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Are Ouija Boards Dangerous?

For many years, when I talked to groups – especially to people who aren’t ghost hunters – I heard more questions about Ouija boards than any other subject.

Ouija boards have always been a volatile subject.

The following are my opinions, and how I reply to some questions and claims.

Claim: If you use a Ouija board, you’re asking for trouble.

Are Ouija boards dangerous for ghost hunting?In most cases – but not all – I agree.

When a professional is called to investigate a serious haunting, we almost always discover that the homeowner had used a Ouija board.

Some people insist that that Ouija boards can cause hauntings.

My opinion…?

I respectfully suggest that – in some cases – this might be putting the cart before the horse.

If a haunting is severe enough to call a professional, the homeowner has probably tried many other ways to deal with the problem… including folk remedies and Ouija boards.

In other words, the trouble was already there.

The Ouija board often came later.

However, in the case of demonic activity – something I don’t deal with, but refer people to Pete Haviland, John Zaffis, and other friends – almost every case involved a Ouija board. 

Some demonologists offer deeper insights. I trust their opinions. Here’s what John Zaffis has said.

John Zaffis and the Power of OUIJA

Asst. Editor Joseph Robert Jobe goes one-on-one with 36 year DEMONOLOGIST John Zaffis as to the validity of using a OUIJA BOARD to contact the spirit world. …

John Zaffis on Zozo Hauntings and Ouija Paranormal Activity

On May 12th, 2010, John Zaffis was interviewed on Haunted Radio with Denise Jones. Here John reveals that this Zozo entity has come up time and time again du…

But, if you’re called to investigate a haunting, blaming the homeowner for using a Ouija board won’t resolve anything.

Look for solutions, instead.

Claim: Psychics can be ghost hunters, but they shouldn’t conduct seances.

Maybe. In my opinion, the problem is how we use different words, and what they mean to different people.

First of all, I believe everyone has some psychic abilities.  I think it’s hard-wired into us.

But, just like some people can sing beautifully and others sing off-key, some people are gifted psychics.

Others have talents in other areas.

I don’t think it’s appropriate to set up a seance. That is, a formal gathering where the psychic opens him/her/their selves to allow a spirit to speak through that person, or through a Ouija board.

My concern is about a technique that involves inviting an entity to use the body of the psychic, so the entity can speak to others attending the seance.

At a haunted site, a psychic might:

  • Sense ghostly or spiritual energy. That could be from an entity or residual energy. That’s commonplace during a routine ghost investigation, and it can help confirm if a site is active.
  • Receive messages. That’s less common, and it usually involves a ghost who’s trying to make contact. The experience is like receiving a phone call, but the message can be a little garbled or difficult to understand.
  • Act as a trance medium. This could be planned or it could be spontaneous. In most cases, that’s a conscious choice by the psychic (or medium), and it can be a risky one. Generally, I ask my researchers not to do this. Not during the formal investigation, anyway.
  • Conduct a seance. This is very different from most of what goes on during routine ghost investigations.

Problem #1

The psychic puts himself or herself at risk as soon as the door is open, even a little.

That’s up to the psychic.  Most of them are aware that they may be in danger, and take precautions before opening at all, even to “lite” spirit messages.

In my research, I evaluate many things before saying yes. Is the psychic very experienced in his/her/their work? Will anyone else be at risk, if things go very wrong? And, is the psychic prepared to deal with any repercussions?

Note: If you don’t have confidence in the skills and spiritual defenses of a psychic you’re working with, don’t work with that person.

Problem #2

In some settings, trance mediums can give spirits the idea that it’s okay to move into any undefended person’s mind or body.

It may be a rare occurrence, but if even one trance channeling session goes wrong, it’s one too many.

In one case in downtown Salem (Massachusetts), a trance medium was part of a team investigating a haunted house.

The trance medium allowed a spirit to speak through her.

But, whether from inexperience or spiritual interference, she didn’t close that door firmly when the investigation concluded.

About 20 minutes after the investigating team left the house, the spirit successfully invaded the mind and body of one of the homeowners.

It was so terrifying, that person’s partner called 911.

Extreme? Yes. Rare? I hope so.

However, starting around 2005, and certainly since 2008, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in demonic attacks in this field.

(Note: I talk about demonic activity. Whether all of that comes from actual demons… that’s outside my range of expertise.)

I’m talking about sessions in which a psychic or a medium isn’t just transmitting messages from one world to another.  The psychic or medium is actually allowing the entity access to his/her/their mind, body, or both.

There’s a fine line between “getting a message,” externally, and a spirit that’s “inside my head and saying ___.” That line is difficult to explain if you’re not accustomed to working with psychics.

Don’t open unknown spiritual doors

In general, I believe that ghost hunters should avoid making any investigation personal.

If spirits want to communicate with you, it should be on the same terms as the living. We make it as easy as possible for them to speak to us through EVP, photos, ghost boxes, other devices and measurable means.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone to put themselves at risk by “letting in” a spirit that might be malicious, but cleverly disguised.

I’m not questioning the skills, spiritual gifts, or competence of most psychics.

But why take chances you don’t need to?  Carry and use devices like voice recorders, EMF meters, etc., and give spirits time to figure out how to communicate through them.

A skilled, trained, experience psychic can be an invaluable asset to paranormal research. I’m happy to work with psychics during almost any investigation.

However, alternatives (such as real-time communication devices) should – in theory – work just as well (or better) in most haunted settings.

Establish firm boundaries and know your limits

The trance state should not be attempted by novice investigators, especially in haunted settings.

Also, there have been enough problems with Ouija boards – under any label – that I won’t use one, or allow my team members to use one during a formal investigation.

In general, it’s risky to use any divinatory tool if you don’t fully understand:

  • The difference between allowing a spirit to use a device, and letting the spirit use you as the conduit to that device.  If you’re part of the spiritual “circuit” (referencing electrical connections), you’re putting yourself at risk.
  • Defenses you must set up before using the device.
  • The doorways you’re opening.
  • How to recognize trouble as it approaches.
  • What to do to protect yourself if the worst happens.

The problem isn’t necessarily the tool you choose.

The issue is a lack of boundaries.  I’m concerned that some people may not have the experience and training they need.

Know when firm boundaries are needed, Recognize when they’ve been crossed.

And, be prepared for the worst: Know what to do if you (team members) discover you’ve been fooled by something that’s not a ghost, after all.

In most cases, it’s best not to open those doors – with Ouija boards and seances – unless the situation offers no alternatives.

What you see on TV is just part of the production team.

In most (not all) shows, the stars and producers know the risks, and they’re prepared to take responsibility for them if things go wrong.

Please don’t think you can casually replicate what you’ve seen on TV, or at a faux “haunted house” event.

The risks can be deadly.

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3 thoughts on “Are Ouija Boards Dangerous?

  1. I’ve done a lot of research on ghost hunting. I have come to the conclusion that you are my very best resource in this field. I think your terrific. I wish you would come to the Houston area and give classes. I’d be on the front row and I wouldn’t be alone.

    1. Thanks so much, Betty! I love hearing that from people. I’m sure I’ll be back in the Houston area in the future, and I’ll happily teach classes for you and my many friends in Texas. I look forward to it!

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