First things first...
I hope that all of you have a wonderful Halloween night, and that you have lots of tricks and treats headed your way. I imagine that quite a few of you will be headed out for candy collecting this evening, and I hope that your pillowcases, reusable grocery bags, and plastic pumpkin buckets get filled to capacity this year.
But before I go on with today's special Halloween topic, I just want to remind you all to play it safe this Halloween. Halloween can be a day that is filled with lots of fun and haunting good times. But it can also be a day that can be dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions. Here is a mandatory list of things that you can do to make this Halloween a safe one.
- If you're going trick-or-treating, wear bright colours so that drivers can see you. If your costume does not have any bright colours, wear reflective tape or carry a glo-stick so that you can be seen.
- Always make sure that you are with at least one other person when you go trick-or-treating. There is safety in numbers!
- When you get home, have your parents or guardians check over your stash of candy for unwrapped or peculiar looking candies. Although most homes are safe to accept treats from, you can never be too careful.
- A good rule of thumb is to toss out any homemade treats that are given out, unless they happen to come from someone that you know and trust, like a neighbour or family member.
- If you are 21 or over (19 in Canada), make sure you have a designated driver if you drink a little bit too much. Barring all that, make plans to stay overnight. A Halloween DUI is no fun.
But, most of all, HAVE FUN! Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday, and it only comes around once a year, so make the best of it!
Now for today's special Halloween themed blog entry, I thought that I would choose something that has been the focal point of many Halloween parties. Most times, they are used in harmless fun...but there have been a few instances in which they have awakened the dead, and caused spiritual unrest. Sometimes they can even be cursed, or deadly, depending on the movie in which you see them in.
Hard to believe that a piece of wood could have so much power.
Yes, today's topic is all about the Ouija Board...a fitting end to the month of spookiness known as October.
By all accounts, the Ouija (pronouced Wee-Jee)...
...ahem...thank you, Luigi.
As I was saying, the Ouija Board upon first glance doesn't look all that frightening. It's a piece of wood with all the letters in the alphabet, the numerals 0-9, and a few words that include “Yes”, “No”, “Hello” (sometimes), and “Goodbye”. If anything, it might look like something that could be sold at Mr. Hooper's Store on Sesame Street.
The trick with the Ouija Board comes from the second piece of the game. Each Ouija Board comes with a small, triangular piece known as a planchette, and how it works is that the person who is calling the séance uses the planchette to communicate messages from the dead to the living, and everyone else involved in the séance is supposed to hold the planchette as well. For instance, if a spirit wants to indicate that they are present, the planchette will mysteriously move to the word “Hello”. Or, sometimes the spirit might wish to spell out a person's name, so the planchette will move to each letter in the person's name. It'd take a short time if your name was Lee, but forever if your name happened to be Elizabeth-Maria or something similar.
Would you believe that the Ouija Board has been sold in stores for well over one hundred years? The idea behind the Ouija Board was first pitched by businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard. They had the idea of patenting a planchette sold with a board with the alphabet written on it, because at the time, planchettes were considered to be a novelty toy.
Bond and Kennard filed the patent on May 28, 1890, and from there invented the very first Ouija Board. The issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891, receiving the U.S. Patent number of 446,054. William Fuld, an employee of Kennard, took over the talking board production, and by 1901, he started production of his own boards, using the name “Ouija”, a word that he claimed was an ancient Egyptian word meaning “good luck”. But the word “Ouija” is also a combination of both the French and German translations of the word “yes”.
At some point, despite the fact that the board was patented by Bond and Kennard, Fuld would end up getting notoreity for the board by rewriting history, claiming that he himself had invented it! Several companies tried to come up with their own versions of the board using the “Ouija” name, and Fuld launched lawsuits against all of them right up to his death in the late 1920s! Fuld's estate sold the rights to the Ouija board to Parker Brothers in 1966, which was then transferred to Hasbro when the company bought out Parker Brothers in 1991.
As far as whether I believe that Ouija Boards can be used to communicate with the spirit world, I cannot confirm or deny that they do or don't. I have never owned a Ouija Board, nor have I ever used one. I imagine that those of you who have might have used a Ouija Board must have some interesting stories to tell (and if you have a few minutes, please post them here if you like. I'm sure that some of us would love to read them!
But you know something? The Ouija Board wasn't originally meant to be a communication aid with departed spirits. It wasn't until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized the board as a use as a divining tool during the first World War that the meaning changed.
And, not everyone is pleased over the fact that Ouija Boards exist. There has been criticism from people of various religions, particularly from evangelical Christians. In 2001, a demonstration was held in Alamogordo, New Mexico which saw Ouija Boards and Harry Potter books burned in a gigantic bonfire by several fundamentalist groups, claiming that they were “symbols of witchcraft”. Some people have even claimed that the Ouija Board is actually a tool of Satan!
Other people claim that the Ouija Board cannot contact spirits, and is simply just another way for people to part with their money.
But, I happen to like the mystery behind the Ouija Board. I really think that the Ouija Board is what you make of it, and if you want to believe that it works, then work it shall. Or something like that.
To conclude this Halloween piece, why not take a look at some of the movies that have used Ouija Boards as part of the plot?
The Uninvited (1944)
13 Ghosts (1960)
Tales From The Crypt (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)
Alison's Birthday (1979)
Amityville 3-D (1983)
Radio Flyer (1991)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Spirit Trap (2005)
Downtown Abbey (2011)
The Pact (2012)
Happy Halloween, everybody!