The Quick 10: 10 Famous Uses of the Ouija Board

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The Ouija Board was one of my favorite slumber party games when I was a kid. I know – some people would say that it’s certainly not a game. Look what happened to Regan in The Exorcist, after all. I haven’t used one in years, but maybe I should – several famous writers made very good livings off of their work with a Ouija Board. Here are their stories and a few others.

1. Sylvia Plath wrote Dialogue over a Ouija Board in 1957. It is, as you might suspect, her results from a session with the board. She also wrote a poem about the phenomenon.
2. After Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades in 1972, John G. Fuller wrote a book about it called The Ghosts of Flight 401. Employees of Eastern Air Lines reported seeing the ghos
ts of pilot and co-pilot Bob Loft and Don Repo around the company, and the ghosts of the 10 deceased flight attendants kept showing up on another plane. The theory was that parts from Flight 401 were salvaged and used in the only other Lockheed L-1011 the company owned. Anyway, Fuller used the Ouija Board and a medium to contact the spirits to write his book.

3. Even Pulitzer Prize winners have consulted the Ouija. Poet James Merrill extensively used the board to write his work, including 1982’s The Changing Light at Sandover, which was a 560-page epic consisting of messages from fellow poet W.H. Auden, friends Maya Deren and Maria Mitsotaki, and no less than the Archangel Michael.

4. Alice Cooper once claimed that he got his stage name from using the Ouija Board. Vincent Furnier consulted the board, which told him he was the reincarnation of a 17th-century witch named Alice Cooper. He adopted the name as his own, and there you have it. True or not, it’s a good tale.

5. Perhaps one of the most famous uses of the Ouija Board happened in 1917, when a Missouri author named Emily Grant Hutchings published a book titled Jap Herron, which she claimed was dictated to her via the Ouija Board by her acquaintance Mark Twain. Skeptics said the book was such crap there was no way Twain would have written such a thing, dead or not.

6. It’s no surprise that Hutchings was good friends with Pearl Curran, who became famous for her Ouija-dictated books. Curran supposedly co-wrote with a Puritan woman named Patience Worth, a prolific lady who wrote multiple novels and many, many poems before Pearl Curran died in 1937. Patience, of course, was kind enough to let Pearl know that her demise was imminent.

7. William Butler Yeats didn’t use a board, exactly, but took advantage of his wife’s channeling abilities (she was a medium) to write A Vision through her automatic writing. Same concept as the Ouija, but it involves a spirit actually coming through the medium’s hand and scribbling down notes instead of spelling out cryptic messages on a lettered board.
8. Bill Wilson may have turned from one addition to another when he eschewed alcohol but picked up a pretty bad Ouija habit. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous had a “spook room” set up in his house where he would contact spirits that helped him with his alcoholism. One of the spirits, he claimed, was a 15th century monk named Boniface. He even acknowledged in his autobiography that he used the Ouija Board to create the program’s famous 12 steps.

9. You probably wouldn’t catch most politicians admitting that they used a Ouija Board, but that’s what former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi did when he was asked, under oath, how he knew where previous Prime Minister Aldo Moro was being held by the Red Brigades. And the spirit who told him this information? Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence who had died the previous year. Most people believe that it was simply Prodi trying to avoid revealing his real source.

10. The band The Mars Volta says they wrote an entire album around the Ouija Board. A session with the board gave them a story that they ended up using in the whole creative process, but when strange things started happening – a flooded studio, one of their engineers had a nervous breakdown, and their lead singer injured his foot – they burned the Ouija Board and buried it.

Have any of you had any creepy Ouija Board experiences? Do you buy into it?

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October 21, 2010 - 1:34pm
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