Traditionally talkingboards have been used in the attempt to receive communication from supernatural sources, most often from the spirits of the dead, although using boards to contact various other entities such as angels and aliens is also common practice. Some people use the board as a form of ‘automatism,’ utilizing what is known as an ‘ideomotor response,’ whereby the boards are used to access one’s own unconscious mind. While innovations have arisen in the designs and materials employed for the crafting of talkingboards and similar devises, their use as receivers for esoteric messages remains primary. My personal work with talkingboards has produced a different avenue for their use, not merely as a method for receiving messages from some phantom source, but as a means for communicating an individual’s needs, insights, desires and so forth, to the deepest levels of our minds, or if you prefer, to those deities we might otherwise pray to or perform ritual for.
One might at this point ask ‘what is the purpose of communicating with our unconscious mind or various extraordinary powers in such a manner?’ It comes down to what one considers to be the purpose of performing an act of magick, such as a ritual or spell. While prayer has its place, the words thereby spoken into our steepled hands are of a different language than is native to the powers we petition. The unconscious mind speaks through symbolism, and spiritual lore often attests to messages from the beyond being cryptic and highly metaphorical. The purpose of ritual is to speak back to such powers, in their own language. The issue is not that our words might not be understood otherwise, rather that our perspective is changed by speaking the language of another, forming a more intimate bond with whomever we address.
Working with talkingboards in the manner I am about to describe utilizes two forms of language. First, we will allow our conscious mind--that aspect of us that loves to talk—to express its needs (desires, complaints, or what-have-you), in words. Secondly, we will do this in a ritualized manner, thus engaging those powers with whom we seek to communicate.
Now, the question arises ‘what makes a talkingboard such an effective tool for use in ritual?’
The board itself is a strong symbol, in that it is innately associated with communication. Beyond that, it has a reputation that can imbue it with more power than an ordinary object might affect. If you have heard frightening tales told of Ouija boards or been scared by their role in horror movies, you might consequently perceive a danger. Recognize that a sense of danger can often add fuel to one’s magickal experience, making it a potent tool. If, however, your discomfort with it is inhibiting, then put the board away and go watch an episode of ‘Will & Grace’ in a well lit room until you get over those heeby jeebies. For other people, talkingboards have a reputation as a mere toy, something best played with at adolescent slumber parties. If such is your relationship to it, then its effectiveness as a tool may not work for you. In order for it to work well, you may need to change your relationship to it. When working with symbols, it is important to note that our individual relationship to any symbol largely defines it. Therefore it is important to recognize how you feel about any object or ingredient that you use in your magick.
The make and design of your tool also matters. If you cannot take seriously a cardboard and plastic Ouija bought at Toys-R-Us, then you may want to work old style, arranging the letters of the alphabet on slips of paper in a circle. You can use an overturned wine glass as a makeshift planchette. Using a slick, low table will serve you best for this.
For me, I adore the associations I have with talkingboards, causing me to don a top-hat and settle in for some of that old time religion, Spiritualist Victorian style, yet with my own neopagan twist.
So let us get down to business. Determine what you wish to communicate to your unconscious, or to your ancestors or gods. Once you know what you wish to say, you must next determine the words with which to say it.
When using language in ritual it can often be beneficial to employ an uncommon vernacular, such as distinguishes matters of magick from mundane chatter. Words may be embellished with antiquated character, such as Elizabethan English, or it may include terminology from fictional sources. Poetry may play a valuable role. It needn’t be outstanding, so worry not if your verse is less appealing than that of e.e. cummings. As with most matters magickal, your relationship to your words is what matters utmost.
I suggest writing your message, and then condensing it. This is the same process often used to create sigils (indeed, when we are finished, you will have created a sigil--a type of magickal glyph--that may serve various purposes). Begin with a phrase whose meaning is straightforward. Poetic or embellished phrases add some extra pizzazz, but simple will work just as well. Write down this phrase, then begin the process of condensing it. This can be done in various ways. The meaning can be carried through with creative spelling, such as is often seen on vanity license plates. However it is not important that your end result be readable, so long as you remember what phrase it was derived from. The way in which I reduce phrases is to first subtract the vowels. Next, I remove those letters that have been repeated. This leaves me with just a few letters with which to work.
You may wish to whittle your phrase down to a meaningful number of characters that are then repeatedly spelled out a specific number of times (I find that a phrase no more than nine letters, repeated nine times, is effective for me).
If you are looking to utilize a specific number of letters for purposes of numerology, then simply add back in as many vowels as you need or remove your least favorite characters. It is best to have your phrase memorized, since looking from a sheet of paper, to the board, and back again is distracting and therefore potentially less effective.
When you spell out your reduced phrase with the board, a series of lines connecting one letter with the next is created. This is also why a short phrase may be preferred. This network of lines constitutes your sigil. Repeatedly spelling out your phrase will help the image of this sigil imprint itself in your mind as a visual (also, your repetitive movements can aid in putting you into a light trance, such as is beneficial for magick). Afterwards, you can reference this glyph should you want to reconnect with this working. Say, perhaps, that you asked for more bravery, then summoning this sigil in your mind’s eye may serve as a talisman for when you find yourself walking alone in an intimidating atmosphere. Such a sigil can also be written down and kept with you.
So now I have explained the fundamentals of working with talkingboards to express your magickal will. The actual manner in which you do this is up to you, and is regulated only by your preferences and originality.
Before concluding this article, let us do a walk through.
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Do whatever makes you feel comfortable as far as setting up your environment as a sacred space. You might want the windows opened to let in the sounds from the street that allow you to feel connected to the world at large. Or you might wish to invoke a sphere of etheric fire to encompass you and the forest brush you sit upon. Or you might visualize a mote of living, elemental water encircling you in your candle-lit room. Whatever your personal trip, that which sets the mood for you to do magick constitutes your first step.
Next, you should do something to acknowledge whatever personality or power you have come to communicate with. I prefer to do this by lighting a candle, that way when I have completed my task the act of blowing out the candle is an appropriate gesture for ending the rite. Folks have their own ideas as to what colored candles work best for certain purposes, so what you use is up to you. If you have no fixed notions on the subject then anything will do. Light your candle, address whomever or whatever you wish to communicate with, with whatever salutation suits you; then we begin by placing our fingers on the planchette or its substitute.
Prior to sitting down with the board, you will have worked out your phrase. Be specific about what you want to express. For example:
‘HELP ME FIND MY MISSING WATCH’
Your phrase may be as simple as that, or much more poetic if you prefer. At this time, you are free to express whatever you wish, so do not feel like you need to stick to a script. If you prefer not to do the following sigil working, you can end your ritual whenever you feel as though you have adequately expressed yourself. Just blow out your candle and be done.
Otherwise, you should work as above, spelling out your phrase in its entirety with the planchette or glass, before utilizing your shortened verse. There is no need to keep track of how the lines connect. Spelling out your phrase in full is simply a way for your mind to recognize the foundation for the shortened form we will be using in a moment.
Having done that, you may now work with the abbreviation. Here is an example of how the statement above can be abbreviated. You may start by removing all the vowels. Returning to our example, our phrase reduces to:
‘H LP M F ND M M SS NG W TCH’
To shorten this further, remove any letters that appear more than once, which in this instance leaves us with:
‘H LP F D G W TC ’
Nine letters are easy for us to memorize, or at least brief enough for us to write on the back of our hand.
Spell out these letters. Do so a number of times. This repetition will relax your mind by giving your body something to do, putting you in a light trance. In this state your message is better imprinted in your mind.
A particularly successful rite will end with a body-memory of your hand movements. You may also wish to repeat these gestures later, as a physical way of communicating your magickal needs. Think of it as a form of spiritual sign language.
You should also be left with a visual of how the lines connected between letters on the board, which is your sigil. I find it helpful, when I am spelling out the letters, to visualize lines of energy connecting letter to letter. This energy can be visualized as various colors, and I find that seeing it as blue fire is especially powerful. Another way of incorporating color is to cycle through the letters seven time, each time visualizing a different color of the rainbow: red; orange; yellow; green; blue; indigo; and violet; completing a cycle of seven.
Were we to have done the working described above, then hopefully the powers-that-be would answer us back, perhaps in a dream or act of synchronicity, so keep your eyes open for that.
Here is an example of what we get with the phrase we have been working with:
Personally, I prefer to have a beginning and an end to my sigils, however, if you wish to connect the first and last letters, as you did between various spellings on the board, then do so. When we take the board away, what remains is this:
Use this image as you wish, as a quick mental trigger, or as a talisman you may carve of draw onto some personal item and keep with you, or burn it on a slip of paper to send your message out in another form.
At this point it is possible to do more detailed or freestyle communication, although I find it best to do such prior to working with the condensed message, since the last thing I do tends to stick foremost in my memory.
Lastly, you may say an appropriate farewell, blow out your candle, and reclaim your space as a place of clarity. I tend to stand, and literally shake of the trance I have been in. A drink of water is also recommended.
And there you have it. If, like me, you have a love for talkingboards and were looking for a new way in which to use them, then I hope this manner of working will be productive for you.
© Carnivalia 2006
(This article may not be reproduced without the consent of the author, Chas Bogan.)