The discount store that sells most items for just £1 have stirred up trouble with a Ouija board, which they're selling as part of their Halloween range.
Poundland's Creepy Town branded spirit board is on sale alongside items like fake spider webs, light up ghosts and glow in the dark skeletons in some of their stores across the UK.
Although the item may seem like harmless fun and a perfect fit for Halloween, many in the paranormal community have called the retail chain's decision to sell the occult item "irresponsible and potentially dangerous."
Those concerned about the board's inclusion in the discount store's range are most worried that the spirit board seem to be being marketed at kids.
However, it should be pointed out that the stores have a section of Halloween toys for children and the spirits boards are not in that section. They are actually away from the kid's toys in the Halloween decorations section. Presumably this section is more aimed at adults looking to decorate their house for Halloween.
It's also a little premature to label the retailer as irresponsible. We haven't yet been able to get our hands on a Creepy Town spirit board yet due to high demand, but it may be that Poundland's boards come with the same warnings and instructions as other retailers who responsibly sell them.
Despite their sinister reputation, Poundland aren't actually breaking any laws by selling Ouija boards, even as a kids toy. In fact Ouija boards are already widely available to buy on websites like Amazon and eBay, which with all due respect to Poundland, have a much bigger customer base than the discount store. These online retailers also aren't afraid to market the boards at children
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As you can see from the pretty pink Ouija board sold by Amazon, marketing these items at children is nothing new, Ouijas have been sold as a kids' toy since their inception. "Ouija" is a brand name owned by the toy company, Parker Brothers.
Ouija boards themselves aren't evil or dangerous. Using one is no more risky than picking up a phone, it's just a method of communication with the spirits. It's no different to any other form of divination or even calling out to the spirits using the classic tropes "hello, is anybody there?" or "knock once for yes, twice for no."
Some think that Ouija boards are a portal directly to the underworld and can lead to injury, destruction of property or aggressive hauntings, but the reality is that there are no documented cases of anyone being harmed that can be directly attributed to the use of a Ouija board.
Every day hundreds, if not thousands, of people use Ouija boards without any reported problems. Paranormal events companies in the UK welcome thousands of guests at their public ghost hunting events every weekend, most of those guest will take part in a spirit board experiment as part of the night's activities. Not one single person has ever been hurt during a public ghost hunting event due to the use of a Ouija board.
Since Poundland buy up job lots, including clearance items, it's not known if the spirit boards are on sale in all the 800+ stores across the UK, but customers have taken to social media to say they've seen them in North Yorkshire, specifically in Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough.
We've contacted Poundland, who have confirmed that the items are part of their 2020 Halloween range, for more clarity and for an idea of the product's national availability and are awaiting a response.
The £1 spirit boards come complete with a planchette and fold out into a roughly A3-sized board - not bad for £1. They're big enough for the required two or more players to gather around this Halloween... with social distancing in mind, of course.
Although a Ouija board may seem out of place in a UK store, it's not the first time. They have historically been sold as toys to the British public, but have fallen out of popularity in the last few decades. However in the US Ouija boards are still commonplace on shop's shelves, even in the stores of major retailers like Walmart.
Part of the reason why we have the perception that Ouija boards are so dangerous is due to their use in popular culture. Countless movies feature them, such as the 1973 horror, 'The Exorcist'. Often the boards burst into flames, glasses fly off of them smashing against the wall or players become possessed by demons.
Another factor which clouds our judgement when it comes to the use of Ouija boards is the dim view that many religions hold in regards to them. Religious denominations have criticised Ouija boards for generations, one group saying, "the Ouija board is far from harmless, as it is a form of divination (seeking information from supernatural sources)."
Religions generally tend to deem all forms of the occult to be sinful, they're not singling out Ouija boards as being dangerous as such, they feel the same way about tarot cards, palm reading and many of the activities you might perform as part of a paranormal investigation that involved contacting supernatural forces.
While the church might warn about the dangers of spirit boards, a skeptic would argue that they are completely safe to use. The scientific consensus on the boards is that they are nothing more than a perfect demonstration of a subconscious behaviour called the ideomotor effect. It's argued that it is this principle that is responsible for the subtle subconscious movement of the planchette, as it spells out the words the participants of the séance are willing it to.
As you can see on the box for an original 1970s Ouija board manufactured by the toy company Parker Brothers, spirit boards have always been nothing more than a toy, until public perception was corrupted by Hollywood.
To make matters worse, you'll often hear the people who are scared of Ouija boards say "don't mess with what you don't understand." Ironically, they're too scared of the board to have tried them and hence they're the ones that don't understand them, while countless numbers of rational paranormal investigators and interested members of the public safely experiment with Ouija boards and come to understand how they work.
A Ouija board is a toy, a tried and tested paranormal tool, and also a powerful demonstration of how suggestible we are and what our subconscious minds are capable of.
With that in mind, we're off to Poundland!
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