Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Question: Ouija Boards - Good or Bad Gifts for Yule?


Apparently Ouija boards are among the popular gifts being bought this Christmas, boosted by some horror film that came out before Halloween. As you might expect this has prompted the usual warnings in newspapers about the dangers of letting children dabble in occult practices - and I do think there are questions about whether a Ouija board is a sensible gift.

The main question is probably whether Ouija boards are capable of helping anyone contact the dead. That is, of course, open to debate.

If you are someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts, spirits or the existence of anything supernatural or paranormal then presumably you will hold the view that Ouija boards aren't going to respond to anything more than the fingers of the humans operating the planchette. Of course that doesn’t mean children can’t scare themselves witless using them.

I didn’t have a Ouija board when I was a kid, neither did any of my relatives – they weren’t so easily or cheaply available as they are now. However, my family did have Lexicon,which is a classic game in which players make words out of letters on a deck of cards.

Arrange those cards in alphabetical order in a circle, put an upturned glass in the middle and voila, one very usable improvised Ouija set. You can see just what that looks like in the photo at the top.

One night before Christmas – a time when telling ghost stories is quite traditional – my family did just that. I was probably about 11 years old and it was the first time I had ever heard about Ouija. I found it fascinating. I wasn’t scared – I trusted my mother, father and grandma to be quite capable of sending any mischievous spirits on their way.

In the New Year I told a school friend about it and she wanted to give it a go. We set up a circle of Lexicon cards, put our fingers on the edge of the glass and asked, “Is anyone there?” The glass slid over to the “Y” for yes.

Ouija is described as being a spirit oracle as much as being simply a way of contacting ghosts of the departed. My friend and I started asking questions about ourselves. I asked, “What will I be when I grow up?” The answer came, “A writer.”

Then my friend asked the same question. The glass seemed to pause, then spelled out, “A body.”

That was a bit creepy. “What do you mean?” asked my friend.

“Dead,” spelled the glass.

Yes, we were scared. Yes, we packed up the Lexicon cards, put away the glass and I didn’t touch Ouija again until I was an adult.

But, as an adult, my experiences of using Ouija have been rather different - I'm pretty certain that every time I have used it with others the answers have been formed by someone at the table either consciously or unconsciously moving the planchette or glass.

But does a Ouija board make a good Yule gift? If an adult asked for one, I would shop around and get them one that was good quality - certainly one made of wood rather than cardboard. However, after my own experiences, I would not personally buy a Ouija board as a gift for anyone under the age of 18. I might buy them a set of Lexicon cards though - it is a good game in its own right and considerably cheaper than a Ouija board.

But what do you think? Do leave a comment below saying if you would buy a Ouija board as a gift for either a child or a teenager or not - or if you have had any personal experiences of using Ouija boards.

Links and previous related posts
Top Cards Lexicon
Hand Finished Wooden Sun, Moon and Stars Talking Board Set Complete with All-Seeing Eye Wooden Planchette, Classic Ouija Style Board
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/27/ouija-board-film-scary-experience
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2010/07/bad-witch-goes-ghost-hunting.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2013/12/yule-ghost-tales-most-haunted-house-in.html

5 comments:

Alan C-B said...

I've had bad and meaningless messages from ouija.
As a gift? Nah.
It's my instinct that as soon as I read "it's the latest thing to give" then it's the manufacturers who are encouraging it. If it's a fashionable gift then it's not "fun", "original" or thoughtful. I'd rather give a gift which would be appreciated by the receiver, rather than something I'd been told was the fashion.

Mo said...

You can't just leave the story there! What happened to your friend?

Badwitch said...

The truth is, I don't know what happened to my friend after we both left school. I went to university and we lost touch. Maybe she did die young, but maybe she didn't. In some ways, in the circumstances, I think I'd rather not know.

moongirl said...

This is a good post. As the shelves empty of this ‘game’ I ask myself what the reasons are for someone gifting this? I’ve used a spirit board on more than one occassion with both good and weird experiences but wouldn’t gift one but then again, I grew up Christian. Even though my views/beliefs have shifted radically I still wonder…

Badwitch said...

I agree with you moongirl, one wonders why it is classified as a "game" and at the people who would give it to a teenager as a present.