, Kate and Maggie Fox, who established a way to communicate with a ghost.

They used a series of knocks and raps that answered “yes” and “no” and eventually assigned a code for letters of the alphabet. In this way, they were able to spell out longer and more detailed messages.

Master are a triangle of the wood

 

Story

While automatic writing was being embraced by mediums, those who satisfied their curiosity about the spirit world in the "home circles" were also searching for a more efficient way to reach the other side than by rapping on tables.

In 1853, a French Spiritualist named M. Planchette (according the to the stories anyway -- it should be noted that "planchette" in French translates to "little plank", making this story a little dubious) invented a device that could do much more than tap on the table. The “planchette” was a small, heart-shaped table with pencils attached to its legs. Those who used it claimed that it operated by spirit force and ghosts were able to write out messages from beyond. The invention was often used by the mediums as a more elaborate form of automatic writing, but it really did not hold wide appeal for the general public.

However, a short time later, another invention would come along that could be used by everyone. No experience was required and no real psychic skills were needed. This new device would revolutionize the Spiritualist movement and have an impact that still resounds today. The Ouija board was born.

Shortly after the planchette came to America, a cabinet and coffin maker from Maryland named E.C. Reiche created a new method of communicating with the dead. He devised a wooden lap tray with the letters of the alphabet arranged in two lines across the center of the board. Below these letters, he placed the numbers 1-10 and the words YES and NO in each lower corner of the board. He used the planchette with his board but removed the pencil tips and placed wooden pegs on the bottom of it. In this way, the planchette was free to move about the board.

It was always believed that Reiche named his board the "Ouija" because the name represented the French and German words for “yes” (oui and ja) but this was not the case. He named it that because he believed that the word "Ouija" was actually Egyptian for luck. Needless to say, it's not, but since he claimed to receive the word from a spirit on the board, the name stuck.

But Reiche was more interested in spirits than making money and he sold the invention to his friend, Charles Kennard, who soon founded the Kennard Novelty Co. with borrowed money and began producing the first commercial Ouija boards around 1886. The first patent for a "talking board" was filed on May 28, 1890 and listed Charles Kennard and William H. A. Maupin, both of Baltimore, as the assignees.

Shortly after the company started, the shop manager, William Fuld, decided to go into business for himself. He forced Kennard out of the business and changed the name to the Ouija Novelty Co. He began producing the "Fuld's Talking Board" in record numbers and became a successful businessman. He was a member of the Baltimore General Assembly in later life and remained in control of the company for the next 35 years. Finally, in 1927, during a brief slump in sales, Fuld strangely took his own life. He climbed to the top of a Baltimore building and jumped to his death. Other versions of the story have it that Fuld died accidentally while supervising the replacement of a flag pole on top of the building. A support post that he was holding onto gave way and he plunged to his death. This is likely the more accurate version of events, although Fuld committing suicide gave the Ouija an eerie taint over the years.

The Ouija Board was anything but a curse to Fuld's company though. It became the most successful talking board manufacturer of all time, selling millions of boards as well as other toys and games. Fuld had created a new industry with the Ouija board, which he claimed to have invented himself. He started the apocryphal tales of the naming of the board (using oui and ja) and claimed many of his successful sales plans came from the board itself.

His heirs maintained the company until 1966, when they sold out to Parker Brothers. This company, also known for their success with toys and especially board games, produced not only reproductions of the Fuld board but also made a deluxe wooden edition of the board for a time. They hold all of the patents and trademarks to the board today and they still produce it in large numbers. In spite of the fact that it is now sold in toy stores, it remains a near duplicate (albeit a more cheaply made one) of the Spiritualist board that was sold many years ago.

The earliest known patent for a talking board in the patent offices in London, England was filed by Adolphus Theodore Wagner, a professor of music and resident of Berlin of the Kingdom of Prussia. Wagner described his device as a “PSYCHOGRAPH, OR APPARATUS FOR INDICATING PERSONS THOUGHTS BY THE AGENT OF NERVOUS ELECTRICITY” on January 23, 1854. This patent goes on to describe the device and identify it as a talking board. “The apparatus consists of a combination of rods or pieces of wood joined so as to permit of free action in all parts. From one of the legs of the instrument hangs a tracer; on one or more of the other extremities is fixed a disc, upon which the operator is to place his hand, and from this extremity or these extremities depends another tracer. The other parts of the apparatus consist of a glass slab or other non-conductor, and of an alphabet and set of figures or numerals. Upon a person possessing nervous electricity placing his hand upon one of the discs the instrument will immediately work, and the tracer will spell upon the alphabet what is passing in the operator’s mind.”

In 1861 a Frenchman, Allan Kardec, described ouija boards (or talking boards) in his Le Livre des Mediums thusly:1

“In order to render spirit-communications independent of the medium’s mind, various instruments have been devised. One of these is a sort of dial-plate, on which the letters of the alphabet are ranged like those on the dial of the electric telegraph; a moveable needle, set in motion through the medium’s influence, with the aid of a conducting thread and pulley, points out the letters. We cannot help thinking, however, that the independence of the medium’s thought is insured as well by the raps, and that this independence is proved more conclusively by the unexpectedness and pertinence of the answers, than by all the mechanical contrivances yet invented for this purpose. Moreover, the incredulous, always on the lookout for wires and machinery, and are more inclined to suspect deception in connexion with any special mechanical arrangements than with a bare table, devoid of all accessories.

“A more simple contrivance, but one open to abuse, as we shall see in the chapter on Frauds, is the one devised by Madame Emile de Girardin, and by which she obtained numerous and interesting communications; for that lady accomplished and clever as she was, had the weakness to believe in spirits and their manifestations. The instrument alluded to consists of a little table with a moveable top, eighteen inches in diameter, turning freely on an axle, like a wheel. On its edge are traced, as upon a dial plate, the letters of the alphabet, the numerals, and the words “yes” and “no.” In the centre is a fixed needle. The medium places his fingers on this table, which turns and stops when the desired letters is brought up under the needle. The letters thus indicated being written down one after the other words and phrases are obtained, often with great rapidity.

“It is to be remarked that the top of the little table does not turn round under the fingers, but that the fingers remain in their place and follow the movement of the table. A powerful medium might probably obtain an independent movement; in which case the experiment would be more conclusive, because less open to the possibility of trickery.”.

Session...

The Ouija Board is perhaps the most controversial method of spirit communication, mostly because it can be used by anyone and requires no special powers to navigate. This may be why most psychics discourage the use of the board. It enables the average person to produce “medium-like” effects without a psychic actually being present.

Regardless, the Ouija has been both condemned and praised in equal amounts as a way to communicate with the spirits and as a direct link to the dark side. Many people ask if these boards are dangerous, but I think that this depends on the person. In all honestly, I can’t offer many clear-cut observations on the power of the Ouija because my own experimentations with it have been uneven (at best). When asked, I usually just tell people that they probably shouldn’t mess with it unless they are prepared to handle whatever consequences may come up. However, I can offer instructions on the best way to use the board (should you wish to try it) and you can decide for yourself if you are actually talking to spirits or if you are merely taking part in an interesting experiment in psychic phenomena.

The Ouija should be used by at least two persons at a time and can be placed on the laps of the sitters, or on a small table within easy reach of everyone. The sitters place their fingers lightly on the edges of the planchette, being careful not to push down too hard. If you should ever take part in a Ouija session (or witness one) where you can hear the sound of the planchette scraping on the board, or it seems to be unusually loud as it moves, there is probably something fishy afoot. What this means is that someone is accidentally (or purposely) guiding the pointer and the session should be stopped immediately. Any information received from the board is bound to be false.

Once the session begins, it is recommended that the sitters invite a spirit to come through and speak to them. The sitters are advised to add that they wish to communicate with a “willing” spirit. The reason for this is that it’s been suggested that negative spirits will try to come through and confuse the sitters. For this reason, it’s best to state up front what you are looking for from the session.

Then, the questions should be asked and repeated in a slow and deliberate manner. Only one question should be asked at a time, and by a single person, to avoid confusion. The answers to the questions will be theoretically spelled out using the planchette.

 

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