Let’s Talk About Ouija

Published on October 26, 2016 by   ·   4 Comments

Ouija BoardWith another Halloween being unleashed on the world with another flood of plastic costumes and bite size treats and hardened candy corn from the year before, certain fears related to the holiday and to the “spirit world” can come bubbling to the surface.  The one that I hear most often is about the Ouija board.  This year, there is also a new movie, Ouija: Origin of Evil, that is stoking the fires of suspicion and dread.  On my morning commute to work, I listened to part of a call in show where people were talking about Ouija boards, when (if ever) it is appropriate to let your child “play” with them, and what sort of terrifying demonic entities you might be inviting into your living room.

I’ve been reading and studying tarot cards for almost 25 years, and people have lots of fears and ideas about the cards (I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about the Death card with fear in their eyes!), but nothing can come close to the ideas that people have about Ouija boards.  With my favorite holiday just around the corner, I thought it might be fun to spend a little time talking about this grossly misunderstood item.

Ouija 02First of all, I should start by saying that the concept of “the devil,” especially most Christian interpretations of this, is not something that I subscribe to, so if your first thought of the Ouija board is that you’re summoning Satan to your sleepover, we’re already speaking different languages.  But for those who might be idling in that place, I just want to assure you that if there is a devil, he/she/it probably has better things to do than pay visits to bored tweens looking for titillating adventures on a Saturday night in Wyndmere (before they discover sex, of course).  Just like any god that might be out there probably doesn’t give a shit about which artist wins this year’s country music award.  Omnipotent deities, if they exist, probably have more important things to do, so relax.

With that out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper into what Ouija boards are and what you’re probably doing when you use them.

Ouija Witchboard PosterOuija is actually the name that Hasbro trademarked for the “game,” and there are a number of stories to explain it.  Some say that it is a combination of the French and German words for “yes,” but another origin tale says that the board announced its own name at a séance (supposedly an ancient Egyptian word meaning “Good luck”).  Going back before this, the boards were referred to as spirit boards or talking boards and were used to commune with spirits, ghosts, departed loved ones…or demons, depending on who was describing it.

Communicating with spirits or energies is nothing new to those interested in occult or New Age practices.  I read tarot cards and while my understanding of the tarot isn’t exactly about communicating with spirits (its more like tapping into universal energies for guidance and information rather than specific entities or spirits) the concepts are very closely related.  This is also true of people who do other forms of divination: mirror scrying, tea leaf readings, palmistry, etc.  All of these are arts that use an intuitive aspect to seek out information; the Ouija board is no different.

Some will say, “But those other activities don’t leave you possessed by a demon!”  And then I’ll heave a deep sigh.  The idea of demonic possession is deeply attached to the Ouija board, perhaps because the boards are more closely tied to direct spirit communication and séances than some of the other intuitive practices named above.  And when people see communication with spirits, their own religious worldviews  may try to make sense of it by explaining it as Satanic, as a symptom of demonic possession, etc.  This is not the result of the spirit board itself, but rather of someone with a different cosmology interpreting what they are seeing during an intuitive session.

Ouija boards are not a gateway to demonic possession, but they are a gateway to communicating with energies and ways of being that are not always aligned with the “natural” world in which we live.  When someone encounters these new frequencies for the first time, it can be an exhilarating experience or a frightening one, depending on what sort of story they’ve created for themselves about what that experience means.  Someone who believes that tarot cards are mystical  and “cool” but who believes that Ouija boards are evil and terrifying could receive the same information and the same messages from both tools but react completely differently to them.

And even though I may end up sounding a bit utilitarian here, that’s exactly what Ouija boards (and tarot cards for that matter) are: tools.  They are complex and beautiful tools, tools with rich histories that can have a profound effect on people’s lives, but tools nonetheless.  And with any tool, you need to make sure that you use it properly.

EnergyWhen you are using a Ouija board, you are calling entities or energies into your space for the purpose of communication.  Any time you do this, whether through a talking board or channeling or some other means, you need to establish boundaries: if you invite them in but never dismiss them, it’s possible you might have these energies lingering in your space.  This is not unique to spirit boards.  If you smudge your home, removing old energies, but you don’t invite in specific new energies or intentions, you can end up with more of what you just got rid of – or even worse!  If you don’t keep a firm hold on the “conversation” and direct it using specific, clear questions you might find the answers wandering.  Any of these intuitive tools require focus, but a lack of focus doesn’t mean that information won’t come!  It just means that the information can be convoluted, confusing, contradictory, misleading, or downright incomprehensible.  Remember that you are in control, and direct the conversation appropriately.

However you come to the talking board, spirit board, or Ouija board (and whatever name you choose to call it), remember that so much of what we do is influenced by our intentions.  If you bring out the board and your intentions are that the experience is going to be terrifying and scary, it will probably be terrifying and scary!  The energies out there in the universe that you can tap into are surprisingly accommodating!  If you go in with the intention that you will have a structured experience and will probably get some good, useful information then your experience will probably be much less dramatic than most Hollywood blockbusters would have you believe.  Be respectful, have good intentions, and keep control and you may find that the Ouija board is a very useful tool for navigating the waters of your life.  If it doesn’t work for you or you just can’t shake the willies, don’t force it – there are plenty of other intuitive tools for you to explore and use!

Ouija 01

Here is a great article from the Smithsonian about Ouija Boards and there origins – Enjoy!  And if you ever want to get together and talk about your favorite intuitive tool, let’s meet up at the Reading Room!

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Readers Comments (4)
  1. Raine says:

    What a wonderful post. I am learning to read tarot, although I know it’s a constant learning process ,,always growing your knowledge and understanding. I love horror movies abd all things macabre abd I’ve used a Ouija board plenty. As a teen it was for sleep overs and scaring ourselves and as I’ve grown older I considered it a talking board. I didn’t know anything about it’s origin as a game. There is so much positivity to be has in the metaphysical world, I find it facinating and learn more everyday. I suppose horror films wrongly portraying things such as the Ouija and demonic possession is always going to be lucrative, especially around Halloween so there’s no fighting it. We may as well try and enjoy the movies. Thank you for all of this fun and new information.

    • JanessaJaye says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this! I think there is so much misinformation about the Ouija/Spirit/Talking board, and people who might benefit from it are truly missing out. I’ve never had a super strong connection to them – tarot cards are my “thing” – but people shouldn’t be scared to try them because of sensationalized movie portrayals! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Raine says:

    Ugh, apologies for the terrible writing, my phone always auto corrects ‘and’ to abd, I should have proof read it closer.

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