Wednesday, May 27, 2015

...ouija boards, the dead, and a blogoversary...

A (sorta) fun fact about me in connection with this post-- when I was learning American Sign Language, one of my instructors required us to interpret a song. I selected Ouija Board by Morrissey.I recall being slightly dramatic by signing an air guitar.

Yesterday akumaxkami at Spooky University posted about the Charlie Charlie Challenge. It reminded me of my youth standing in a dark bathroom at midnight looking at the mirror and whispering Bloody Mary three times (if I remember correctly) just hoping that I would see something and not simultaneously have my eyes scratched out.  Her post also reminded me of my own dark history with the Ouija Board. Okay Okay, it’s not what you think.

First, I want to point out that most people do not know or follow the directions of Ouija Boards.

"Place the board upon the knees of two persons, lady and gentleman preferred, with the small table upon the board. Place the fingers lightly but firmly, without pressure, upon the table so as to allow it to move easily and freely. In from one to five minutes the tablet will commence to move, at first slowly, then faster, and will be then able to talk or answer questions, which it will do rapidly by touching the printed words or the letters necessary to form words and sentences with the foreleg or pointer.”

When I was young, I followed the rules (in many ways in life I still do but that’s a whole other story). I sat with my knees touching a friend’s knees and we placed the board on our laps.

“You and a friend touch the planchette and it mysteriously moves from letter to letter to spell out messages from unknown entities. The planchette appears to have a mind of its own, or is the board? Some say it's the spirits, others say it's the user's own subconscious movements.”

So here’s the thing… the human body moves and if you have a board on your lap with two people whose knees are touching, there is going to be movement after many minutes. Plus, you’re supposed to lightly touch the plachette. Go ahead and hold your arms out in front of you for five minutes and let me know if your arms stay completely still. Involuntary muscle movement or what is called the ideometer effect is more to blame than anything else… or is it?!?

This is what we know about the board… it’s also important to point out that I have never been a girl who cared for “games” (how I ended up marrying a DM gamer is also another story) and I don’t have much patience for waiting…. All of this is to say that I was the girl who moved the planchette. I didn’t intend to be mean or ruin anyone’s fun but I just figured once we had “spoken to the dead” to find out if some other fifth grader had a crush on us we could move on to watch a scary movie or perhaps go play with possessed dolls or two.

And it isn’t that I don’t *believe* in the power of the Ouija. It’s just why chance it, right? Trust me, I’ve got one too many dead friends on the other side to chat with but what do I really *want* to know from those on the other side?

There is such a strange history behind the Ouija Board. In the early 1890s, the Ouija Talking Board could be found in novelty shops. The interesting part of the story is that it has a patent which means that it had to have been tested. As the story goes, the chief patent officer demanded a demonstration. If the board could accurately spell out his name, which was supposedly unknown to those working the Ouija, he’d allow the patent application to proceed. They sat down, “communed with the spirits”, and the planchette spelled out the patent officer’s name. At that point a visibly shaken patent officer awarded a patent for the new “toy or game.” The original patent lists no explanation as to how the device works.
Ouija historian Robert Murch notes that this all originated during the American 19th century obsession with spiritualism, the thought that the dead and living can communicate when offered the right tools. In the United States, the Fox sisters of New York were the celebrity spiritualists during the time but surprisingly enough it was well-matched for American Christians who felt comfortable attending a séance and attending church during the same weekend. Even President Lincoln’s wife held séances in the White House after their son died in 1862. During the period of the American Civil War, support for spiritualism increased because so many longed to connect with their lost loved ones.

Shawn 1989ish
I think that’s a longing that many of us still have. But just like talking to God through a priest, I don’t need to talk to my dead through a medium. Instead, I have chosen to connect with them directly even if I don’t always hear them or see them or understand what any of that means. The ultimate irony for this girl who loves tromping through cemeteries is that the boy (if he had lived beyond 18, he’d be 43) that I wish most to see and haunt his graveside is interred in a private location that I am unable to reach.  I don’t need any tools to know that if I could talk to him just one more time he would simply say that everything is okay. Because from pre-kindergarten on, that’s always what he told me. I believed him.

I really wanted to post about this being my blogoversary or my blogbirthday since I started these little rants a year ago today. In my original post, I write, “This blog is about growing, not just plants but becoming the girl I was always meant to be- my authentic self.” It’s a life-long journey.

Tonight I toast to you fine readers, to the amazing blogging friends I have made in person and in the virtual world, and to me for making it another year… because some people just can’t for whatever reason and that sucks. 

A pivot point & how I view my own time


  1. I don't believe in afterlife, so for me the use of a Ouija board makes no sence. Which does not mean that I didn't try as a teenager... ;) Your friendship with Shawn is really impressive, he seems to be still with you although he left you quite some time ago. Must have been a great guy!

  2. Such a great song! It was stuck in my head for a week last month lol. I have an old school Ouija board I keep downstairs, I've been contemplating selling it. When I was first introduced to them in my teens everybody hyped them up like they were soooo scary. I'm sure William Fuld didn't intend for them to be used in seances, instead just for a laugh. In my instruction booklet there aren't any questions about the deceased, only "will I get married? will I be rich?" I think it was the popularity of 20th century spiritualism that gave people the idea to use the board to contact the dead. You should check out the William Fuld website, it has old letters from people writing about their "experiences", they're kind of fun to read.

  3. Too many people have passed on. They remain in our hearts, where their memories are protected and safe. We can call upon them when we need to talk, need to smile, or just want to remember.

    Without this blog, you and I would still be unaware of each other. I am thankful that you struck out to post personal stuff, rants included, because I enjoy my time here and my time with YOU.

  4. First and foremost, HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY! Secondly, I'm thrilled that our blogs have connected us over the "interwebs" and in real life. WAHOO! And thirdly, my Mom and Grandma used to "play" with the ouija board very seriously, especially after my Grandfather died. I've seen some pretty weird things happen when those two had their fingertips on the table and most of them didn't have to do with the board, itself. About a week after my Granddad's funeral, my Grandma yelled out, "JOHNNY! Why did you leave without me?!?" She was quite distraught and even threw herself on his coffin in the church. Poor Granny. Well, she didn't even finish her sentence and the 25th anniversary portrait of them that hung over her mantel came crashing down. They lived in California at the time and I had thought it was a small earthquake ... but it wasn't. There was no report of a shake and the nail in the wall still remained. I tell you, it FREAKED me out to no end. The board and their long nights around it kept me in my room and reading. I haven't touched a board in my life ... because of them. I sometimes wonder what would happen.

  5. It does suck. :(

    And on a lighter note, Happy Blogoversary. :)

  6. Happy bloggiversary! Love the vampire poster!

    I didn't know the patent officer story before!

    I never know whether to believe if ouija boards work or not. Obvioulsy sometimes it is someone controlling it to scare ithers, but other times... who knows.

  7. Congratulations on your blog's anniversary! This was a really intriguing post and I learned a lot. :) I also nominated you for Liebster Award, because you are awesome and amazing. :D I do hope you like these little chain mail sort of posts and want to imagine your future biography for your readers! You can find the award and questions here: