Ouija boards are flying off the shelves. Not in the super- natural sense — but the commercial one. The device, said to be a method of contacting the spirit world, is experiencing an unexpected renaissance. Google reports that sales of the board are up 300 per cent, and it is threatening to become a Christmas ‘must buy’.
To some, the Ouija board represents a harmless form of enjoyment, a pretend-scary rite of passage for teenagers in search of thrills on a stormy night. But to others, churchmen included, it is a danger to be avoided, a trigger for psychological harm — or something worse. ‘It’s like opening a shutter in one’s soul and letting in the supernatural,’ says Peter Irwin-Clark, a Church of England vicar who has witnessed the dark side of Ouija. ‘There are spiritual realities out there and they can be very negative.’ ‘I would hugely recommend people not to have anything to do with the occult,’ he says. ‘People find they are having strange dreams, strange things happening to them, even poltergeist activity.’
And the late Reverend Tom Willis practised as a Minister of Deliverance — jargon for an exorcist — for the Anglican Archdiocese of York for half a century, advising Archbishops on the occult. He, too, saw the board as a source of danger. ‘A lot more people are dabbling in the occult and having seances, and that is causing a lot of problems,’ he said in 2012. ‘In the Sixties, the Ouija board caused so many problems — people ending up in mental hospitals because of what they have experienced. An unseen force spelling out messages, he explained, may have sinister motives. ‘It may pretend to be your grandmother you’re in contact with, but it might be something more evil that suddenly gives you some bad advice.’ On one occasion, he remembered, he was contacted by three dockers from Hull who had used a Ouija board the previous evening. ‘They just sat there shaking,’ he said.
While of course I agree with the fact that people should not be going anywhere near Ouija boards or trying to contact ‘spirits’ at all, i do find this news to be somewhat encouraging (bear with me on this one…!). Does it not show a massive appetite for the supernatural, in a society that tells us that this sort of thing does not exist? Of course it does. It is of course leading people down the wrong path, but it shown the desire for more than this life is there, present in people – despite communist and secular attempts to eradicate God. It just shows that the desire and longing for the supernatural – for God – is something that is an essential component of every human being – especially at this time of year where people often feel their loneliness and longing for God intensify.
I can’t help but wonder here how atheist parents feel about buying their children presents of Ouija boards to celebrate Christmas?! (the irony…!) Is there not a pang of anxiety about the fact that people have reported it to be harmful? It seems to me that Atheists are generally much more confident in denying the existence of God than they are denying the existence of Satan. I suppose it is important to remember here that the greatest trick Satan ever pulled is to pretend that he doesn’t exist – until you find yourself meeting him face to face during a game of Ouija that is…
My point here is that this huge rise in sales of the Ouija board presents itself as a cry for help in terms of people looking for spiritual guidance. It is in fact a massive opportunity for evangelisation. An in-experienced teenage Ouija user is testing out the reality of the supernatural. He is testing out the reality of inter-dimensional communication (what we Catholics refer to as prayer). He wants to believe there is something more than this life.
If I ever did get the chance to talk to this guy it may come as quite a shock to him to realise that some of my closest friends I like to hang out with have been dead for several hundred years! Therese (Lisiuex) and I have become like sisters this year. We talk everyday. And my Mother Teresa (Avila) continues to guide my path, as she has done since I was 19.
But perhaps the most mind blowing statement I could make is that God exists, Satan exists, that Jesus is real – and I am having an emotional, spiritual AND physical relationship with Him. To highlight His physical presence in the Eucharist is something amazing, something completely supernatural. To invite this spiritually curious teenager to come and discover real prayer, to feel real holiness and to come face to face with Jesus in the Eucharist would be to offer him the chance of real spiritual satisfaction that he is obviously craving.
Would you be surprised if I told you that I believe the most talented undiscovered contemplatives of the future, are most likely the kids naively experimenting with Ouija boards right now? The heart often knows more than the head can express – this was certainly the case with me during my teenage years. I was told not to mess around with dangerous exciting things such as the Ouija board, and then as an alternative I got offered Kum-by-ya and cake sales for Africa. No wonder I was looking elsewhere to be spiritually satisfied.