One question that pops up constantly in radio interviews and seminars is why the planchette eventually went the way of the dodo. I am always quick to remind listeners of two realities: the planchette had a long and vibrant career right up through WWII, and the Ouija and other talking boards are just a natural evolution of the device, with more popular appeal. Of course, there's always that curious leapfrog of technology from really-refined-and-darned-near-talking-board-like alphabet card use, not to mention alphabet calling, but from the early 1850s until the late 1880s, automatic writing reigned.
Why is it curious? I thought I'd take a blog post to let the words speak for themselves--literally--and provide some examples of automatic writing for your perusal and interpretation. Some of these are planchette-produced. Others are produced directly from the medium. All are scrawl. So, imagine trying to interpret these significant messages from deceased loved ones in the dimly-lit chamber of a seance room, and wonder if you, too, wouldn't seek a better way, and welcome the more refined talking board once it makes its appearance.
|An early automatic writing specimen, from Judge Edmund's Spiritualism, received May 25, 1853.|
|Automatic Mirror-Writing (original, left) from L.A. Sherman's Science of the Soul, 1895.|
|Automatic Writing Specimen of W. Stainton Moses, Appleton's Popular Science Monthly, August, 1896.|
|Matching signatures from L.A. Sherman's Science of the Soul, 1895|
|Automatic writing specimens from the medium Elizabeth Poole, 1947.|
In other words, that's an awful lot of work to gather the rather appropriate message: "Why your classroom is too small...you should get...a larger classroom." No mention is made by Mr. Stead, it should be noted, of the sitters acquiring a larger notepad.
|Mrs. Poole summons her ectoplasmic guide, Walter, in preparation for automatic writing as given above.|
|A message from Sarah Underwood's Automatic or Spirit Writing, 1896. Transcription below.|
The attitude of convicted believers in spiritual life toward the blind leaders of the blindly dogmatic in spiritual matters should be that of the Seers to those yet in the dark—as full of lovingness and tenderness as one who sees to those bereft of sight, eager to remove the disability but patient with their natural mistakes and halting steps. Remember as they are, so once were ye, and they too shall be ultimately led to the light.