Archive for August, 2013

The Inner Critic: A Dialogue with a Reader of this Blog

This site is devoted to paranormal subject matter especially those that have their roots to a greater or lesser extent in the Victorian era. It is a non-sectarian site. It is non-denominational and it is not intended to promote any particular ideology or religious dogma. However, like any good journalist, I think it helps if I acknowledge my bias and background so that readers may judge for themselves whether that background has inadvertently influenced my editorial choices and opinions.

Though I believe my spirituality is uniquely my own I do look favorably upon Christianity, Spiritualism, Spiritism, and Wicca. Each of these traditions has had a profound impact on my life and on my thinking. To deny their influence would be the spiritual equivalent of burying my head in the sand.

I make these comments by way of introduction for the exchange that follows. There is little more satisfying to a blogger than reader feedback. For many bloggers that is why they blog, to build community and to create relationships between like-minded people who share the same interests and values.

Recently a reader and I engaged in what I thought was a stimulating and exciting exchange. We address some religious subject matter but I think the principles are universal and so I asked my reader if I could share the exchange with you and he agreed provided I alter his name. Where his name would appear I have substituted the word “friend.” Other than that this exchange is unaltered and unedited.

We eventually ended up discussing the tarot and one card in particular was mentioned: The Hierophant.


The Hierophant speaks to us of orthodox religion. The traditional church and ecclesiastical authority offers, to some, a place of comfort, guidance, and belonging, and people feel safe living within the boundaries of a prescribed tradition, conforming to the ideological and behavioral standards of their tradition of choice. But there is a flip side.

Rachel Pollack, in her book Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom, said, “the religious institutions of the Hierophant can easily become corrupted by the authority given them, so that the priests see their power as an end in itself, prizing obedience above enlightenment. Obviously, the position of defending a doctrine will attract doctrinaire people…the individual is ultimately responsible for him or herself. The whole idea of an outer doctrine, a code of rules and beliefs accepted on faith, depends on the assumption that most people prefer to have someone else tell them what to do and think.”

Making the decision about what you believe and what you do and assuming full responsibility for those choices is intimidating for some and it almost invariably requires a person to, at least on some level, disagree with ecclesiastical authority and face the scorn and ridicule of “church people.” It is a high price to pay for freedom. I have had religious friends tell me to my face that they wish I was dead because my thinking tends to have an influence over the thinking of others who look up to me.

I don’t want anyone imitating my personal religious practices. As far as I am concerned they are mine and mine alone. I constantly challenge people to take responsibility for their own faith and conduct and some people want to but find that breaking from a tradition into which they have been indoctrinated is a challenge. My friend described this challenge as “the inner critic.”

I hope you find our exchange as stimulating as I did.



My friend, please bear with me as I try to explain. I’m not sure if you have dealt with this or not, but how do you deal with the “inner Christian critic?”

Sometimes, whenever I learn and study the occult/ paranormal, like the tarot cards. Coming from Bible College, and in your case coming from the seminary, we got indoctrinated; things that we’ve been taught come creeping up. My “inner Christian critic” surfaces, placing doubtful fearful thoughts, from my indoctrination and what pastors/ preachers have said regarding the occult/paranormal.

Example #1: I remember watching John Hagee on TV mention about him knowing or experienced about a woman who used tarot cards and she became possessed. John said she was on the floor moving like a snake during the exorcism.

Example #2: Ouija boards. Other than what you address regarding Ouija boards, possession and the movie “The Exorcist” on I heard another story, way back in youth group, about someone wanting to get rid of an Ouija board and they ended up burning it and while it was burning, it was changing all sorts of colors…stuff like that.

Example #3: In the bible, the apostle Paul ‘was casting out’ the spirit of divination out of the girl and of course the converts from Ephesians burning their books of witchcraft.

How do you juggle your knowledge of the occult/paranormal, and Satan, demons & familiar spirits?

Having grown up in a Christian home and at the same time always had this attraction to the occult and paranormal. In addition, questioning the church and Christian community regarding how they handle and understand the occult/paranormal seeing lessons and things to be learned from the occult/paranormal; the misinformation. etc.

How should I discern my study and practice of the occult/paranormal, with what have I learned from Bible College? How have you discerned things?

How do you deal with the “inner Christian critic”?

Oh, I can hear it now from some typical Christian pastor. Those questions you’re asking! God is convicting you! Those doubts!

Usually I’m doing pretty well, no problem with my studies, my practice and the things I learn from the occult/paranormal, but sometimes, just sometimes, my “inner Christian critic” surfaces giving me doubts; but not all the time.

Thank you so much David.

Dear Friend,

You raise some really good points and you ask some really good questions. My short answer is let your conscience be your guide and do not engage in any activity that you think, on whatever level, is not in your best interest. But, if you decide that something is not in your best interest please do not impose your choice on someone else. That is not appropriate and, in my experience, it never comes from a place of love but from a place of insecurity. I don’t believe you would ever do such a thing. It simply is not the Friend I know.

I have absolutely no faith in the institutional church or its leadership. I have seen too many that are intentionally manipulative and self-seeking. I’m sure there are good, decent, and sincere Christian leaders but I have personally had enough of the institutional church.

I believe many of the doctrines that have evolved over time have less to do with good biblical interpretation and more to do with self-preservation and manipulation.

The church today is essentially no different than the pharisaical institutions of Jesus’ time. If you have not already done so please read Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by George Barna and Frank Viola and Raising Hell: Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put under Fire by Julie Ferwerda.

I believe that we each have unique spiritual path to follow in faith, trust, and love. That is not to say that objective spiritual truth does not exist or that there are not universal spiritual laws. I believe in truth, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe there are unyielding spiritual laws like, “as ye sow so shall ye reap.” But I also believe that we cannot walk in a faith relationship with God if we follow blindly the ravings of the so-called authorities around us.

One of my “callings” is to shake up the status-quo, to make people reevaluate the ways they have become complacent and passive in their belief system. Goth was a good way to accomplish this and so is witchcraft and Ouija, not that I am engaging in these practices for that purpose. I engage in them because that is where I sense the Spirit leading me but as a high profile person, a beneficial side effect of my own journey is that it “shakes up” other people.

If your inner voice is not comfortable with tarot then stop and focus your mind on something else.

Example #1: John Hagee, I performed exorcisms for two years. In all that time I never met one person who couldn’t have gotten free of the “devil” if they had decided on their own to do so. I have been reading tarot for at least five years and as far as I know I have had no demonic encounters of any kind.

Example #2: Ouija boards – Depending on the chemicals in a board, it is apt to change color when being burned. That is no indication of paranormal activity.

Example #3: In the bible, the apostle Paul ‘was casting out’ the spirit of divination out of the girl and of course the converts from Ephesians burning their books of witchcraft. That girl was being manipulated by business men for personal gain. When Paul “set her free” her real liberation was from those abusing her. Read the whole story. As to the books on witchcraft, I have no way of knowing what the contents of those books were but I do know that High Magic depends on the invocation and manipulation of so-called “evil” spirits for the magician’s personal gain. More than likely this was the type of magic espoused by those books.

“How do you juggle your knowledge of the occult/paranormal, and Satan, demons & familiar spirits?” I don’t have to juggle anything. I live according to my conscience and there is no disharmony in my belief system.

“How have you discerned things?” I am subject to error and you should not do as I do simply because I do it. I go where I feel led. If I’m not comfortable I don’t go. Let love and peace be your keys to discernment. What does not give you peace, what does not produce a more loving nature inside of you abstain from, you don’t need it.

One more thing, Jesus said you would know a person by their fruits, i.e. their character. There has never been a better standard for discernment than the character of the person whose words or advice you are considering.

I’m not a conformist; I am an agent of transformation and change. Not everyone is called to a path like mine. I harbor no ill will toward the conservative who sincerely condemns me. In fact, I harbor no ill will toward anyone, not even the “pastors” who know very well what the scriptures actually teach but they teach false doctrine anyway. God said, “Vengeance is mine.” What he meant was the law of karma will take care of it, mind your own business and that’s what I do.

I don’t know if this helps or not but those are my thoughts.

It’s always good to hear from you Friend. Please keep those messages coming.
Hey, other people might be interested in this discussion. May I publish it?
I would not have to use your name if you aren’t comfortable.
Much love,


My friend, I apologize if I unknowingly imposed something. I don’t ever want to impose anything on anyone. With that said, I sometimes have a hard time putting thoughts and feelings onto paper, in this case; the computer’s screen. I apologize for using “we”. There was difficulty in starting off in writing. Sometimes you just got to start regardless, and that’s what I did. Yes, I could have done the rough draft and then the first draft, but I just didn’t want to do that. I also want to apologize for the “juggling” question. That question implied compromise, and I didn’t want to indicate that you were compromising yourself and your beliefs. I didn’t really want to send that question your way, but with the feelings I felt, I thought it was another view of rewording the question or what I was trying to explain.

David, you are a very important friend me. You are the only friend that I can discuss the occult/paranormal with, with a strong Christian background/education. You’re the only one I can bounce ideas and thoughts regarding the occult/paranormal, and Christianity with. I respect you, I very much respect you. There’s no doubt in my mind that God placed you in my life.

Thank you for responding, and yes you can edit & use this discussion (email), The Critic, and maybe even some from this email if you can. Just don’t use my name. I believe there are other people that are Christian or that have a Christian background that are attracted to the occult/paranormal and are struggling, even others from other faiths and beliefs.

I hope this comes out right, and that it’s understandable.

I think it’s fair to say, in various degrees, that people that come from a religious institution, such as Christianity. Where there is, shall I say a possible tendency to manipulate its followers to believe in a certain way or manner, through certain principles or conduct in order to gain control over them. That these people may have or may not have broken away from, have certain beliefs or principles that are possibly contrary to this religious institution. That these people, when they tread their own spiritual path, that they may experience some sort of inner conflict, due to this religious institutions manipulation. That these people, if there is inner conflict, that they need to decide whether that this inner conflict, is either a matter of conscience or a matter of fighting one’s own dragon of dogma or indoctrination from the religious institution’s manipulation.

I can tell you David that I have in great majority only studied the occult/paranormal from books and TV programs like “Paranormal State” and “Haunted Collector”. I have never practiced anything (that I know of, maybe). I never called anything like the quarters; nothing. With books it’s easy to judge, to discern, to analyze, and to be objective to agree or disagree, or formulate other ideas. I have books about Wicca/witchcraft, scrying, numerology, psychism, runes, ceremonial magick, esoteric kabbalah, Jewish kabbalah, channeling/mediumship, etc., and now a book on tarot. And oh, I won’t say or call or conjure any name, unless I know that name is absolutely connected with the “right” spirit. So far I haven’t said a thing. But now I want to get into tarot, and with learning tarot you need to practice it in order to understand it.

I’ll share something with you that I have never mentioned to anyone else, other than God. Way back, say maybe about 1996, I was practicing hearing and obeying God’s voice and entering the prophetic gifting. One day I heard God or got the impression from God that I was to buy a tarot deck. I didn’t want to question him, but I inquired by making sure it was Him through prayer. To me it was solid that He wanted me to buy a tarot deck. So I obeyed. I went to a new age store and bought “Tarot of the Spirit” tarot deck. I didn’t want to buy the typical Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I looked and studied on what was available. After I bought the deck I said to God I will never practice or learn the tarot, unless you say so. This tarot deck belongs to you. So I packed the cards away and never thought about it until a few weeks or days ago; until when I read your tarot articles on

In which I took as a sign, and felt to study the tarot. But since then I have all this indoctrination from Church, and Bible College, and now as I follow God on my own spiritual path. I started to study the tarot, and practice to learn them. Then these years of indoctrination bubbles up as “inner conflict or resistance” as I referred to as the “inner Christian critic”. Studying the tarot was not against my conscience, but I realize I’m dealing with the dogma dragon of indoctrination. From this, certain doubts or questions arose. Those questions are what I asked you. Conscience-wise, I’m fine with tarot. But I had this inner conflict, in which I didn’t know how to interpret. It’s kind of like and eagle or an animal that became held captive. By the time the captors decide to allow the animal to go free. Given freedom the animal only goes so far out into the wilderness, but then it comes quickly back to it captors. Because the captors is all the animal has known, until it truly realizes that it’s actually free. And so the animal ventures out never to return.

I think of my life’s journey. I’ve always been a free thinker, and attracted to the occult/paranormal. I’m an only child. And friends didn’t come easy, but I certainly had more friends then, then I do now. I compromised myself for a very long time (and that included my beliefs), until I came to bible college. I became a people pleaser; I compromised for friendship, for belonging, and for acceptance. God got me out of compromise (2004-5) while I was in Bible College.

There in Bible College I found out that I was goth, and then shortly after not only did I identify with the goth subculture, I also identified with the vampire subculture. The occult/paranormal part was always there, just as my goth and vampire part was there. I just didn’t know what it was, and what I didn’t know I repressed and buried; or I reacted by becoming “religious” minded and self-righteous. God was the only one that understood me.

In bible college something happened that I never really understood, until it unfolded over time… and still is. I was in bible college for about 4 to 5 years. In my first or second year, I went forward for prayer; the speaker/pastor came to me and said that God is going to change my perspective, my view. Boy did my perspectives change, and it started in 2004-5. In 2005 I left Christianity. I saw things I didn’t agree with and it was affecting me, such as being judgmental, unloving, critical, and unaccepting. If this is Christianity then I wanted no part of it. Christianity gave me more questions than answers, and inquiry was not accepted.

The extent of my Christianity is Jesus’s death and resurrection, and His blood & body (communion); not forgetting the harmony of the gospels. I wanted to understand and develop my goth-vampire-occult side.

Anyway, I actually have the book Pagan Christianity. I only read half way because I became very upset and angry at Christianity. It was the double-standard or hypocrisy that got to me. How could Christianity point fingers at paganism? Here Christianity has a clearly pagan history that’s well documented and then they point fingers towards the pagans for their beliefs. What’s that expression, “the pot calling the kettle black?” As for the book Raising Hell, I downloaded the PDF of the book from the author on her website. Just for your information that the author has that book to download free, it’s complimentary.

So, just to mention again you can use our discussion to publish. Just don’t use my name, I’m not comfortable yet. Is it possible to see it before you publish it? I’m curious as to what you used and how you edited it.

Much Love,

–Your Friend

Dear Friend,

“I apologize if I unknowingly imposed something.” You didn’t my Friend. The point I was trying to make is that so many decide that if something isn’t right for them then it can’t be right for anyone else. I didn’t mean to imply that you are one of those people. In fact, I said, “I don’t believe you would ever do such a thing. It simply is not the Friend I know.” I just don’t think that kind of thing is in your nature. You have a pure and loving heart.

“David, you are a very important friend me. You are the only friend that I can discuss the occult/paranormal with, with a strong Christian background/education.” I think God has gifted us with each other. I very much value your friendship brother.

You make a really good point: how are we to discern the truth, how are we to know which voice inside of us is the product of manipulation and which is the voice of truth. For me, I let my conscience decide. It is that simple and that complex.

You mentioned wanting to study tarot. The best book on tarot that I know of is Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot by Rachel Pollack. It is not a “beginner” book but it will give you a sense for the potential that is in the tarot.

I think it is awesome that God led you to the tarot. The tarot is an intuitive teacher and I am sure the study of the tarot will be a positive life transforming experience for you. Take baby steps, steps that are comfortable for you, never mind about divination or “seeing into the future,” just concentrate on the cards and the message each one carries and the message the collective carries, that in and of itself is transformational. By the way, before I do a reading for someone, I pray and ask for divine guidance for that person, and God gives it every time.

“It’s kind of like and eagle or an animal that became held captive. By the time the captors decide to allow the animal to go free. Given freedom the animal only goes so far out into the wilderness, but then it comes quickly back to it captors. Because the captors is all the animal has known, until it truly realizes that it’s actually free. And so the animal ventures out never to return.” – What a lovely metaphor for the institutional church. The church serves a purpose. The Hierophant card in the tarot speaks to us (in some respects) of that purpose but as we grow, many of us find that we simply no longer need the illusion of security that the church provides.

“I actually have the book Pagan Christianity. I only read half way because I became very upset and angry at Christianity.” – LOL that is the reaction of so many to that book. I love it so much because it is so provocative.

Thank you so much my Friend,


Ouija: An Interview with maker Kelsang Drime

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Ouija: An Interview with maker Kelsang Drime

I obtain the vast majority of my boards on E Bay.
I love E Bay but you must be a smart and educated shopper.
I have seen many boards misrepresented or overpriced.

I shop for historic boards to complete my collection and I shop for hand crafted boards that appeal to my appreciation of the board as an art form. Every once in a while I find a hand crafted board that is both beautiful and functional. Among the best in this category are the boards made by Kelsang Drime. They are not cheap but they are worth the price.

As soon as I saw it I knew it had to be in my collection. When it arrived it took my breath away and even though I have favorite “user” boards, I could not resist the urge to give this one a spin. I connected with a friendly spirit named Gil and we had a nice but brief conversation.

The board is pictured below but honestly my attempt at photography does not do it justice.

Ouija 8 13 001

The E Bay description of this board is as follows:

“EBay My World: kelsangdrime

“This 14” x 17” x 5” OUIJA BOARD is unique in that it was made according to Spiritual Guidance received directly from the Other Side.

“This OUIJA BOARD was made from a SINGLE piece of high-quality Walnut. It was then glued to a sheet of 8-layer Oak plywood in order to prevent the natural bending/bowing of the Walnut. The Walnut was then routed and sanded to allow for a Glass insert. The OUIJA BOARD was finished with Special Walnut Stain and 3 coats of Polyurethane.

“The Glass was measured and cut to fit the Walnut inset, 4 holes were drilled into the Glass at each corner and then Tempered to prevent injury in case of breakage (it will shatter if broken).
4 holes were then drilled into the OUIJA BOARD to allow for the Glass to be attached to the OUIJA BOARD using 4 screws, 4 “Cross Conchos” on the top, and 4 Anti-skid Rubber Pads on the bottom.

“The PLANCHETTE is also made from the same piece of Walnut. Its design is also according to Spiritual Guidance received directly from the Other Side. It is also lightly stained and finished with 2-3 coats of Polyurethane. 3 Round Felt Pads allow for smooth movement of the PLANCHETTE over the Tempered Glass.

“Altogether, this OUIJA BOARD and the PLANCHETTE combine to create a POWERFUL TOOL through which those on the Other Side—be they family, friends, or your Spiritual Guides—can communicate with you.

“The OUIJA BOARD and PLANCHETTE are, however, NOT A GAME, in any way, shape or form. This is NOT to say that they are inherently dangerous or harmful to one’s body, mind and/or soul (as some might have you believe). The OUIJA BOARD and PLANCHETTE do, however, facilitate the OPENING of your SPIRITUAL AWARENESS of the Other Side and this REQUIRES PROPER PROTECTION and PREPARATION. In this regard, I included certain “protections”—absent in most other Boards—in the construction of the OUIJA BOARD according to Spiritual Guidance received directly from the Other Side. More extensive, written instructions regarding the proper care and protections of your SPIRITUAL AWARENESS can be provided upon request.”

I loved the board so much that I began a correspondence with the maker. What follows is our exchange. I hope you enjoy it.

Dear Kelsang,

I mentioned in my last message that I would like to interview you for my web site.
I’d still like to do that if you are interested. I thought to get things started you might think about these questions:

What was your first experience with Ouija?

To be absolutely honest, my first experience with Ouija is with these Boards I made. I’d heard all the horror stories about opening portals to the Spirit World that you can’t close and thus allowing negative forces into your life, so I was never motivated to use an Ouija Board. Anyway, in January 2013 I woke up wanting an Ouija Board.

Are you currently using Ouija? Yes.

Please tell us about your experiences using Ouija.

Well, first you have to understand a little about me.

I’ve always been aware of the “Other Side” of things, the Spirit World, if you will. I can’t say I communicate with the Other Side like you see on television with Long Island Medium and such. However, for me it seems far easier to simply talk with those on the Other Side and simply to be aware of them.

I don’t have spirits telling me messages to give other people. Usually the communications are about the Other Side or about me.

Anyway, I started formally studying metaphysics when I was 14 years old after a NDE at 12 years old and numerous OOBE’s afterwards. So, I’ve been aware of the non-physical for a while. But the resistance has also always been there (normalcy is attractive) and so it wasn’t until 1989 that I really let loose and really became aware. I started channeling. For me, it is like listening to your internal dialogue but it’s like you have your thoughts or “voice” and then there is this “Other” voice.

Sometimes, this “Other” will manifest as images or feelings rather than “spoken” words. And usually it is suddenly there. If it’s extended communication, it’s usually very fast. So, the use of an Ouija Board can be like using a rusty old standard typewriter compared to using a computer keyboard.

It’s about the reception or speed and accuracy of communication.

The Ouija Board acts as a means of communication in the same way as a typewriter does. It uses the impulses of the subconscious or unconscious mind of the user(s). In fact, in some ways, a typewriter works better because it is faster. The problem with the typewriter as a means of communication with the Other Side is that it’s easy for the conscious mind to interfere with the flow of energy or communication and it’s easy to doubt the communication as being your imagination or somehow less than valid or real. Hence, slower, more difficult, means of communication is more readily accepted as coming from the Spirit World.

What advice would you offer someone that is new to Ouija but wants to try it?

1. First, learn as much as possible about the Spirit World and how and why it communicates with this Other Side.

2. Learn about the 7 energy centers, the chakras of the Spiritual body, about how to open them and how to close them.

3. Learn about the different psychic abilities and senses, such as clairsentience (feeling), clairaudience (hearing), and clairvoyance (seeing).

4. If it is possible, learn about Spiritualism and mediumship. Learn about symbolism and how to interpret symbols.

5. Learn about ghosts, and hauntings and perhaps demonology (I don’t necessarily believe in inherent evil but there is enough out there, that it’s wise to be prepared—forewarned is forearmed).

6. Finally, learn about psychic protections and the power of prayer and faith in a Higher Power.

Using an Ouija Board as means of communication, as a conduit between our physical world and the Other Side, the non-physical world, is NOT a game.

Originally, the Ouija Board was a Spiritualist tool designed to facilitate communication between the two realms, physical and spiritual. In some sense, it was designed to eliminate the need for a medium as a living conduit or means of communication. And in this sense, it works.

The problems arise when Board users are untrained in psychic perception and protection. A trained medium is trained in these and because of this also has the assistance of their Guides to protect them from less-than-nice beings on the Other Side.

In the past and even to today, you have simple cardboard or ply board (essentially inferior wood) Ouija Boards being sold as a game and used by immature teenagers or adults who have little or no understanding of psychic perception or protection and no understanding of the Spirit World.

This is like using a telephone with a direct line to a psychiatric hospital. You could get a doctor or nurse or receptionist who is “normal” or you could get a kindly, yet mentally or emotionally unstable patient. On the other hand, you could also get a patient who seems perfectly stable but is utterly not nice like Hannibal Lecter. So, you can now see why it is necessary to be Spirit World-educated and know about protection.

As far as recommendations, I advise reading:

1. John Holland’s book Psychic Navigator. I’ve read everything out there and this is by far the best book out there.

2. Rebecca Rosen’s book Spirited. It’s a straight-forward book. There are other books on mediumship but this is the simplest and most appropriate.

3. Is Your House Haunted: Poltergeists, Ghosts, or Bad Wiring by Debi Chestnut, this book doesn’t agree with the use of Ouija Boards but the rest of the books is very informative.

4. Shouting at the Wolf by Reed Anderson is a well-written and complete book on protection and the nature of evil.

How did you become interested in making boards?

I woke up with the idea I wanted an Ouija Board. Of course, I argued with the idea, having read about all the horror stories and dangers of demonic infestation. However, the Spirits can be rather insistent at times.

After realizing I wanted an Ouija Board, I went online and searched for one. However, what I saw was simple, flat, 2-dimensional Boards with no protections. And to be honest, I hated the imagery on the Board. So, I decided to create what I wanted.

What inspired you to design the board you did?

The design was a bit of an evolution.

1. I did a lot of research into the history of the Boards and the protections that really should have been in place all these years.

2. I spent about two weeks using Adobe Photoshop to create a more modernized version of the Board with a protection prayer added to the imagery.

3. I thought I’d just have the image photo-printed and then laminated. I hadn’t yet considered the Planchette which is the heart of the Board.

4. I was told that “the Planchette needed to move as smoothly and evenly across the surface—so much so that it could almost move itself,” hence, the use of glass.

5. I thought about placing the image between two pieces of tempered glass or Plexiglas—another good method of making a useable and functional board but lacking the wood conduit.

6. However, I was then told the image needed to be attached to wood. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with natural energies.

7. I researched Decoupage to transfer the image onto the wood. This would be another interesting method of making a Board.

8. I was then told the Board needed to be made from a single piece of solid wood. I then had to find a piece of wood wide enough to accommodate the dimensions of the Board I envisioned.

I found the older Boards were often too small to allow the Planchette to accurately indicate the letters because it would slide off the Board. Anyway, I found a long piece of Russian Black Walnut wide enough but (and this is where the “mole hill” became “Mt. Meru”) the seller wouldn’t just cut a piece off the end of the plank so I bought the whole thing. Now I had a lot of wood for what was intended to be one Board—I now had enough wood for 4 Boards.

9. I did a lot of research into how to prepare the wood. However, it was costly to do the woodwork so I sent it to an experienced woodworker.

10. The wood had to routed in order to allow for the glass insert. The glass was then measured to fit the routed Board and holes were drilled through each. The glass was tempered to avoid injury in case the glass ever broke.

11. The Cross Conchos were an element of protection added to the Board.

12. Now, it was only a matter of putting all the pieces—the image, the wood, and the glass— together to make the Ouija Board.

13. I was told to make the Planchette made from the same piece of wood as the Ouija Board. Again, I didn’t like the older versions of the Planchette so I redesigned it.

What factors do you feel are essential to a good board?

1. As I mentioned the Board is a conduit, a means of communication, between our physical world and the Other Side. There are certain materials which facilitate this conduit or communication. Wood is one of the most conductive. I was told more ancient the tree, the better, perhaps because the older the tree, the wider the wood. However, I’m a tree lover so I don’t advise cutting down a tree just for an Ouija Board. I was also told the Planchette should be made from the same piece of wood.

2. The alphabet and the numbers need to be spaced appropriately so that they are not too apart or too close.

3. Most important, are the elements of protection that need to be incorporated into the Board itself. A prayer of protection should be on the image itself or engraved into the Board, either on top or underneath or even both. This prayer and associated psychic protection should be repeated at the opening of and at the closing of all Ouija Board sessions. If any experience is negative, immediately and firmly repeat the protection prayer and leave the Board for a period of time.

If someone is interested in purchasing one of your boards how should they do that?

I do not intend to make any more Boards because of the expense of time, energy and money.
They are a specialized tool and therefore have a specialized market. At this point, I only have two Boards left, one modern and one traditional. They can be bought on eBay or you can email me at kelsangATolypenDOTcom.

Thank you so much Kelsang


Mary Todd Lincoln

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Mary Todd Lincoln

It is often said, “There are no atheist in fox holes.” A similar adage might be made of Spiritualism. In times of war, when parents are losing children and wives husbands, Spiritualism looks really good. Arguably there was no bloodier time in the history of the United States than the time of the Civil War.

According to Nancy Rubin Stewart in her book already reviewed in this forum, The Reluctant Spiritualist, Mary Todd Lincoln “became one of Spiritualism’s strongest advocates,” (p. 245). A brief look at Mary’s life might help us understand why.

Mary Todd Lincoln pictured below:


Can you imagine what it might have been like to be the first family during the civil war? Every American President knows his share of heartache and pain as evidenced by the way they age while in office if nothing else but Abraham Lincoln led the United States through an unprecedented civil war. Mary Todd Lincoln, his wife, stood at his side during these most turbulent years in our nation’s history.

Mary Ann Lincoln was born on December 13, 1818 and she crossed to the other side on July 16, 1882. She served as the First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. She came from a large Kentucky family. She had six siblings by her maternal mother. Her mother crossed over when Mary was only six. Her father remarried and had nine children by Mary’s stepmother.

Mary was well educated. She spoke French fluently. She studied literature, dance, music, and drama. She dated Abraham’s political opponent Stephen Douglas but she married Abraham. She and Abraham had four sons. Only one of her sons outlived her. And, of course, she was sitting next to her husband at Ford’s Theatre when he was shot and killed.

Of her four sons it was William Wallace Lincoln, she called him Willie, which died during her husband’s presidency. He was 12 when he died of typhoid fever.

It is likely that Mary had an interest in Spiritualism long before Willie’s death. It is hard for us to imagine what the dawn of Spiritualism was like. Within ten years of its birth in 1848, the religion filled every community in almost every nation.

While conservative Christian leaders opposed it then as they do today, many saw no conflict between their Christian faith and the basic tenants of Spiritualism. For some, it was a parlor game, an evening of entertainment, for others it was a source of comfort. Spiritualism provided a way to connect with people much loved that now “lived” on the other side but were not beyond reach as the grave suggests.

As the war raged around her, and people she knew and loved died not the least of which being her young son Willie, Mary reached out to the other side. It is well documented that she held seances in the White House.

With the help of a medium, probably Nettie Colburn Maynard, Mary was able to connect with her son. It was a connection that lasted such that she said, “He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of my bed, with the same sweet, adorable smile he always had.”

In his great work The History of Spiritualism by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes); he said there was “an event where spirit intervention proved to be of importance in the world’s history. This was the instance of the inspired messages which determined the action of Abraham Lincoln at the supreme moment of the Civil War.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went on to say that Nettie Colburn Maynard “was a powerful trance medium, and she visited Washington in the winter of 1862…Mrs. Lincoln sent a carriage to bring the medium to see the President.”

In her own words, Nettie Colburn Maynard said that “For more than an hour I was made to talk to him, and I learned from my friends afterward that it was upon matters that he seemed fully to understand, while they comprehended very little until that portion was reached that related to the forthcoming Emancipation Proclamation.

“He was charged with the utmost solemnity and force of manner not to abate the terms of its issue, and not to delay its enforcement as a law beyond the opening of the year; and he was assured that it was to be the crowning event of his administration and his life; and that while he was being counseled by strong parties to defer the enforcement of it, hoping to supplant it by other measures and to delay action, he must in no wise heed such counsel, but stand firm to his convictions and fearlessly perform the work and full the mission for which he had been raised up by an overruling Providence.

“Those present declared that they lost sight of the timed girl in the majesty of the utterance, the strength and force of the language, and the importance of that which was conveyed, and seemed to realize that some strong masculine spirit force was giving speech to almost divine commands.

“I shall never forget the scene around me when I regained consciousness. I was standing in front of Mr. Lincoln, and he was sitting back in his chair, with his arms folded upon his breast, looking intently at me. I stepped back, naturally confused at the situation – not remembering at once where I was; and glancing around the group, where perfect silence reigned. It took me a moment to remember my whereabouts.

“A gentleman present then said in a low tone, “Mr. President, did you notice anything peculiar in the method of address?” Mr. Lincoln raised himself, as if shaking off his spell. He glanced quickly at the full-length portrait of Daniel Webster, that hung above the piano, and replied, ‘Yes, and it is very singular, very!” with a marked emphasis.

“Mr. Somes said: “Mr. President, would it be improper for me to inquire whether there has been any pressure brought to bear upon you to defer the enforcement of the Proclamation?”

“To which the President replied: “Under these circumstances that question is perfectly proper, as we are all friends smiling upon the company. It is taking all my nerve and strength to withstand such a pressure.”

“At this point the gentlemen drew around him, and spoke together in low tones, Mr. Lincoln saying least of all. At last he turned to me, and laying his hand upon my head, uttered these words in a manner that I shall never forget: “My child, you possess a very singular gift; but that it is of God, I have no doubt. I thank you for coming here to-night. It is more important than perhaps any one present can understand. I must leave you all now; but I hope I shall see you again. He shook me kindly by the hand, bowed to the rest of the company, and was gone. We remained an hour longer, talking with Mrs. Lincoln and her friends, and then returned to Georgetown, Such was my first interview with Abraham Lincoln, and the memory of it is as clear and vivid as the evening on which it occurred.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle argued in his history that this event “not only strengthened the President in taking a step which raised the whole moral tone of the Northern armies and put something of the crusading spirit into the men, but a subsequent message urged Lincoln to visit the camps, which he did with the best effect upon the moral of the army,”


The Reluctant Spiritualist by Nancy Rubin Stuart

The History of Spiritualism by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Wikipedia Mary Todd Lincoln
Accessed Saturday, August 24, 2013

History of the 1800s on About dot com
Accessed: Monday, August 12, 2013

Mary Todd Lincoln’s Ghost Sightings and Seances
Accessed: Monday, August 12, 2013

Roger Norton
Accessed Monday, August 12, 2013

Mr. Lincoln’s White House
Accessed Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: The Reluctant Spiritualist The Life of Maggie Fox by Nancy Rubin Stuart

It’s been a few years since I first read this book so revisiting it for the purpose of this review was like seeing a much loved friend again.

The Reluctant Spiritualist is a top ten for me. It has all of the ingredients that I love and that are a part of this blog. Maggie Fox wasn’t simply a Spiritualist she was one of the first if not THE first. It was the rapping on their walls in 1848 that set the wheels of Modern Spiritualism in motion.


Maggie Fox

Spiritualism is, “the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World.” – From the NSAC home page accessed Saturday, August 17, 2013.

I love biographies.

The best biographies are better than any fiction I have ever read. This one was written by Nancy Rubin Stuart. You may access Nancy’s home page here: Nancy Rubin Stuart
Her own biography says that she is, “an award-winning author and journalist who specializes in women, biography, and social history.”

Of all the books a person can choose to write I think biography must be the most challenging and the most rewarding.

Think of the skills a talented biographer must possess: she must be a tenacious researcher, she must understand history and context – social, cultural and political, she must be a journalist, she must care deeply for her subject matter, and above all she must be able to tie all the research together into a tell-able, readable story for the rest of us. I admire skilled biographers and Nancy is among the best.

In our world any one can write a book and anyone can get a book published. It is not that hard to do I should know I’ve done it. The Reluctant Spiritualist was published by Harcourt. Harcourt is a serious publisher with respectable journalistic standards and any serious treatment of historic or biographic subject matter is going to be examined and cross examined by those with an interest in the period or subject. What I am trying to say in a much too long winded fashion is that The Reluctant Spiritualist is good history.

Nancy checked her facts, she did her homework, and she did right by Maggie Fox. She produced a book that is as enjoyable to read as it is informative. I thought I knew Maggie when I bought the book. I had been a devote Spiritualist for years but I learned so much that I didn’t already know about this magnificent woman of history from reading this book.

What I like best about this biography is the sympathy and understanding with which it is told. Even Spiritualist historians have been unkind to Maggie. Nancy on the other hand brought Maggie out of the pages of history, out of the quagmire of religious debate, and into my heart. Maggie became a human being under Nancy’s skilled research. The complications, sorrows, and joys of her life became real for me and they will for anyone who chooses to read this masterpiece. Oh and one thing more, The Reluctant Spiritualist tells intimately of Maggie’s one true love and how that love shaped and influenced her life.

The Reluctant Spiritualist is not Spiritualist propaganda. It is good history and it is a great read. Even if you don’t believe for one minute that the dead can speak, do yourself a favor and read a book that you will never forget not because it will convince you of Maggie’s authenticity as a medium but because it tells a very human story about a very human life.

Much love dear friends,

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

I was a strange child I admit it. My mother would often say, “Why aren’t you outside playing with the other children.”

Often visitors to our home would wonder who I was speaking to.
Once an alarmed police officer came into the room where I was “playing” claiming he’d heard other voices in the room. He looked around bewildered than looked down at me and smiled.
My mother had by this time followed him into the room.

He said, “Your son has a remarkable ability to throw and disguise his voice. I could have sworn I heard adult voices and conversations in here.”

The police officer was a neighbor and the father of my best friend.

I preferred to “play” alone.
Still do.

My wife sometimes asks if I ever get lonely.
I tell her, “I’m never alone dear.”
I think she is just now, after thirty years of marriage, beginning to understand what I really mean when I say that.

I have never been alone, not a single day in my life.
I can feel the “company” all around me, most often pleasant and with good intentions, sometimes not. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Modern Spiritualism and I heard the childhood stories of other mediums that I began to understand that my life experience is not unique to me.

Some would say that every child has these experiences. Some families “socialize” them away faster than others. But for all of the strange, sometimes scary, but always wonderful experiences of my life I would not trade places with anyone. I would rather live in a world of Spirit, in a world of wonder than in a world without.

I mentioned the Native American carving that I used in séances when I was eight. I also used a Charlie McCarthy doll. The doll became a problem for me and I had to get rid of it.

Once I was sitting alone in my room.
It was dusk and from my window I had a great view of the alley.
I grew up in Baltimore City.
My family lived in a row home.
Alleyways separated the rows of homes on the back side.
Many of our neighbors were gardeners and loved to tend their gardens in the cool of the evening.
They would work and socialize and, not knowing it was rude to do so at the time, I would watch from my window. I believe this incident occurred after the séance mentioned before.
Watching from my window was an evening ritual for me.

Pictured below is an image of my backyard from my bedroom window. Sadly you cannot see the alley or the other homes in the image. This photo was taken on my first birthday in the summer of 1961.

Andover Road

My parents were among the friendliest in the neighborhood and our home was always filled with visitors. The conversation from the living room downstairs provided a kind of comforting white noise for me but, lost in my own world; I never really eavesdropped on those conversations.

On this particular evening I was watching pockets of neighbors chatting below.
I could hear the blurred murmur of conversation from what I thought was the living area downstairs.

Suddenly I heard my name whispered clearly and distinctly from directly behind me in my room.

“David,” it said in clear whisper.

I was startled.

I hadn’t heard anyone come into the room.

I turned around as quickly as I could but saw no one.
But I knew someone was there and I knew that that someone was very close in proximity to me.
I was suddenly cold and extremely nervous.
I had gone from a meditative state of twilight and peace to alert, cold, and frightened in an instant.

The room was dark.

I ran down the stairs to what I expected to be a crowd of people, the same crowd I had been listening to all evening.
No one was there and as soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs the conversations I’d been listening to stopped.
The house was dark.
I ran outside as quickly as I could.

“Where do you think you’re going,” a neighborhood babysitter said.
“Where are my parents,” I demanded to know.
“They’ve gone out for a bit,” she said, “they asked me to wait here to keep an eye on you.”
“How long have you been sitting there?” I asked.
“I’ve been here an hour or two.”
“Has anyone entered of left my home during that time?”
“No one,” she said.

From that day forward I pay attention to the subtle and sometimes not so subtle sounds around me. Today, spirits normally present a visual image to my mind. You might call that clairvoyance if you are in the mood to classify. But hearing or clairaudience is not at all uncommon for me. And feeling a presence or clairsentience, is perhaps the most common of all.

If you don’t feel comfortable in the presence of a spirit it is your right to ask it to leave. If it refuses, as a Christian I command it to do so in the name or rather in the authority that is in the name of Jesus. I also rely on the Archangel Michael for assistance in such matters. As such I have never failed to rid myself or someone else or some place of an unwanted spiritual presence.

I know that you may not be Christian and you may be wondering, “What do I do if I don’t believe in Jesus or in the Archangel Michael?” My suggestion would be to invoke whatever higher power or Infinite Intelligence you worship or respect.

Jesus made an interesting comment to his disciples in the context of expelling unwanted spiritual entities. He said, “I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” – Luke 10:19

Christians believe this “power” is exclusive to them.
Occultists believe that it is inherent in humanity, that we as humans, all of us without exception and without regard to creed or belief, have a divine mandate to rule over nonhuman entities.

One thing I do feel confident of is that all human beings possess a great deal more power both to “tread on serpents” and to change their own lives for the better than they ever give themselves credit for.

Once a person realizes that he or she is powerful enough to take control of his or her life then there is no evil entity or evil circumstance to blame, then suddenly the responsibility for his or her life for good or ill, belongs only to him or her and to no one or nothing else. That is a responsibility some cannot bear, that is why entities with evil intent get a foothold, and that, I believe, is what Jesus was telling his followers – in essence, “You are responsible now go out and create a better world.”

If you don’t like an entity that has come into your life human or nonhuman, expel them. You have the power.

Okay I’m feeling soap boxy so I’ll stop now.
More later much loved ones.



Tarot Confessions Part 2

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Tarot Confessions Part 2

I think each tarot reader evolves a style over time that is uniquely his or her own.

I do not believe there is a “right” way to read the cards or that each card has an orthodox definition or meaning. That attitude of course reflects my own personal style and approach to the cards.

Some read reversals.
Others turn all the cards face up as if a reversal never happened.

public domain 1

When you mix the cards send your intent into them. Let the cards know which if any spread you will use, what information you are seeking, who you are seeking it for, and if you intend to read reversed cards or turn every card upright. These are only a few of the intentions you can work with.

When you are clear about your intentions at the beginning there will be less confusion later on however whatever intention you set, if you get a strong intuitive sense that you need to run against it then do so. Let your intuition be the final voice.

I don’t read reversals all the time and I’m usually pretty clear about sending that intention into the cards but periodically I will get a reversal that shouts at me to read the card as a reversal. In those instances I will. I will also completely ignore the “standard” meaning of a card in favor of what my intuition is telling me that card means at that moment or for that person. This is one reason why I love to read on line. My sitter can’t see the cards.

A lot of people have impressions about card meanings even if they don’t read. Instead of debating the meaning of a card I prefer not to disclose what cards I’m looking at unless of course the person is sitting next to me.

I know one reader who will intentionally lay out a huge spread even though she only reads the center cards. She does this to keep the debate over particular card meanings to a minimum.

People may become nervous when they see the death card, another good reason to keep the cards as confidential as possible or be prepared to do some major educating. I know a few readers who remove cards they know are likely to disturb sitters but a better approach, if you know you will be reading for newbies or nervous Nellie’s, is to select a deck with alternate visual imagery. Personally, I would never intentionally remove a card from the standard 78 but again, as readers and spiritual seekers we all have our own way

A reader once told me, “The best readers ‘see’ in the cards even if they use a pack of playing cards they can still ‘see.’” I think what she was saying is that the reader is the oracle not the cards. The cards are a tool.

For me, a good tarot deck is one in which each of the 78 cards has an image. Imagery on every card began with the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. Prior to Rider-Waite-Smith most decks illustrated the major arcana only and many readers still prefer the older decks like the Visconti Tarot.

I do like decks that put their own interpretative spin on the deck. One of the most original I have seen in recent years is the Sirian Starseed Tarot. The Starseed Tarot is a complete re-visioning of the tarot and it is lovely. The Cosmic Tarot is another example of an excellent deck that somewhat departs from the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition.

When I do a reading for someone I usually use the Hanson Roberts which stays pretty close to the Rider-Waite-Smith. I have many dozens of decks. If a particular sitter’s energy seems to match another deck in my collection I may use that deck for that sitter instead of Hanson Roberts but most of the time I prefer the Hanson Roberts. It has all of the symbolic benefits of the Rider-Waite-Smith but it has, in my opinion, richer imagery.

I would love to show you these decks but I don’t think I can’t share images without violating copyright or intellectual property law. By the way, it is never my intention to tread on someone’s intellectual property. As a creative person and a writer, I would appreciate it if others respected my work enough to ask for permission before copy and paste and I will respect the rights of others. So if I have unintentionally violated someone’s rights please let me know and I will correct the problem.

While I don’t think I can post images I do think it is okay if I direct you to where images are posted. The following links will give you a taste of some of the great decks I have mentioned in the preceding paragraphs:

Visconti Tarot

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The Starseed Tarot

The Cosmic Tarot

Hanson Roberts Tarot

As I mentioned, I prefer decks that visually interpret every card. Some readers prefer the tradition that preceded Rider-Waite-Smith in which the minor arcana are not visually interpreted. They feel the lack of visual imagery allows their psychic vision free reign in much the same way a radio or audio dramatization stimulates the mind’s eye while a film creates a visual story.

I use the imagery of my cards. When I look at a card I enter the world that particular card portrays. This is another reason why I don’t usually read reversals. I want to see, feel, and experience the activity and energy of the card not only in terms of physical action but also emotional and psychic content. I let that information enter my psyche then I blend it with my intuition to provide an interpretation that is unique for my sitter.

I pray before I read and I listen to Spirit, God’s and others as I read.

When I began and to this day I read every book I can get my hands on. The best I have found to date is Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack. The book is amazing. I would also suggest that you read carefully the booklet or book that normally comes with the new deck. I have not as yet purchased used decks. If I do begin to collect vintage decks I will not use them as reader decks because I want mine to be the only energy in my decks. I don’t even want sitters cutting the deck as so many readers do. No one touches my cards but me, again, personal preference.

Read every book you can, take every class you can because the more information you absorb the greater the reservoir you have at your disposal to pull from when you give a reading. Think of your mind as an ocean – is it deep or shallow. You deepen your mind with intentional effort, dedication, and study. The deeper your mind is the more resources you have but tarot is not like math. Two plus two does not always equal four in a tarot reading and what the book says may not be so during a particular reading.

Every card is a story and every card, in a good deck, is full or so many possibilities that it would not be possible to explore them all with your sitter so you must choose what is and is not important for that particular reading. This is why I pray for wisdom, discernment, and insight before I read. I ask to be directed to what is relevant at that moment in time.

I once met a young lady so intent on “getting it right,” that she typed the meaning of each card on the face of the card itself, even reversals because she felt reversals had to be read as reversals. She obviously thought reading the tarot was a mechanical process. Even sadder she did not trust her own intuition. Tarot reading is 90% intuitive or psychic insight and only 10% cards and so it is with any form of divination.

The reader is the oracle; the cards, crystals, tea leaves or whatever is only a tool.

Spreads are another issue.
“What spread should I use?” is a common question.

I use a combination of spreads and different combinations for different people. It depends on the circumstance. Again, the more spreads you know the more flexible you can be. Don’t be afraid to invent your own. I do it all the time but be sure to tell the deck what spread you will use and what each position will signify as you mix the cards.

When I first started reading, other readers that I respected would tell me that the cards “spoke” to them. I’m a bit of a literalist so I thought they meant they heard a voice telling them how to interpret what they were seeing in their spread. I’m not sure what they meant but I can tell you that yes the cards speak. It is a little like a Spiritualist circle meeting. If you listen you will hear that still small voice telling you where to look, how to interpret, what to say. That voice might be God, it might be Infinite Intelligence, or any other god concept that you might have. It could be one or more of your sprit guides. It could also be your sitter’s guides or sprit helpers. My point is mediumship is not an isolated skill from tarot reading nor is tarot isolated from spirit contact. Listen and you will hear, ask and you will receive. As you develop your skills as a medium, clairvoyant, or psychic these skills will enhance your tarot reading.

I prefer to do what might be termed a “general” reading. I discourage such questions as “when will I die” or “who will I marry.” I would rather let the cards, and my intuition, speak to the sitter’s situation but I do often get specific questions: “Does he love me,” “will I get the job,” etc.

I do my best to answer specific questions but I think that kind of thing cheapens the cards and divination in general. It makes of it fortune telling and the cards are so much more.

I dislike sweeping generalities about populations of people because each person is individual however I have noticed an alarming and disturbing tendency at least among those that come to me for a reading: women more often than men want to know, “does he love me.” Men more often than women want to know, “should I leave my wife and family for my mistress,” or “should I leave my job for a new venture.”

I read the cards and try to get them to look at themselves in the mirror but I’m not going to tell anyone what they should do with their lives. I invariably say, “That is your choice and your responsibility.”

The cards can show us who we are. This is why I say that I think questions like “will I find romance,” cheapens the cards.

Isn’t your character more important than any particular circumstance?

Romance will come and go, careers will come and go, but your character will endure forever. I much prefer to use the cards to work on a person’s understanding of who they are and how they can shape their character and destiny.

I’ll have more to say later loved ones.

Many blessings,


The Selchow and Righter Planchette

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

The Selchow and Righter Planchette

The planchette is an important piece of any Ouija session. It is like the receiver on a phone. Take the receiver away and technically you might still have a phone but you can’t use it. So it is with the planchette.

The planchette preceded Ouija at least as a marketable item.

At some point between 1848 and 1853 people began to experiment with various methods of communicating with the other side. In my article on the Fox sisters I alluded to an alphabet board suggesting that maybe, just maybe one was in use as early as 1848 at the dawn of Modern Spiritualism but the alphabet board in conjunction with knocks and raps was tedious.

Many people relied on table tipping as their primary method of communication with Spirit but again the process of communicating via knocks and raps was cumbersome.

Another more direct method had to be found at least for those who did not think themselves “gifted” as mediums. In my opinion we all have the ability; it is only a matter of desired, education, and practice like any other skill.

It is possible that some form of Ouija was in use between 1848 and 1853. The earliest known “boards” consisted of alphabet cards, sometimes under a glass top, spread over a table. A household glass was inverted. People placed their hands on it and they were in business so to speak.

Automatic writing was possibly the predominant household method in the late 1840s early 1850s. There are two types of automatic writing: there is true automatic writing meaning that the medium is not consciously aware of what is being written. The spirit takes control of the medium’s arm or hand and creates a message. Most found that this method produced volumes of illegible writing with the occasional, “oh that looks like dear departed John’s writing to me but I can’t make out what it says.”

The second form of automatic writing is more commonly referred to as inspirational writing. I write daily both fiction and non-fiction and sometimes I am surprised by what comes out of my pen or off the keyboard. I am referring of course to writing while under the inspiration of Spirit. The medium is conscious and aware but guided. The problem with this method is twofold: one, the medium’s attitudes and thoughts may color the transmission and two it is very much subjective.

At any rate another method was sought and in or around 1853 the planchette was invented or if not invented at least marketed on a wide scale. Some say it was invented by a man named Planchette. Maybe but I find it oddly coincidental that the word “planchette” is a French word meaning little plank.

People would place a pencil in the pointed end of the planchette and allow their arm and hand to be controlled by subconscious impulses or by autonomous spirit beings depending on your point of view. Most planchette sessions produced unintelligible scribble but some produced coherent messages.

Pictured below is a medium operating a planchette under test conditions:
MasterWorker 2

By the early 1860’s, plancettes were being manufactured and sold to a populace hungry for spiritual exploration, one of the first to manufacture the planchette was Kirby and Company. They began to manufacture and sell plancettes in 1868. While most were made of wood, usually mahogany, some were made of glass allowing users to see what was being written as it was being written.

The shape of the planchette may seem arbitrary but it is not. To the occultist or ceremonial magician the triangle represents a place between worlds. It is within the triangle that a spirit is summoned and it is within the triangle that physical mediumship takes place. This is not to say that other shapes will not work. I have seen circles, I alluded to an inverted glass above, I have seen pentagrams, and even half-moon shaped plancettes. My point is not to suggest a dogma but rather to point out that the triangle, being the first shape of the modern planchette, was not an accident. In fact I think those who actually did “invent” it knew very well what they were doing and why.

Instructions were usually glued to the underside of the planchette (unless it was a glass planchette). One set read, “For some persons, Planchette moves in a few moments and for others from ten to fifteen minutes is needed to charge the board.”

Most practitioners today begin a session with self-initiated movement normally in a clockwise circle or in the form of a figure 8 representing the symbol of time and eternity. The same can be said for Ouija. At first, especially when working alone, it can be helpful to set the planchette in motion but gradually something else will assume control.

In 1875 Selchow and Righter began to market and sell their own version of the planchette. It is a Selchow and Righter that I own and that is pictured here manufactured in 1875 and made of maple. Selchow and Righter also manufactured Parcheesi and Scrabble.
1 The Selchow and Righter Planchette

I realize the instructions may be hard to read in the picture. They read, “The Scientific Planchette from the original pattern first made in 1860 (IMPROVED).

How to work the planchette: Place planchette on sheet of paper (printing or wrapping will answer), then lay the hand lightly on the board; in a few minutes it begins to move and is ready to answer mental or spoken questions.

When a party of three or more come together, it is almost impossible that one cannot operate planchette. If one be not successful, let two try it together. That planchette is capable of giving a large amount of amusement is beyond doubt nor is it less likely to afford instruction and a wide field for speculation and experiment to the scientific.
Selchow & Righter
Manufacturers, New York”
1a The Selchow and Righter Planchette Underside

What you may not be able to see in the picture is that the wheels are also wooden. The Selchow & Righter planchette was a finely made example of Victorian craftsmanship that I am proud to own.


Tarot Confessions Part 1

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Tarot Confessions Part 1

Sometimes people form firmly held opinions about what they have never personally experienced. This, I believe, is at the heart of many attitudes toward the tarot.
grunge tarot
Conservative Christians, for example, discourage the study of the tarot. It is not my purpose to criticize the conservative Christian population however it is their opinions that have most impacted my own attitudes about the tarot.

I spent over thirty five years in a conservative Christian environment. While I still consider myself a Christian, I have decided to part ways from the more conservative of the faith. I have found much to be thankful for in Wicca and in Modern Spiritualism and so I have created a spirituality that is uniquely my own, one that combines those elements of Modern Spiritualism, Wicca, and Christianity that resonate most deeply with me.

My “way” is not the only way. I would never suggest to anyone that it is the “right” way but it is my way and I am at peace with it.

I made many lasting friendships while I was journeying in conservative Christendom and overall it was a happy experience for me. Conservative Christians tend as a whole to frown on the use of Ouija and tarot. The general consensus of opinion is that non-human entities with the intent to harm people both physically and eternally gain entrance into a person’s life via these tools. Noted paranormal specialists Ed and Lorraine Warren who are themselves conservative Catholics have expressed a similar opinion based on the over 800 cases of paranormal disturbances that they have personally investigated.

I don’t think it would be wise to simply ignore the well-intentioned advice of my friends or of those with superior experience, neither is it wise to take on faith what you can learn for yourself through controlled and cautious experimentation. I have had some horrific encounters with non-human entities but not because of the Ouija board or the tarot. There is a good reason for this.

I will provide instructions for the safe use of paranormal tools in another post but for now let me offer two principles:

One: Like attracts like. What you are you will attract to yourself. If there is hatred in your heart you will attract entities that hate. If there is love in your heart you will attract entities that love.

Two: Intent is everything. Your intention will manifest. If you sit down at an Ouija session with the “expectation” of being terrified you will be. If on the other hand you set your intention on meeting your loving spirit guide then you will also achieve that objective.

The bottom line is this: Your experience with Ouija, tarot, or life in general is up to you. Your purpose or intent is your choice therefore the outcome or result you achieve by that intent is your responsibility. The universe is simply giving you what you ask for.

Our expectations to a great degree dictate or color our experience. So it is with Ouija, tarot, and any other aspect of our lives including our personal relationships and our career.

The problem with any form of divination is like the problem with alcohol or food – too much is unhealthy. Temperance is a virtue. Moderation in all things is wise. In its proper place the tarot will enrich your life. Made the center of every decision, it will destroy it.

This site is all about exploration; exploration into what many feel is dangerous territory. I will not deny the dangers but I will celebrate the beauty of discovery.

Life is about experimentation, learning, and growth.

I would encourage you to live your life.
Don’t be a spectator, be a doer.
Don’t let someone else tell you how to live or what you should live for.
Experiment, be a risk taker.

As one of my favorite songs admonishes:

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Yes, it’s from the Sound of Music.
I saw the film when I was a child but the lesson of that song has guided the way I live my life.

I take chances. Not all of the chances I take turn out great but all of them result in a growth experience.

Do you remember the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham?

My mother raised me on that book and if my memory serves it was the first book I ever independently read. In brief, the main character will not eat green eggs and ham because he doesn’t think he will like it but once he finally tries it, he is delighted to discover that he enjoys it. His world becomes a bigger place and he grows.

Tarot is very much like Green Eggs and Ham. Many dismiss the cards without a second thought either because someone else told them the cards were a gateway to evil or because they have some other preconceive idea of what the cards represent.

It is not my intention to persuade anyone to try anything that may be in violation of their conscience. If you think the tarot is the work of the devil then don’t study the cards but if you are curious and you’ve come here to learn and discuss then I think you are going to enjoy the journey.

Much love and many blessings,


Book Review: Occult American by Mitch Horowitz

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Book Review: Occult American by Mitch Horowitz

I know I love a book when I read it at every opportunity – those few moments before I have to walk out of house in the morning to get to work, longer at night than I should because I need to get up early in the morning, if I wake up early on Saturday morning and read in bed until 11 am; those are good books. I am insanely jealous of great books. I was insanely jealous of Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I am insanely jealous of Occult America by Mitch Horowitz.

When I say “insanely jealous” I mean that I wish I had written it. The book either had such a great impact on my life, or it resonated so deeply it was as if it came out of my own subconscious mind, or it simply entertained me so much that I envied the author his or her talent. In the case of Occult America all of the above apply.

Occult America does not delve deeply into any one area the way Christine Wicker’s books do but if you are new to the entire occult genre it will give you a fair history of the occult in America and it will point you in the right direction for further study. That is why I elected to review this book first – it is the book you should read first. Even if you are already well read I can almost guarantee it will show you something you’ve never seen before maybe a personality or a connection between ideas.

His topics are so wide and varied it would be difficult to list them all but to give you a flavor, he covers such notables as Mother Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, Joseph Smith, The Masons (of course), William Morgan, Spiritualism, Andrew Jackson Davis, Franz Anton Mesmer, Henry Steel Olcott, The Eddy Brothers, Madame Blavatsky, and Victoria Woodhull to name a few.

He also devotes an entire chapter to the magnificent Ouija board. Oh and if you’d like to see and get to know Mitch a little bit click here for a vid of him speaking about the origin and use of Ouija. It’s an awesome video.

He traces the origins of the “motivational speaker” movement from Wallace Wattles to Norman Vincent Peale. You might be thinking “motivational speaking is not occult.” If you are thinking that then you might want to read Occult America.

In my opinion the techniques taught by the motivational speakers are not that different that those taught by the seasoned witches of our time. The only difference is that witches aren’t trying to put a shine on the craft so that it appeals corporate America. Aleister Crowley defined magic as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.” By the way you can download Wattles book for free. It is public domain and it is pretty much the same material as The Secret. Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The wisest man in the history of the world would not kid you about a thing like that.

Mr. Horowitz devotes considerable coverage to a hero of mine Edgar Cayce. If you have not read Edgar’s biography There is a River by Thomas Sugrue please read it as soon as you have finished reading Occult America.

I told you I read a lot. I’m going to toss many book recommendations at you. I won’t get my feelings hurt if you can’t investigate every recommendation I make. I hope one or two will cry out to you and you won’t be able to resist. When you do read one of my recommended books, I hope that the experience will so enrich your life that, though you might never write to say so, you’ll be thinking, “Dave I am sure glad you called my attention to that book. It was a life changer.”

Finally, he traces the origins and development of the New Age Movement. All in one book and I haven’t included in this list even half of what he actually deals with in his brief but brilliant 258 pages.

The book reads like a best-selling supernatural suspense thriller but it is factual, historic, and heavily documented. If you want more information on any given subject or person he will tell you where you can find it.

I don’t believe I have conveyed the true brilliance of the book in this review and I can’t reprint excerpts without making the copyright police really mad. I can only hope that I have inspired you to read it. It is a permanent fixture in my library and I think it should be in the library of every student of the paranormal or the occult.

If this article does inspire you to read it please share your thoughts on the book here in this forum. I would love and appreciate the exchange of ideas and opinions.

Much love and many blessings to you,


The Fox Sisters

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Kate and Maggie Fox: hailed as among the founders of Modern Spiritualism by some reviled as frauds by others.

The paranormal presents a quandary to our comfortable predictable existence, to the religious and to the scientific alike. It tends to polarize the way many religious or political topics do.

Paranormal activity simply doesn’t fit the paradigm no matter what paradigm you choose. Religious leaders tell us that we go to heaven maybe hell when we die but we surely don’t linger in a disembodied state on earth. Science tells us that we simply cease to exist upon death. From dust we came and to dust we return.

Ed Warren once said, “Perhaps our biggest fear of ghosts is that they don’t exist. What could be more frightening than the idea that our lives and those we love are as temporal and expendable as tissue?” (From Ghost Tracks p. 310).

It is not my intention to convince anyone of anything pertaining to the interpretation of paranormal activity or to the existence or nonexistence of such. I am a believer but you don’t have to be and best of all we can disagree and still be friends.

My ideology, my belief system, has changed so radically and so many times over the course of my life that the only thing I feel certain of is that change in my belief system is inevitable. The very idea I might scoff at today I may embrace tomorrow so my writing should not be construed as “apologetic” in nature. I am not writing to convince but to explore.

I know that Maggie confessed herself to be a fraud. She was paid handsomely at a time when she was destitute and alcoholic to do so. She later recanted that “confession.” Make of that what you will. I believe her paid confession of fraud occurred in a moment of desperation. I believe when she did it she lost a part of her soul and apart of the soul of every true believer. Realizing her mistake, made in a moment of weakness she recanted.

Maggie Fox was one of the finest mediums of all time.

She could write while in trance in the handwriting of the one she was channeling.
She could write it in such a way that it had to be held to a mirror to be read or she could use both hands to channel two different spirits, each hand producing messages in the penmanship of the channeled spirit.

She could provide information known only to sitter and diseased – the true acid test of any medium.

I went to Lily Dale and I stood inches from Charles B. Rosna’s peddler’s pouch. I did that shortly after a medium told me things about my grandfather that only I and my grandfather knew. The medium quoted his words to me expressing a sense of humor that only he had.

After visiting with my grandfather who died when I was an infant it wasn’t a vast leap of faith when I looked upon that old pouch to believe that it actually was the physical evidence of the restless earthbound spirit that reached out to two sensitive girls in 1848.

I took a picture of that pouch.
You can see it below:


But the image does nothing for you until you have exhaustively read their story from as many sources as you can.
If you have done that as I have, and then if you make the pilgrimage to Lily Dale and see it for yourself, well, the moment is nothing short of sacred.

I have read the story of the Fox sisters over and over in skeptical and believer accounts alike.
I believe it is one of the defining stories of history.

The best telling of the story of the Fox sisters is, in my opinion, The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox by Nancy Rubin Stuart. Once I picked that book up I could not put it down. Even if you don’t believe, Ms. Stuart presents a very human portrait of a remarkable Victorian woman, a story I’m sure you will find challenges you to be more tolerant, more loving, and more understanding.

I will not attempt to outshine Ms. Stuart here.
I’m not a historian.
I am a story teller.
I love to embellish but I will do my best in these entries to keep my proclivity for embellishment in check.

Emotional impact is more important to me than facts.
That does not mean that I will ignore or make up facts.
What it does mean is that in the telling of the tales I will tell I am going to exercise poetic license so that you will feel what I feel.
It is the emotion I am trying to convey.
The story of Katie and Maggie has had a profound impact on my life and it is that impact I hope to share more than facts figures, and dates.

Margaret Fox (also called Maggie) born: 1833, died: 1893.
Kate Fox born: 1837, died: 1892.

The year was 1848.
Kate was 12.
Maggie was 15.
Their family had just moved to a farmhouse in Hydesville, New York.

Hydesville is to the Spiritualist what Azusa Street is to the Pentecostal or Rome to the Catholic although today the Rome of Spiritualism is almost certainly Lily Dale so let’s go with Hydesville is the Bethlehem of the story of Spiritualism, the birth in a humble manger.

Pictured below is the farm house, the Fox home, the first of the modern haunts, and the birthplace of Modern Spiritualism:


If you are well read in the paranormal you might recognize the pattern already but remember this was the first scientifically investigated case – the pattern setter.
It wasn’t “oh yea I know this story” then for there was no precedent at least not in the way it unfolded with direct two-way communication, an investigation by the best minds in the area, and the search for verifying evidence.

The house was haunted by the restless earthbound spirit of a man murdered.

He had come to call on previous owners hoping to make a sale.
They murdered him for the few dollars he carried on his person and buried his body in the basement.

When a person’s spirit is suddenly separated from their body it is not uncommon for the spirit to find itself in a state of confusion.

Have you seen the Sixth Sense or Passengers?
Both films deal effectively with the theme.

Charles B. Rosna was confused, lost, and possibly frightened.
He might not have known he was dead at least not for a time but he knew by the time he reached out to Maggie and Kate.

He wanted his story known and now an obscure peddler from the nineteenth century will never be forgotten.


A community engaged, a time ripe for the first scientific investigation of a haunt.
Haunts have been since the dawn of time. But they were not rigorously studied until 1848.

The skeptics and critics forget that what these girls were subjected to.

They forget that they were strip searched, that men of science held on to their legs and feet because they suspected “toe cracking” and yet the raps came not from anywhere near the girls but from all over. When spirit manifests physically it is like that. It comes from everywhere and nowhere.

A struggling family finds a new home, a humble farmhouse in upstate New York.
The family is devoutly Christian that is why the girls name their mysterious visitor Mr. Splitfoot, one with a cloven foot, the devil. In the Christian mind the devil is the root cause of such disturbances but the Fox family, their neighbors, and soon the world would learn that there is continuity to life, that the dead can communicate if we listen.

It is cold in upstate New York at the end of March but not as cold as it was when the manifestations came.

The little girls could see their breath.
It was a chill that went straight to the bone.

They hear a rapping on the walls.
Not a soft tap like the knock of a friendly neighbor on a door.
This is a pounding like the house itself is crying out in pain.
They run to their parent’s room.
They are not safe there.
The rapping continues, night after night, louder and louder.

John, their father, checks the house for loose shingles by the light of day.
By the light of day the rapping seems less otherworldly, more the result of a lose shingle, so he checks, he fixes, he works but still when the sun sets and the lights go out, the rapping continues.

The girls try to sleep in their own room.
They want to be brave.
They want to have faith.
But one night there is more than a rap on the wall.
One night while they sat snuggled together in bed listening to the raps, a cold hand reached out through the darkness and touched Kate on her face.
Once again they run for the sanctuary of their parents.
This time when a rap comes John hits the wall in return.
A rap follows.
So John hits the wall again.
Another rap follows.

“Here, Mr. Splitfoot,” Kate says, “Do as I do.”
And the first modern medium was born.

She snapped her fingers once.
There was one rap.
She snapped twice and there were two.

“Now Mr. Splitfoot, answer one rap for yes, two for no are you a human spirit?”

One rap was his answer.
As this communication developed John ran for neighbors.
Late at night as it was they came.
The house was full of witnesses as the young women engaged in their first interactive exchange with a disembodied human spirit.

Some reports say that someone made a letter board.
I have only read this in one account but if it is true then I would argue that Ouija was born on the very same day as Modern Spiritualism.
When they touched the right letter they received an affirmative rap and by this tedious means of communication the entire neighborhood learned the story of Charles B. Rosna.

Some members of the community had been in the community for some time and they remembered the peddler.
The peddler told them where his body was buried.
Providing evidence is one way to know the communication is authentic but when John and some of the neighbors dug in the basement the next day they did not find a body. They did find a bone fragment that was believed to be from a human skull but no body, no pouch.

The girls were moved out of the house but curiously the rapping followed them.
Rosna wanted his story told; he wanted a sense of resolution so he could move on.
Why would he follow the girls?

My guess is he didn’t follow the girls.
He chose to reach out to them because he knew they were sensitive and receptive.
When his story was told, he moved on so where did the raps come from?

I think they came from other spirits who wanted to use the receptive girls to communicate.
Soon the girls were giving demonstrations in large halls.
Their reputation grew as did their skill.
They became the first of the modern mediums exploring uncharted territory and paving the way for the rest of us.

By Nov of 1849 they were touring the eastern part of the United States.

It was in 1888 that Maggie made her infamous “confession.” As I mentioned earlier she was penniless and alcoholic but what I didn’t mention was that her sister Kate was struggling to maintain custody of her own children. Maggie’s confession may have been motivated by money but it might just as easily have been motivated by the desire to take the pressure off of her sister.

In any case it wasn’t long before Maggie realized her mistake and attempted to retract it.

Maggie dies in 1893.
Her sister Kate preceded her in death in 1892.

The Fox sisters as adults:


In 1904 some children were playing in the basement of the crumbling ruins of the Fox home.
A wall collapsed.
The human remains of Charles B. Rosna were found less his skull along with his peddler’s pouch.
The story was published in the Boston Journal.

The Fox home was moved to the grounds of Lily Dale where it remained until it tragically burned to the ground.
All that remains now of their actual home is a meditation garden where it once stood at Lily Dale.


I spent some time there reflecting on the story of the Fox sisters when I visited Lily Dale.

Today in Hydesville over the foundation where the Fox home once stood, there is a museum dedicated to their story.

Much love,