O is for Ouija

10216743544_58da5b35d8_zOuija boards, or ‘talking boards,’ are primarily used to communicate with spirits of the dead.

Although Parker Brothers sells them as a parlour game and toy.

That just seems odd to me: Talk to the dead! It’s fun for the whole family.

To use a ouija, a heart-shaped planchette is slowly moved around the board by two or more people who are attempting to summon someone in the spirit world. Once a connection is forged, the spirit can communicate by guiding the opening in the planchette over the words, letters, and numbers on the board.

But do ouija boards actually work?

Scientists say no. They believe that tiny, involuntary movements in our hands control the planchette. Of course, this doesn’t explain the spirits who have given messages in languages not known by the people controlling the board. Or the startling predictions that have been made through ouija boards. (A favourite question asked of spirits is, “When am I going to die?” Why someone would want to know that is beyond me.)

Some Christians, primarily Roman Catholics, believe that ouija boards are evil. They feel that the benign spirits people think they’re talking to are actually demons, and not so benign at all.

When I was a teenager, I borrowed a ouija board from a friend. At first, I carefully followed all the rules: I never used it alone; I made sure to move the planchette to Goodbye before taking my hands off it, etc. But the darn thing never worked.

One night I fell asleep with the ouija at the end of my bed. I was in a deep sleep when a loud knocking sound woke me up. Groggily, I realized the sound was coming from the ouija, but I was too out of it to process what that meant. Instead, I grabbed the board and threw it in a dresser drawer.

Before I could get back to sleep, loud knocking sounds started coming from inside the dresser. At this point, I was really annoyed, and yelled a few choice words at it. The knocking stopped, and I fell asleep.

In the morning, once it dawned on me what had happened, I returned the ouija board to my friend.

This fellow claims his scratches appeared while he was using a ouija board.

Have you ever used a ouija board? If so, did it work? What question would you ask the spirit world?

And has anyone seen the movie Ouija? Any good?

Click here for twenty-three terrifying tales about ouija boards gone wrong. Not to go all Buzzfeed on you, but YOU WON’T BELIEVE NUMBER TWENTY-THREE! OMG!

Seriously, though, it’s pretty damn creepy.

Ouija board photo by Gabriel Molina.


  1. Yikes that’s scary J.H. about the knocking of the ouija board. I tried it in my younger years but I don’t really remember any outcome. Maybe nothing happened. I wouldn’t try it now … and I’m too nips to check out yr link..

    • JH

      Thankfully, I was too tired to be scared. I may one of the only people in the world who has ever told a ouija board to “F* off.”

      Ah, teenagers!

    • JH

      The friend who owned it claimed to keep seeing demons bending over him whenever he tried to sleep, so his mom made him burn the board.

      However, this friend was a heavy drug user at the time, so we didn’t pay much attention to his stories.

  2. I did use a Ouija board. First, my best friends and then I got my mom one for Christmas. Yes, strange Christmas gift. We had some strange things happen while using it but nothing scary. I did start to notice that whatever I thought, the Ouija board said, even with my fingers barely touching it. My mom and I stopped using it and got rid of it after all the talk about bad spirits coming out of them. I wrote a flash fiction piece about that titled Greeting Evil. I’m afraid it’s not any good, but it was published on an ezine. The link is on my blog in the About Me section.

    • JH

      Thanks for letting me know, Chrys. I’ll check it out.

      It sounds like the involuntary movements of the hands could be true in your case.

      And not so weird a Christmas gift…depends on the person. If someone got one for me, I wouldn’t be shocked. One of the best gifts I ever received was the full set of Timelife’s “Mysteries of the Unexplained.”

    • JH

      And not only an inappropriate game–can you imagine how boring it would be if it didn’t work?

      I can’t see that holding a kid’s attention for very long!

  3. My sister bought a ouija board way back when and we played around with it a bit. I remember thinking it was all good fun–and real, too. I suppose I thought we were talking to a good spirit, and so it wasn’t scary. It’s kind of bizarre to think back on hehe.

    • JH

      That’s amazing, Sara! We never got one to work. I bought another for my boyfriend before our night in a haunted hotel room–thought that if it would work anywhere, it would be there.


  4. My grandmother passed away a little over a year ago, I’ve never thought about purchasing a Ouija board until someone made a joke about talking to her through it. The next day I ordered a board. It’s never been opened and it sits in my closet. Whenever I touch or hold the box, it feels wrong. I’m not sure if it feels wrong because nerves and thoughts of my grandma, or if there is something “demonic” wanting me to use it. One day I may use it, but today it sits unopened in my closet.

    • JH

      Welcome to my blog, Cassandra! I hope to see you back here.

      Well, with this as in all things, go with your gut. If you have a bad feeling about it, don’t use it. Sometimes this stuff can make a loss more painful.

      I’m friends with a medium, and she once started gasping (my grandmother had respiratory failure when she died) and asking me, “Who can’t breathe? Who can’t breathe?” I could have gotten along without that experience.

  5. I’ve never used one, but I seem to remember there being one among the old board games at my paternal grandparents’ house. For years, I thought they worked and looked forward to using one someday, particularly at Halloween, but I was too scared to try it for myself. They were debunked on an episode of Penn and Teller’s old show, but it’s entirely possible they can work sometimes. I still believe in unexplained phenomena and things like astrology, though I know all my skeptic, science-based friends would mercilessly deride me if I admitted this, and would accuse me of “special pleading.”

    • JH

      I have lots of skeptical, science-based friends too, Carrie-Anne. I’m a journalist, and believe it’s only right to find a rational explanation for incredible things. But I’m also openminded, as it sounds you are, and I don’t think we’ve figured out everything yet.

      You know what’s really fun with scientists? Introduce them to a great medium, and have her tell them a few things. Then watch them freak out. They’ll only believe for about a day before they start dismissing everything, but it’s definitely an awesome experience to see. 🙂

  6. Not ever will I use one of those things. EVER! It’s like opening a door and inviting the serial killer in because he looks innocuous.

    So the door is open but you don’t know how to close it. Nope.. Not going to Happen.

  7. Ouija have always scared me. Being half Irish I’ve grown up with ghost stories, superstition and a particularly scary ouija story that made me stay well away. Last year we visited a witch museum in Cornwall and bought a spirit board. We’ve never used it. It’s still in its wrapping.

    TD Harvey
    A to Z participant

    • JH

      It sounds like you’ve had quite the interesting upbringing and background, TD. I wish I had something mystical in mine.

      My mother is a huge skeptic, and Dad has never mentioned anything about this stuff, but I would assume he is as well. Perhaps I was adopted. 😉

  8. OMG! that was creepy to the extreme, you and the knocking ouija 😀 I never used it, It’s not a well known game where I live, people do know about it but never met someone who owned one. Don’t think I’ll use it anyway simply cause it sounds boring to me. Great post.

  9. C. Lee McKenzie

    When we were kids we used to play around with it. And I mean play, like drag the little heart shaped thing around to whatever letter we wanted. No spirits arrived.

    • JH

      It’s never worked for me, either. Not in the way I wanted it to, at least.

      It seems like most kids and teens go through a brief ouija board stage.

  10. We were at a work conference about 10 years ago when someone whipped a Ouija board out. My boss had an interesting theory. He said the combined energy of our bodies moves the little thingy–whatever it’s called. He said on a subconscious level, a member of the group controls the movement through his/her energy and that’s why it’s so often accurate to facts about people’s lives. But he said it’s all energy, not conscious movement. Not sure if that’s even a valid theory but it sounded logical from a scientific perspective. I am fascinated by the supernatural but when it gets demonic, I don’t even like to think about it!

    • JH

      That sounds logical, but it doesn’t explain the spirits that speak in a language not know by the users, etc. I do believe a lot of people involuntarily control it, but it certainly never happened with me. Darn thing never moved, except for the knocking.

      Very cool work conference, though!

  11. I have never used one and I’m not sure I could. I think I’m too cynical to believe the other person wasn’t manipulating it and you aren’t supposed to use it alone so I’ve just stayed away.

    I’m not sure what questions I’d want answered. If it really is a conduit to commune with spirits I could see demons having access too and I’m not sure I’d want to know what they were thinking.

    • JH

      Good point, Frank! Thanks for commenting.

      I’m glad you were able to keep the A to Z action going with everything else happening in your life.

  12. Have you seen the picture of the pink Ouija Board? There’s a meme for it: Because making it pink makes the possibility of summoning a demon ok.

    I remember trying it with friends when we were younger. Nothing happened except lots of giggling.

    Heather M. Gardner
    Co-host: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part [http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/]

    • JH

      It seems to be a teenage rite of passage. No, I haven’t seen the pink one. I’ll have to look that up! I’m sure it has glitter as well.

      “Call out the girly demon! He’ll be your bestest, bestest friend!”

  13. When I was younger my family had an old Ouija board in the closet for the longest time. My friend and I would mess with it every now and then when we were bored…until the day the board insisted my litter of kittens had one less kitten than it did. You guessed it…we found that one of the kittens had died. I have never touched a Ouija since!! I wrote a post about it on my blog after seeing an ad for that pink Ouija board that was mentioned.

    I’ve loved reading your blog posts…right up my alley!

    • JH

      I’m so glad to hear it, Jaime! Thanks so much for the kind words.

      And sorry to hear about your Ouija experience. That really is scary. Sad about the poor little kitten, too. What a way to find out!

  14. I used to regularly dabble in Ouija boards when I was younger. I remember one time 4 of us did one. Amongst many other happenings that I won’t list, what really convinced me this one was real and no one was pushing it voluntarily or involuntarily, as we sat with our fingers on the glass (we didn’t have a store bought one, just paper and a glass) the glass started spinning underneath our fingers, and I mean spinning fast!
    Popping by from the A – Z challenge. I absolutely love your theme!

    • JH

      Wow, Debbie–that is really creepy! I’d love to know what else happened.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. If you enjoyed my theme, you’ll like my regular posts, as I blog about the same topics on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

      Hope to see you back here! 🙂

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