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Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

Updated on September 15, 2017

A spooky game for Halloween Slumber Parties

My friends and I who grew up together during the 70's used to get together often for slumber parties. Halloween was a given, and we had a bunch of innocent games we used to play, such as flashlight tag and haunted house, and the obligatory "pick on the first one asleep", (which was always me... but they usually gave me a break because I threw such a duck fit!). Our favorite game though, by far, was "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board'.

I had two friends who almost always took up the head, which meant they were the ones who had to come up with the story of the dead girl we were supposed to be calling on to help us lift our friend. (For the record, I always participated, but was too chicken to be the one being lifted)

One of our friends whose name I will not mention out of respect for the dead, was one of the ones who usually took the head. This means she sat at the head of the girl being lifted and told the story. She was a very spiritual person and told some really spooky, and believable stories. She died in the late 90's. I still sometimes wonder if she did not have some clairvoyant tendencies. It is so ironic that she died so young, as she was the one who had the most convincing ghost stories. I wonder if she somehow knew of her fate and had contact with the other side, even as a young child. She did own a Ouija board, which we sometimes "played with", but honestly it was a bit freaky and we usually put it away fairly quickly.

At any rate, my experience of playing this game are many and powerful. I hope you get as much enjoyment from this lens as I have writing about it.

Light as a feather - As Depicted in Film - The Craft

This scene from the 1996 movie "The Craft" is very close to the way my friends and I used to do this. Only there were usually 5 or 6 of us participating. We always had one girl at the head who would tell a tragic story about a girl our age who died, and we would then summon her spirit to help us lift our girl up.

It was totally freaky! Many times we were able to get the girl to levitate all the way to the ceiling - and since the rule was to only use two fingers, it can not have been all our strength. As depicted here, the girl would usually fall when someone broke concentration. It was so spooky we often laughed to cover our nervousness, which often broke the spell.

Get the Movie - The Craft

Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the new kid in town, but even under the best of circumstances she has never been accepted by the popular crowd. At her new school, she falls in with a trio of other female misfits (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True) who, it so happens, are trying to learn witchcraft and form their own little coven.

These little mythbusters say - Light as a feather is NOT a myth!

Do you believe?

Okay, admittedly, sometimes it was a little kooky, but there were times, I kid not, that we seemed to really be in the zone and it really happened for real!

Do you think the game is real?

See results

When playing Light as a Feather, Stay Calm, and Do not break your concentration

No matter how nervous you are, if you are tempted to laugh, think about the poor girl in the story. It is best to close your eyes and to play the game in dim light. The only people in the room should be the people participating in the game. No onlookers! It is a sacred space and if you really want it to work, you have to take it seriously!

But don't forget it's all in fun, and keep your cool!

Light as a Feather - The way I remember it

The way I remember it
The way I remember it

A different variation of Light as a Feather- No chanting, and they use a chair

Instead they do a hand over hand thing. I saw this on several different videos. These guys are pretty convincing!

LAFSAB with a Chair

Great Plague of London

The game originated during the 1665-1666 "Great Plague of London". As you are likely familiar with the song "Ring Around the Rosies", children made up these nursery rhymes and games about the death around them - perhaps as a way to cope, or simply because it was their "normal".

Below is a quote from the diary of a Frenchman who first observed the game, and the original chant.

Voici un corps mort

Raide comme un bâton,

Froid comme le marbre

Léger comme un esprit,

Lève-toi au nom de Jésus-Christ!

(Here is a dead body

Stiff as a stick,

Cold as marble

Light as a spirit,

Lift yourself, in the name of Jesus Christ!)

— From the Diary of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703

Barely touching or really lifting.....


Does it Really Work?

Well, from my experience, yes it does! I understand that with 4 or 5 girls each holding two fingers from each hand raising up a (usually fairly smallish) person, that's enough to "raise" them. So technically that would not be "magic". I do recall sometimes it seemed like we were actually "lifting" them, but other times, it was as if we were really barely touching them and they still rose. If one person is "lifting" and the others barely touching, it seems the body would be off balance and fall. It wasn't that. It was really really spooky. I swear!

Have you every played the game? - Tell us about it!

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Not really, but I do remember the theme. Slumber party games were such fun.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I remember playing this. I remember being able to lift a person who outweighed me by 50 lbs. I don't remember stories of anyone dead/dying. (doesn't mean it didn't happen, but I was very young.) I was also lifted and know that I was high enough in the air that when I opened my eyes and broke the spell, that I dropped to the floor hard enough to have the air knocked out of me. That made everyone else afraid.

    • Jennifer Einstein profile image

      Jennifer Einstein 7 years ago from New York City

      Of course. But I'm really commenting to say that although the scene is great in The Craft for your purposes, I thought the movie was pretty awful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I used to play this at slumber parties too! It's really weird how it works ~