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Ouija Board History

Example of Ouija board; copyright Atomazul at Dreamstime.com

Ouija board history added a popular footnote to the mainstream during the spiritualist movement in the mid-1800s America.

Learning from Ouija Board History

For more than a century, interest in the Ouija board has ranged from devoted communication with the spirits to a novelty game item at slumber parties. The roots of the modern Ouija board are found in the Spiritualism movement that grabbed hold of the U.S. consciousness in the mid-nineteenth century. Spiritualism supported a monotheistic belief in God, but it also included the belief that spirits of the dead were accessible through channels such as trained mediums.

In the late 1800s, the Ouija board became the tool of choice for many mediums. Manufacturers went out of their way to produce multiple versions of the basic Ouija board, which included a flat surface detailed with letters and numbers as well as spots for yes and no replies. The board was used during seances conducted by mediums. Everyone would place their fingers on the planchette. This is the device that glides across the surface of the board to the particular letters, numbers or yes and no replies that would make up the spirit's response. This planchette and board set up became the standard for the Ouija board that still remains so popular today.

In 1892, William Fuld entered into the mythos surrounding the Ouija board. As owner and president of the Kennard Novelty Company, he renamed his company the Ouija Novelty Company. He declared through his enthusiastic marketing that the Ouija was constructed from Egyptian wood because of the country's fascination with the far and near east. Following Fuld's death, the Ouija Board Novelty Company was sold to Parker Brothers. The large game manufacturer continues to produce Ouija boards.

How to Use a Ouija Board

If you want to use a Ouija board, you need two or more people to sit opposite each other at a table. The board should face the person who is asking the questions. In response, the heart-shaped planchette should glide smoothly over the board. When you are ready to ask your question, everyone places their fingers on the planchette and lets the answer flow through them to the planchette.

Ask simple questions. The letters can be used to spell out the name or initials of who is communicating, and the yes and no spaces can answer basic questions. Despite the popularity of the Ouija board, it is often associated with controversy as a gateway to another plane of existence and demon possession .

Ouija Board Superstitions

Ouija board history and superstitions go hand in hand. People who worry about the safety of the Ouija board fear that using one can expose the soul to malevolent spirits. This fear has spawned a set of precautions to take when using the board, although some people think these precautions are merely superstitious. They include the following:

  • Place a silver coin on the board to block spirits at the gateway.
  • Never use the board in a cemetery.
  • Never use a the board where an unnatural death has taken place.
  • Never use it when you are physically, mentally or emotionally ill.
  • Never play alone.
  • Never let the planchette fall.
  • Do not let the planchette roam the alphabet in direct order.
  • Making a figure eight several times indicates an evil spirit.
  • If you contact an evil spiri,t turn the board over.

While opinions continue to vary, users of the Ouija board (for fun or for serious spiritual exploration) try to follow these "rules" just in case. Theorists speculate that micro-muscle movements from the subconscious to the hand are what cause the planchette to move, while true believers remain steadfast in their faith of spiritual guidance.

Today's Ouija Boards

Does nineteenth century spiritualism have a place in a twenty-first century world? Apparently it does because Ouija board history continues to be made. From pop culture references to urban legends to fictional support, the Ouija board continues to play an important role in modern perceptions. Websites that are devoted to the Ouija board include:

Known as the talking board, the Ouija board is firmly entrenched in modern sensibilities and pop culture. Just be sure you understand all the possibilities associated with using the board before you decide to do it.

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Ouija Board History