“Light as a feather, stiff as a board, light as a feather, stiff as a board.” If you ever went to camp or had a slumber party, you might be familiar with that chant; the one that urban legend swears will levitate a body off the ground if the party-goers just focus hard enough.
Chances are, it probably never worked for you (but maybe it worked for a friend’s friend’s cousin!) and it’s probably been a while since you tried.
But just because “light as a feather, stiff as a board” is a relic of our childhood doesn’t mean today’s youngsters don’t have suspicions of their own.
Introducing Charlie. Charlie Charlie, to be exact.
It’s all over the internet, after it exploded this past Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a game, like a Ouija board, where you draw an X on a piece of paper, label its quadrants “yes” and “no” and lay two pencils over the lines of the X you drew. You say “Charlie Charlie, are you there?” and ask another question (think something you’d ask a Magic 8 ball). The result? The pencils are allegedly supposed to independently move and point to the “yes” or to the “no.”
Congratulations, you’ve “summoned” a “demon!” And oh yeah, make sure you capture the entire thing on Vine or Instagram:
The phrase #charliecharliechallenge went nuclear around May 21, amassing hundreds of thousands of tweets. There are Vine compilations all over YouTube — some over ten minutes long. Search #CharlieCharlie on Instagram and you see 50,000 results, mostly videos of users trying to summon Charlie. If you don’t say goodbye to Charlie, he’ll haunt you.
Sounds pretty tame (it’s no Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, after all) but the more mysterious issue of Charlie Charlie is varied accounts of its history.
The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey tried to figure out its origins.
“According to one seven-year-old Yahoo! Respuestas thread — that’s Yahoo Answers to you — kids have played a version of the “classic game” in Spain for generations,” Dewey explains. “Traditionally, this version with the crossed pencils was called the “Juego de la Lapicera” — a term that still turns up lots of creepy stuff on Google — and “Charlie Charlie” was a distinct game, played with coloured pencils. At some point in their Internet and playground travels, the two games seem to have merged. In either case, both have always had demonic or supernatural connotations; one site calls Lapicera ‘the poor man’s Ouija board.'”
Charlie is allegedly the name of a demon in the depths of Mexican folklore. But the BBC’s Maria Elena Navez maintains that’s just not true. She also adds if Charlie was Mexican his name would have been Carlitos.
“Mexican demons are usually American inventions,” she says.
Yes this looks very believable:
Regardless of its origin, though, many older folks are taking it as a serious threat against the morality of good teens everywhere. A Catholic Priest allegedly sent a notice to students warning them of the dangers when one “invites a Mexican ghoul into their home.” The letter was shared on Twitter, The Mirror reports, and has not been verified yet.
As for why it’s popular right now? Dewey credits Instagram user @_k.luh for being the first person this past weekend to use the #CharlieCharlieChallenge hashtag.
Here’s her game:
Though @_k.luh later added a photo to Instagram:
“I got this from Facebook,” she commented on her own photo.
A lot of the Charlie Charlie posts are jokes, like this one:
And this one, about One Direction:
As true One Direction fans know, it doesn’t get much more serious than that.