What is a Planchette?

   Invented by a French spiritualist in the mid-19th century, a planchette is an instrument used to aid communication with spirits through the phenomenon known as automatic writing. An improvement on the Ouija board, the planchette consists of a thin, heart-shaped piece of wood resting on small wheeled casters, fitted with a pen or pencil pointing downward. The hand of the user—presumably guided by the subconscious mind, if not by the force of a departed spirit—rests on the planchette and moves it to create messages on a sheet of paper below. It has also been popular as a toy.