When the spiritualist movement began in the late 1800’s, psychic mediums commonly held seances in attempts to communicate with the dead. This practice became popular in the United States after the end of the Civil War, when families would long to hear just one more time from their deceased loved ones. The introduction of the talking board gave the everyday person an opportunity to attempt spirit communication without the need for a spiritual guide or medium.
The first talking boards were nothing more than flat wooden boards with numbers and letters painted on it, and it wasn’t until 1890 when Elija Bond decided to patent the board as a parlor game, giving it the name Ouija. Some say the word “Ouija” was derived from an ancient Egyptian word meaning “good luck” or a combination of French and German words meaning “yes”. But other accounts claim that the creator of the board simply placed his fingers on the planchette and posed the question “what shall I call you?” The planchette reportedly moved to spell out the letters “O U I J A” of its own accord.
One of the things I enjoy most about producing a podcast is getting to hear personal stories from listeners of the show. This week’s guest is one of those listeners. Samantha Lang responded to one of my questions on the new Deviatus Facebook group page, then emailed me her terrifying story about what happened to her as a child following the use of a Ouija board. After I learned her story, I had to ask her on the show. I’ll be posting her full written account of events on my website at deviatus.com as well, but I’m happy to be able to share her first-hand account, plus some additional strange goings-on that she has experienced on this episode of Deviatus:
Original Email from Samantha:
I commented on your post about the ouija board and I'm determined to sit here and type out my story. I've been really busy - I'm a mature age student at the local university, slogging my way through my fourth year of a BA in creative arts, and at this time of the year here, all my assessments are due in.
I've not told this story to many people - I didn't even tell my own kids about what happened until they were older, because I was sure I'd frighten them and give them nightmares. Truth be told, I really don't really understand what it was that happened to me myself - back in those days (this was the late 1970s) the only contact I'd had with 'ghosts' was A Christmas Carol and Casper.
So here goes.
When I was about eight or nine years old, parents went to a dinner party (they'd taken my sister and myself along as they couldn't find a baby sitter - we were very quiet kids and we took books and usually fell asleep whilst my parents stayed up chatting). At this party my parents were introduced to the ouija board and they used it during the night with a table full of other people. I actually remember being curious about what was going on - I remember the board told them to "pump up your tyres" when they asked if it had any advice for them.. funny and harmless.. right?
After that party my mum and dad make their own board that consisted of a breakfast table/tray type thing (you know those ones that have foldout squat legs so you can eat off them sitting up in bed) with hand drawn letters and number that were taped around the outsides, with an upturned glass tumbler as the planchette. Having seen the board in action at the party, my younger sister and I decided to try it for ourselves. We were awed that the glass tumbler would scoot all over the board answering question. Most of the answers were total nonsense - and I remember the last entity (I don't know what else to call the things that come through on the board) told us it was from Mars. It said it was thousands of years old and it's name was Fed Bacarn (or something pretty close to that spelling). Now me and my sister thought this was just hilarious. At the end of the session we said goodbye and wafted the glass around to let the spirit go on its way (that had become our little ritual) But, soon after that strange things started to happen in our rented flat.
One of the first things I remember was the noises in the kitchen. My sister and I slept in a room together, in bunk beds. The way the flat we lived in was oriented, our bedroom looked straight down the hall to the kitchen that was at the opposite end of the hall, just past the lounge room. One night, I was woken up by the sound of the kitchen door (it was a sliding cavity door) opening and closing rapidly. Then I heard what sounded like every single plate we owned hitting the walls and floor. I got out of bed and looked out down the hall towards the kitchen and saw the door was firmly closed and the light wasn't on. I thought that was mighty strange, but I figured it had to have been my father or something. Why he'd be throwing plates around in the middle of the night, I had no idea - but that's how you intellectualise the unknown, I guess. I must add that I wasn't scared at this stage - just very puzzled.
The next morning, I got up and the first thing I did was check the kitchen for damage - and to my surprise, not a thing was out of place. I asked my parents if they'd heard what I'd heard, or if they'd gotten up that night. They said they hadn't heard a thing and hadn't gotten up. The funny thing was, when all this plate juggling was going on, I'd tried to wake my sister up, but I couldn't. I'd thought this was a bit strange - but it began to become a bit of a pattern during the activity that followed. It was like whoever wasn't the target was put in a bubble of silence or something - and that strange siloing of people reoccurred over and over.
The next incident was the poking. Yeah I know that sounds funny, but it was actually quite scary. Whoever slept in the bottom bunk would be poked from underneath the mattress by something. Our bunk beds were the old fashioned kind - two wooden beds with metal mesh underneath that supported the mattress. The bunks were stacked on top of one another. What would happen was this: you'd be in bed getting ready to go to sleep when you'd feel like someone was pushing the bed up from underneath. This only ever happened on the bottom bunk. When it first happened, I tried to just ignore it, but it would not stop. Poke, poke, poke until you responded somehow. I was too scared to get out of bed and look under it, so instead I'd try to kind of push back, by bouncing my hip into the mattress whilst I was lying in bed. It would however just keep at it, the poking getting more and more violent until you were sure you'd get thrown onto the floor. Again, whilst this was going on, the bubble thing would happen. I'd yell out for my sister and she'd not respond, seemingly sound asleep. When it her turn to have the bottom bunk (we used to share the privilege of sleeping up the top) she had the same thing happen to her - but then I'd be the one who was impossible to wake up! We two girls started to not want to sleep in that bottom bunk and we began to cry when we had to go to bed. We tried to explain our fears about the flat being haunted to my mother, but she dismissed everything. The flat was brand new, she'd say. There can't be any ghosts here.
One of the most frightening things that happened to me occurred when I was in the bottom bunk. I used to go to sleep with my foot in the pocket made by the tucked in covers and the side of the mattress. This night, the inevitable poking happened, and I was trying my hardest to ignore it and not respond. As I was lying there wide awake, I felt something like a hand grab hold of my foot through the covers. It hung on for what seemed like forever, until I pulled my foot away. I still remember the way it clamped onto my foot. It didn't let go either, I actually pulled my foot out of its grip. I was petrified, and I called out for my mum as loud as I could, but the other members of my family must've been in the bubble because no one responded. I remember crying myself into a sobbing mess that night and fell asleep out of sheer emotional exhaustion. I asked my mum in the morning why she'd not come to help me, but she told me that she hadn't heard me.
My sister was also being targeted. We heard and saw our closet doors open and close on their own and witnessed some pretty scary stuff like what my sister thought was her shadow that kept moving along on its own, even after she'd stopped walking. She also saw an arm and hand manifest - no body, just a skinny hand and arm that she said made grabbing motions at her.
The atmosphere in our flat became very heavy, our pet cat would not come inside anymore and she eventually ran off and we never saw her again. The porcelain toilet in our bathroom 'exploded' one night sending sewerage water everywhere.
Something else weird also started to happen to me. It seemed like whenever I sat down, I felt this weird sensation - it was like fingers tracing over my back at around solar plexus level. That's the best way I can describe it - like fingers tracing gentle circles on my back. This happened through my clothes and even if I was sitting on the lounge with my back against the upholstered back part of it. The circling pressure would get heavier and heavier until (and I know how crazy this will sound) I could feel something being drawn out of my back - I literally felt this pulling sensation of something leaving my body. I only have speculation as to what that 'something' was - maybe it was energy? Maybe invisible ectoplasm? Maybe some chi or life force? I honestly don't know - and to this day, over 40 years later I have never heard of that sort of thing happening to anyone else. It felt like threads being pulled out of me through my skin, or like when you put two like sides of magnets together and there's that invisible force that repels them. Yes, I know it sounds too weird, but it happened just like I stated. I got so fed up with this pulling sensation that I refused to sit without having my back pressed up against the back of the chair, but you know what? It just kept doing that tracing, pulling right through the chair.
That's basically it for this ouija story. We ended up moving, not because of 'the thing' but for other reasons. I think it followed us because weird stuff just kept on happening no matter where we lived and continues to this day. I've never touched a ouija board again.
If you've ever heard of the bubble thing, or the pulling sensation from anyone else, I'd love to hear about it. Those are the two things that still puzzle me to this day, decades later. How can you scream and not be heard? What the hell was being pulled out of my back? I wish I had answers for that.
I know, after rereading what I've typed, it doesn't sound real scary, but as kids my sister and I were terrified. We'd have fights about who'd be stuck on the bottom bunk and have to endure being poked. We'd cover our heads with the blankets so we'd not see our closet doors open and close or shadows moving on their own around our room. We were just kids who had no idea what was happening.
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