A sure sign of becoming a cultural icon is when an performer gets their very own action figure. Ever since Hasbro developed the world’s first action figure in 1964 with its creation of G I Joe, the plastic re-creations have evolved into a specialist type of star related merchandise.
We were watching the 2002 film Long Time Dead tonight which centres around a Ouija board and the evil Djinn (a fire demon according to the film) it releases. The resultant death and carnage all go a long way toward warning the audience of the perils of Ouija boards. Specifically if you operate one under the influence of booze or drugs (and if one of your party is the survivor of a previous Ouija board party gone bad).
When I was a whole world younger (and several worlds dumber) I had a fascination with these boards that allowed you to talk to the spirit realm. I never got too carried away though, I was too impatient to use a system that slowly spelt out any messages that your dead Uncle Fred or next door’s cat might want to relay.
Just in case you have led such a sheltered life that you don’t know what a Ouija board is I’ll just pass on the Wikipedia definition of this “game.”
The Ouija board ( /ˈwiːdʒə/ wee-jə) also known as a spirit board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words “yes”, “no”, “hello” (occasionally), and “goodbye”, along with various symbols and graphics. It is a registered trademark ofHasbro Inc., which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games. It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit’s message by spelling it out on the board during a séance. Participants place their fingers on the planchette and it is moved about the board to spell out words. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking board.
Oh and in case you were interested? The thing was introduced into the retail world in 1890!
Like many other young people I’d heard the odd urban legend (although I can’t think of a single specific one, I do remember hearing about inadvertently calling up demons) about how these parlour games could be scary and even deadly. I never really gave much credit to these scary stories.
I mean, how deadly could they be? They were made by Parker Games and Hasbro and were marketed as games! I remember sitting down with my mother’s best friend’s daughter and asking the board the stupid kind of questions kids at 12 and 9 years old ask. Will I get married? Does K like me? What does death feel like?
Generally, if someone wasn’t cheating and pushing the planchette, you got nonsensical answers like, “Blue,” to every question. But as I said, I never really had the patience to “play” with the board too often.
It wasn’t until years later when I was the reverse age of my initial Ouija experience (I was 21, just in case I was being too esoteric there) and my first wife and I lived in Southern California.
Our best friends lived in the flat above us in a house that had been sub-divided into two apartments. K and N were the closest friends we ever had and both K and I cried like two little school girls on the day my wife and I boarded the bus for home.
About a month before we left, my wife and I were visiting K and N and we started talking about the old Ouija board. A book had come out about a séance in Long Island or Rhode Island (I cannot remember which) and all the participants had been victimized by a “demon.” It was reportedly a true story and it impressed the hell out of me.
N said that the whole story was ridiculous and that if you followed the rules nothing bad would happen. Her husband K stated firmly that he did not like the boards and would not ever participate in the use of one. For some stupid reason, N and I decided to have a go on a board that they had.
K immediately went outside. He refused to be in the apartment while we were using it. N set the board up and grabbed some blank paper in case the words got too long for us to spell out quickly. My wife volunteered to write down what was being spelled out.
I remember that N and I sat there for what seemed like ages with our fingers just resting lightly on the planchette. Suddenly after asking repeatedly if anyone was there, it moved. It suddenly changed from being a cheap heart-shaped wooden heart to a live moving thing. It jerked and twitched and started gliding towards letters.
N and I both accused the other of moving it. After we both emphatically denied moving the thing, it glided to the “yes” on the board. My wife and N and I all looked at each other and grinned nervously.
N started by asking who was there. The mists of time have shrouded the name given, but it was a servant or serving girl who had lived at the house just after it had been built. I remember N and I asking a lot of questions about who the owners were and when the house was built. Things that we could check against records to validate if the “spirit” was real or just something messing us about.
The spirit girl had a fixation with me and for a long time would only “talk” to me. N got a bit frustrated when I had to ask her questions because the board would not respond unless I did the asking. We finally ran out of validating questions and asked how the girl had died.
She told us that she had died in childbirth. Something had been ruptured or broken and she had bled to death. N and I sat looking at each other and tried to think what to ask next. I suddenly had an idea and asked, “Who was the father of your baby?” The girl replied that it was the house owner’s child.
I immediately thought of every Gothic romance novel I’d ever heard of and decided that she must have been having an affair with the owner. I blurted out my next question without thinking. “Were you pretty?”
The planchette, which had been so alive during our session suddenly stopped. The slight electrical charge that N and I had both felt was gone. I started to ask the same question again. I was puzzled by this turn of events. As I opened my mouth I got the word were out and N shook her head.
“I don’t think that was a good question. Try another one.”
I asked about her age (going back to familiar ground as we had asked before and gotten a reply). Nothing. I could not get any response from the board. Not even when I asked N’s questions for her. Frustrated and confused, I looked at N and said, “You try.”
N shrugged and asked, “What’s wrong.”
The planchette started moving. H…E…I…S…N…O…T…A…N…I…C…E…M…A…N. I was stunned! What had I done wrong? N asked what I had done and it continued to say that I was not a nice man and that the spirit had liked me but it did not now and would not talk to me.
The planchette stopped moving for about two minutes and then it changed. The electrical charge that N and I felt was gone, in its place was a weird cold/hot feeling in the ends of our fingertips. The planchette suddenly moved very fast. It began to spell out N’s husbands name.
It spelled out K’s name three times. It then spelled out the sentence, “Tell K that Ned is dead.” The message was repeated three more times. At the last letter of the message it stopped and nothing we could do would entice it to move again.
We all sat in silence. N jumped up and shouted out the window to K. “We’re done. You can come back in now.” When K came in he looked at the board and asked why we hadn’t put it away. He glanced down at the paper by the board where my wife had written down the board’s repetitious message for him.
His eyes widened and his face turned white. “Shit! I know three Ned’s. Are you sure that was the message?” We all nodded silently. He spun around and ran to their wall phone in the kitchen.
It took him some time, but he finally rang all the Ned’s that he knew. All were alive and well and he came back into the room calmer than when he had left. Glancing down at the board he said to N, “I’m burning the damn thing.”
And he did. He took it into our communal back yard and placed it on the barbecue grill, doused it with lighter fluid and burned it.
My wife and K and I talked about the change in the board after I’d asked the spirit if it had been pretty. We all agreed that the atmosphere in the room had changed. It felt malevolent when it gave us the message about Ned’s death. We were all a little “freaked out” by the nasty turn that the Ouija board session had taken.
Suffice to say that I’ve never participated in the use of one again. I don’t know how they work or even if they work.
I do know that I don’t want to feel that malevolent, nasty feeling again.
- A Brief History Of The Ouija Board (mentalfloss.com)
- Ouija Exhibit Grand Opening Reception in Baltimore Oct. 25, 2012 (visionaryliving.com)
- The dangers of spiritual glamor (complete with a creepy Ouija board story) (conversiondiary.com)
- Ouija Boards – Childish Game or Portal to the Spirit World? (wheretheghostsgo.wordpress.com)
- Ouija do it again? (shanson3871.wordpress.com)
- Ouija Gone Wild… (bigseance.com)
- Teacher apparently didn’t foresee Ouija board ruckus (tbo.com)
- Some Thoughts (And Advice) On Ouija (magickshop.wordpress.com)
- 5 Books Dictated From Beyond the Grave (mentalfloss.com)