Ouija Boards: Bad Idea or Just a Game?

Okay, day three of my Halloween blog countdown starts out with the subject of much controversy among fans of the paranormal—Ouija boards.

The question is are they a bad idea or are they just a child’s game? It really depends on who you talk too and if they have motives for their opinions. Frankly, opinions are just what we have.

Divination tools have existed in some form or another for thousands of years although the beginnings of the modern Ouija did not come into existence until during the Spiritual Movement of the 19th century. The Spiritual Movement began shortly after two sisters, in Hydesville, New York—Kate and Margaret Fox—claimed to be in contact with a murdered peddler in their family home in 1848 a mere ten years before the political turmoil that would ignite the Civil War. News travelled fast of these two young women and their abilities and they became instant celebrities. Thus, the Spiritual Movement was born in the wildfire of this incredible tale of communication with the dead.

Soon the movement spread from the United States to Europe and many a person scrambled to create the perfect way with which to communicate with the dead. Spiritualist Churches multiplied across the country and from those beginnings, certain individuals became known as mediums, people who had the ability to act as a conduit between the living and spirits. Various ways of doing so were invented from table tipping, pencil baskets, and eventually the planchette—ancestor of the modern Ouija. There were issues with such devices because they were often cumbersome and thus mediums began to split into two sides. There were those that did away with devices becoming known as trance mediums and then those who still believed that instruments were required. This led to many different gadgets being invented some more fantastic than the next.

In 1886, these devices were eclipse by a new one simply known as the Talking Board that originated in Ohio. The first patent for this Talking Board was granted in 1891 Elijah J. Bond was listed as the inventor, along with two other men Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin. Kennard would be the man who gave the Ouija its name that has stuck every since although he wasn’t in the business of manufacturing them for long. There are stories about how he came up with this name, but it is doubtful we’ll ever know the true origin. William Fuld and his brother Isaac eventually was given the job of manufacturing the boards, the name Fuld stayed with the board until Parker Bros. ceased making traditional board in 1999.

Over the years, between Hollywood and religious extremists, the original purpose of the board has been warped and twisted. Such well-known movies as The Exorcist, Amityville 3-D, and Witchboard along with numerous others has given the Ouija a bad reputation. That along with the fact that many religions frown on the belief that the dead can communicate with the living has led to a great deal of controversy about the use of this particular tool of divination.
As a child, I wanted an Ouija board so bad I could taste it, but my mother felt such things as Ouija and the Tarot were inappropriate things for a kid. She also, after years of being haunted by her own sensitivity, and mocked by the people around her felt that there was something inherently wrong with communicating with the dead. Of course, years later my aunt gave me one of the classic Parker Brother’s boards for my birthday although she made me swear never to tell my mother simply because she didn’t want to listen to my mother bitch. *laughs*

In my twenties, I used the Ouija for the first time, but asked my friends not to screw around with it. I believe that the Ouija can be utilized as a tool, but as with all tools, you must respect them. Of course, one of the girls at the séance we held, the girlfriend of a friend and co-worker, decided she wanted as always to be the center of attention. Her boyfriend, we’ll call him Jake, wasn’t a believer in the least so he chose to set out on the shenanigans. Halfway into the séance the girl started deliberately manipulating the board, if you’ve done this before you can tell what is conscious and subconscious behavior. This was quickly followed by her claiming to see orbs, shadows, etc…well you get the picture.

Unknown to her, I was just beginning to really explore my sensitivity, and I have no doubt that we annoyed something, more than likely a former occupant of the apartment I was staying in at the time. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I felt as if something were watching us from the doorway of my bedroom. That was it, I quit playing, I closed the board, the lights went on, and I gave the girl who couldn’t quit being a drama queen for one bloody night a lecture. Suffice to say the party ended early that night.

For the next few nights I couldn’t sleep in my bedroom, don’t ask me why, it just felt oppressive and I was as wound up as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. So I slept on the sofa, door closed to my bedroom, and mentioned nothing to anyone. Jake, my co-worker, approached me a few days after the séance and asked if he could talk to me in private. I agreed. We met after work in a corner booth of the restaurant we both worked at and he asked me if everything was okay. That earned him my infamous ‘WTF?’ eyebrow. Now he had my curiosity up and running.

He went on to explain that the night of the séance he’d looked up and saw what appeared to be a misty human shape wearing a brimmed hat standing in the doorway of my bedroom. He’d blinked a couple of times and he’d spent the rest of the night and the following days trying to convince himself that he hadn’t see shit. After all Jake was the only hardcore skeptic in the group that night and I found it interesting that of all the people in the room, he was the one who actually saw something.

Did we actually draw something out that night or was it just our imagination? After a week, the oppressive feel in my room faded and I went back to sleeping in my bed again. The main question here is if it were our imaginations how Jake knew the source of my discomfort. I don’t begin to have the answers, but I can say I’ve only ever used the board in question one other time with less than stellar results. I’ve since graduated from such pursuits; there is no need for them now because I’ve tapped into my own ability to sense spirits. I don’t fear this ability, but I wonder if perhaps I wouldn’t have gotten this far without that short period of exploration in my life.

So here is my lesson. Just as you would never use a power tool without reading the instructions, then don’t explore the tools of the paranormal without an education first. Be sure that when stepping into an exploration of the paranormal realm that you are there for the right reasons and that you definitely want to learn. If not then pack up the equipment, turn on the lights, and find some other more earthly hobby.

Five more days my little ghosties…

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