A reader asks, I bought a Ouija board because I want to talk to spirits. My dad says it's a tool of the Devil but I think I'll be fine. What do you think?
Erm… well, I'm going to let the whole "tool of the devil" bit slide, but let's look at this a bit more in depth, shall we?
Here's the problem with a Ouija Board -- anyone can use one, and no skill is required. In other words, the thing that makes the Ouija Board so easy to use is also what can make it potentially troublesome. Toy and game companies sell them by the thousands, but most people don't realize exactly what they are. Are they evil? No, no more than your Monopoly board is. Are they dangerous? Well, in the hands of someone who's untrained -- or an idiot -- they could be. Look at it as a spiritual version of the chat room, if that helps. There's nothing at all wrong with talking to thirty strangers… until one of them turns out to be a serial killer or a pedophile. And the thing is, you don't KNOW who is what when you enter that room. Same with a Ouija board.
A Ouija Board is, quite simply, a divinatory tool. Its purpose is to answer a question by inviting spirits to speak to the people using the board. There's no guarantee that anything will happen at all... but there's also no way to control what DOES happen.
Many people believe that the use of a Ouija board is a form of voluntary possession - and keep in mind that "possession" doesn't have to be bad, despite the negative connotations the word often has. In order to get the spirit to contact you through the planchette, you basically have to give up your will, and work as a medium -- it's the only way for them to work through you. The spirit isn't moving the planchette, but it's causing you to move it with your hands by way of possession. Once you've opened up the Ouija board, it's a crapshoot as to what's going to try to make contact -- if you're just randomly calling upon any nearby entity, then you don't know who or what is moving that planchette around, or what its purpose is.
Some of our readers offer their best tips for how to use a Ouija board safely:
- Karen: I always cleanse the whole room I'm using before I get started. I also make sure I cast a circle, so anything bad will stay out of my work area.
- Alafair: You know, my grandma taught me to use the Ouija board when I was a girl, and what she did was throw salt around it to keep the Devil away. She was a Christian, and I'm a Pagan, but those old habits die hard. I still throw a handful of salt around the room before I start. It seems to have worked so far. Maybe grandma is watching over me too!
- Durkin: I don't smudge, but I make absolutely certain that before I start using it, I offer up a prayer to the guardians of my house. I count on them as a barrier between me and anything bad that might sneak in. Also, I only call on specific spirits or people for assistance. I don't just open it up to any spiritual being that wants to drop in.
- Alyxx: I use my Ouija board all the time, and I've never had any problems. Sometimes I do a quick grounding and shielding beforehand, other times I dive right in. I know a lot of people say Ouija boards are dangerous, but I think everyone has their own individual experience with it.
- Taryn: Smudging! I always always smudge. I also cast a circle and call upon the Goddess to keep me safe while I'm working with the Ouija board. I really don't like using it, if I can avoid it. It feels creepy to me.
- Freyja: My tradition doesn't have any sort of rules about using Ouija. it's divination, plain and simple, and I feel that I get what I call up. If you don't know how to deal with what you're invoking, you shouldn't be doing it. I know a lot of people think Ouija is dangerous, but honestly, it has more to do with the common sense level of the people using it.
The bottom line -- if you're unsure about what you're doing, or inexperienced with dealing with spirits, you may want to find some other method of divination that doesn’t involve voluntary possession. If you'd like to know more about dealing with spirits, be sure to read What is a Spirit Guide?
Did you accidentally invoke a spirit or entity that won't go away? Make sure you read Getting Rid of Unwanted Entities for some tips on how to rid yourself of unwelcome metaphysical guests.