A Curious Connection

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

A Curious Connection

Many of the classics of modern channeled literature began on the Ouija board. Most quickly progressed from the board to automatic writing or to full trance mediumship or sometimes both.

In a sense “sacred” literature has always been channeled. This is what religious people mean when they say that their holy book was given by “inspiration.” I can hear the upset in some people with that statement so please allow me to clarify: It is not my intention to place contemporary channeled books in the same class as holy writing. It is my intention however to establish the importance of the Ouija board in modern channeled literature.

The channeled books by Pearl Lenore Curran (February 15, 1883 – December 4, 1937) are no doubt the most extensive and on a personal level, I find the case of Patience Worth the most compelling and interesting of all modern channeled literature. The relationship, the deep resonance and what I would call friendship shared by Pearl, the receiver, and Patience, the sender, is compelling on its own account but I also appreciate that Patience focused on literature as opposed to attempting to “enlighten” those of us on this side.

Pearl Curran

Pearl of course began with the board but progressed to automatic writing only when the board simply could not keel the pace.

Pearl had been meeting with a friend for Ouija sessions. Remember this was before Facebook, in fact, it was before television so people actually came together to spend time with each other. On July 8, 1913, the board came to life and that life said, “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name.” And so began the most interesting collection of channeled work ever assembled.

Our Unseen Guest first published February 1920 by “Joan and Darby” (pseudonyms adopted to protect the identity of the actual authors), was also begun on the Ouija board.


“Our first experience with psychic phenomena occurred on the evening of December 7, 1916 by way of an Ouija-board. Neither Joan nor I had ever seen an Ouija-board before. The “toy” came into our hands quite by accident.

“We were taking our dinners at a private boarding-house some blocks from the apartment building in which we lived. On the evening in question a sudden storm blew off the lake, while we were at table, and after the meal Joan and I wandered into a deserted sitting-room to wait until the wind and sleet abated. There one of the resident guests had left the Ouija, a remnant doubtless of some Halloween party.

“How does the thing work?” Joan asked. I read the directions; we rested the board, whereon the alphabet was printed in two semicircles, upon our knees, and put the tips of our fingers on the flatiron-like pointer.

“Now,” said I, “this tripod affair is supposed to move from letter to letter, spelling out a message.”

“Thus we sat for a period—ten minutes, perhaps. We joked, I remember, of the good fortunes Ouija would tell us. But no message came. Then, just as we were about to give up, the tripod began to move.

“Quality of consciousness,” it spelled. A pause—then, once more, “Quality of consciousness.”

“Who are you?” I asked, addressing the empty air.

“I am Robert L, an American,” the tripod spelled…” and that is how the adventure that would become one of the great books of Spiritualist history began.

The Betty Book by Stewart Edward White 1937, also started with an Ouija session. The Betty Book is required reading by Morris Pratt, the Modern Spiritualist correspondence class. It documents the “excursions made into the World of Other-Consciousness” by Betty, Stewart’s wife, between 1919 and 1936.


From the book, “In the early nineteen-twenties a great many popular “psychic” books were published. A number of them had real value. A regrettable majority were more or less feeble and undigested accounts of alleged personal “communications.” These evidenced an extraordinary credulity on the one side, and an equally extraordinary ineptitude on the other,-providing one accepted their major premise of origin. Most of them began with an Ouija board.

“The procedure was almost standard. Two people-or a group-fooling with the thing as a lark or out of curiosity. It moves. It becomes coherent. It spells out “messages.”

“That was the start, the “take-off.” What happened after that depended on the people involved. The subsequent proceedings ranged from the “communications” of pure spiritualism to speculative philosophy. Nine in ten of them were spoiled for any serious consideration by what might be called the awed approach that inhibited any commonsense editorial appraisal. This was a pity. After a time even those especially interested in such things became inclined to shy off from “another Ouija board book.” Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that the Ouija board may take honorable place with Sir Isaac Newton’s apple, Watt’s teakettle, Benjamin Franklin’s kite and other historic playthings which have led to many great results.

“This is such a book. It too started with an Ouija board, but it does not linger on that phase. The first experience with it followed standard lines. It would not be worth telling had it not an integral connection with Betty’s coming into the picture.

“In any research work it is always important to know the equipment of the experimenter. Before March 17, 1919, my own “occult” background might, I suppose, have been called average for a man who had lived an active life. That is to say, I had paid such matters very little attention; and had formed no considered opinions on them one way or another. By way of unconsidered opinion I suppose I would, if called upon to express myself, have taken my stand on the side of skepticism….The literature on the subject was totally unknown to me, except for Hudson’s LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA, which I had read in college twenty-five years before. A few “queer” things had happened to me, as to most. I had had some experience with such phenomena as the swift transmission of news by savages across wide wastes of sparsely inhabited country.

“These incidents, and especially this transmission of news, I had been unable to explain by any theory that covered the whole circumstances. But I did not try very hard to explain. I was too busy. Such things did not especially concern me. I did not have to explain them; any more than I had to insist on a detailed understanding of a trolley car before I would ride in it, or a chemical analysis of a cloud of saffron smoke just because I happened by and saw it. Nothing had happened really to catch my interest.

“As with numerous others, our interest in the Ouija board began quite casually. On the date I have mentioned, some friends called on us bringing one of these with them. They had bought it as a toy, to try out, without belief that anything in particular would happen to it. Somebody suggested that the heart-shaped indicator was a clumsy affair, so we substituted a small whiskey glass, upside down.

“The occasion was derisive and gay, and pretty muddled. It did not impress me much, but I agreed to try my turn provided my opposite would agree not to fake.

“The little glass moved, and without the slightest conscious volition on my part. That much I could determine. How far unconscious muscular action went, I could not for the moment decide. After a time whenever the glass moved away from me I let my fingers go limp and allowed the mechanism to pull them after it. It did so; and once or twice dragged the glass from under them. This was interesting. The force that moved that glass away from me was either an outside force, or my VIS-A-VIS. It certainly was not myself.

“Here was a peculiar unanalyzable movement of an inanimate object beneath our fingers. The fact that it spelled out simple sentences of whose purport we none of us had any conscious inkling was an entirely secondary consideration. For my part my main attention was concentrated on the feel of the thing under my fingers. It had, it seemed to me, a peculiar thrill of vitality; but I fully acknowledged to myself that such an effect might well have been imaginative, following a strained attention. It also seemed to me that its movements preceded rather than followed even the slight unconscious muscular pressures; but that too could not be certain….There was not a scrap of “evidential.” But once, in the middle of our laughter and buffooning, the glass moved with a sharp quick decision as though impatient, in striking contrast to its customary fumbling.

“Why do you ask foolish questions?” it spelled.

“Those sitting at the board denied having anything to do with this: it was too apropos! Nevertheless we suspected them, and they suspected each other.

“Next our attention was caught by the repeated spelling out of the name Betty. Now there was present a young woman nicknamed Betty. She was standing in front of the fireplace after a very brief trial at the board and a somewhat scornful trial at that. We insisted that she was being paged and that she must try again. She was reluctant, thinking this merely an attempt of those sitting to lure her back into the game, but finally yielded and took her place.

“Immediately her fingers touched the glass it began to move in circles. Around and around it went, faster and faster until she and her partner could hardly keep their fingers on it. So comically like a dog frisking in delight was it that we all burst into laughter.

“It’s glad to get Betty,” said we….

“Get a pencil,” it spelled, “Get a pencil,” insistently, over and over.

Betty had heard that there was such a thing as automatic writing, though she had no knowledge of it beyond the mere fact of its existence. Some days later, privately, she did “get a pencil,” and sat with it poised on a sheet of paper, her hand resting inert and her mental activity reduced to a mere question mark. The pencil began to move just as the whiskey glass had moved on the Ouija board.” And so began The Betty Book. Later in 1940 after Betty crossed over she communicated to the medium responsible for Our Unseen Guest and the two of them, Betty the sender and “Joan” the entranced receiver produced The Unobstructed Universe (1940).

The Unobstructed Universe would later inspire one of the great paranormal scientist of our time Susy Smith who herself would begin her career on the Ouija board.

Finally in 1972, Jane Roberts began to publish what is no known as the “Seth Material.”


From Seth Speaks, 1972, “My husband Rob, and I experimented with a Ouija board late in 1963. After the first few sessions, the pointer spelled out messages that claimed to come from a personality called Seth.

“Neither Rob nor I had any psychic background. When I began to anticipate the board’s replies, I took it for granted that they were coming from my subconscious. Not long after, however, I felt impelled to say the words aloud, and within a month I was speaking for Seth while in a trance state.”

So many books, so much influence, all from the humble beginnings of a night with an Ouija board.

Much love,

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