Christine is a 19 year old student currently studying anthropology and human rights at the University of Southern California; she is also on the pre-law track. She was born and raised in Orange, California within a small, yet traditional, Korean family. Christine shared the following story with me after asking her if she had ever encountered a ghost before.
Christine: “I’ve never seen a ghost, but now that you mention it, I think one did kind of mess with my friends and I in middle school.”
Me: “Was your school haunted?”
Christine: “No, the ghost wasn’t in our school; it just happened during middle school. We were messing around with a Ouija Board one day after school because we were all bored and had nothing else to do.”
Me: “Can you explain what happened?”
Christine: “Let me try to remember what happened (paused). It was at my best friend Jacquelyn’s house. It was me, Jacquelyn, and Johanna, and we were sitting on the ground in her room. It was late afternoon-ish but definitely already dark, and Jacquelyn was, like, ‘We should do a Ouija board!’. I don’t remember how it came up, but Ouija boards were kind of popular at the time. But the strangest thing was that we didn’t have a legit Ouija board, so we just drew one out and looked up some chant online to make it real. Then we just used some glass we found as the triangle replacement. Then all three of us put our hands on the glass, and we said the chant to make it start. Then the cup just started moving even though none of us started to push it – and it was weird because the triangle can move easily but this was a glass that you really had to push.”
Me: “Did the glass say anything, or did you ask it any questions?”
Christine: “The first question we asked it was whether or not we were talking to a good or bad spirit. It ended up being a good spirit; it was a girl.”
Me: “Did she say anything about herself?”
Christine: “We asked her a few more questions and found out she was from like the 1900s, but a lot of the other questions she asked her didn’t make sense and were basically gibberish. Then eventually we asked her how many other ghosts and spirits were in the house, and the answer was really high. We got really freaked out and I wanted to stop, so I took my hands off the glass but then all of a sudden the door slammed shut. It was probably just the wind but still the timing was just really freaky. I put my hands back on and we said goodbye. I don’t know if it was a ghost or not, but it was just way too coincidental and specific and we swear to this day that none of us were pushing the glass.”
Me: “Would you ever use a Ouija board again?”
Christine: (Immediately) “No. We used a homemade one and it freaked me out; I wouldn’t go near a real one because I don’t even know what might happen.”
It’s interesting that Christine seemed to bounce back forth between believing that she actually encountered a ghost/spirit and that she just witnessed a series of coincidences. For example, she specifically describes the fact that a ghost “messed with” her and her friends, but at the end of the story she blames the wind for the slamming door instead of the ghost. This can just show that belief—whether it is the belief in ghosts or in something else—is fluid and can therefore changes over time and between different contexts. In this situation, her and her friends were playing with the homemade Ouija board when it was already dark out, which might explain why Christine was so quick to call this experience a ghostly encounter; if they had done this during the day, perhaps Christine would not have been so bold as to start her story stating that a ghost messed with her friends. Another way to look at it would be to look at how Christine immediately dismissed my suggestion of using a real Ouija board. The experience with a fake/homemade board was creepy enough, so she would not want to put herself in a context/situation that involved a real Ouija board that has been used/discussed in other scary stories, movies, or the like. This context, in comparison, is much scarier/creepier.