The following is adapted from a chapter in “Occult Dangers Explained Safely” by Doug Harris and is available from Reachout Trust.
The word ‘Ouija’ is made up from the French ‘oui’ and the German ‘ja’, which both translate into English as ‘yes’. The experiences of those who have spoken to us show that playing with the Ouija board can open up a doorway into occultic realms. Whereas in all types of occult practice you will find the ‘fake’ there is no question that many have been aware that it is ‘the spirit’ that moves the glass not a human hand.
Media appearances, at such times as Halloween, have brought me into contact with many witches. These people see nothing wrong with the tarot or the crystal ball but almost without fail, they agree that the Ouija board is dangerous. The reason often given for their concern is that, “you cannot control it,” leading to the conclusion that it is ‘evil’. They may not mean quite the same as Christians when they use the word but the evidence is clear, they do not want people to get involved with the Ouija board because of the potential dangers.
There is evidence that early types of the Ouija board were in operation in civilisations as far a part as ancient Greece and China; the Roman Empire and Africa. However, in 1853 an innovation was created by Planchette, a French Spiritualist; he placed a pencil on castors so it could move and spell out the answer received from the ‘spirits’.
The ‘board’ we know today is generally attributed to a man named William Fuld. Edmund Gruss in an excellent chapter on the history of the Ouija board explains it like this:
“William Fuld of Baltimore is usually credited with the invention of the Ouija board. But if a patent establishes priority, Elijah Bond, is the inventor since he first filed for a patent on May 28, 1890 (which was granted on February 10, 1891). Bond even called his invention “the Ouija or Egyptian luck-board… Fuld was granted a patent on July 19, 1892, for an improved version of the pointer.” The Ouija Board, Edmund Gruss, P&R Publishing, 1994 pp.13-15.
The board however did not become popular until sometime in the 1920’s. In the seventies, Waddingtons House of Games, marketed the board as a family game but apparently due to the public response, they withdrew the game from high street toyshops. However, it can still be purchased in specialist shops.
Estimates place sales of the board in America and Europe at around twenty million in the last forty years. It is estimated that seven million boards were sold in the 1970’s alone, often in toyshops, along with all time favourites such as Monopoly and Ludo.
MADE POPULAR TODAY
Unfortunately, along with such practices as astrology and Tarot cards, advertising of the Ouija board can give a positive message instead of a warning. In 1997, Guinness used the Ouija board as part of their Web Site on the Internet celebrating 150 years of Dewar’s whisky.
“Guinness is launching the virtual ouija board on Monday as part of an Internet promotion celebrating 150 years of Dewar’s whisky. The board allows net users to switch the movement of a whisky glass over to random spiritual control… Dewar was not discounting entirely the idea that the ‘board’ may actually make contact with the spirit world. ‘Well, it’s hard to say,’ said a spokesman. “- The Guardian 8 June 1996.
Hollywood also has made at least one glamorous love story out of the use of the Ouija Board. Young people can be very susceptible to both films, especially with their favourite stars and advertising. Those who would never have thought of getting involved before, now become interested.
The problem with such advertising and use is that there is no ‘health warning’ along with it, and unfortunately the use of occult symbols in advertising can open up the curiosity of young people. We need to find ways to communicate the dangers to present a balanced picture.
There have been some newspaper reports that show the Ouija board being used positively, for instance, to find a murder weapon and this too can give the board credibility in the eyes of some.
“A séance held by villagers has provided a vital clue in the hunt for the Kent country lane killer. A ouija board spelt out the location of hammer thought to have been used to bludgeon Lin Russell and her daughter Megan to death.” – The Mail on Sunday, 15 September 1996.
However, there have also been times when it has not helped the course of justice.
“A unique case in which a double killer won the right for a re-trial after it emerged that jurors at the first hearing dabbled with a Ouija board ended yesterday with the fresh jury convicting the man of murdering a newly wed couple… [The jurors] had been drinking at their hotel and then went to one of their rooms for coffee. The idea of a Ouija board was jokingly raised for ‘a laugh'”. – The Guardian, 17 December 1994, p.8.
Different people will have different attitudes, but if you talk to those who look on the Ouija Board in a favourable light, find out if they have ever heard the ‘other side of the story’. Make sure they have all the facts and then let them make a reasoned decision.
It is difficult to assess the full extent of the popularity of the Ouija Board but there is no question that many young people, by the time they have finished there education, will have had the opportunity to play with it. An average class of 14-16 year olds asked, “Who has played with the Ouija board,” will produce an answer of up to 50%.
Kevin Logan records the following statistics in Paganism and the Occult,
“In a recent survey of nearly 300 fourth-formers in two Lancashire schools, we found that 87% had dabbled in the occult (44% of them with Ouija boards).” pp.33/34.
‘More‘ magazine in August 1996 reported on the findings of a Glasgow University survey. They estimated that as many as
“1 in 10 people – 65% of them women – have been psychologically damaged by their (occult) experiences.”
The story goes on,
“But possibly the most disturbing aspect of the report was the discovery of a massive increase in what’s considered the most psychologically damaging and dangerous of occult practices – the Ouija board. A 1995 survey carried out by a Christian-based research group backs up the report’s findings by predicting that a ‘new and dangerous craze is about to grip the nation.’ ‘It’s very difficult to come up with any firm figures as to how widespread Ouija board usage is,’ admits Stuart Campbell, ‘but we estimate that 40% of 15-25 year olds have, at some point, played with one. Of that figure, nearly 10% have been seriously psychologically scared by the experience.'”
Edmund Gruss records the figures (The Ouija Board, pp.97/98) obtained in the USA from surveying 1725 high school children. No date is given for the research but the results were that 41% had played with the Ouija board at some time. What was even more revealing was that 416 of these were reported to be ‘Christian kids’. Figures of course can be manipulated but this is a sizeable problem whichever way you look at it. We will highlight some cases later but one story that Gruss records is relevant here because it concerns a fifteen-year-old Lancashire girl called Ann.
“Ann an apparently normal, well balanced teenager, was found dead in bed with a polythene bag over her head. She left a suicide note in which she stated: ‘If it is possible for a spirit to return, I shall return. If there are no signs of ghostly disturbance within a week of my death, then the spirit of the human body is beyond human recall. ‘At Anne’s inquest, the Lancashire coroner commented: ‘It has come to my notice that there is an interest in spiritualism at this girl’s school. I have been told that there has been involvement with the Ouija board, and girls are trying to contact the spirits. I hope that Anne’s death will serve as a lesson for her school friends not to get involved in spiritualism – it is dangerous.'” – The Ouija Board, p.4.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Ouija board set consists of a small glass and flat board that has the letters of the alphabet printed in a circle. The words, ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and ‘goodbye’ are also usually present. One person then puts their forefinger on the glass and whoever is in charge of the board calls on a spirit to enter the glass.
Questions are asked and the glass moves by a force, outside the natural realm, and spells out the answer. Usually, one to six people can be present at a Ouija session although it has been known for whole classes to take part secretly at school break times.
People who have ‘played’ with the Ouija board will often talk of the fear it leaves. Compare this with what was said about fear in the introduction and we have one indication as to where the power of the board is coming from.
Other effects that may take place include a sudden change in the room temperature; strong winds blowing with no apparent source; apparitions of ghostly figures appearing and objects moving around the room. All these characteristics again are associated with supernatural evil and not Supernatural God.
What is worse though, is the detrimental changes that can take place in the person. Personality disorders, bizarre behaviour, nightmares, unexplained and untreatable illnesses are just some of the reported changes.
Most young people playing with the board for the first time will ask questions concerning their future especially who they will marry and when are they going to die. This last question has caused heartache and emotional turmoil to many.
God alone is the Supernatural with a big ‘S’, and He alone knows when we are to be born and when we are to die. Any message that we get via the Ouija board does not come from Him and therefore at best is an educated guess and at worst a direct lie. We shall see in the conclusion that one of the Devil’s characteristics is to lie.
One young person was told that he would die before his next birthday, and unfortunately this type of experience is not unusual. Imagine the fear and panic this causes in the life of a teenager. The event did not come true but the agony and binding force of that lie caused emotional turmoil for many years.
MORE THAN THEY BARGAINED FOR
In 1996, Reachout Trust received the following messages via the Internet from two girls in Ontario Canada.
“My house is being haunted by several ghosts I contacted with the Ouija and I have seen them twice. They walk down our hallway and we have pictures of them. I know their names and know confidential info on the afterlife, aliens doomsday…
“My friend Bridget and I have contacted many ghosts through the Ouija board. Their names are Acad, Michael, Mama, Dart, Ben, Mak… We know more than we should do about this.”
This is an example of the evil supernatural forces behind the Ouija board. What started out as a simple game turned into a nightmare that will literally haunt these girls until they are ready to deal with the basic problem. Notice the ‘carrot’ held out by these demonic beings of imparting confidential information that no other human being can know. The lies and deception of Satan know no bounds.
The above gives clear indication of the power behind the Ouija board. We may be told that it is a friend or relative speaking ‘from the other side’ but in reality, it is one of the Devil’s evil spirits disguising themselves as that person. The Bible is clear when it tells us that there is no communication with the dead and anything that suggests that there is, must be highly suspect.
These supernatural beings are able to pick up things about people, that they can use to convince, those alive, that it is the dead person speaking. Why do they do it? To try to take control of the person and be dominant in their life. Through allowing them to speak, the hearer is giving them permission to have some foothold in their life that could lead to consequences that are more serious.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Edmond C Gruss in his excellent book The Ouija Board a Doorway to the Occult shows that the Bible has much to say about such practices as the Ouija Board.
Although the Bible does not mention the Ouija board by name it does mention what the person playing with the Ouija board is doing – contacting the dead or contacting a spirit. As such, the Bible does show that we should not be involved in this act.
“The condemnation of ‘one who calls up the dead'(‘one who consults the dead’-NIV) is all embracing, whatever the practice may be called. The terms in these passages and others dealing with the occult are frequently discussed by biblical scholars. The exact nature of some practices and the distinctions between them are not always clear. As J. Stafford Wright concludes, ‘Whatever may be the precise rendering of any single passage, it is beyond doubt that the Old Testament bans any attempt to contact the departed,’ as individuals or through a medium. ‘This would obviously include attempts at do-it-yourself mediumship with a tumbler or Ouija board.'” – The Ouija Board a Doorway to the Occult, p.189.
The Ouija board is used to contact someone on “the other side.” This is shown to be against God.
Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them, I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:31
As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. – Leviticus 20:6
Now a man or a woman who is a medium or spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them – Leviticus. 20:27
And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists. – 1 Samuel 28:3
Messages received that deal with events yet to happen need to be tested very carefully. In many cases, this will show that the Ouija board often lies – a clear indication that it is not from God.
“Ouija board communications frequently turn out to be lies and deception. Actually, operators of the board can be deceived in at least three ways: (1) If the messages are only from the subconscious, the operator is deceived in thinking that they come from another source. (2) From a Christian perspective, if messages do not originate in the subconscious, their origin is demonic. (3) The message itself may be deceitful, designed to mislead the board user. English novelist G. K. Chesterton recalled how he played with the board as a youth. While he could not explain everything that took place he was sure of one thing: ‘In the words that were written for us, there was nothing ostensibly degrading, but any amount that was deceiving…The only thing I will say with complete confidence, about that mystic and invisible power, is that it tells lies.’ According to Scripture, lying and deception are at the very heart of Satan’s working in the world (John 8:44; 2 Cor.11:13-15; 1 Tim. 4:1;Rev.12:9).” – Ibid, p.191.
The conclusion of Ed Gruss is also the one of the Bible.
“When used with serious intent, the Ouija board represents a misleading path to spiritual truth. We have already amply illustrated its potential dangers to the user. Anyone not involved with devices like the Ouija board should definitely remain free of such devices for both their mental and spiritual well-being. The only supernatural experience God requires people to seek is him (Ps.105:3, 4; Isa. 8:19, 20).” – Ibid, p.194.
Sylvia Penfold-Ivany related her experience in the Mersey Mart, 27 July 1995 under the headline, ‘Freed from Satan’s hell.’
“Sylvia Penfold-Ivany’s life was shattered after she innocently played with a Ouija board at the age of ten. A game with friends turned her life into a ‘living nightmare ‘that she awoke from 30 traumatic years later after being ‘exorcised’ by a Liverpool priest.”
The article goes on to explain that her condition baffled psychiatrists and she found no relief until the priest command the spirits within her to go in the name of Jesus Christ. In her search she had looked toward spiritualism and found she had some very ‘unnatural powers’, but she never found any peace from all her problems that she knew stemmed back to the time she played with the Ouija board.
The article informs us that now Sylvia’s desire is,
“… to share her harrowing story of satanic possession, exorcism and the fight back to normality to warn others of the dark dangers of the occult.”
This type of experience can be repeated many times as the following letter shows. It was signed from ‘Worried East 17 fans’ and printed in ‘Live and Kicking‘ on 24 September 1995.
“About two weeks ago my friend and I had a go on a Ouija board. At first it was fun but a week after we had done it, weird things started to happen like the window bursting open and the door opening and slamming shut. We’re regretting it a lot, we can’t sleep at night and our school work is failing drastically. Please help!”
Sceptics would say that the girls were just imagining it, but they know that they were not. They had a supernatural experience that was not good. As leaders of young people, or indeed as Christians at school, we need to have some idea of how to help such people. They are now desperate and are turning for help – what an opportunity. Be prepared to help such ones through the advice given in the ‘Conclusion’ section.
Not everyone using the Ouija board wants to get involved with evil. Losing someone close to us in death can mean we are very vulnerable to the world of the occult as this letter printed in the Evening Echo 5 December 1995 shows.
“I thought it was just a bit of a laugh when some girls in my school said they had a Ouija Board they’d started using. When they asked me if I wanted to try it, I thought it might work for me. My father died recently and I never got the chance to say goodbye to him, so I thought I might be able to talk to him this way, because they said it really worked. It scared me when I felt the glass start to move and I ran from the room. I haven’t been back since but I’m wondering if I should because I miss my father a lot.”
In such cases we need to be sensitive, and not just rush in with hobnailed boots, to tell them how wrong it is. We need to show the love of God, and be a comfort in the situation, as well showing that dabbling in the occult would only make matters worse. These last two experiences illustrate that although the Ouija board might be the common factor we are dealing with people and need to be sensitive to each case.
Not just young people are vulnerable to the Ouija board. ‘Best’ magazine on 9 January 1996 told the story of 66-year-old Gordon. Gordon’s wife June did not believe in getting involved in the supernatural, but after she had gone to bed one night, he and his friend Ken played with the Ouija board. As they sat in amazement the glass, unguided by their hands, spelt out the word B E W A R E. Two weeks later bizarre events started in Gordon’s life, which would include unexplained illness and the death of his brother. Strong smells were detected in the house with no natural source. Lavender – the perfume that June’s mum used to wear; Old Holborn – the tobacco that June’s dad used to smoke. Finally, June had a stroke and became confined to a wheelchair. Gordon comments,
“A Ouija board is one of the simplest ways of getting involved with something beyond our understanding… It opens the gates to all sorts of bad things… If anyone has got a Ouija board, get rid of it. It’s dangerous and people don’t understand it.”
Notice that all the people that have been involved with bad experiences give the same advice – do not get involved. They realise that they have tapped into supernatural powers that they cannot handle. Most people would not take a large swig from the bottle marked ‘Deadly Poison’, just to find out if its true or not. Those that have used the Ouija board clearly say ‘IT IS DANGEROUS’, we do not have to play it to discover if it is true or not.
We have already mentioned the ‘More’ magazine special report in August 1996. Within the report, they told the stories of three people who had played with the Ouija board and what happened to them. Below we retell a shortened version of two of them.
“20 year old Mary tells how they made their own Ouija board from Scrabble letters. When they asked the question who was trying to communicate with them the glass spelt out the words S A T A N. At this point, totally freaked out they smashed the glass on the floor and screaming left the room. When they came back to the room in the morning it was in chaos and the cutlery had been spread on the floor in the shape of 666.”
“Lucie 29 had an experience that many have had with the Ouija board. She and her boyfriend Jake were playing together and they asked if they would marry. No came back the answer and when further enquiries were made as to why the glass spelt out D E A T H. Can you imagine the devastation that it caused when Lucie found out she would die before her 30th birthday. This is the sort of nightmare that many have faced and even though in all the cases that I have heard of it is not true the fear and devastation that comes to the life is crippling.”
These experiences, just some of many others we could mention, show that supernatural evil is behind the Ouija board. Take the advice of the people that have been there and do not dabble. Help your friends also to see that it is not just ‘religious nuts’ who say, “do not play” but even those who were not religious before they started playing. However, through their experiences they now know that there is a supernatural world and it is not all good.