Ouija Boards – Are They Really A Game?
27th February, 2017
What is the very first thing that most people think of when the hear the words Ouija board? Most (but obviously not all), people think of horror movies like the Ouija board scene in “The Exorcist”, or any one of another countless horror movie genre, that has used the Ouija board as basis for its story-line. Or they automatically think of horror stories they may have heard from people who have used the board – or they may believe whatever religious teachings they have learned about the use of such devices. Then again some simply consider them nothing more than a toy or a palour game.
But, are Ouija boards a toy? Really, are they? The subject of Ouija boards (otherwise known as ‘talking boards’, ‘spirit boards’, ‘communication boards’, ‘clear channel board’, ‘charmed spirit boards’, and ‘Walpurgisnacht witchboards’, amongst others), has come up again and again. So I seriously thought about doing this blog for some weeks now. Particularly since some of my team members and I were dealing with fall out from one person’s use of the board, ( I will talk more about that later in this posting). This blog is going to be a fairly lengthy one, and I do have a lot to say about it. Firstly though I feel it is important to give at least a very condensed history on how they came about.
A brief history of Ouija boards and what they are?
In 1848, two sisters Kate and Margaret Fox contacted the spirit of a dead peddler and spiritualism was born. This was an era when very few people lived past the age of 50 years old due to the living conditions and standards, health care etc; in that era. Because of this, many people had lost loved ones, and often a large number of them at one time solely due to the diseases such as typhoid, and others that would periodically sweep communities.
It was a time when people seemed to be ready and wanting the comfort of belief in a continued existence. Spiritualist communities and groups were established world wide and mediums ( a very large percentage of them fake), began holding séances. Table tipping and other means of communication with the dead were at the best cumbersome and noisy and in order to be able to communicate with loved ones who had passed, people had to rely on dubious séances and mostly fake mediums, who were simply out to fleece money out of desperate people. People who were grieving for their loved ones and simply wanted to know that they still existed and were ok.
From table tipping and rapping, other forms of attempting communication were tried. One of these was spirit writing, (or today it would be called automatic writing) . This was done, initially anyway, by holding a pencil in an upside down basket or planchette. After a while someone invented the talking board, it’s original origins are shrouded in mystery – however in 1890 a person by the name of Elijah J Bond submitted a patent for the first official “talking board” calling it a toy or a game.
The term “talking board” that Elijah gave to his patent, is generally used these days as more of a generic term for any message board that has numbers, letters and a moveable message indicator. Whether that is a planchette or an upside down glass (in this case it is generally called “Ask the glass”), this movable object is lightly touched by one or more persons, and will slide or pivot along the surface of the board to spell out words or messages.
The Ouija board got its name from the sister-in-law of the board’s inventor Helen Peters. Helen was supposedly a very strong medium and she asked the board what it wished to be named. It spelled out Ouija in result. When they asked what that meant, supposedly the board responded with the words “good luck”
Some would argue that an Ouija board is just another divination device, like divining rods, table tipping, automatic writing, etc. Also, there are other boards that use pendulums, fixed spinners or rolling boards – these latter are not technically regarded as “talking boards”, although the effect is definitely the same.
There is great debate about whether the messages given on these boards indeed come from supernatural entities or they are solely a psychological / physiological phenomenon, one that is created by the users of the board. According to some scientific sources, there are two factors that come into play when using a Ouija board
- There is a strong, generally subconscious need for an answer to any specific question the user has
- There is a phenomenon called the ideomotor effect.
What is the ideomotor effect?
Wikipedia has this to say about the ideomotor effect: “As in reflexive responses to pain, the body sometimes reacts reflexively with an ideomotor effect to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action. The effects of automatic writing, dowsing, facilitated communication, and Ouija boards have been attributed to the phenomenon.”
So therefore the ideomotor effect says that people can move or move something without their conscious mind realizing it. In the case of the Ouija board, if you really want the answer to a question to be yes and any other person also on the board with you knows it, they could all push the planchette to “YES” without anyone consciously applying any force.
Certainly I do not disagree in the least that probably a large percentage of talking board communication can be put down to this effect. Here is a video that explains this in more detail
Whilst I personally agree with most of what they are saying, I do not agree that all Ouija experiences can be explained away by this. Here is where science and my personal experiences diverge greatly.
When I was in my very early teens in the late 60’s (OMG so last millennia), we did the talking glass thing at our kitchen table – like the image on the left. The glass would not move, unless I was present in the room, even if I was not actually on the board itself. When I was in the room it would “talk”. We contacted what appeared to be a young lad our age. He told us his name, that he had lived in Japan and had died from small pox. He even gave us the year of his death. Although of course there was no internet then so checking any of this out for validity was nigh on impossible.
A group of us had contact with this kid for a number of weeks, and I felt a real kinship with him – and he deliberately targeted me. Looking back I can see why, I was very young, vulnerable and a developing medium and empath. So this entity totally played on my sympathies and my vulnerability,( telling me often how lonely he was, where he was). Although I was not aware of this until after the fact and a few years later when I was more experienced.
Anyway, one day the group of us were chatting as normal with this kid, when he tells me that I should commit suicide so that we could be together as friends forever, and he would no longer be lonely, I felt so sorry for him. As he finished saying this my Mum walked into the room. She heard what he had just said and she went to reach for the glass to take it off us. It flew out of our hands and smashed against the wall on the other side of the table. That was the end of my experimenting with a talking glass / Ouija board. It took weeks before our house felt clean again, and we were no longer freaked out.
Fast forward to 2017. A month or so ago, my team and I were approached to check out a home that was experiencing supposed paranormal activity. This included, cold spots, objects moving, disembodied voices, shadow figures, apparitions of a child and others, and physical touching (including intimately), foul smells amongst other things. So we did an initial interview with the clients and had a tour of the house. The female of the house was the one experiencing most of the paranormal activity, but her partner also was very aware of events that were happening in the home and had seen some of them himself.
On our initial visit we were very aware of cold spots, in the house (in 30C summer heat), and of spots in the house that literally caused the hairs on our arms to raise – along with a sense of being unwelcome, and downright hostility in some places in the house. Only in certain spots of the property though and not all over. Also a door slammed by itself, with no breeze in the house.
As is our norm, we took a digital recorder and recorded our interview with the client. On this we captured some very clear evp. We chose not to share these on here because they also have the clients talking on them, and in interests of their privacy it is better not to share. In some of these evp, we captured voices that were very negative towards the female.
We asked about when the activity started and what they feel caused it to begin. The female mentioned an Ouija board that she said belonged to her ex-flatmate who had only recently moved out of their home. She commented that she felt this flatmate had used the board and performed some sort of wiccan ceremony over the board and this all started from there. We asked if she had ever participated in the use of this board, she categorically denied it and said that in fact she would never, ever touch one. At the same time she is saying that, we get an evp calling her a liar, along with deep growls and guttural sounds. Obviously we did not hear this audibly, and it wasn’t until we were back home going over the interview tape and subjective and objective experiences that we heard the evp.
We organized an investigation for their home, which the female cancelled on us the night beforehand. Not a problem these things happen. Meantime, the 3 of us who initially visited the home started having different things happening in our own homes. Things like disembodied growls, guttural noises, bangs, scratching our our windows and doors, foul smells. At the beginning none of us mentioned this to the others, but we all experienced them. We soon dealt with the entities, once we realized the source of them and what was actually happening.
We subsequently found out that she was and is still actively using the board. Her partner was unaware of this actually. She was deliberately inviting entities into her home. Now we cannot do anything for people who actually want, and invite this phenomena into their lives. That is entirely their choice, and this woman was, and is, enjoying the attention having these entities in her home brings her. We withdrew from the case after sitting them both down together and being frank with them. The husband was actually gutted about this all, but we cannot help people who invite this activity in and want it.
In her using the board she deliberately and knowingly invited entities into her home and allowed one of them to attach to her. Now these entities are very low life entities – and the type that enjoy creating fear and discord, and attaching to people where they can to feed off their energies. This was definitely not a case of ideomotor effect, this was and still is, spiritual parasites.
So you are determined to use an ouija board?
I wish you wouldn’t, but if you are determined that for whatever reason you want to use a Ouija board and my personal advice is don’t. It is much better to not even have these in your home, or where you cannot control who uses them in your home. Which actually reminds me of an experience a very good friend of mine had just in the past few months.
This friend lives in the states and he and his wife found a lovely old Ouija board at a garage sale or some place in their travels. It was a very old board and they had planned on using it as a wall decoration. So it was brought into their house. In a short space of time, they both started experiencing phenomena in their home, from a shadow man moving around, to cold spots and feeling watched and unsafe, noises, their wee son waking screaming in the night – when previously he slept through. It took a little while for them to realize what was happening in their home, cause it was subtle at first, then it became more overt.
When he let me know what was going on, we talked about how they could shut the board down and clean their house of this entity who by now was causing real issues in their home. This friend runs a paranormal group in the states, and actually just completed an investigation at Waverly Hills, a world famous haunted location. So he is not unaware of spiritual things. But this took them by surprise, as they did not feel anything off the board when they purchased it and brought it into their home.
So my friend attempted to remove this entity from his home and it physically attacked him. Beating him around the head and leaving large red marks on his face and neck (he sent me pics). Eventually, and with a lot of work and some bruises on his part, he was able to shut the board down and remove the entity from his home and property. The board was then destroyed. So the risks are indeed VERY real with these. This was just from bringing the board into their home. Not actually using it – because the person who had previously owned it had not closed it and the entity was attached to the board.
If you intend to use Ouija board, and albeit very reluctantly on my part, I will tell you things that are an absolute MUST for you to do, in order to cut down the risks of attracting lower level entities or plain nasty human ones.
- You must begin with some sort of protection ritual, whether that is a prayer to whatever god you believe in, or visualization. Protect yourself, the room you are in and the others in the room with you, and in fact your whole home.
- You should light a white candle. This is meant to attract “light’ beings as opposed to lower level entities. Also some incense helps create a more peaceful atmosphere.
- Only have people present who are serious and respectful. If you enter this in a joking and disrespectful manner you are more likely to attract lower level entities.
- Do not use the board if you have drunken alcohol or used drugs of any description, and DO NOT drink or smoke (drugs) whilst using the board.
- Anybody that has any psychological disorders, or anyone who is nervous, anxious or has addictive tendencies must not use the board.
- Do not cross your legs under the table, keep your posture straight.
- Don’t ask questions about when or how you or anyone you know will die.
- Once you put your protection up, know that it is enough.
- When you start asking questions on the board you must set the boundaries with spirit.
- You should have one main person who will be the spokesperson for you all.
- NEVER do the board by yourself.
- Ask if there are any spirits who would like to communicate with you and say please communicate with us using the board ONLY.
- Make sure you are in control of the board and ignore any other spiritual activity that might be happening around you in the room. Things like bangs, tapping, knocking, scratching, lights flickering etc). Ask the spirit that they MUST use the board to communicate or they have to leave.
- Each person places 1 – 2 finger tips on the planchette. They must remain connected to it at all times.
- It can take some time before you get anyone come through if at all. If nothing happens after about 30 minutes then close the board down and try again another night.
- Never stay on the board for more than 1 1/2 hours otherwise you become too tired to be vigilant and spirit also can tire.
- If the planchette does not go onto a letter properly, like goes in between letters ask spirit to do that letter again.
- Most importantly the board MUST be closed down before you finish and leave, at the end of each and every time you use the board.
- Do not use the board more than twice a week, it is very easy to become addicted to it.
How to close the ouija board
- Thank the spirits for coming, participating, and talking with you all.
- Wish them peace, and then say goodbye.
- The spirit should then move the planchette to the goodbye. You can then pack up the board and blow out the candles etc.
- If the spirit does not move the planchette to the goodbye, then you need to tell them that you are saying goodbye and they must do the same.
- If they still do not move the planchette to the goodbye then YOU must move it over to the goodbye and say in a very firm, strong, stern, but respectful voice say GOODBYE, and LEAVE out loud. Then remove all your fingers from the planchette. If you feel that is not enough, then you can also slam the planchette done on a hard surface – obviously not so strongly you break it, or you can pass it through the candle flame (if it is not a flammable material).
- ALWAYS ground yourself by eating and drinking something afterwards.
Whilst it is very true that many of the physical experiences on an Ouija board can be explained by the ideomotor effect and certainly there are people out there for whom the Ouija board is a psychological minefield – possibly due to currently issues the person may be facing in their lives, loneliness, or curiosity or having a sense of needing something that is lacking in their lives, or an addictive personality. However, this absolutely does not apply to everyone who experiments with using a board or other forms of spirit communication.
The board in and of itself is only an inanimate object. It is the INTENT with which it is used that can open doors to the spirit world and herein lays the issue. If you get a vulnerable person, like I was when I was a young teen, and a low level entity is attracted to the board, they can influence the person to do anything. They do this by gaining their trust and telling them the things they want and need to hear, in order for the entity to gain their confidence and trust. Once they have that then they will try to attach to the person or to influence them in other ways – physical or behavioural ways. Once they do that then the entity will reveal their true natures and by then it is often to late cause they have attached to the persons energies.
When you use this form of communication, you do not know who you are inviting in, or what their real intent is. It literally is inviting a stranger that you know nothing about into your home and giving them free reign. So if you must use it, then at least use it safely, or as safely as it is possible to be when you are inviting strangers into your home.
Til next time –
Shadowlands Paranormal Investigations team