Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Ouija Board: Good or Bad?

I watched the movie Ouija this weekend.  It wasn't a particularly wonderful movie.  It was one of those movies driven by the utter stupidity of the protagonist.  I did enjoy it, however.  It also made me think about the Ouija Board and its history.

The Ouija Board was first created during the spiritualist movement of the late nineteenth century.  It was designed as a tool to help communication with spirits.  Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard were the first to patent the device.   In 1966, the device's patent was sold to Parker Brother's who still own it.   Ever since its creation the Ouija Board has been controversial.  The most famous case of demonic activity with Ouija Board was the case that was later the inspiration for a book The Exorcist.  I've blogged about this case before.   A little boy named Robbie and his aunt attempted to contact a deceased relative and the resulting demon possession was legendary.

I remember my first experience with the Ouija Board was fairly typical.  I was at a slumber party and one of the girl's brought out the board.  We all took turns asking questions.  I can't remember them all.  They were mundane girly questions like "will Billy Bob ask me to the dance,"  or "Will I be a doctor when I grow up."   At the end,  the girl who brought the board out told the spirit thank you and said that she would give it all her Halloween candy as a way of saying thank you for all its help.   She put her bucket of Halloween candy by the board and we went upstairs to play light as a feather stiff as a board.  When we returned,  all the candy was gone.  The wrappers were still there.  They were still  sealed, but the candy was gone.  I'll admit,  this could be some kind of slumber party prank, but I don't know how this girl, who was pretty clueless pulled it off.

Almost everyone you talk to has a Ouija board story and almost all of them are bad.  Mine was quiet and stupid, but almost everyone I talk to about the board agrees that it opens doors that shouldn't be opened.   My grandmother passed away recently,  which had lead to much contemplation on her life.   She was a woman who always dabbled in the supernatural and believed firmly in ghosts.  In fact,  she had a relationship with a ghost named Alonk that lasted years via the Ouija Board.  She forced my mother and her sister to help her continue this relationship.  Alonk told her he loved and sent her love stories.   It really creeped my mother out, although my aunt grew fond of Alonk.

There are a million Ouija Board stories.   One local story, involves a teen that used the board regularly.  One night the sofa he stored the board under burst into flames,  burning down the entire apartment complex he lived in.    Another story I found in a book, describes a young man's interaction with a spirit via the board.  During this interaction, the spirit said the board was specifically designed to communicate with those in hell.  Only spirits that had been damned could be contacted using the board.

I have heard a few good stories about the board.   One woman at a paranormal meeting I went to said she talked with a playful girl spirit that had lived in her house before her.  She said the interaction was positive and helped bring peace to herself and her daughter who had been afraid of the ghost before the conversation via the board. I know that some people must be having positive experiences with the board, because it still sells very well.  There is even an online version of the game now that allows you to play alone using your mouse.   However,  the overwhelming bulk of the stories are terrifying.   Which brings me to the question.  Is the Ouija Board a gateway only to evil or can it be used for good?  Are people being swayed by the abundance of negative stories or are there any possible good uses for this tool?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Ghosts of the Golden Gate Bridge


The golden gate bridge is one of the defining features of San Francisco.  No trip to the bay area would be
complete without a glimpse of this landmark.  During our recent stay, we found that really seeing the bridge is a rare gift, as it is always wrapped in a heavy fog that always seems to obscure a perfect view of this daring landmark.    Despite all of its scenic beauty and historic significance, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most haunting and haunted places in the world.

I didn't realize this until I was researching a story on Aokigahara, Japan.   Aokigahara is the notorious suicide forest at the base of Mount Fugi in Japan.  I had always thought it had the highest number of suicides committed there in the world each year, but I was wrong.  More people kill themselves by jumping from the scenic heights of the Golden Gate Bridge than any other place in the world.  The Golden Gate Bridge earned its name as one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world almost immediately.  The first jumper ended his life on this bridge ten weeks after it opened in 1937.  Since that time, it has averaged two jumpers a week.   The bridge claims the lives of its melancholy victims in one of two ways.  They either die on impact with the water since they often hit the water at 86 mph or they die from hypothermia in the icy, turbulent waters beneath the bridge. 

It isn't surprising that this killer bridge has amassed a large number of ghosts over the years.    According to The Haunted Bay (http://www.hauntedbay.com/features/goldengate.shtml),  "The Golden Gate Bridge connects more than San Francisco and Marin County; it connects the world of the living to that of the dead. Since its opening in 1937, the 4,200-foot suspension bridge that spans San Francisco Bay has played host to on average 25 suicides per year, more than 1,000 suicides total"  This site tells the dark and haunting story of the bridge as predating the bridge itself.  It describes the ships that were claimed by the all consuming fog of the bay and the lives that were taken in these shipwrecks as the foundation upon which the darkness of the bridge began.  In fact, according to Seek Ghosts, phantom ship encounters are the most frequently told ghost stories associated with this haunted historic monument.   Visitors often describing seeing phantom ships in the mist.   They also report hearing the disembodied screams of the ghosts that lurk in the shadows.