Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Woo-Woo ~ OUIJA

What lies behind the purpose of a Ouija Board is definitive "woo". Contacting spirits of the dead links to lots of other woo-ish bits and pieces: ghosts, past lives, divination, prodigies....and on.

Having never used the device myself, I can't vouch for its efficacy or otherwise. My delving into woo stops short at astrology and tarot these days, I only do what I'm drawn to do. When younger I did experiment with spiritualism by attending a few spiritualist meetings and churches, but didn't continue along that route. I'm not a complete skeptic when it comes to Ouija, just a curious bystander who has never been drawn to experiment.

In its current style the Ouija Board originated in the late 19th century, in the USA. It was, however, an extension of a much older tradition of contacting spirits of the dead. Such tradition has reportedly been traced back to China, centuries before the birth of Confucius (circa 550 B.C.E.). Fu Chi or Fuji, an accepted form of Chinese spirit writing, is what's known in the west as automatic writing. Spirits were thought to guide a pen or stick, in sand or on paper, to form letters or glyphs. Some have tried to make a link from Ouija Boards to ancient Greece, and Pythagorus, but that idea seems to have been discredited.

We can safely say that it was an upsurge in spiritualism and theosophy in late 19th century USA that led to the spread of "talking boards". There's some evidence, though disputed, that a Maryland cabinet/ coffin maker, E.C. Reiche (or Reichie?) , designed and constructed the first board that came to be known by the name Ouija. He is said to have sold the rights of manufacture to Charles Kennard; the first patent was filed in 1890. These days rights to The Ouija Board are held by Parker Brothers who acquired them in 1960 - just in time for a New Age/hippie era?

The Ouija Board has acquired some particularly bad press, notably after the 1973 movie The Exorcist which many wrongly thought was based on a true story. Ouija has long been labelled a "tool of the devil" by certain factions. It's certainly a tool, but a tool for what purpose is up to its user. You can use a hammer in constructing a useful piece of furniture - or you could use it to kill or maim another living creature. Intent is key. Having said that, I don't consider it wise for young people to dabble in Ouija Board use. While I do not believe in demons or anything akin to demons, we don't know whether impressionable minds, fed these days more than ever with tales of horror, violence, war, vampires, and such could conjure up something harmful via their own consciousness. If Ouija Boards and similar methods of divination work on any level at all, we have still to discover how. Until this is known, it's best to tread lightly.

How to link astrology to a post on Ouija isn't clear. The businessmen who initiated bulk manufacture and sale of the boards were interested mainly, or only, in profit. I doubt they had any serious interest in the spread of occult learning or experience. Perhaps E.C. Reiche, if his part in Ouija's history is true, was the most likely of them all to have had a true interest in the occult.

Searching for birth data on E.C. Reiche I found it on this site. Born 27 December 1831, died 6 January 1899.

Curiosity led me to look at a natal chart, using as location the town in which he lived (probably born there): Chestertown, Maryland, chart set for 12 noon. How appropriate it'd be if he actually had been born around noon! Pluto, planet of the occult and hidden things, secrets, darkness, etc. sits on the ascendant angle - the strongest point in a natal chart. But chances are he wasn't born around noon.

Anyway, I still see this chart as a good fit for a craftsman who had an interest in occult matters. His Sun was in Capricorn, which I think of as a craftsman/businessman sign. Neptune conjunct Mercury also in Capricorn: creativity, illusion and/or psychic ability married with his planet of communication. Uranus is unadulterated in its home sign, Aquarius along with Jupiter, adding a good helping of inventive talent to the mix.

From New World Encyclopedia:
Whether one believes that the Ouija contacts spirits or is merely a vehicle to probe one's own subconscious, there are psychological risks to using the board. During Ouija sessions, it is common to receive vulgar or vile messages, as well as messages that tap into the users' fear of death. These messages can be highly disturbing to some, no matter what their source, and have the potential to exacerbate any existing mental disturbances. It is well advised that those with emotional or psychological disturbances refrain from the use of the Ouija.


gian paul said...

As you managed to unearth the inventor of the Ouija board, here some Brazilian observations:

Macumba is the thing here (a variety of Vodoo). Over half the population here believes in the stuff - and not just African-Brazilians of various shades. Many pure white as well.

Whenever I can, I avoid getting involved with any of that, but was not always possible as most of the housekeepers I had so far were "believers". One couple even had an Ouija board. Imported, they said.

Some Brazilian "Maes de Santo" (Mothers of some Macumba saint) emigrate to Portugal, earning Euros there and doing quite well. Financially that is.

But most of the time this type of credences here are used for vengeance (or similar low emotions). A German couple (but both born in Rio) told me unbelievable stories about their experiences with Macumba, mostly as victims of one or the other of their dismissed employees.

Modern psi's know about this and so do exorcists. Who manages to unleash such forces (they are real, I believe), mostly "bleeds his own psychic energy". In that domain the laws of retribution function just the same as in more positive endeavors.

Was helpful you equally joined some notes of caution. Humans hardly know their own psyche, but adore playing with forces better left alone.

Twilight said...

gian paul ~~~ Interesting info! I hadn't heard of Macumba, though knew about Voodoo's reputation.

I've never met anyone who has had any kind of experience linked to one of these kinds of practices.
For me it remains all a bit academic, but I can well understand how, if a personal experience is related to one by a trusted acquaintance, it would definitely sway one's views.

There is so much we don't know about how our minds/brains/counsciousness work. There's all kinds of potential still to be discovered.
Best to tread very lightly in these areas, especially in view of the potential for serious harm.

Fascinating subject though!

Wisewebwoman said...

You know T, I've had some experience and it seriously freaked me out far too many times. I won't go near a Board to this day.
Part of the hippie era of my past and the predictions were so accurate and scary that I'd rather not know.
I don't know what energy field these things tap into but like you say, better left for stronger, more incredulous minds.
Great post as always.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Oh wow! Thank you - and thanks for adding your personal experience of Ouija here. I can well imagine how scary it must have been. This makes me even more certain I'll never be tempted to "dabble". :-)

gian paul said...

Just read a comment by Rumi: "There are heavens in the reign of the soul which are able to govern the heavens of the world".

Personally I believe that exceptional beings like no doubt Rumi was, can reach into such realms. On the contrary however, lesser beings may also find access to "hellish realms". Again: AVOID!

If I remember correctly, once famous Alister Crawly had a little enviable ending...

Twilight said...

gian paul ~~~ Funny you should mention Crowley, I spent a while reading up on him yesterday with a view to using him for the next Woo-woo post. I decided against it, though. The guy was an horrendous specimen of humanity - and why give him more voice and space, even on my humble little bit of cyberland?

So now I'm off on a different tack. ;-)