[Ouija appears to be a combination of the French “oui” and German “ja,” which both mean “yes.” The French “non” and German “nein” both mean “no.” You probably already knew that.]
Recently I picked up something nice… well, nice for me anyway. It’s a 50-year-old talking board, or Ouija® board. (It’s pronounced “wee-jah” by the way, not “wee-jee.” Look at the word!) It’s a William Fuld board, made in the 1960s, before the rights went to Parker Brothers. It did not come with a planchette (that little triangle thing that they use today). It’s intended to be used with a overturned glass. I had my eye on a proper board from around 1920, but I got distracted during the critical final moments on eBay. Alas! (Yes, I use eBay. I’m a mystic, not a Luddite.)
Doc's new, old Ouija board
There is a lot of fear for people around talking boards, especially the Ouija brand. (Frankly, I find it difficult to put too much fear into the object itself. After all, it is now largely plastic, glows in the dark and made in the same factory with Mr. Potato Head!) If some of the stories people tell are true, Toys R Us would be the most terrifying place in the world. Perhaps it is!) In truth, people have explored ways of communicating with spirits before you could buy a talking board in a box. It all really got going in the mid 1800s with spirit knocks and table-tipping and all those wonderfully creative ideas that people have come up with to get around the fact that the spirit world hasn’t caught on to email.
From my own experience, working with a talking board is no more dangerous than using a pendulum or any other method where I wish to interact directly with a spirit. There is nothing about the Ouija board that makes it especially evil (except, perhaps, that it is plastic and glowy and sold in a toy store). There is nothing that makes it especially effective (except, perhaps, that people’s belief in the stories allow them to open up enough to let something happen). You could accomplish the same results with an overturned glass and a circle of Scrabble® tiles. It’s not the tool, but how you use it.
Let’s talk mechanics here for a moment. When you use a pendulum, or a talking board — or just about anything that you use to communicate with the spirits by having it move as you hold it — you are dealing with ideo motor responses. This means that your brain is subconsciously sending signals to your muscles to make something happen. Because you are not consciously doing this, it feels like it happens with an outside force, all by itself, but you are making it happen. “Gasp!” I hear some of you say. “He’s saying it’s all fake.” No! I am not! I am saying that there are natural means involved and that it’s not being pushed by “magic fingers.” You won’t get anywhere if you wait for the universe to do things without you.
You must understand that you are involved with moving these things in order to appreciate how they can become dangerous. If you want to sit down with one of these things and make it spell out whatever you wish, then you can do that. (It can be fun to get some squeally teeny-boppers and just completely punk them with what the board says. They’re not taking it seriously anyway, so why should I?) However, if you are doing it properly, you are letting go of the answers that you want it to say and letting your subconscious drive things. In other word, you are letting go of the outcome and allowing something else to drive it. Now, that may simply be thoughts hidden in your brain that are only available to your subconscious, like the last place you really saw that key. There are those who believe, though, that our subconscious mind is the one that can connect with outside influences, including spirits. In other words, you might open the communication line and become a channel for these things to talk to you. Can you see a potential problem with that?
If you believe that all this is crap, then you’re probably find no matter what. You’re mind will be closed enough that it’s pretty unlikely anything will get through. (See! Finally an advantage to being asleep!) However, if you are legitimately experimenting with these ideas and opening yourself to the possibilities, then there are some things you need to do:
Take responsibility for what you are doing. You are exploring in what may be dangerous territory. You need to be smart and you need to be attentive. If you come into contact with bad things you will have to be willing to get you and your fellow participants to safety. If that idea gives you serious doubts then leave it alone. If you make a mess, you will need to have the guts and wisdom to see that there is a problem and clean it up.
Ground, clean and clear. If you were going to meet with strangers, would you go to a rat-infested hole that was unfamiliar to you or would you try to go somewhere comfortable and safe? I guess if you’re buying crack you go wherever it is, but most of us would want to meet someplace that was at least neutral. So, take some time to make the place spiritually comfortable before you start inviting people in. I don’t think that there is a particular practice that is superior. It all depends on your own spirituality. (If you don’t have any, then this probably isn’t a good idea. If you just want the thrills, rent a movie instead.) Do what is done before you take on a serious ritual or sacrament. It may be smudging the site and casting a circle. It may be joining together and saying a prayer. If you don’t know, then you should probably work with someone who has more experience in this area before you try to do anything on your own. From what I have encountered, most of the bad things that happen with things like talking boards happen because people skip this step. They don’t bring any sort of protective force and place themselves at the mercy of anything that they encounter.
Don’t be an idiot. If something feels wrong to you, stop it. If you encounter something that feels dangerous, move away from it. There are old, dark things out there that are looking for opportunities to mess you up. You will not outsmart them like Captain Kirk giving something a logic puzzle. Forget the movies and the TV shows. Pay attention to your instincts. It would be better for you to lose out on a conversation than to allow something nasty to work through you or your friends. If something seems like it’s hiding something or the “vibe” you get is inconsistent with the words, let it go. If someone says that they are uncomfortable or describes something that they are picking up, don’t act as though it can’t be real if it didn’t happen to you. Don’t bully people into keeping contact with something that may not be nice to them. I know I’m being a little dramatic here, but you get these things for a reason. Don’t ignore them and cause unnecessary trouble for yourself.
Set some guidelines for what you are trying to do. Don’t just say “Hey! Is anyone there?” That’s like posting something on the Internet that says “Everyone come to my house! Here’s the address.” Make some decisions about who you want to contact and why. Start there and let them introduce you to other entities. Remember that bad things (or merely mischievous things) will lie to you. Don’t assume it’s Elvis just because he says so. Take some time. Be polite. An excellent place to start is to try to contact a spirit guide that is already connected to one of the participants. You may have one and not even know it. The point is that you want to connect with something that has your interests at heart. Starting there will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Take notes. Keep some kind of record of who you contact and what they tell you. It gives you something to help verify anyone that you contact. It also helps you watch for inconsistencies, which can be a sign of something that’s messing with you.
Clean up when you’re finished. Just like after a big party you may need to wander through the place and make sure that everyone has actually gone home, you need to close things out after a session like this. Thank everyone who talked to you and ask them to depart until you invite them again. Do a closing prayer, or open the circle or whatever makes sense for your path. Just don’t leave things hanging.
There’s no way that this little list of ideas could cover all the possibilities when working with these tools. Hopefully, though, I’ve got you thinking. If you have questions, ask them. In the mean time, I’m going to see which of these glasses seems to like my Fuld board.