by Matt Slick
The Ouija board has been around since the 1800s and was used by people in various forms of occult practices, particularly in attempts to contact the dead and or the spirit realm. The board was popularized as a game by Parker Brothers which was later sold to Hasbro in 1991.1 The Ouija Board, among other methods, is used in spiritism and is a doorway into the occult. In spiritism, mediums are often used to facilitate communication with those who have "passed over" into the spiritual realm, and often times various objects are used to facilitate that communication, the Ouija board being one of them.
The board consists of the words "yes" and "no," all the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the word "goodbye"; some versions include the word "hello." In addition, there is a slider with a "lens" embedded within it. Participants place their fingertips on the slider, and then it's supposed to move in response to various questions posed by the participants. There are many shapes and sizes with different type sets, but the overall pattern is the same.
"The word "Ouija" is a blend of the French and German words for "yes." Adolphus Theodore Wagner first patented Ouija boards, sometimes referred to as "talking boards," in London, England on January 23, 1854."2
Does the Ouija board really work?
There's a phenomenon called the ideomotor effect that occurrs when a person moves something without being aware of it. Studies have been done on the Ouija board where participants have been tested. It appears that people move the slider without knowingly doing it. the University of British Columbia did a study on the Ouija board.
"At the UBC Visual Cognition Lab, engineering, computer science and psychology have joined forces to see if the movements of a Ouija Board can tell us something about our non-conscious mind . . . Dr. Sid Fels of ECE with Dr. Ron Rensink (Computer Science and Psychology) and PostDoc Hélén Gauchou (Psychology) have conducted a number of experiments using the Ouija Board that demonstrate how clever implicit cognition (the non-conscious mind) really is. In one experiment people were asked a number of yes or no, fact based questions, with and without the Ouija Board. When asked to use the Ouija Board to answer questions participants were told they were moving the planchette or pointer with a person sitting in another room. In fact, Dr. Fels had designed a robot that mimiced and amplify the participant's movements. Answering the questions verbally people got about 50% of the questions right, but with a Ouija Board they got 65% of the questions right. These results were replicated in a second study. In this experiment participants sat down to the Ouija Board with a confederate and then were blindfolded. The confederate quickly removed their hands from the planchette. Once again, the responses in the Ouija Board condition, when particpants did not think they were in conscious control, were much better."3
Obviously, there is a naturalistic explanation for why the slider/pointer moves. In the citation above, is due to unconscious movements of the participants. But, if that's all it is, would it be okay to play the game? As Christians, we should avoid the Ouija board since it falls under the admonition to avoid anything that seeks to contact the dead.
- Lev. 19:26, "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying."
- Deut. 18:10, "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,"
- 2 Kings 17:17, "Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him."
- 2 Kings 21:6, "And he made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger."
- 2 Chron. 33:6, "And he made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger."
- Gal. 5:17-21, "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
- Rev. 9:21, "and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts."
Ultimately, it's never a simple and harmless thing to use any method to contact the dead and/or the spirit realm; it is a doorway into the occult. As someone who has experience in the occult, though I never used a Ouija board, I can tell you that participation in such practices invariably leads to deception and further involvement. It was only by the grace of God that I escaped from getting more heavily involved.