Remembering The Scary Toy From The Past: The Ouija Board

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The Ouija Board

Many religions forbid or frown upon its use by their parishioners … playing with the Ouija is not encouraged. Still … every Halloween one of these toys seems to surface from behind some dusty back closet or deep dark cellar where it has been neatly packed away and untouched for the past year.

It was the beginning of the 20th century, and the world was hungry for new excitement. The innocent ‘oughts introduced the new century with gusto, and America began to shed its provincialism. The new century brought with it World War I. And because so many lost their loved ones in the great battle, America developed a morbid interest in a board game called “Ouija.”

The fanciful parlor game was used as an oracle to converse with departed friends and relatives. The board game was known by many as the “yes-yes” game. Its name derives from the French and German affirmatives, “oui” and “ja.”

english ouija board
An English Ouija board with planchette

When I was a kid, every Halloween, my friends and family would gather around our Ouija board and attempt to make contact with the spirit of Houdini.

Aunt Hattie was a whiz at working the Ouija board. She knew just how to entice us with cryptic messages that made the hairs on the back of our neck stand on end.

At the stroke of midnight, we’d all gather around the table, each of us placing one finger on the Ouija. Although each of us swore we weren’t moving the wooden oracle, it danced merrily around the board spelling out nonsensical messages. Then, just as quickly and mysteriously as it had arrived, the spirited Ouija would depart, which suspiciously always seemed to coincide with Aunt Hattie’s bedtime.

We never succeeded in making contact with the great Houdini, nor has anyone else, for that matter, but his curious legacy, along with the mysterious Ouija board, continues to fascinate and entertain Americans down through the decades.

Most paranormal researchers advise against the casual use of the Ouija board, suggesting that it can be a doorway to unknown dimensions.

“The board itself is not dangerous, but the form of communication that you are attempting often is,” says Ghost researcher Dale Kaczmarek of the Ghost Research Society. “Most often the spirits who are contacted through the Ouija are those whom reside on ‘the lower astral plane.’ These spirits are often very confused and therefore, many violent, negative and potentially dangerous conditions are present to those using the board.”

Cookie Curci is an experienced freelance writer, born and raised in San Jose, California. Cookie writes syndicated columns across the country, and wrote a “Remember When” column for The Willow Glen Resident for 15 years. Her work has been published in 15 Chicken Soup for The Soul books, and in the series of “Mother’s Miracle” books ( Morrow books).

She has a short story in the new book “ELVIS”, Live at the Sahara Tahoe; has been published in San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury news, Woman’s World, Primo magazine, Mature Living, and many websites.

Cookie is currently writing for several Italian American newspapers and magazines, they include LaVoce Las Vegas, Amici Journal, L’italo Americano, Life in Italy and Italiansrus.