Ouija Boards: Top Reasons People Are Afraid Of Them
People often say Ouija boards are dangerous, but outside of the world of Hollywood movies I can't think of a single time a Ouija board has done anyone any harm.
So, I decided to try and find out exactly what it was that people are so afraid of, why people believe so strongly that they are dangerous and what the risks of using them really are. To do this I posted the question on a popular paranormal group on Facebook and waited for the replies.
I was quite surprised by the comments that started appearing on the post. If I had asked people if they had seen a ghost, I'm sure people would have told me about a shadowy figure they'd seen out of the corner of their eye, or simply explained how objects move in their home. Given that so many people are scared of Ouija boards, I thought I would be inundated with tales of glasses flying off of the board and smashing on a walls, violent hauntings that lasted after the Ouija session, and long-term physical and mental torment.
Of course, it's pretty unlikely these stories would have held any weight, I expected them to be vague, thirdhand accounts, that were purely anecdotal, but as it happens, there were none. Just like me, not one of the 108 people that responded could tell me a story of their own or someone they know's experiences with a Ouija board.
However, despite having absolutely no firsthand knowledge of Ouija boards proving to be dangerous, almost all of the 108 people tried to convince me that it was risky to use one and went on to tell me their reasons why.
"I don't like the idea of opening a door and not really knowing who you're inviting through."
This is a reason not to use a Ouija board, but it's only a personal belief. It's not a proven fact that an evil entity can be invited in to our realm by using a Ouija board. The paranormal events company Most Haunted Experience welcomes on average around 300 guests to their events across the UK every weekend - and pretty much every single one of those guests will use a Ouija board.
Haunted Happenings take around 200 guests ghost hunting each week and there are at least 10 similar sized companies running events in the UK, and double the amount of smaller companies. So, even a conservative estimate and assuming just half the guests take part, that would mean that at least 750 people are using Ouija boards on events each week. That's just in the UK and just on public events. If you take into account private investigations and worldwide usage, the weekly number could easily be 50 times that.
That's around two million Ouija board sessions each year, many of which will have been conducted in some of the most haunted and sinister locations around the world - yet events companies see no perceived risks in letting the public take part in these activities and event insurance companies are happy to cover the events.
Not one single person has ever been hurt during a public ghost hunting event due to the use of a Ouija board.
In response to this comment I asked the Ouijaphobic who posted it, "so, in your case, it's just fear of the unknown, not anything you've seen in particular?"
"It's just a feeling I get not knowing what I am dealing with, it makes me cautious. A lot of people have had very bad experiences and I think that is something to take into account."
I wasn't really looking for vague stories of "something negative coming through" because that's just a feeling or opinion, no one has ever been hurt or injured by a sense of foreboding, but this response did show promise. They'd said, "a lot of people have had very bad experiences". So I followed up by asking if they could share some of these bad experiences with me that she'd heard about.
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"I'm sure I've read accounts of people being scratched, hit and pushed etc."
"I'm sure I've read," isn't really the solid response I was hoping for. So, I moved on to the next reply and the next commenter telling me why they think I should be scared of using a Ouija board.
"I've just had my flat blessed after seven years of living with a negative feeling and I would hate the thought of letting anything else through."
This is just another anecdotal account of someone feeling drained or picking up on a negative vibe. This is very hard to quantify and could be the result of countless other things like depression, lack of sleep, and believe it or not, even carbon monoxide poisoning.
In a subsequent reply, this commenter admitted, "I was never harmed or anything like that, but it was hard to live with at the time."
This led me on to the next reply, from a guy who said he had become addicted to using a Ouija board in his teens. He said as a result he witnessed all sorts of phenomenon, which started as small things being moved, but escalated to more threatening things, like the smell of burning. Then finally, things stepped up a notch again...
"My brother started seeing a man in his room, I never saw him but he was so afraid he slept in my room for three months."
This sounded really interesting and just the type of story I was looking for, so I pushed the Facebook user for a little more information, "that does sound scary, especially if you can pinpoint it on the use of the Ouija board." The reply...
"OK, so I can't be 100% sure, but I'd lived there a year before using the board and nothing had ever happened before."
Hmmm, so perhaps not a great example either, and the truth is, he wasn't ever in any danger. Seeing an apparition is every paranormal investigator's dream. There are only a handful of reports of a ghost ever hurting someone, and even then the evidence is often uncorroborated and anecdotal.
Of course, with Ouija boards threats don't just come in the form of visions or hauntings, something nasty could be spelt out on the board itself. This is what happened to the person who replied next...
"I did one at HMP Shepton Mallet a few weeks ago and it spelt "OUT". I was done, that was the end of the conversation for me!"
This response was interesting. Someone spelling the word "out" to you isn't massively threatening. If someone commented "out" in response to something on Facebook, my initial reaction wouldn't be one of fear, I wouldn't even feel threatened, even though someone typing a comment has a physical form and could cause actual harm if we were to meet.
So, I asked if it was just because the message came from someone unknown rather than them actually believing they were in danger.
The reply came back and wasn't what I was expecting, she said that she didn't feel in danger and that she always feels protected on ghost hunts. She added, "I just don't believe they can hurt me." So again, this turned out not to be a reason to be scared of Ouija boards at all.
Of course, she's probably right. If the negative entities that are supposed to be associated with Ouija boards are so powerful and dangerous, why do they need a board with letters and numbers to make themselves known?
Could the next comment convince me?
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"My mother did one and the glass moved on its own. A medium told them to break the glass after, so they threw it on the patio and it wouldn't break even when jumped on."
This is a very interesting story. It can be surprisingly hard to smash certain types of glass, on the other hand, perhaps something weird was going on. Either way, it's not dangerous and the commenter's family weren't ever at risk. In fact the most dangerous part of this was trying to smash a glass by throwing it.
The commenter went on to say that it "could indicate something sinister," well it could, but nothing in the story really suggests it was sinister. Again, this belief that it could be dangerous is due to the way Ouija boards are depicted in Hollywood movies. This is why I was asking my original question, has anyone actually had any experience of danger or being hurt. Not just perceived danger or fear.
The next person to comment in no way got close to answering my question, I'm only sharing it below because it was a comical exchange...
"Do not mess with them plz don't, just u don't need that in ur life."
Putting the bad grammar to one side, I was intrigued. A passionate warning about the use of Ouija boards, was I about to find out about the real dangers involved with using them? I asked, "what exactly is it that could enter my life? What's the worst you've known to happen to anyone?"
The Facebook user replied with the comment, "really it too completed but if u want ur life like the film ammatey horror, best left alone." Of course he means 'The Amityville Horror'.
Not just bad grammar, but clearly poor reading skills too as the main point I made in my original question was that this fear is just based on the over-the-top movie plots involving the paranormal that Hollywood spew out. I wanted real examples, but the commenter said "ppl probably want talk about wat they went trow somethings are best left forgotten."
This was clearly going nowhere, so I moved on to the next person who told me...
"When I was 15, a few of my friends made a board out of paper. After the game we all went to bed and in the morning I saw candle wax on my mirror, and I had a stuffed toy panda that had a smile - it never had it before."
Apparently this Ouija victim threw the poor panda away as a result of this incident. I followed up on her post, asking, "so you were scared, but not in danger?" She confirmed, "no, not in danger. We heard a few bangs, but luckily nothing happened."
This was followed up by another person who didn't want to talk about their experiences. She initially said, "invite some random stranger into your house who may refuse to leave? No ta." So I politely agreed with her logic and ask for a reason why she felt this way, "that's a good possible reason not to use one, but it doesn't make them dangerous or harmful... unless you know an example of someone being hurt or harmed as a result of this?" Her reply was, "I do, but I don't want to post about it on a public group."
Then perhaps the weakest argument yet...
"I got told on a Ouija board at Guy's Cliffe House that I would die that night. There was only friends on the board at the time. It freaked us all out."
I admit, that is sort of chilling, but he probably wasn't in any danger because he didn't die... well, I don't think he died. If he did then Facebook is actually a much easier way to contact the dead than a Ouija board.
Next someone name Chris chimed in and told me, "don't mess with what you don't understand please." I was a little taken aback by this because I've written quite a lot about the origins of spirit boards, as well as best practices across various beliefs. I've also used a Ouija board probably around 100 times in various haunted locations. So, I might be sticking my neck out a little, but I would say I'm far from clueless.
I bit and told him, "I feel I do understand them and have used them many times. That's why I am asking people to explain what the actual dangers are because I've never experienced anything I'd class as being dangerous."
Chris, trying to be smart, replied, "isn't that sort of like saying 'I've met hundreds of people in my life but none of them have attacked me therefore I don't believe people are dangerous?" No, it's really not like that all. There are countless records of factual accounts of people being hurt by other people in the form of news reports, police reports, criminal records, and CCTV footage. Not to mention war and terrorism.
Of course I was hoping Chris would be able to tell me of documented cases of people being hurt by a Ouija boards, or at least some juicy hearsay, but sadly he didn't reply.
"I have to say, I've been reading these comments and I know of a fair few people who have suffered horrendously from them."
Finally, here we go, the juicy Hollywood-esque Ouija horror stories I'd been waiting for. I excitedly replied to Janet, "oh interesting, I'd be really interested to hear about it if you're able to share the stories." My excitement instantly diminished when I got the three-word reply, "bad memories. Sorry. x"
Another member of the Facebook group jumped on the back of this and said, "when I was young I was haunted by a wicked man. My mum was psychic and often felt his presence, she saw him too but only once. He wasn't frightening to her but he was to me."
For a child it must have been pretty scary to hear this from your parents, but again, she wasn't in danger. Even her mum only felt the "wicked man's" presence, she could never hurt them.
I'd basically given up at this point. I was surprised that there were no terrifying myths or local legends of life-threatening encounters with Ouija boards to be heard. Then one final comment came through, which I will include in its entirety below, because this is just the kind of scary story I was after. I'll let you decide how true it is for yourself...
I used to work with a woman who told me about a group of children she knew from the Yorkshire town where she lived. Apparently they did a Ouija board one lunchtime in a classroom at school when they were about seven or eight. They each thought it was one of them moving the glass, but then it became violent.
Books began dropping from piles or off of book shelves and then the door slammed shut. One of the girls went to open it and found she couldn't. She said it felt like someone was pushing against the door and it wouldn't budge. The glass spelt out "die" on the board, so the kids had enough and took their fingers off of the glass.
At this point one of the school dinner ladies found them and managed to open the door and get into the classroom, where the girls were now crying uncontrollably. The girl who had tried to open the door ended up being taken to hospital and was kept in over night and treated for shock.
It was said the poor girl was never the same again and wouldn't sleep in bed on her own. She wouldn't do anything without her parents or her brother by her side. Apparently she's now married but is still receiving regular counselling from anxiety and PTSD specialists as a result of the incident.
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