Ouija boards and other attempts to converse with the dead are spiritually dangerous practices that should not be viewed as innocent fun, an exorcist priest told Fox News Digital.
"We too often forget that there is much more to this world than meets the eye," Fr. Dan Reehil told Fox News Digital. "Angels, demons, spirits and souls do exist and they can have an impact on our life."
Rehill is a priest of the Diocese of Nashville. In 2018, he received exorcism training at Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum in Rome, and was installed as the exorcist of the Diocese of Nashville that same year.
An exorcist, said Reehil, "is a priest chosen and installed by a bishop to exercise the office of deliverance ministry. Exorcism is a specific form of prayer that the [Catholic] Church uses against the power of the devil."
3/9/07 photo Ryan McFadden March Madness graphic in studio ouija board (Photo By Ryan McFadden/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
The Catholic Church distinguishes between two forms of exorcisms, said Reehil. Exorcisms are either "major" or "minor."
"A major exorcism is performed only for one, who is demonstrably possessed by a demon or demons, and may only be performed by a priest the bishop has specifically permitted to do so," said Reehil.
Conversely, a minor exorcism is associated with sacraments and blessings, said Reehil.
"Demonologists distinguish three levels of demonic incursion," explained Reehil. These three levels are temptation, obsession (which is also called "oppression") and possession.
Temptation, said Reehil, is something experienced by everyone.
Obsession is "when demons torment people physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally, or some combination of these."
Possession, which is arguably the most well-known of the three levels, is when a demon or demons "take physical possession of a person's body and make use of its faculties," said Reehil.
"Possession is usually intermittent, almost never an uninterrupted possessing of the person’s body," he added.
Attempting occult practices, such as purportedly trying to contact the dead via an Ouija board, are a way to open oneself up to demonic activity inadvertently, said Reehil.
"Demons lie and impersonate dead people," said Reehil. "When asking a board for information about a deceased person, or a life decision, they are all too happy to embed themselves into your life. Using an Ouija board is inviting a demon into your life, whether the person has that intention or not."
The Ouija board was first developed in the late 19th century as a parlor game; these were formerly called "talking boards."
At the time, séances and other spiritual practices were quite popular activities.
The board consists of an alphabet, the words "yes," "no," "goodbye," and the numbers zero through nine.
To operate the board, a person places their hands on a "planchette," which spirits purportedly move to spell out answers to questions.
In 1890, a Baltimore spiritualist and medium named Helen Peters asked the talking board what she should call it, said the website for the Talking Board Historical Society. The board responded "O-U-I-J-A," which it said meant "good luck."
The Ouija board was patented the following year.
Legend regarding the Ouija board's patent says that Peters accompanied attorney Elijah Bond to the patent office, where the two were instructed by the patent officer to prove that the board worked by spelling out his name, said Smithsonian Magazine.
Peters reportedly asked spirits for assistance, and then spelled out the patent officer's name.
It is unclear if Bond or Peters somehow knew the patent officer's name ahead of time, but the patent was awarded on Feb. 10, 1891, by a "white-faced and visibly shaken patent officer," said the magazine.
The boards were then mass-produced by the Kennard Novelty Company, which was sold to Parker Brothers in 1967.
Today, the Ouija board is produced by Hasbro, which markets the product as a way to communicate with the "spirit world." Fox News Digital reached out to Hasbro for comment but did not hear back by publication time.
"Enter the world of the mysterious and mystifying with the Ouija board! You've got questions and the spirit world has answers — and the uncanny Ouija board is your way to get them," said the Hasbro website.
"What do you want to know? Ask your question with a friend using the planchette that comes with the board, but be patient and concentrate because the spirits can't be rushed. Handle the Ouija board with respect and it won't disappoint you," said the website.
While the Ouija board is marketed as a toy or board game, Reehil, from his point of view, disagrees with this characterization.
"Ouija boards should not be viewed in the same way as a typical board game," he said. "Although it is advertised as a game, it is far from it," he added. "Rather, it is a form of divination."
Divination and other occult practices are condemned by the Bible numerous times, Reehil noted.
"The very action of using [the Ouija board] has profound spiritual consequences [that are] beyond our control," he said.
Perhaps the most famous instance of purported demonic possession connected to Ouija board usage was the case of "Roland Doe," a young teenage boy from Maryland, who underwent numerous major exorcisms in 1949, said Reehil.
Doe's story was adapted into the 1971 book "The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty, which was then made into the 1973 movie starring Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair.
Reehil told Fox News Digital that he has personally seen six cases of demonic oppression that stemmed from Ouija board usage.
"The victims were left with night terrors, suicidal ideation, despair — and one man was impaled with chicken bones in his leg that flew across the kitchen," he said.
"Once the deliverance prayers were prayed, and the participants renounced all participation with the demons, the demonic activity ceased," he also said.
"Whenever we seek to engage demons, we move away from the One True God," said Reehil.
Added the priest, "Stay away from all forms of occult practices — and stay close to God."
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