The Ouija Board, what is it? Is it a source that provides a method to contact spirits, a way to contact the recently deceased or just a child’s game? The following is a brief history, background and uses concerning the mysterious board.
Elijah Bond introduced the board on July 1st, 1890 as a simple board game and parlor trick, it was considered harmless and was not considered a spiritual board. During World War 1, Pearl Curran advocated the board as a staple in the occult field, securing its place in pop culture.
William Fuld, Elijah’s foreman, took over production of the boards and called them Ouija. He he claimed it meant “good luck” in Egyptian, or “yes” as a combo of French (oui) and German (ja). Over the years, Fuld sued many others for trying to produce their own boards. Fuld died in 1927, his estate sold the business to Parker Brothers, which in turn was sold to Hasbro in 1991.
The board displays all letters of the English alphabet, numbers 0-9, the words yes and no, hello and goodbye, along with symbols representing the sun, moon and stars. Players manipulate a planchette, which is a small 3-legged device with a hole in the middle or a pointer of some sort around the board. However, users often feel the planchette is moving of its own accord rather than responding to their own unconscious muscle movements known as ideomotor action.
The ideomotor effect refers to the influence of suggestion or expectation on involuntary and unconscious motor behavior. The movement of pointers on Ouija boards, of a facilitator’s hands in facilitated communication, of hands and arms in applied kinesiology, and of some behaviors attributed to hypnotic suggestion, are due to ideomotor action.
The unaware are fascinated by the board, and treat it as a tool of the devil, a gateway to possession or a tool to contact the dead. Some Christians feel it is demonic, despite being debunked by common sense and the scientific community. Many boards, along with Harry Potter books, were burned by Christian groups in New Mexico back in 2001, deeming them “symbols of witchcraft”. Human Life International wanted Hasbro to be prohibited from marketing the board since they thought they were portals to talk to spirit.
There are many stories people tell concerning the bad after effects of using a board, along with a movie coming out shortly entitled OUIJA. According to Dr. Carl Wickland, he treated cases of, “several persons whose seemingly harmless experiences with automactic writing and the Ouija board resulted in such wild insanity that commitment to asylums was necessitated.”1
Many believers feel that spirits are guiding their hands in spelling out words, but for the true test all you have to do is blindfold the user and see if the results are the same. Each and every blindfolded test subject showed that the accuracy of letter selection came out garbled, alphabet soup style.
In reality, there is no demonic connection to the boards; the only power they have is the power you give them. For the most part they are just ploys to separate fools from their money.
“The planchette is guided by unconscious muscular exertions like those responsible for table movement. Nonetheless, in both cases, the illusion that the object (table or planchette) is moving under its own control is often extremely powerful and sufficient to convince many people that spirits are truly at work…The unconscious muscle movements responsible for the moving tables and Ouija board phenomena seen at seances are examples of a class of phenomena due to what psychologists call a dissociative state. A dissociative state is one in which consciousness is somehow divided or cut off from some aspects of the individual’s normal cognitive, motor, or sensory functions.”2
An interesting side note story from the author: “I was at a yard sale many moons again and saw a really old, wooden, over sized Ouija Board and was afraid to ask about the price. But after looking at it for a few minutes I finally asked and they simply said, “$1.” So I grabbed it up with the quickness and headed home. It was a beautiful piece and I had plans of mounting it on the wall. Looking it up online I found they were incredibly rare and had a value of about $400-500. Sadly, due to the various moves I had over the years the piece was lost to time.”