Thanks In Part To a New Horror Movie, Ouija Boards Make a Comeback; Some Christians Warn of Dire Consequences December 2, 2014

Thanks In Part To a New Horror Movie, Ouija Boards Make a Comeback; Some Christians Warn of Dire Consequences

Upsetting news, via Google’s Commerce Blog:

Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season. Thanks to the new movie “Ouija,” searches for “Ouija boards” are up 300% since October.

What that means, of course, is that evil is on the prowl, waiting to pounce on your home and your innocent children through a magical 20-dollar piece of cardboard. Or so some Christian authorities are warning.

Exorcists and paranormal investigators are urging people not to buy the occult board game Ouija as gifts unless they want to invite demonic forces into their homes this Christmas.

The warning comes as Google predicted that the modern version of the Victorian-era ‘spirit boards’ will be a sell-out this Christmas. The search engine company has confirmed the game, purportedly used to contact the dead through spelled-out messages, is one of the top trending gifts on its price comparison list this year following the release of the Ouija horror film last month.

Here’s the trailer.

While critics largely panned the film as cliched and horror-free, a Catholic priest based in Dublin who specialises in the occult, warned that messing around with the real thing can be horrifying.

It’s easy to open up evil spirits but it’s very hard to get rid of them,” the Vincentian priest and exorcist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the [Irish] Sunday Independent.

An early ouija board (image via Wikipedia)

“People, especially young people and teenagers who are likely to experiment with Ouija boards on a whim, can be very naive in thinking that they are only contacting the departed souls of loved-ones when they attempt to communicate with the dead using the boards. It’s like going to some parts of Africa and saying I’m personally immune to Ebola.”

Yep. A frivolous retro toy is just like Ebola.

The exorcist said evil spirits, and even demons, will masquerade as departed loved ones as a means of gaining possession and, as a result, “people don’t realise they can get infected”.

Among conservative Christians, these fears are not uncommon. Last year, we heard pastor John Hagee preaching against ouija boards, as well as against Harry Potter books and rock music — tools of Satan, all.

It wasn’t always like this. For about 75 years, the ouija game, invented in the late 1800s, when spiritualism and mediums were all the rage, was a more or less respectable and entirely mainstream way to pass the time. The illustrator Norman Rockwell, that chronicler of American wholesomeness, depicted it benignly on one of his covers for the Saturday Evening Post — as a device that literally brought a suitor closer to the rosy-cheeked, demure recipient of his affections. Similarly, a non-threatening ouija board featured prominently in a 1951 episode of I Love Lucy, to (apparently) no one’s great distress.

What changed? In 1973, The Exorcist came out. That seminal horror movie, ventured Smithsonian magazine last year,

… scared the pants off people in theaters, with all that pea soup and head-spinning and supposedly based on a true story business; and the implication that 12-year-old Regan was possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija board by herself changed how people saw the board.

It’s kind of like Psycho — no one was afraid of showers until that scene… It’s a clear line,” says [Ouija historian Robert] Murch, explaining that before The Exorcist, film and TV depictions of the Ouija board were usually jokey, hokey, and silly.

And just like that,

Almost overnight, Ouija became a tool of the devil and, for that reason, a tool of horror writers and moviemakers — it began popping up in scary movies, usually opening the door to evil spirits hell-bent on ripping apart co-eds. Outside of the theatre, the following years saw the Ouija board denounced by religious groups as Satan’s preferred method of communication; in 2001 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, it was being burned on bonfires along with copies of Harry Potter and Disney’s Snow White.

The occasional hullabaloo remains baffling, because the reason ouija boards “work” has nothing to do with the occult and everything with the ideometer effect, explained here and here.

By the way, Google also reported last week that

queries for “Barbie Dream House” and “My Little Pony” are up as well compared to last month.

So far, no stories about the Dream House turning into a Haunted Mansion, or any Little Ponies becoming infected with the spirit of Chucky.

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