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What If We All Used Ouija Boards?

VO: Noah Baum WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
If you want to speak with dead people, then Ouija boards are the way to go. But, not everyone believes in the paranormal power of a seance. So, what if they did? What if using Ouija boards was just a regular, everyday thing, that everyone did? We'd always be connected with the afterlife; We'd never need to wonder about what was beyond the grave; But, we'd also summon demons left, right and centre.
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What If We All Used Ouija Boards?


Humans have always been haunted and fascinated by what might lurk beyond the grave, with ideas on the afterlife (whether it does or doesn’t exist) splitting our entire species. So, what if we knew for sure, because we could communicate with the void’s mysterious inhabitants?

This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; What if Ouija boards worked?

Also called “spirit” or “talking boards”, Ouija boards have been around for close to 150 years - dating back to a supernatural boom in the western world during the late Victorian era. It was a time when more and more people took an interest in the paranormal and the occult, although the exact origins of Ouija boards is a little sketchy. Even the word “Ouija” is tricky to trace. It could simply be a combination of the French and German for ‘yes’ - but some argue that it’s just a random word spelt out by the board itself. Interestingly, the term is today registered trademark to the toy company, Hasbro.

But, is there any science to it? Well, possibly a little… but no, not really. The ideomotor effect goes some way to explaining the Ouija board phenomenon - showing that it is possible to subconsciously move the planchette (the small wooden pointer) across the board. The idea that that subconscious movement is directed by the spirit world, though, is completely up for debate. So, what if wasn’t? And Ouija boards were a viable, reliable route to the ‘other side’?

On the one hand, we’d all be able to speak with the specific ghosts of our dearly departed. The desire to re-connect with dead relatives is one of the major reasons people pin their hopes on Ouija boards in the first place. On the other hand, though, widespread Ouija connections would mean countless doorways between us and so-called ‘demons’. The most infamous Ouija entity of all, the ZoZo demon, is actually so feared that believers daren’t even speak its name. Those who claim to have encountered it say it’s a violent and dangerous spirit, which torments victims long after the board has been put away. If Ouija boards categorically worked, then ZoZo would simply be something we’d have to get used to. And demonic possession would be an unsettling norm.

The cult movie “The Exorcist” is actually inspired by the true story of an American boy who, in 1949, was allegedly possessed after his aunt encouraged him to use a Ouija board. He was subjected to real-life (sometimes violent) exorcisms by various priests… although the unnamed kid supposedly did live a normal life once the demon was eradicated. The exorcisms of history are today seen as cruel and irrational by doctors, but they’d also be an everyday reality if Ouija boards worked. In fact, doctors would probably be the best bet to carry them out.

But, why wait until you’re actually possessed? There’d still be room for the more traditional ways of taming demons, too. The blessing of Holy water, religious iconography, the living of generally devout lifestyles - they’d all be encouraged, and probably pretty popular. Meanwhile, secular or atheist lifestyles would seem like reckless, blatant risk-taking in a world with tangible evidence of malevolent creatures from another realm. In fact, in a reality where Ouija boards worked, they’d probably be the first things to go. Because keeping something which could so readily summon a monster would be akin to stashing a live and undetonated bomb in your basement - needlessly dangerous.

Working Ouija boards needn’t be all bad, though. With or without the demons, they would still give us unprecedented insight into life after death. And, they’d help answer some of history’s greatest unanswered questions - with mysteries ranging from the disappearance of Amelia Earhart to the identity of Jack the Ripper all deciphered by a device formerly dismissed as a toy.

No doubt there’d be strict legal issues around Ouija board use, because of the knowledge that they could imbue their users with. And so, anyone who proves particularly skilled at bridging the gap between the real world and the mystical realm would also be seen as someone of supreme power - bringing gods, monsters and mortals to the same table. And that’s what would happen if Ouija boards worked.
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