While I'm a total believer in the spirit world, I've never been particularly successful in my attempts make contact with it. I know I'm not alone when I say, as a kid, I was all about dusting off the Ouija board in a friend's basement Halloween night, surrounded by mini Snickers and someone's mom's Yankee Candle collection. We'd ask questions like, “Does Jamie love me like I love him?” or “How and when am I going to die?” And sometimes, we'd actually get answers. While our attempts inevitably scared us, I always felt it was pretty clear one of us, in one way or another, was responsible for moving the planchette. Nevertheless, believer or not, using an Ouija board on Halloween is still a pretty popular phenomenon. But the question of the Ouija board's effectiveness, credibility, and yes, even the safety of their use, is still up in the air.
Just as a little background, Ouija boards are flat boards used to contact spirits. They have all of the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the words "yes" and "no" printed on them, and you use a little piece of wood or plastic with a circle in it, called a planchette, to spell out answers to the questions you might ask. While it is, indeed, a game sold in toy stores, the history of the Ouija board dates back over a century to the rising interest in spiritualism.
Elite Daily had the pleasure of speaking to some bona fide paranormal experts on the matter, who shed some varied opinions on using an Ouija board on Halloween.
Now, you may know Amy Bruni and Adam Berry from Ghost Hunters, or as the stars of TLC's hit series Kindred Spirits. They're both actual ghost hunters, and in the show, the two help people who are tormented by paranormal activity in their houses. Both Bruni and Berry had experiences with ghosts when they were younger, as well as hauntings that sparked their lifelong devotion to research and contact with what they refer to as “the great beyond.”
When asked about using Ouija boards on Halloween, or even just in general, both are a bit skeptical.
Berry says the Ouija board is essentially a toy, and if you're hoping to break one out on All Hallows' Eve, you should use it as directed according to the gaming instructions on the box.
He tells Elite Daily,
Ouija has gotten a bad name since movies and TV shows have made them out to be a tool to talk to the devil, demons, or by saying it opens a disastrous portal.
The ghost hunter jokes,
Really, the game was invented so that people would have a reason to get close to each other in the dark.
That being said, Berry doesn't necessarily think it's impossible to make contact using the board.
But because it's mostly a game used for entertainment, he'd be hesitant to put any validity on the outcome. Amy Bruni adds,
If you want to use an Ouija board for fun and to goof around with your friends, great. But as an actual spirit communication tool, they are ineffective at best.
She tells Elite Daily there's actually a scientific reason for what you consider to be successful spirit communication -- i.e. when the planchette starts to move.
Whenever folks are insistent that they were communicating with something by using an Ouija board, I challenge them to try it again, but with a blindfold on. It doesn't work. That's due to something call the ideomotor effect. It's your body making reflexive responses without you consciously taking that action.
When you think about all the great equipment we have out there now for spiritual communication, Bruni explains, Ouija boards are a bit slow and antiquated in comparison. But she also notes that they definitely have played an important part in the history of what she and Berry do as paranormal investigators. “Ouija boards and spirit boards have been used by people trying to speak to the other side for over 100 years,” she tells Elite Daily.
Bruni and Berry both recommend a good old-fashioned recorder to start your communications, explaining you can even use the voice memo option on your phone if you want to start making some contact with the dead:
You can try what's called an electronic voice phenomena session, where you ask questions and then listen to your recording to see if you recorded answers from, theoretically, the other side.
And Berry says it's really important to treat the spirits as you would want to be treated: “Be gentle and respectful. Being nice will go a long way.”
On the other hand, Dr. Athena Perrakis, who has worked in the metaphysical space for over 30 years, and has experience ranging from tarot and divination to energy healing, deeply respects the Ouija board as a tool. Still, she recognizes and appreciates that people might be skeptical about its use.
But her belief in the Ouija board stems from a personal and, she says, traumatic experience as a young girl.
While Dr. Perrakis' mother, a medium, was using an Ouija board one day, Dr. Perrakis witnessed the planchette moving violently across the board on its own. While her mother was not surprised, Dr. Perrakis knew not to play with it. Believing the board to be unsafe and in contact with ill-willed ghosts, she threw the board away.
It then somehow ended up back in her house.
Today, Dr. Perrakis devotes her work with the metaphysical to teaching others to hold space for spiritual contact rituals. She outlines for Elite Daily some concrete steps to take for those interested in using the board to contact spirits on Halloween.
When you're working with divination, you want to do so safely. And Ouija boards are a lot stronger than people think. You can easily make contact with the spirit world. So you have to be careful.
First, she says it's important to open your space and circle for ritual Ouija work using an ancient symbol: the circle. You can do this either by visualizing a circle of white light moving clockwise around your space, or by actually drawing a circle. “What this is doing is raising the vibration and frequency of the space,” Dr. Perrakis says. Then, she explains, clear the energy of the space by smudging something like white sage or palo santo, which is a holy wood believed to have healing powers.
After this, Dr. Perrakis says you should say a prayer, or call in guiding spirits and guardians, asking them to keep your communications safe while you explore. Then, become aware of how you're feeling in the moment: "The energy you are bringing into the space is very important," she tells Elite Daily.
Lastly, if you're feeling safe, go ahead and start asking some questions. See what you find, and have fun.
I don't know about you guys, but this Halloween, I'm definitely using an Ouija board and a voice recorder -- and probably a bowl full of Reese's, too. You know, as like, an offering.