How do Ouija and other Spirit Boards Work?
Spirit boards are widely regarded to be nothing more than a toy. The game is simple; a group of people would place their hands on a planchette that sported a hole through which to read letters. Next, player asks a questionand the planchette moves–supposedly under the guidance of “the beyond”– to spell out the answer.
Of course, as any slumber party attendee knows, the “spirits” have a way of confirming our wishes. In other words, if Tiffany wants “MS” to fall in love with her, she can nudge the indicator toward those initials. But others swear their boards have told them things no one in the circle could possibly have known. So, there is certainly the possibility of getting help from a friendly ghost.
The first patented board and planchette set was the brainchild of a businessman named Elijah Bond, though the tradition of “automatic writing” can be traced to the 12th century in China. Bond applied for his patent in 1890, and the first commercially available boards sporting the “Ouija” name came out in 1891. In more recent times, some Christian organizations have spoken out against spirit boards and their connection to “the occult.”
Pearl and Patience
As the world marched toward the first world war, some mediums began to replace their typewriters with Ouija boards. The most famous medium to use one was an American named Pearl Curran (born 1883). With the help of her spirit guide, Patience Worth, she penned several novels like The Sorry Tale. The pair also wrote several poems and short stories.
The two of them traveled extensively on the lecture circuit. Audience members could pose questions to Patience about the issues of the day. Pearl had outlived three husbands by the time of her own death in 1937, making her “relationship” with Patience the longest of her life.