One of the spookiest and most talked about areas of the paranormal world started out as nothing more than a game. Originally created in 1891 as a novelty item, toy, and parlor trick, the “wonderful talking board,” as it was first advertised, was mostly at first a source of amusement and curiosity. Just a board with letters on it and a glass planchette, it was not until the early 1900s that it would find its feet firmly lodged in the burgeoning spiritualist movement of the era, where talking to the dead was all the rage and it became the go-to way to contact the deceased and various other spirits or even demons, a sort of window to the other side. Ever since then, the Ouija board has been a prominent fixture in seances and plenty of creepy tales, and some of these are decidedly rather malevolent in nature. Here we will take a look at a range of cases that show that perhaps these are not mere toys to be trifled with.
One very frightening tale of a Ouija board session going wrong comes to us from 2014, with a mother of two named Angela Jackson. She had long been obsessed with the afterlife, which became even more pronounced with the death of her father, and so when she was at a friend’s house one evening and they suggested they use a Ouija board to talk to spirits she was intrigued and willing to go along with it. At the time, she did not see these boards as anything particularly dangerous, although she had never used one, but if there were any thoughts in her head that this was to be a harmless bit of fun those were quickly dispelled. They quickly made contact with a spirit calling itself “Angela,” which seemed to be more than a little threatening. Jackson would explain to The Mirror:
My heart thudded with excitement as we all placed our index fingers lightly on the bottom of an upturned whisky glass they'd placed on the table. It began to pull in every direction. 'Who is it you want to speak too?' Robert, my neighbour, asked. "The glass started moving towards the letters, spelling out... A-N-G-E-L-A. The spirit wanted to speak to me. But then it spelt out, 'Die bitch'. 'That's not funny,' I said. But Robert said, 'Angela, we didn't do anything.' He snatched his finger back from the glass and we all shrieked as the living room door slammed shut on its own. My voice quivering, I asked, 'Who are you?' With only my finger on the glass it moved faster. 'I was murdered,' it scrawled. 'Just like you're going to be.'" Nightmare Angela asked again: "Who are you?" and the glass quickly spelt out S-A-T-A-N. She then screamed: "I'm not scared - to hell with you!" And with that the tumbler flew off the table and smashed into the wall. Leaping up, my neighbour slammed on the lights and blew out the candles. 'We should never do this again,' he said. But they weren't the ones who'd been told they were going to be murdered. I needed to know more.
She went about trying to reestablish a connection with this spirit, using the board regularly for several months without success. And then the nightmares started. She says she was menaced in her dreams by a man holding a hammer, which she connected to the Ouija board sessions, and which convinced her to stop messing around with it. However, her strange experiences hung over her like a cloud, making her anxious and paranoid. She felt that the message from beyond meant something, but she wasn’t sure what. Then one evening the dire prediction she had received and the nightmares came sharply into focus with a harrowing experience. Angela says of what happened:
I locked the front door of my flat, then started walking down the concrete steps in the stairwell. From behind me I heard a voice. 'Die bitch,' it growled. I froze at the sound of those words. "Shaking with fear, I turned to see a man in a white T-shirt, emerging from the shadows wielding a claw hammer. I screamed as he brought the weapon down on my head with a sickening thud. He hit me again and warm blood began trickling down my face. I couldn't see where my attacker was I just wanted to get away. "Drenched in blood, I made it to the front door and then collapsed. "Waking in hospital I felt confused and groggy. 'You were attacked,' a doctor explained. 'You've suffered a fractured skull.' I lived in fear that whoever it was would return and finish the job, just as the spirit had warned through the Ouija board. It's been six years now since the attack. No one has ever been caught and I'm still scared the spirit's prediction will one day come true. But now I'm warning all of you - never mess with Ouija boards. You don't know what evil lurks in the afterlife.
This is a common theme with Ouija boards, spirits making grim predictions of death or misfortune, not only for those present, but sometimes for other random, unrelated people. One report from the site Café Mom is given by a witness who says he had been using the Ouija board for years and had had a lot of weird experiences with it, but none like the time it apparently predicted the death of Princess Diana. He says:
One day, I challenged the board and said give me something independent to verify all the information [it was] giving me. Predict a news event. Tell me something that is going to happen. It starts moving strange like it's having a hard time telling me something. [I'm] paraphrasing here since it was a long time ago, but the exchange went something like this: 'DI DIE DI DIE DI DIE DI DIE.' I'm like, 'Whoa, something nasty here, telling me to die.' 'PRINCESS DI DIE.' Princess Di at the time was young and vital, so of course I'm skeptical. 'Oh, yeah, sure, she dies. How does this happen?' 'CAR ACCIDENT.' 'Yeah right, like a princess could get killed in a car accident.' 'Where is this car accident?' 'PARIS.' 'Yeah right what the hell is the Princess of Wales doing in Paris? OK, so when is this going to happen?' 'OHIO.' I had a trip to Ohio planned in the coming weeks. So, sure, whatever, Princess Di will die in a car crash in Paris while I am in Ohio. Yeah, right. I go to Ohio. Nothing happens. I forget about it. Just one of those weird Ouija sessions that happens every once in a while. Month or so later, I am in Ohio again. I come out into the living room and everyone is watching TV, glued to a news report. What? I ask ... Princess Di killed in an accident. I was stunned.
A similar story was given by the Reddit user “u/annuvin,” who claims this happened to his girlfriend back when she had a friend named Johnny, who was suffering from a debilitating illness and bedridden in a hospital. She often visited him, and it seemed as if he was on the mend and would actually recover. But then came a rather harrowing Ouija board session, of which the poster says:
One night after visiting Johnny, they were at Shelly’s when they decided to try out a ouija board. After a while, they started communicating with a spirit who seemed to know a lot about them that it really shouldn’t. After some banal questions about boys and general questions one would expect teenage girls to ask, my GF decided to ask about Johnny and his condition. The board quickly spelled out ’24 June 1987 Johnny wont have to worry anymore’ and went to ‘goodbye.’ My GF and Shelly were so convinced that board was giving them a date for recovery that they actually wrote the message down and sealed it in an envelope. The following year on 24 June, it turned out that Johnny indeed no longer needed to worry about his condition. It was the day he died.
In other cases the spirits supposedly conjured up seem to jump right into the physical world. One rather creepy story was relayed by Reddit user “No Springs,” who says she was using a Ouija board in the basement with some friends just messing around, before things got very real, and very grim indeed. She says:
I was about 12 or 13 spending the night at a friend’s house, goofing around with the Ouija board with him & his sister and we were getting all sorts of gibberish plus words spelled out, just kind of scaring ourselves for fun not taking it very seriously when we got the message ‘I can see you through the window’ and then ‘I can see you through his eyes’ or something like that… there was just a small window in the basement room where we were, and just the back yard and woods past the driveway visible through that window… We asked it more questions and it said ‘I’m under the car’ so we somehow got up the nerve to go out with a flashlight and peer under the car, where we saw a huge black stray cat which was hissing. We ran inside freaking out and at that exact moment the power failed and all the lights in the house went out. We just about actually shit ourselves. Few minutes later the power came back and we sat up till dawn that night scared and never played with the board again.
It is unclear what exactly was happening here, but it definitely points to some strange power that can work its way out from the board to affect the outer, physical world. In some cases this can be paranormal activity much like a poltergeist haunting, such as that of Reddit user “roostercullhane,” who made the perhaps unwise decision of trying out a Ouija board at a supposedly haunted house. He says of his spooky experience:
In high school, a couple friends, my friend’s mom and myself were talking about a local building being haunted (soil conditioners that sell dirt, bark, and other landscaping goods, rumored to be the location of a murder years before). The mom worked there so we decided to break out the board and give it a shot. I had never used one before so I was skeptical from the jump. The place is essentially a large warehouse with tall metal racks (think Costco or home depot) stacked with bags of dirt, manure, bark and other things like large ceramic flower pots. The board was glow in the dark so we kept all the lights off. Once we got going it started moving around and I was freaking out already.
We asked if something was there to let us know and there was a loud bang that seemed to come from the rafters on the other side of the warehouse. Every question that followed was met with a similar bang from a various location in the warehouse (sometimes close and sometimes far). The last question asked was if it meant us harm and the thingy already on the ‘no’ answer did not move. The question was repeated and immediately followed by the closest noise yet (seemed right on top of us) so we decided to [get out.] As we were rushing out we flipped on our flashlights and saw one or two large pots fall from the racks and heard what we would later find to be 40lb bags of bark dropping to the ground. There was also a slow/low grinding noise that when my friends returned the next day was a sledgehammer that had been dragged through the dirt covered cement floor standing straight up in the air with drag marks but no footprints near. I pretty much believe in ghost now and slept with the lights on for a week.
A similar story comes from witness Jeannette K., on the site liveabout. She claims this happened in her hometown of Potsdam, Germany in 2002. At the time she was only 12 yeas old, and her and her older sister decided to play with a Ouija board, something that they had never done before and which they would apparently learn to regret. She says of what happened:
We decided to try an Ouija session with little self-made cards on which the letters were drawn, a table and a glass. She and two classmates were in the living room of our little apartment. (My mother had an Ouija experience when she was young and was fine with my curious sister's idea, and she took me and my little brother to the kitchen to not disturb my sister.) We waited for some minutes in there. I stared lazily at the door to the corridor. The door was mostly glass and I could see everything that was going on behind it. Then I saw a person walk past the kitchen. He could only have come from the living room and seemingly was heading for the exit. I was puzzled. First, the "man" was pitch-black and as tall as an ordinary grownup. Second, there was no audible sound of the living room door, nor footsteps. He could not have been there. I brushed it off. I believed my mind was playing tricks on me. Then my little brother, who sat across from me, asked, "Did you see that shadow, too?" I was astonished and we shared impressions.
Shortly after that, my sister and her friends came into the kitchen and stated that the session just ended because the spirit left. This was the start of paranormal activity around us. Even as we moved on to another house it went on. Because of my sister's innocent curiosity in the Ouija board, our home became haunted. It started, in most cases, when it got dark and our parents went to sleep, so they never witnessed anything and thought we were kind of nuts. It was hard. Lights switched on when my sister and I headed for a dark room. (That was actually polite of the spirit!) There many things, from shadows, to lights going on and off, to knocks on doors, to doors that flew open, to footsteps and cold spots. There was also an extremely nasty smell in one of the bathrooms. It came without warning and quickly left. It was clear that this was no "normal" smell that you could imagine existing in the bathroom. It was like something foul had lain in the tub for a long time. Once, something pushed on my mattress from beneath while I was lying on it and reading a comic. When we were 16 and 15, it all ended because we started to ignore every unnatural occurrence. We had no nerve or power left to stand any more of this game. Fortunately, the spirits cooperated and I haven't seen or felt any more paranormal activity.
What caused this haunting? Was it something summoned up from the board? Another case of an apparent haunting spurred by Ouija board usage comes from Reddit user “aaraabellaa,” who says she first tried a board at a friend’s birthday party, with the whole thing starting as a bit of spooky fun, as these things often do. She says that she was skeptical at first, but also intrigued, as she had never used one before, and she explains what happened next:
We took turns asking questions, and I just figured someone else was moving the planchette. The other girls were pretty creeped out, but I wasn’t until it answered a question for me that nobody else knows the answer to. To this day, I can’t explain how that answered appeared, or any of the other paranormal experiences that happened after we put that board away. I truly believe that we contacted something, and it stuck around. There were just generally a lot of small things, like footsteps above us when we were on the top floor. The door kept swinging open on its own, and the girl who lived there said it never did that on its own before then. The creepiest part was that a bunch of us randomly woke up around 4 or 5 in the morning and a few girls saw a black figure walking down on the street outside the window. Apparently one of the girls had seen what they thought was the same figure with his face at the window (on the second story) earlier in the night.
Here we get into some of the most frightening supposed Ouija board encounters of all, those instances in which actual apparitions are invoked. In another case from liveabout, we have a witness calling himself “Jo,” and who when he was 15 years old found himself in a Ouija board séance in Perth, Western Australia. He says that he was highly skeptical during the whole thing, thinking that it was merely his friend pushing the planchette around, and he thought it was all rather boring. Yet, in the days after this séance he would begin waking in a cold sweat every morning at 3:15 AM, immersed in a sensation of “total terror,” with the impression that he was being watched from the shadows. He says he then found the planchette from the Ouija board session in his room, with no explanation of how it got there, and very bizarre considering he had thought they had thrown it away. He would explain further of the events that followed:
I was certain that the glass was the reason for my sleepless nights. I once again disposed of the glass; however, I kept experiencing the same feelings, and once again upon inspection came across the same glass that I had already thrown in the garbage twice. This time I was determined to get rid of it, so I took it outside and smashed it on the ground. I continued waking at 3:15 a.m. to the minute every night without fail, and I started seeing strange, dark shadows. The shadows started as perfect black balls, which would circle my room, then seem to disappear through my window. I put this off to paranoia and lack of sleep and simply tried to ignore it and go back to sleep, still with my head under the covers. Other people started noticing the shadow, too, and at normal waking hours, saying that the end of the house where my room was seemed a bit creepy. Gradually, the shadows seemed to get bigger, but I continued to ignore them... until one night.
The family dog woke me, again at 3:15 a.m. He was sitting next to my bed and he was making a crying sound. I figured the dog needed to go out, so got up and let him outside. As soon as I was back in bed, the dog was at my window, squeaking and carrying on, so I got back up and let him back inside. The dog followed me to my room and once again sat by my bed whimpering. I then took him back outside, and even though he sat at my window still crying, I made him stay out there for a bit, because I didn't want him coming back in and waking me up. I eventually gave in and let the dog back inside. The bathroom light was on, letting light flood the hallway as I walked back to my room, where the dog started growling. I moved closer to the bathroom door so the dog could see it was me, as I was worried he was growling at my shadow. I called him up to me as he was still growling and said, "Hey, it's only me. Come here. What's the matter?" The dog walked slowly toward me, still growling, and sat next to my leg, growling at something behind me.
In a flash, my thoughts raced to, Oh my god, there is someone in the house... and turned around and started running down the hallway. What I saw was something that has never left my mind and something no one has ever believed when I have told them. I saw what seemed like a huge bird. It had huge outstretched wings that would have touched the roof and almost the floor. Its body ended where the wings did and neither seemed to touch the ground. As it followed me down the hallway, the wings stayed outstretched and it seemed to glide as it moved. I did notice a small head in between the wings, but no features that I recall, and the head seemed hooded rather than round and connected to the body without a neck. The creature seemed more shadow like than of flesh, and as much I have tried to put it down to my own shadow, I am certain that what I experienced and saw was real and could have in no way been my own shadow. I remember mostly the wings and the enormity of them as they towered over me and how it moved as it followed after me until it slipped into another room.
From the same site is yet another very compelling and terrifying experience, from a witness called “Carol,” in Marion County, Fairmont, West Virginia. She says her mother bought her a Ouija board in 1978 when she was just 12years old. One night when her dad was out of town they took the board out for a session that would soon go off the rails. She relates the harrowing paranormal experience as follows:
Mom asked if there was anyone there that wanted to speak to us. I was giggling. She asked again. The planchette then moved to YES. I told mom she was moving it and she said she was not. Mom asked, "Who are you?" The planchette then went to each letter and spelled JACKSON. We did not know anyone by the name of Jackson, first or last name. Mom then asked, "Are you a good spirit?" The planchette moved to YES and then NO. Mom asked, "How did you die?" The planchette did not move from the middle of the board. I was getting scared at that point. So mom said, "Since you are not going to tell us, we are going to say goodbye now." The planchette slid to NO. Mom said, "We have to go." The planchette then went to GOODBYE. We took our fingers off the planchette and it was sitting in the middle of the board. The planchette flew off the board and the round plastic piece where the middle pointer is was cracked. Mom put it all back in the box and put it up in my closet. Where we lived, the floor was close to the ground and my room was at the end of the house. And that night there was a growling sound coming up through the floor in the corner of my room. I went and got mom; she came in and it stopped.
My mom smoked cigarettes and that night her cigarettes smelled like sulfur; she said they tasted like sulfur, too. My dad could not smell it or taste it. I could smell the sulfur strong. Three nights later, the growling started up in the same corner of my room. I again went and got mom. dad was home and mom told him to get the flashlight and go out and look. While the growling was happening, dad come in and said that nothing was under there. My mom proceeded to yell at it and tell it to stop. It got louder and sounded more like a guttural growl like it was going to come through the floor after my mom. It finally stopped that night. The next morning my mom felt sick. We took her temperature and it was 102°. Dad took her to the hospital and they admitted her. She was diagnosed as having an infection clear through her whole body. She was in there for a week. The doctor told my dad that if he had waited one more day to bring her in, it could have killed her. The whole time she was in the hospital, my room and the whole house was quiet. Mom and I truly believed the spirit of Jackson died from having an infection in his blood and was never treated for it and died from it. That is my first and last experience with a Ouija board. My dad threw it away at the dump yard. I warn others now about the dangers of having and using a Ouija board.
Finally, we have a rather eerie account from Reddit user “gothpsy29,” who tells of a time her ex-boyfriend has lost his friend in an airplane accident. In an effort to contact the sprit of the deceased, they resorted to using a Ouija board, but little did they have any idea of the repercussions this would have. She says of the ordeal:
Once, right after my ex had lost his friend in an airplane accident, we took [the Ouija board] out to use it. She was very present. She was very scared and alone and desperate for communication. We stopped using it and immediately I felt this presence in the corner of the room. I closed my eyes to take a deep breath. Suddenly the pointer started moving rapidly around and going too fast to spell out the words. It was terrifying. I refused to use the Ouija board again. I immediately felt exhausted. Completely and utterly drained. I lay down and had a nap. I was asleep for exactly 30 minutes. I woke up, bolted out of bed. I closed my eyes for a second to adjust myself to where I was, and I ’saw’ this spirit/skeletal thing standing in the corner of the room. It suddenly rushed at my face and started screaming at me, with a big, gaunt mouth. I opened my eyes and started screaming at my boyfriend to get it off me. I could feel it, so oppressive and aggressive, trying to get on/in me. I ran from the house, screaming [and] shaking. I don’t think I ever used the Ouija board again. One day, it disappeared from my bedroom. It completely vanished. I have never found it. I have no explanations for what happened to it.
These are just a very few of countless stories and reports of people having unpleasant and unexplainable, terrifying experiences with the Ouija board, seemingly catapulting beyond merely a piece of cardboard and a game. According to science, the basic mechanics of the board rely on ideomotor responses and unconscious movements, but can that really explain all of these wild tales and others like them? Is there perhaps something more to it all, or is this all just scary bedtime stories? We are left to wonder, but there are plenty of people who will tell you not to mess with a Ouija board, and looing at tales such as these it is perhaps best to just find something else to do when you're bored.