How Safe is a Ouija Board?

Wooden Board Ouija: Communication with Spirits
The Ouija board is one of the most controversial forms of divination. Giorez / Getty Images

Every year, particularly around the Samhain season, people start asking questions about divination. One of the most common topics to arise is that of the Ouija board, and whether or not it's safe to use one. 

Here's the problem with a Ouija Board: anyone can use one, and no real skill is required. In other words, the thing that makes the Ouija Board so easy to use is also what can make it potentially troublesome. Toy and game companies sell them by the thousands, but most people don't realize exactly what they are. Are they evil? No, no more than your Monopoly board is. Are they dangerous? Well, in the hands of someone who's untrained–or an idiot–they could be. Look at it as a spiritual version of the chat rooms of the Internet's early years, if that helps. There's nothing at all wrong with talking to thirty strangers… until one of them turns out to be a serial killer or a pedophile. And the thing is, you don't KNOW who is what when you enter that room. Same with a Ouija board.

A Ouija Board is, quite simply, a divinatory tool. Its purpose is to answer a question by inviting spirits to speak to the people using the board. There's no guarantee that anything will happen at all... but there's also no way to control what DOES happen. But really, a lot of people believe it's no more dangerous than using other divination tools, like a pendulum, Tarot cards, or your Magic 8-Ball.

On the other hand, some people believe that the use of a Ouija board is a form of voluntary possession–and keep in mind that "possession" doesn't have to be bad, despite the negative connotations the word often has. In order to get the spirit to contact you through the planchette, you basically have to give up your will, and work as a medium; it's the only way for them to work through you. The spirit isn't moving the planchette, but it's causing you to move it with your hands by way of possession. Once you've opened up the Ouija board, it's a crapshoot as to what's going to try to make contact. If you're just randomly calling upon any nearby entity, then you don't know who or what is moving that planchette around, or what its purpose is.

So which is it? Divination, voluntary possession, or something else? Just like many other metaphysical conundrums, there's no way to definitively prove any of these. If you're interested in using a Ouija board to figure out what your experiences is going to be, here are a few tips on how to use one safely:

  • You may want to go ahead and cleanse the whole room you're using before you even get started. Some people like to also cast a circle, so anything bad will stay out of their work area.
  • In some forms of folk magic, it's customary to throw salt around a Ouija board to "keep the Devil away." While Ouija boards aren't necessarily associated with the devil, for many people,  those old habits die hard. 
  • Try a ritual to smudge both the board and your workspace. Offer up a prayer to the guardians of your house, asking them to act as a barrier between you and anything bad that might sneak in.
  • Only call on specific spirits or people for assistance; don't just open your home up to any spiritual being that wants to drop in.
  • Do a quick grounding and shielding beforehand, if you're concerned that you'll need protection.
  • Call upon the god or goddess of your tradition to keep you safe while you're working with the Ouija board. 
  • Many traditions have no real rules about using Ouija, because for a lot of people, it's divination, plain and simple, and if you don't know how to deal with what you're invoking, you shouldn't be doing it. 

    The bottom line: if you're unsure about what you're doing, or inexperienced with dealing with spirits, you may want to find some other method of divination. If you'd like to know more about dealing with spirits, be sure to read What is a Spirit Guide?

    Did you accidentally invoke a spirit or entity that won't go away? Make sure you read Getting Rid of Unwanted Entities for some tips on how to rid yourself of unwelcome metaphysical guests.