Friday, August 10, 2007

Tales of the Ouija , Stephen Wagner,

Mystifying and sometimes terrifying experiences
THE OUIJA BOARD continues to be a source of fascination, experimentation and concern among paranormal researchers and the general population. Our article on The Ouija Debate drew responses from readers who related their own experiences with the “talking board.” Most of the stories were of a negative or frightening nature. (To be fair, however, people who have had a benign or neutral experience with the board would be less likely to respond.)

Rasputin’s Ghost

Those who experiment with the board often claim to contact spirits, some of who divulge their names. The identity of these spirits is usually impossible to verify. Once in a while, a spirit claims to be a well-known or historical figure – or even the devil himself.

Such was John M.’s experience.

“When I was about 11 or 12 years old in the late 1960s,” John says, “I had a friend who claimed that he had a Ouija board where sometimes the planchette [the board’s heart-shaped indicator] would move about on its own if he left the board out at night. Naturally, I was skeptical, having never seen a Ouija board that did much of anything. As kind of a joke, I told him to bring it over one summer afternoon and we'd try it. Sure enough, as we started asking it questions, the planchette would move about very rapidly and provide answers, or sometimes it would just point to yes or no. Since the movement was so fast for the pressure I was applying to the planchette, I was convinced my friend was moving it himself, but every time I asked, he denied it. Nevertheless, we were having fun and continued to ask questions.

“At some point I finally asked, "Who are you?" and the board spelled out S-A-T-A-N. I just looked at my friend and laughed, now even more convinced that he was the one doing the spelling. So then I asked, "What's your last name?" and the board spelled out R-A-S-P-U-T-I-N, which meant nothing to me, but I wrote it down. After we were done, I looked up Rasputin in the encyclopedia and was stunned to see that a man by that name lived in late 19th century Russia, and was feared because of his supposed occult powers. Knowing my friend, his age, and his level of intellect, I became convinced right then and there that the Ouija was for real and that my friend had not spelled that name out.”

Even if the Ouija is capable of contacting the spirit world, is it likely that the spirit of Rasputin would speak to two teenage American boys? Or was some other entity just playing a scary trick?

The Ouija Strikes Back

On rare occasions, use of the Ouija has triggered physical manifestations and psychokinetic activity. Darryl D. claims that he and his friends were assaulted by something during a Ouija session.

“When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I had a Ouija,” Darryl says. “My friends and I would gather in a basement at my friend Doug's house. We would turn the lights off, light some candles and sit around an old table that was in the house when his grandpa lived there. (His grandpa committed suicide in the kitchen.)

“One night when we where using the Ouija, a gust of wind came out of nowhere and blew out all of the candles.

“Another time, some girls came over to Doug’s house and we started using the Ouija. We started to see strange shadows walking around the basement... and then it happened: the candles went out and we all heard this horrible scream. After we got the lights turned on, we noticed that one of the girls, who was sitting on a couch watching us, had blood coming from the back of her neck. The necklace she was wearing had been ripped from her neck and was laying on the floor about 10 feet from where she was sitting. She had two small charms on it; we found one inside of a small crawlspace under the stairs and the other was outside laying on the concrete in front of the back door. I have not used this Ouija since this happened.”

I think anyone who experienced this would also put the Ouija safely away.

The Trouble Ahead By Andrew Preston

I used to think necromancy was a kind of throat kissing featured in the Halls Soothers ads. Hearing stories about people who use ouija boards to talk to the dead always brought to mind images of a dark, smoky room above a chip shop somewhere, probably Spitalfi elds. Here, all manner of gullible spinsters and penniless merchants listen to the wailings, moanings and transcendental pronouncements of a wizened old gypsy woman gazing into a crystal ball.

But I had a nagging suspicion there might be more to it than that. So, with this in mind, and in the best spirit of investigative journalism, I thought it was time to delve into the mystic secrets of the spirit world. So much for stereotypes. A Google search on ‘psychic’ yields one and a half million hits. The tradition of consulting oracles, shamans, mystics and fortune tellers is alive and well in the world today, and if the evidence is anything to go on, becoming increasingly popular.

So is there any truth in the matter? And if so, who’s going to win the 12:40 at Ascot? “The evidence is overwhelmingly that Tarot consultations can help with key life decisions,” says professional Tarot reader Andy Zarubica. “Increasingly, people from all walks of life, and especially prominent businessmen and fi nanciers, are turning to the cards for guidance in important decisions.” I was sold.

I got hold of a book on another occult device, the ‘I Ching’ • a 3,500 year-old tome containing the judgements of King Wen on each of 64 hexagrams, and also the commentaries of his noble son, the Duke of Chou. It recommended I sit down calmly and formulate a question clearly in my mind. I was a bit worried at fi rst. No doubt asking the oracle, “Is there any future in fortune telling?” would create a spacetime singularity which would implode, destroying both the future and myself.

Instead of risk that, I decided to ask the oracle, on behalf of our current crop of world leaders, “Should I invade Afghanistan?” Whether this counts as consulting the oracle or is merely insulting the damn thing I couldn’t say.

After drawing a sequence of marbles out of the bag in accordance with the established procedures for selecting one of the 64 Ching hexagrams, I discovered that I had chosen Hexagram number 29, ‘K’an’, which literally translates as ‘The Abysmal’, symbolised by a dangerous crevasse and a snake. The potted wisdom attached to this Hexagram says, ‘Bound with stranded ropes and sent off to the dense thorn bushes to be judged and found wanting. This is probably a bad idea.

If you go on like this you won’t get anywhere for three years. You will be excommunicated from the spirits and left wide open to danger.’ Things were getting a little apocalyptic here, so I decided to switch to testing the more mundane fortune-telling powers of PG Tips. It seems so utterly random that people actually read tea leaves in order to predict future events.

Tasseography, as it is sometimes called, is an ancient Chinese practice that spread to Europe with nomadic gypsies in the mid-1800s. And while most people don’t take the art of tea-leaf reading too seriously anymore, it is nonetheless fascinating. So I settled down with the paper and a nice cup of tea. And a packet of decent biscuits for meditative purposes. It is important to drink the tea properly, sipping it slowly and concentrating on a specifi c question.

I decide to focus on a time-old question that has puzzled many Oxford Undergraduates contemplating the mysteries of the Middle East: ‘Which is superior • Ahmed’s or Mehdi’s?’ After due consideration of this or whatever question you fancy, you take the cup in your left hand and swirl it thrice clockwise. This allows the tea leaves to cling to the sides and rim of the cup.

Peering in, I could clearly discern the letter M, which according to my brand spanking new edition of Llewellyn’s Complete Book Of Practical Magick (Ages Six and Up) would symbolise a name. I also noticed a cluster of leaves resembling a shark, symbolizing bankruptcy, and a patch of leaves near the rim which struck me as rather like a hat, apparently representing a fool. I puzzled over possible interpretations of this great revelation and pondered the correct place to lay my hands on a kebab.

It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have any money. Some talented people can communicate directly with other-worldly forces without the intermediary of cards, chai or Ching. I spoke to one such self proclaimed clairvoyant who explained his working practices. “I have to be in a very calm and precise state of mind. It is important for whoever I am talking to that I can apply what I see in my mind’s eye to the precise issues at hand.

I am always careful with sensitive problems as they are often powerful focuses of psychic energy. And I am waiting for the day when someone sits down opposite me and asks me how they can get back to Mars.” Quite. In the end, the use of oracles is a very subjective matter, and certain confi rmed sceptics such as myself may experience surprising results.

There are a couple of fortune tellers and psychics working in Oxford at the moment, and scores of charlatans out to make a quick buck all over the world. It’s interesting terrain to explore, but it could just be a load of long out-foxed traditional hokum which our civilisation no longer needs. Then again, it might just be your cup of tea.

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Haunted Ouija Experience

I have always been interested in the paranormal and would play silly games with my friends like “if you are here, knock once,” etc, but it started to get serious when at the age of about 13 we started dabbling in the art of Ouija boards.

We “played” the Ouija board around three times a day for about three months and realized we had gotten addicted. It was like we were drawn to the suspense of it all. A lot of interesting, scary things happened during that time, and every day I think about it, but one in particular stands out.

There were three of us with our fingers on the glass. We asked to get in contact with any spirit, and we did! Her name was apparently Frankie Huggins. We got in contact with her a lot, and we would talk to her like a normal person. When we asked her how she died, and she replied, “Murdered.”

When we finally asked her where she “lived,” to our surprise it was in the same town as us, in fact about three minutes away. We were shocked and scared, but we had to investigate. We asked her whereabouts, and she told us the name of a road. We knew this road very well because we hung out there with friends often (which was suspicious).

We then asked her more specific questions like how many houses down, what number, colors, etc. She told us straight away with no hesitation. We wrote it all down and continued our journey to the street where she apparently was. To our surprise the information she gave us was correct, even to the door number. It was dark by now, so we were a little afraid, but she was our friend, so we had nothing to worry about, right?

We stood outside the house and said, “If you are there, then give us a sign.” To our horror, the downstairs curtain pulled back. We were young and stupid, so we ran as fast as we could across the green outside her house, but plucked up the courage to go back.

Nervously we approached the fence. The apparition was upstairs now. From behind the net curtains we saw a black figure waving at us very slowly. Again we ran as fast as we could. After a while we went back to my house and set up the Ouija board again. When we got in contact with Frankie, we asked her if she saw us, and she replied with a “yes.”

After a few more weeks we started “playing” the Ouija board less and less. Once we had stopped, completely strange things started happening in my own house, in my own bedroom. At night when I would be trying to get to sleep, I would hear someone dragging their feet across my carpet. That would last for hours sometimes. I would be so scared that I would just freeze, and I felt that if I opened my eyes, I would see something that would terrify me half to death.

Other times I would see the upstairs hall light go on and off through the window above my door. I would also hear someone walk along the corridor, into the bathroom, shake the mirror (which was on the other side of my bedroom wall), and we would hear the light go on and off.

One time, a couple of friends and I were sitting on my bed, when we heard a knock at my door. All of a sudden my bedroom went freezing cold, and shivers ran up and down our spines. Whatever was in there at the time was pure evil. We could all feel it. It only lasted for a few seconds then went away. Other times I would lie there and feel warm, comforted and safe.

This is what led me to believe I had let more than one spirit out of the board. This scared me so much that at night I would not be able to sleep unless the telly, radio and light were on. This continued for a few months, but I got used to it. It slowly died down and went away.

To this day I do not know if what happened over that period of time was just my imagination or if my house was really haunted with evil and good spirits.

Was this the punishment for me stopping the Ouija board? I will never know ... unless I ask the board!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

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Ouija Board Informaion

A ouija or spirit board is any flat surface printed with letters, numbers, and other symbols, to which a planchette or movable indicator points, supposedly in answer to questions from people at a seance. The fingers of the participants are placed on the planchette that then moves about the board to spell out messages. Ouija Boards are usually spelled out as "Wee-gee". Ouija is a trademark for a talking board currently sold by Parker Brothers. While the word is not a genericized trademark, it has become a trademark which is often used generically to refer to any talking board.

There are several theories about the origin of the term "Ouija". According to one of these, the word is derived from the French "oui" (for "yes") and the German/Dutch "ja" (also for "yes"). An alternative story suggests that the name was revealed to inventor Charles Kennard during a Ouija séance and was claimed to be an Ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." It has also been suggested that the word was inspired by the name of the Moroccan city Oujda. Despite its common usage, "Ouija" is a registered trademark (but the term "Ouija Board" has been abandoned as a registered trademark.

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History of the Ouija Board

According to some sources, the first historical mention of something resembling a Ouija board is found in China around 1200 B.C., a divination method known as Fu Ji (扶乩). Other sources claim that according to a French historical account of the philosopher Pythagoras, in 540 B.C. his sect would conduct seances at "a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs, which the philosopher and his pupil, Philolaus, interpreted to the audience as being revelations supposedly from an unseen world.". However, other sources call both claims into dispute, claiming that Fu Ji is spirit writing, not the use of a spirit board, and that there is no record of Pythagoras or his students actually having used this method of achieving oracles or divinations. In addition, the claim of ancient Greek use is called into doubt by questions of historical accuracy, as Philolaus was never the pupil of Pythagoras, and indeed was born roughly twenty-five years after Pythagoras's death.

Scary Ouija Board Footage

The first undisputed use of the talking boards came with the Spiritualism movement in The United States in the mid-19th century. Methods of divination at that time used various ways to spell out messages, including swinging a pendulum over a plate that had letters around the edge or using an entire table to indicate letters drawn on the floor. Often used was a small wooden tablet supported on casters. This tablet, called a planchette, was affixed with a pencil that would write out messages in a fashion similar to automatic writing. These methods may predate modern Spiritualism.

During the late 1800s, planchettes were widely sold as a novelty. The businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard had the idea to patent a planchette sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed. The patentees filed on May 28, 1890 for patent protection and thus had invented the first Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891. They received U.S. Patent 446,054 . Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device. An employee of Kennard, William Fuld took over the talking board production and in 1901, he started production of his own boards under the name "Ouija". The Fuld name would become synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld reinvented its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. Countless talking boards from Fuld's competitors flooded the market and all these boards enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s through the 1960s. Fuld sued many companies over the "Ouija" name and concept right up until his death in 1927. In 1966, Fuld's estate sold the entire business to Parker Brothers, who continues to hold all trademarks and patents. About 10 brands of talking boards are sold today under various names.

Haunted Ouija Board

Psychologists believe the motion of the planchette is explained by the ideomotor effect. A typical session with the board has two or more people touching the planchette with at least one hand each, so that no single person need apply much force in order for the group as a whole to cause it to move. Each person experiences the illusion that the planchette moves under its own power.

Skeptic and magician James Randi, in his book An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, points out that when blindfolded, Ouija board operators are unable to produce intelligible messages. Magicians Penn & Teller performed a similar demonstration in an episode of their television show Bullshit! in which the operators moved the planchette into what they thought was the positions of "yes" and "no" without knowing that the board was turned upside-down, which caused them to move the planchette into blank spaces on the board.

Ouija Board

Those who believe Ouija boards can be used to make actual contact with the spirit world feel that the act of hindering a medium’s ability to use his or her own eyes while the board is in use effectively places too great of a handicap on the whole exercise (see ad hoc hypothesis). (This argument stems from the belief that contacted spirits actually utilize the eyes of the medium during a Ouija session in order to point to the letters and words needed to form a message. Most believers of this notion believe that the board has no intrinsic power in and of itself, but rather, is used simply as a tool to aid a medium while in communication with the spirit world.)

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Alleged consequences of usage

Many anecdotal stories regarding the consequences of using Ouija boards exist in modern culture. Although Ouija boards are viewed by some to be a simple toy, there are people who believe they can be harmful, including Edgar Cayce, who called them "dangerous." Some warn that evil demons pretend to be cooperative ghosts in order to trick players, possibly into becoming spiritually possessed. Others believe the Ouija Board or 'Talking Board' is a means for the devil / Satan to come into our world[citation needed].

Some practitioners claim to have had bad experiences related to the use of talking boards by being haunted by "demons," seeing apparitions of spirits, and hearing voices after using them. A few paranormal researchers, such as John Zaffis, claim that the majority of the worst cases of so-called demon harassment and possession are caused by the use of Ouija boards. The American demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, stated that "Ouija boards are just as dangerous as drugs." They further state that "séances and Ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia are dangerous because 'evil spirits' often disguise themselves as your loved ones—and take over your life."

In 1944, occultist Manly P. Hall, the founder of the Philosophical Research Society and an early authority on the occult in the 20th century, stated in Horizon magazine that, "during the last 20-25 years I have had considerable personal experience with persons who have complicated their lives through dabbling with the Ouija board. Out of every hundred such cases, at least 95 are worse off for the experience." He went on to say that, "I know of broken homes, estranged families, and even suicides that can be traced directly to this source."

Some Christians hold the belief that using a Ouija board allows communication with demons, which they say is Biblically forbidden as a form of divination. Some people who claim to have been oppressed by evil spirits after using a board say that they could only get rid of these problems after Christian deliverance. Some Christians believe that no dead person's soul can be summoned, and that the only summoned spirits are demons who are trying to harm humans.

As early as 1924, Harry Houdini wrote that five people from Carrito, California were driven insane by using a board. That same year, Dr. Carl Wickland in his book stated that "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."

The former medical director of the State Insane Asylum of New Jersey, Dr. Curry, stated that the Ouija board was a "dangerous factor" in unbalancing the mind and believed that if their popularity persisted insane asylums would be filled with people who used them.

Decades later, in 1965, parapsychologist Martin Ebon in his book Satan Trap: Dangers of the Occult, states that "it all may start harmlessly enough, perhaps with a Ouija board," which will, "bring startling information... establishing credibility or identifying itself as someone who is dead. It is common that people... as having been 'chosen' for a special task." He continues, "Quite often the Ouija turns vulgar, abusive or threatening. It grows demanding and hostile, and sitters may find themselves using the board compulsively, as if 'possessed' by a spirit, or hearing voices that control or command them."

In her 1971 autobiography, the psychic Susy Smith said, "Warn people away from Ouija and automatic writing. I experienced many of the worst problems of such involvement. Had I been forewarned by reading that such efforts might cause one to run the risk of being mentally disturbed, I might have been more wary."

Additionally, the late Roman Catholic priest Malachi Martin believed talking boards are dangerous and claimed that by using these devices a person opens themselves to demonic oppression or possession, topics upon which Martin spoke and wrote extensively for many years

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Talking boards have become an iconic part of culture, demonstrated by their appearances in many books and movies. Their roles in such vary from being a benign object to an evil entity. A more peculiar role of talking boards in literature stems from authors using the board to channel complete written works from the deceased.

In the early 1900s, St. Louis housewife Pearl Curran used her Ouija board communications with the ubiquitous spirit Patience Worth to publish a number of poems and prose. Pearl claimed that all of the writings came to her through séances, which she allowed the public to attend. In 1917 writer Emily G. Hutchings believed she had communicated with and written a book dictated by Mark Twain from her Ouija board. Twain's living descendants went to court to halt publication of the book that was later determined to be so poorly written that it could not have been written by Twain dead or alive.

Since the 1970s, author Jane Roberts has transcribed text channeled from what she described as an "energy personality essence" named Seth. Topics attributed to Seth discuss the nature of physical reality, the origins of the universe, the theory of evolution, the many-worlds interpretation, the Christ story, and the purpose of life among other subjects and form a collection of more than 10 books and a number of videos and audio recordings.

Author John Fuller used a Ouija board in his research for his 1976 book The Ghost of Flight 401. As he was skeptical of its effectiveness, he worked with a medium and claimed they both contacted Don Repo, the flight engineer on the flight which crashed into the Everglades en route to Miami. According to Fuller, the information divined described facts that neither he nor the medium previously knew.

More recently, Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill used a Ouija board and recorded what he claimed were messages from a number of deceased persons. He combined these messages with his own poetry in The Changing Light at Sandover (1982).

Author Jerry Hicks (Ask and It Given) whose wife Esther claims to speak for a nonphysical entity group called Abraham, experimented with the Ouija Board prior to contact with Abraham. The board told him to "read everything about Albert Schweitzer", hardly demonic.

Ouija Board

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Notable users

Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, used a Ouija board and gained a fear of the number 621. This number also happens to be his birthday, June 21. He is convinced he is going to die on that day. He said: "It's just stupid, it is not a way to live. Once I had to fly to Glastonbury on my birthday; that was a real mess."

GK Chesterton used a Ouija board. Around 1893 he had gone through a crisis of skepticism and depression, and during this period Chesterton experimented with the Ouija board and grew fascinated with the occult.

Alice Cooper claims that a Ouija board suggested that he was the reincarnation of a 17th century witch with the name Alice Cooper, and thus the band's name "Alice Cooper".

Aleister Crowley advocated the use of Ouija boards, and they played a major role in many of his magickal workings.

Poet James Merrill used a Ouija board for years, and even encouraged entrance of spirits into his body. He wrote the poem "The Changing Light at Sandover" with the help of a Ouija board. Before he died, he recommended people not use Ouija boards.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi held a séance in 1978 with other professors at the University of Bologna in which a Ouija board spelled the word Gradoli. This turned out to be the name of a street in Rome where a Red Brigades safe house was located.

Bill Wilson the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous used the Ouija Board to contact spirits. His wife said that he would get messages directly without even using the board.For a while, his participation in A.A was deeply affected by his involvement with the Ouija board. Wilson claimed that he received the twelve step method directly from a spirit without the board and wrote it down.

The investigators of Most Haunted have been known to use Ouija Boards.

Gerard Way, the lead vocals of My Chemical Romance, has claimed to have had strange encounters with Ouija boards.

Famed Jack-of-all-trades MacGyver once used a Ouija board to decode the encryption of a digital bomb.

Razorlight singer Johnny Borrell is said to have used an Ouija board to help him write songs, particularly "Keep the Right Profile" and "Hold On".

During sleepovers with her friends, Amy Carter would use an Ouija board to get into contact with Abraham Lincoln, who is believed to be in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Hip Hop group Bone Thugs N Harmony were famous users of Ouija boards. They claim to have used these boards when they were children. They made a song called "Mr. Ouija" and "Mr. Ouija 2". The group has said that they quit using the Ouija board.

80s hair metal band Cheap Trick got its name from an Ouija board. They asked it what was for dinner, and it replied, "Cheap trick."

Are Ouija Board Good or BAD??

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Other incarnations of the Ouija Board

Other incarnations of the board exist in Asia. These are all home-made, with words written on paper in local languages. The planchette is replaced by other items, most commonly a pen, a dish (Chinese condiment saucer) or a coin. It is often played by inquisitive teenagers.

Various horror movies have been made about the consequences of playing with these incarnations of the board, most notably by the Hong Kong and South Korea movie industry. One of the more well known movies to date is the 2004 South Korean film Bunshinsaba.

Ouija Board Says I'm A Portal!

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