Article: The Ouija Board (and other fortune telling games)

Ouija Board
Ouija Board

Ouija Board usage will naturally rise in the month of October when daring Halloween celebrators look for some spooky fun. From the 1850’s to the 1950’s it was considered quite normal for the average person to communicate with the dead. It was the height of the spiritualist movement in the US and these practices were common. That’s why you can see older ads for the Ouija Board with whole families sitting around the living room, playing with the boards. It wasn’t until The Exorcist (1973) that the attitude toward Ouija Boards had changed. Nevertheless sales continue as curiosity sparks a need for answers to life’s mysteries.

Boards range from the basic Parker Brothers game sold at toy stores to elaborate wooden boards with fine wood-carved planchettes. However, anything can be used as a makeshift Ouija Board. A piece of cardboard box with the words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ scribbled upon it, and another piece of cardboard cut into planchette shape can be used with the same effectiveness.

Using a Ouija Board

The players place their fingers upon the movable piece and ask questions. The belief is, in a successful reading the spirits will work through the energy of the ‘players’ and point the planchette to words or letters, in order to answer questions.

The Ouija board itself has no power. If it did toy stores across the nation would resemble Halloween haunted house attractions as ghosts and spirits spread from the confines of their little boxes and out into the aisles. The success of an Ouija Board reading is dependent upon the spirituality and openness of the individuals using it. Even a skeptic with a strong intuitive nature may get a good reading.

In using the Ouija Board, you are giving permission for spirits to use your physical body and to move your hands and fingers (partial possession). It is important to get information about not attracting negative entities through the board. Some advocate performing cleansing rituals before and after using a board, to clear the board of unwanted energies.

A brief history.

The use of planchette style writing dates back to the ancient Chinese, Song Dynasty, around 1100 AD. There is evidence that indicates items of this nature may have also been used in Ancient Egypt. The need for automatic writing involved not having to use a medium or oracle to divine messages from the spirit world. A sitting King who had little trust in others wanted to cut out the middle man, so to speak. Early modern versions of a planchette consisted of a small overturned wicker basket with a writing implement attached to the “front’ of it.

OuijaThe modern American Ouija board.

As early as the 1860’s, mediums and spiritualists were using a planchette for spirit contact to perform automatic writing. Soon mediums were using a large card (or board) with letters on it so the planchette could point to specific symbols on the card.  By 1886 the modern talking board was born. Letters, numbers, yes/no and hello/goodbye printed or hand written upon them gave the boards a standard format that could be easily duplicated. Elijah J. Bond of Maryland was the first to patent and promote the talking board / planchette combination as a novelty. His business partner would come to name it the Ouija Board. But it was William Fuld that made the Ouija Board company an even bigger name and would later be known as the father of the modern Ouija board. He took over the company in the late 1890’s and successfully maneuvered it through the later half of the American spiritualist movement. In 1966 the company was sold to Parker Brothers (later taken over by Hasbro).

A scientific look.

Physiologist William Benjamin Carpenter published a report on automatic movements of muscle groups called the ideometer effect in 1852. This would become the best explanation for why an Ouija Board Planchette moves. Skeptics explain the movement of the planchette as automatism or collective automatism, which is to say that the hands moving the planchette are being instructed directly by the subconscious, leaving the conscious mind unaware of the intentions or mechanics of the movement. The way they explain it is like when a person cries when watching a sad movie. They have no intention to cry, it just happens.

—————————————–

Other fortune telling games and boards existed but never reached the popularity of the Ouija Board.

Black Cat Fortune Game
Black Cat Fortune Game

The Black Cat Fortune Telling Game

The Black Cat Fortune Telling Game consists of 24 cards separated into 6 groups. Past, Present, Future, Love Matters, General Advice, and Danger. Each card has 24 short phrases on them. 4 cards are chosen and laid out before the player. The phrases on the back will align to make a sentence across the 4 cards by choosing the segments in a numbered order, 1, 2, 3, and 4. There are thousands of combinations that can be drawn making it seem like a personalized reading.

The game is said to originate in Salem MA, in 1897 and owned from it‘s beginnings by Parker Brothers. It is classified in the subgenre of Fortune Telling as Cartomancy, which is divination through playing cards, tarot cards, or oracle cards.

Gypsy Witch
Gypsy Witch

Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards

The Gypsy Witch Cards are a regular card deck with additional symbols and meanings printed in the middle or corner of the deck. It is a variation of a Lenormand deck, named for Mademoiselle Lenormand, who used regular playing cards to tell fortunes. She had some famous clients such as Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Empress Josephine. The Gypsy Witch cards would eventually become the most popular fortune telling deck in America. Naturally the deck is also classified as Cartomancy.

Ka Bala
Ka Bala

Ka-Bala – the Mysterious Game that Foretells the Future

 

This Transogram fortune telling game from 1967 can provide three different readings. It can answer questions, read your fortune via Tarot cards (included with set) or it can read your Horoscope. What’s more, it glows in the dark and Eye of Zohar, watches from the center of the board. You roll a black marble around the board in its track and where it lands determines your fortune.

You can play a simple online version of Ka-Bala here: http://witchbeam.com/flash/mysterious.html

JOURNALS OF HORROR: Found Footage on Paper Coming This Halloween

Journals of Horror: Found Fiction
Journals of Horror: Found Fiction

In 1999, The Blair Witch Project ushered in  a new sub-genre of horror called Found Footage. And while Blair Witch is credited for bringing attention to the first person POV, found footage style of film-making, there were films shot like it before 1999, going back as early to 1998’s The Last Broadcast and back even further (nearly two decades) with 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust, which is often cited as the first to utilize the now popular format. But even older films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Town That Dreaded Sundown have the same gritty shade and documentary feel.

Journals of Horror: Found Fiction is a pet project of editor Terry M. West that has been kicking around in his head for years.

“I waited for someone else to do it,” West confessed. “It just seemed like a no-brainer for a horror anthology: to take the concept of found footage and transplant it to the page. Imagine finding a diary partially buried in the woods and reading a missing person’s account of a monster or dark force pursuing them. Now imagine an entire evidence locker filled with transcripts like this and you can start to picture where I am going with Journals of Horror.”

West and publisher Pleasant Storm Entertainment are thrilled with the roster of authors who have contributed to Journals of Horror. This anthology is filled with some of the hottest talent in the horror fiction genre: P.D. Cacek, Todd Keisling, Glenn Rolfe, Robin Dover, DS Ullery, Essel Pratt, Michael Thomas-Knight, John Ledger, Paul D. Marks, Sonja Thomas, Paula Cappa, Stuart Keane, Darryl Dawson, Crystal Leflar, Lori R. Lopez, Michael Seese, Jeff O’Brien, Matt Hayward, Joseph Ramshaw, Michael McGlade, DJ Tyrer, Wesley Thomas, Regina West, Evan Purcell, Robert McGough, Erik Gustafson, Christopher Alan Broadstone and Robert Holt. West himself plans a contribution.

“Everyone involved is excited and we all feel we are doing something different. To my knowledge, an anthology of this type has never been attempted before,” West said. “I hope this is the beginning of an ongoing series. Viva la found fiction!”

JOURNALS OF HORROR: Found Fiction will be released on Kindle on 10-31-14, with a paperback edition to follow before Christmas. You can pre-order a copy right here.

Trick or Treating for UNICEF

Trick or Treat for UNICEF
Trick or Treat for UNICEF

Trick-or-Treating, the stuff of childhood! With each falling leaf, I eagerly anticipate Halloween with its tradition. Oh, to dress in costume, shedding my dull demeanor for imagined, horrific strengths! Monsters fear nothing, after all, not even other monsters.

As I grew, my love for Trick-or-Treating diminished not a jot. I dressed myself and my house with ghoulish glee to hand the neighborhood kids their treats – my own favorites, in case leftovers remained in the bottom of my treat cauldron.

When graced with children of my own, they donned costumes of their choosing, and I took them to carouse the neighborhood, leaving a friendly scarecrow to present sweets for our guests.

As a girl, I trick-or-treated until I grew too tall to disguise my age. It came as a surprise to me, therefore, when my petite eleven-year-old Alexis looked at me with big blue eyes and explained, “I’m not trick-or-treating this year.”

She knew I’d just finished arranging for two families of cousins to join us on the yearly excursion, so I found myself confused. I’d already sewn her costume and the costumes for her siblings, along with coordinating treat bags. “Ok, but why on earth not?” I asked.

She squared her ten-year-old shoulders and explained, “This year, I want to Trick-or- Treat for UNICEF.”

What a novel concept! I’d never heard of Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF, but Alexis saw an interview with one of her Disney idols, Selena Gomez, where the Latin beauty explained the benefits. UNICEF is a United Nations Program that raises funds to help needy children world- wide. The Trick-or-Treat program started by Mary Emma Allison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in 1950.

Alexis said, “UNICEF helps kids world-wide. I don’t need any candy anyway, Mom.” Who does, really?

A lump of pride took up residence in my throat. My girl was a growing philanthropist. I blinked back tears at the bitter-sweet thought.

“How do you get started?” I wondered. We went online to the UNICEF site, and Alexis ordered her collection box. However, I also found the little, orange cardboard collection boxes on a trip to the Hallmark store, so participating was easy.

That evening, as crisp breezes swirled cinnamon leaves about their feet, my group set out for their night of Trick-or-Treating. When her cousins and siblings held out their sacks for candy, Alexis, dressed as a Grecian Goddess, presented her little orange box instead. “Thank you for the offered candy, but may I please have a small donation for UNICEF instead?”

Many were confused. “You don’t want candy?”

She smiled and shook her head. “No, Ma’am. Thank you. I’m collecting money for UNICEF, which benefits thousands of needy children world-wide. Any spare change will make a difference to the underprivileged in developing nations.”

When the other kids spread their candy across the carpet, surrounding themselves with islands of sugary goodness, Alexis and I counted her collected money. She’s raised over $200, mostly in change. I found myself grateful for taping the edges of the box. It had strained to keep itself together under the weight of the coins. We wrote a check the next day.

It is estimated that children from the USA, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Canada have collected more than $200 million for UNICEF through “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” since the program’s inception.

Find out more about UNICEF and how you can help children around the world.

Here is a video from UNICEF:

Halloween Forevermore & Terry M. West at DAYS OF THE DEAD this weekend!

Days of the Dead: Los AngelesDays of the Dead is a horror convention that will be held this weekend at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Halloween Forevermore will have a table, and we will be selling our Halloween Wax Warmers for a special convention rate of $20!

 

ghost on displaycreepy image of Terry M. WestAlso on hand will be Halloween Forevermore managing editor and horror author, Terry M. West. Terry will be signing copies of his books and DVDs. Also on hand for the convention will be: Clive Barker, Tara Reid, Sid Haig, Corey Feldman, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley and many more! If you plan to attend, please drop by the table and say hello!

Article: Tattoo Boo: HALLOWEEN INK

A very festive sleeve
A very festive sleeve

The machine hums and whines as it draws blood; a rivulet trickling from the wicked grin of a smiling Jack o lantern. He presses until she winces. He pauses to wipe. She stretches, adjusts. “Do you need a break?” he asks. “No, please, I can’t wait to see it!” she gushes, closing her eyes to accept the temporary discomfort for a permanent change.

Tattoo artist Chris “Blick” Blickenderfer, owner of American Tattoo in Verona, Pennsylvania, helps fans of the season transform their bodies into art. Using skin as canvas, he projects visions onto bodies.

Halloween is a major theme for ink.

Tattoos featuring skulls are a staple in the industry, including vibrant Mexican-inspired designs reminiscent of Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. As a fan of H.R. Giger, Blick has incorporated bio-techno aspects into his designs as well as allowing earthly remains to peek through organics and other foliage.

Haunting scenes enacted across a back or along an arm, nods to favorite horror movies, and genre books get creative juices flowing. It is hard to get him to choose a favorite. “I’m very critical of my work,” Blick admits. “Some of my favorites include a quintessential Halloween scene, a portrait of Reagan from The Exorcist, and a flamboyant Headless Horseman.

A demon on the calf
A demon on the calf

Instead of remaining in the cemetery, the dearly departed have left visible fingerprints on their loved ones. Many customers use their bodies to convey loving remembrances of their departed, their ink memorializing transformed lives. From initials and names to miniature footprints and portraits, people carry their grief in this personal way.

 

A haunted manor tattoo
A haunted manor tattoo

 

 

 

 

According to Pew Research (March, 2014), 23% of Americans in all legal age groups sport ink. For some, it is an expression of self. For others, it sets apart their beliefs. And for others, it is a celebration of their favorite things, including the Halloween season.

Article: The Historical Vampire

From 1897, a copy of Philip Burne-Jones' painting, THE VAMPIRE
From 1897, a copy of Philip Burne-Jones’ painting, THE VAMPIRE

We may think of vampires as hypnotic, blood-thirsty villains (or heroes) of the modern horror genre, yet vampires have been part of western culture for 1000 years.

 

English historian William of Newburgh (1136 – 1198 A.D.) wrote of revenants – the word ‘vampire’ only appeared in the English language in 1734 – in his History of English Affairs. One account related how a man of ‘evil conduct’ died and was buried, only to rise and wander from house to house at night, killing townspeople. A group of men removed the corpse from its grave, cut out its heart and burnt it on a funeral pyre.

 

Five decades later, vampire hysteria began in Moravia (today’s Czech Republic), to spread over the next 500 years westward to France and Germany, and eastward to Russia.

 

Although not your stereotypical vampire, Count Dracula was just as blood-thirsty. Born in 1431 in Schassburg, Transylvania, young Vlad became known as Vlad Dracula (son of Dracul) after his father joined the Order of the Dragon (Dracul), a Christian organization dedicated to fighting the Muslim Turks. When Vlad took the throne in the Romanian province of Wallachia, he became one of the most brutal rulers in history, responsible for the torture and death of over 40,000 people. His penchant for impaling his enemies on stakes, beneath which he dined on bread dipped in their blood, earned him the nickname ‘Vlad the Impaler’. Vlad was assassinated by the Turks in 1476, his head allegedly taken as a trophy.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory
Countess Elizabeth Bathory

The Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory played an equally horrible role in furthering the belief in vampires. Born in 1560, the ‘Blood Countess’ believed she could retain her youth and beauty by bathing in the blood of young girls. She tortured and ex-sanguinated hundreds of girls, the discovery of whose bloodless bodies around the countryside led to rumors of vampires among the peasants. Countess Bathory was arrested in 1610 and imprisoned for life in her castle.

 

Greek theologian Leo Allatius (1586 – 1669) undertook the first methodical treatment of vampires in his work, On Certain Modern Opinions Among the Greeks. Other writers followed, recording the folk beliefs that circulated about vampires: You could become a vampire by being bit by one; drinking the blood of a vampire; inheriting the condition from your parents; committing suicide or suffering a violent death. You could protect yourself from vampires by wearing a string of garlic, a rosary or a crucifix around your neck, or by draping garlic around the windows and doors of your home. If bitten, you could break the spell by burning the vampire’s heart and consuming it.A suspected vampire could be stopped from rising by stuffing its mouth with garlic and spreading garlic, thorns and poppy seeds in and around the coffin. To destroy a vampire, you had to drive a stake of aspen, maple, hawthorn or whitethorn wood into its heart, behead it, remove its heart and burn it, or simply burn the entire creature in fire or sunlight.

 

Vlad Dracula, the most famous vampire of all who was actually just a man.
Vlad Dracula, the most famous vampire of all who was actually just a man.

As time passed, the vampire wound its way into mainstream culture, where it now enjoys fortune, fame and infamy on screen and in literature.

Book Review: Vintage Young Adult Halloween Scares

The Halloween lifestyle stems from what we all experienced as wee goblins. Remember searching for the best decorated house in the neighborhood? This house had full size chocolate bars last year! Who put this apple in my bag? I find myself constantly trying to recreate these memories with my own kids. Sometimes, to no avail.

I lecture my kids with the whole, “I watched this when I was only seven!” routine. Try as I might my 15 year-old says I am too obsessed with the holiday. “Who goes to Halloween events in February, Mom?” My 11 year-old says he is still not ready for Knott’s Scary Farm. My 8 year-old wants to be Sharknado this year. The only hope I have for a protégé is my five year-old daughter. She loves Nightmare Before Christmas, says her face hurts in the sun because she’s a vampire, and she wanted to be Nightmare Moon for Halloween. I can work with this! To keep her looking forward to Halloween all year, I find myself reading my favorite childhood Halloween stories to her.

Vintage is the whats in for the genre now. I cannot say I am complaining. Pop on your Monster Hop LP, grab a lantern, turn off the lights and check out whats on my children’s Halloween book list!

 

Dennison's Bogie Book cover
Dennison’s Bogie Book cover

Dennison’s Bogie Book by Dennison’s manufacturing company, 1920.
Pinterest in the 20’s! I found that this “guide” was written for us future Halloween lovers,  who think about the season all year long. Perfect for little ones to create their own Halloween Party. Your littles do that right?!

 

Georgie's Halloween
Georgie’s Halloween

Georgie’s Halloween by Robert Bright, 1958.

Perfect story for grade school children! A shy ghost returns home from his village’s Halloween party to be awarded a “Best Costume Prize” by the mice in the attic of his home. See boys and girls, ghost have passive personalities too! Theres a series of these vintage treasures published as early as 1944.

 

A Woggle of Witches
A Woggle of Witches

A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams, 1971.

Witches are essential to Halloween Night, but even they get frightened! This story will be followed up with its sequel, “A Halloween Happening”. Being published in 1981, the witches realize there’s nothing to fear and commence the Halloween celebration.!

 

Scary Stories series book covers
Scary Stories series book covers

Scary Stories To Tell in The Dark, More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark,  More Tales To Chill Your Bones  by Alvin Schwartz, 1980, 1984, 1991.
The ultimate must read for every child in the universe. The songs and sillier stories, like “The Big Toe”, are funny bone ticklers for little monsters. Alvin Schwartz’s version of “The Hearse Song” is tons of fun for the little ones to sing. Most of these books can be found at your local library or Etsy, Ebay and Amazon. I recommend that you grab them when you can as they are treasures that can be passed on to countless generations of Halloween lovers.

Omnium Gatherum’s HALLOWEEN TALES Now Available!

Halloween Tales book cover
Halloween Tales book cover

HALLOWEEN TALES is a new Halloween/horror anthology from Omnium Gatherum and editor, Kate Jonez. It collects several seasonal tales of horror from many members of the Horror Writer’s Association Los Angeles Chapter.

Contributors include: Nancy Holder (Buffy: The Making of a Slayer), Lisa Morton (Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween), Michael Gonzalez, Hal Bodner (Bite Club), Janet J Holden, John Palisano, David Winnick, Kate Jonez (Ceremony of Flies), R.B. Payne, Steven Booth, Maria Alexander, Eric Miller, E.S. Magill, Tim Chizmar, Robin Wyatt Dunn, PS Gifford , Xach Fromson and Halloween Forevermore’s own Terry M. West (Heroin in the Magic Now).

This collection is a perfect Halloween night reading experience!

HALLOWEEN TALES is available in both paperback and Kindle editions and you can order it here.

 

 

Article: The Séance Experience

A séance generally requires sitters and a medium
Dr. John Dee, noted occultist
Dr. John Dee, noted occultist

A séance might be the perfect way to round out your Halloween party, but it’s no modern parlor game.

References to séance communications date back to the 3rd century Greeks. The earliest known recorded séance is attributed to England’s Dr. John Dee, in the 16th century. Three centuries later, séances had gained such popularity that in 1854, Illinois senator James Shields presented a petition signed by 15,000 people asking the U.S. Congress for a scientific commission to investigate the paranormal phenomena many of them had witnessed. Unsurprisingly, Congress declined, but that didn’t stop President Abraham Lincoln himself from hosting a séance in the Crimson Room of the White House in 1863!

The traditional séance is held in a darkened or candlelit room. Ideally, no more than eight participants, often called sitters, sit around a table or in a circle on the floor in a quiet room where they will not be disturbed.  They place their hands flat on the table, fingers touching, sometimes holding hands, and are encouraged to relax by closing their eyes and taking long, deep breaths.

A séance requires sitters and a medium
A séance requires sitters and a medium

The medium (the person who contacts the other side) may pray or ask spirit guides for protection before calling on any spirits present to make themselves known. The medium will direct the other sitters, and each should get a chance to speak to at least one spirit if they so desire.

The spirits may acknowledge their presence in any number of ways:

-Table rapping: sitters hear loud knocks; the medium may ask spirits to communicate by knocking once for “yes” and twice for “no” or something to that effect.

-Table tilting: the séance table moves of its own accord, despite being held by the sitters.

-Levitation: the table or other objects in the room levitate.

-Changes in temperature: sitters feel cold breezes or drops in temperature.

-Odors: sitters smell perfume, cigars or home cooking.

-Ghostly sounds: sitters hear disembodied voices or music.

-Luminous phenomena: stars, balls of fire, strange lights or other luminous objects appear in the room.

-Apports: small portable objects, sometimes coming from miles away, appear in the room.

-Ectoplasm: this grayish, viscous psychic substance emanates from the medium’s body, occasionally forming into the shape of human limbs or even complete spirit entities.

Not all spirits can or will come when called. On the other hand, some who do may not be a sitter’s dearly departed, but an animal (generally someone’s pet), a spirit guide or even a wandering spirit who speaks a foreign language!

Some spirits are funny, and some are sad. If, however, a negative, angry, or malevolent spirit manifests, it should be told to leave, and the séance should immediately be stopped. Otherwise, the séance can be closed by kindly bidding the spirits farewell, thanking them for coming, and asking them to return to the other side.

 

AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED To Haunt Book Shelves 9-30-14!

America's Most Haunted book cover
America’s Most Haunted book cover

My purpose with Halloween Forevermore was to create a watering hole for different horror animals. Whatever your dark passion, I want you to be able to find it here. One demographic I am definitely interested in appeasing: lovers of the paranormal. I am a fan and a student of documented hauntings (if you have seen my Whaley House Ghost photo video or read my tale, The Giving of Things Cold & Cursed, you can see my love for ghost stories).

So I was extremely excited to see that AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED: The Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places by Theresa Argie & Eric Olsen will be hitting the shelves on 9-30! It is being published by Berkley and it will be available in Kindle and paperback versions!

And if you haven’t visited the America’s Most Haunted site, you are missing out on quite a paranormal feast!

Here is the info I was sent by this wonderful organization:

There are some places in America you simply shouldn’t visit alone. At Waverly Hills Sanatorium, thousands of patients died at the height of the tuberculosis epidemic in the early 1900’s and their spirits never left. In the halls of Mackey’s Music World, demonic possessions were more common than musical performances. Aboard the decks of the Queen Mary in California, echoes of the cries of hundreds of lost sailors ring clear night and day. These are places that no sane person would ever truly explore – until now.

 In AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED: The Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; September 30, 2014; $16.00), “Haunted Housewife” investigator Theresa Argie and journalist Eric Olsen combine spine-tingling stories, documented evidence and interviews with some of the top names in paranormal investigation, including the stars of television’s Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and others to take readers on a terrifying tour of our nation’s most haunted houses, hospitals and historic places.

 Experience the crawl through the death tunnel, also known as the body chute, where visitors have reported sightings of an inhuman creature that creeps along the walls and ceilings. Get to know the spirits, ghosts and other demons that wait in jails, lounge in mansions, fester in lunatic asylums, and even stay in the stately old hotel that served as inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.

 The evidence provided with these first-hand accounts, stories and personal testimonies will have readers sleeping with the lights on. Are you brave enough to take a look?

And here is some info about the authors:

Theresa Argie is an experienced paranormal investigator who has worked with some of the field’s most respected experts. Eric Olsen is a leading journalist in the field of paranormal investigation. Together, the two host the internet radio show, America’s Most Haunted. They both live in Ohio.

I am happy to announce that I will be receiving a copy of AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED: The Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places for review! I can’t wait to get my hands on this one! You can pre-order AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED: The Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places right here!

 

Expect my review before Halloween!