Previously: How To Record The Dead.
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I’ve known about the ritual game I’ve been thinking of as the Spirit of the Pen for some time, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I really started to dig into it. From my Western point of view, it looked like a sort of combination Ouija/automatic writing supernatural communication game; but since I’d found it exclusively on Chinese websites up until that point — which suggested a possible place of origin — I knew that wasn’t quite the right frame of reference.
Indeed, that turned out to be correct: The game is called bixian (笔仙) in Chinese, and it’s a descendent of fu-chi or fuji (扶乩) — the Taoist divination ritual originally played with a hanging sieve which eventually evolved into the planchette. In the West, fu-chi/fuji did lead to the development of the Ouija — but elsewhere, it gave rise to other variations. If you’re familiar with the Japanese game Kokkuri-san, or the Spirit of the Coin, that’s one; and this one — bixian, the Spirit of the Pen, or the Pen Fairy, as Google Translate sometimes likes to call it — is another.
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Bixian appears to be quite well-established in the cultural landscape; it shows up with some degree of frequency in media — for instance, it’s played in the second episode of the Taiwanese television show Detention, available in the U.S. on Netflix, and it features prominently in a 2016 film titled Bi xian gui ying (笔仙诡影 ) in Chinese and Bloody House in English. (If you’ve played the video game Detention, by the way, yes, the television show is related to it. It’s… not quite an adaptation; sequel is probably a more accurate description, although I’m not sure if that’s quite the right word, either. It’s interesting, in any event, and I’ve enjoyed it a bit.) Bixian also pops up frequently in Chinese internet-based horror stories, typically in narratives that use the “my friends and I played this game, HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT” framing that’s so prevalent in creepypasta the world over.
There seem to be a lot of different ways to play it — but no matter how you go about it, as always:
Play at your own risk.
- At least two participants — ideally three, but not more than five. (See: Additional Notes.)
- A large piece of paper. A4 size is recommended.
- A pen or other writing implement. (See: Additional Notes.)
- A time-keeping device. (Optional, but recommended.)
- Candles. (Optional, but recommended. See: Additional Notes.)
- Matches or a lighter. (Optional, but recommended. See: Additional Notes.)
- A dark, quiet room in which to play. (See: Additional Notes.)
- Questions. Queries. A sense of curiosity.
- Begin before midnight.
- Make any and all choices required before continuing. (See: Additional Notes.)
- Once you have made your choices, gather together all participants and supplies in the room in which you have chosen to play.
- Close the door and ensure you will not be disturbed. It is not required that you draw the curtains or otherwise block the windows, but you may choose to do so, should you so desire.
- If using the time-keeping device, place it somewhere in the room where it is easy to see.
- Place the piece of paper on a hard, flat surface.
- On the piece of paper, draw the game board. (See: Additional Notes, Regarding the Game Board.)
- If using the candles, position them such that they will illuminate the game board when all players are gathered around it. Once they are positioned, light them using the matches or lighter. (See: Additional Notes, Regarding the Candles.)
- Dim or turn off any other lights in the room.
- Have one participant take the pen in one hand, place it point down in the center of the game board, and lightly hold it there such that it is perpendicular to the board.
- Each of the other participants should now add their hands to the pen, such that all participants are helping to hold it perpendicular to the board.
- Note: For best results, have all participants use the same hand — that is, if one participant is holding the pen with their right hand, all participants should be holding the pen with their right hands. Or, if one participant is holding the pen with their left hand, all participants should be holding the pen with their left hands.
- Now: Look around at each other. Take a deep breath. Center yourselves. And begin.
- Together, repeat the chant you have chosen to use. Repeat it in unison, over, and over, and over again. Repeat it, and watch the pen carefully. Do not hold it too tightly… but do not let go, either.
- If the pen remains stationary: The ritual has failed; do not proceed. Say farewell, turn on the lights, pack up your supplies, and vacate the premises. You may try again another time, in another location, making other choices, if you so desire.
- If the pen trembles or moves slightly: The ritual has succeeded; you may proceed. Do NOT let go of the pen.
- You must now confirm that your corresponded is responsible for the movement. Have one participant ask, “Spirit, are you here?”
- If the pen’s movement remains the same or stops entirely: The ritual has failed; do not proceed. Say farewell, turn on the lights, pack up your supplies, and vacate the premises. You may try again another time, in another location, making other choices, if you so desire.
- If the pen’s movement increases: The ritual has succeeded; you may proceed. Note: The pen will, in all likelihood, begin to draw a small circle or ring on the game board. If it draws anything else, you may still proceed, although it is best to do so with caution. Do NOT let go of the pen.
- Now: Ask your questions. You may ask your correspondent about themself, about who they were, their likes and dislikes, their habits, and more; you may ask your correspondent about your own life, your past, and your future; or, you may ask your correspondent any other questions or queries you might have. There are only three rules: Do NOT ask your correspondent what they desire; do NOT ask your correspondent how they died; and do NOT allow your correspondent to become your friend or to protect you.
- After each question, watch the pen. It will indicate the answers, according to the board you have chosen to draw. Should your correspondent chose not to answer a question, respect their choice; a non-answer is still an answer.
- Do NOT let go of the pen at ANY POINT.
- You may continue to ask questions until you are ready to stop, or until midnight is soon to be upon you. Keep an eye on the time; do not allow the game to continue after midnight.
- When you are ready to stop, thank your correspondent for their time and bid them farewell. You may do so any way you choose; just be clear, and be polite.
- Wait until the pen stops moving.
- When the pen falls still, the participants may release the pen. Turn on the lights, pack up your supplies, and vacate the premises.
- Destroy and dispose of the game board before you go. Do NOT take the board home with you.
- Destroy and dispose of the pen before you go. Do NOT take the pen home with you.
The game may be played with fewer than three participants, although it is not recommended. It is especially not recommended that it be played with a single principal, although you may do so if you’re up for… a challenge.
The game may be easily played with more than three participants, although more than five is not recommended, simply because it will be difficult for that many players to hold a single pen at one time.
Regarding the playing space:
- Some sources recommend playing the game specifically in an abandoned school room or building, ideally one in which someone is known to have died. Other sources do not specify a particular kind of room, building, or area in which the game must be played.
- Make your choice.
Regarding the pen:
- Some sources note that you must use a pen of any kind; others imply that a pencil is also acceptable; and still others state that you must specifically use a green pencil.
- Make your choice.
Regarding the game board:
- There are multiple ways to set up the board. Some sources recommend writing the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the words “yes and “no” on the paper; others recommend writing only the words “yes” and “no” and the numbers zero through nine; some recommend writing the numbers one through 30, the words “man” and “woman,” and the words “yes” and “no”; and still others do not specify writing anything at all, suggesting that the paper may be left blank for your correspondent to write on as they please.
- Make your choice.
Regarding the candles:
- Some sources recommend the use of candles, while others state that only paper and a pen are required to play.
- Should you opt to utilize candles, it is further worth noting that sources vary as to the number, color, and placement of the candles. According to some, four candles should be used, one placed in each of the four corners of the piece of paper. According to others, only one candle is necessary, with its placement not specified. According to yet others, three candles must be used, although again, their placement remains unspecified.
- Additionally, some sources do not specify a particular color the candles should be; some state that the candles should be red; and still others state that the candles should be any color but red.
- Make your choice.
Regarding the chant:
- Several different chants may be utilized in calling your correspondent. Among them are:
- Make your choice.
Concerning The Farewell:
Do NOT end the game without bidding your correspondent farewell. The Farewell, you see, is more than just a farewell; it is also a sending away. If you fail to bid your correspondent farewell, you will also fail to send them away.
If the pen does not fall still during the Farewell, continue to repeat Steps 1 and 2 of this section until it finally does.
Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, allow your correspondent to stay with you after the conclusion of the game.
If you do, you may gradually begin to feel… not yourself.
The trouble is, by the time you’ve noticed how not yourself you feel, it will be too late.
There will be no helping you.
But I did warn you, after all.
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[Photo via stellasu777/Pixabay]