Ouija Boards

Public domain, 1892 first board

Ouija Boards

~ By Thomas Baurley / Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Research 9/7/2017.

By far one of my most favorite occult tools would be the Ouija Board, made famous throughout history by none other than the game manufacturer “Parker Brothers”. But how old is the Ouija Board? is it just a board game? does it work? Is it demonic? Those are just a handful of questions people have over the instrument made to communicate with the dead. So controversial even Pagans and Witches have mixed reactions with it, from outright scared avoidance to obsessive usage.

In print, the Ouija board was first referenced in February 1891 C.E. in newspaper advertisements promoting the “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board” as a new and popular toy that answered questions of “the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” It guaranteed that it would have “never-failing amusement and recreation for all classes”. It was promoted as having a link “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial”. It originally sold for $1.50 a board and planchette. It was officially authenticated and patented by the U.S. Patent Office. In order to be approved by the Patent Office on February 10, 1891, it had to be “proven” to work, and it was, so permitted to proceed. Some Psychologists suggest that it may offer a link between the known and unknown. It has been rationalized as operating under the ideometer effect – that automatic muscular movements take place without the conscious will or volition of the individual. This has become the explanation for the successes of other devices as well such as pendulums, dowsing rods, and the more commonly popular fake bomb detection kits.

Public domain, 1892 first board

The Ouija board consists of a flat board with the letters of the alphabet sprawled upon it in either a circle or crescent, arch or straight text, but most commonly as two semi-circles above the numbers of 0 through 9. It also has the words “yes” and “no” on it, most commonly in the uppermost corners, sometimes with the word “goodbye” most commonly placed at the bottom of the board. It commonly comes with a tear-drop shaped device called a “planchette” either of wood or plastic, but has also involved downturned cups, glasses, or circular pieces of translucent glass. Some of the planchettes have a small window or clear/translucent piece or glass embedded in it that manuevers over numbers or letters.

The board is often placed on a table, or the knees of two people facing one another, with each person placing their finger tips on the planchette. One of the users would ask the board (actually the spirit(s) being communicated with) a question and the planchette in response would move from letter to letter, number to number, and spell out the response.

Boards today are usually cardboard, with a laminate printout of the design, but in earlier days was wood, stone, or more durable materials. I used to make them from tree trunk slices and a circular pattern of letters and numbers in a Celtic-styled design. The planchette today is primarily plastic, though earlier and more elaborate boards still use glass or wood.

Historian Robert Murch claims that he’s been researching it since 1992 and most of its history is obscure, unknown, and mysterious. It has been proposed that its only as old at 19th century American spiritualism when it became “cliche” and “trendy” to communicate with the dead. While Spiritualism is pretty old in Europe, it didn’t really popularize in the Americas until 1848 when the Fox sisters claimed to receive messages from spirits by rapping on walls answering questions and conducting seances/ channelings in parlors utilizing pieces of paper or cardboard on a table with a upturned wineglass or by means of automatic writing. Back in the day, it was popular to communicate with the dead especially to assist in the passing process of the deceased.

The first producers of the Ouija Board game was the Kennard Novelty Company who sold it to the mainstream audience as a toy. It was promoted by the Associated Press in 1886 as a board with letters, numbers, and a planchette as a phenomena being used in spiritualist camps throughout Ohio. The investor Charles Kennard of Baltimore in 1890 rounded up investors such as attorney Elijah Bond, surveyor Col. Washington Bowie and himself to create the Kennard Novelty Company to exclusively make these bards for profit, rather than spiritualism. It was called the “Kennard Talking Board”. The name “Ouija” was created by Elijah’s sister-in-law Helen Peters. (It was not the combination of the French word “oui” for “yes” and German “ja”.) Apparently the board itself gave the name “Ouija” when asked what it should be called, and came with the meaning of “Good Luck”. Apparently Peters had been wearing a locket during the reading that had a picture of the famous author and women’s right activist “Ouida” but had “Ouija” (misread) above her head in the picture. Peters apparently was also present to demonstrate to the Patent Office that the board actually worked. The chief patent officer asked the board to spell out his name (unknown to those in attendance) and it did. There was no explanation by the Patent Office how it actually worked, just that it did.

By 1892 the Kennard company expanded from one factory in Baltimore to two, then two more in New York, two more in Chicago, and one in London. By 1893 the Company was managed by William Fuld. Fuld died in 1927 from a freak fall off the roof of his new factory that the board told him to build.

The board became extremely popular in the 1910-20’s after World War I, Prohibition, and Norman Rockwells illustration of it on the May 1920 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It came in great demand during the Great Depression as well. By 1944 a single department store sold 50,000 boards in just 5 months of carrying them. In 1966 Parker Brothers bought the game, and by 1967 sold over 2 million boards. Macabre and eerie stories about its use became widespread by then and started to give the board a bad name. Fundamentalist Christianity attacked it claiming it to be the tool of the Devil. This just increased sales and never harmed its distribution.

By 1973, “The Exorcist” hit the theaters and began scaring people from the implication that the 12 year old Regan was possessed by the devil after playing with the board by herself, leading to people’s fear that one should never use it alone. From this point the board was feared and became a target for banning. By 1991 Hasbro took over manufacturing and selling the board acquiring it from Parker Brothers. It became commonplace in Hollywood horror films and as early as 2001 in New Mexico was burned on bonfires alongside Harry Potter and Snow White books. Catholic.com calls it even today “far from harmless” and Pat Robertson claims demons reach people through the boards. Infantile and newbie Pagans, Wiccans, and Heathens also think its a dark tool. Experienced and well versed Pagans, Witches, and Druids however utilize it as a very valuable tool, comparable to a cell phone with service to the dead.

Today it has a reborn popularity and sales have once again increased. It was made popular again from its use in “Castle”, “Breaking Bad”, “Rizzoli and Isles”, Paranormal Activity 1&2. It became iconic fashion for the Goth music industry and imprinted on bras, underwear, and shirts by Hot Topic. There are apps on i-phones, programs on the computer as well as the internet to use the game online. (see http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/WebOuija.html) By 2015 there were glow-in-the-dark versions made by Hasbros.

In May of 2012, City Officials in San Francisco consulted a ouija board to determine the outcome of a vote on whether or not to recommend naming a Navy ship after slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Officials claim they made contact with his spirit and that Milk spelled on the board “Good riddance to don’t ask, don’t tell”. (Harvey Milk was shot in 1978 by Dan White)


  • McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez 2013 “The STrange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” Smithsonian.com. Website referenced 9/6/17 at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/?utm_source=onesignal.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Ouija”. Website referenced 9/7/17 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouija.

  • Yahoo News: 2012-05-23 “City Officials Consults Ouija Board Before Vote”. Website referenced June 2012. http://news.yahoo.com/city-official-consults-ouija-board-vote-130857601.html.

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Staurolite: Fairy crosses/stones

FC-005: Celtic Cross Fairy Cross from Taos, New Mexico.

Purchase one here

Fairy Stone / Fairy Cross / Staurolite

Localities: Fairy Stone State Park, Virginia, USA; North Georgia, USA; Little Falls, Minnesota, USA; Taos, New Mexico, USA; Switzerland; Russia; Australia; Brazil; France; Italy; Scotland.

Description: Popular to its folklore and legends, this stone has a State Park in Virginia named after it as it is home to its namesake “fairy stones”. It is also the official stone of the state of Georgia in the USA. Most commonly shaped like Celtic crosses or the St. Andrew’s cross, as an “X” or as a “T” shaped Roman cross, and square Maltese crosses. Color of the Staurolite varies to the region it comes from but can be dark brow, brownish black, grey, or reddish brown.

Geology:Staurolite are a combination of silica, iron, and aluminum. A silicate mineral, with the Chemical formula of Fe2+2Al9O6(SiO4)4(O,OH)2, and a Strunz classification of 9.AF.30, possessing a monclinic prismatic crystal symmetry. It’s H-M symbol is (2/m), with a Space group of C 2/m, and a unit cell a = 7.86, b = 16.6, c = 5.65; ? = 90.45; Z=2. Coloring ranges from yellowish brown, rarely blue, dark reddish brown to blackish brown, pale golden yellow in thin sections with a subvitreous to resinous luster, white to gray streaks, transparent to opague diaphaneity. Specific gravity is 3.74 – 3.83 meas. 3.686 calc. Twinning is commonly as 60 twins, less common as 90 cruciform twins. Subconchoidal fracture, brittle tenacity, mosh scale hardness of 7-7.5. Common to have penetration twinning, or a characteristic cross-shape. It occurs with almandine garnet, micas, kyanite; as well as albite, biotite, and sillimanite in gneiss and schist of regional metamorphic rocks. It is only found in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure. A rare mineral occurrence in nature, it is only found in certain areas of the world in the fairy cross or Celtic cross shapes. Each are unique and never are identical. True Staurolite crosses are hard enough to scratch glass.

Folklore: Named after the Greek word “Stauros” for “cross”, they are commonly known as “fairy stones” or “fairy crosses”. According to European and Christianity influenced Native American legend on the state park website, “hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, the fairies were dancing around a magical spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when a elfin messenger arrived from a city far away bringing the news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept, as their tears fell upon the earth they crystallized into beautiful crosses”. During the first meeting of John Smith and Pocahontas, it is said the Indian princess gave John Smith a good luck charm made out of a “fairy cross”. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart used them during the crusades to heal the wounded. Some say these are the tears of the Cherokee who wept over the loss of their homeland during the exodus on the “Trail of Tears”. Others talk of an ancient race of mountain faeries who were dancing at their favorite meeting places, and upon finding out that the “Great Creator” had died, shed tears, so moved, were crushed in heart and cried, as they wept their tears crystallized into the “fairy crosses”. Others say that during the defeat of the Tuatha de Danann and other faerie races when they were forced under-ground to live in the hills, the faeries around the world shed tears, made of Iron to represent the Iron Age destroying their race, in the shapes of crosses as an omen of the peopling that would destroy the planet next.

    Ay the charms of the fairy stone make you blessed
    through the days of labor and nights of rest
    Where ever you stay, where ever you go,
    May the beautiful flowers of the good Fairies Grow.
    ~ Little Falls Minnesota web page

Well known that Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Thomas A. Edison, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, and other prominent people carried one of these on their person(s).

Magical uses: For centuries these were believed to protect the wearer from sickness, accidents, disaster, and witchcraft. Used to find lost objects. Placed under the pillow to help induce lucid dreaming and astral travel. Used as amulets for good luck. Used to aid stress, anxiety, fear, considered soothing energy, and helpful with grounding. Many believe they embody an energy that will help you make contact with faeries or nature spirits. Some believe wearing the stones will help one stop smoking. Astrologically associated with Pisces. Associated with the base chakra. Healing qualities, good luck, rituals, protection, fever, defeat of malaria, stress, depression, addictive personality traits, time management, smoking cessation.

By Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions and Research Facility.






One of the most common forms of divination, pendulums are used to tell the sex of unborn children, detect pregnancy, tell the future, answer life’s questions, prophecy, divining, and a common place magic trick. No one really fully understands the process of how the pendulum works. Pendulums are easy to make as it simply involves attaching a small weight to a length of chain, thread, or cord. The process of using it is even easier, as all one has to do is place their elbow on a table, face the pendulum which is looped over the index finger, and asked questions – to which the weight will move and provide answers. People often ask the pendulum if they should take trips, make life choices, if someone likes/loves them, relationship issues, if they should make purchases, if they are sick, allergic, and/or pregnant. Some use the pendulum to determine allergies. Others use pendulums to locate lost items, find places on a map, hidden treasure, water, caves, graves, or secrets of the unknown. Albeit easy to use, the pendulum does take a bit of rhythmn, practice, and tuning for precision results. Pendulums can be constructed of simply a lead fishing weight, a coin (such as a Norwegian kronos), a ring, a crystal, stone, or needle attached to a length of string or chain. Some choose to purchase simple to elaborate ones from Metaphysical, Pagan, New Age, Witch, or Occult shops. Some “experts” claim a true pendulum needs to be made using certain guidelines, including requirements of something that weighs at least three ounces and attached to 4-6 inches of cord. In my experience, the cord should be roughly the length of your hand from your wrist to the tip of your middle finger. As far as weight, that varies, as I’ve had much success if a pin definitely weighing under 3 ounces.

The best success with pendulums use I’ve found is to hold the cord between the thumb and first finger of your right or left hand (depending on what handedness you are – though some claim it must be the right hand. I am however left-handed and find it works perfectly with my usual orientation) or drooped over your index finger pinned by your thumb. Then resting your elbow on a table allow the pendulum to swing freely an inch or so above the surface of a table. You can also purchase a pendulum board for clearer and a more “fancy” presentation. Stop the movement of the weight with your free hand and then ask the pendulum your question. Ask it to answer “yes” and make note of the movement of the swing. Ask it to answer “no” and make note of the movement of the swing. Generally though, if it swings the direction of your head when nodding “yes” (to and from your face), then that is a “yes”. If it moves side to side, like the movement of the head in western culture for “no” it is a no. There is some dispute that the movements vary based on cultural views of body language for yes/no answers. The pendulum can also move diagonal meaning “maybe”, “don’t want to answer”, “right question”, or “don’t know”. It can also move in circles (clock-wise or counter-clockwise). Once the pendulum indicates an answer, which can be answered with mini swings to full swinging motions your answer should be revealed. There is also some debate that you should be asking Deity, spirits, ancestors, faeries, angels, and/or the undead directly your question while others believe you can just do it directing the question to the pendulum itself. (A debate similar to the usage of a ouija board) Your questions don’t need to be limited, just make sure you really want to know the real answer to your question. It is also very possible to mentally influence and override the movements of a pendulum if you think to hard on a particular response or too personally engaged with the result. In this case, its best to have someone not attached to the matter to do the pendulum reading for you. It is advised not to use the pendulum flippantly nor to let it rule your life. Place intuition, instinct, and common sense into action for your commitment with results from the pendulum. Pendulums are used also for dowsing. The intent behind the dowsing or divination sometimes dictates whether the pendulum is made of crystal, metal, or other materials. Stage magicians have audience members seal items in envelopes and presented to him/her to which a pendulum is used to “dowse” whether the item belongs to a male or a female. They can be held over a pad or cloth with yes/no written on it as well for audience demonstration. In Radiesthesia, pendulums are used for medical diagnosis.

Scientifically we know the pendulum swings by the influence of gravity, making it swing back and forth along a circular arc. The time it takes for a pendulum to oscillate from the peak of the swing on one side to the other and back is called the period of vibration, which depends on the length of the pendulum, the magnitude of gravitational acceleration where the pendulum is located, and the amplitude of the swing. A small amplitude has no effect on the period and the period is given by the equation T=2p l/g where T is the period of vibration, l is the length of the pendulum, and g is the local gravitational acceleration. The Greek letter ? (pi) is a constant with an approximate value of 3.1416. Pendulums are used in science for the uniformity of its period especially for keeping time, demonstrating the earth’s rotation, and determining gravitational acceleration at a particular location. The first recorded use of a pendulum, according to Science, was in 1620 when the British scientist Francis Bacon proposed using a pendulum to measure gravity, suggesting taking one up a mountain to see if gravity varies with altitude. According to “science” its use for pseudo-science broke out from the knowledge of the foucault pendulum. In 1851, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault showed that the plane of oscillation of a pendulum, like a gyroscope, tends to stay constant regardless of the motion of the pivot, and that this could be used to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. He did this by suspending a pendulum free to swing in 2 dimensions from the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. The length of the cord was 67 m and once in motion, the plane of swing was observed to precess or rotate 360° clockwise in about 32 hours thus becoming the first demonstration of the Earth’s rotation that didn’t depend on celestial observations. After this, it was believed that “pendulum mania” broke out and utilized in various sub-cultures, groups, demonstrations, and New age spirituality.

~ By Leaf McGowan

    Bibliography, References, Recommended Reading:
  • About.com: How to use a Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://healing.about.com/cs/tools/ht/How_pendulums.htm
  • Calacademy: The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.calacademy.org/products/pendulum/page1.htm
  • How Stuff Works: Science – The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://science.howstuffworks.com/pendulum-info.htm
  • Llewellyn Publications: The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/471.
  • Pendulums.com. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.pendulums.com/