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Ghosts of the Ouija: How a Simple Game Altered Lives Forever

I’ve warned the readers of my books and columns many times to steer clear of any involvement with the upturned wine glass – a way of contacting spirits and the deceased that is also known as the Ouija – for no good will ever come of it.

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Most spirits that do come through are out for mischief and will provide wrong information and terrify the ‘sitters’ of the Ouija session by sometimes telling them that their days are numbered and someone will die.

The Ouija also occasionally opens up the premises where the session is being held to all manner of dark forces and doors to evil presences may be opened that can never be shut again.

A case in point is the Ouija session that was held one stormy afternoon in 1952 at the Farmers Arms pub in Frankby.

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The dangerous ‘game’ was initiated by two women in their thirties who were bored and there were seven sitters in the pub that gathered around a table and placed their index fingers on the base of the upturned glass.

One of those present asked the spirits to speak via the glass and then the said glass began to slide around, touching some of the 36 paper squares with the letters of the alphabet and the numerals zero to nine scrawled upon them.

The glass repeatedly spelt out the name HENRY and everybody laughed; they had expected some dramatic name or message to come through, but the laughter quickly ended when the glass flew off the table and smashed itself to smithereens in the coals of the fireplace.

There was a noticeable drop in temperature in the pub, and as the skies outside darkened, the two women who had suggested the Ouija session – Janet and June – both said they had felt something brush past them.

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They left the pub and walked towards their respective homes via Montgomery Hill – and to their horror, the two ladies saw they were being followed by something – it looked like a tall man in a long black cape and a hat of the type the Quakers of old used to wear.

A violent thunderstorm broke out over Frankby to heighten the suspenseful atmosphere as the sinister figure closed in on the two women and they both started to run and gasp with fear.

June said it could be just someone from the Farmers Arms messing about, trying to put the frights up them after that glass-dabbling, but Janet disagreed – she could see that the figure seemed to move along smoothly as if it was on wheels.

The shadowy pursuer suddenly picked up speed and the women ran screaming down a lane known as Birch Heys.

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At this point the terrified women, and a man coming out of a cottage on the lane could hear the figure laughing hysterically. The man gave a bemused look at the fleeing women, thinking there was just a bit of tomfoolery going on and that the man in black was a prankster known to Janet and June.

The women tried to take a short cut to their homes by rushing up the stone steps to a stile to get to the public pathway, but here, as the heavens exploded with a burst of Biblical thunder, the thing seemed to leap onto the women, its cloak billowing in the wind.

The man from the cottage heard their screams and decided this was not young people fooling about – those women sounded as if they were being attacked. He ran to the stile and found the women lying on their backs and the cloaked man in the strange hat had gone.

The man could get no sense out of June – she was staring wild-eyed at the oppressive low thunderclouds, but Janet was in tears. She held her hands to her slender neck – which looked red and bruised.

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She said a ghost had tried to strangle her and June. June had the same bruise marks on her neck. June ended up in a psychiatric hospital and took six months to recover from her ordeal, and Janet was plagued with nightmares about the grinning phantom strangler and his “glowing evil eyes” for many years.

An old and much-respected local at the Farmers Arms named George subsequently claimed that ‘Henry’ – the name from the glass – had been what we would now call a serial killer – he had been responsible for many unsolved murders in the 1900s down the west coast of Wirral and he had made a lot of the killings look like suicides.

George claimed that Henry was hanged by the father of a girl who had died at the murderer’s hands and had been buried at night in a shallow grave not far from the Farmers Arms.

The body had been buried face down with a crucifix chained to it to stop the spirit of the evil Henry from rising. Occasionally, people walking up Montgomery Hill – the lane facing the Farmers Arms – have either seen a man in a black cloak following them or heard footsteps of someone close behind them.

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In a small but beautiful semi on St Andrew’s Road, so called because it is located close to St Andrew’s Church, Bebington, there was another visitor from the upturned glass in the summer of 2009. It was July, and the elderly couple who owned the semi were visited by their 21-year-old nephew Ryan and his girlfriend Beth – both from Heswall.

Ryan parked his Volkswagen camper van outside the dwelling and told his uncle he was having trouble finding a place to live since he’d left home and was currently looking for a job.

Ryan’s uncle and aunt were due to fly to Spain for a fortnight’s holiday and let the young couple stay at the house until they returned, hoping Ryan would have found employment by then. As soon as the couple were off on their hols, Ryan held a party at the semi, and during the drinking, someone suggested ‘having a go at the Ouija board’ and claimed they were good at getting messages from spirits.

Six people dabbled with the upturned wine glass that night and at one point the glass was seen to move along a table top on its own.

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Most of the words produced were nonsensical, but one of them appeared twice, and it was: MATHOLWCH – which one of the people at the party – a lad from Rhyl who would not get involved in the Ouija session – claimed to be a Welsh name.

By four in the morning the party was over, but many wouldn’t stay over at the house because they said there was a sinister ‘presence’.

Ryan dozed off in a drunken stupor on the sofa with Beth in his arms, and he was awakened by Beth screaming at around 4:30am.

She said she had awakened to see a man in old fashioned clothes with a terrifying decomposing face leaning over her. His icy kisses had awakened her. She had heard him say to her, ‘My dearest, I shall draw off your vitality, steal but a fraction of your life so I may live again and love you.’

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His accent had a Welsh lilt to it, said Beth, and as soon as she had awakened and screamed he had vanished as he smiled. Ryan knew his girlfriend was a down-to-earth straight-talking person who never lied and had no interest in the supernatural, so he just knew his girlfriend was telling the truth.

Two days after this, Ryan was standing at the top of the stairs at 10pm, looking down to the hall, waiting for Beth to come up to bed, when he saw a tall grotesque-looking man with a skeletal face in what looked like Victorian attire come to the foot of the stairs.

It put its bony fingers on the handrail – and the lights went out. They flickered back on – the menacing ghoul was about five steps further up the stairs, and Ryan swore in terror.

The lights went out again, throwing the hall into pitch blackness – and when they came on again after a few seconds, the solid-looking ghost was standing right in front of Ryan, who turned and ran into his bedroom.

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He then heard Beth scream downstairs, and so he left the room and saw the ghost had gone, and the young man ran down to the kitchen were Beth was hysterical.

She said the ghastly-looking ghost had thrown its arms around her and had tried to waltz about with her. She had struck it with a wine bottle and it had vanished.

That night, the couple left the house on St Andrew’s Road and have still not returned there.

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Tom Slemen

Tom Slemen is a Liverpool writer, known foremostly as the author of the best-selling Haunted Liverpool series of books which document paranormal incidents and unsolved or unusual crimes. Check his Books on Amazon here.

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