When I was a teenager, some friends of mine who went to my church started playing with a Ouija board. The girls began to get something, the pointer was moving on its own. They asked if it was good or evil, and it spelled out E-V-I-L, and they got scared. One of them asked what it’s name was, and a red ‘S’-shaped rash appeared on each of her wrists, the ‘S’ standing for ‘Satan’ you know. They called the pastor over right away, and he performed an exorcism on the house.
Commentary: This version of the story, with the red “S” shaped rash, was told to me by a neighbor when I was a kid. The story was told multiple times, sometimes with more embellishment than others (sometimes the board spelled out S-A-T-A-N, sometimes it simply went to “S”, and sometimes with the rash on the wrists. I always asked if she was present for the event, and she always said no. When I entered high school, I began to realize that similar stories were a dime a dozen, and that the stories were primarily told either by kids trying to freak each other out, or by a particular type of Protestant trying to warn others of either the existence of Satan or their perceived need for others to convert to their brand of Christianity. In other versions of this story, those told by non-Christians or Christians simply telling a scary story and not trying to use it as a conversion tool, the evil force might be the spirit of a dead killer, an unknown but malevolent spirit, or any number of other things, not necessarilly Satan.
In other words, I began to realize that this story was an urban legend – complete with the classic “this happened to a friend” line at the beginning (the only times I have heard it told as a first-hand account have been on anonymous internet sites). The story seems to have two sources – the first being the distrust of “the occult” by many religious groups of the Judeo-Christian traditions, where anything “magical” that isn’t seen as being strictly of the “godly” mold must be satanic (I have even seen this pushed farther, where anything that doesn’t directly support Christianity, whether supernatural or mundane, is seen as satanic). Unlike other supernatural stories popular among this particular group, the Ouija Board stories are, in my experience, often independent of the teller as victim or hero in “spiritual warfare”, and seem to be told in equal parts as a lesson and just to tell a good creepy story.
The other source of the story seems to be the campfire story tradition – the desire to tell stories that are allegedly true not to teach a lesson or keep someone in line, but simply to have fun with a scary story. In this sense, these stories often fuel a type of legend tripping in that they inspire young people to play at contacting dangerous forces through an item that is really just a rather odd toy and remnant of a very weird period in history . Some enterprising (and pranksterish) individuals that I have met have even figured out ways to conceal magnets in order to fool other people into thinking that they have contacted an entity more malevolent than a teenager with a mischievous streak.
Regardless, the Ouija Board makes for one of the most enduring elements of many a creepy ghost story, and as such is absolutely worthy of mention.
A few more, similar stories can be found here, here, and here.
SOURCES: Personal Account, Urban Legend