Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
October 30th, 2013

Ouija Believe It? Spirits Spooked Me Back to Church

 
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OuijaBelieveIt-2Supernatural thrillers often kick off the terror with a temptation. For Reagan in The Exorcist, it’s the Ouija board. A haunted doll intrigues two freaked out roommates in The Conjuring. Some friends in Evil Dead find a spell book in the basement and unwisely read from it aloud. The tempting item is always something that should just be left alone, but never is. Where’s the story if people have sense enough to steer clear of trouble? Years ago, I made mistakes much like those by the movie characters and ended up opening the door to real evil. I’m sharing my story to help you (or someone you know) avoid turning your life into a Halloween nightmare like I did!

Here’s a quick spiritual snapshot of me: I’m a baptized Catholic who grew up only visiting the Church annually for the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Beyond that, I had only a passing acquaintance with Jesus Christ. Yet I have never doubted that there is an unseen world around us. Sometimes, when alone in a room, I’d sense I wasn’t alone. As a teen, I discovered that I could tangibly feel energy around me. It was as if my body was an antenna “tuning in” to something.

The possibility that I was psychic fascinated me — I wanted power very badly. See, I was lonely, bullied at school, and harboring anger about past abuse. I wasn’t out to massacre the school prom like in Carrie, but I hungered to feel important and in control. I also craved assurance that my life had meaning and that everything would be OK.

My spiritual sensitivity and personal woundedness made me vulnerable. And this area is where the temptation came in; just like those horror film characters I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t exactly looking for trouble — but I sure found it by toying with the darker side of spirituality.

At times while using the Ouija board, I felt cold air surrounding me, which signifies the presence of evil. But it worked, so I did it anyway! I also became addicted to automatic writing — a way of channeling spirits with pen and paper in hand — despite receiving messages that confused, deceived and even downright insulted me. An avid reader of all things witchy, I devoured a popular psychic’s book on developing clairvoyance. Well, with enough practice, I began to see shadowy things I seriously wished I could unsee.

Of course, I wanted an exorcism — like in the movies — but Father suggested that I first try “taking advantage of the ordinary graces of the Church.” He meant availing myself of God’s grace through the sacraments.

By my early 30s, after years of dabbling with divination, I ended up more pathetic than powerful. I’d reached a point where I went to bed at night feeling fearful. Vivid, diabolical nightmares disturbed my sleep on a regular basis. I was, quite literally, haunted. Outwardly, I appeared a cheerful guy with professional success, but in fact, I was a depressed, nervous wreck just putting on a good face. I thought if I told anybody what was happening to me, they’d think I was crazy.

Speaking of which, I saw a psychiatrist for about a year to make sure I wasn’t crazy. As an atheist, he steadfastly refused to accept that my experiences had been anything more than “magical thinking” or mere delusions from a “misfiring brain.” So I took pills that either didn’t help or made me feel worse. At last, the doctor reluctantly admitted that he couldn’t actually diagnose anything wrong with me and gave up. I was relieved yet disappointed. In a way, I wished I really were mentally ill. It would’ve been simpler, less scary, if the spookiness were just all in my mind.

So the prescription meds didn’t work. Burning sage to purify my apartment didn’t either. When our shrinks and Wiccan tarot card readers fail, it’s best to turn to a priest. Fortunately, I found a very kind one at the local Catholic parish, right around the corner from my haunted bachelor pad. He listened without judgment and validated that my encounter with evil was real. This meant so much to me.

Of course, I wanted an exorcism — like in the movies — but Father suggested that I first try “taking advantage of the ordinary graces of the Church.” He meant availing myself of God’s grace through the sacraments. I soon made a full confession of the sins of my life, received the Lord’s forgiveness and started receiving the Eucharist at daily 7:00 a.m. Mass, not just Sundays. The morning Mass regulars treated me like a grandson. A nice Filipino lady who ran the Legion of Mary taught me how to pray the Rosary. Did you know that every “Hail Mary” is like a blow to Satan’s head? I found that idea highly motivational after the misery I’d endured.

I learned to spend quiet time in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and came to genuinely love God. I even smelled roses (aka “the odor of sanctity”) coming out of thin air a few times during prayer. It seems Jesus was graciously hinting that I’d gotten on the right track!

But having supernatural manifestations isn’t the point. As young people who are spiritually seeking, we want an experience — and we expect instant gratification. But God has been teaching me patience. My healing and freedom from hauntings did happen, but slowly, over time. Things need to happen on God’s schedule, according to His divine will, not ours. I’ve also realized that healthy spirituality leads us into community and life-giving service to others, not isolation or self-obsession.

As you can see, my real-life horror movie has a happy ending! Today, I finally feel safe. I no longer desire to predict or manipulate the future with séances and spells. Instead, I just pray and lean on God. Jesus really is the truth, as John 8:32 says, “and the truth will set you free.”

 
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The Author : Daniel Robert Watts
Daniel Robert Watts is a writer and web content producer in Los Angeles. He loves writing about where his faith and our pop culture meet. Get Daniel's prayer ideas, scriptural inspirations and spiritual insights on his blog at DanielPrays.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @DanielPraysLA.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Daniel Prays

    Thanks, Busted Halo, for the opportunity to share my conversion story and faith testimony. And thanks to everyone who has been taking the time to read and share the article with the people you love and care about.

  • meerkat13

    Here’s the other side of the story. I come from a long line of Catholics and a long line of psychics, going back at least to my great-grandmother. My first unusual spiritual experience was hearing angels’ voices one night when I was 5. I told my mom, who said this was normal for people like her and me (but not to tell the kids at school). She shared some family history and told me about her psychic dreams, like one in WWII that let her know her brother, a bomber pilot, had survived when his plane was shot down. I later learned the church considers clairvoyance, clairaudience and such “extraordinary graces,” neither good nor bad in themselves. Their positive or negative value, like that of a great singing voice or a chess grandmaster’s genius, comes from the way they’re used. I think of it as tuning into a radio frequency not everyone can access. I’m glad my extra sensitivity has many times allowed me to avoid danger, or comfort or warn others. Every birthday I renew my vow to God to use it only for good, asking Him to take it from me immediately if I ever use it otherwise. Just saying, being psychic may be a little spooky but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Happy Halloween!

  • Cathy Pignata

    Wow what a great story. I used an Ouija board only one time and when it moved by itself that was it. Amen never looked at it again and threw it in the garbage. I love the story that a Hail Mary is like a strike to Satan’s head. Let’s keep hitting him with them.

  • disqus_FzUg9mUORE

    I’m sorry but what? Ouija boards were created by a business man to sell as a party game. They are sold at Toys R Us. There is nothing even remotely dangerous about them. Whatever experiences you or anyone else has had with them is the result of ideomotor muscle responses and nothing else. I’m catholic, but I’m also a teacher and psychologist. There is zero evidence for any of the phenomenon you describe having a paranormal cause. I’m glad you got yourself to a better place but spreading fear and superstition are not commendable.

    • Daniel Prays

      Thanks for your feedback. I am bearing witness to the truth of my own lived experience. My story is a cautionary tale to help others by warning them of a very real spiritual danger. Readers are free to accept or reject what I have to say as they think best. God bless you!

    • Peter

      You must always remember that using a Ouija board has an actual objective reality regardless of your perception of it. A Ouija board is a source of divination trying to make contact with the supernatural. Where something is sold has no bearing on whether its use comprises any danger, this is flawed logic. You say there is zero evidence of the paranormal cause, yet there are many personal testimonies of the evil people have encountered, not to mention a large body of evidence from Catholic Priests that are in fact exorcists who deal with this phenomena directly. Being superstitious is certainly a danger for many, especially Catholics, but evil, divination, and the devil are not superstition they are a reality of our world. I will finish with a quote from Charles Baudelaire, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he did not exist.” I am a Catholic seminarian studying for the priesthood, and I appreciate how Daniel is raising the awareness of real dangers that exist and not simply trying to scare us.

      • disqus_FzUg9mUORE

        No, where something is sold has everything to do with how dangerous it is. Whenever there is a toy with even a minimal chance of harming a child it is pulled from store shelves. Every year toys are pulled because they represent a choking hazard, contain lead etc. Yet despite that you’re telling me that parent groups, and consumer advocates are all okay with toy stores selling something that leads directly to demonic possession?

      • YaraGreyjoy

        The only actual, genuine study I ever saw examining the phenomena associated with ouija boards showed that when the subjects (the subjects were partnered up into pairs) played with the board in the usual fashion, words would be spelled out, names, etc. What, in my experience, usually happens when people play with a ouija board – an activity which I dare say leaves most people unscarred. I should mention that all the subjects reported that they did not knowingly push the planchette (the piece players rest their fingers on) or otherwise try to influence the movements on the board. Each group showed about the same results for this part of the test.

        However, when the subject pairs were blindfolded & they played the exact same game they did before – all subjects reported that they were not consciously pushing the board – all the boards spelled out nothing coherent at all, not one word or cogent “answer” to the player’s queries. The piece would mostly pause at random places on the board, places where there were no letters or in between letters & numbers. Make of that what you will but I think if some intelligent entity from the Great Beyond was using or otherwise controlling the movements made by the planchette, the results of the blindfolded tests would be pretty much the same as the results of the tests when they were performed with the blindfolds off.

        I feel kind of bad even bringing this up… I don’t want to ruin anybody’s spooky fun. I believe objects have no inherent powers of influence over us – good or bad – that we do not give them ourselves.

        As for the rest of it… I believe the subjects in the study were telling the truth that they were not, to their knowledge, consciously pushing the piece around the board. That said, the human brain has manifold ways of messing with our perceptions & exerting it’s influence on our behaviors. The brain naturally looks for patterns as a way to make sense out of it’s environment which in the case of a ouija board is attached to another powerful influence which is anticipatory expectation, for example, of an answer to a question asked while playing with a ouija board – the subjects are already thinking about what the answer might be, looking for the “answer” to reveal itself. Might they then collaborate on the response without either participant knowingly pushing the plank around the board? I say yes, it’s very likely.

        The human imagination is a very, very powerful creative part of the very mysterious & powerful human brain. Then you add in the power of suggestion: you’ve picked up the idea that playing with “occult” objects can open a portal to hell or the like. Then on top of all that you add what has to be a high level of fear & anxiety about doing such a thing which will heighten everything & further psyche you out. Suddenly you have a more elaborate case similar in origin to when you get the creeps while all alone in an quiet, eerie place. Make no mistake, this can be very frightening, traumatic even. I enjoyed the article in the spirit of the spooky season which I thank the author for sharing.

      • disqus_FzUg9mUORE

        Additionally, the sources you cite to prove ouija boards are dangerous, Catholic exorcists and personal stories, are both meaningless. Personal stories are just anecdotal evidence. I could tell you that I’ve played with ouija boards dozens of times and nothing has happened. It proves nothing. Catholic priests who perform exorcisms are obviously a biased population to ask if possession is real or not. When I talk about evidence I am talking about things that can be studied, reliably reproduced, and do not have any other terrestrial explanation. Using that criteria, no, there is zero evidence for any kind of danger paranormal or otherwise from ouija boards, Bloody Mary, or any other “divination.”

      • Me

        disqus…the fact that an object is sold in a toy store has no relevance on whether it has inherent danger. Guns and knives are sold in stores and they are dangerous in the wrong situations. The fact that the danger of a Ouija board is spiritual is even more supportive of the non-relevance of it being sold in a toy store. Toy stores sell violent video games which are also non-physically dangerous. And the fact that not all people who use a Ouija board become possessed…I’m sure you probably need to be in the “right” state of mind or have some spiritual weakness.

  • Paul

    What a great story! My mom had a similar experience with a

    Ouija board when she was a kid. She never goes near one.

    • Daniel Prays

      Thanks, Paul!

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