I've been all over the state for the past month, giving talks at libraries about ghosts and how we investigate for them. I bring along some of my ghost hunting gear for the folks to check out for themselves, and inevitably, there's always a loud gasp and whispers of "no no no no" every time I pull out my Ouija boards.

In fact, I always start off by asking if anyone in the room is afraid of Ouija boards. I'll then walk over to the first person (of many) that raises their hand, and make them hold onto one of my boards for the duration of the presentation. Then I like to check back with them afterward.

"How'd it go? Any demonic possession or anything?"

And of course, the answer is always no. Because Ouija boards are not inherently evil. No tool for spirit communication is either "good" or "bad." It's all in the intention of the user.

When you come to Face Your Fears Night at Fort Taber this Saturday (and you can still get your tickets here), you'll have a chance to utilize some of the more recent, high-tech devices that are used for seeking out the supernatural. But we have also have some "old school" techniques you can try out as well, and the Ouija board is always of interest. Even those who claim to be too afraid to touch the planchette will still hover over the board and watch with great interest to see if any messages come through.

Of course, I'm still not 100 percent convinced that Ouija boards are legitimately talking with the dead. I still think the ideomotor response, in which we subconsciously control our finger on the planchette without being mentally aware of it, is the more likely scenario. But I can tell you, I used a board with a blind woman and got accurate and interesting responses, when I firmly believed I wasn't moving the planchette and I knew for a fact that she couldn't even see the letters on the board to spell anything out anyway.

"Talking boards" have long been a fixture for those who wanted to reach out to the Other Side, but they became more prevalent in the late 1800s, as the Spiritualist movement swept a country that had been ravaged by the Civil War. In 1890, business man Elijah Bond filed for a patent for the first official "Ouija board" (it's name is a combination of the French and German words for 'yes'), and soon it seemed as if there was one in every house.

But in the Victorian Era, the Ouija board was not a tool of the devil. In fact, it was more of Cupid's plaything. See, back in those days, it was inappropriate for a young man and young woman that weren't married to hold hands, or sit close to one another. But with the Ouija board, you had a perfectly good reason to sit close together at a small table, just the two of you--hands close together on the planchette, perhaps your knees touching under the table. It was kind of like the Tinder of its day.

Ouija boards were seen as a way to bring living people together, while also keeping them closer to those who had passed on. Yes, it was used as a plot device in horror movies from time to time, but it was never overtly negative.

That all changed in 1973, with the film version of The Exorcist. Young Regan used the board and soon becomes possessed by the demon that called itself "Captain Howdy," and from there on out, Ouija boards are seen as the devil's direct dial to the potentially possessed.

So if you come to Face Your Fears Night and see us pull out a Ouija board, there's no need to worry. It's nothing more than another way to potentially communicate with the Other Side, the same as a K-II meter, Mel Meter or even dowsing rods or a pendulum. And really, it's nothing more than a board game.

Now if you'll excuse me, my Monopoly game is telling me it's time to chop all my hair off and bite the head off a bat...



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