Exvies Try Stuff: Ouija
Growing up Evangelical we had a lot of rules. There were shows and movies we couldn’t watch, music we couldn’t listen to, toys we couldn’t play with, and people we couldn’t hang out with. Now that I’m no longer an Evangelical, I decided it’s time to try new things and break the rules. Welcome to Exvies Try Stuff.
This month I got high, listened to heavy metal, and messed around with a Ouija board.
I can’t remember how many times I was warned against playing with Ouija as a kid. I knew that it was a means of divination or spiritism, which was a big no-no according to the Bible.
'As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. –Leviticus 20:6
The fear of having God’s face set against me was so strong that once, when I saw a Ouija board in my best friend’s closet, I ran out of the room. I felt I could sense the evil radiating from the board. I knew that playing with Ouija opened one up to demonic possession.
Flash forward twenty-something years. I no longer believe in demons. I don’t read the Bible literally. In fact, I don’t read the Bible much at all. So I decided to make a little experiment out of it. I invited a few friends over and borrowed a board from a neighbor.
I posted on social media about my plans and received several DIRE WARNINGS about what could happen if I played with the spirit world, including stories of people being flipped upside down or scratched by demons, or even being compelled to murder hamsters. I was starting to feel nervous, so I set up a “Safety Zone” in the corner of my living room, in case the demons got too intense.
After the safety corner was set up, I still had a lot to do to get ready for the night. I thought up several criteria by which we could rank how susceptible each guest would be to potential demon possession. I cleaned up my living room. And I went to the store to buy some pot.
Like all good Evangelicals, I was taught to relax by drowning my problems in good, righteous alcohol, not in unwholesome, evil drugs. Once when someone brought a joint to a party my roommates and I hosted in college, I not only told them about how marijuana is a “gateway drug,” but I refused to even be in the same room as Satan’s cigarette! (I was a lot of fun in college)
But recreational pot is now legal in Washington, and it was time for me to give it a go. I took a 5-minute bus ride and entered the back door of a windowless building with an innocuous “Green”-sounding name. Inside, the store was clean and well lit, though I did need to wait behind a gate for an employee to check my ID before I was allowed in. Three chipper employees waited on customers from behind glass countertops filled with all sorts of things: brownies and butterscotch, pre-rolled joints and loose weed, devices for vaping and smoking, even weed breath mints and suppositories!
A young woman asked how she could help me. Suddenly, I felt very hot, particularly in my face and armpit region. I imagined that I was blushing pretty gosh durn hard. I had started to sweat and needed to unzip my rain coat and fan myself a bit, still I tried to play it cool.
“Hi,” I said. “I need to buy some pot?”
The saleswoman observed me suspiciously and asked what kind of pot. Stammering, I mentioned that I was an ex-Evangelical and we would be using it in conjunction with a Ouija board to try and make a connection to the spirit world. Did she have any pot that could help with that? She laughed awkwardly and after a few more questions, handed me a pre-rolled joint that would make us feel “social and giggly.” I nodded and handed over my cash, tucking the paper bag full of joints into my rain coat.
I knew that people who smoked pot got “munchies” so I meant to go by the store and get cheese puffs and cookies, but I was feeling so flustered after buying the pot that I forgot until I was home again. I scrounged in my kitchen and came up with a single bag of sweet peppers, which I cut in half and slathered with goat cheese. This felt like a fail, so I ordered some pizza.
My friends slowly trickled in. Though I’ve known them for a long time, for the most part we’ve never talked about spirituality. I asked them questions about their upbringing and personal beliefs as I tallied their scores on my “Likelihood of Demon Possession” Chart.
I drew these categories from extensive Google research as well as my own experience. According to the internet, drug use and heavy metal made a person susceptible to demons, so I put it on the chart. I also added categories of “protectants” against possession. When I was a scared little kid, my mother assured me that the baptized could not be possessed, so that became a category. I also added whether they’d prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” and I tested their Biblical knowledge by asking them about the armor of God. (Mostly it was an excuse to force them to listen to this song:)
Finally, I threw in a question about mental illness because many of the Ouija/demon possession websites stressed that while NOT ALL mental illness was demon-related, SOME OF IT WAS. (Let that sink in for a minute.)
I awarded one point for a “good” answer and zero points for a “bad” one, which left me with numeric scores, and allowed me to rank my friends’ likelihood of demon possession. Tied for number one were my friend, Rafi, and my brother-in-law, Nicholas. According to my very scientific and not at all biased scale, I was least likely to be demon possessed. (Phew!)
We set up the board for our first Ouija attempt. It was made by Hasbro. Its planchette lit up when you touched it, thanks to 3 AAA batteries.
In order to maximize our chances of encountering spirits, I got out some construction paper and sidewalk chalk (yes, my baptized children were sleeping upstairs when I invited demons into our living room) and drew the forbidden shape on each paper. At least I think that’s how a pentacle looks? I also added some tea lights purchased from Amazon. Then we dimmed the lights, placed 6 hands on the planchette and asked, “Spirits, are you there?” Then we waited.
And nothing happened. The planchette didn’t move one fraction of a centimeter. We started throwing out more questions, asking for specific dead people we’d known, but nothing happened. We just weren’t contacting the demons or spirits or whatever.
So we took a break from the board, busted out the marijuana, and let Nicholas DJ some heavy metal music.
The lady at the pot store was correct, the joint was very smooth and it made me feel chatty and giggly. I recounted a story about my toe being eaten by an escalator the previous week and everyone laughed far more than was warranted. A few people swapped Ouija stories. Once when Rafi played Ouija, the power eerily went out. When it came back on, an old, unused record player started playing a creepy song of its own accord. After that, he hadn’t played with the Ouija board anymore. We talked about what could be considered “Satanic” under Evangelicalism (spoiler alert: almost everything) Halloween? Yes. The Smurfs? Yes. Christmas trees? Yes.
I was starting to feel a little high. Actually, I’d been high once before, after smoking a very strong joint in an Amsterdam café. That first time, whenever I closed my eyes I saw the image of the Pringles man. It’s a miracle I was able to bike back to the bed and breakfast. This night I was not nearly so high. But I was hungry. Rafi and his girlfriend, I Nong, had brought a bag of “Flamin’ Hot Ruffles” aka “Satan’s chips” which those of us who partook in the pot began to gorge ourselves on.
Thus fortified, we sat down, relit the candles and went for round number two with the Lord of Darkness. As the marijuana worked its magic, my notes were becoming less coherent, and so I turned on my phone for an audio recording. We put our hands on the planchette and asked:
are demons real?
Should we hail Satan? Or love Jesus?
Do the spirits like this heavy metal music we’re listening to?
Is anyone here possessed?
If so, what is the first initial of the possessed person?
And, once again, the planchette failed to move one iota. We speculated that perhaps there was too much holiness around the Ouija board, so I removed myself and took some of the Bibles and Virgin Mary candle and set them on our balcony.
Still no movement.
Thomas asked, “Is there anything we can do to make you more talkative, demon?” And I added, “Do you want demonic Ruffles? Would you like potato chips?” And the planchette LURCHED TO YES. The demons had spoken! Or actually, it was probably my husband, Ryan. It seemed he enjoyed communicating his desires for pot and potato chips via planchette.
I Nong speculated that perhaps our planchette was defective. It seemed to take a lot of effort to move. Nicky suggested that the Ouija designers had clearly blown their budget on the planchette’s lights. “Some all-powerful demons,” I thought. “Can’t even move a plastic planchette.”
In a last-ditch attempt to contact the spirit realm, I made a new planchette from a sheet of notebook paper. I needed to summon all of the evil I could muster to see if these demons would actually appear. So, I drew a pentacle on the paper and wrote in all caps, “HAIL SATAN.” We put our hands on the paper planchette and waited for the lord of darkness to descend upon us.
It was then that Satan struck me. Or perhaps the full wrath of God smote me for my irreverence (as my mother had often warned me). In other words, I took one of my Flamin’ Hot Ruffles-smeared fingers and itched my eye. IT BURNEDDDDDDD!!!!!!
Everyone agreed that this truly was a demonic attack.
So, there you have it. Demons are definitely real and if you play with a Ouija board, be prepared for the wrath of God to attack your eyeballs via Flamin’ Hot Ruffles dust.
This has been “Exvies Try Stuff.” Join us next month when the Exvies continue their path through spiritism by visiting a Tarot card reader.