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Information about the paranormal game known as the Martha Game is scarce on the English-language internet; the only version of it I’ve been able to find was posted to r/ThreeKings in 2012. I’ve found a few mentions of it on the Spanish-language internet that date back a few years further, though: In its original language, it’s called La Martita, or else described as “Martita diabolico juego” (“the Martita devil game”), for which searches yield a bit more. And if you broaden the search out even further, you’ll find more yet. Sometimes, you see, there isn’t even any mention of Martha or Martita at all. Sometimes, it’s just called El Juego De Los Lapices — the Game of Pencils.
According to most sources, the version of the game pegged to the name Martha/Martita was popular in El Salvador in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. News reports from later years show it spreading, though — for example, by 2012, it had hit Honduras. It bears some resemblance to Charlie, Charlie in that it uses pencils as a form of divination, although the method used in the Game of Pencils is a bit different; in many ways, it’s structured more like Sara Sarita. The Game of Pencils may be played with more than one player, although Martha/Martita seems to prefer it if you cap your numbers off at two.
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As is the case with Charlie, Charlie, it’s not clear exactly who the titular entity of the Martha Game is. Maybe it doesn’t matter, though. After all, according to a number of sources, hers isn’t the only name to have been attached to the Game of Pencils over the years: Others include Miguelito, Pedro, and Fred or Freddy. Sometimes, the entity is entirely nameless.
Whether that means that “Martha” can change her identity at will — perhaps in order to best suit whatever she hopes to get out of a particular interaction — remains to be seen.
As always, play at your own risk.
- Two principals.
- Six writing implements, all of approximately the same length. Wooden pencils are recommended.
- Questions —anything to which you want to know the answer. These questions must be yes or no questions.
- Begin at any time.
- Have both principals sit or stand opposite each other. Get comfortable; you might be here for a while.
- Have both principals take up three pencils each and hold the pencils loosely in both hands such that they form a U-shape: The pencil forming the bottom of the U should be nearest the principals’ bodies, running parallel with their torsos, while the pencils forming the sides of the U should be perpendicular to their torsos, pointing outwards and away from their bodies. Both players’ U shapes should meet in the middle, combining to form a rectangle. This image may be referenced for details.
- Repeat aloud, three times in unison, the words, “Martita quieres jugar conmigo?” (“Martha, do you want to play with me?”)
- Watch the pencils that form the sides of each U.
- If the pencils close their points to form two triangles: Permission has been granted: Yes, Martita wants to play with you. You may proceed to The Conversation.
- If the pencils do not move: The ritual has failed: No, Martita does not want to play with you. Do not proceed. Pack away your pencils and disband. You may try again another time.
- If one set of pencils forms a triangle, but the other does not move: Proceed, but with caution. It is recommended that both principals ask Martita if she wants to play again. If you receive either of the previously noted responses, continue accordingly. If you continue to receive the same response — one triangle, one open U — apologize to Martita for being a nuisance, put the pencils away, and try again another time.
- Once Martita has agreed to play, you may begin asking your questions. Ask ONLY yes or no questions. It is recommended that you preface each question with “Martita dinos ‘Si’ o ‘No’ (“Martha, tell us ‘Yes’ or ‘No’”). Take turns, one at a time, speaking your questions aloud, clearly and succinctly.
- After each question, watch the pencils.
- If the pencils close their points to form two triangles: The answer to your question is “Yes.”
- If the pencils open their points to form two U shapes: The answer to your question is “No.”
- If one set of pencils form a triangle, while the other forms a U: The answer to your question is “Maybe.”
- When you have finished asking your questions, proceed to The Farewell.
- To exit the game, repeat aloud, three times in unison, the words, “Martita podemos salir?” (“Martha, may we leave?”)
- If the pencils close their points to form two triangles: You have received permission to leave the game.
- If the pencils open their points to form two U shapes: You have NOT received permission to leave the game. Ask again.
- If one set of pencils form a triangle, while the other forms a U: Only one principal has received permission to leave the game. Ask again until both principals receive permission.
- Do NOT exit the game until both principals have received permission to do so.
- Once permission has been granted, thank Martita for her time and pack your pencils away.
- Keep the pencils somewhere safe — although you might want to avoid using them for their intended purpose from here on out.
- And DEFINITELY don’t sharpen them.
It is unknown whether this game may be performed in languages other than Spanish. Should you attempt to perform it in another language, make sure your translations of The Invitation and The Farewell are accurate.
Bystanders are permissible, although they should remain as quiet and inobtrusive as possible while observing the game. Do NOT allow bystanders to ask any questions of Martita.
A single-player version of this game may also be played. The single-player version is nearly identical to the two-player version: If the participant’s pencils form a triangle, the answer to their question is “Yes,” while if they form a U, the answer is “No.” However, it is unknown how a “Maybe” answer is communicated during this version.
An alternative two-player version of this game may also be played. To perform this version:
- Gather, along with your other supplies, a standard-sized sheet of paper.
- Orient it landscape-wise and write “Si” (“Yes”) on both the left and right sides of the paper. Then write “No” in the middle.
- Continuing to orient the piece of paper landscape-wise, position it between the two principals. When the principals form their pencils into U shapes, the pencils should form a rectangle with the word “No” at its center.
- As you ask your questions, the pencils will either angle inward to point to the word “No” or angle outward to point to the two “Sis.” These positions indicate the answers to your questions.
A Word Of Warning:
Martita may not always tell the truth.
Martita may not be what she seems.
“Martita” may not even exist at all.
Seeing isn’t always believing.
Please don’t plagiarize this post. Linking to it or sharing the URL only is fine (and encouraged!), as is writing your own unique version of the game with sources cited and linked to, but copying/pasting, republishing, screenshotting, or otherwise reproducing the text of this piece in its entirety or near-entirety on other websites without permission isn’t.
[Photo via habunman/Pixabay]