Judy wasn’t happy when her friend brought a Ouija Board to her slumber party, but she didn’t want to be a spoiled sport. All the other girls were excited, gathering around the board, waiting for their turn to talk to the dead. At first, they began getting interesting responses to their questions, but after a while, the responses turned darker. Instead of telling them the names of their next boyfriends, it began answering all the questions with terrifying words like: kill, murder, and maim. Judy insisted they put the board away, but the event was far from over. Days later, Judy began hearing footsteps in the empty house and loud thumps on the walls. Had they conjured an evil entity through the board?
Is it a board game or a divining tool for the devil?
As I set out to write this blog, I quickly learned that there are few grey areas when it comes to people’s opinions on Ouija Boards. They either love them or they hate them. Messages began pouring in the minute I posted a question on Facebook about them.
So, what’s the fuss all about?
I probably don’t need to describe an Ouija Board to anyone. We’ve all seen them in horror flicks and paranormal reality shows. For those who have been living under a rock for the past hundred years or so, a spirit board is a game board that is marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, the words “yes” and “no”, and typically the words “hello” and “goodbye”. Users rest their fingers on a triangle or heart-shaped game piece, often called a planchette, while an unseen entity supposedly moves the indicator to spell out a message. Many people consider spirit boards to be a form of automatic writing, a practice that allows ghosts to convey messages by spelling out words on paper. They gained popularity in the late 1800’s as the boards became easily obtainable and can be currently be found in most department stores or online shopping sites, sitting side-by-side with family favorites like Candyland and Monopoly.
For many people, the question is simple. Why would an Ouija Board be any different than any other form of paranormal equipment? The answer is a bit more complex.
When we conduct paranormal investigations, we use many different pieces of equipment to elicit responses from the spirit world. Tools of the trade vary. A popular device is the Ovilus, an electronic device that is pre-programmed with several thousand words the spirit world can utilize to sound out messages. Others use Spirit Boxes, which use a modified radio that scans quickly through the stations to capture spirit voices. K2, EMF meters, flashlights, and digital audio recorders are also frequently used as communication devices. The one thing that separates these devices from a spirit board is the conduit. While the other equipment allows the entities to communicate through the device itself, a spirit board requires a host to convey the messages. For me, that makes all the difference.
In my book Ghostly Defenses: A Sensitive’s Guide for Protection, I don’t recommend investigators to invite a ghost to touch them or use their energy. Personal contact can lead to a multitude of unexpected complications including a paranormal hangover, where an investigator is drained of energy, as well as spirit attachment, where the entity actually follows you home from the investigation. Maintaining a safe distance is often essential in keeping yourself protected. It only takes one wrong move to turn your life into a living hell. I say this from personal experience. I wrote the book The Soul Collector after I ran into a very nasty negative entity that brought me to the brink of disaster.
With that said, it won’t surprise anyone that I have mixed feelings about spirit boards, especially when they are used by inexperienced people. In some cases, it could be the equivalent of handing a loaded gun to a person who has never seen a gun before. The results could be fairly predictable.
A friend who wishes to remain anonymous shared the following story with me. They lived in a haunted house and frequently used an Ouija Board to communicate with the resident ghosts, but the sessions eventually grew precarious. While the house had always been active, it intensified greatly after they began using the board. The ghost began to focus on the twenty-year-old daughter. It knew things about her personal life that she hadn’t shared with her family and began spelling them out with glee. The activity soon grew physical as the entity began taking control of her body. Something began moving her arms, making them tremble and point in a specific direction. At times, her arms would twitch and shake beyond control, something her father could feel by touching her. The family quickly stopped using the spirit board. While the activity in the house continued, the entity ceased the physical attacks.
Others have different takes on the boards.
Frank had also had a life altering experience using a Ouija Board. While his sister and her friends used the board at a slumber party in the family’s basement, he sat at the edge of the room, watching them. He had a crush on one of his sister’s friends, but at fifteen-years-old, he was too shy to do anything about it. One of the girls asked the board if it had something it wanted to tell them. It promptly spelled out “Frankie loves Bonnie.” Frank was mortified and ran upstairs in embarrassment, but the message served its purpose. Frank and Bonnie are now married with two children, having been together for twenty-one years.
Is this really possible? Can a piece of cardboard and a game piece really conjure up the dead?
Many skeptics believe that the spirit board responses are due to ideomotor responses, where users are unknowingly moving the planchette. In his book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, neurology professor, Terence Hines, states the following:
“The planchette is guided by unconscious muscular exertions like those responsible for table movement. Nonetheless, in both cases, the illusion that the object (table or planchette) is moving under its own control is often extremely powerful and sufficient to convince many people that spirits are truly at work… The unconscious muscle movements responsible for the moving tables and Ouija board phenomena seen at séances are examples of a class of phenomena due to what psychologists call a dissociative state. A dissociative state is one in which consciousness is somehow divided or cut off from some aspects of the individual’s normal cognitive, motor, or sensory functions.”
Heidi’s story conflicts with this theory. While in junior high school, she used one with a friend. Nothing happened in the beginning, but soon the experience changed. An entity came through, telling them he was the father of a classmate who had died. They began asking him questions to validate the response, and he provided them with accurate information. They asked him the name of his boat, and he answered with the name “Princess.” Heidi’s friend thought the information was incorrect. She remembered the name to be “Canasta.” They ceased communication at that point, afraid that another entity was pretending to be the friend’s dead father. Later that summer, when Heidi went to the camp where the boat was docked, she happened to see his boat and was shocked at what she saw. The name on the back of the boat was “Princess,” like the spirit board told them.
The stories go on and on. I was shocked at how many people contacted me.
Psychic medium, Memie Watson contacted me after reading my post on Facebook, providing me with the following information.
“As a child my mother worked at Parker Brothers in Salem, Massachusetts, where they made Ouija boards. They are not the traditional ones from the Egyptian times. We got one as a gift and played with it all the time. We called in spirits and asked them questions. As children, we are more susceptible to having an open mind to spirits.
We never have had anything bad happen to us at all. To this day, I still have the original one my mother gave us hanging up on the kitchen wall.
Spirit boards and Ouija boards are the same as Table Tipping as they all put you in direct communication with spirits; they are a form of divination as well as the pendulum and dowsing rods etc. Also, psychic mediums contact the spirit, so we must also be protected and cleansed. We always cleanse and consecrate any magickal tool, including ourselves, prior to spirit contact. Upon finishing, we cleanse ourselves as well, as we don’t want Sprits hanging around.
Yes, these tools are part of the Occult. While the word has a bad connotation to some, it really only means the unknown or something hidden.
They do work and will not bring any ill harm to you unless you believe that they will.
What I recommend to others starting out is to respect the board and the spirits and no harm shall come. Never mock them and laugh at them. They are not tools of the devil, as in our belief system there is no such thing as the devil, as it is purely a Christian belief.
So any form of communication with the other world is knowledge into the occult, the spirit realm,” she told me.
Others have much stronger opinions of Ouija Boards, suggesting they created portals for darker entities to utilize.
Tara from Tara Haunted Tours in Savannah, Georgia, recommends caution when dealing with the boards. While she has witnessed professionals utilizing the board without issue, she’s seen far more people get into trouble with them. She believes that when inexperienced people use Ouija Boards, hoping to sense a ghost or conjure their departed loved ones, other darker entities can come through instead, pretending to be the loved one. “They go in, extremely unprotected, thinking they are talking to dead ‘grandma’. Evil poses in many forms. Leave the board alone!” she recommends.
My friend, Michael Cram, shares a similar belief. Michael’s history in the paranormal started in childhood. His mother was an Irish witch, someone who often helped others with their problems. A talented medium himself, Michael spent over thirty years in the field investigating claims of hauntings. He also works with the Catholic Church, helping them investigate reports of demonic activity prior to exorcisms.
After the owners of the Haunted Victorian Mansion found a handmade Ouija Board in their house following a paranormal investigation, the activity in the house became far more prevalent. They asked Michael to come in for a house cleansing and he quickly identified the entity as something that was brought into the house.
“You don’t want to mess with those,” he told Edwin, pointing towards the Ouija Board. “If the wrong person is using it, they could open up more portals, and invite things that you don’t want here. It’s like leaving your front door wide open and allowing anyone to come in.”
He went on to tell Edwin that the types of entities who communicate through Ouija boards were from a lower astral plane, the type you don’t want to welcome into your home. Once you ask for a physical confirmation, such as a knock on the wall or a flicker of a candle, you are essentially opening a portal, allowing them in. Once they come through, they don’t always leave. Michael completed his cleansing, but the entity would prove difficult to remove.
Personally, I’ve avoided Ouija Boards, fearing I would create a situation I couldn’t control afterwards. Being a sensitive, I already contend with ghosts following me home from investigations and haunted establishments. The last thing I needed was to create a doorway inside my own house for them to come and go as they wished. I decided that a call to Barbara Williams was in order.
Barbara Williams is a very talented psychic medium from Casco, Maine. After meeting her at an investigation at Parsonsfield Seminary, another very haunted location, I began reaching out to her to learn more about the paranormal world. She’s since become my mentor, my go-to person for paranormal questions.
She feels that a spirit board is a tool, no different from a camera, a pendulum, or an Ovilus. An experienced user will know how to properly open and close a session, like they would do for any paranormal investigation, but since Ouija Boards are sold as toys, they often end up in the wrong hands.
“Most people’s first experiences with spirit boards come when they are adolescents. As you know, adolescents are usually very volatile emotionally. They have very strong kinetic energy and are most likely to create poltergeist activity,” she said. She went on to explaining the importance of conducting the session correctly.
She feels that safeguards must be put into place. The spirit board must first be cleansed of any lingering energy. If someone else has used it, it could still hold that energy, good or bad. While Barbara doesn’t use spirit boards, she feels that opening and closing a session is vitally important. She recommends beginning every paranormal investigation with a prayer and a blessing, asking for protection from the guides and guardians who protect the users. They should always make the intent very clear, instructing only spirits from the light to come through and preventing dark energy from emerging.
Closing the session is just as important as beginning one. After the session ends, whether it is for an EVP session or a spirit board session, the connection must be closed. “Otherwise, it’s like living in the woods in a cabin. If you walk away and leave the door open, you’re going to end up with a lot of bugs,” she said. “If you open a vortex, you must close it as well,” she added.
As for the girl named Judy in the beginning of the article — her name was really Joni.
My advice to you about spirit boards is to be cautious. Will I use one in the future? It’s highly doubtful, but I am curious by nature. If the right situation presented itself, under the best possible circumstances, I might be tempted.
Certainly, it is far more than a board game, but is it a divining tool of the devil? I’ll let you make that decision.
Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com
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