A lot of people today will tell you that Ouija boards are evil, responsible for bringing demons through onto the earthly plane. But is that really true? Let’s explore the history and myth surrounding this old school divination tool.
The Ouija board was initially patented in 1891 as a form of entertainment – a game. In fact, it was even tested at the Patent Office to ensure that it worked as claimed. Most everyone of my generation played with Ouija boards as kids (and I don’t recall any demons showing up!). However, the movie The Exorcist changed all that. Not only was everyone that watched the movie rumored to die 7 years later, the reputation of the Ouija board was forever damaged. Let’s explore the common myths about this once popular game:
- Ouija boards summon or release negative or demonic entities. Millions of Ouija boards have been sold since 1891, without a single confirmed case of demonic possession. Several individuals have claimed that the Ouija board told them what to do, including a woman in Chicago, Illinois, that left her mother’s body in the living room for 15 days before she was to bury it, or two women in Buffalo, New York, that committed murder in 1930. Neither claim provided evidence, however, of demonic activity. The exception I would make is that if your intent is to summon or release negative or demonic entities, then you might actually be successful in doing so (not that that’s a good thing). Every case I have seen where such entities are present was not a result of using a Ouija board, but because they’ve participated in black magic, voodoo, or other dark practices.
- You’re talking to spirits. The way a Ouija board works is that it uses non-conscious reflexive movements, known as the ideomotor effect, of the people who are using it to direct the planchette around the board. To date, there is no hard evidence that spirit has anything to do with communicating the information received through a Ouija board. Until we have that evidence, we won’t know exactly who or what we’re connecting with. One questionable practice that occurred in 1920, much to the dismay of the police, was the use of Ouija boards to attempt to find new clues to help solve a murder in New York City. In 2012, researchers found that subjects using Ouija boards were able to increase their ability to answer questions from 50% or random chance, to 65%. They concluded that our non-conscious minds are smarter than our conscious minds, most likely because we tend to trust outside sources (even a Ouija board) more than ourselves.
- They are inherently evil. Because of this myth, some believe that using a Ouija board is communicating with spirits, which they believe is a sin. I’m no expert on the Bible or on every religion and its belief system, however, I have read or heard of countless examples of individuals communicating with beings not on the earth in human form in the Bible or from religious representatives (priests, preachers, etc.). I have not, on the other hand, read or heard anything specific about Ouija boards being evil in and of themselves. Certainly, no one would encourage you to do something that is against your belief system, however, there is no evidence that Ouija boards are evil. In the U.S., Ouija boards are still sold in toy stores in both the glow-in-the-dark and pink-is-for-girls versions. On this myth, you’ll have to decide for yourself!
- Using pendulums, recording devices, or “spirit boxes” is much safer. Truth be told, there is no difference between any of these spirit communication devices. All are used today for “spirit communication.” The primary difference is the ease with which you get information from more modern devices, versus spelling each word out, letter by letter. While quite a few paranormal investigators still use Ouija boards, most have graduated to recording devices and spirit boxes, so that they may receive more immediate and “scientifically-based” responses from spirit. Still, these new devices have not yet been proven to be actual spirits communicating with us; perhaps that proof will come in time.
Unfortunately, the Ouija board has been vilified in popular culture, thanks to T.V. and movies. Despite this undeserved bad reputation, it is still used today as a tool for spirit communication. I have certainly used both a Ouija board and pendulum without any problem. Of course, anything can be used for the wrong purposes or with bad intent. If someone is purposely trying to conjure negative entities, then that is a different situation altogether and one to be avoided, if at all possible!
How about you? Have you used a Ouija or spirit board? A recording device or spirit box? What did you experience?
Gauchou, H.L., Rensink, R.A. and Fels, S. (June 2012). Expression of nonconscious knowledge via ideomotor actions. Consciousness and Cognition. 21(2).
Smithsonian Magazine. The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board.
Dr. Carol Pollio is the Director of Intuitive Investigations, a paranormal investigation and earthbound spirit rescue organization. After a successful career as a Chief Scientist in a federal land management agency and having honorably served 31 years in the military, Dr. Pollio is now focusing on the field of parapsychology, blending her knowledge of scientific principles with her intuitive abilities and psychic mediumship skills. She is also a certified Parapsychological Field Investigator with the Office of Paranormal Investigations and an Elemental Space Clearing® Practitioner.