‘It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.’ — Charles Condomine (Blithe Spirit play by Noel Coward)
Ouija boards, popular at the end of 19th and beginning and mid of 20th century, were one of the means of communicating with spirits. The interest for this kind of communication arose out of people’s wish to learn more about life after death, be ‘reunited’ with their loved ones, and also find out answers to some questions that otherwise would be left unanswered. For, apart from Church and science there were no other alternatives to look for answers.
Unfortunately, the reputation of the Ouija board was ruined by the horror movie The Exorcist (1974). The movie creators used the board as a symbolic conduit for the evil to enter and possess the body and mind of the main heroine, a 12-year-old girl Regan, while she was playing with the board unattended. This was a rather far-fetched idea. For, the Ouija board is nothing but a simple device possessing no evil power or any other power on its own. The board comes ‘alive’ only in hands of a human who acts as a transmitter of personal energies which in their turn can come in contact with similar energies present in other humans, the environment, or the spirits’ world. The fact that a teen-age girl was able to attract evil energies poses an important and disturbing question: ‘What kind of personal frequencies Regan emanated and what type of energies she harboured within her?’
Before The Exorcist (1974) ruined the reputation for the Ouija board, it was a popular ‘game’ and a serious pastime for many for more than half a century. In 1891, the Ouija board was patented in the USA and the mass manufacturing of it began. It was manufactured by the USA based Kennard Novelty Company at the factories in Baltimore, New York, Chicago, and London.
The first recorded commercial of this product read: ‘The Ouija is, without doubt, the most interesting, remarkable and mysterious production of the nineteenth century. Its operations are always interesting and frequently invaluable, answering as it does questions concerning the past, present, and future with marvellous accuracy. It furnishes never-falling amusement and recreation for all classes, while for the scientific or thoughtful its mysterious movement invite the most careful research and investigation — apparently forming the link which unites the known with the unknown, the material with the immaterial. It forces upon us the conviction that a great truth was contained in the statement of the Danish Prince (Hamlet): ‘There are more things in Heavan and Earth, Horatio, than were ever dreamed of in thy philosophy.’ — The Pittsburgh Dispatch (1 February, 1891)
Original Ouija board or ‘magic talking board’, as it was sometimes called, was made of wood with a teardrop shaped planchette that pointed to letters and numbers drawn on the board. The letters were arranged in a semicircle of two rows, and the numbers from 0 to 9 in a line underneath. Letters formed words and words formed sentences. Numbers helped with dates, years or quantities. Although letters are normally associated with alphabet and language, in Pythagorean numerology, they also have numerical values.
For example, letters that make up the name ‘Ouija’ have the following digital representation: O — 6; U — 3; I — 9; J — 1; A — 1 or ‘63911’. When added up, these digits make number 11 which is highly spiritual number, balancing the intuitive qualities of The High Priestess with the leadership and creative qualities of The Magician. So, Ouija equals 11 that denotes Spirituality.
Each letter, as each number, has a certain energy vibration. Energy vibrations have high and low frequencies. A letter, number or a word can vibrate either on a high or low frequency and therefore pass on either positive or negative information. People also have vibrations of varying frequencies. Obviously, a positive person has a higher vibration than a negative one.
As human beings, participants of a séance involving Ouija board each have their own energy frequencies that might coincide with each other or be in conflict with each other. The more in harmony the energies of the participants are, the better results the Ouija board can produce. In addition, each person has their own information field that contains her/his thoughts, memories, past events, and current plans and happenings. These information fields are also either in conjunction or in conflict with each other. And finally, there are also energies and energy fields in the environment that can be picked up and channelled by the séance participants. All these, plus the aim of the séance, determine the answers and messages received and communicated. Usually, the answers to questions posed during an Ouija board séance are the ones that match the energy vibrations of the most of the participants.
A good illustration of the above can be a séance scene in the movie The Sittaford Mystery (2006) partially based on Agatha Christie’s book of the same title. In the scene, the eight participants present at the Ouija board table operate at certain frequencies, and have their own pre-existing information fields to match. Six of them, except Miss Violet Willett, for one reason or the other, hate Captain Trevelyan, who is also present at the séance. But the viewers do not know that at the moment of the scene. The reasons for hating Captain Trevelyan are revealed later in the movie. However, regardless the reasons of hating the man, all six participants operate on the same low frequency, as hating someone cannot be an energy of high frequency. Thus, the outcome of the séance: the message passed by a ‘spirit’ is the word ‘death’. Negativity only reflects itself.
Interestingly enough, if one looks at the numerical value of each letter in the word ‘death’, one will even see what stands behind the hatred of Captain Trevelyan. ‘D’ = 4 — in lower octave, denotes hardship or death; ‘E’ = 5 — in low octave, denotes restlessness or mindless action; ‘A’ = 1 — in lower octave, means egocentrism, egoism, and selfishness; ‘T’ = 2 — in lower octave, denotes torn between two choices, and in a positive octave, feminine energies of diplomacy, partnership and flexibility; and ‘H’ = 8 — in lower octave, refers to greed as in lusting after wealth, and also dark magic. Each of these numbers and vibrations say something about the intentions of the people present at the Ouija board table.
It tells that there is greed and ego are involved, as well as hints to death thoughts or death related events that have occurred. It also points at some sort of partnership with a woman, and being torn between two choices and wanting action or having done some thoughtless deeds. All of which, of course, is present among the participants and is revealed in a due course. The Ouija board simply transmitted the existing among the participants thoughts, actions, and intentions.
An English creator of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories and a researcher of Spiritualism, Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), when using Ouija boards for his communications with the Other World was often perplexed by mixed messages he received. One of the explanations to such occurrences offered by his friend, General Drayson, ‘a man of remarkable character and one of the pioneers of Spiritualism’, was that Conan Doyle tended to have mixed séances with no definite aim, which could not bring anything comprehensive. While this is true, another explanation to mixed messages can be that Conan Doyle had contradicting energies and vibrations within himself, when reaching out to the other realm. On the one hand, he was a doctor, a scientist, and an atheist, and on the other, he wanted to expand on his knowledge of immaterial, which involved much finer energies than the ones present on Earth. With such mind and heart set it is very difficult to receive coherent answers or connect to higher frequencies. For, a mixture of low and high frequencies within a person will randomly connect to similar information fields or vibrations, producing random and disconnected messages.
In 1920s, Ouija boards were even used to attempt to solve crimes. For an instant, amateur crime solvers were turning to their Ouija boards for clues in the mysterious murder of a wealthy New York City bridge whist player, Joseph Burton Elwell, who was murdered with a gunshot to his head in his locked house. The murder was never solved by either amateurs or professionals. However, it became an inspiration for the mystery novel The Benson Murder Case (1926) written by S.S. Vine Dyne (1888–1939).
The trend of solving murder mysteries using the help of spirits is reflected in the Anna-Detektiv (2016–2017) Russian TV series, in which Anna Mironova, a nineteen-year-old medium, uses her spiritual talents to assist in solving local murder mysteries. Much to annoyance of logic driven and fact obsessed Yakov Schtolman, a detective from Saint Petersburg. For an instance, in the episode Bloodless Victim, Anna, while at the neighbour’s party, is asked to perform a séance. She tries to avoid it, saying that she does not have her Ouija board on her, but her uncle states that he has brought it to the party, just in case. Usually, there are six or eight people seated at a séance, but in this case, only five are present, including the medium. They are: Anna — the medium, Katerina Pavlovna, a countess who has just arrived from Austria, her sister, Darja Pavlovna — the hostess of the party, Darja Pavlovna’s neighbour, Sila Kuzmich, and another male guest, who in the episode remains nameless. The rest of the party, including the detective, Yakov Schtolman, his boss, parents of Anna, and her uncle do not participate in the sitting.
To start the séance, Anna holds hands with other four participants and focuses on a messenger-spirit who would like to come forward. The spirit — a ‘bloodless victim’ — decides to speak through Anna rather than through the Ouija board and the following words are uttered from Anna’s mouth: ‘My blood is on you! On you is my blood!’ As in the case with the scene from The Sittaford Mystery, the message has a certain frequency vibration related to the participants. Obviously, the frequency of the message from the ‘bloodless victim’ is not of a high octave. As it is revealed later, the tree participants, namely the countess Katerina Pavlovna, her sister Darja Pavlovna, and their neighbour, Sila Kuzmich, are not only connected between themselves by secrets, negative thoughts, and wrong doings to different degrees, but also have a connection to the spirit of the ‘bloodless victim’ — a young peasant girl who is murdered on the night of the séance. And the link between the participants was indeed ‘blood’. The scene of the episode illustrates that the Ouija board, or séance for that matter, cannot materialise random energies which are not already present within or without the participants. For, the answers and messages received are come from their own information fields and vibrational frequencies. Any other messages would be impossible to generate.
Now, returning to the movie The Exorcist (1974) and demonisation of Ouija boards. The trick used in the movie makes no sense. The devil is not in the Ouija board or the other world. It is in Regan’s heart precisely, for she operates on low frequencies, meaning her intentions, despite her age, are far from pure or innocent. The Ouija board simply reflects and mirrors the energy and information present within its user, no more no less. Miss Marple, in The Sittaford Mystery (2006), sums it up perfectly:
Miss Marple [to Emily, entering the room, looking scared]: I was just closing the window. It’s been banging like anything.
Emily: If I was the nervous sort, I’d say there is evil at this house.
Miss Marple: The house is bricks and mortar. If it is evil, it is in someone’s heart.
Personally, I would only add that if one wishes to find out the truth about themselves, their energies, intentions, and frequencies, one can buy an Ouija board and try to seek answers to their most intimate questions. The Ouija board answers will certainly tell a lot about one’s Self. Spoiler alert: the truth might hurt…