Ouija board, photo by AdelineSpirit Boards for Beginners, by Alexandra ChauranSpirit Boards for Beginners: The History and Mystery of Talking to the Other Side, by Alexandra Chauran
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738738741, 216 pp., 2014

The mystery of the talking board or, less commonly, spirit board is exemplified by its most mainstream version, the Ouija board. While talking boards have been used for spiritual practice for centuries, the Ouija board was “invented” and marketed in 1891, where its popularity was only overshadowed by its controversy and mystery. Is it a game appropriate for children? Is it a tool for divination and exploring the spiritual realm? Is it evil? Does it even work? Alexandra Chauran explores that controversy through her personal experience, citing expert opinions, and sharing other’s stories.

The language is accessible, and the reader is given all the information they need to comfortably navigate a talking board session. Chauran expands on the history and spiritual origins of talking boards from using a swinging pendulum to the more modern versions we have today. Directions are given to create your own talking board which can be powerfully infused with your own intentions. She also offers a short instruction for grounding, channelling, casting protective shields and a brief explanation of the energies of the day best to interact with a talking board. The book offers basic questions that would be suitable for a first reading as well as tips for interpreting the answers to those questions.

The reader can really begin to see Chauran’s experience and expertise in the psychic community, particularly in chapter, “The Ouija Board’s Reputation,” as she explains how a Ouija board trickster can mislead someone with open-ended questions and other tactics. This section reads as more of a study on human psychology and beseeches the reader to beware: most people who are going in for a reading are not skeptics as to the validity of the board and spiritual realms. Thus, they are more likely to want to believe what is being interpreted to them although it may not be grounded in truth.

The Ouija board is often one’s first exposure to the spiritual realm. Aside from connecting with the dearly departed, a talking board has many uses, and the user is only limited by their ability to channel. There are stories of channelling aliens, spirit guides, gods, the higher self, and faeries. A talking board can also be used purely as a meditative practice without channelling, which is helpful in gaining knowledge of one’s subconscious mind.

I am like many of the young people Chauran describes having their first experience with the spirit realm: young and innocent huddled around a Ouija board and candles on the full moon with a bunch of girlfriends. The details of our experience from those days are muddled and we’re still not quite sure what really happened although it still comes up in conversation. It’s that experience that pulled me right in to her beginner’s guide and had me reading intently all the way to the end. Most notably, the “Spooky Experience” chapter returned me to that giddy, ghostly frame of mind as I went from room to room, turning on lights.

The controversy of talking boards can be debated from psychics to spiritualists to priests and back again. One must have an experience with the spiritual realm to truly be able to make that decision. This book is a good entrance point into experiencing the occult and tools of the occult, so you may indulge in your own spooky experience.

Image credit: Adeline