The Cardinal’s Swami Talking Board – Paper on hardboard – C. 1940

Ladies and Gentlemen, fire up your ideomotor skills and let’s summon up the spirit of William Fuld! Place your hands on the gnarled finger of the Swami and commune with the dark beyond with this Swami Talking board and amazing planchette!

The talking board or Ouija stems from the ancient Chinese automatic Writing method of ‘fuji’ or planchette writing. Several sections of the Daozang are purported to have been transcribed from the spirits this way. It took the marketing genius of William Fuld in the 1890’s to coin the term ‘Ouija’ a supposed ancient Egyptian word meaning good luck that he learned from the spirits while using an early talking board. Around the turn of the century, spiritualists came out of the woodwork, communing with the dead through Ouija boards. Aleister Crowley, George Noory and Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous have all been noted Ouija enthusiasts and many of the later poetic works of Yeats were inspired by his wife’s use of the talking board.

Sometimes terrifyingly accurate, often amusing and always controversial, the Talking Boards, Swami Boards and Ouija Boards of the world hold a special place with us, and perhaps with the dead as well. They act as Edison’s telephone to speak to the dead or at least as a way for our most guarded and secret thoughts and wishes to be given breath through the veil of death or through the veil of the ideomotor effect. Either way, the result is the same… A more complete understanding of ourselves and of the world we live in. Enjoy if you dare!