Thursday 28 January 2010

Tagged and pretty pink Ouija boards

Crikey, I’ve been tagged by @alphamummy. I’m so rubbish at keeping up with blogs that I would have missed it altogether had it not been for the wondrous Linda.
The meme is to reveal a memory, be it a dark or light one. The one that springs immediately to mind is not surprising really, given I have just read the alphamummy post reporting that ToysRus are actually selling a kiddie Ouija board. Pretty in pink, aimed at little girls but undoubtedly a Ouija board.
Now this bothers me - immensely. That may surprise some of you as I don’t exactly hide my weirdy-beardy proclivities. I learned to read the tarot when I was in nappies and am happy as Larry with the runes, the I Ching, whatever. In my recent book The Mind Body Spirit Miscellany I even chunter on about even more arcane forms of divination. For example:
• Bibliomancy – opening books at random and reading the first passage seen (people tend to use the Bible or other sacred texts but any book will do - I find Marion Keyes works a treat).
• Tasseomancy - reading the patterns of tea leaves, coffee grounds or (more usually for me) wine sediments left at the bottom of a cup or glass (very common party trick)
• Cledonomancy – interpreting chance remarks from passers-by (usually do this waiting in the queue at the Dulverton post office)
• Onychomancy – reading symbols formed by the reflection of sunlight on the oiled fingernails of a child (so far no joy - the child steadfastly refuses to play along with this one).
• Alectoromancy – reading the letters revealed as a cockerel eats the kernels of corn that cover them (working on my neighbour to have a go at that with her chickens).

Sorry, brief aside there. But anyhow, these are all fine and dandy in my book (ho ho, neat plug there eh?) but the Ouija board isn’t.

I think I was around eight when I first used it. It was the sixties and the boards were the latest craze. One day I was hanging out with my friend Mandy Cotton and it was raining so we couldn’t go outside and pretend to ride ponies over jumps, whipping our bottoms with crops. So we pulled out the Ouija board which I had been told NOT TO TOUCH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER.

We were giggling in the usual way of eight year old girls and then the planchette moved.
‘You moved it,’ I said.
‘No I didn’t. YOU did.’
‘I didn’t.’
And so it would have gone on except by now the planchette was seriously whizzing round the board.
‘Is there anyone there?’
‘Are you dead?’ (cut to the chase, why don't you Mandy?)
‘What’s your name?’
D.A.V.E (how very suburban)
‘How did you die?’ (that was me - always was a morbid child)

The planchette was moving so fast we couldn’t follow what it was saying.
It was clearly getting agitated.
Then something shifted. The atmosphere in the room became thick and heavy. The planchette stopped in the centre of the board.
I looked at Mandy and she looked at me. We both knew something was different.
‘Are you still there, Dave?’
‘Is someone else there?’

‘I think we should stop,’ I said. ‘I don’t like this.’
The temperature in the room had dropped and it felt as if something were waiting to happen, something bad. Chills ran down my spine and I stared petrified at the board.
Suddenly the light bulb exploded over our heads and fragments of glass rained down. The room was plunged into darkness and we both screamed and ran out of the room.

When I saw the film The Exorcist in my teens (underage of course) I wasn’t remotely surprised somehow that the events kicked off with the use of the Ouija board.
Many years later I was on a press trip to Macedonia and a crowd of us, rather drunk, made our own Ouija board (if you really want to do it, there are instructions in my book). Someone faithfully copied out the strings of meaningless letters that splurged out. It was total rubbish and we shrugged our shoulders, gave up and went to bed.
The next morning we met up with our interpreter at breakfast and he noticed the letters in my notebook.
‘What’s that?’ he said.
‘Oh, just some rubbish we got from a Ouija board. It doesn’t make sense.’
‘Not to you maybe but I can read it. It’s Serbo-Croat.’
Cue spooky music.
So, there you have it. My spooky memories and why I really don’t think it is remotely appropriate to sell pink Ouija boards to little girls.

Now I have to tag five others so (rummaging in the sorting hat) I’ll tag:

Preseli Mags


Michelloui said...

Did you make some of those up? ;) Ive never even heard of some of those and I thought I knew a thing or two... Im a tarot reader, I have one deck for other people and one for me--readings only seem 'accurate' if I do it that way. I explain it as just very well tuned-in intuition. Nothing spooky in that.

But this ouija board stuff?? I also have one of these and never tuned into anything (in spite of living in a 400 year old pub). No skills there Im afraid. Your experiences sound wild!

Right, tagged, eh? Now I have to reveal a memory... I'll think over the weekend! x

Exmoorjane said...

Nope, all absolutely honest, guv... Do you really think I have the imagination to invent scrying via a child's fingernails (actually, don't answer that).
Fascinating. I have one pack that I only use for other people's readings - the others aren't touched by anyone other than me.

Erica Douglas said...

Wow, that sounds scary. I can't even watch prison break in the dark :(

Shabby Chick said...

I am literally scared of ouija boards, I wouldn't even be in the same room as one.

Mel xxx

Frances said...

Hello Jane,

How I do love full moons, and your writing!

Reading about your Ouija experiences does spook me out a bit. Some friends and I used to play around with the old board ... perhaps it was in the 1970's. Nothing remotely interesting every took place, so perhaps the spirits didn't find our jolly group approachable.

I've also had some tarot readings, and actually still don't know what I think of those either.

Maybe one of these days, you and I will actually meet, and you'll honor me with one of those other means of divination. Until then, I will tell you again how swell it is to have read this post. xo

Anonymous said...

So - what did the Serbo-Croat say??

There was a ouija board craze at school when I was young. What seemed like silly fun quickly got out of hand and the chaplain had to come and exorcise the boarding house. Yes we were teenagers and melodramatic, but it is still something I woudln't touch.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'm not tempted to do any of these things at all . Mainly because I have a feeling that it might well work .
Certain places can feel weird enough without adding extra features like ouija boards ....let alone teenage girls !

Exmoorjane said...

Erica - you big softie!
Shabby - me neither now...
Frances - how I would love to do your cards - one day it WILL happen.
Mud - can't remember but it did make sense...
some young lad trying to contact his mother I think.
Smit - yes, some places ARE strange and dabbling seems very foolish. And oh yes, to adolescents playing - a threshold time of life so vastly appealing I would think if there is anything 'out there'.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oooooooh. Breathless pause. Wish I was brave enough to do ouija board but am plainly too much of a coward. But now... if it were pink??
MUST do the thing with the cockerel and the corn kernels... will get back to you on that one.
Right. Memories. Um.
(This tag sure does beat those 'write down 1500 interesting things you've never done' type ones. Will mull over memories and have fun remembering a good 'un.)
Right. Off to buy your book. Excellent plug, by the way!!xxx

Maggie Christie said...

Deliciously spooky ouija board memories. Those things have always scared me too much to have a go. I'm particularly intrigued by cledonomancy though. Next time I'm in Dulverton I'll try the queue in the post office and see what happens (or the recycling place which is my usual haunt!)

Thanks for the tag - my memory isn't likely to be nearly that spooky though!

Sally Townsend said...

Having just moved out of a seriously haunted house where the weirdest of things happened without explanation I banned any use of ouija boards completely. I can relate to that description of a thick heavy feeling to a room and it isn't pleasant, someone very disturbed is lurking, ouija boards are not even remotely suitable for children of any age.

and1moremeans5 said...

ooooh that story about your ouija board made my hair stand on end!! i've never used one i've always been too scared, i've always been very sensitive to ghostly presences.

I also have very vivid dreams where i have predicted death and illness in my family and been 100% correct! also my nan (who has been dead for about 9years) came to me in my dreams and told me about a mirror and brush she had and wanted to know where they were, she 'showed' them to me in my dream, i'd never seen them before. I descibed them to my mum and she went white! she had them in a drawer!

i've always wanted to have a go at tarot cards, maybe one day when i have the time xxxx

Debbie said...

I will be honest..I don't mess with ANYTHING that can predict or affect the future!! I have never been tempted but I am not 'in fear' of tarot cards ,ect. BUT Ouija boards FREAK me out!!! enjoyed reading your post!

Mark In Mayenne said...

Soooo... what did the Serbo-Croat text say?

FeatherDuster said...

Enjoyed reading about this memory, and all the comments as well.

Like Amy, I've had premonition dreams since I was 7 (I'm 50 now--yikes). Many of them. They've always been about death or illness. Never anything good. One of the most recent was very long with many, many details about a man and his children. It seemed like it would have a happy ending for all of us, joining together as a family. In reality, it was a premonition of his death.

The earliest one I remember, and one that was repeated about 15 times, always exactly the same, from age seven until age 29, was the murder of my parents. I never mentioned it to them, not wanting to "scare" them. The final time I had that dream, was just a few months before it actually happened.

Pipany said...

Great post jane and couldn't agree more about ouija boards. seriously freaky things. x

Fennie said...

My only experience with a ouija board was to drive the spirits away much to the annoyance of my fellow would be mediums. I have that quality. Pendulums that have swung and crystals that have turned infallibly for others are mute and lifeless in my hands. Perhaps I have my own gremlin sitting on my shoulders with the spiritual equivalent of an AK47 telling all other spirits to keep away. (Though in other Kharmic and hearing voices ways I can tap into, or be tapped into, by something or other).

So thanks for the tag. But Memory? What memory? It's a bit like asking the curator at the National Gallery to show you a picture - or asking Amazon to give you a book - 'any book, just as long as it has pages.'
(Or comes on Kindle or the iPad - I suppose we shall have to add from now on, genuflecting in the direction of Steve Jobs and social technology.)

So give me a clue, Jane. Open something at random, have a cock peck at the corn over lettered blocks, look at the dregs of your tea or the leaves left in your wine and give me something from which to start. I am disoriented by so much choice. I have almost more memories than neurons methinks. I can do good, bad, happy, shocking, scandalous, embarrassing, sad, depressing, loving, painful, exuberant, musical, elevating, banal, thespian, paranormal, normal, medical, religious, distant, frightening, poetic, pathetic and so it goes on. I am 63 for heaven's sake and have done many things. My brain is now full, though whether with anything truly memorable or even useful, I rather doubt.

Iota said...

It's kind of tricky, though, isn't it? I'm totally with you. I think Ouija boards are NOT for children. BUT I wouldn't want to make them illegal, on the grounds of freedom of choice. I mean, plenty of people think Christianity is mumbo jumbo, but they wouldn't ban children's Bibles from book shops, would they?

Yes, what did the Serbo-Croat say?

Fennie said...

Oh yes - tell us please (what the Serbo-Croat said).

I have now done my tag. It's a story that I think might appeal to you, having Kharmic overtones. I had forgotten I had written it. No one seemed remotely interested in it, publishing wise, so it might as well serve here. It is however true and remarkable.

Michelloui said...

Ive done mine! xM

Not From Lapland said...

that is scary. i've never known anyone that had a genuine ouija board experience before. Messing about with things like scares the heck out of me.

Cait O'Connor said...

I was witness to a very disturbing Ouija board incident in a hospital once (I was not in on it). Never, never ever touch them!!

Rob-bear said...

Seems like a lot of lives need to be exorcised, or freed up.

But that's perhaps because I've never been terribly interested in "the occult." I've always though that involvement in those kinds of things simply empowers the negative in our lives, and in the world — where we've got too many negatives already.

Annette Piper said...

I mucked around with a ouija board when I was about 15 with a girlfriend and it absolutely scared the wits out of us! Luckily (I think) my friend had a bit of 'experience' and made sure we did it outside rather than inside the house ( I believe to not 'invite' the spirit into the home?). I can't remember the things it came out with, obviously I've blocked the details out. But I still remember feeling very scared and never going near one again!

My father could see things others couldn't and I get 'feelings' in certain places - whether good or bad - thankfully nothing more though!

Liz W said...

We sell ouija boards (I run a witchcraft shop) but not to anyone under 18, as the sort of thing you describe is a bit too common and freaks teenagers out - although they were sold as a game by Waddingtons and we can't legally use the term 'ouija boards' - have to describe them as spirit boards.

My staff, who are in their early twenties, use them from time to time and you do need a reasonable amount of firmness with whatever or whoever shows up as, quite frankly, some spiritual presences tend to lie. Recent visitants have included 'Satan' (cue irritation from person using board, "No it is NOT!" and abashed silence from spirit) and an individual who announced that its name was Smokey the Bear.

That feeling of oppression is unnerving, and familiar to occultists, but generally speaking, nothing really major would waste its time on a bunch of adolescents with a ouija board: it seems to be the province of bewildered ghosts, low level and rather mean entities which like freaking people out, and occasionally someone genuinely interesting, like the wandering princes from the Key of Solomon. It's worth taking seriously if you're into such things, if not, best left alone.

Exmoorjane said...

Liz - that is really interesting and I would love to talk to you about it more... You don't have a blog though... :(
Huge thanks for your indepth comment...really appreciate it.

Liz W said...

Hi Jane,

I'm actually over on Live Journal, here:

and a personal writing journal:

I don't use Blogger much but I check out your blog (started with the Liz Jones row and found it so interesting I carried on reading!)

Liz W said...

PS: I actually put a link to this post on the Witchcraft journal as I thought it was so good - hope you don't mind! Our readers are mainly academics and writers so not the sort to troll!

CAMILLA said...

Apologies for popping in late Jane, just trying to catch up.

Really good post Jane, as for the ouiga boards, heck, think this would be really scary.!