There I was… ten years old, sitting in the dark downstairs of Bobby Snyder’s old house on Main Street. And by old, I mean old. This baby dated back almost 150 years… and his family said it was haunted!
It was a sleepover, a candle was lit, and the Ouija board lay on the floor between three of us. We laid our hands on the Planchette and asked, “Are there any spirits here?”
That night the Planchette made arcs and darts across the letters of the board. It spelled out messages, it knew things about us (of course we knew those same things, but still…). I wasn’t convinced we made contact that night, but I didn’t doubt it either.
That experience was one of the many sparks that lit a life-long passion of mine. It started with a haunted house and a board game for ages 8 and up, sold by Parker Brothers.
The Ouija board is controversial in the paranormal community. Many scream it’s a doorway to evil. “There’s no way to know who is communicating with you!” “The spirits use your body to convey the messages!” are just two of the arguments I’ve heard against using them. As if you know who is communicating with you through a KII meter, EVP, or any other method of spirit communication deemed “safe” for no other reason than it’s not coming from a Ouija board.
The reality is, Ouija is a cornerstone of paranormal research. It’s omnipresent. It exists because the Spiritualist movement began in 1848. Thousands of people went to seek the services of psychic mediums to communicate with deceased loved ones, and many people were taken advantage of by charlatans. The Ouija board took that psychic experience out of the hands of a medium who may or may not be legit, and placed it into your hands.
Psychical researchers (the forbearer to paranormal research or ghost hunting) were always looking for ways to measure, monitor, and control so-called psychic phenomena. If they could build a “spirit detector,” then we don’t need to trust fallible humans.
The Ouija board is Americana. Since 1890, this game has gone on to world-wide acclaim. It’s been made into movies and songs, and it’s part of our popular culture. It’s here to stay. And this month we’re going to discuss it through your own Ouija encounter stories (http://ghostvillage....your-encounter/) and we’ll hear from researchers who will weigh in on the subject.
This April, the Ouija board will celebrate its 125th birthday. I’m proud to be a part of that celebration as the Talking Board Historical Society hosts its OUIJACON event (http://www.tbhs.org/.../ouijacon-2015/) in Baltimore, Maryland – the city where the Ouija board was first produced by the Kennard Novelty Company. The event will explore the history, the legends and lore, and offer a view at the vast collection of talking boards from all over the world. It’s worth checking out how we went from spirit trumpets and talking boards to thermal imaging cameras and ghost boxes.
Happy New Year!