I've Got Issues...And Peace


Boulder, Colorado,
October 22
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 28, 2010 10:30AM

The Ouija Board and Me

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Ouija board

“Thou shalt not worship false gods before Me.”

This commandment was drilled in my head while, I swear, I was still in the womb.  There were nine other commandments embedded in my brain at tender ages, as well as a host of other rules and regulations I needed to learn if I was ever going to be serious about following God, at least from the perspective of the ever-watchful eyes of the Catholic church.

Growing up, I didn’t mind Catholicism so much.  I was a kid whose aim was to please and following these rules seemed to make my parents very happy so that worked for me.

Movies and TV shows I watched had to be pre-approved by the Pope himself (I will never forget my profound disappointment as a 6 year old when the local priest declared “The Three Stooges” as forbidden.).

Anything that had to do with the occult was doubly and triply forbidden and I kept myself sheltered from anything that smacked of the devil.

Leaving the nest at the tender age of 17, I went off to college, a large California state university, a university that was consistently on Playboy’s Top Ten List for biggest party schools.

Soon after my arrival, I forged a strong friendship with another girl who was to become a close friend for years to come.  She was much more exciting and daring than me and I loved her wild ideas and rebellious musings.

Early in the fall, we decided to go to a palm reader to get a cheat sheet on our futures.  The palm reader was harmless enough, despite the fact that she told me I would be married twice and because of my loud protestations to the contrary, the brow beaten palm reader conceded that maybe I would be engaged once, and married once.  She wasn’t a palm reader with a strong spine.

Our brief foray into things unknown led us to the next level:  a Ouija board.  We would pull out the Ouija board and close our eyes and ask sincere and important questions like who would we date and where would we live.  The small plastic piece (a planchette) was a willing accomplice in providing answers that would make us scrunch our noses and groan in unhappy anticipation.

One lazy Saturday afternoon, we were dinking around on the Board and slowly our room was filled with curious onlookers who wanted to know what the heck we were doing.  One of them, a girl named Susan, was skeptical.  “Okay, ask the Ouija board which school I’m transferring to next year.  I haven’t told a soul.  It’s been a huge secret.”

Easy enough.  We asked the Ouija board, “What school is Susan transferring to next year?”  The quick response was “U…C…L…A.”  Susan was dumfounded.  “Who told you?” she demanded from us and we both could only shake our heads and said that we hadn’t had a clue.

Several girls started getting nervous and antsy and someone called out, “Ask that board who it is.”

My girlfriend and I could barely keep up with the cheap plastic piece as we asked the question once again out loud, “Who are you?”    “S…A…T…A…N” it spelled as the piece whipped across the board, flew across the room and hit the closet on the other side.

Suddenly, the room was drained as girls ran out screaming and yelling.  My girlfriend and I sat on the bed looking at the board, each other, and the plastic piece that now sat innocently on the floor on the other side of the room.

What were we doing and who were we dealing with?

I was excited, ramped up and strangely felt quite powerful.  The Catholic guilt was gnawing at me for exposing myself to dark forces, but I pushed the thoughts away.  I was away from home and the priest and the nuns who pointed their fingers and shook their heads in disapproval.  I could now do what I damned well pleased.

I went down the hall to go to the restroom and a strange loner of a girl approached me.  “Mary, I have to tell you that all summer I had a recurring dream that two girls would be very powerful in the dorm and that they would lead others down a dark path of devil worship and evil.  You are one of those girls.”

Holy Mary Mother of God!  Wait just a minute here, I thought.  I’m a good girl I am and I wanted no part of leading anyone down a path that would lead straight to hell.  I got humble real quick and assured her that I would no longer be a part of the Ouija board, palm readers and anything else that might smack of the demise of the civilized world as we knew it.

My roommate had opposite plans.  When I returned to the room, I told her about our dormmates recurring dream and she laughed and scoffed and said, “Whatever!  I’m having a séance in our room tonight and we’re going to get to the bottom of this whole Ouija board thing.”  I told her that there was no way in hell I would participate in anything that smacked of satanic involvement.

On a dark spooky October evening, while I was safely ensconced in the TV room surrounded by the safe warm bodies of young college men, my roommate and at least a dozen girls were in my room with candles burning and hearts pounding. 

About an hour later, screams were heard down the hall as hysterical young women were pouring into the TV room.  They were hard to understand.  My roommate, the only calm one, stepped forward to report that the Ouija board had identified itself as a dead college student who had overdosed on drugs.  A name was given and the girls freaked out.

I sat there shaking my head in obstinate disapproval.  I had suddenly developed a strong case of self-righteousness and looked knowingly at the girl who had had the ominous dreams.   I silently said a few “Hail Mary’s” and “Our Father’s” for added security measures.

My roommate went down to City Hall the next day and indeed found the name of the deceased student.

I’ve long since left the hauntings of the Catholic Church which were far scarier than the antics of the Ouija board.  But some things, despite our best intentions, stay ingrained in us for years.  I’ve never touched another Ouija board or sought the counsel of a psychic.

I will always remember the day the Ouija board spelled out where Susan was transferring schools and the letters “S…A…T…A…N” were spelled out as the planchette flew across the room.   My now doubting mind has no answers for how that happened or how the name of a dead student that no one knew was spelled out on a board that cost $12.99.

But stranger things than this have happened and all I can say is, “I don’t know.”


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Damn, Mary! One does have to wonder, though, about how those things work . . .
Good spooky story! Sounds similar to what happened to a friend of mine in college. She couldn't even talk about it without shaking, even 20 years later. I've never used one, but I've always been curious!
Great Halloween post!

I predict you will fly to the west coast next Thursday, arrive safely and come to my house and get real cozy with your sister!
Those boards are bad news...won't ever touch one again.r
Wow... the UCLA/Satan part is weird but maybe only equally as weird as the fact that the priests banned The Three Stooges (although they were Jewish you know). Very funny and rated.
And congrats on the EP!
Whatever spirit that possessed my Ouija must have been illiterate because all they ever spelled out was gobboldygook.
Kelly, you Iriash are sure different since you starved in the potato
BTW-Can your weegee board play this~~

Mary, I've heard some strange stories about Quija boards. It's enough to make one wonder. Eerie story.
Sounded like a good story. Have you ever studied the ancient mysteries of Egypt? They are the closest any humans have ever gotten to it.
$ 12.99? You went to school a long time ago.
ugh that story gives me the chills! Don't like it one bit!
Very scary Mary! YIKES. Not good to play with things that might not exactly be toys.....
How much acid were you guys on during that?
My good catholic mother banned the 3 Stooges in our home, not because some priest said to, but because 3 boys in 5 years were easily influenced by TV and didnt know how to fake poking each other in the eyes or hitting each other with frying pans.
I trust you have recovered your soul since those frightening college years!
Maybe it's time to take Pascal's wager?
You should have asked it for the Lotto numbers.
Great post! I too was raised Catholic and have had many ventures into the Occult throughout the years. What the Catholics don't realize is that while they forbid and condemn the Occult, they simultaneously keep it alive with their clandestine rituals and promises of esoteric knowledge. Highly rated.
My room-mates in junior college and I got on the ouija board and it told us stuff like who we'd marry (I have yet to marry a man named Kim) and general stuff.

The weird stuff was what went on in the apartment after we put the board away -- like the spirit it contacted decided to hang out a while. Things would be moved, and once I thought I saw someone out of the corner of my eye, and just disconcerting stuff like that.

Enough to swear off using one ever again though.
When I was a kid my sister and my mother played with one and it spoke French. I have always attributed that to my sister's high school French class, but then, I did live in an area that was originally settled by the French.....
loved the ouiji board
oops-- "ouija" --
the device pushed me the wrong way and I picked the wrong letter...
Someone must have known her name, no ?
I loved this sentence. "I’ve long since left the hauntings of the Catholic Church which were far scarier than the antics of the Ouija board."
We are all connected. I've never found that psychic info is of any use. It is impressive to be able to find out that sort of thing, but ultimately does it help us get along with each other?
Those boards always scared me, as they do you. I don't understand them any more than I understand magic tricks. Mystery.
Owl, I do wonder but what I will always wonder about is how did we get here and is there anything after this? It annoys me to no end that I do not have the answers to this.

Blue in TX: I had another experience in 6th grade at a slumber party that was not as freaky but still freaked me out. It really felt like we were messing with something, but the mind can be a powerful thing.

JC: You are a psyhic cuz that's exactly what I plan on doing! Can't wait to see you. I just know you have at least a scary story or two in you...cough it up!

hugs, me: I have to agree with you.

Roger: Well, yeah, my parents obeyed that damn priest and I did probably end up hitting my siblings less, maybe. Thanks for the congrats and the editing. It was really appreciated!

ocularnervosa: You got a lemon of a Ouija and should have demanded your money back!

Fay: I bet there are many stories similar to mine. I went on a Skeptic board site for the Ouija and it makes me wonder what they would think of my stories. Thanks for reading.

RobKallAlterEgo: I have not studied the mysteries of Egypt, other than about the pyramids, but you piqued my curiosity and I want to know more. Thank you!

Veronica: I heartily agree.

OE: Okay, I made up the $12.99. But first I did some investigative reporting and found out that they currently sell for $19.99. So this was what, gulp, holy crap, 40 years ago????? How can this be? Impossible I say! So, I thought $12.99 might be a fair estimate.
Thanks or reading!

Cfranc: Under no circumstance are you allowed to try a Ouija board!

Sheila: Yes, it was scary and still gives me the shivers when I think about it. The whole thing was just dark.

Gwool: Now gwool, you should know me better than this. The hardedst thing I tried my college year was beer and that was even brief. As for the other girls, how would Acid use explain the verified name of the dead student?

Tim: Your mother was wive given she had 3 boys in 5 years! Although I still laugh when I think about their antics. Yes, I recovered my soul, but honestly, there was much more trauma from the teachings of the Catholic church than the Ouija experience!

Proud and Progressive: I agree!

Catnlion: Help me here. Please. Pascal's wager? I'm clearly missing something.

Cranky: Good Lord, why didn't I think of that????

Ryan: You are so right about the Catholic church. Just look at the exorcisms that are performed! It makes absolutely no sense but that's never been the Church's strength (my apologies to anyone I may offend by this, but it's how I feel). Thank you for reading.

dalriadane: A really interesting point. And since we don't really know how this crazy system called life works, and there are many mysteries, I do believe in different energies, and inviting darker energies into our homes can, as many have experienced, bring on unwelcome presences. Thanks for reading and your very valid comment.

voicegal: Hey, French is no easy language to learn and very interesting the area you lived in had been settled by the French. I kind of love this stuff!

Nikii: Hey, I had to google to make sure I was spelling Ouija correctly! So you loved it? It makes me want to know more.

Scarlett: Are you referring to the dead student's name? If my memory serves me correctly (and that's a big IF), I think the dead student had been dead for many years. It still doesn't answer the UCLA answer or the way the piece zoomed across the room. But of course a big part of me thinks there must be a logical explanation for all of it. Thanks for reading and thanks for appreciating that one line. Between you and me, it was m favorite line in the post and I was hoping someone would notice it! Thank you for being the one.

geezerchick: I'm with you 100% on the being connected thing. And I for one never found it useful, although it is a little interesting that I have indeed been married twice.

Cyril: Let me know if you come up with anything and thanks for reading.

Lea: Yup, they are a big time mystery. Now I'm on to read YOUR scary post....
Faith, it was eerie. That's the perfect word.
I have had some weird experiences with a ouija board as well. I have also had some humorous ones. My brother and I, when he was about 12 and I was about 13, used to play. (They sometimes say it is strongest with opposite genders playing.) Anyway, the board would spell out that I was a fat ass. I wonder how the spirits hurled insults so like my brother's? But if it seemed to move on its own or say something disturbing, he made excuses to get away from it.

I have heard that the Bible warns against psychic practices. I now see this less as a warning against Satanism and maybe more as a warning against not trusting God with the future, leaving oneself open to charlatans, and causing unnecessary anxiety that makes you unable to enjoy the present.
You write well about your experiences.
Great essay! Brought to mind one of my favorite horror films, What Lies Beneath. Rent it if you haven't seen it yet!
" That old Catholic guilt" will get you every time.
I often wonder how an object made in a factory
out of corrugated paper, ink and some lamination (????) could hold so much power.....
spooks me ...a 12 yr. catholic school from the bx
btw are you going to see your sister next week?lol
As you know, I'm another ex-Catholic (plus) and I also had some very weird experience with Ouija boards, only at a far more tender age. My older sister and I used to use one when I was about 8 and so many weird things happened, we finally stopped. And I don't think we're the only ones -- I've heard many weird Ouija stories over the years.
BTW Mare - Your house and property are "clear!"
There was a point where I was wondering if I was too scared to finish your story. I'm glad I got brave and did. Perfect Halloween story.
I don't believe in the supernatural but this was well written and I especially loved how you found the mot juste, "planchette."
I used one with my ex very early in my pregnancy. We were told that our child would be born at 9:23 am on September 10. that there would be complications, but that all would be well.

I forgot about it until the day I was rushed into surgery for an emergency C-section -- A little after 9 am on September 10. I had dismissed the whole thing because it would have meant that our child would be 2 months premature, and babies born that early didn't typically survive. Complications indeed, but our son was fine.

I think the board will reflect whatever you bring to it. I wasn't thinking evil, so I didn't get an evil or frightening response.
Incredibly well written piece about rebellion, exploring the "forbidden," and Ouija Board terror and hysteria. I love how you express youth, feelings, and the strange -- something I want to refute and explain but can't. And if anyone could be logical and use deductive reasoning about what happened it would be you anyway. And I love the way you put your post-Ouija Board stance: "I had suddenly developed a strong case of self-righteousness..." I am a rational and creative and imaginative woman and when one of my daughters got a Ouija Board for her birthday from a friend it was one of the few things I wanted banned from our home. I can't explain it. I gave her the choice and she kept it. Nothing bad happened but years later I found it under her bed and threw it away with distaste and distance like when I have to dispose of dog vomit or something. Weird!!! RRRRR!
Great piece, Mary! My daughter and I had a similar experience - she was a teenager then - when, after some amusing/harmless questions & answers, we asked it "WHO ARE YOU?" And 'it' answered, I swear: "I AM DEAD."

After that, the damn thing gathered a lot of dust and was finally delivered into some other poor soul's hands at a garage sale we had. Ay yi!
The first time I played with a ouija board was the last time as well. We played with it in a friend's house that was known for having multiple ghosts, and sure enough they all showed up for a turn to talk. Some could spell, others couldn't. It was the scariest, stupidest thing I ever did. To this day, I swear one followed me home because lots of weird things happened after that including my pets being completely freaked out and terrified at things I apparently could not see.

That's it no more. I'm done. I have since gotten the impression or sensed the presence of many a ghost. I just say a prayer for them and ask that they leave the space while I am there. (in a whisper so as to not freak out the people I am with.)
Great post!
Great story, told with your usual unique style. Nancy Reagan was a huge Ouija board fan, some say she ran the country with it. I never say never to something I can't actually see or confirm. (But of course, I'm a witch, so everything goes. ;)
I tried one of those things once. We could never get it to do anything so I tossed it. I guess I and my friends were too much like the devil already, I don't know.
Awesome story. I hope that you occasionally watch the The Stooges because everyone needs a little dose of Stooges for laughter therapy. I'm not a fan of Quija boards simply because it is too large a portal to mess with especially for laymen. But I'm a Witch E Poo (as my Mom calls me) and I don't think anything should be done without a protective circle... eh go figure.