Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Review of Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s Ouija Gone Wild, with Rick Fisher

A Review of Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s Ouija Gone Wild, with Rick Fisher (2012, Visionary Living, Inc., ISBN: 9780985724306
From one of the most prolific and respected author–investigators working in the field of the paranormal today, Ouija Gone Wild is a thoroughly researched and excellently organized collection of facts and true stories having to do with the often mis-understood (and mis-used) “talking board.”
            Rosemary Ellen Guiley is joined in this endeavor by Rick Fisher, founder of the Paranormal Society of Pennsylvania, the National Museum of Mysteries and Research Center in Columbia, PA and the founder of that city’s Historic Haunted Ghost Walks. He maintains an extensive file of news clipping and stories related to the board and owns a sizable and varied collection of them.
            The book is filled with some hair-raising stories of bad experiences with the board; gives a thorough history of the board’s development and various incarnations, including the Ouija brand name with which most people are familiar; and delves deeply into a handful of particularly noteworthy and unsettling anecdotes. The most gripping chapters include “The Zozo Phenomenon,” “A Choir of Vampires,” and “Calling the King of the Witches.”
            There is also a complete filmography going back to 1920, and an interesting chapter on the role of the Ouija in literature and music. Comprehensive as always for a book by Guiley, Ouija Gone Wild includes a chapter titled “How to Use a Talking Board.”
            A story that I related to the author about my experience with a talking board is included, as well as some experiences related by my wife, Tonya.
            Like many of the people who told their stories for the book, my earliest experience was with the marketed party game version, the Ouija board, as a child, having found it amongst the other games in my aunt’s upstairs closet one holiday night. My siblings and cousins and I, having no idea what to do, most likely ran the planchette around the board, spelling out curse words and other silly things. The story I shared for the book is a bit more serious than that.
            After swearing to never use one ever again after my experience in 1984, I recently (November 2011) was involved in a session in which my wife’s long-deceased grandmother (her story is contained in the book) made an appearance. It was not until the very end of a 90-minute session that I finally put my hands on the planchette, after she asked repeatedly for me to do so. It was an emotional, peaceful evening. Some of the information she gave us and other insights she provided about others in attendance—although not proving that it was indeed Tonya’s grandmother—certainly was well beyond easy explanation.
            Back to the book. It truly is a page turner, delivering equal parts horror and subtle comedy as Guiley and Fisher take us through true crime stories, stories of money gained and lost (mostly lost), and of course the core issues when it comes to matters of the board: the frequent communication with “demons” and the question of just who are we actually communicating with?
Ouija Gone Wild by and large lets the anecdotes and the “evidence” speak for themselves. Even the authors and the experts they interview can’t say for sure. That seems wise. I’ve experienced enough hauntings, entities, and mysterious energies to know that dealing with the paranormal in general—and particularly divination/communication devices such as the Ouija board—is kind of like being in a little boat on a big, stormy ocean—be respectful, don’t take chances, and don’t for a minute think your Ego can get you through.
A highlight of the book is a story near the end in the chapter “Fear and Ouija-pocalypse” that relates an aborted attempt a few years ago to do a live board session on George Noory’s Coast to Coast AM program. After you read it, there is no denying that there are vast amounts of believers out there—and many of them are more than a little scared of the power of the board.
Guiley and Fisher do a fine job making a case for why they’re right to feel that fear.

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