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"The Picture Game"

I’ll be honest: I have no idea where the Picture Game came from, when it originated, or pretty much anything else about its background.

I assume it’s fairly recent — within the past couple of decades or so — due to the fact that built-in flash cameras meant for home usage didn’t exist until the late ‘50s.

(The Brownie Starflash, released in 1957, was Kodak’s first camera with a built-in flash.)

Even so, though, the elements at play in this particular game go way back.

First, there’s the element of the camera: Spirit photography first emerged in the late 19th century; what’s more, some cultures and religions have long believed that cameras are capable of “stealing” someone’s soul through the act of taking a photograph of that person.

Then there are the mirrors, which have been present in folklore from all around the world for centuries. Some believe that mirrors reflect our “shadow souls,” or our true selves; others believe them to be windows or doors to other realms; and still others believe that spirits or souls may become trapped in them if certain precautions aren’t taken by survivors after a persons death.

And when you combine cameras and mirrors?

Well, let’s just say some… interesting things can happen.

As always, play at your own risk.


  • At least two participants. The more, the better. There is no principal.


  • A length of string, rope, or other similar material. This length of string, rope, or other material should be long enough to make a circle when the ends are knotted together.

  • Scissors, a knife, or another sharp edge.

  • One small mirror per participant.

  • A camera with flash capabilities. Camera phones are NOT recommended.

  • A drinking glass.

  • A beverage, preferably alcoholic. Wine is recommended.

  • A quiet room.


The Prelude:

  1. Begin at midnight.

  2. Make the string or rope into a circle by tying the ends together in a knot.

  3. Place the rope circle in the middle of the room.

  4. Place the drinking glass in the middle of the rope circle.

  5. Fill the glass with the beverage.

  6. Arrange the participants in a circle by seating them around the outside of the rope circle.

  • NOTE: Do NOT step into the center of the rope circle at any time or for any reason.

  1. Each participant must place their mirror in front of them. The reflective part of the mirror should be pointed at the ceiling.

  2. Turn off the lights.

The Invitation:

  1. The participants must close their eyes. The circle of participants must hold hands.

  2. Each participant must say, one after another, the phrase, “I trust you.” The participants should not speak this phrase in unison; each participant must say it individually.

  3. After each participant has stated their trust, all participants should repeat three times, in unison, the words, “The door is open, please come in.”

  4. The participants may then open their eyes.

The Sitting:

  1. Begin the sitting by having one participant take up the camera. This participant must say the words, “I caught you”; then, pointing the camera forward (toward the middle of the circle), the participant must take one picture.

  2. Pass the camera to the next participant in the circle. If using a digital camera, do not preview the image that was just taken.

  3. The next participant must also say the words, “I caught you,” and take one picture with the camera facing forward.

  4. Repeat this process until every participant has taken three pictures. The camera should make its way around the circle three times.

  • NOTE: If a participant begins crying or feels nauseous, do NOT allow them to take any pictures. Instead, pass the camera around them to the next participant in the circle.

  1. After the camera has passed around the circle three times, put it down.

The Farewell:

  1. All participants must close their eyes and repeat three times, in unison, the phrase, “It is time to go home.”

  2. Each participant must turn their mirror upside down.

  3. Turn on the lights.

  4. Using the scissors, knife, or other sharp edge, cut open the rope circle.

  5. Take the drinking glass outside and empty it. It is recommended that you empty it onto a patch of dirt or earth.

The Review:

  1. You may now review the photos taken during the ritual. What do you see?

  2. Look closely.

  3. Closer.

  4. There.

Additional Notes:

Although there is no principal, it may help for organizational purposes to designate one participant as the Point Person. This Point Person may create the rope circle, place and fill the glass, operate the lights, begin the “I trust you” section, be the first participant to take up the camera, cut the rope circle, and empty the glass at the conclusion of the ritual.

Red Flags:

If any of the following occur, DO NOT PROCEED:

  • One or more participants begin acting in an uncharacteristic manner.

  • One or more participants state that they are frightened.

If the ritual must be aborted, you may do so by putting the camera down and proceeding directly to The Farewell, Step 1.

If A Red Flag Participant Takes A Picture:

Do not look at the picture.

Do not continue with the ritual.

Destroy the camera.


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