A Brief History
Ouija Boards have so many negative superstitions surrounding them; it’s hard to believe their earnest beginnings. In the 1880s, during the height of the Spiritualism Movement, anyone who had heightened psychic or medium abilities were in great need. But what about those who didn’t have any of the intuitive attributes?
The Ouija Board (originally called a Talking Board) was thought up as an alternative to table-tipping and other such techniques used by mediums to speak with the dead. With a Talking Board, anyone could practice spirit communication even if they didn’t have any medium abilities. In 1886, an article in the Tribune was printed explaining how to create your own talking board and gliding pointer to communicate with your “spirit friends.” This is how common of a practice it was to speak to the dead.
In May 1890, Elijah Bond, filed the first patent for the “Ouija Board,” sighting Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin as the assignees. His patent was finally granted nearly a year later in February of 1892. Legend states the name “Ouija” came from a series of Talking Board sessions with Kennard. The spirit communicating with Kennard told him to name the board, “Ouija” because it was Egyptian for “good luck.” Incidentally, “Ouija” is not the Egyptian word for “good luck,” still, the name stuck. It is unclear as to why it took so long for someone to mass produce the Talking Board as a novelty item. However, the Ouija Board or “Egyptian Luck Board” became an instant hit.
Later, William Fuld gained rights to the Ouija Board, and as part of his marketing strategy revamped the history of the board. He said that he chose the name “Ouija” by merging together the French word, “oui” meaning “yes”, and the German word, “ja,” also meaning, “yes.” This became the first of many mythologies and superstitions about the Ouija Board. Fuld’s company made Ouija Boards up until the rights were sold to Parker Brothers in 1966. Presently, they are still the manufacturers of modern-day Ouija Boards.
Using an Ouija Board
There are two contradictory belief systems why Ouija boards work: the automatism theory and the spiritualist theory.
The Automatism Theory explains that through “ideomotor response,” or your unconscious movement forces the planchette into action. Somehow, the Ouija Board creates a shortcut in your brain from the conscious to the unconscious. The “messages” spelled out on the board are your unconscious thoughts, not spirit communication. When a group of people get together the Ouija Board, they are using “Collective Automatism,” where all parties are unconsciously linked.
The Spiritualist Theory conveys the idea that the Ouija Board is a conduit for spirit communication. The spirit is able to use the planchette to express their message to the living. Proprietors of this theory believe that ghosts and other ethereal forces are benign and have only positive intentions for communicating with us.
So, why does the Ouija Board get such a bad rap? You can blame a little movie called, THE EXORCIST. You can also blame the Warrens and the exploitation of the Amityville House. Up until the early 70s, Talking Boards and OUIJA Boards went from being a tool for spirit communication to an ambiguous child’s game. There were cases of possession, but it was a rare phenomenon. Then The Exorcist hit the theaters and it changed the way we think about spirit communication.
Many people believe if the Ouija Board can be used as a portal to the “other side,” then not only can benign spirits with well-intentioned messages come through, but also negative or darker energies can come through as well. Many believe that a negative entity will pretend to be a spirit to trick you into believing you are in contact with a spirit, to eventually possess you.
The entity does this by reading your mind conveying personal information to you so that you are put at ease and trust that the entity is there to help you. Eventually, you will become obsessed with the Ouija Board and its personal messages, wanting to play with it alone. Finally, when the entity has you alone, it will force its will on you and inevitably possess you.
To protect from this, there are all sorts of superstitious rules about how you use an Ouija Board. The first rule being: never use it alone.
There’s no substantial proof that the Ouija Board can cause possession or a myriad of other supernatural maladies. I have worked with an Ouija Board and never had anything dark or strange happen to me. However, I have been on more than one paranormal investigation where I have had been pushed or had things thrown at me. You don’t have to be near an OUIJA Board to have spirits or entities affect you.
There is no difference between standing in a dark room with an audio recorder and EMF detector asking a ghost to interact with you or using a planchette and an Ouija Board to ask a ghost to spell out its message. Both situations put you in a precarious position where the outcome is reliant upon forces that we know little about. But, for some reason, technical gadgetry is an accepted method of spirit communication while the Ouija Board will continue to be the red-headed stepchild of the paranormal field.
Forget about the superstitions and try out an Ouija Board or Talking Board. Use precautions, of course. However, make a decision based on experience, logic, and common sense, not years of mythical fabrications. It just may be a new resourceful tool which will yield positive results.