(Illustrated by Unknown Artist)

The recording above is part of the 1977 interview of 11 year old Janet Hodgson, by paranormal researcher Maurice Grosse. The odd gruff voice coming from the 11 year old girl, claimed to be that of deceased 72 year old man, Bill Wilkins.

August 1977, 284, Green Street, Brimsdown, Enfield, London, England. “It started in a back bedroom, the chest of drawers moved, and you could hear shuffling,” Janet Hodgson would recollect, some years after the incident in an interview. Upon hearing the sound of somewhat heavy furniture being moved about, Peggy (Margaret) Hodgson (mother of four) naturally assumed her children, were out of bed. The children insisted that the drawers were moving by themselves, Peggy Hodgson claimed she observed the chest of drawers moving along the floor, seemingly by its own accord. When Peggy attempted to push against the drawers, she discovered more resistance than the usual weight of the object, and was unable to move it from where it had traveled to.

Some of the children also claimed on the night of this primary incident, that they heard knocking coming from inside the walls of their shared bedroom. In a frantic and terrified state, Peggy Hodgson and four children, Margaret (13), Janet (11), Johnny (10) and Billy (7) fled from their home and went to their next-door neighbor’s home, that of Victor and Peggy (Margaret) Nottingham. Vic stated in numerous interviews afterward, he went over to the Hodgson’s home to investigate, “I went in there and I couldn’t make out these noises, there was a knocking on the wall, in the bedroom, on the ceiling, I was beginning to get a bit frightened.”

Following this first incident, the police were notified to investigate the Hodgson’s council home. It was during this home visit that Police Constable Carolyn Heeps witnessed a chair wobble and then slide, unable to determine the cause for its movement. Constable Heeps went on to signing an affidavit that she had assuredly witnessed an armchair levitate about one half of an inch off of the ground and move approximately four feet along the floor.

“I heard four distinct taps on the wall and then silence. Then about two minutes later I heard more tapping from a different wall, another PC checked the walls, the attic and the pipes but could find nothing to explain the knocking. Then the eldest son of the family pointed to a chair near the sofa. I then saw the chair slide across the floor. It moved approximately three to four feet and then came to rest. I checked the chair and I could find nothing to explain how it moved.”

—Police Constable Carolyn Heeps

Interest in the Enfield Poltergeist began to increase, the family made contact with the Society for Psychical Research. Led by paranormal investigator, Maurice Grosse, investigations were underway, attempting to assess and record the seemingly paranormal nature of the events.

In early November, 1977, Grosse confronted the presence in the living room: “As I asked the question, ‘Are you having a game with me?’ it threw the cardboard box and the pillow right in my face. I have actually seen, myself, marbles being thrown about. I have seen the door moving without any help. I have also experienced the reduction of temperature.”

Maurice Grosse, Society for Psychical Research

Over 18 months following the night the Hodgson family first fled from their home, there were approximately 30 people who witnessed something perceived as a paranormal (or inexplicable) incident at the Enfield residence. Individuals consisting of police, journalists, researchers, even several claims made by people on the street passing by the home witnessed unusual sights through the windows. These experiences ranged from peculiar knocks, loud noises, tapping banging on the walls of the home. Toys, small objects being thrown around the house, particularly the living room. Furniture moving about the home by itself, usually relatively short distances. Disembodied voices, inaudible speech from different areas of the home. Unusual and often drastic changes in perceivable temperature. Lastly, the sighting (and experience) of Janet Hodgson levitating.

Eventually the strangeness of the Enfield Poltergeist Incident came to its crescendo with 11 year old Janet Hodgson, acting as a vessel for the being(s) responsible for the ‘unusual activity’. A distorted, gruff voice barked from the young girl’s mouth claiming to be the spirit of Bill Wilkins. Bill Wilkins, through Janet, claims to be 72 years old, from Durant Graveyard. It goes on to explain that Bill lost the use of his eyes and eventually died in the home of 284, Green Street, Brimsdown, Enfield. Even going as far as stating that he passed away in a chair that was in the home when the Hodgson’s moved in.

“I felt used by a force that nobody understands. I really don’t like to think about it too much. I’m not sure the poltergeist was truly ‘evil’. It was almost as if it wanted to be part of our family. It didn’t want to hurt us. It had died there and wanted to be at rest. The only way it could communicate was through me and my sister.”

—Janet Hodgson

It was eventually confirmed that there was in fact a man named William (Bill) Charles Louis Wilkins residing in the Enfield home, until he passed away in 1963. However, he was 61 years old when he died, not 72 as claimed in the recording. Also, Janet/the spirit claim that he came from ‘Durants Graveyard’ in the interview, when Bill Wilkins was actually buried in Lavender Hill Cemetery a little further away from the Enfield home, than the nearby cemetery.

It’s these inconsistencies, along with some researchers believing the children, primarily Janet, were willfully deceiving everyone. Some investigators reported seeing Janet knocking on walls herself, bending spoons and behaving in a way that suggested she were attempting to sway the beliefs of those researching the event (some of this was caught on film). Janet essentially admitted in various interviews in the years afterwards, that she would play games during the long periods of testing to see if Maurice Grosse could be deceived, stating that he always caught her in her attempts. Claiming that her deception would have accounted for less than 2% of the paranormal events in their entirety. But 2% of an admission to willful deception is grounds for many people to disregard the entire incident.

“There were many bystanders who thought the family invented it all, using basic conjuring tricks, in order to get a new and better council house. But although Mrs Hodgson was a single mother with four children, Roz Morris disputes this possible motivation: “She had a good house, as far as she was concerned, and in fact she stayed in it – that’s where she died in 2003.” The journalist admits that at the beginning she herself was extremely skeptical and looking out for any ways in which “trickery” could be involved, but she found Mrs Hodgson to be sincere and undoubtedly “very frightened”. Richard Crosse rules out a financial motive: “They never made any money out of it.” Graham Morris backs this up, maintaining that “cheque book journalism” simply didn’t exist in those days.”


With the media circus dispersing, by 1978 a priest is said to have visited the home, after which, according to Janet Hodgson, the events settled down. But they didn’t end entirely, Peggy and Janet’s youngest brother Billy lived in the home until Peggy (Janet’s mother) passed away, allegedly in the same chair that Bill Wilkins passed away in. Billy and Peggy claimed that you always felt as though you were being watched inside that house.

So the last of the Hodgson’s left the home, Janet Hodgson claiming to this day that the events were not only legitimate, but all began after she and her sister Margaret had played with a Ouija board.

Strangely, after the home was momentarily uninhabited, the next inhabitants learned the story might not have been entirely over. One family in particular, Clare Bennett and her children, found they too felt as though they were constantly being watched inside the Enfield home. Voices and knocking would consistently awake the family during the night. When Clare’s son Shaka (15) began to awake to an apparition of a man entering his bedroom, and unusual experiences seemed to escalate once more. The Bennett’s left the home two months after moving in.

Whose to say if the current inhabitants have experienced anything unusual, when looking at the property on google maps, the words ‘JESUS HOUSE’ appear on one of the windows. Whether legitimately haunted, or an elaborate ruse, strange events have unfolded within the walls of 284, Green Street, Brimsdown, Enfield.

EDWARD ᴛᴏʟᴅ ᴍᴇ

(Illustrated by Gordon Van Dusen)

This is a story of two possible realities. One reality, is that of one of the worst cases of neglect and untreated mental illness I have ever heard. The other reality, is that of an elderly woman being tortured by forces not of this world. This story took place in a very small isolated community in New South Wales, Australia during the 1990s. There was a great deal of embarrassment and grief surrounding the events, so every name used is purposefully false to protect the privacy of those involved. The story came to me by way of someone who had family members directly involved and who had himself claimed to have witnessed some of the unusual events that took place.

In the year 1996, a 73 year old man named Edward Allan Taylor lay dying in a public hospital bed with emphysema. Aside him, the entirety of his short stay in hospital (this time) sat his wife of 50 years, Irene Taylor. Unable to have children and estranged from what family she had left, Irene was entirely invested in Ed as a husband and her soul remaining family. By the time Edward had passed away Irene had actually partially blinded herself from her crying so much, flaring up a preexisting eye condition.

Luckily for Irene, despite losing her husband and having no family to turn to, she did have friends. Immediately a vigilant support group formed around Irene in her hour of need, her friends wouldn’t leave her side. For several months they continued to successfully persuade her to stay as a guest in their homes and each did their part to aide her in her grief.

During this time, however, in the late 90s in Australia, all over the world and even ongoing today, there was a growing interest among certain communities in tarot cards, psychic readings, past life regressions and general “new age” spiritualism. Irene’s friends, many of the women over 50 in her community had taken an interest in this sort of thing. Irene was particularly fascinated and comforted by the concept of being able to commune with the spiritual world.

Eventually Irene felt comfortable returning to her home and became fixated on becoming a “psychic conduit” to be able to perform readings for her friends and attempt to communicate with her deceased husband, Edward. To begin with, it seemed as though having a new interest was a useful tool to help Irene get over her grief and move on with her life. It was also remarked that as far as “psychics” go, Irene wasn’t half bad. She (allegedly) made several accurate predictions that earned her a decent enough reputation as a medium, as far as that goes in a very isolated, small Australian town anyway.

It wasn’t until Irene made one specific claim that suspicions began to rise. She said to one of her friends (the mother of the source of this story) that she knew she would have a wonderful holiday in Fiji. What was interesting about this claim is that while she did accurately predict an “anticipated” holiday, it had been since discussed and canceled for various reasons prior to the visit/reading. Others also were discovering that it appeared as though Irene had an insight into current, unforeseen events, more so than actually predicting events to come.

Upon discovering the unusual nature of Irene’s predictions, it also became apparent that Irene was leaving her home less and less. It was upon this seemingly subtle, inconsequential revelation that some of her friends began to question Irene’s methods and behavior. Irene, laughing and clapping her hands, as though she was letting her friends in on some grand deception admitted to them, that she had made a connection with a spiritual entity which had been providing her with guidance and secret information. The spiritual entity, being the spirit of her deceased husband, Edward Allan Taylor.

Irene claimed that Edward had reached out to her from across the void and that she didn’t have to be alone, not if she didn’t want him to go. Irene’s friends took varying stances on this belief. Some thought it was wonderful Irene felt she made this connection with her deceased husband, others thought it was an unhealthy deviation from her grieving process. A few tried to persuade her to return to more conventional spiritual guidance and start going to church with them again on Sundays.

The mood had soured somewhat, suddenly the psychic readings didn’t feel so enchanting and mystical, but rather eerie and unsettling. As months passed, Irene slowly isolated herself from her group of friends. She was suspicious of everyone she knew, became secretive and detached. Trivial arguments began to arise, she was uncharacteristically hostile. Her appearances in the community grew fewer and fewer still. One by one, her once loyal friends reluctantly began to give up on her.

The concern grew too much for one of her friends to bear, months had passed with no word from Irene. She had stopped answering her telephone, makeshift curtains layered the windows blocking out the light of the outside world. Fearing for the worst, Elizabeth (the mother of the source of this story) called her son (the actual source of this story) to accompany her at Irene’s home, in fear of what she might discover.

After spending several hours tapping on windows, banging on doors and walls to no response, the decision was made. Dan kicked the door in and immediately recoiled to cough and gag. The stench, he said, was utterly unbearable. He noted an array of flying insects even flew out of the home, the moment the door was breached. Struggling to cover their nostrils and mouths to dampen the stench, Dan and his mother explored the filthy domicile.

Dan admitted that he may have been mistaken during the exhilaration and confusion of entering the home where he expected to discover a dead body, but he claimed that he felt as though several objects were thrown at him from various directions. One object being a drinking glass which shattered when it struck the hardwood floor. Elizabeth began tearing down the makeshift layers of curtains, until light began to pierce into the house. She went about opening as many windows and doors as she could as she called out to Irene. Upon flicking the light switches it became apparent that the bulbs in the light fittings had all been burst.

As the fresh air of the outside world blew down the hall into the darkest back room of the home, Dan and his mother Elizabeth heard what sounded like a heated discussion between two distinct voices, one male, one female. As they quickly made their way toward the back room, her screaming began. An agonizing wail shrieked, as though she was being physically tortured by some unseen presence. Dan said he thought he heard a myriad of obscene whispers surround him as he looked down at the sight before him. When Elizabeth got to the room, as all she said was “Oh, God!” and began to cry in horror. Elizabeth grasped the blankets covering the window in the back room and Irene shrieked, “NO!”

Dan helped his mother pull the curtain down, and upon realizing it was a fixed window, the stench was so unthinkably putrid, he used a wooden stool to smash the window out. As fresh air and light entered the room, they could only look down in disbelief at the elderly woman, on the verge of starvation, emaciated and sobbing on the floor, naked and covered in her own excrement. She had been eating her own feces.

Emergency services were contacted immediately…

Days later, in the same hospital where her husband had passed away, Irene lay in a hospital bed, riddled now with various health complications. Elizabeth paid her a visit. Elizabeth asked her, why she had done the things she had done. To which Irene would only say “Edward told me to” and avert any attempts to make eye contact with her. She died two days after that visit.

Elizabeth and others involved directly with what was going on, believed something not of this world preyed on the most vulnerable soul it could find. Irene’s life was rife with sorrow, family life fell apart when her father committed suicide in her youth, she didn’t have friends until she was well into her fifties. Ed was the only one she ever trusted and “something” used that undying trust to take advantage of her, to manipulate her and eventually, destroy her. A particularly malevolent, insidious type of evil targets someone in the state that Irene Taylor was in.

Years ago, I was passing through the region where that little town resides. I decided while I was there, I would stop to pay my respects to “Irene” and “Edward” at their companion plot. I don’t know if it’s true that “paranormal” events led to her unusual behavior and death, I don’t know if Irene just completely lost her senses in an emotional cyclone of grief and confusion. But for whatever reason, the story has always resonated with me. It’s unfair. Mental or paranormal, no one should face such an abysmal fate alone. But there’s another element of this story, which I failed to properly address.

Elizabeth was worried for Irene, more than any of her friends, because she was afflicted with reoccurring nightmares involving Irene suffering at the will of some malevolent force. She told Dan she heard a voice say, “Please help Irene” a voice years later, I’ve entertained the thought, that maybe that was the real Edward Allan Taylor. We fixate so much on the grim elements, we forget her friend bursting through the door, tearing down the curtains, the light of day abolishing the darkness. I don’t know what fate befell Irene Taylor in the end, but I like to think that if there was something supernatural going on, her friend Elizabeth, may have actually saved her from a fate worse than death.

ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴍʏ HOME ʙᴇ HAUNTED?

(Illustrated by Édouard de Beaumont, 1871)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, firstly, anything can be “haunted”, when you think about it. A location that is regarded as “haunted”, is considered to be a place frequented by ghosts. What are ghosts? The remaining trace or vestige of something that “once was”. If something traumatic or humiliating happens to us, we may want to avoid the place where these things occurred, because to the individual, those places are (sometimes eternally) haunted with unpleasant memories.

In most instances, where the question of ‘hauntings’ arise, people aren’t referring to mere memories but instead phantasms, spectres and apparitions. Spirits or unforeseen forces that by whatever means, make their presence known. Usually causing negative implications on the living, at the very least, some form of psychological duress.

According to Pewresearch.org, in 2009 a study discovered that out of 2,003 Americans surveyed; 18% claimed to have seen a ghost. While 29% believed they were somehow in touch with the dead.

Interestingly, as you may have already recognized from anecdotal stories you might have heard or even seen in Hollywood depictions of the “haunted house”, it’s quite often an individual/family unit moving into a new unfamiliar home/place. It starts off with something subtle like an eerie feeling that progresses to lost items, anomalous electrical activity etc. Then the apparitions start and it progresses on, usually culminating with the discovery of some physical evidence of some horrendous tragedy, like a desecrated corpse hidden beneath the basement. At least in film.

The essential element that Hollywood gets right, along with most anecdotes is that something happens when you take any living creature out of its natural habitat. If you take an animal from its habitat or terrarium and place it in another, the animal experiences some initial duress, because change means uncertainty and uncertainly means fear. This works the same way in humans, with the change of locale or the increase of stress (most often caused due to a lack of sleep) natural human paranoia kicks in.

This concept is so old in fact, that there is a ghost story with this exact premise dating back some 2,000 years.

According to a surviving written account by Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus), 61 – circa 113 AD, he claims he was told stories of unusual circumstances regarding the Greek philosopher, Athenodorus Cananites (Ἀθηνόδωρος Κανανίτης), circa 74 BC – 7 AD. In a letter titled, ‘LXXXIII. To Sura’ he explains Athenodoros coming into possession of a large house, being sold for a suspiciously low price.

“In the dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of iron, was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains, distant at first, but approaching nearer by degrees: immediately afterwards a spectre appeared in the form of an old man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, with a long beard and dishevelled, hair, rattling the chains on his feet and hands.”  

—Pliny the Younger

The story concludes with Athenodoros being led by the apparition to a certain spot in his home, which he marked. Later having the floor dug up to reveal the mangled skeletal remains of a chained man. Immediately after the remains were exhumed the hauntings ceased.

Essentially, there are two fears being represented in this ‘haunted house’ trope. One is the human fear of ghosts, which is intertwined with the fear of death and the unknown. The other fear, is spending a great deal of money on a new home, to discover it is haunted, or the premise of something gruesome and unpleasant. Thus, becoming a bad investment.

Two common human fears, death and the loss of money.

The “unknown territory” leading to heightened senses and (in some cases paranoid interpretations of otherwise normal) response to generic stimuli could account for a great many people believing their domicile is in someway haunted by an unworldly entity.

But this in no way accounts for all of them.

The most commonly reported signs that your home may be haunted are:

⦿ First and foremost, history. Cut to the chase, is it an old home? Does the land have a dark past? The noose hanging in the garage could save you a lot of guess work here. Older, creepier homes, in areas with a dark rich history of murders etc are far more stereotypically common to be considered haunted. Not exclusively the case, but for the sake of ascertaining if your home is haunted it’s good to take all elements into consideration.

⦿ More often than not, it begins with the faintest feeling as though you happen to be somewhere that you not welcome. Undoubtedly, the precursor to many unfortunate events.

⦿ Feeling as though you’re being watched. (Relatively common even if your home isn’t haunted. In fact this is so common, many individuals will momentarily feel as though they are being watched after reading this sentence.)

⦿ Objects appearing in strange places, or disappearing entirely without viable explanation. Things being moved even to a minuscule degree. Falling paintings/pictures, religious icons, clocks stopping etc.

⦿ Unusual noises. Formulaic patterns of knocks, often at the same time of day/night. Footsteps, audible calls, muffled speech.

⦿ Anomalous electrical activity, though there is a correlation of old creepy houses and genuinely bad defective, corroded wiring. Unusual electromagnetic fields are not conclusive reasons (alone) to believe your home is haunted as there are various natural and man-made causes.

⦿ Visual, olfactory and auditory hallucinations. Seeing, smelling or hearing things that by all rights you should not be seeing/smelling/hearing. Primarily experienced on an individual level. Foul odors appearing and going away without explanation, at certain times, maybe in certain parts of the house. Momentary glimpses of shadowy entities. Sounds like calls, laughter, sobbing. Footsteps heading down a hallway, etc.

⦿ Parts of the home/house seem to hold certain temperatures. Like a room being consistently cold, maybe a specific area of a room. Temperature fluctuations, usually spikes of cold that cannot naturally be explained. More often than not experienced at night, maybe at a reoccurring hour.

⦿ Bruises, marks, injuries you cannot explain, often appearing when you wake up of a morning. Rare accounts, human bite indentations on extremities.

⦿ Unusually intense/vivid nightmares. Experiences of sleep paralysis disorder/Old Hag syndrome. Often the nightmares pertain to a sort of torment, that will carry over into nocturnal disturbances.

⦿ Sightings of apparitions. By the time you are frequently sighting apparitions appear in your home you should attempt to have someone other than yourself witness said apparition. Once more than one person has witnessed the phenomenon then it’s swiftly becoming apparent that your home may in fact, be haunted.

⦿ Finally, bouts of confrontation/interaction with an incorporeal entity. In worst case scenarios, actual physical contact with a spirit. In extremely rare cases, individuals have claimed the confrontation can be as real and dangerous as a physical altercation with another living being. At which stage, some sort of religious or third party intervention is usually suggested. Along with the immediate ejection from the premise until the situation can be assessed/dealt with.

If you’re experiencing anything outlined above the last thing you should do is suffer in silence. As horrifying as it can be for the home owner, living in fear, there are many people who would be interested in helping you assess if there is something supernatural going on in your home. Maybe a friend or relative, or you could contact someone (you trust, at least enough to be in your home) to look into it with you.

I find it fascinating hearing about haunted homes. But in my experience, the “hauntings” are generally so subtle that the “ghost” really isn’t doing anything so offensive to bother the occupants of the home. To this day, I don’t believe I have witnessed a truly haunted home.

Maybe I’ll haunt this home when I die? Physically abuse the living, so they know it’s a proper haunting. Maybe they’ll even link it back to this specific article, “the bastard, it says here he planned to haunt the house all along! Even before he died!” “You’re kidding, darling!?” “Then there’s a sort of back and forth exchange of speech at the end, sort of mocking us, I suppose,” “horrendous!” “Yes, quite, then it goes on to say here if we both say ‘Yowsa Yowsa Yowsa’ he won’t haunt us anymore.” “Well, thank God that’s over with.”


The Ouija Board, once a trademark of the ‘Parker Brothers’. Today the trademark and surrounding rights are held by Hasbro, Inc. A compound of the French word Oui, meaning “yes” and the German word Ja, also meaning “yes”. A name almost consistently mispronounced, the world over. Patented on May 28th, 1890. Officially, the Ouija board (Spirit/Talking Board) is patented as a toy and a game. It is alleged to be a means of communicating with “spirits”, via the manipulation of an indicator (planchette) being aligned over letters, numbers, “YES”, “NO” and “GOOD BYE”.

Is there indisputable proof that the Ouija board does (or ever has done) the one thing it claims to do, produce a viable means of communication with the dead?

No, there isn’t.

Not for lack of trying. Harry Houdini made it his public ambition that after death he would do anything he could to commune with his wife. As it stands, even with the regular séances (held even to this day) to contact him, he’s never reached out to reveal the secret he left to prove authenticity. That doesn’t disprove the functionality of the Ouija board. But it sure as hell doesn’t help either.

There isn’t indisputable proof to back up a great many things that billions of people believe around the world. Which is essential for peaceful life on this planet, freedom of belief should be a protected human right. No matter how absolutely, uncannily ridiculous something may seem. We should disagree, peaceful disagreement makes life more interesting. Some days I believe certain things, other days I might not. But in regards to the Ouija board, maybe it requires very specific circumstances? Very specific individuals in very specific locations. Or maybe it was in fact, merely a late Victorian novelty that allowed men and women to touch knees, awkwardly flirt and pass the long dreary hours between the deaths by childbirth and public floggings.

Never the less, in most instances where Ouija boards are used now, it’s usually among groups of teenagers trying to get a rise out of one another. Some feign shock and awe while others are genuinely terrified. Everyone swears they aren’t manipulating the planchette but the thing drifts around the board with ease. Only while everyone’s touching it, of course. In the rare instances where people have attempted using Ouija boards blindfolded, the results are rarely even decipherable. Again, maybe somehow the spirits can only see through the eyes of those manipulating the board or something equally elaborate?

One of the interesting things people say about Ouija boards, especially those that subscribe to the notion that they do work; Is in a solemn warning tone they’ll say, “never use a Ouija board on your own!”

Which is brilliant advice because the likelihood of anything happening while one genuinely intrigued, albeit naive individual sits alone waiting for a planchette to move over a Ouija board, is very, very low. To prove a point to myself, at the time of writing this, I actually dug out an old Ouija board and asked the questions people ask, “is anyone here?” etc. I only dedicated 10 or so minutes, (the time it takes to slowly drink one beer) before calling it quits. If there are any spirits here, apparently they’ve got nothing they want to say to me. Or I am simply too dense, unworthy or inept of hearing from them. The possibilities are endless.

Perhaps, I should have first consulted the instructions that were once supplied with the board, some 117 years ago:

Original instructions provided with the commercially sold Ouija Boards in 1902, written by William Fuld (sourced from The Museum of Talking Boards):

⦿ 1: “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.”

⦿ 2: “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.”

⦿ 3: “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.”

⦿ 4: “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.”

⦿ 5: “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.”

⦿ 6: “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.”

Well, it does indicate in step one that a minimum of two people are generally required, so my experiment was for naught. But part of the difficulty I have in understanding even the basic concept of the spirit board, is what significance is there behind the cardboard and the small piece of wood or plastic? What is so special about these mass produced objects, being printed out by the same machines that make Monopoly boards, that allow them to act as conduits for the spirits?

Why can’t spirits manipulate monopoly pieces? Or even things that aren’t on boards? There will always be questions asking why not and there’s an equal amount of answers that will claim to know exactly why. Whichever voice is loudest doesn’t indicate who is correct, it just depends on whoever is most fervent in the declaration of whatever opinion happens to matter most to them.

The board and the planchette are essentially novelty tokens. Even the name ‘Ouija’ invokes terror into many superstitious people. But the fact of the matter is, communing with the dead isn’t likely an easy feat, as if it was we’d be hearing from the some (estimated) 102 billion of our species that have already crossed over into the afterlife. Either the living participant is capable of something supernatural or the anomaly resides is the presence of a “spirit” capable of actually manipulating the physical world.

Either occurrence must be very, very, very rare. Something that may exist. But to this day, hasn’t been adequately documented or proven. Maybe there was a legitimate boom during the 19th Century that had some connection to the rise of the spiritualist movement?

The word séance is French for “session”. Throughout the Spiritualist movement that stretched from the 1840’s until around 1930, a great amount of time was spent conducting these “sessions” attempting to commune with the dead. Through various methods, automatic writing, mediums, spirit boards, etc.

Those leading the way were primarily self-proclaimed mediums and spirit guides, but the bulk of the numbers (estimated to be over eight million world wide at its peak) were middle and upper class Americans and Europeans who saw the communion with the dead as a sort of parlor trick. An eerie, macabre, yet intriguing experience. A great many of these “experiences” were proven to be fraudulent.

One interesting coincidence relating to the Spiritualist movement (purely my personal observation), is that these people of this 19th and early 20th century seem to be how we now (in the western world) imagine ghosts. Of all the ages of human development to take shape as ghosts, we seem to see people of the Victorian age dominate film and literature. It could also be that was the earliest period to be photographed with the growing ease of access to cameras. So their many cold, ghostly expressionless faces have seeped into our imaginations.

So in an ironic sort of way, they did achieve communing between the dead and the living. Only they now fill the role of the dead in our depictions of eerie past socialites, reaching out from the beyond the grave.

So whether you consider it group hysteria, bogus, legitimate or pure evil (as the spirits are instead demons attempting to prey on unsuspecting mortals) the Ouija board continues in sales today. Selling millions of boards worldwide every year.