The Ouija Debate
Portal to evil or harmless game?
THERE'S AN ongoing debate about the powers and realities of the Ouija board. Essentially, there are three basic positions:
•It is inherently dangerous, can open portals to evil entities and should never be used.
•It is only dangerous if used with evil intent, but can be a useful tool for spirit mediumship if used properly and with good intent.
•It is inherently harmless and has no real powers of mediumship for good or evil; its effects, if any, are only psychological in nature.
Which is true? Talk to any group of people and you'll find strong proponents for each argument. A few years ago, I conducted a survey of readers on this subject. It results showed that 65 percent of those who responded felt the Ouija was dangerous, and 35% felt it was harmless. There is also a lively discussion on the matter in our Paranormal Forum.
As expected, most religious leaders are strongly anti-Ouija. More interesting, however, is that many of the top paranormal researchers believe the Ouija to be a dangerous instrument, to be avoided at all cost.
Brad Steiger, one of the most prolific authors on matters supernatural, has consistently stated his opposition to the use or even the ownership of a Ouija board. In his article "Mothers, Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Play with Ouija Boards," Steiger recounts his investigation of a 17-year-old girl who began experimenting with the Ouija - with dire consequences. "She thought she had the knowledge to contact spirit entities through the board," Steiger writes, "but unfortunately she had neglected to assume a prayerful attitude to guard against malignant influences."
Dale Kaczmarek, founder of the Ghost Research Society, says, "I would strongly advise against the use of the Ouija, automatic writing or séances" in his article "Ouija: Not a Game." "Most often the spirits whom are contacted through the Ouija are those whom reside on 'the lower astral plane'."
One of the most respected paranormal investigators or the past fifty years, the late Hans Holzer, added his voice in warning against the Ouija. In the book The Ouija Board: A Doorway to the Occult, author Edmond C. Gruss quotes Holzer as saying, "Those who wish to use the Ouija board as a parlor game I advise to think twice. There is always the possibility - rare, I admit, but conceivable - that one of those playing the board is a genuine trance medium without realizing it. In such a case, the board can become an easy entrance for a disincarnate person... who might next take over the personality of the medium and manifest under conditions where no controls are possible."
Some readers in the Forum have also had bad experiences. "I'm wondering if anybody else out there knows how dangerous Ouija boards truly are?" says toddybear007. "I had my own experiences a long time ago when I was around 13 years old. To make a long story short, I came face to face with pure evil."
"I do believe without a doubt that Ouija boards open doors," adds Deebliss. "The entity that we brought out actually manifested itself to my best friend's mother…."
OK, IF USED WITH CAUTION
The article "Ouija, Using it Without Harm" on the PaganPath website states: "The Ouija is only as dangerous as you and/or your friends make it. The Ouija can be a useful tool for mediumship (spirit contact) but can also be a tool to tap into the subconscious minds of the users. If you begin your Ouija session with the intention of just seeing what will happen, but without letting superstitious fears scare you, you're well on your way to a fun, entertaining, and informative experience."
Even those who say the Ouija can be used without harm often suggest performing a "cleansing" before any experiments. According to Crystalinks' article on the board, "Some people like to say a prayer over the board - or do some other ritual. In this case envision a protective white light of energy surround yourself, the board, those you are working with, and even the room."
Author and ghost hunter Loyd Auerbach is one of few seasoned paranormal investigators who doesn't put much stock in the Ouija's powers. In his book, Ghost Hunting: How To Investigate the Paranormal, he writes: "There is nothing inherently evil or demonic about Ouija boards." The answers come from "unconsciously driven minor muscle movements and not spirits of dead people. Ouija boards have never been shown to tap into spiritual sources. Any danger…is in taking the 'communications' literally."
Many people, like me, who have attempted to use the board get little or no results. Nostro75 in the Forum is another. "I brought one from the Internet and have tried to use it several times, including on my own and with friends and family. The planchette didn't move an inch, ever. So nothing to fear."
The "Skeptic's Dictionary" agrees with Auerbach's position and may have the most reasonable advice about the Ouija. "The movement of the planchette is not due to paranormal forces but to unnoticeable movements by those controlling the pointer, known as the ideomotor effect," the website says in its article on the Ouija.
"Observing the powerful effect of messages on impressionable people can be impressive. Yet, as experiences with facilitated communication have shown, decent people often harbor indecent thoughts of which they are unaware. And the fact that a person takes a 'communication' seriously enough to have it significantly interfere with the enjoyment of life might be a sufficient reason for avoiding the Ouija board as being more than a 'harmless bit of entertainment,' but it is hardly a sufficient reason for concluding that the messages issue from anything but our own minds."