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Wholesome Entertainment? Norman Rockwell's May 1, 1920 Cover Illustration For The Saturday Evening Post.

Ouija Board: Satan’s Toy Or Healthy Family Fun? Norman Rockwell’s May 1, 1920 Cover Illustration For The Saturday Evening Post.

Is It Dangerous To Play With A Ouija Board?

As strange as it may seem, playing with a Ouija board did not used to be a controversial activity. For most of its existence, from the time of it’s invention by leisure-time entrepreneurs in the late 1800s until the early 1970s, “spirit” boards or “talking” boards were seen as an interesting, safe, and pleasurable pastime for friends and families, including the kids. The Norman Rockwell illustration (above) of a wholesome, early 1920s middle-class couple having fun with a Ouija board pretty much sums up the attitude that prevailed through most of the Twentieth Century.

Certainly, plenty of people who used a Ouija board really believed they were communicating with spirits. But almost nobody thought they were evil or harmful spirits; rather, people believed or imagined that they were contacting the ghosts of departed loved ones, or other disembodied but benign entities who wanted to pass a message from the other side.

So, what happened to turn it all around?

Apparently it all comes down to one influential movie that was released in 1972. According to Ouija board collector and researcher Robert Murch, who was quoted in a Smithsonian article on spirit boards, attitudes changed almost overnight after The Exorcist depicted the horrific (and messy) demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan following a turn at the Ouija board. The film had such an impact on society that religious leaders soon were referring to the formerly harmless-seeming game as a gateway into hell, and the people who used it as potential puppets of Satan. In addition, in the wake of The Exorcist, whenever a Ouija board appeared in a movie viewers immediately knew something evil and probably disgustingly violent was about to occur.

The Ouija board has never recovered its wholesome reputation. The Exorcist “. . . actually changed the fabric of pop culture,” Smithsonian quotes Murch as saying.

So, does this mean you should you stop using your Ouija board if you have one, or never dare to try the game if you haven’t already played it? Of course, that’s up to you.

But consider this: Each year, thousands upon thousands of people continue to entertain themselves, their friends, and their families with Ouija boards, and yet reports of injuries, supernatural assaults, and demonic possessions have been rare—if any have occurred at all.

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