Most of us are familiar with the name and iconic image of the magical Ouija board. Many have dared to test it, either seeking answers from the great beyond or for spooky entertainment or both. The Ouija board has always been advertised as a family-friendly game. However, for about the last 50 years, Ouija became associated with the forbidden, a taboo tool of the occult. But has it always had this reputation for unleashing evil, and when did this shift in perception occur? Is it a variation of an ancient scrying device or portal for speaking with the dead, or is it a more modern amusement? How could such a pop culture symbol that is so pervasive have such a mysterious background? It seems the board's manufacturers have intentionally kept the details shadowed from the start, adding to the marketing appeal and popularity. Although the practice of attempting communication with the spirit world is as old as philosophy, the board we recognize today had its beginnings with the Spiritualist Movement of the nineteenth century in America. Yet in that era and into the first part of the twentieth century, using the board to contact spirits was seen as wholesome family fun and nothing to fear or shun. Why did the Ouija board take a turn for the dark side, and what is its real story? As we search for clues, tonight's guest will shed more light on its history and cultural relevance. Brandon Hodge is one of the world's foremost researchers and historians of spirit communication devices. His website, mysteriousplanchette.com
, is a wealth of information on these instruments, and his Austin-based collection houses an astounding display of planchettes, "talking boards," dial plates, and psychographs, everything an adventurous Victorian soul searcher might use. Please join us to discuss why a simple board with printed letters, numbers, and a pointer managed to inspire such enduring wonder and apprehension with its mystical nature.
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