Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ouija Board Possession?

Does anybody here remember the film Witchboard? It was a horror movie from the 1980's about a woman who is possessed by a spirit she contacts using a Ouija board. The film has plenty of cheesy moments, such as when the board spins across the screen as one of the characters shoots at it (!), but in fact it was reasonably well-done given the subject matter. I'm not the only person who thinks so, either; the movie has some good reviews on imdb and overall rates a 5.7, which is actually decent for a genre in which most films come in at 3's and 4's.

Now one of the things the movie gets totally right is that earthbound spirits like to lie. The spirit the woman initially contacts claims to be that of a little boy, but is in fact that of a psychopathic murderer. What it gets fairly wrong, though, is that the board itself has no magical power, so you're not going to accomplish anything by burning or, say, shooting it. The problem with using a Ouija board is the same as what Aleister Crowley observed with regard to spiritualists - rather than following any sort of formal magical procedure, the operator opens him or herself up to whatever happens to be out there. Most of the time nothing will happen, but if her or she has a measure of psychic talent it's possible to contact something hostile or dangerous.

That brings us to today's story. Three American friends visiting Mexico were playing around with a Ouija board, and one of them was apparently "possessed" by a spirit. The video purports to show this, but honestly what it looks like to me is that she's doing her best to growl like Linda Blair in The Exorcist and then laughing when she can't keep a straight face. There might be some sort of spirit influence there, but it looks like much of it is probably play-acting. For one thing, it's way too similar to how it looks in the movies as opposed to real life.

They restrained Alexandra to prevent her from hurting herself, before treating the three with painkillers, anti-stress medication and eye drops, which seemingly worked.

Victor Demesa, 46, the director of public safety in the nearby town of Tepoztlan, said: 'The medical rescue of these three young people was very complicated. 'They had involuntary movements and it was difficult to transfer them to the nearest hospital because they were so erratic. It appeared as if they were in a trance-like state, apparently after playing with the Ouija board. They spoke of feeling numbness, double vision, blindness, deafness, hallucinations, muscle spasm and difficulty swallowing.'

He added that whether the trio were really possessed, or had simply convinced themselves that they were, was not for doctors to comment on. Alexandra's parents said they had called paramedics after a local Catholic priest refused to perform an exorcism on the three because they were not regular churchgoers.

The fact that regular anxiety medications and painkillers worked also suggests that this was not the work of spirits. If genuinely possessed people could just take a Valium or something and be fine, spirit workers would be out of a job. I also find it a little sad that the Catholic Church refused to help because the members of the family were not "regular churchgoers."

How often do you need to attend a Catholic Church before the priests will do anything for you? That seems rather manipulative to me, that their first concern is getting more people in the door rather than providing any spiritual services. But it's also possible that the real reason is that whoever they spoke with just thought the whole thing sounded as fishy as it looks in the video.

Just as a point, it's completely reasonable to use a Ouija board in the context of a properly constructed magical ceremony, and I have done so on several occasions. The key is to be very specific about the spirit you wish to contact, and exclude any others that might just be hanging around looking to cause trouble. One of the other things I know from doing unfocused workings with Ouija boards in my teens is that the regular, garden variety earthbound spirits are mostly just bored and will tell you anything to keep you talking to them.

So over the course of my Ouija experiments I got a lot of information that I suppose you could describe as "channeled," except that none of it proved useful in any way. Most of the spirits you're likely to contact are no wiser or smarter than ordinary human beings, and since they tend to be the spirits that have difficulty moving on, they often are less so. Engaging in those conversations turned out more like being strung along than receiving any significant insights into the workings of the spirit world.

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