WATCH: Antique Spirit Communication Devices

"GHOSTS AND GADGETS" bridges a gap between my interests in both novelty items and genuine spiritual communication. The Austin home of collector Brandon Hodge holds one of the largest, most impressive collections of spirit communication devices in the world, and, most notably, his unparalleled collection of rare automatic writing planchettes. Many of us know the 'planchette' as the indicator on our toy Ouija board sets; the little heart-shaped plastic table that spells out our next true love's name. But long before the Ouija and the mass-manufactured popularity that came with it, Spiritualists used planchettes and other devices to write or spell out communications with the spirits of their ancestors, in a strange merging of technology and spirituality. This came at a time when faith and science were parallel lines and not pitted against one another, and the unique devices in Hodge's collection represent an era when the two were employed to work hand in hand. As someone who appreciates both the anomalous and the scientific, I view these devices as early, perhaps naive attempts to demonstrate some solid proof of life after death, which left hordes of believers in their wake.