Ouija Believe It? Spirits Spooked Me Back to Church
Supernatural 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.
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.”