The group of friends huddled around a game board, their fingers hovering over a small flittering planchet.
It was the 1960s. Roland Sneed and his then-wife were in Kansas City from Oklahoma visiting her parents when someone decided it would be fun to play with the unknown.
“My former wife and I spent several hours with friends using the Ouija board,” Roland, now of Blue Springs, said. “Sometimes the planchet went very slow and sometimes it would go so fast that it would fly off the board. Some answers were cryptic, some muddled, and some very, very interesting.”
Later, the couple slept in a seldom-used room in the old house. But the board wasn’t finished playing.
“My wife began making strange movements and then started talking in a voice not her own,” Roland said. “I wasn’t scared, but fascinated. I started asking questions about who she was and she replied that she was an ancestor of my wife. It is hard to know whether or not this was true. Specific facts were not given.
“After a while, my wife came out of this trance with beaded sweat on her brow and scared out of her mind. She said that she could feel the spirit trying to take over her body and had struggled against it until she got back into control. She refused to even look at a Ouija board after that.”
Roland and his wife met what Dawn Newlan, a medium with the Ozark Paranormal Society, calls “lower-level energies.”
“Generally, the things that come through always tell you they are a friend, a family member, a whatever,” Dawn said, adding you should keep your distance.
“Ouijas to me, and to most anyone who’s been around one will tell you they are very dangerous,” she said. “When someone plays with a board they begin to open up the doorways of communication with the other side.”
Negative energies come through these doorways, Dawn said. Sometimes these energies are people who were bad in life, and sometimes they are demons.
“Satan has his legions,” Dawn said. “If you do not know how to discern good entities from bad entities, that’s when you wind up with your problems.
“What most people don’t understand is that if you ask them a question, ‘hey what is my dog’s name?’ (The name) is in your head,” she said. “That spirit can take it out of your head and give you what you want to hear.”
Dawn speaks from experience. She’s used a Ouija.
“I was young and stupid,” she said. “Something came through and told me it was my grandma. It told me it loved me and wanted to visit me.”
Later the board began spelling “evil, evil, evil, evil.”
“A Ouija board, until you experience it, is a fascination,” Dawn said. “Your common sense tells you you really shouldn’t be doing it, but your curiosity pushes you. Once it scares the hell out of you, you’ll quit.”
But some people believe the Ouija board works, not through spirits, but through the subconscious mind of the user.
“It’s my preferred explanation for the phenomenon,” Marleigh, who posted on from-the-shadows.blogspot.com, said. “One or all of the participants is moving the pointer, subconsciously. I’ve had it happen to me where you will ask “what is your name” and I will think a specific name, say, “Jason,” and without me pushing the pointer, the name Jason will be spelled out. This could explain Ouija board happenings.”
Maybe. I don’t want to find out.
Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.