Spirit boards used to communicate with ‘the other side’

Alexandra Lisa | Staff Writer

For many people, a ouija board is the star of a 2014 horror movie. For one group of students, however, it is a direct tie to the flip side.

Senior Hallie Burke and her friends have been visiting abandoned places in the Mason area for just over a year, contacting spirits through the use of a ouija board. Perhaps most famously depicted in the movie bearing their name, Ouija, ouija boards are plaques with the numbers 1-10, the alphabet, “yes,” “no,” and “goodbye” written or engraved on them, and they act as communication devices between the living and the dead. Burke said ouija boards are often given a bad rap, especially because of how they are depicted in horror movies; however, Burke and her friends have done research on the subject and say there are rules to using the board that can ensure safety and that people in the movies never follow.

“Firstly, you aren’t supposed to ask questions about the future,” Burke said. “So when people ask whether they’re going to die, they’re breaking the rules. You aren’t supposed to use the board in a graveyard, because it’s disrespectful, which most people get right, but you also aren’t supposed to use it in your house. Obviously, none of the movies follow that. There’s more of a chance of something going wrong in your house, and the consequences are worse if something does go wrong.”

Other rules include not leaving the planchette, the small triangle, on the board and remembering to say goodbye when you end the session. Failing to say goodbye and leaving the triangle on the board leaves an open connection; in either scenario, the spirit could come through and get stuck on the wrong side. Burke has also been present for incidents when the spirit has tried to force its way through.

“When the planchette starts counting down the alphabet or counting down from ten, that means it’s trying to get through,” Burke said. “That’s only happened with us once. We were talking to a spirit, and we asked if we could say goodbye, like we always do. Normally, it would move to ‘goodbye,’ and the session would be over, but this time it moved to ‘no.’ Then it went back and forth between ‘h’ and ‘a,’ spelling out ‘ha, ha, ha,’ and it started going down from ten. When it was about to reach zero, I actually moved it; I pushed it to ‘bye,’ and we didn’t go back to that location.”

Senior Justin Romer, who regularly attends the outings with Burke, said the outings started as a fun, eerie thing to mess around with but got serious after they made contact with their first spirit.

“The first one said she was Tabitha Green,” Romer said. “She said she had been kidnapped and killed. And we tried to look it up but nothing came up, but when we just searched ‘Tabitha’ there was a girl named Tabitha who was kidnapped from Tennessee, and reports said she was taken in a green mustang. I remember feeling really weird after that.”

This find, along with many other instances, has convinced a once-skeptical Romer that these interactions are real. Despite this, however, Romer does not tell many people about the activities.

“I usually just tell the people that I do it with,” Romer said. “When I leave the house, I just tell (my parents) I’m hanging out with friends, I don’t get into specifics, and I don’t tell a lot of new people. When you tell people, they don’t believe you, or they think you’re weird.”

People who do not believe also hinder the accuracy of the connection, according to Romer.

“When there’s too many people who doubt it, it doesn’t work,” Romer said. “Sometimes, if there are people there who doubt it or who are laughing, it will ask for certain people to leave. It’ll be like, ‘I won’t talk to you until this person leaves.’”

Burke also said that it is common for people not to believe, even after she tells them about things they can not explain.

“I know there’s subconscious-mind stuff that makes you secretly want something to happen, and that might make the planchette shift, but when everyone is around the board, you’d think they’d push in different directions.” Burke said. “All but one person is looking at the board upside down; it’s harder to spell things out like that. The idea that someone in the circle is faking, it just doesn’t add up.”

Burke said people should be more open-minded about the possibility of contacting spirits.

“Now I’ve kind of made it a goal to prove to people that there’s more to the world than what they see,” Burke said. “There are a lot of theories about whether there’s anything after death, and now I can say, I know there is, but people are very quick to dismiss it. They don’t think it’s real. When I combat that, and I give them the evidence I’ve made, and I ask them to explain that, they’d say ‘I don’t know.’ No one has a good answer for why they don’t believe it, they just don’t because that’s what’s more comfortable for them.”