Enduring Mystery of the Ouiia Board Reincarnation
Who fe Patience Worth? Did She Ever Exist? Are Mrs.
Curran and She One and the Same
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
Or am I strung in full
And at his touch give forth the ful
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
"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
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- ;
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
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?
"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?"
He answered in a calm voice:
Then they set to talking in whis?
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
"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
Taking his companion by the arm,
he enveloped her with his affection?
"Surely he was more affectionate
than amorous," said H?l?ne to her?
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
"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
"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?
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,
"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?
She returned home, her hea?
heavy and her eyes red.
of ladder and waits to catch you
crawling into?I think they call it
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
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