As unbelievable as it seems, the following is a true story. Names have been changed for anonymity.

Several years ago, on October 30, some friends and I were celebrating the Eve of Halloween by sitting around the dining room table using a Ouija board. One person, I’ll call him John, asked whether any spirits had a message for us. The board answered, inevitably, YES. John asked what the message was. The board spelled, “B-I-R-T-H.” We were perplexed. “Birthday” maybe? But none of us had a birthday anywhere near that time of year.

Then I remembered that my sister-in-law was pregnant. “Is this possibly … the spirit of Yvonne’s unborn baby??” I asked, thinking that surely I was stretching it.

YES, said the board. Whoa. I pressed further. “What is your message?” No answer. “What do you want to tell us?” No answer. I tried to think of something specific. “When will you be born?”


We were shocked. Yvonne wasn’t due yet; in fact, her C-section was scheduled for sometime in mid-November.

“Wait. Are you saying you’ll be born … on Halloween?”


To test the board, I tried to pinpoint a definite time frame. “OK, let’s try this. Will you be born within the next 12 hours??”


I made note of the time. It was 11:30 PM, October 30. My niece was born at 9:00 AM on October 31. No lie. I still get chills retelling that story.


If you’re into Ouija history, the Smithsonian has a nice overview and short video on the game here. It might also interest you to know that Pulitzer-winning author James Merrill used a Ouija board to write poems. The full transcripts of his sessions can be found here. This digital archive includes scans of handwritten manuscripts like this:

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 10.46.18 AM.png

Difficult to read, but here are my favorite lines: “No object will for long conceal its mystery when lights shine on it. … No mystery is able to prevail, nor will it. Man in today’s form, or tomorrow’s, will unmask it.”


7 thoughts on “Ghostwriter

  1. A group of friends and I used to have Ouija board sessions a lot back in the 90’s. We used a glass set upside down on a smooth table with scrabble tiles. There were a few times when the answers it gave were startling. The glass would also go madly in circles while we were touching it and forcefully spell out the words. I’m a believer! Not sure in exactly what, though…

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