Archive for October, 2013

Book Review: Lily Dale: The Town that Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker

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If you are not already familiar with Christine Wicker you may want to take a few moments to search out some information on her and on the many books she has written. She is one of my favorite authors in the area of religion and spirituality.

Christine has been the religion reporter for the Dallas Morning News for almost two decades. According to the copy on the back of her book, she is the first reporter/outsider to write a book on Lily Dale.

I came to know Christine as a writer with her book, Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America, another book that should be reviewed in this column. But since Lily Dale fits better with my theme, I thought I would begin with her book on that wonderful town.

Christine recently published a somewhat autobiographical account about her own faith journey, God Knows My Heart: Finding a Faith That Fits. I’d love to someday meet and talk with her. For now, let me tell you about her book on my adopted home town, Lily Dale.

If you like, you may click here: Lily Dale
That link will take you to the official site of the town and the assembly known as Lily Dale.
For an interesting brief history of Lily Dale please see Ron Nagy

The town began as a tent meeting gathering place for Spiritualists in the very earliest years of Spiritualism. Today it is the “World’s Largest Center for the Science Philosophy and Religion of Spiritualism.”

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Lily Dale is home to more than 50 mediums that live in gorgeous Victorian homes in the gated and tight little town. As you walk the narrow streets of Lily Dale you will see shingles that contain the name of a person with the title “medium” beneath. Often there is a sign-up sheet on the porch if you want a sitting. The town museum is home to many of the shingles of mediums long since crossed over.

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Lily Dale has not changed significantly since its founding in the Victorian era. While I was there I purchased post card images that were taken at the turn of the last century. I took photos of these very places. A comparison between photos taken in the 21st century and those taken in the 19th reveal little change.

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To step onto the grounds of Lily Dale is, in many ways, to step back in time and to step out of the realm where the dead are elusive and into a place where they are as close as your next door neighbor.

My visit to Lily Dale was life changing and I plan to return. In fact, should providence allow I would love to own a home on the grounds of Lily Dale and practice mediumship there in what I consider to be the most sacred city of Spiritualism.

In her book Christine introduces us to the people and a few of the mediums of Lily Dale. She spends enough time with a select few that by the end of her book the reader feels he/she has had a personal encounter with them. When I went to Lily Dale I sought out some of the mediums referenced in Christine’s book.

Christine is a reporter and the subject of Spiritualism has always been one of controversy. Spiritualism offers scientific proof of the continuity of life after death. There are those in our culture that do not believe in life after death and there are those that, while they believe in life after death, they also believe that it is forbidden to seek contact or that contact simply is not possible. So Spiritualism presents a challenge to not one but many firmly held opinions about the afterlife or the lack thereof. Christine tries very hard not to take sides but she presents the town and its people so well that I could not help feel attracted.

I love a journalist that makes the effort to set her personal convictions aside in the search for the honesty of a story. I really can’t tell you if Christine is a Spiritualist or not but as a Spiritualist myself I can tell you I thought she was fair in what she said, in how she represented Spiritualism, and how she represented Lily Dale.

In her book, Christine said that, “Lily Dale was such a gentle place that even the squirrels weren’t afraid of the cats.” And that my friends, is the God’s honest truth about Lily Dale.

Please read the book but more importantly please visit the town and while you are there why not choose one of the many mediums for a sitting. Their rates are astonishingly fair and what you will get in return will be worth far more than the money you lay down for a sitting – you will connect with a loved one and you will receive evidence of the continuity of life.

Much love,
David

Mediumship: An overview of my personal experience from early childhood to Lily Dale Part Six

In the early eighties I married.
I was young, many said too young to marry but I was in love and love makes the impossible possible at least that’s what we told ourselves at the time.

We did get some interesting little miracles.
I remember once a Janis, my new bride, was on the phone with a relative long distance.
We were running dangerously short on funds.

This relative told her, “You have to get out there hustle if you want work. Jobs don’t come knocking at the door.”
At that moment there was a knock on our door.
At that time we lived in a one room roach infested efficiency.

Janis went to the door and opened it.
There was a man in a ten-gallon cowboy hat grinning from ear to ear.
We had never seen him before.
He said, “Hear tell you are looking for work missy.”
This was Sunday afternoon.
Work came knocking at our door.

Looking back now I realize why our parents and friends had concerns.
I had only ever worked part-time jobs while attending undergraduate school.
We were both psychology majors which meant that neither one of us had good career prospects.
She wanted to be a social worker or therapist, which required graduate school and I wanted to be a minister which also required graduate work.

I dreamed of the day when I would be pastoring and she would be counseling in a church setting.
I imagined it would be the perfect partnership and the perfect marriage.
Life had a few curve balls for both of us but it was that vision that motivated us in the first days and years of our marriage.

We moved to Springfield Missouri and I attended the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary while she worked at the Assemblies of God Headquarters or what we called “The Blue Vatican,” because it was the international headquarters of the Assemblies of God and because, well, it was blue.

That’s the Blue Vatican below.

blue2

We moved from that one room efficiency to a lovely but also roach infested apartment across the street from the Vatican. The seminary, at that time, was located on the top two floors. One floor consisted of classrooms and a chapel and the other floor housed the library. A few years after I graduated the Seminary obtained its own building.

I wanted to believe that I was called of God to the lifestyle of pastoral ministry; that I was being trained, educated, and prepared to serve God’s people, and that God would provide all that I needed to succeed.

That belief would prove to be naive if not dangerous but I would not learn that lesson for many years. Firmly held beliefs however erroneous they may be, cling tenaciously and stubbornly in the face of hard evidence. That is one reason why an open mind, the absence of certitude or dogma or sectarianism is so important.

I find it helpful to always remember that compared to the geniuses of my own generation, my capacity for understanding is severely limited. Compared to infinite intelligence I cannot even presume to begin to understand. So I try not to be dogmatic about anything. Beliefs I once held firm, I have changed in light of new evidence or new understanding.

My Springfield years were my honeymoon years spiritually and martially and while they may not have been wise they were blissful.

But I was different.
I didn’t fit in inside of the Assemblies of God.

When I moved out to Missouri that difference was not well defined but it was palpable.
I didn’t dress like an AG man; I didn’t act like An AG man but most of all I didn’t think like an AG man. Nevertheless I graduated. I earned a Master of Divinity and that degree has served me well. If nothing else it gave me the skills to translate and interpret the Bible for myself with complete confidence.

I came to Springfield a child listening to the wisdom of his spiritual parents. I emerged from Springfield a man ready and prepared to create my own path and looking back now it was surely the path less traveled but where there are few travelers there are few traffic jams.

The spirit guides that have been with me throughout my life were with me in Missouri.
I heard them, at times I saw them, but I struggled to process them, to interpret their presence through a Christian filter.

It became easy to say “God told me” when maybe it wasn’t God’s voice I was hearing. It was easy to think I was under some kind of spiritual attack when no harm was meant but this was and is the Christian vocabulary.

Roman Catholics are used to multiple voices in the spirit realm.
Evangelicals recognize only two sources: God and Satan’s minions.
If the voice you are hearing is not God’s, evangelicals presume it must be an agent of Satan.
Therefore when one hears a kind, still, small, loving voice from within evangelicals are conditioned to call that voice God or the Holy Spirit.

Once I changed my world view and began to discern not only that there are other voices but who those voices belonged to, it was liberating.

God’s voice is authoritative.
If God tells you to do something you better do it. Your spirit guides, on the other hand, advise but they will tell you plainly that they are not all wise and that they cannot always tell you what to do.

Over the years I can’t tell you how many lives I have seen destroyed because they were trying to follow what they perceived to be God’s leading. They may have been listening to fallible spirit guides or they may have been projecting their own desires onto God. In any case, great leaps of faith don’t always end well and I have seen them destroy all faith in those for whom they did not work out.

I am liberated and comforted by the fact that I have many guides including but certainly not limited to one I perceive to be God. But none of my guides, not even God, are responsible for me or for my life, or for the choices I make.

They advise. I take their counsel into consideration but I make my own choice and I alone am responsible for that choice.

More later, for now, much love,
David

23
Oct

The Two of Rods

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

The Two of Rods

When most people think of tarot, they think of divination.

Who will I marry?
Should I apply for this job; and so on.

The tarot is one of the most powerful and accurate means of divination that I am acquainted with but if divination is all one sees when one looks at the tarot then the true beauty of the tarot is yet undiscovered.

There is so much more to the tarot then divination.

I use the tarot in meditation.

I select a card and reflect on it, often for days or even weeks.
Some cards speak to me; resonate with me deeply and on an emotional level.
In fact, all of the cards do but some speak to my life situation more than others.

One such card is the Two of Rods.

Wands02

The Two of Rods also called the Two of Wands is a card of the minor arcana.
The minor arcana speak to us about the different aspects of day-to-day life

The Two of Rods is associated with fire, passion, or inspiration.
Wands also speak to spiritual concerns.
They inspire us to take action.

The number two can indicate many things but for me, in this case, it represents a choice and not an easy one.

When I see the man in this card I see a reflection of myself.
He is not young, I am not young.
He is well established in his life, I am well established in my life.
He holds the world in his hand but it is a small world.
I too have much to be thankful for and yet I am not content.
Like the man in the card I find myself looking out to the horizon and wondering what might have been or what could be if only I had the courage to make it so.

The walls that surround me are of my making, they are comfortable and that is the dilemma: Do I take action, leave my comfort zone to go to God only knows where, or do I count my blessings and stay?

As you can see the Two of Rods is for me a sad card.
Fire burns within me but that fire is confined.
When I was young I had nothing to lose.

The lyrics of the great song “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin say, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, nothin’ don’t mean nothin’, honey, if it ain’t free.”

I’ve worked hard.
I’ve had the same job for over twenty years.
I have a mortgage that is getting closer every day to being paid and I worry about retirement income.

I stand like the man in the Two of Rods looking out and dreaming of a different life.
Like him, I have the illusion of security but not the reality of happiness.

Like him, a certain amount of success has walled me in and limited my options.

The Two of Rods has stirred these thoughts inside of me and it has forced me to face the fact that I must make a decision, I must take action.

Look through your own deck.
Which card is screaming for your attention and why?

Much love,
David

20
Oct

My Collection

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

My Collection

I may not list every board in my collection but I will list most of them begging with the Selchow and Righter planchette of 1875. Then I will list in chronological order Ouija. Finally some of the other hand made or manufactured boards.

There are at least two in my collection that I love but I can’t remember where I purchased them or who made them. If you see your board here and I did not reference your name as creator or if I got it wrong, please correct me. I want my information to be as accurate as possible.

Pictured below are two images of the Selchow and Righter planchette, the front side and the underside.

1 The Selchow and Righter Planchette

1a The Selchow and Righter Planchette Underside

When Charles Kennard was making the board pictured below in 1891, William Fuld was working as shop manager/varnisher.

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891date

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891underside

The Board below is a William Fuld design not at all unlike the Kennard, 1902.

3 William Fuld 1902 a

3 William Fuld 1902

This board is from 1911 but the planchette pictured with it is from 1920. William Fuld did not created the round window until 1920

4 William Fuld 1911 Plancette 1920

By 1917, the full moon had a face

5 William Fuld 1917

This board is from 1925 and the planchette pictured with it actually belongs with it. Note the hole in the pointer end.

6 William Fuld 1925

By 1938 the design was getting close to what most of us are familiar with

6a 1938a

In 1939 the “final” design was in place

6b 1939 final design

This board is from the 1940s.

7 William Fuld 1940s

The William Fuld board of the late 1940s was indistinguishable from the early Parker Brothers Boards of the sixties.

8 William Fuld late 1940s 1950s

In 1967 Parker Brothers released a wooden board. The image does not do it justice. Of all of the boards in my collection this one is among my favorites.

8a Parker Brothers wood 1967

Parker Brothers 1972

9 Parker Brothers 1972

This Parker Brothers from 2011 is still readily available. It glows in the dark and it is rather small.

10 Parker Brothers 2011

The Hasbro 2013 has a battery operated planchette that lights up. I’ve never used it. I like the board but very much dislike the plastic planchette.

11 hasbro 2013

I bought this board on EBay. This one in particular was made by EBay seller andywa78. I love it. In my opinion the flood of “natural” boards and for that matter the wave of interest in Ouija and spirit boards that we are now enjoying is due in no small measure to the television show Charmed.

andywa78

The next two pictures are of my Charmed replica board. This is the “official” replica. There are many makers creating a Charmed board. The “official” replica pictured below has no practical value. In other words, it cannot be used. It is lovely but it is not made of wood and the letters are so deeply carved that the planchette gets stuck in them.

Charmed Replica 2005 front side

Charmed Replica 2005 under side

I bought this board on EBay from EBay seller Cosmo Bryant.

Cosmo Bryant 2011

I know I bought the following board on EBay but try as I might I have not been able to identify the maker and that is really too bad since it is one of the best boards I own. It is well made and the planchette slides like it is sitting in ice.

E Bay Creator 2010

The Emily Strange Board; I don’t use it but if I wanted to it is a well-made board and the planchette slides remarkably well for a commercial board.

Emily Strange 2009

This next board is the Enchanted Spell board published by Sterling Publishing in 2007 but still available. Although it is a folding board and the folds can get in the way, the planchette is a round disc and will slide easily over almost any surface.

Enchanted Spellboard Sterling Publishing 2007

I have no idea where I got this board. It says “William Fuld, Baltimore, MD” at the bottom but it is not a Fuld board. Someone doctored an image of a Fuld board but did a very nice job. I love the board.

Fuld Ouija Replica

This is a Guiding Light Angel Board from 1996. If they are not still available from the manufacturer don’t despair there are plenty of them on EBay. Mine came with a dream diary that I continue to use to this day. The energy of the board is very positive and that is one of the reasons why I like it so much.

Guiding Light Angel Board 1996

I have featured the Hallouija board in another post. In fact, I believe it was my first post to the Ouija section. Hallouija makes some of the best boards available today. Actually the name of the manufacture is “For the Seekers.”

Hallouija Board

Hallouija Planchette

This is an old Hasko Mystic Tray from the 1940s. back in those days people wanted their boards to serve multiple functions. You can serve breakfast in bed with it before you contact your crossed over relatives.

Hasko Mystic Tray 1940s

The Hellboy Talking Board pictured below is #472 of 500. Yes that mean it is very valuable. It was manufactured in 2004, it is lovely, and the planchette slides like it was sitting on glass. It is a sweet board.

Hellboy Talking Board 472 of 500 2004

Carnivalia is a manufacturer. Their boards are particularly dark. This one was one of their less disturbing. It is a well-made board at a good price and it is absolutely gorgeous. Take a look at their others. They make some very interesting boards.

httpwww carnivalia com

I believe that Robert Murch had a hand in the design of the Cryptique board, last made in 2005 but still available from time to time on EBay. I adore Robert and will buy almost anything he makes or has his hand in making. He is the foremost authority on Ouija today and also my friend.

httpwww cryptique com

This board is from Impale Designs. Do yourself a favor click on the hot link I cleverly placed over their name then look at their gallery – awesome is what you will see.

Impale Designs

Kelsang Drime made this board in 2013. As far as I know there are only two like it in the world and I have one. For a complete description please see my interview with Kelsang 

Kelsang Drime 2013

This board is designed and made by The Green Witch of Cambria.
It is available from the Mystic Corner and from The Green Witch’s shop on Etsy.
She quoted me to promote her board in her Etsy shop.
I love the board. It is simple, elegant, it has a protective spell written into the board and planchette, the planchette slides as easily as one could hope, and it is not expensive.
If you are looking for handcrafted boards Etsy is the mother-load.

Mystic Corner Green Witch Board 2012

I bought these two pendulum/spirit boards from EBay seller MyWickedWays. I love her work.

mywickedways cat

mywickedways moon

Gorgeous, wonderful, works with ease, this board from Nemesis Now Ltd. 2012 is a must have.

Nemesis Now Ltd 2012

If you know the designer/maker of these next two boards please tell me.
I know they were made by different people and I remember corresponding with the makers but I can’t find that correspondence or for that matter any record of where or when I acquired them.

Ouija 10 6 12 007

Ouija 10 6 12 009

 

I bought this board from EBay seller OuijaWonder; it was called a “Wink Board.”
I believe it is laser engraved but because it wasn’t finished properly, sanded and varnished or lacquered, it can’t be used.

Ouija Wonder dot com  Wink Board

Pacific Game Company mass produced this board in 1968.
What is unique about it is that you can stick a pencil in the planchette and use it the pre-spirit board way.
Aside from that it is an excellent board, well designed and easy to use.

Pacific Game Company 1968

The Psychic Circle published by Simon and Schuster in 1993.
Like the Enchanted Spell Board above and designed by the same team of Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, the saving grace of this board is its planchette.
The planchette is a little round plastic disc that could literally slide over gravel and it’s a good thing since the board itself is cardboard with bends and creases.
If I wanted to use this board I would probably mount it and then place glass over it.

Psychic Circle Simon and Schuster 1993

This is Ray Buckland’s board.
Like the board above, the best way to use it would be to place glass over it.
It is a flimsy thing but it comes with a nice booklet entitled, “Ouija Yes! Yes!”
And, don’t overlook Ray’s great book, Solitary Séance: How You can Talk with Spirits on Your Own,” from Llewellyn Publications 2011.

Raymond Buckland 2006

I am a Victorian Trading Company fan.
I have purchased many Victorian items from them.
Imagine my excitement when they came out with their own board.

Victorian Trading

Pictured below is a Charmed style board handmade by Magicraftshop and available on Etsy and on Facebook.

Aug 2 2014 022

The board pictured below really must be seen and held.
This board took my breath away when it finally arrive.
It was handmade in Russia by PereplutCW and it is available on Etsy but be prepared to wait.
The board is handmade and it ships from Russia.

Aug 2 2014 011

I found the board in the images below on E-Bay.

Aug 2 2014 001

I routinely scout E-Bay looking for odd or rare boards.

Aug 2 2014 005
Normally I would pass a well used 1971-ish board up but this one had its own custom made case.

Aug 2 2014 006
The question begs to be answered: why would someone go through the trouble of making such a fine case for such an old board, one that would cost less to replace even today than the materials in the case?

Aug 2 2014 007
also, if you look close at that board you will see that it is well worn across the letters.

Aug 2 2014 008
I am trying to get the back story on this board.

Aug 2 2014 010
In the meantime it is one of my most intriguing pieces.

 

If I ever get an exact date on the board pictured below I will list it.

Ouija was acquired by Parker Brothers in 1966.

In 1972 the box design changed.

My assumption than is that this board was manufactured by Parker Brothers at some point between 1966 and 1972.

I have a handful or boards from this period.

This one is the best.

The box, the board, and the planchette are virtually unused.

1966 plus 001

Made in Baltimore – 1938:

1938 8 14

I typically won’t include “pendulum boards” in this collection but this one is special. I picked it up recently on E-Bay from Black Hat Society’s owner/creator/designer Bella Luna Rosalinda. You can find the Black Hat Society on Facebook and on E-Bay if you are interested in one:

Black hat bella luna

This post will be updated as I add boards.
Please check back.
Much love,
David

18
Oct

Victoria Woodhull

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Victoria Woodhull

Victoria-Woodhull_001_L_small

Victoria_Woodhull_signature

When I tell people that Victoria Woodhull is a great hero to me, when I say that her life is an inspiration, most people scratch their head and say, “Who?”

It astounds me that most Americans have never known the woman that her fans call, “America’s Queen Victoria.”

She was born Victoria Claflin in a wooden shack nestled to the side of a hill on the outskirts of a small town in Ohio, September 23, 1838. She was 10 years old when the Fox sisters pioneered the way for gifted mediums.

Victoria was the sixth of ten children. Her father was a scoundrel. He once took a job as postmaster so he could steel money from envelops that contained cash. He is probably one of the reasons why even today it is unwise to send cash through the mail.

Victoria’s family was run out of one town after another either by the law or by angry neighbors her father had in one way or another swindled.

Her mother, Roxanna Hummel Claflin was likely the person she inherited her spiritual sensitivity from. Her sister younger Tennessee was also a gifted medium. The two sisters would later partner and change the course of history and yet their remarkable achievements are largely forgotten.

Before she reached adolescence Victoria had a strong relationship with a primary spirit guide and gatekeeper, an essential relationship for any public medium. By the time Victoria was 14 and her sister Tennessee was 7, they were professional mediums and the primary wage earners for the entire Claflin family including their parents. It was not uncommon for them to work 14 hour days. Though she would not join the Spiritualist movement until the 1870s, she was a practicing and successful medium years before.

In the early 1850’s Victoria met the man of her dreams. Barely a teenager she met and fell in love with a man who claimed to be a doctor. After a five month courtship she married Canning Woodhull and on November 20, 1853, she became Victoria Woodhull.

Canning’s credentials were false. He was a liar, a cheat, and an alcoholic who, if he wasn’t spending their money on liquor, he was spending it on other women. He was a habitual adulterer.

When she finally discovered that the man she married wasn’t who he, at first, pretended to be, she said, “Rude contact with facts chased my visions and dreams quickly away, and in their stead I beheld the horrors, the corruption, the evils and hypocrisy of society, and as I stood among them, a young wife, a great wail of agony went out from my soul.”

Victoria soon learned that she would have to support her husband as she had her family. She would once again support her parents and siblings with the exception of her sister and partner Tennessee, but by this time she’d given birth to an intellectually disabled child that she would support for the rest of her life.

Given a dead beat husband, a criminal father, siblings to support, and an alcoholic cheating husband all in the Victorian era, a time when woman had no voice and very little if any rights how many could have exceeded their wildest expectations for their life?

Victoria did.

She began to listen to her spirit guide; she began to obey his leadership even when what he told her either didn’t make sense or was far beyond what she thought was possible. At one point her guide gave her specific instructions to move to New York and he told her exactly where he wanted her to live. Victoria obeyed her spirit guide and the more she obeyed the more magical her life became.

What was her attitude?

I think this quote sums it up, “It makes no difference who or what you are, old or young, black or white, pagan, Jew, or Christian, I want to love you all and be loved by you all, and I mean to have your love.”

Victoria was motivated by love.

She supported those who took advantage of her.
She wanted the best for everyone and she worked to make the world better for future generations.

She was rebuked, marginalized, and ridiculed.

To her critics she said, “I shall not change my course because those who assume to be better than I desire it.”

Having married a man who presented well but almost immediately after their wedding day revealed his true colors, Victoria advocated for “free love.” In the Victorian age women were, for all practical purposes, the property of their husbands. Free love in the 1960s was about promiscuity. In the late 19th century it was about a woman’s right to choose to remain in or opt out of a relationship.

Victoria said, “I am a free lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please.”

Do you have any idea how radical that statement was in the 1870s?

A few of Victoria’s accomplishments include but are not limited to:

Victoria was the psychic adviser to Cornelius Vanderbilt, at first to connect him to his deceased parents but later as financial and investment adviser.

Victoria was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street. She’d already made a fortune investing on Wall Street. One report has her earnings in excess of $700,000 in a six week period. But in 1870, she and her sister Tennessee became the first women stockbrokers when they opened their brokerage house Woodhull, Claflin & Company.

© Copyright 2007 Corbis Corporation

Claflins Denied Vote

Of her emergence into the “man’s world” of the New York Stock Exchange she said, “For a woman to consider a financial question was shuddered over as a profanity.” But customers lined up at her door because she was successful and she was able to make them successful as well.

Also in 1870 Victoria was the first woman to found a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly.

wcwb

nyhs_woodhullclaflin_2deta

March31_Woodhull2

woodhill-claflins-weekly

Victoria was the first woman to run for the office of President of the United States. She ran in 1872 almost 50 years before women won the right to vote in the United States with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

 

Victoria was also an advocate of the working class.

Victoria crossed over on June 9, 1927 and left in her wake a legacy that as far as I know is unprecedented and unmatched.

People complain about the circumstances of their lives, about the supposed insurmountable obstacles that stand between them and their dreams. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to study the life and example of Victoria Woodhull and then tell me: What is stopping you?

Much love,
David

Book Review: The Book of Shadows: The Unofficial Charmed Companion by NE Genge

You might be wondering why I would choose to review a book about the television show Charmed on a blog that specializes in paranormal events in the Victorian age. That is an excellent question but my answer is complex.

While I can’t prove it my sense is that Charmed is at least partly responsible for the revival in popular interest in all things Ouija. In the opening episode it was a spirit board that led the sisters to the discovery that they are the Charmed Ones. But that wasn’t just any spirit board; the board used in nearly every season of the show is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful boards I have ever seen. From the first moment I laid eyes on it, I had to have one.

I own one of the “official” replicas and I am not happy with it but the “Charmed Board” launched an entire genre of spirit boards. Like Wicca itself the board appears older than it is and made almost supernaturally from a single cut of wood.

That’s my board pictured below:

Charmed Replica 2005 front side

There are a number of makers creating Charmed or Charmed like boards for sale on EBay or Etsy. One of my favorites is MagiCraft Shop (magicraftshop). I think her board is stunning. Please check it out. She also makes a replica of the Charmed Book of Shadows if you are interested.

The show has major Ouija appeal but beyond that it is a fun and addicting show. They make some huge faux pas. For instance, I cringe every time the sisters say they are going to scry to find something or someone and then they dowse. Their world view, particularly when it comes to the dichotomy of good and evil, leans more to the Judeo/Christian tradition than the Wiccan. But hey it’s a fun television show and like all fiction it creates its own world with its own rules.

As a fan I have picked up a number of books about Charmed, some fiction, some non-fiction, even comic books but of all the books I have read The Unofficial Charmed Companion by NE Genge had the most lasting impact on me.

I have a complete library of books on Wicca and witchcraft but the techniques in what I will call “The Companion” are like nothing I have ever seen before. The book presents as a simple commentary on Charmed but along the way the author gives her readers one of the most concise and clearly explained introductions to witchcraft as any I have encountered.

In one section she gives instructions for the use of the Ouija that I have never seen anywhere else and I have some fifty odd books on Ouija and spirit boards. In my opinion, this brief two-page instructional is worth the price of the book but the author gives is so much more.

NE Genge covers all the basics of the craft in a non-sectarian way. After covering basic tools and their proper use including Ouija, she covers spell work in detail. Then in section five, “The Observant Witch,” she provides a commentary on every episode of the first two seasons. There were eight seasons of the series and I wish NE Genge would update this work to include her commentary on every episode but what she does with the first two seasons is give her readers an education. Her “magical notes” on each episode provide an indispensable insight into the real magical lessons of each episode.

It would be easy to overlook this book. Maybe you don’t like Charmed; maybe you have never watched a single episode. It doesn’t matter. This is a great book even if you are not a fan. If your inclination is magical this is a book you should not pass up.

Much love,
David

Mediumship: An overview of my personal experience from early childhood to Lily Dale Part Five

Imagine a fourteen year old in a “youth group” of twenty-something people with a thirty something brick layer as a leader. That was my first experience with the Charismatic Christian community. For those of you who may not know, the term “Charismatic,” in this context, does not mean “charming.” I am referring instead to a specific religious experience or movement within the greater Christian church.

I could check my histories and get all scholarly but I lived the Charismatic Movement the way I lived the sixties and the seventies. I remember the horrible assassinations of the 1960’s here in
America. I remember the Vietnam War and the impact that war had on those who fought it and on those that did not. And, I remember the Charismatic Movement.

I am quite sure that some of the “facts” I will recount here could be disputed but this is a personal memoir and these are my recollections. I do not intend for this to be a scholarly historic piece.

As I recall the Charismatic Movement began in either the Episcopalian or the Roman Catholic traditions or both. Pentecostalism had been around since the turn of the twentieth century but it was an entirely separate stream from Charismata although there were similarities. Both Charismatics, as we were called and Pentecostals believed in a “second definite work” of grace, a “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” characterized by speaking in tongues. In other words a distinguishing feature of both the Charismatic and Pentecostal traditions is prayer in a language unknown to the person praying.

The so called “supernatural” elements associated with the Charismatic Movement were attractive to me and over time they became a normal part of my every day spirituality. The Charismatics taught me to speak in tongues, to commune with spirit, and to “cast out devils.” But I might have never discovered the Charismatics if my parents had not given me the freedom to do so.

I was raised and confirmed a Lutheran and to this day I am grateful to my parents for the religious freedom they afforded me. My experience in the Lutheran church was not a positive one. As a pre-adolescent, it seemed to me a form without substance, a ritual without life.

In my seminary years I would come to understand that ritual can have life as long as the ritual is clearly understood by those engaging in it. In fact, during my seminary years, one of the richest encounters with God I had was ironically in a Lutheran Church.

It is only when ritual is performed without meaning or deliberate intention that it becomes a lifeless form. One purpose of confirmation is to explain the meaning behind the ritual, to provide the substance that gave shape to the form.

Martin Luther was a genius in my opinion but genius is fluid, vital, and alive. Over time the genius behind every great religious movement becomes fossilized in dogma and ritual and in my young and uneducated mind this was the case in Lutheranism, specifically Missouri Synod Lutheranism.

I wanted to leave the church but my father told me I must be confirmed. He said that once I understand what the church is about I will be in a better position to decide if it is for me or not. I could not leave until I was confirmed but once confirmed I was free to worship as I please or not at all.

To this day I believe this is the healthiest way to raise a child in faith. Faith cannot be forced. If faith is to be genuine it must be discovered along ones individual journey. If my parents had taken a more dogmatic approach, I might not have made the crucial discoveries I made that literally saved my life.

Like many other people I thought I knew what Christianity was about and I didn’t like it.
Whoever Jesus was I certainly didn’t see him in the people that claimed to represent him.
In my heart I knew there had to be more to spirituality than what I witnessed in church but I had no idea what or how to find it.

Then one day my Tae Kwon Do instructor asked me to attend a meeting with him.
I did.

I heard songs I had never heard before.
I saw beautiful people (and I mean “beautiful” in countenance rather than in physical appearance) in their twenties, hippies for the most part, lifting their hands as if to reach out and touch a formless, shapeless God.

Pictured below is one of the houses on the campus of the church where we used to meet:

house church

For the first time in my life I felt what love is.
Not romantic love, or sexual love, or even family love.

I felt what Paul described in 1st Corinthians 13: 4 – 12

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”

Love was no longer a word; it was an experience.
God was no longer an abstract concept; He/She was a living spirit being that I could engage whenever I wanted.

This “religious” experience is not confined to Christianity but for years I did not know that.
It wasn’t until I encountered the work of William James in a college comparative religion class that I would learn that this spirit being so many refer to as God has many ways of manifesting. But for a troubled fourteen year old, I had found paradise.

My personality is such that I never engage unless I engage fully, I never dip my toe in the water; I dive in. So it was with my new found faith.

Within a few short weeks I was teaching my first lesson, a fourteen year old teaching twenty plus year olds. In reality they were encouraging the ambition in me that desperately wanted to devote my life to faith, to someday want to pastor and lead. This ambition would eventually take me through seminary but in 1974 it manifested in Friday night bible studies and most importantly for the context of this discussion, a deliverance ministry.

Deliverance ministers are what they called exorcists in the 1970s. In retrospect I think the film; The Exorcist did a lot of damage. It tainted the reputation of the Ouija board and it convinced people that there was a demon out to get them and hiding behind every habit or so-called sin.

In those days international ministers like Bob Mumford and Derek Prince were teaching demonology and deliverance technique to lay people and lay people were standing in line waiting for a deliverance minister to cast the devil out of them.

Like hospital visitation, deliverance work was messy and many of the established minsters preferred to delegate the messier tasks to the want to be pastors like me.

When I started, I started in the church after the service on Sunday morning. People would stay late for special prayer and we would engage in rites of exorcism.

Pictured below is the altar around which I first practice the ministry of deliverance:

alter

Some interesting exorcisms are available on YouTube and if you want to see what I saw way back in the day, search exorcism on YouTube. Screaming, hitting, biting, spiting, and cursing were all a part of the normal experience.

Today I have serious doubts about the alleged demonic activity we were battling in those days but at the time I was convinced that I was doing what Jesus had done. A casual reading of the Gospel stories will show a Jesus that actively engaged people that were under the influence of some external spirit entity. He would sometimes engage the entity in brief discussion and then command it to leave often into some other object or animal.

Whatever else might have been going on in the lives of the people I tried to help, one thing that I learned in the seventies and early eighties was to engage spirit beings. As a result of repeated exposure I lost my natural inhibition or fear. I learned to be comfortable in the astral. I learned how to see spirit beings, how to feel them, smell them, and hear them. In essence I was learning to be a medium though at the time mediumship was not my intention.

Much love and many blessings,
David

6
Oct

Learning One Card at a Time

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Learning One Card at a Time

Learning the tarot can seem like a daunting task.
There are 78 cards in the deck divided into major and minor arcana.
Each card is rich with symbolism and meaning and that is before you factor in a reversal.
It would not be at all accurate to say that each card has two meanings – straight up and reversed because the meaning of the card is somewhat dependent on the situation.
Any given card can have an almost unlimited number of meanings but there are parameters and those parameters are established by the imagery of the individual card.

The almost infinite nature of the tarot can be a source of frustration but this is one of its most attractive features. The tarot is like dreams – universal and yet highly individual, often tangible and specific and yet murky and mystical.

It can also feel a daunting task to learn a complex spread like the Celtic cross – one of the most popular spreads. In addition, each deck has its own personality so now, not only are you dealing with the diversity of the tarot itself but also the diversity of interpretation that each deck represents.

When I began I studied each card individually and I started with the Hanson Roberts which is very similar to the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

I meditated and reflected on the richness of the imagery in each card.
I took notes on my feelings as I reflected on the card and then I studied the books.
I studied the book that came with the deck and other books like
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot by Rachel Pollack.

I took one book – the text that accompanied the Hanson Roberts Tarot, and I kept notes in this one book. After a time when that book became worn and so full of notes it was confusing I created a digital diary of sorts in which I kept card images and notes.

I continually go back over the cards not to read or obtain divinatory insight but to meditate and reflect on the meaning of each card apart from any divinatory context.

As a carpenter learns to use his/her tools, a psychic must also learn his/her tools.
The more you study, reflect, and meditate the better your understanding of the cards will be and that understanding will free up, not restrict, your intuition.

I called this entry “Learning One Card at a Time” because, as with any complex task, it is best to break the task down into manageable pieces and master those pieces one at a time. In the rest of this entry I would like to suggest a guide for mediation upon the cards. This is only a suggestion not a dogmatic rule. Use what works, discard the rest.

You could start with a deck “in order” or you could randomly select cards.
Whichever method you select keep a notebook or journal.

As you look at your selection ask is this is a major or minor arcana card.
The major arcana generally speak to us of major life events or the deeper, more meaningful parts of life while the minor arcana shows us what is specifically happening now in the different aspects of day-to-day life. Remember these are general guidelines not rules. In the psychic realm there are very few rules, spiritual laws yes, but few rules.

Wands are usually associated with fire, passion, or inspiration. Wands generally but not always relate to spiritual issues or concerns. They inspire us to take action.

Cups are typically associated with water. Cups generally but not always relate to emotional states, our imagination, or our subconscious mind or impulse. Cups often speak to us about reflection, personal experiences, or relationships.

Swords are associated with air. Swords generally but not always relate to our thoughts or intellect but they can also speak to us about choice, volition, or discernment.

The pentacles are the practical, the material, the “down to earth” suit. They generally but not always speak to us of manifesting or of our material condition.

The king generally but not always represents social responsibility, power, influence, or success
The queen generally but not always stands for creativity
The knight generally but not always is a card of action and service to others
The page generally but not always calls us to exploration and study

Numbers may also have significance.
The significance of the number of a card may or may not be significant in your meditation or in practice as you read for yourself or others. Avoid dogmatism.

Here are some general guidelines about numbers:

10 is a number of completion
9 is a number of compromises or struggle but it might also represent achievement
8 often indicates movement or change
7 frequently represents a time of victory or reflection
6 often speaks to us about communication, problem solving, or cooperative effort
5 often represents conflict or instability, sometimes even loss.
4 speaks to us of structure and stability but also stagnation.
3 is the fullest expression of the suit. The three often represents an achievement.
2 is a number of union, balance, duality, or choice.

The ace represents the basic quality of the suit in its purest form. The ace might also speak to us of new beginning or new opportunities, or of a special divine endowment.

The colors in the card may also be rich with meaning.
What colors dominate in the card?
How do these colors make you feel?

Look at the people in the card.
I find it helpful when giving a reading to imagine my sitter as the person in the card.
What is the expression on the person’s face?
What emotional state is being conveyed by the image?
What is his/her body posture?
What gender is the person? Gender suggests attributes more than actually gender – sometimes.
What action is this person involved in?
What does his/her body language tell you?

Now look at the scenery depicted in the card.
What objects or buildings are in the background?
Is the card telling a story?
Where is this location?
What is the weather?
Is it sunny or cloudy, a hot day or a cold one?

Now look at the symbols within the card are.
You may not understand what each symbol means.
This is where text books and encyclopedias can help.
Symbols will be woven into the garments of the people in each card; they may be in the sky or on the ground. Look closely and investigate research until you understand the language of symbols for each card.

This process, by the way, is ongoing. As long as you read tarot it should be your habit.

Much love and many blessings,
David

2
Oct

Kennard Novelty Company1891

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Kennard Novelty Company1891

There is little doubt that the spirit board was in use and even manufactured before The Kennard Novelty Company began to manufacture them in Baltimore in 1890 but it was Charles Kennard who, along with Elijah J. Bond and William H. A. Maupin, filed for and was granted a patent on the board on May 28, 1890.

On October 20, 1890, The Kennard Novelty Company was officially incorporated. The company was, of course, in my home town of Baltimore Maryland. The trademark on the name “Ouija” was granted on February 3rd of 1891. Ouija was produced in Baltimore until the rights were sold to Parker Brothers in 1966. I wish the board had never left Baltimore but I was only six when the deal was made.

I tried for a very long time to find a “Kennard” board in a price range I could afford. There were plenty for sale and still are but the asking price was and is too rich for me or the bidding left me in the dust. I finally won a bidding war. The price was reasonable but the bidding was on the board alone. The planchette was missing and, as of this writing, I do not have one of the first Kennard plancettes in my collection. I will correct that problem as soon as possible but for right now, the planchette remains elusive.

Even without the planchette, I’ll never forget the feeling that came over me when the box arrived and I opened it up on the living room floor. It was more beautiful than the pictures or the description led me to believe. For me, it was “a moment.” My wife was there watching as I opened my treasure and of course she didn’t get it. She could understand and still can’t understand why I choose to spend a portion of our money on old Ouija boards but she knew that this particular board had great meaning to me.

It was an emotional moment.

I own boards that are more beautiful but none that are more significant.

Pictured below is my board:

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891

The following image is of the back side of the board:

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891underside

This image is a close up of the stamp on the back side that gives the date “1891.”

2 Kennard Novelty Company1891date

I know the date is hard to make out but this board has been in use since 1891. That takes my breath away.

I love the Victorian period and to own something of such significance from the era is extraordinary for me. It is one of the joys of my life.

Much love,
David