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Joseph P. Laycock go not occupational for, consult, own shares in or receive resources from any agency or company that would benefit from this article, and also has discover no pertinent affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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indigenous the start, believer tried to equate Spiritualism with witchcraft. Wikimedia Commons

From the start, Christian critics declared Spiritualism was simply thinly disguised witchcraft. Yet Spiritualists were seldom dark or morbid. Spiritualist writer Andrew Jackson Davis even challenged the very idea the hell, asserting that all spirits can get in a blissful “Summerland” in the afterlife. Spiritualists additionally supported gradual causes, including abolition, temperance and women’s suffrage.

In their heyday, the Spiritualists arisen numerous techniques and devices for talking to the dead. Early Spiritualists engaged in a practice dubbed “alphabet calling,” in which someone rattled off the alphabet until the soul rapped to indicate a specific letter. This labored technique created a need for more efficient means of communicating with the dead.

Some mediums engaged in “automatic writing.” The medium would go into a trance state and enable the spirits to guide their hand together they wrote messages (a phenomenon that’s also featured in the film). French Spiritualist Allan Kardec reported that during an 1853 séance (literally “a sitting” or session talk to spirits), the spirits argued that the participants pole a pencil v an upside-down basket. This allowed everyone to place their hand on the basket to help the spirits overview the pencil across the paper. The basket advanced into a machine called a planchette (from the French planche, definition board).


an 1853 song titled ‘Spirit Rappings’ sought come capitalize on the growing popularity that Spiritualism in the 19th century. Wikimedia Commons

By 1886, Spiritualists had developed the planchette further. The pencils to be discarded and also the planchette to be paired v a board through the alphabet composed on it. Over there were numerous models of these “talking boards.” Brandon Hodge is the foremost chronicler of these automatic composing devices, v a private collection of over 200 planchettes, as well as talking boards and also other séance apparatus.

The architecture that many Americans recognize today was patented by the Kennard Novelty agency in 1891. Helen Peters, a sister-in-law of one of the this firm founders, inquiry the plank what it should be named and received the cryptic answer “Ouija.” In 1882, wilhelm Fuld ended up being supervisor of the company. Fuld make a fortune on the Ouija board and also opened several brand-new factories. Eerily, he passed away in 1927 once he fell from the roof the a manufacturing facility he asserted the board had instructed him to build.

From parlor video game to portal into hell

By the 20th century, Spiritualism’s popularity had started to wane, partly as result of the work-related of frauds.

While many mediums claimed subjective experience of spirits throughout trance states, so-called “physical mediums” engaged in increasingly intricate chicanery to to convince audiences they were having a genuine encounter with the supernatural. Several of these tricks, such together concealing youngsters inside cabinets whereby they might make noises or move objects, are shown in Flanagan’s film. In the 1940s, the nationwide Association the Spiritualism banned physics mediumship. Yet by climate the damage had to be done. Most world thought you to be a sucker if you believed you might talk come the dead.

The Ouija plank was usually regarded as a parlor game with little connection to the occult. However during world War I, the Ouija board’s popularity spiked, particularly on college campuses. Folklorist bill Ellis reports the by 1920, one professor had asserted it “a serious national menace.”

Meanwhile, plenty of American Catholics who already prayed to the saints had been attracted to Spiritualism. Church authorities moved easily to counter this.

J. Godfrey Raupert was a “psychic investigator” that hoped to scientifically “prove” Spiritualism prior to he converted to Catholicism and also renounced it. Pope Pius X commissioned Raupert come warn Catholics about the Ouija board. In 1919 he released a publication called “The brand-new Black Magic and also the Truth around the Ouija Board.”

“For much more reasons 보다 one,” Raupert inveighed, “the board have to not it is in tolerated in any Christian household or inserted within the with of the young.”

Despite such warnings, sales ongoing to grow. Castle peaked during 1960s, when, boosted by counterculture and popular attention in the occult, the Ouija board outsold Monopoly.

But that was wilhelm Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel “The Exorcist” – along with its 1973 movie adaptation – the cemented the the Ouija board’s sinister call in the popular imagination. Blatty based his story on one actual instance of an allegedly possessed boy that emerged in Maryland in 1949. According to a “diary” viewed by Jesuit priests Blatty met at Georgetown University, the boy had been introduced to the Ouija plank by one aunt who was interested in Spiritualism; the an initial signs that the boy’s possession began shortly after the aunt died. Blatty’s story take it these details and also filled in the gaps.

The result was a nationwide obsession v exorcism and the demonic.

“Ouija: origin of Evil” payment homage to the movie adaptation the “The Exorcist.” The trailer mirrors a young girl in the so-called “hysterical arch,” recalling the famed contortions in the film. This pose was an initial popularized by early French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, that photographed women in “hysteria” and suggested this condition was the true reason of demonic possession.

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Paradoxically, this demonic reputation only amplified the Ouija board’s popularity v adolescents. The board wasn’t just a method to talk to a dead relative; it additionally became a method to conjure up dark forces and also dismiss them from the safety and security of one’s basement. Ellis suggests that as a home window to the demonic, the Ouija board allows teenagers to “participate directly in myth.” In this sense, that a quasi-religious experience, in i m sorry the plank conjures up a demonic “anti-world” the brave adolescents can difficulty and reject.

Meanwhile, thrill-seekers who don’t desire to obtain so an individual with the demonic have the right to simply clock the movie.