Directions On How To Use the Ouija Board

"Place the board upon the knees of two persons, lady and gentleman preferred, with the small table upon the board. Place the fingers lightly but firmly, without pressure, upon the table so as to allow it to move easily and freely. In from one to five minutes the tablet will commence to move, at first slowly, then faster, and will be then able to talk or answer questions, which it will do rapidly by touching the printed words or the letters necessary to form words and sentences with the foreleg or pointer.

2nd - Care should be taken that one person only should ask questions at a time, so as to avoid confusion, and the questions should be put plainly and accurately.

3rd - To obtain the best results it is important that the persons present should concentrate their minds upon the matter in question and avoid other topics. Have no one at the table who will not sit seriously and respectfully. If you use it in a frivolous spirit, asking ridiculous questions, laughing over it, you naturally get undeveloped influences around you.

4th - The Ouija is a great mystery, and we do not claim to give exact directions for its management, neither do we claim that at all times and under all circumstances it will work equally well. But we do claim and guarantee that with reasonable patience and judgment it will more than satisfy your greatest expectation."

5th - In putting the table together wet the tops of the legs, and drive them firmly into the table. Care should be taken that they are firm and tight. 6th - The board should be kept smooth and free from dust and moisture, as all depends upon the ease with which the feet of the table can glide over the surface of the board. Rubbing with a dry silk handkerchief just before use is advised.

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These were the instructions printed on the back of the Ouija Board in 1902 by William Fuld. They must have worked pretty well because they've been copied and recycled by countless talking board manufacturers ever since. The idea is a simple one: you and a friend touch the planchette and it mysteriously moves from letter to letter to spell out messages from unknown entities. The planchette appears to have a mind of its own, or is the board? Some say it's the spirits, others say it's the user's own subconscious movements. The Ouija board is controversial and not the least apologetic about it. But the number one argument with the Ouija board isn't why or how it works, it's that many times it doesn't work at all, especially if one tries it without a partner. Fortunately, with a little information and practice almost anyone can use a talking board, and that includes the majority of you who have tried before and failed.

It's important to mention that the success of your séance—that's what we call a Ouija session, depends entirely upon your attitude and how seriously you approach the matter. This is as true today as it was when William Fuld cautioned against "asking ridiculous questions and laughing over it," and it bears repeating. Decide first what you would like the Ouija board to do for you. Ouija boards have an interesting way of reflecting the mental attitudes of the users by responding accordingly. If you want it to act wacky, or have it scare your pants off, the Ouija will not disappoint. If, however, you are looking for a meaningful experience, the Ouija board can offer that also. It's completely up to you.

Gaining any new skill requires practice and patience. This is as true for talking boards as it is for bicycling or juggling. We are amazed at the people who try the Ouija for all of about three minutes then loudly proclaim, "it doesn't work!" Imagine if you tried to drive a car that way. If at first you don't succeed, give it a rest then go back and try it again. Expect it to take a little while.

Make sure that your surroundings are conducive to a good Ouija session. There should be no distractions or interruptions of any kind. Turn off the television and radio. Get away from the screaming kids, friends, whatever. Good places to use Ouija boards are bedrooms, closets, cozy attics, empty fields under the stars, cemeteries, lonely wind swept beaches, just about anyplace where it is private and quiet.

Opening and closing rituals are neither essential nor necessarily traditional but they might enhance your Ouija experience, particularly if you enjoy ceremony. Regardless of what you may have heard, there is no "one true way" to ritualize. Your "own true way" is best. Recite poems, speak power words, intone spirit invocations, or sing songs that are meaningful to you. Surround yourself with candles if you're so inclined. Above all, "personalize" your session. If you want to cover your board with amulets to protect yourself from the "unfriendlies," go ahead and do it. There are no rules to the contrary. Do whatever gets you in the mood. No mind altering chemicals, though! Wear something comfortable yet special to the occasion.

Sit with the board balanced securely on your lap or on the table before you. Make sure you have adequate back support so that you don't topple over at an inopportune moment. Place your fingertips (index and middle) lightly on the planchette. Take a quiet moment to empty your mind of unnecessary thoughts. Relax your body and mind. This is more about revelation than concentration. No need to get all knotted up inside. Spirits don't bite . . . much.

Ask the Ouija: "Is anyone there?" or ask an intelligent question out loud. This is more important than it seems. You can't expect whatever entity you are addressing to respond if you don't ask properly. As obvious as this is, you would be surprised at the number of people who sit with the Ouija and just stare at the board. Asking questions of the board is what it's all about. Not asking and expecting an answer is like standing at a neighbor's door and not knocking. Not much happens and you get chilly waiting.

With your fingers in the proper position, give the planchette a few moments to work by itself. If nothing happens or it acts "asleep," very lightly slide it around the board in a circular motion. Now here comes the tricky part, so listen up, especially if you plan on working without a partner. As you are circling the Ouija, try to distance yourself mentally from the movement on the board. In other words, try to be a spectator as the planchette moves through the letters. You're supposed to be watching things happen—not making them happen. That "other something" is supposed to kick in right about now and you don't want to be consciously forcing the planchette. It's a conscious-unconscious state that you are trying to achieve and it's going to take a little practice. It's like rubbing your belly and patting your head—you have to learn to do it without thinking, otherwise you'll get all mixed up. And don't over analyze this technique. This isn't some arcane mumbo-jumbo we're talking about here. It's a simple mental skill that's very easy to learn. You probably do it already when you drive your car or peel a potato. You don't think consciously about the details as you're performing every little movement.

Once you've distanced yourself properly, you're going to get the "feeling" that the planchette "wants" to stop at certain letters. This "feeling" isn't a bolt from the blue; rather it's a subtle, intuitive thought that "this is the right place to stop." Let this happen and be sure to remember the letters. Beginner sessions sometimes move very slowly. If you think you may have difficulty remembering, it's perfectly OK to take notes using a pencil and paper. You may wish to do this anyway. The Ouija board doesn't always use perfect language and may return abbreviated words and phrases and even misspellings. Nonsensical expressions and sentence fragments may have meaning when you think about them and view your notepad later. After you've gained some expertise, your planchette will fly around the board and you will have no trouble understanding the messages. Remember that we said to glide the planchette "gently." You can't be ham-fisted about this. Use just two fingertips (index and middle) of each hand. If the planchette repeatedly cycles to the pictures on the board or returns complete gibberish, traditionally this would mean that the board is not cooperating, "try again later." It also may mean that you are simply not in the right frame of mind or are trying too hard. "Try again later," is what you want to do.

It's important to mention that the "mysterious nature" of the Ouija board isn't always mysterious or even very obvious to some of us. Beginners are sometimes perplexed when the message indicator sits there like a stone and refuses to glide merrily to and fro around the board. Sometimes the planchette needs a little help and this makes sense when you think about it. If the planchette was so terrific at moving by itself then it wouldn't need you or anybody else touching it. If you subscribe to the spiritualist theory, the spirit presumably needs a "vessel" with hands to move the planchette and eyes to see the letters. If you're an ideomotor theory believer and think you're moving it subconsciously by yourself, the same thing applies. That subconscious of yours might need a little conscious help. Otherwise it may stay un-conscious for quite a long time. So it's completely acceptable to give the planchette a little push. If things don't happen pretty quickly, go ahead and circle the board with it. A figure eight is fine. Eights are considered unlucky after "Wild Bill" Hickok's death hand of aces and eights. Somehow this superstition has found its way into Ouija lore. Don't worry about it unless you're a gunfighter and are using your Ouija board in Deadwood, South Dakota.

With practice, the planchette will spell out coherent messages. When we say, "practice," we mean practice as in "do it over and over." If you give up after twenty minutes, you're not going to have much success with the Ouija, or with anything else for that matter. Try it for thirty minutes a day for two weeks. If it still doesn't work then maybe talking boards are not for you. Good luck and happy Séance.

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