Living in a haunted house with its own tomb full of dead people in the back yard made for an interesting childhood.  It was our understanding that all eleven people buried in that tomb had died either in our house or in another house that used to exist on the property (their deaths occurred either in the 19th century or in the early days of the 20th century).  It was a spooky old tomb, built out of large granite blocks that had, over the years, become covered in moss and lichen. The front of the tomb was engraved with the names and dates of the people buried within it and a small rusted metal door kept it secure (most of the time!). Except for the front wall, the rest of the tomb was buried under a huge mound of dirt that was probably covered in nicely trimmed grass at one time but now sported overgrown weeds and bushes.   To look at it, you would think someone had dug that tomb into the side of a small hill.  An old picket fence, broken in several places, sagging in others, and sporting only a few grayed, peeling chips of white paint enclosed the small area in front of the tomb.   A huge maple tree grew behind it and was a great tree to tap for maple syrup.  I know this because we tapped that tree ourselves and it was my job to go collect the sap.  It was a job I was not particularly fond of for I hated going anywhere near that tomb.  But, when you are a kid, you do what you are told and that is that.

We didn’t realize at the time we moved into the old farmhouse that some of the people buried in the tomb were now spirits roaming about the property.  And how did we figure this out?  Well, as we came to accept that our house was haunted, we began to explore the whole idea with various experiments. Eventually, we were led to the purchase of a Ouija board.

Now, there are a lot of negative connotations associated with a Ouija board and with good reason.  Despite the fact that it is sold as a game, it is NOT a game.  It is when people treat the board lightly that spots of trouble may occur.  My mom and I took the whole thing quite serious.  We learned what we could before we made the decision to give it a try.  It was our thought that if we communicated with the spirits haunting our house, we could help them and they would go away.  Good in theory anyway.

Now, I am no Ouija board expert, but considering I’ve read a lot on the subject, used one myself on many occasions and talked to others who have used one, I consider that I know enough to get by.  Unfortunately, I did not know as much about the whole thing back then as I do now but we live and learn, right?  So, here’s how I approach it all:  when opening the board to spirit communication, always make it known that you are welcoming only spirits who mean you no harm.  Make it clear to the spirit world and everyone participating that you will only allow positive, loving entities to come through.  I always start with a prayer asking for positive spirit communication and God’s protection.  I also imagine in my mind’s eye a bright white light surrounding us (everyone using the board). I consider this to be God’s protective light, powered up by the imagination and no less real than a light bulb burning overhead!  This light keeps the darker forces at bay and ensures they do not enter our circle.  Now, there may be some who say that it doesn’t matter if you pray and imagine white light and whatnot and that is true … for them.  As for me, however, I believe it is our beliefs that determine if something is going to work or not.  I do know this for a fact; I have not experienced anything bad when going about using the Ouija board in this way, and that has to count for something!

So anyway, my mom buys a Ouija board and she and I sit down at the kitchen table to give it a try.  When the planchette began to move, we went through the usual suspicions one often experiences when operating a Ouija for the first time.  We accused each other of moving it.  Once we managed to get past that phase and trust each other, the communications began.  We learned a lot for the period of time that we had that board.  Eventually, only a few short weeks later, my father made us give it up.  He took it out to the burn barrel and torched it to ash!

One of the things we marveled at while using the Ouija was how cold the air flow would get around the planchette.  Our hands would get so cold we could only use one hand at a time (usually everyone using the board keeps both hands on the planchette).  My mom  and I had to alternate hands as we would sit on one to warm it up while using the other to operate the board.  It was an interesting phenomena and when people came to watch, they would put their hands near the planchette to feel for themselves the ice cold air concentrated around it.  The planchette moved in very quick precise moves.  Sometimes our hands would slip off as it zipped around the board spelling out messages.

It was through the Ouija that we learned there were five spirits in the house.  Daniel was the one we spoke with the most (we learned later that he was the original builder of the house).  Daniel told us that “one of us is bad” and that he protected us from “the bad one”.  He also told us to stay away from the “dark room”.  We assumed he meant the room upstairs that we had dubbed the dark room because, well, it was dark in there (my parents used the room as a storage closet but once upon a time, it had been used to keep a handicapped child hidden away!).  Daniel then went on to clarify that the dark room he was referring to was actually the tomb.  That message gave me a bit of worry because only a week prior to this, my friend and I had gone into that tomb!  No joke and that story can wait for a future blog post to tell. Daniel told us that the bad spirit did not like our little dog Tippy.  We figured as much since poor Tippy was constantly being plagued by something that we, of course, could not see.

Tippy was a small dog.  He only weighed about 7 lbs if that.  Although he was the “family” dog, he was essentially mine because he stayed with me at all times and followed me everywhere.  He also slept with me at night and I considered him not only my companion but my protector.  For the short time he was with us, Tippy had to put up with a lot.  He spent quite a bit of time alone because both my parents worked and the five of us kids were in school. It was not uncommon to arrive home, open the door and have Tippy come tearing out of the house, tail between his legs, yipping up a storm and looking for someplace to hide.  It didn’t take much to coax him from hiding because more than anything, he liked to be cuddled in my arms.  Although I know he felt safe with me, he often would continue to shiver and whine and it took a lot of loving attention to calm him down completely.

There was one incident concerning Tippy that really sticks out in my mind. It happened on a day when my Dad arrived home moments before the rest of us (I can’t remember why we were traveling in two different cars but we were). Dad opened the door to enter the house and Tippy came tearing out as if the hounds of hell were after him.  We got there in time to see Tippy running for the field behind our house, tail between his legs and looking terrified.  I jumped out of the car to see what was going on and heard him yelping as if he were in pain.  Figuring my dad must have done something to him, I looked at my father and asked him what it was he did to my dog.  My dad, looking baffled and innocent of wrong doing, shook his head and replied that he didn’t do anything but open the door.  I then ran off to get my dog and and this time it took awhile to find him.

Poor little Tippy had crawled under some thick brush in a crop of trees located in the middle of the large field behind our house.  The sounds of his soft whimpering eventually led me to him.  He would not come out of hiding. I had to crawl in to get him and it took a lot of coaxing to calm him down. Once I finally pulled him out from under the bush and had him cradled in my arms, we headed for home.  The closer we got to the house, the more he shivered and whined.  I don’t know what happened to him that day, but it had deeply affected him and he was always a nervous little thing after that.

There were countless incidents where Tippy would be curled up sleeping and then suddenly jerk awake as if something had poked him.  Sometimes when this happened, he would growl low in his throat and run for me or whoever was closest.  Sometime he would hide.  And if the door was open, he would sometimes run out the door.

There was this one day when an aunt of mine stopped by the house to visit my mom, only mom had not returned home yet from work.  My aunt decided to stay and wait for her and as she approached the house, she heard Tippy yelping inside.  My aunt found Tippy tied to the kitchen table with several skeins of my mom’s yarn.  The poor little bugger couldn’t move at all. Although he was a friendly dog and he knew my aunt very well, he was so terrified he would not let her near him.  My dog had to stay as he was until my mom got home to help him.  And when she did, he even snapped at her! Seriously, this was something he never did.  He was not a nippy dog at all.  He was very loving and friendly.  But not during this occasion.  Now, just so you know … Tippy never played with my mom’s yarn.  He just wasn’t interested in it.  I can also tell you that on this particular day, all my mom’s yarn had been packed away in a bag on the top shelf of the hall closet and had been there for quite some time.  How the yarn found its way to the floor and then completely wrapped around poor little Tippy we will never know.

So back to the Ouija board.  My mom and I were so fascinated with how well this form of communication worked, we were doing it every day.  My dad was tolerant of it at first (he was not buying the whole “ghost” thing at this time) but then when dinner started coming late because we were busy using the board, he had had enough.  He felt that mom and I were getting too wrapped up in it and he took it away from us.  He was probably right.  We were almost becoming obsessed with that thing! Besides, spirit activity really began to get intense once we started using the Ouija.  More things came up missing.  Beds were shaking more often.  Dad’s radio was being messed with.  Doors were opening.  One night my parents were wakened by what sounded like a herd of elephants running through the kitchen!  Gun in hand, my dad ran down the stairs, mom close behind him, and when they got to the bottom step, the noise stopped.  Dad turned on the lights and he and my mom checked the whole house.  Nothing.  But after he turned off the lights and they started back up the stairs, they heard what sounded like something heavy being dragged across the kitchen floor.  They rushed back down the stairs but once again the sound stopped as soon as they reached the bottom step.  The next morning my parents asked us kids if we had heard anything and we did not (amazing since I am a very light sleeper!).  My parents couldn’t understand how it was possible that we had slept through the racket.

We were only successful at finding some history on a couple of the names that we acquired from the Ouija board.  Most of the communication was warnings for us to not encourage the bad spirit by talking to it.  As my parents were already thinking about moving, Daniel told us that he would miss us when we left.  He said he enjoyed having us around.  We never did figure out why they were still hanging around the house instead of going into the light and doing whatever it is other people do when they cross over.

I’ve used the Ouija board several times over the years and have had some interesting communications with the spirit world as a result.  Although I believe we all have the ability to speak with spirits, I too find it easier to use tools like the Ouija to do so.  For some reason, it seems easier to accept the possibility of spirit communication when we are using a tool to do so.  Maybe because we can accept the use of a tool much quicker than we can accept the idea of having the ability to communicate with spirits all on our own!  Given that, things like the Ouija, automatic writing, table tipping, diving rods and the like work rather well.

I think the Ouija works so well because it is taken as a fun game (at least by some people) and that relaxes the mind enough to allow spirit communication to occur.  The thing of it is, we as the operators are the ones actually giving it the ability to work.  The truth of the matter is this, we are capable of a lot of things and would see that for ourselves if we would only but believe!!!