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Enduring Mystery of the Ouiia Board Reincarnation
Who fe Patience Worth? Did She Ever Exist? Are Mrs. Curran and She One and the Same Person? By lahbel M. Roas THE str?ng? case of Patienc Worth and her suppose communications with thi world has excited mo? than ordi nary interest since Mrs. John H Curran, of St. Louis, came t New York two weeks ago with he ouija board. Her public meeting at the home of Mrs. Herman Behr 183 East Sixty-sixth Street, hav. been attended by scientists, psy chologists, writers and experts o: varions kinds, who profess to b< batted by the writings of Pa to be baffled by the writings of Pa tiene?, presumed to have been dear 850 years. To some she has becom? a Jest. Others have swallowed wholesale the story of her origir and her persistent communication! to this world through Mrs. Currar and the oui ja board. A specialized minority are reserving judgment The psychologists are numbered among the latter. Who is Patience Worth? Did she ever exist? Are Mrs. Curran and she the same person? The psychologist who has had the fullest opportunity to study the phenomenon had a comprehensive survey of his conclusions in a re? cent issue of "The American Psycho? logical Review." He is Professor 1 'hartes E. Cory, of Washington University, St. Louis. He does not believe that Patience ever lived, as i he so persistently asserts, but he docs admit the unconscious genius of Mr?. Curran. He expresses him? self on the subject as follows: ? "Mrs. Curran is an intelligent woman, but her mind is much in? ferior to that of Patience Worth. In short, there is a sub-conscious self far outstripping in power and range the primary consciousness. This is an indisputable fact, and it is a sig? nificant one for psychology. In some way the disassociation has resulted in the formation of a self with greatly increased calibre. It has not only given it access to a much wider range of material, but it has given it a facile creative power amounting to genius. "Patience Worth is a personality .of 3}remendous creative energy. And, unlike most dissociated personali? ties, she is morally sound. It is in? conceivable that these elaborate and intricately wrought novels should not have been planned before they were so hastily written. The selves are not alternating but co-existent or co-conscious. That which is peculiar in this case ?3 the quality of the mentality of the second self. I accept the judgment that Patience Worth is a genius of no means order. Division of Labor "The division of the self has re? sulted in a division of labor. To Mrs. Curran falls the care of the needs of the body and the needs of social life. Their reactions and dis? tractions are hers. From all this Patience Worth is free. Between her and the entire active phase of life stands the buffer consciousness of Mrs. Curran. "Upon one subject this mind is under an illusion. She insists that she is the discarnate spirit of an Englishwoman who lived in an age now long since passed. That she is honest in this belief there is no rea? son to doubt. The full history of this illusion, this Idea that she is a returned spirit, can be secured only by psycho-analysis. But it is worth noting that Patience Worth made her appearance after Mrs. Curran had spent many evenings with a j friend, a confirmed Spiritualist, with a view to ?getting a message from the spirit world. In the atmosphere of expectancy, of hope that a voice from the dead might be heard, she i may be said to have been born, and it is more than possible that the idea became at that time a vital part of th* dissociated self then developing. Am If ?<mbm la wWeh her claim to be' a disembodied spirit is correct. I Back in the recesses of the subcon? scious she was born; created in an ideal world, conceived in fancy. She has fashioned herself out of the stuff of the imagination afcd there she remains, admitting no interests that would contradict the illusion. Such Bhe believes and understands herself to b<a?an English spinster of long ago. "?Concerning an effort I made to way. These problems are: (1) sub? conscious memory and perception; (2) subconscious thought. Hypnosis has been refused because of a fear thet it might injure or destroy the ] ability to write and not, I believe, through the desire to avoid a thor? ough investigation. Most of the lit? erature of Patience Worth is con? ceded by critics to be of a high order. Reservoir of Knowledge "Mrs. Curran is very intelligent. Her quick, intuitive understanding 'The Sorry Tale.' Only a reading of the million and a half words that have been written can give an adequate idea of the great reser? voir of knowledge that is accessible to this secondary personality. A careful survey of Mrs. Curran 's reading from childhood leaves the problem of its source largely un? solved. Most significant to me is the bearing which the case has upon the problem of subconscious reflec? tion processes. It offers a new an? swer to the question that is of Above we see a typical ouija board, and to the right is the little pointer which, under the pressure of human hands, spells out amazing communications j explain her recently she addressed the following lines to me: ' " 'I am molten silver running; ? Let man catch me within his cup, ; Let him proceed upon his labor | Smiting upon me. j Let him with cunning smite j My substance. Let him at his dream i Lending my stuff unto its creation, j It shall be none the less me.' " Referring more particularly to i Mrs. Curran, Professor Cory says: "The case is one upon whiGh no satisfactory report can be made without the aid of hypnosis. Any? thing like a real explanation of the problems to be solved requires data that can be obtained in no other j is recognized by all v/ho know her I well. A conversation with her, ?however, though based upon an ex? tended acquaintance, does not give I the impression that one is in the ?presence of the mind that wrote growing interest, What degree of rationality may the processes of a subconscious center attain? Here there is a product showing a men? tality of a very high order. It is original, creative, possessing a del? icate sense of beauty, a hardy ra? tionality, and, above all, and per j haps moat surprising, a moral and j spiritual elevation. Patience Worth ! easily meets most tests that? are j applied to the normal personal con? sciousness. In conversation she dis ! plays a quickness of insight, a readi i ness of repartee that enable her ' to hold her own in the company of | the learned." The story of how Patience Worth is supposed first to have communi? cated with Mrs. Curran is told by Caspar S. Yost, editor of "The St. Louis Globe-Democrat," in a book called "Patience Worth." Mrs. Curran and Emily Grant Hutchings, wife of the secretary of the Tower Grove Park Board, were sitting over jthe ouija board in July, 1913, when Mrs. John H. Curran, of St. Louis, who has kept the world guessing ivith her strange messages from Patience Worth a message is said to have come in this form: "Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth is my name. Wait! I would speak with thee. If thou shalt live, then so shall I. I make my bread by thy hearth. Good friends, let us be merrie. The time for work is past. Let the tabbie drowse and blink her wisdom to the firelog. Good mother wisdom is too harsh for thee and thou shouldst love her only as a foster mother." When Mrs. Curran asked her I more about herself the following words were quickly spelled out on the ouija board: "About me thou wouldst know much. Yesterday is dead. Let thy mind rest as to the past." According to Mr. Yost she never refers to any event taking place in the world now or that has taken place in the past. Yet she was sup? posed to indite Armistice Day and Red Cross poems during the last two weeks. Talks in Old English "She speaks an archaic tongue that is like the English language ot the time of the Stuarts, whicl ? contains elements of even oldej usage," says Mr. Yost. "Almost al of her words are of pure Anglo Saxon-Norman origin. There is sel dorn a word of direct Latin or Greel [parentage. AU her knowledge of ma? terial things seems to be drawn from English association. She is familiar with the trees, flowers, birds and beasts of England. There are also : indications of a knowledge of New ' England life. Yet she has never ad [m'tted residing in England, or New i England, or anywhere. Her conver ; sation is strewn with wit and wia j dorn, epigrams and maxims; poems j by the hundred, parables and alle ! gories, stories of a semi-dramatic '\ character and dramas. Most of hei | poetry is iambic blank verse in linei \ of irregular length." On another occasion she explainet j herself thus, according to Mr. Yost , "I be like to the wind, anck yea, like j to it do blow me ever, yea, since time. Do ye tether me unto to j day I blow me then unto to-morrow 1 "Am I a broken lyre Who at the master's touch Respondeth with a tinkle and i whirr? Or am I strung in full And at his touch give forth the ful chord?" Mrs. Curran personally is an at tractive woman of vivacious tern perament. She taught singing anc \ music before her marriage. Now i great deal of her time is oceupiee with the voluminous writings o: Patience. In the last six years sh< has written 1,500,000 words, in eluding six novels. She dictate j rapidly while her husband take down the material in longhand. It i I never revised, but is presumed to be ! the finished product as it comes. It 1 is no unusual thing for 2,000 words to be run off within the course of an hour and a half. Mrs.' Curran say3 | she regards the work of Patience ! as a holy thing and treats it with reverence. "I think it is ghastly to peddle , spiritual communion and play with God's angels for selfish reasons," she says. "Since Patience visited me I i have come to believe there is some 1 grain of truth in what so-called > Spiritualists put forth, but for the j most part I believe it to be fake. I ' never did put any stock in Spiritual ( ism, and have always been a healthy, ; wholesome-minded individual. Pa i tience has not made me morbid?and, ? believe me, there are no spooks i around me. Adopts Little Patience Mrs. Curran says she was asked by Patience Worth to adopt a "wee bit o' a babe with nothing to win its way in the world but a smile," and within the next week Providence sent a new-born infant her way. She called her Patience Worth and hung a gold cross around her neck with a ruby in the centime. She is now three years old and her foster mother says she will be brought up in wholesome fashion. She declares that Patience Worth frequently asks about the child and expresses de? sires as to -what should be done with her. The o?ija board, while the appar? ent instrument for conveying the communications of Patience, has now become more a habit than a necessity with Mrs. Curran, she declares. Patience talks to her without it, but she believes the board helps her to concentrate and to keep her mind sufficiently blank. As a result of the recent Patience Worth meeting? held here, there has been a rush to the stores for ouija boards. Toy manufacturers are selling them at the rate of twenty a day. The department stores are having an unusual demand for them. The ouija board has the letters of the alphabet arranged on it in two concentric arcs, with the ten numer? als below and "Yes" and "No" in? scribed on the upper corners. The planchette, or pointer, is a thin, heart-shaped piece of wood provided with three legs upon which it moves about on the board, its point indicat? ing the letters of the words it ia spelling. Two persons are needed to operate it. They hold the tips of the fingers lightly on the pointer and wait. Perhaps it moves; per? haps it does not. Its powers have been attributed by some to super? natural influence; by others to sub? consciousness. Scientists, for the most part, treat it with disdain. ******.? ?"? .???? ' ?nuil ??? ???? ???III I I I .1- ?. . ??^ ^4 Story Teller Takes to the Air j ? s ~W AM NOT a brave woman," i I says Mary Roberts Ri?e-1 JL hart, the author of "Dan gerous Days." And the ' next day she flew in the clouds ?? above California and came down to ; explain her cowardice in this way : i "I do a lot of things I am afraid of 1 largely because I am afraid. I hate \ ! to feel that I cannot do what other ! people can." It should be stated that "Danger ous Days" is a novel of married life, \ i and not of Mrs. Rinehart's flying i experiences. This, her latest book j ?a best seller?is being reproduced i in motion pictures for Eminent | Authors-Goldwyn. It is another example of Mrs. Rinehart's cour i age?that she dares enter the stu | dio and express herself there. "It was not that I was afraid. j Not for a moment," said Mrs. Rine ! hart after her trip in the air. "I was curious, interested, just a I little bit inclined to patronize the ; plodders down below along the J threadlike roads; but afraid, no! "It is all so easy. Some highly | efficient person offers you a helmet j and a pair of goggles?why dont we use those helmets in our motor ' cars??and a leather coat, too, large I and not extremely becoming, to j wear over one's riding breeches, | and a pho,l.ographer gets on a sort THE INCOMPATIBLES?A French Story TALL, elegant, charming in her morning costume, with a confident step?the step of a woman who knows that she is well dressed?H?l?ne turned j into the Place de l'Etoile. ,' For a second she halted, in doubt, I at the corner of the Avenue Fried j land. Should she, going downtown, take the metro or the tramway? The metro would be faster. 'But scarcely was she engulfed in the hideous stairway when a mob of outcoming travelers surrounded her and pinned her fast against the rail. The tassel of her sunshade got tangled up with the umbrella of a crusty old lady. Her hat was dis? arranged. A stout gentleman, who apologized very courteously, stepped on her foot. But nothing upset her good humor. She smiled mildly at men and things, her spirit calm, her heart at peace. If the agonizing thought of the men who fought did not t?Vment her, she would be per- ; fectly happy. Installed presently in a compart? ment of the train, she reflected. "I shall bring home a p?t?. The famous p?t? which I discovered the other day. It will be served with a vegetable salad. That is, if the cook understood me. A vegetable salad. To make sure, I shall telephone her j from a postal station." She reflected some more. "Am I going to be able to match that flowered muslin? Sapristi! Will I forget again the bottle of toilet water, the haircloth glove and the lip rouge?" Ten things of equal importance preoccupied her mind ? and this ?id Translated by William L. McPherson Copyright, 1919, New York Tribune Inc. Here is a clever story with a sting of satiric humor. It is a little venture in feminine psychology, conducted with delicacy and a real mastery of literary form. denly outweighed all the others: "My nose is shiny." She drew out of a little leather bag a tiny powdered handkerchief and a small mirror, framed in clear ottoman. The shine removed, the mirror and the handkerchief re? turned to the bag, she sat with her eyeB fixed, again intensely thought? ful. "Who would have said, six years ago, that one day the hours would run for me as smoothly as they do now; that no tiff the next minute would cloud my heart and brain and set my nerves a-tingling; that I could be sure that he, whom I await every evening, would offer me a warmth of tenderness devoid of jealousies and irritations? Whatever may be his burdens as a man of science, fac? ing a thousand demands (and a brusque word or an impatient gest? ure would be excusable on his part), his voice, when I appear, becomes as ingratiating as his look. His face clears and to soothe his annoyances it suffices that I pass my hand soft? ly over hiB worried brow. My pres? ence restores his faith and cour? age. It matters little what words I use, even if they are commonplace or awkward. What do words count when he can read my thoughts? "What a difference there was with the other onel That awful impossi biiity of understanding each other from which we suffered! How did I escape going mad under that re? gime of continual exasperation, of perpetual constraint? How could I have endured so long a man so ex? ternally excited; whose execrable character would have enraged a snint; who in two hours could find ten puerile excuses for engaging in recriminations? Heat oppressed ? him, cold irritated him. the prome-1 naders who walked ahead of him j annoyed him. In an auto it was an- ? other song. The roads were imprac-1 ticable; the chauffeur didn't know! how to drive; the tires were surely going to burst; the dust blinded him. "Noise made him nervous; silence mad him sad. And with all this a morbid susceptibility to anything which concerned himself?himself, | who never was troubled by the thought of giving pain to another, even to one who was dear to him. Always he had on the tip of his tongue not only the rude word, which is pardonable, but the cruel word which rankles and poisons. "And to say that I loved that in? tolerable being passionately, more than I love my admirable companion , of to-day! And he loved me, too. j Of that I am certain. What woman has he since made unhappy? I have : never wanted any one to mention' his name to me. What has become of him? Because of a slight infirm ? it y he couldn't go to the front. He ; must have traveled a good deal. ' His fortune permits it. Has he mar ried, too? If so, I hope that he has ; found his master?some harpy, as much of a brawler as he is, able to i hold "her own against him, to reply) to his excesses with worse insults,! to wound him in his self-love, to humble his pride, bold enough to confront him with all his fault3." ??? * * * X* Suddenly H?l?ne grew rigid, her eyes staring with astonishment. The ? man of whom she had been think ing, whom she had not seen for six years, had entered the compart? ment. A tall woman, a little heavy, but pretty and elegant, accompa? nied him. He held her arm affection? ately and they both supported them? selves on the back of a seat, their faces turned away from her. "He'll be stamping on the floor in a minute," she thought. Eut no; indifferent to the noise and the pitching of the train, he listened smilingly to the babbling conversation of his companion. She was teasing him. "You are furious, aren't you?" she said. He answered in a calm voice: "Frightfully so." Then they set to talking in whis? pers. They got out at the Place de l'Op?ra. H?l?ne walked a little be? hind them. The young woman said: "Come with me and select a veil? a veil that will go with my rose colored toque. Does that bore you?" "Not at all. I am free until 5 o'clock." "Oh, then, you can go with me to the antiquity shop. It is becoming a disease?my rage for collecting little vases of the Louis Philippe period." He answered, placidly: "I don't know anything uglier than they are. But if it amuses you!" Taking his companion by the arm, he enveloped her with his affection? ate glances. "Surely he was more affectionate than amorous," said H?l?ne to her? self. Troubled, she recalled the intona? tion of his voice, his look of despera? tion, when he used to say to h<3r, in the minutes when he was sincerely tender: "What a curse it is that we do not understand each other! Never shall I love another woman as I love you. And you, in spite of our infernal dis? agreements?could you ever love an? other man as you love me? Ah, if you would only try not to take so tragically every single word I say and every single gesture I make!" There had never been any balance in their relations. Either they had remained, face to face, hostile, each ready to tear the other's heart out, cr they were merely two lovers com? pletely infatuated with each other. No, certainly, the couple which she saw ahead of her were not ardent ? lovers. They were friends. The re i lation between them was like that \ which existed on her side, between herself and the man who cherished her. "Yes," she said, "love, absolute | love, with its accompaniment of fears, aggravated susceptibilities, j jealousies and torments?that is the most violent dissolvent of happi? ness." Hastening her steps and fleeing from the sight of the couple, who now caused her an invincible annoy? ance, she thought again: "Perhaps it is less a case of bad characters than of bad tempera? ments. That man, who seemed to me abominable?-has he not made another woman happy? And I, with another?am I not also happy?" She caught herself repeating it, half aloud: "Am I n?t also happy?" Then, as if to chase away s shadow, she said to herself: "It is curious. Seeing him agait has not had the slightest effect or me. Not the slightest." But that evening she returnee home, having forgotten all her com missions?the p?t?, the hairclotl glove and everything else, even th? lip rouge. She returned home, her hea? heavy and her eyes red. of ladder and waits to catch you crawling into?I think they call it the fuselage. "You hope you are doing it gracefully, but the toe. of your right foot catches on the pit, or what? ever it is you sit on, and during a desperate struggle to release it you j hear the camera click. "Then a perfectly calm young ?man with a cigarette, after suggest? ing that you have your helmet on wrong side before, crawls into the ! seat in front of you and takes a squint at the sky. It develop? that he is picking out a hole in the clouds to go through, precisely like locating the cup on the putting green, and from the ease with which he strikes it later it is considerably easier, to hit. "I had immediately a real feel? ing of confidence in that young man. After all, he liked himself as much as I did myself, and he seemed to look upon the whole thing as a mere incident, something sandwiched be? tween breakfast and luncheon, like a marcel wave or buying a pair of gloves. He was quite easy. In? deed, once or twice I thought per? haps he had fallen asleep. We moved with the ease of a stout man who has stepped on the children's sled track. "I am convinced I shall never write a lot in the air. There is too much to see. But I did keep a record on the tiny desk in front of me. Here is the log in full: "At 12:50?-Just hopped off. "At 1:15?Lost: I cannot find wharf ?ve are on the map. The pilot seemt to know, however. "At 1:40?Have eaten my lunch? Sandwich poor. .Shall I throw over the banana .--kin or r.ot? "At 1:50?Have put the banana akin in my pocket. Airplaners muit have good manners. "At 2?Have just passed a note \? the pilot, asking if he is sure he has enough gas. He has. "At 2:15?Very lovely below. All the land is brown and the sea deep blue. The white surf lines do not seem to move. "At 2:25?Masses of white clouds be? low us. Some drops of mcisture on my face. Heavens, are we boiling? Do aeroplanes boil? "At 2:45?Almost over. Sorry. It has been wonderful. The landing place looks rather small. "I intend to have an aeroplane of my own soon, a nice tame one, that will play around the yard and let the children pet it. And on the rack in front of my seat in it I shall put a bottle of sunburn lotion"?so the delightful flying author expresses herself on flying. It does appeal ihat she may easily Tealize hei dream, since money is reported t< flow toward her from every direc tion. "Life was very good to me at th< beginning," says Mrs. Einehart. "I gave me a strong body, and it gav me sons before it gave me my work I was almost fiercely a mother, learned to use a typewriter with m two forefingers and a baby on m knee. "I am frankly a ttory teller. Som day I may be a novelist. As a stor teller I have had a certain populai ity. To those friends and supportei of mine scattered all over the worl I have an overwhelming ??ense < obligation. They look to me for ce tain things, and I must not fail thei I must not disappoint them."