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Q: What does the church think about Ouija boards?

One December night, my friend Father Mark went out to sing Christmas carols. When he went to the first house and began singing, an elderly man came to the door and tears began to roll down his face. Father Mark, seeing that the man was moved to tears, asked “Are you remembering happy childhood memories?” “No,” the man sniffed, wiping a tear. “I’m a musician.”

OK, these are three totally different things, so first, let’s define each one and then look at what they purport to do from a Catholic perspective.

First, let’s look at Ouija boards. According to Princeton’s Wordnet, they are boards with the alphabet on it; used with a planchette to spell out supernatural messages.

Apparently, the name comes from combining the French word for “Yes” (Oui) and the German word for “Yes” (Ja).

In terms of crystals, I assume you are asking about the way some people claim to use crystals for spiritual protection or channeling, or in any religious way.

The enneagram is a nine-sided shape that is used as a model for different things; the most common being its use as a personality assessment tool. This assessment tool focuses on the imbalance present in each person - their “hidden self.” Integration is essential in this model, and each personality type is shown the way to integration through the use of arrows.

OK, we’ve got them now; let’s take it one at a time.

The Ouija board was introduced as a board game, and was intended to be used as a way to contact the spirits of angels, demons, or the dead. This is a dangerous practice. People have approached me about this and expressed their concern over my “hard-line stance on a board game,” but that is precisely one of the big problems here: disguising a fundamentally evil spiritual practice into a game for kids is, in my mind, the definition of evil.

Take a look at this passage:

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12a)

The Scripture is clear, and many exorcists in the Catholic Church speak very strongly against the Ouija board. Whether we intend it for “fun” or not is irrelevant; it’s a loaded spiritual gun and we should destroy any of these things that are in our home.

Crystals are a little harder to nail down, as they are used in so many ways. However, the simple answer is this: I can’t find any circumstance under which a person can or should “use crystals” for a spiritual purpose. Again, its purpose seems quite clearly against the Scripture passage that I cited above.

The easiest way to look at these things is to remember the story of Babel and the story of Adam and Eve. In both cases, what the people wanted was right, but they wanted to do it in their own way and not in the way God calls us to. The desire to have contact with the divine is holy and good, but we must do it in the way God invites us to. The problem is when we act as if our actions can somehow “force God’s hand” or as if the Scriptures and the guidance of the church aren’t sufficient.

There are tons of fights on the Internet about the enneagram. Some people see them as helpful tools, others see them as an evil New Age practice. It appears that in this case, it’s best to avoid working with this model. Why?

First, because of its roots. The roots of this practice appear to come from the Sufis, who seem to combine Islam and paganism in their worship.

Second, this model is a problem because of its focus on self-improvement through purely human means. In the mind of the church, it is essential that we base all of our efforts for “self improvement” on the person of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. One source I read indicated that Jesus calls us to “die to self,” while this model calls us to an almost obsessive focus on the self.

Remember, brothers and sisters, Jesus has given us all we need to come to him. As he said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Enjoy another day in God’s presence!


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