As a teenager, I remember playing different games with my friends trying to figure out what our futures held. We used drawn games like M*A*S*H to figure out if would live in a mansion with Devon Sawa and our 9 kids or shack with the nerd from math class and a dog. We would also spend hours making cootie catchers that would need folded and unfolded to reveal a fortune or compliment. Sometimes we would even use our necklaces as pendulums to divine a message from a board we had written before class started. This was long before I knew what pendulums really were or understood that these practices could be a form of magic casting. To us, these were just games to pass a boring class or to play during a sleepover. Recently though I have learned about games that are similar that are played around the world.
One of the games actually made the news around the world and was actually turned into what I assume is a very cheesy film called Ouija 3: The Charlie Chalie Challenge. I am watching it now and yep, ridiculously cheesy. I didn’t last three minutes. There are a lot of misconceptions about the game that have caused the game to become briefly popular again. But before we get into all that, you should know what exactly is the Charlie Charlie game.
The Charlie Charlie game was originally a Spanish game called Juego de la Lapicera. To play the game you would just draw a cross on a paper with Yes and No written in alternating corners. Then you would lay two sharpened pencils on the grid following the lines. See picture below as a reference. Once it’s set up you can ask questions such as “Does Tommy like me?”, “Will John ask me to the dance?”, etc.. The top pencil is supposed to rotate to the correct answer. After answering your question, you recent the pencils in the cross formation before asking the next question.
In 2015, a version of Juego de la Lapicera made a parody website called The Racket Report saying that over 500 deaths had happened because of a game called Charlie Charlie. Then other news stations picked up the reports and started repeating them but treating the previous reports as facts instead of the fiction they really were. According to reports the game Charlie Charlie was like the Juego de la Lapicera but you start off by greeting the ghost or demon (depending on which report you listened to) by saying “Charlie Charlie can we play” and waiting for the top pencil to rotate to yes before resetting the pencils and asking your questions. It didn’t take long for a teenager to tweet #CharlieCharlieChallenge to make the “demon summoning” really go viral.
But where did Charlie come from? Some people claim that was the spirit of a Mexican child or teenager that died and then become a helper of the devil in luring new teens and children to their death or damning their souls. But the biggest things that start punching holes into this theory is:
- The game isn’t a Mexican tradition.
- If it was, why would a Mexican demon/ spirit have an English name?
If you do play this game, while I seriously doubt you will accidentally summon a demon or spirit, you should be careful when playing it. Just like with an ouija board. You can refer back to my previous post about ouija boards for more information about how to be careful.
Another fortune telling game I heard of was one that I actually heard about while in Japan. There were some teenage girls in one of the classes I taught English in that mentioned it. It is a crossroads game and they liked to play it after class because on their walk home from the class there was a crossroad that was safe enough to play the game in without worrying about cars coming around that often. I never got the chase to play the game with them but I have looked into it since they told me about it. The girls were shy and this was one of the few pictures I have left of them.
I don’t remember the name they called it but online I found that it is often called Tsuji-ura. There are similar versions around the world called Crossroads Divination or The Fortune Game. It’s a really simple game. The person wanting to ask a question needs a comb and everyone needs something to cover their face. Everyone goes to a dark crossroads at night. Once at the crossroads, the person with the comb runs their finger down the teeth of the comb while saying “Tsuji-ura, Tsuji-ura, grant me a true response”. This phrase needs to be repeated three times. Then everyone waits until they hear someone walking towards the crossroads. If someone they know or no one approaches the crossroad, the game is over and they will have to wait until another night to try it again. However if someone comes to the crossroads that is a stranger to the main person and the bystanders, everyone playing the game must cover their face with either a scarf, a book, a hat, a bag, etc.. The bystanders must remain quiet and not interfere while the main person approaches the stranger. While covering their face, the main person will ask the stranger for their future. If the stranger ignores the main person, the main person has to wait for another stranger to come along. If the stranger tells them something, the main person must thank them while bowing and backing away. During the whole exchange, all of the players must make sure to keep their faces covered.
Of course, playing this game does require that some precautions should be taken. There is always a danger of approaching strangers in the dark. Also hanging out on dark streets at night can make you a target of muggers or killers. Granted this is less likely to happen in Japan than the USA but still, be careful playing the game. Also how you deal with your fortune is another matter. If you receive a fortune you don’t agree with, please don’t harm the person giving you the fortune or harm yourself. Above all, this is just a game. It isn’t a guaranteed prediction of your future. If you play any of these games or know of similar games, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear how they went.