My first experiences with a talking board (Ouija) came about 12 years ago when I was in college. One night, while sitting around the dorm room and chatting with a few of my fraternity brothers, the topic of discussion turned into supernatural phenomena. As we took turns sharing our own ghost stories and strange personal experiences, my friend, Dan, started talking about his bizarre experiences with a Ouija board. At the time, I had never heard of a Ouija board, but I found myself fascinated by the eerie tales he told about his "magical spirit attracting" board. Although a part of me was a little skeptical about what he was saying, for the most part I believed him.
After our little get together wrapped up, I stayed and talked more in depth with Dan about Ouija boards. When he mentioned that he had brought his board with him to school, I eagerly asked if I could try it out. He agreed to let me use it but cautioned me about the potential dark side of its use. Apparently, the board has the ability to attract both good and evil presence (spirits). As he explained it, "Things can get pretty spooky at times". With that in mind, he loaned me the board, which turned out to be made by the Parker Bros. toy company.
When I got back to my dorm room, I pulled the Ouija board out of its box and examined it. It didn't seem like anything special, just a rectangular piece of masonite with poster paper glued to it. The paper contained the alphabet, numbers and the words "yes", "no" and "good bye". Next, I examined the heart-shaped, plastic device known as the indicator, or planchette, which is used with the board. The general idea is that each user places his or her hand very lightly on the planchette and the presence of a spirit guides the planchette to the various letters and numbers on the board to spell out answers to the users questions.
Later that night, when my girlfriend, Sara, stopped by, I invited her to be the first to try out the board with me. She accepted. Actually, she was already familiar with Ouija boards, having used one with a girlfriend a few years back. Like anxious kids we couldn't wait to see what strange events awaited us, so, in order to create the "right" atmosphere, we locked the door of my room, pulled the shades and dimmed the lights. When we were in the right seating position I placed the board on our laps and centered the planchette on the board surface. We, then, lightly placed our fingers on the edges of the planchette. Finally, I invited all "good" spirits to converse with us through the board and planchette. For a while the planchette didn't move, but after a few seconds, it started to glide over the board in a slow figure-eight direction. As we sat and watched, the speed of movement increased. At that point I asked if any spirits were present. The indicator move directly to the word "yes". I, then, asked the name of the spirit present and the planchette quickly moved to a series of letters that spelled out the word, "Martha". Sara and I looked at each other in amazement. As we proceeded, we found out that "Martha" was born in 1826 and died at the age of 28 from the "flu". We used the board for a short while longer until the phone rang and disturbed our concentration. At that point we decided to call it quits for the night. I was thrilled by my first experience with this strange device.
As the days passed, use of the Ouija board almost became a nightly ritual. It seemed like the more we used the board, the better the results. We seemed to get spirits of every kind- adults, children, men and women. Even one claiming to be an alien being. For the most part the information that the spirits had to share was positive. That is until one bizarre evening.
At around midnight on a cold, fall school night, Sara and I were in my room watching TV. There wasn't a whole lot on the tube, so I suggested that we put the Ouija to use, which we did. When the planchette started to figure eight around the board I asked my standard first question, "Are any spirits present?". The planchette moved to the word "yes". I proceeded to ask the name of the spirit. The planchette shot over to the letter "Q", stopped momentarily, and then began the figure eight movement again. Thinking the response to my question might be incomplete, I asked again, "What is your name?". Again the planchette went to the letter "Q" and momentarily stopped. As we proceeded to ask the spirit "Q" our standard questions, we were horrified at the responses we got. "Q" had apparently committed suicide in his early twenties, and was contacting us from "hell". Sara was beginning to feel uncomfortable about continuing but I convinced her that this was all in fun. Many of the questions I proceeded to ask "Q" resulted in strange answers that seemingly had nothing to do with the questions. For instance the word "illness" was spelled out when I asked if any other spirits were present with him. After he answered another question with a response of "illness", I asked him what he was talking about. Without hesitation the planchette moved to the letters which spelled out "Saradeath". At this point Sara told me that she didn't want to use the Ouija board any more. I agreed.
The next day I returned the board to Dan, and told him about our strange experience. I also told him that we agreed not to use the board anymore. He felt we had made a wise decision. Later that afternoon after finishing my last class for the day, I returned to my dorm room to find a folded note taped to the door. I opened the door, sat down on my bed and unfolded the note. As I read it my heart started to race. It read, "Sara's been taken to the hospital. She passed out at lunch. Meet us there." I quickly collected myself and drove over to the hospital. Sara's sister and friend greeted me at the check-in counter and explained that Sara had blacked-out during lunch time. I ended up talking to the doctor who treated her and he explained that she passed out because of low blood sugar. Apparently, she had not eaten in a few days in an attempt to lose weight. When I finally got to see Sara, she mentioned in hindsight that the Ouija board had given her an unexpected warning.
From that point on, we never used the Ouija board together again.
WHY I STARTED MAKING TALKING BOARDS
In 1989 I graduated from college with a degree in studio art. As an artist I'm always looking for creative outlets to express my personal thoughts and beliefs. Over my lifetime, I've had many strange experiences that have convinced me that there is only a very thin "veil" that separates the physical world that we are currently experiencing from other levels of conscious existence. In other words, I don't believe in death. I believe that the true essence of who we are is Spirit, not a physical body. When the physical body is no longer wanted or needed, our Spirits merely pass on to a different state of conscious existence. The magic of the talking board is that it has the ability to help the sincere user connect to entities in the other conscious states of existence beyond the physical realm.
Although I've received some good results from the commercially made Ouija and Talking Boards, unfortunately, they have some frustrating design flaws. The surface, which is usually made of printed poster paper and glued on a piece of hard board, is not very smooth and actually obstructs the natural movement of the planchette. Of course, this affects your results. Secondly, the size of these boards tends to be too small for the planchette (indicator), and the planchette often slides off of the edge of the board. Because good results are dependent upon focused concentration, distractions such as these should be avoided.
The first board I made came about for exactly the reason mentioned above-I wanted to remove as many annoying distractions as possible to achieve the best results. Over time I've experimented with a number of board materials and finishes, to come up with what I feel are the ideal boards. Not only are my boards functionally correct and capable of providing better results, they are also pieces of art.
To find out about the fascinating history of Talking Boards and Ouija Boards, click the Museum of Talking Boards logo: