THE OUIJA: The Ouija Board Connection to ITC (Instrumental TransCommunication)

Posted on March 17, 2013

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By: Demetrius (Co-Founder of the OCPRS)

            A variety of methods for communicating with spirits emerged during the 19th century. Séances included spirit possession/channelling, table rapping and tipping, automatic writing, etc. The driving force behind such practices was owed to the popularity of the Modern Spiritualist movement. Of all the practices used to communicate with spirits, the Ouija board became the most enduring and infamous. Although not originally known by this name, the practice of using talking boards was widespread. Long before the commercial success of the Ouija, mediums and the curious public alike used bits of paper arranged on a table. On these bits of paper were the letters of the alphabet. An upturned drinking-glass would be used as a pointer, which would spell out the messages of the spirits. Precisely when the talking board developed into a rectangular board remains uncertain. What is known is that in 1891 the Kennard Novelty Company began to sell their version of the talking board, which they named the “Ouija” board.

            The commercialization of the Ouija board helped to further popularize the practice of spirit communication, despite being marketed as a game. Typically, spirit communication required a medium to engage the spirit world on behalf of those seeking answers from beyond the grave. The success of the Ouija was also partly owed to the fact that it replaced the medium. Now anyone could engage the spirit world on their own. Essentially, the Ouija board represents a form of technology used for the express purpose of communicating with spirits. Simple in both its design and use, the Ouija was indeed one of the most successful practices to emerge from Modern Spiritualism.

            The Ontario Catholic Paranormal Research Society thought it would be important to address the Ouija. Countless warnings and prohibitions against using the Ouija board have been issued from a variety of Christian denominations. There are even spiritualists and other proponents of the occult and new age who have issued similar warnings. Most of these warnings are based on anecdotal evidence based on spiritual misadventures following the use of the Ouija. In each case, what is stressed is the importance of having some “gift” or ability to communicate safely with spirits. The Ouija is said to attract all manner of spirits when used by people lacking any training. Not surprisingly, many of the warnings against the Ouija are little else than self-promotions. In other words, by warning people about the dangers of the Ouija, the ultimate goal is to draw people to modern spiritualism. Steering people away from the inherent dangers of the Ouija has never been the real aim of spiritualists, especially when considering that all practices involving spirit communication share similar consequences. As confusing as this observation may seem, it is one of many reasons practitioners of the occult and new age issue such cautionary advisories – to attract people to experienced mediums or to occult and new age training. Another reason mediums speak out against the Ouija is due to the fact that they have been replaced by it. Certainly there are Christians who sensationalize the Ouija for their own purposes. Sincere or not, these warnings are based on explicitly negative experiences. Apart from the warnings against using the Ouija board, there are also “positive” promotions, which are often ignored in favour of the more negative reports circulating today.

            The OCPRS does not wish to sensationalize the Ouija board. Instead, the purpose of this article is to examine the nature of the Ouija board as an early form of technology used to communicate with spirits. In turn, the OCPRS believes those same qualities found in the Ouija can be recognized in more recent forms of technology used in paranormal investigations and research. Of course, most people don’t associate the term technology to objects like the Ouija, but they would be mistaken. As a tool used to communicate with spirits, the Ouija is a technology, albeit primitive in comparison to other modern day electronic paranormal instruments: EMF meters, recording devices for EVP, the Ghost/Frank’s Box, the Ovilus, and Mel Meter, etc. Positive or negative, the experiences surrounding the Ouija board are ultimately owed to a common source; something demonic.

            In its earliest days the talking board, or Ouija, was a mediumistic instrument used to develop the mediumistic abilities, or “gifts.” Pearl Lenore Curran (b. 1883 – d. 1937) had used the Ouija board, which she believed allowed her to develop her mediumistic abilities. Another medium, Jane Roberts (b. 1929 – d. 1984) had used the Ouija board to develop her own mediumistic abilities. In both examples, the Ouija board introduced both mediums to other spiritualist practices and beliefs. Interestingly, both of these mediums never reported becoming possessed – at least against their will – or experiencing demonic molestations. The development of mediumistic ability could easily be regarded as a positive experience by proponents of the occult and new age, despite the warnings against the Ouija.

“Positive” Experiences with the Ouija Board:

            It is the so-called “positive” experiences concerning the Ouija board, which shall first be examined. In terms of what “positive” means when used here, it is the lack of explicitly destructive and hostile experiences commonly reported among the negative reports and warnings. Despite this distinction, it will become obvious how both the positive and negative experiences share a common source.

            In the example of Pearl L. Curran, she claimed to have received spirit communications from a 17th century girl named Patience Worth, through the Ouija board. Later, she claimed to have been Patience Worth in her previous life. Here, what she was promoting through her mediumistic experiences – initiated through the Ouija – is the belief in reincarnation. The success of Pearl L. Curran’s mediumistic abilities and messages from Patience Worth gained attention due to a revival of Modern Spiritualism during the early 20th century. Reincarnation was certainly a popular belief among spiritualists, and therefore Pearl L. Curran’s promotion of reincarnation only helped to support pre-existing beliefs found throughout the movement.

            Not surprisingly, Jane Roberts’ mediumistic messages also promoted reincarnation. Receiving messages from a spirit calling itself Seth, Jane Roberts first encountered this spirit through the Ouija board. Shortly after abandoning the Ouija board, Jane Roberts continued communicating with Seth through trances – a form of spirit possession. During these trances, Jane Roberts communicated numerous volumes that influenced the New Age movement during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In terms of “positive” experiences, the Ouija board exposed Pearl L. Curran and Jane Roberts to non-Christian views concerning the afterlife, rather than demonic molestations. In turn, these non-Christian beliefs were spread to others, even becoming a part of popular culture.

            The consequences from having used the Ouija may appear insignificant or even harmless in the examples of Pearl L. Curran and Jane Roberts, but the reverse is true. As minor a role the Ouija seems to have played, it is still implicated in the larger scope of the consequences of having promoted misguided beliefs concerning the afterlife. The outcome of such experiences defines the nature of those spirits. The First Epistle of John 4:1-3 provides an excellent consideration to measure such incidents for what they truly:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

In all likelihood the spirits with whom Pearl L. Curran and Jane Roberts engaged were actually demons masquerading as the spirits of the dead. If one considers the non-Christian teachings imparted by these spirits – and thereafter by the mediums – the First Epistle of John most certainly exposes those spirits as demons. Both Pearl L. Curran and Jane Roberts served as “false prophets” as a result of having used the Ouija.

            The “positive” experiences identified to the Ouija are obviously not subtle, nor are they harmless. The consequences did not involve destructive forces being unleashed on Pearl L. Curran or Jane Roberts, as is commonly associated in the majority of the anecdotal warnings against using the Ouija. However, the consequences of Pearl L. Curran and Jane Roberts’ usage of the Ouija led a greater number of people into accepting false spiritual teachings. From the OCPRS’s perspective, there is no doubt that such spirits are in fact demons.

Negative Experiences with the Ouija Board:

            The negative experiences associated to the Ouija are much more explicit in their identification of demonic manifestations. The cautionary tales issued by spiritualists and other proponents of the occult rarely identify demons in terms of how Christianity has defined such evil spirits. These types of “warnings” have already been identified as serving ulterior motives to attract followers rather than steer people away from any real spiritual dangers. Despite the disingenuous motives of such warnings, there is an element of truth in regards to the dangers the Ouija presents. Once again, the Ouija does not retain any powers, but it does provide the circumstances for people to attempt communication with “spirits.” In other words, the Ouija enables people to unwittingly invite demonic manifestations into their physical and psychical modes of perception. Indeed, the Ouija is a mediumistic tool, serving no other purpose.

            In David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna’s book, The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism, the Ouija is identified as the catalyst of two of the ten cases dealing with demonic possession and manifestation. The authors include what is perhaps the most sincere description of how the Ouija board actually works:

“…the name [Ouija] was a juxtaposition of the French word oui and the German ja, translating to ‘yes, yes.’ It is a fitting interpretation for it suggests that each time the board game is played, the participant consents to accept whatever may intrude. And he agrees to accept the consequences of having made the invitation…”

(The Dark Sacrament – The Boy Who Communes With Demons)

Knowing that the Ouija has no special powers, it truly is the intent of the individual – desiring spirit communication – which is the cause for any demonic intrusions. The OCPRS is not claiming that the Ouija board is entirely harmless as an object. Instead, it is the purpose of the Ouija that is harmful; to entice people into consenting into communion with spirits. Having identified the true source of “power” behind the Ouija, the truth is seldom recognized among paranormal enthusiasts. Most people believe that using the Ouija board is what permits them to make contact with spirits rather than themselves. This is perhaps why the Ouija has been so misunderstood as a tool of the devil. On one hand, the Ouija has been reduced to a “toy,” with sceptics claiming that ideomotor effect is responsible for the movements and messages. On the other hand, the Ouija is sensationalized as serving as a window into the spirit world, and is regarded as a mystic object. In some strange way, people have deluded themselves into believing that it is not their own choices which introduce them to malevolent powers – it’s the Ouija board that is responsible.

Modern Day Ouija Boards:

            As mentioned previously, the OCPRS’s purpose in exploring the Ouija is to identify its qualities as a technology for communicating with spirits. In brief, the Ouija has become a popular symbol for communicating with spirits. Of course, it does not actually do this, although the Ouija was designed with this purpose in mind. What then is the cause for the reputation it has acquired? It has always been and continues to be the intent of people; the free will to conduct themselves according to virtue or sin. The belief in the Ouija does not empower the object, but simply serves to draw the mind’s attention to the spirit world. There is no psychical development through the Ouija, as claimed by spiritualists. The physical and psychical modes of perception are not transformed by the Ouija. The act of communicating with spirits has always been rooted in the intent, and not any one ritual or object. The history of the talking board, along with its development into the “Ouija” demonstrates this very well. As a technology, the OCPRS believes that the reputation of the Ouija simply lures people into the act of unwitting participation with demons. In turn, such foolish people direct their attentions onto an unhealthy spiritual desire; a desire having nothing to do with Christ or His Church.

            Despite its simplicity, the Ouija shares the same qualities with more complex technologies used to communicate with spirits. Most paranormal investigators have turned to science as a means of engaging the spiritual world. It is important to recognize the difference between using technology to examine paranormal phenomena and using technology as paranormal phenomena. The more popular technologies used by paranormal investigators were not designed for communication with spirits. The more popular examples are EMF meters and audio recorders for EVP sessions. Other examples having a much clearer relationship to the Ouija are technologies specifically designed for the purpose of communicating with spirits: the Frank’s/“Ghost” Box, the Mel Meter, and the Ovilus. In themselves, none of these technologies have supernatural powers, but they have somehow obtained paranormal reputations. Exclusively used to communicate with spirits, many of these technologies are used with the same intent recognized to the Ouija. Any technology used for paranormal exploration is dependant on the intent, and not the device being used. Yet, the same ominous warnings instructing people to stay away from the Ouija are not being applied to these other objects. Nor are the consequences reported, although the OCPRS has recognized an abundance of obsessed individuals and organizations placing their faith in various electronic devices. Essentially, many paranormal societies represent the next phase or development of Modern Spiritualism; the ITC Spiritualist.

            It now becomes necessary to compare these other technologies to the “positive” experiences and negative experiences recognized to the Ouija. The negative experiences commonly recognized to the Ouija include cases of demonic possession and demonic manifestations. Comparing these other technologies to the negative experiences is difficult since there really are no direct and genuine comparisons available. The technological tools utilized today by most paranormal researchers seem to fit much more comfortably under the so-called “positive” experiences.

The “Ghost” Box:

            Frank Sumption, the inventor of the Frank’s Box – also known as the “Ghost” Box – has never reported anything resembling demonic manifestations after using his device. Instead, Frank Sumption prefers not to label the disembodied voices he claims to communicate with, although he seems to gravitate towards extraterrestrials as strong candidates. Strangely, the vast majority of “Ghost” Box enthusiasts do not identify extraterrestrials, but prefer to use Frank Sumption’s invention to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Among “Ghost” Box users there are practically no reports of negative experiences. Almost all reports by “Ghost” Box users are largely “positive” experiences.

            Whether used to promote the belief in extraterrestrials or the spirits of the dead, the “Ghost” Box is used as a means to invite the alien/spirit to speak through the device. In many ways the “Ghost” Box is used like the Ouija, whereby questions are asked followed by a response. This similarity is an obvious one, but what most “Ghost” Box enthusiasts believe is that the technology is somehow empowered to some supernatural frequency; the spirit world. Once again, it is the intent of the individual, and not the technology. Yet, this is not the only similarity the “Ghost” Box shares with the Ouija, in terms of what occurs throughout the so-called “positive” experiences.

            Besides the aliens and spirits of the dead, there are “Ghost” Box enthusiasts who have identified the entities as “technicians” or “spirit technicians.” These “technicians” provide messages, and even technological suggestions to improve communications between the living and spiritual world. In turn, ITC (Instrumental TransCommunication) has been influenced by these “technician” spirits who promote technology as a means to learn about the world of spirits. Most reports concerning “technicians” describe helpful and playful spirits, but not demons. These “technicians” have helped shape paranormal theories and research into a semi-religious movement combining science/technology with spirituality. Here, it is important to note that the OCPRS is not identifying an organized religious body structured like the Christian Church. Instead, ITC Spiritualism is the synthesis of science and faith, guided by spirits like the so-called “technicians.”

            It is also important to note that in previous tests and research conducted by the OCPRS, the “Ghost” Box does not work according to the claims of its supporters. There is a rational explanation describing what it actually does, and the OCPRS has provided two articles addressing this issue. There may be some instances whereby genuine cases of spirit communication utilizing the “Ghost” Box do occur. The idea that “technicians,” and not demons, are communing with people is yet another delusion. In terms of “positive” experiences, the “Ghost” Box has been used to promote beliefs in a hierarchy of spirits having little or nothing in common with the teachings of the Church. The non-Christian beliefs and practices promoted through the Ouija have been demonstrated to be anything but “positive,” and are in fact negative experiences. “Ghost” Box enthusiasts have blindly accepted a different form of technology to interact with demons masquerading as extraterrestrials, the spirits of the dead; “technicians.”

The Mel Meter & Ovilus:

            Created by Gary Galka, the Mel Meter is really nothing more than an EMF meter and Thermometer merged into one unit. Gary Galka created the Mel Meter to communicate with his deceased daughter, Melissa. The motivation behind creating such a device was to help him come to terms with the passing of his daughter, rather than to exclusively market a spirit communication technology. However, the Mel Meter is now sold to paranormal enthusiasts. Various sources claim that Gary Galka donates a portion of his profits to various paranormal groups, believing that spiritual truth can be discovered through paranormal research one day.

            The Mel Meter was designed and promoted as a means for people to interact with the spirits of the dead. Unlike the Ouija, the Mel Meter is not marketed as a game. The belief that “ghosts” are electromagnetic in their nature, or that they can somehow manipulate energy serves to promote the Mel Meter. Although not supported by any real scientific evidence, the paranormal theories spread through popular culture served as the real source of inspiration behind Gary Galka’s invention. The strongest similarity the Mel Meter shares with the Ouija are the intentions people have for using such a device.

            The Ovilus was created by Bill Chappell. Much like the Mel Meter, the Ovilus uses EMF detection, and other environmental sensors. The major difference is that the Ovilus has a word database, and speaker system enabling those words to be spoken. The sensors are used to generate a numeric value, which then corresponds to a word in the database. The selected word is then heard through the Ovilus. When used by paranormal enthusiasts the intent is to communicate with the spirits of the dead. It is believed that the spirits of the dead manipulate the energies which the Ovilus is designed to detect. In turn, the spirits are manipulating the Ovilus to select words in order to communicate with the living. The intentions of paranormal enthusiasts remain the same; to speak with the spirits of the dead.

            Regardless of how paranormal enthusiasts use the Ovilus, Bill Chappell has not marketed his device as having the capability to speak with spirits. Instead, the Ovilus is marketed as a game. Much like the Ouija, the Ovilus was designed with the notion of communicating with the dead, but is sold for entertainment purposes. This aspect has not hindered the beliefs of paranormal enthusiasts who use the Ovilus for the express purpose of speaking with the dead.

            The two technologies presented here – the Mel Meter and Ovilus – have some differences, but are essentially used for the purpose of communicating with spirits. In terms of negative experiences, the Mel Meter and Ovilus have not gained a reputation for attracting malevolent spirits, and nor have they been associated to cases of demonic possession. The fact of the matter is that the Mel Meter and Ovilus can be compared to the “positive” experiences recognized to the Ouija. Both technologies were created with paranormal enthusiasts in mind. Also, the technologies are used with the same intent, although the response mechanisms are obviously different. The “positive” experiences do not necessarily rest with the inventors, but with the proponents of paranormal research. Accepted by paranormal researchers, the Mel Meter serves to perpetuate paranormal beliefs and practices. Despite having been marketed as a game, the Ovilus is becoming a popular tool among paranormal researchers who use the device to interact with spirits. As forms of technology, the Mel Meter and Ovilus have managed to promote a false sense of science in the exploration of spirituality.

Conclusions:

            The Ouija has been instrumental in maintaining the belief in spirit communication and has truly become a popular symbol. The negative experiences recognized to the Ouija are a strong part of that belief. Electronic technologies have simply been introduced as substitutes to the Ouija. In turn, the negative experiences are almost non-existent throughout the course of these substitutions. The technologies associated to communicating with the spirits of the dead have shifted from something exclusively spiritual to something which gives the appearance of something scientific. In terms of “positive” experiences, the evolution of spirit communication from the Ouija to the Frank’s Box, Mel Meter, etc. also demonstrates the development from Modern Spiritualism towards ITC Spiritualism. It would seem as though science has played a developmental role in this respect. However, the intent of individuals and groups practicing spirit communication seems to remain the same. The technology may change according to trends, but the intent has remained the same!

            The dangers recognized to the “positive” experiences of the Ouija board can be easily applied to other methods of communicating with spirits. Does this suggest that technology should not be used in paranormal research? The answer depends on the intent. If the intent is to communicate with spirits, then the answer is, no. In the case of the Frank’s Box/”Ghost” Box, the Mel Meter, and Ovilus, the intent is solely to communicate with the spirits of the dead. This is a defining feature of ITC Spiritualism. What motivates technology to be used for paranormal research is not science. It is the desires of people who wish to engage the spirit world. The Ouija board exploited this desire during the growth of Modern Spiritualism. Today, electronic gadgets accomplish the same goal, introducing the unsuspecting public to the dangerous practice of interacting with demons disguised as human souls.

            The infamous reputation of the Ouija may never be surpassed by any other object used for speaking with spirits. It is this infamy that has deluded people into believing an object is responsible for the spiritual consequences, and not the choices made by the individual. It wasn’t the infamy that attracted the masses to the Ouija, but the so-called “positive” experiences. ITC Spiritualism promotes modern day technology as a means to continue the same practices and beliefs belonging to Modern Spiritualism. The dangers of the Ouija are not isolated, but have been recognized to other technologies commonly found among paranormal groups. Mislead to believe that science and technology are involved in ITC (Instrumental TransComunication) countless numbers of people are being drawn to non-Christian beliefs and practices. The same is true of paranormal research and investigation teams. It is not science and technology serving to unravel the mysteries of the paranormal, but the very same motivations recognized to the Ouija.

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