Long before people adapted electrical meters and broke radios to communicate with the spirit world, spiritualists would use different techniques to channel a conversation with the other side. From table rapping to Ouija boards, there was no shortage of ways to potentially communicate without needing a fancy device. One such way to do this was a process called Automatic Writing.
Automatic Writing is a process that allows you to channel information either from spirit, your subconscious, or even your intuition just by using a pen and paper. It gained a lot of popularity during the spiritualist era as it was considered to be a more effective and efficient means of communication rather than using rapping or Ouija boards which would take a lot of time in order to decipher the information. The medium would channel a spirit (usually by entering a trance-like state) whist holding the pen or a special planchette with a pencil attached and would either scribble, draw or write a message. Channelling is a way for the spirit to 'take control' of the medium's body which is how they supposedly are able to write these messages. A lot of writings are hard to understand supposedly for this reason.
In modern times, people have also been known to use electronic devices such as computers and tablets. They will write a question and meditate or channel and hope that a 'spirit' will type a response to their question - again using them to write the message. It is felt by some that the 'electrical link' increases their chances of communication.
Automatic Writing is one of the controversial techniques in the same category as Ouija boards and even pendulum work as it relies on a person themselves to give an answer. Besides the fact that a person can blatantly fake it, there is the ideomotor effect to consider. Our body makes involuntary muscle movements which will cause the pen or planchette to move. Some people go with this and their subconscious tends to take over. While they feel a message may be coming from spirit, it is actually coming from themselves. In fact, automatic writing is also used as a form of therapy to help a person get in touch with things they have buried in their unconscious mind.
One of the earliest accounts of published Automatic Writing was by spiritualist John W Edmonds, who was also a politician, Judge, and Justice of the Supreme Court in New York. In his book Spiritualism, he published the following writings from Dr. George T. Dexter acting as a medium, which reads: What is one moment of joy = the joy of the spirit when it realizes the good it has done, to years of this world's pleasure - - I.T.T.
In the early 1900s, there was a housewife from St Louis named Pearl Curran. She believed she had contacted a spirit named Patience Worth through Ouija Board sessions. Patience communicated what would become almost 5,000 poems, a play, several novels, and many short works. Eventually, the Ouija Board was becoming tiring and she needed a more efficient way to channel the information and so she began to use automatic writing. Unlike many mediums, Curran did not go into a trance to channel Patience, she remained in a fully conscious and aware state of mind. Figures who have investigated this case have determined that it is unlikely that Pearl Curran would have been able to create the literary style, vocabulary, history, or subject matter that was presented in Patience's writing.
I have written about Harry Houdini many times in this blog as he is somewhat of an idol of mine. He celebrated a rather famous friendship with famous novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was also a member of the SPR at one point. Doyle's wife Jean had become a self-proclaimed medium who specialized in automatic writing. In 1922 in Atlantic City, Jean supposedly contacted Houdini's mother in a seance using automatic writing. Now anyone that knows anything about Houdini will know how fond he was of his mother. In fact, a lot of his search in the name of paranormal answers was the fact he wanted to communicate with his mother. The Doyles felt that Houdini was quite moved by the 15 pages of grammatically correct English words that were written in the communication session. Houdini however went public to announce he did not believe this to be from his Mother as his Mother was very poor at English. Their friendship did not survive not long after due to their strong opposing beliefs on spiritualism.
Automatic writing should definitely not be used as any sort of 'proof' of paranormal communication. Sure sometimes when I am typing on my laptop, suddenly I have written 1000 words that feel that they have come from nowhere but in reality, it is my subconscious producing information. You can also go into 'automatic' mode in which the name is quite fitting where you are just going with the flow and you are writing or typing. You know how sometimes you are driving a car and suddenly you reach your destination but you have sort of tuned out a bit along the way? I believe it to be a very similar thing. Our unconscious mind is capable of so much. When you think about it, your body can move, breathe, blink and do a bunch of things without you having to think about it. Writing is no different. It is quite likely the information is coming from your subconscious. While you may think there is no way to know the information coming through, the information you have stored in your subconscious would surprise you. There is a reason why this is considered such a successful technique for therapy and a person getting in touch with themselves and their feelings. I would look at automatic writing more as a way to access information in your unconscious mind rather than using it as a tool to contact a spirit.
Have you tried automatic writing? What do you think? Is it a way to communicate with spirit or is it just our subconscious at play?
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