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May 1920
Popular Science

Do Spirits Talk through the Ouija board?
Perhaps it is that subconscious ego whose memory is better than yours

By A. J. Lorraine

ABOUT you hovers the unseen. You place the ouija board upon your knees or on a table, and let your hand rest lightly on the planchette, the little three-legged carriage that rides over the ouija board. See that you are comfortably seated, and your arms are not cramped, but free to move. Stop your thinking machine; try to make your mind, as far as possible, a blank. If you want a successful seance, see that the circle of friends about you consists of persons who take a serious interest in the proceedings. Scoffers are not helpful: a quiet, serious atmosphere is most favorable to good results.

A time passes in silence. The right conditions must be allowed to establish themselves.

Look — now the planchette stirs. A hidden power seems to move it. At first a few struggling, random movements. This may continue for a while. Presently, pointing, one by one, to the letters of the alphabet printed on the face of the board, the planchette begins to spell out a message:


***I***V***E***D, A***G***A***I***NIC***O***M***E.



With these words one of the most remarkable personalities that ever spoke through the ouija board announced herself to the world. It is sometimes said, in criticism of those who inquire into occult phenomenon, that nothing but trifles and dribble ever comes to us from the agencies, whatever they may be, that speak to us through mediums and other unusual channels. Anyone that says this has either not read the communications of Patience Worth, through the hand of Mrs. Curran of St. Louis, or else is wholly devoid of Literary sense. Read the book and judge for yourself. Selected excerpts from the records have been collected in a volume by Casper S. Yost (Henry Holt and Co., publishers. There you will find romantic tales of times long since past, and a series of poems of singular charm, written in a quaint old English dialect. And the remarkable tings is that Mrs. Curran, through whom the communications came, is herself not a writer, and the very language in which they are crouched is strange to her. Patience Worth claims to be the discarnate spirit of a person that once walked the earth, even as you and I. What does psychic science have to say about it? To understand the situation, you must begin by understanding yourself.

Ordinarily your hand obeys your will; its motion fulfills some conscious purpose of your mind. When, therefore, you find the planchette under your hand performing movements and spelling out words that were not in your mind, and which you had in no wise purposed, you are naturally surprised.

One explanation that presents itself for this strange course of events is that some unknown outside influence, perhaps a spirit, guides your hand, irrespective of any knowledge or purpose on your part.

Are You Absent Minded?
And this is a possible explanation. But before we finally adopt it, let us pause for a moment. Think: in the ordinary course of life, do you not sometimes perform actions that are not controlled by any conscious act of the will — actions, perhaps, that are even contrary to what you intended? Are you never absentminded? Have you never handed the conductor on a street-car a transfer and held out your hand for the change? Have you never dipped your pen in the mucilage bottle? Or, if not, then some equally absurd lapse you surely have committed sometime, as you are human, though you may not have gone so far as the young man who started to take a girl to an ice cream-parlor and found himself escorting her to the undertaker’s.

Such lapses remind us that many of our actions are automatic. You exercise your will to decide the main issues, and then leave the execution of the details to — to what? Well psychologists call is your subconscious and

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