I’ve always found it a bit funny how the Ouija board, that sinister portal for demonic entities, is sold to children at toy stores. Even if you allow for the possibility that it’s not an outright gateway for evil supernatural beings, it’s still odd. A communication device that allows the living to speak with the dead? That’s the perfect birthday gift for little Timmy and Mary Sue!
Granted, whether or not a person fears the Ouija board depends on whether or not they believe it works. If it’s just a wooden slab or a rectangular piece of cardboard, there’s nothing to worry about, right? It’s a party game, a novelty. Heck, we might even be unconsciously moving the planchette ourselves and not even know it, according to a recent study (and many before it).
Then again, sometimes things can happen whether we believe in them or not. And those familiar with Ouija boards are quick to point out the potential pitfalls of using them without respecting their power.
YES NO GOODBYE
The problem, according to those well-versed in the use of talking boards, is that many people, even those who believe, don’t take the board as a communication device seriously.
This can be dangerous, if various accounts are true. In his article “Ouija: Not A Game,” Dale Kaczmarek plainly states that he “would strongly advise against the use of the Ouija,” or any kind of spirit channeling, especially by those who are “novices or are unaware of the possible dangers that await.” He presents a handful of reports, found in a number of tabloids throughout the years, as examples of Oujia board sessions gone wrong.
In one case, a user challenged their Ouija board to “prove it was real,” leading to strange poltergeist-like activity — the room turned cold, and a “chandelier…began to shake violently.” The “stench of death filled the room.” And yet, even after throwing the board away, the strange phenomena continued. He had opened a door he could not shut.
Many other similar anecdotes exist, and if true, they not only suggest the Ouija board is real, they make a good case against using one.
The issue of demons and alleged demonic possession is of particular interest, such as the 2015 incident involving an 18-year-old woman in Peru. She had used nothing more than a free Ouija board app on her smartphone, perhaps proving that it isn’t the form the board takes, but what it represents that matters.
Even those who view the Ouija board as a positive tool warn against their use without adequate preparation and due deference. I’ve been reading a book by Karen A. Dahlman recently titled The Spirits Of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication, in which the author shares her experiences using the Ouija board throughout her life. Dahlman’s conclusion is that experiences with the board greatly depend on the intention of the user.
Is the Ouija board being used carefully, or as a toy? Is the intention to communicate, or to have some fun? Is the atmosphere serious, or mocking in nature? Dahlman makes the comparison to telephones and the old days of prank calls, only with one major difference: “With this form of communication device,” she writes, “they don’t necessarily hang up and we can’t necessarily end the connection when we do not have an understanding of the energies we are evoking.”
And so, to those who don’t believe, Ouija boards are simple, non-paranormal novelties. But for those who do, the talking board is a tool that should be handled with great care.
In truth, the Ouija board as we know it today is just a mass-produced, mass-marketed version of something that has existed for millennia — a divination tool. Its modern form was preceded by tools like the writing planchette or, as outlined by the Museum of Talking Boards, the alphabet pasteboard. It just so happened that the likes of Elijah Bond and William Fuld saw a golden opportunity to market and sell the boards as novelties.
After a few twists and turns, that’s where we are today. But just because you can find them on store shelves doesn’t change what they are (or what people believe them to be).