Archive for July, 2014

1919 Voices from the Void; Six Years’ Experience in Automatic Communications by Hester Travers Smith

“Voices from the Void” was published in 1919. In her book, Hester describes the conditions under which her spirt board experiments were conducted. This book should be the gold standard against which all spirit board experiments are measured. It is my primary inspiration as a spirit board user and I believe it is the best book every written on best practices with the board.


At least three people were in attendance at every session. Two sat at the table, their fingers on the planchette. The two operators were both blindfolded. At least one other person was on hand. That person did not interfere with the board but was allowed to ask questions of the entities manifesting through the board. The operators were often not given clues to the contents of communications until after the session had concluded.

Sometimes, after blindfolding the operators, the third person would scramble the letters. Hester used letters under glass, not a standard board. She frequently had the letters mixed and she relied on blindfolds in an attempt to factor out operator intrusion.

Her team met twice weekly for at least a year in or around1914. They asked specific questions of the personalities that came through, specific so that the facts could be verified. They wanted clear evidence of the continuity of life. Sadly she was lied to so many times by the entities that came through spirit board communication that she concluded that, “I would not make any effort to speak to the beloved dead through…the Ouija board.” Based on her studies, she said, “The chances against genuine communication are ten to one.”

Hester and her team did not set out to contact “the beloved dead.” Instead they set out to contact whosoever will with the hope that they could gather enough facts about the person’s life to prove their existence. In a few cases Hester believed she was successful but in the vast majority of her attempts, she met with lies and deception.

“Voices from the Void” is a must-read for anyone contemplating serious experiments with the board.

Much love,


Jack the Ripper

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Jack the Ripper

As a rule I want the atmosphere and energy of Vintage Paranormal to be positive and encouraging. Serial killers don’t generally conjure warm feelings when we reflect upon them but if you are fascinated with the Victorian age sooner or later you will come face to face with this criminal.


His or her identity continues to elude even the finest investigators of every era since the Ripper walked the streets of Whitechapel. My purpose for bringing the Ripper into this discussion is not to speculate on who-done-it, but to consider the impact these crimes had not only on Victorian culture but on our own.

For the Victorians of England the Ripper was an embarrassment. Whitechapel was a slum of the worse kind. Rats and feces filled the streets. Crime was rampant and in many respects unrestrained, and Whitechapel was the home of several immigrant populations.

When the murders gained world attention, the attention of the world was brought to Whitechapel and the Queen was embarrassed. She wanted the murders solved if for no other reason than to silence the criticism that began to circulate because of the horrendous living conditions in Whitechapel.

Activist like Annie Besant flocked to the area to protest for social change and spiritualists offered their services to a bewildered police force but in the autumn of 1888 the killings didn’t stop until the grand finale of Mary Kelly on November 9, 1888.

Of particular interest to me are the theories of Aleister Crowley, Neil Storey, and more indirectly Judith Flanders.

In his book, Jack the Ripper and Black Magic, Spiro Dimolianis said that “Crowley had a theory that the Whitechapel murderer was engaged in sorcery and enchantments to such a degree that he was able to become invisible and thus escape the policemen’s vigilance in the alley.”

At first glance this theory sounds ridiculous but Crowley was alive and living in England at the time of the murders, he is one of history’s foremost authorities on the occult in general and on the darker side in particular, the Ripper murdered and completed complex surgical operations literally under the nose of the police, and there was never an eye witness to any one of the killings.

I did my own investigation of magical practices that might shed light in these killings and found that the organs extracted are sometimes used in ritual practice and sometimes for the purpose of giving the magician influence over the minds of others or powers beyond the natural.

In his book, The Dracula Secrets: Jack the Ripper and the Darkest Sources of Bram Stoker, Neil Storey demonstrates the inspirational connection between the real life Ripper and the fictional Dracula. Neil says, “It is no mere coincidence that Stoker had Dracula venturing into the East End of London.”

Finally, Judith Flanders in her book, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime argued that “murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, with cold blooded killings transformed into novels, broadsides, ballads, opera, and melodrama….The founders of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens’s Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes.”

So when you enjoy your favorite crime drama or watch your favorite serial killer movie or read your favorite suspense thriller remember Jack, the vicious and mysterious Victorian killer who started it all.

Much love,


Book Review: The Ouija Book by Gina Covina

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Book Review: The Ouija Book by Gina Covina

As an avid Ouija collector I believe I have almost every book ever written on the spirit board in my collection and I have read each one. If I don’t have a book it is either because I don’t know of its existence or because it is out of print and I have not as yet found a copy.

Of all the books I have ever read on the subject of the spirit board, The Ouija Book by Gina Covina is in the top two rivaled only by Hester Smith’s Voices from the Void (1919). The Ouija Book was published by Simon and Schuster in 1979. As far as I know The Ouija Book is out of print but you can still find copies with relative ease and, as of this writing, the out-of-print copies are not astronomically expensive.


Gina’s approach is pragmatic. She wants to share her enthusiasm for the use of the board just as Hester Smith did before her so the book focuses on use as opposed to history or methods of manufacture.

Gina is also not “occult heavy.” Once again, like Hester, Gina’s approach is objective and clear. An example of an occult heavy book would be Aleister Crowley and the Ouija Board by J. Edward Cornelius. Edward elevates the use of the board to the level of ceremonial magic. There isn’t a trace of ceremonial magic in Gina’s book making it user friendly for the novice.

Another element that I love about The Ouija Book is that Gina explores the various purposes for which she has used the board as a tool. If you thought the board was only for spirit communication you will be amazed with the wide variety of applications Gina has personal experience with.

With her board, a standard store bought Ouija, Gina has explored her past and future lives, she has asked questions of historical significance, she has located missing objects and persons, she has explored the depths of her own unconscious mind, she has used the board to communicate telepathically with friends, she has used it to communicate with plant and animal life, and she has used it to interpret or help recall dreams. And the list I just gave you is not comprehensive but representative.

There is also a chapter on the hazards of employing the board as a tool called, “Oracular Hazards.” I love the title of the chapter because the hazards most often associated with the board are not exclusive to the board. Anyone who ventures into occult territory does so with some risk. The better we understand these risks the better enabled we are to mitigate against them.

In her chapter on hazards she tells the sobering story of her friend’s suicide. In introducing this story she says, “at the risk of frightening a few people away from the Ouija board entirely, I’ll bring out the most extreme illustration I know of the hazards of Ouija literalism. Jane…began to use the Ouija board at an empty, lonely time in her life….Ouija told Jane that she deserved a far better situation than the one in which she found herself….Since the board’s words always amplified her own perceptions, offered her solace, and acknowledged her worth to a degree no one else did, the game quickly became her most trusted friend….soon she was spending hours alone with her Ouija “spirits.”

“The Ouija board told Jane that she was a goddess….her unhappiness came from trying to live with mere humans when she really was a goddess. Her troubles would end if she would come and live with the gods…. If Jane truly believed in Ouija spirits, they told her, she should prove it by taking her gun from the drawer and shooting herself. She did.”

Gina’s “lesson” from this tragedy was that the messages Jane was receiving “were not evil in themselves, but were telling her with the strongest possible metaphors that she desperately needed to begin her life again.”

Personally I found the story of Jane a tragedy.

The lesson for me is that users need to evaluate their mental state before they engage the board or any other divinatory device. If such devices do indeed mirror or reflect back to us in an amplified manner our own subliminal affective states than we must know ourselves thoroughly and completely before we can hope to discern between what is and is not in our best interest or the best interests of those around us.

Much love,


Inspiration Stump

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Inspiration Stump

At 1:00 pm I attended a service at inspiration stump.
This would be my first formal Spiritualist Service and there was much I needed to learn.

Inspiration Stump is at the edge of town.
There is a sign with an arrow leading to a wooded path.


The walk down that narrow dirt path is not short and for those of us alone and new to Lily Dale, it can be a bit disconcerting to wander down a quiet path through the woods not knowing when or where it will end or what exactly we will find when we get there.


From: Lily Dale Assembly 
Accessed on Friday, July 04, 2014

“Inspiration Stump is a spiritual retreat found at the end of the calm and quiet trail of the Leolyn Woods. It is not unusual to become more aware of the spiritual energies while in this open and receptive state at the Stump. You are invited to participate in the services held twice a day in the grove at no charge.

“Demonstrations of mediumship are presented by the mediums giving short messages to those in the audience. These services have been held since 1898.”


From: Gerberink
Accessed on Friday, July 04, 2014

“Inspiration Stump is one of the biggest draws for people when they visit Lily Dale, New York. This stump, located deep in Leolyn Woods, is the place where people commune with nature and if they’re lucky, receive a spirit message from one of the practicing mediums. The mediums that give messages to the crowd at Inspiration Stump may hail from anywhere in the world, be young, or old, seasoned veterans or students giving messages for the first time. All they need to have is a desire to give someone a message from beyond that will heal a wounded soul and giving individuals hope that a loved one is doing well in the spirit world.

“Inspiration Stump is exactly what it sounds like- one very large, old stump in the middle of Leolyn Woods. This stump has been where mediums have stood for over a century when they deliver messages from the spirit world. The stump stands resolute in front of benches that can accommodate approximately 300 people at one time. Mediums will deliver messages at the stump during Lily Dale’s summer season twice daily, at no charge. However, it is important to note that the medium will pick you if they are guided to do so; you cannot raise your hand and ask to be given a message.

“The stump has been a fixture in Lily Dale society since 1898. It is believed to be an energy vortex in the community. Participants in the message services report that they feel an unusual power when sitting in the clearing around the stump, and that they have clearer visions and are able to meditate or commune with spirits much more easily here than anywhere else.

“Today, Inspiration Stump stands surrounded by a metal gate and is no longer stood upon during message services. It is treated with reverence and serves as a gentle reminder of the early days of Lily Dale. Mediums now stand in front of the stump and deliver their messages, often walking between the rows of benches and speaking directly with the intended recipients.”

Apparently near the turn of the last century mediums stood on the stump to deliver messages.
Today the stump is a sacred place in Modern Spiritualism but the energy in the area is the most intense I have experienced anywhere.

I felt it the moment I entered the woods.
It might have been the intense hush but it felt as if I was transitioning to another world.
By the time I reached the small clearing where there were wooded benches and of course the stump, the sense of Spirit was physical.
I’d like to say it was like the reverence that comes over me when I walk into a traditional church with a high cathedral ceiling and stained glass windows but it was so much more palpable.

Tall trees provided both a sanctuary feel and a natural canopy.
I walked up to the now gated stump, took a few images and then started looking for a place to sit.


If the area sat 300 then 300 were in attendance because there was standing room only.

As the service began my intent was to record with images all that transpired.
I was not the only one with a clicking camera but we were all politely reminded that what we were about to engage in was a religious service and that we should be respectful and refrain from using our cameras.

I put my camera away.

The first medium stood in front of the stump, raised her hand toward a person near me and asked, “May I come to you?”

The person near me was almost in tears already.
She said, “Yes.”

The medium disclosed specific details about lost objects that belonged to the one on the other side.
This person had been searching for them.
The medium told her where to find them.

I applauded.
The host, not the medium, stood, and politely asked me not to applaud.

Many mediums and many messages followed, each with the same level of specificity and accuracy. I wanted to cheer but didn’t.

Real mediums aren’t show people.
They are motivated by love not by ego and they treat what they do with reverence and respect.

To say that I was changed by this first encounter would be an understatement.

Much love,