Children’s Guide to Ouija Boards

Who needs ‘My Little Pony’ when your little one can have her very own pink-themed Ouija Board.

In 2008 Parker Brothers and Hasbro teamed up to release the all pink version of the classic parlour game ‘Ouija’ aimed at girls, ages 8 and up.

pink-ouija-board-8-yearsThe game sold at Toys r Us and featured the following tagline:

It has always been mysterious. It has always been mystifying. And now the OUIJA Board is just for you, girl.  The board comes with 72 “fun questions” to ask, including: “Who will call/text me next? Will I be a famous actor someday? Who wishes they could trade places with me?  Who is Beelzebub and why is he here?”

Okay, I added the last line, but you get the picture.

The idea came to me after discovering my old Parker Brothers Ouija Board game (not pink) while searching for my long lost shaker of salt.  I can’t recall when I acquired the Board, it’s not seen daylight in twenty years, but it brought back memories, and more importantly, a topic for this week’s blog.

I’ve always had a fascination with the occult.  My writing, as early as I can remember, often focused on other-worldly matters, and to this day, I still gravitate to that genre.  I spent time researching the paranormal – hauntings, spiritualism, possession, and still have a library of material on the topic.  In the early 90’s I even began working on a board game prototype, occult themed (inspired by the highly successful Canadian phenomenon– Trivial Pursuit).  My million dollar idea was called ‘Séance’, and although I was committed at the outset, I eventually abandoned the project due to competing interests, and sheer laziness on my part.

seance-board-game
Séance board game prototype

The unexpected appearance of my old Ouija Board last week sent my mind on a stroll down Penny Lane.  I recall as a 12 year-old, my neighbourhood pals and I experimenting with a Ouija Board.  We kept it hidden from our parents and took turns querying the spirit world surreptitiously, whenever the coast was clear.  Eventually there came a time when we managed to spook ourselves enough that we ceremoniously burned the planchette and destroyed the Board.  That was the end of Ouija.

Thinking back now, I realize we were impressionable kids – sans Internet, no electronics, and only 5 channels on television.  You can only play so much street hockey.

Our imaginations were all we had.

Nothing unusual occurred around this time, nothing that suggested a malevolent conjuration as a result of our Ouija experiments, except for one incident.

We lived in a 2-story home, bedrooms on the second floor.  Sometime after our ritual destruction of Ouija, I was awoken in the middle of the night by a loud popping sound from downstairs.  We didn’t have any pets, and we kept the doors locked.  My father would later advise he also heard the sound, but evidently neither of us was concerned enough to go and investigate.  It wasn’t until the morning I made the discovery.

We had a large glass ashtray on the coffee table in the living room.  The ashtray was an inch thick and had to weigh three pounds.

It split in half – on its own.

Right down the centre, identical halves laying side by each on the table, nothing else disturbed.  No glass shards, nada. (insert scary music here).

It was puzzling.  And although I didn’t make the Ouija connection at the time, it’s something I’ve never forgotten.  A logical explanation might suggest the glass had a natural imperfection or flaw, and a sudden fluctuation in air temperature or humidity, precipitated the fracture.

That’s one theory.

Flash ahead to my twenties, and the occasional Ouija Board session or séance was no more than an excuse to consume Rye & Cokes and eat Chinese food.  We had fun mind you, a few jump scenes , but nothing of significance ever manifested itself, at least nothing I remember.

After university the Board went away, my childish things relinquished in pursuit of adulthood and maturity.  Until this past weekend.

The Ouija debate is timeless – harmless parlour trick or gateway to the spiritual realm. While my scientific side constantly bombards me with logical rhetoric, I remain open on the subject.  I like to think there is more than this (in life).

Skeptics argue the Ouija Board is manipulated either subconsciously or purposely, and nothing more.  The theory is logical.  Canadian paranormal debunker James Randi conducted an experiment where three persons were blindfolded before beginning a Ouija Board session.  With each question asked, the Board spelled out unintelligible gibberish in response.  The experiment’s results suggested Randi’s hypothesis was correct – that the planchette is manipulated by the person, not a spirit.  Without being able to see the letters, the participants were unable to spell out a single word.

Skeptics 1, believers nil.

james-randi-paranormal-challenge

The flip side of the argument is equally as passionate, if not more so – that the dangers of delving into the occult are only too real.  Numerous documented incidents tell of persons succumbing to psychotic episodes and ending up in mental institutions after experimenting with the Board.  Other cases involve episodes of depression and physical illness, even poltergeist activity and demonic possession.  To this day a fraction of the population maintains the Board is dangerous, and the possibility of summoning a demonic entity and/or causing irreparable psychiatric harm, is a serious concern.

The debate rages on.

ouija-board-girl-Is the Ouija Board a gateway to the spiritual realm?

Probably not.

But maybe.

Patented back in 1891, the Ouija Board gained momentum over the years.  The 1960’s saw a surge in popularity, followed by second surge after the release of the movie ‘The Exorcist’ in 1973 (still the most terrifying film I’ve seen).  At one point Ouija Boards actually outsold Monopoly as the most popular board game in North America.  More recently, in 2014, the release of the film ‘Ouija’, resulted in a 300% increase in sales, and made the Ouija Board the most difficult to find Christmas gift that season.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on – harmless game or Facetime with Lucifer, most of us agree that marketing this product to kids is wrong.  At its very core, Ouija works on the power of suggestion and susceptibility, and there’s no one more impressionable and at risk than children and adolescents, especially if you throw puberty into the mix.  I mean you’re just asking for poltergeist activity to rear its grisly head.  Not surprisingly, the pink Board was pulled from the shelves soon after its release, as a result of public outcry.  It’s now a collector’s item, asking price around $250 if you can find one.  But no worries if you can’t – Amazon, Walmart, Target, all have you covered, as long as pink is not your colour.

It may be nostalgia talking, but I’m considering bringing the Board out of retirement.  I’m skeptical and curious at the same time.  I would love to set up in a remote location, a haunted or abandoned place, somewhere like the defunct London Asylum for the Insane, featured on a post by a fantastic blog, the Exploration Project.   Only a 90 minute drive from my home, and a perfect location for a few middle-aged drunken want-to-be paranormal researchers to gather.  What could go wrong?

I know what you’re thinking.

A bit extreme.  I’m not that young anymore, heart attacks are not an impossibility.

Agreed.  If I decide to embark on this adventure, a quiet Saturday evening at home with a few candles, bottle of wine, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells playing on the stereo, sounds about right.  I’m intrigued just thinking about it.

But I’ll tell you this.

If I hear any mysterious sounds in the night, I’m not getting up to check.  First thing the next morning, we pack the and car we’re driving to  Disney World.   I’ll call in sick when we’re across the border.

It is nice to occasionally turn off Netflix, put away the Ipad, and pull out a board game for family games night.  No WIFI, no remotes required.  If, after reading this post, you find yourself so inclined, I’d recommend you get your order in soon – the sequel to the movie ‘Ouija’ is due to be released In theatres October 21st of this year.  Just in time for Halloween.

Whatever your thoughts on the Ouija Board, we all agree, Hasbro screwed up.  But let’s not demonize them forever.  After all, no one probably told them that Ouija was not one of the Super Mario Brothers.

Before I slide the planchette to ‘Good Bye’, I’m curious to know if you’ve had a memorable Ouija Board experience.   Positive?  Alarming?  Classic fail?  We’ve all one, haven’t we?

Until next time,

 

25 thoughts on “Children’s Guide to Ouija Boards

      1. Me too, Mike, but I want to copy the comment I left on your reblog:
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        I doubt object to the board or the concept (I can’t believe it will really call in evil), but PINK?! Seriously, Parker Bros?! How much gender-stereotyping do we want in our kid’s lives?

        I vote for NONE! Maybe a bit of glitter or bedazzling might make it into my shopping cart, but NEVER a pink version of any toy targeting girls.

        What’s NEXT? Pink guns?
        xx,
        mgh
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
        – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
        “It takes a village to transform a world!”

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Love this post! I am fascinated with Ouija boards. Somewhat embarrassingly, I used to make them as a young teen. I would get a piece of wood and calligraphy all the letters on it, and draw on the sun and the moon. I was never a believer in the paranormal but I did once see a movie (I forget the title but it was total cheese) about a Ouija board and I have to admit being spooked. After that all my beloved boards went out into the garage lol! I haven’t played one in years and I imagine my boards got thrown out long ago by my parents. Thanks for the link – the LAI would definitely be a spooky place to play with the board.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the comment Heather! For the sake of brevity I edited out a paragraph on how common it is for people to make their own board and use a glass as a planchette (so you’re not the only one). If you get the chance, there is a great documentary (it was on Netflix US) on James Randi. I’d read his stuff years ago, but it’s still a fascinating film on debunking the paranormal. Cheers!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Awesome – I’ll see if it’s on our Netflix. I added this page to Stumbleupon as well – hope that’s okay, not sure if you use it but I find it generates quite a bit of traffic for me.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Not so much the Ouija board itself but any activity in contacting spirits holds risk. I do recall a number of cases where people made claims of problems, bad luck, criminal activity and even murder were they blame was the result of playing with the board as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw the Exorcist on it’s re-release at the theatres when I was about 15. My friends and I fake ID’d our way in. It’s the only time I remember ever not looking at the screen for half of a film. Tubular Bells has always stayed with me, I still have the vinyl somewhere, and it’s one of the few tunes I can play on the piano. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Trivia Bit: In the late 80s, the group Book of Love remade “Tubular Bells”, and although it’s structured more as a dance track, Oldfield’s melody is quite prominent, and the creep factor is substantially upped by one of the vocalists pleading “Mother, make it STOP” in the background. Hair on the back of my neck? Standing at attention. (Creepiest scene in the “The Exorcist”, for me: The “spider walk” on the staircase, a scene that is often cut in the different versions of the movie.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll have to check that track out. I also liked ‘Disgusteen’ by Teenage Head (Canadian Band from my home town), not a tubular bells remake, but some references to the film (“where you been Dimmy, it’s been so long.”). Yes, tons of creepy scenes in that film. I bought the Directors Cut DVD about 15 years ago, never took it out of shrink rap. One day I will. Cheers for the comment Brian!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You can take this with a grain of salt but one night when I was in college, I had some friends over to my house. We were the only ones in the house. Yes, alcohol was involved. Someone brought a Ouija board for fun. We set it up, started asking questions and nothing happened. However, around 3 a.m. we were all awakened by a series of loud knocks coming from the attic. It could have been raccoons, it could have been branches scraping against the outside of the house, pipes creaking, I guess we’ll never know……great share, Mike. I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey! This is really fascinating. I was never quite a believer of the paranormal but I once had a chapter on Ouija Boards in English and I was rather spooked. It was then that they caught my interest. I did some research on them and I was captivated.
    Enjoyed reading your work! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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