How to Tell if Someone is Moving the Ouija Board Planchette

Karen Frazier
Children play with Ouija board

When you're using a Ouija board in a group, sometimes one of the people with fingers resting on the planchette assists its movement either consciously or unconsciously. This naturally influences the outcome of a Ouija session as the "messages" you receive come from the person moving the planchette instead of from spirits with whom you are trying to communicate. However, there are methods to determine if someone is moving or influencing the planchette during a session.

How to Tell if Someone Is Moving the Planchette

Ouija skeptics suggest every person working a Ouija planchette subconsciously causes its movement via the ideomotor effect, which is a series of small, unconscious muscle movements that influence the planchette's action to create Ouija board responses to meet the user's expectations. And it's certainly true that in many cases of Ouija board use, the ideomotor effect comes into play, particularly if one of the people on the planchette has a strong need to believe in the messages spelled out on a Ouija board or if he or she has a specific agenda. In other cases, someone working the planchette may move it intentionally.

The Ultimate Test for Unconscious or Intentional Planchette Movement

There are several signs to look for that may indicate the ideomotor effect is in action or someone is intentionally moving the planchette. But there's one ultimate test to determine whether this is the case. Blindfold both people who are resting their fingers on the planchette and turn the board sideways a quarter turn in either direction. Determine the direction in which you will turn the board after both participants are blindfolded. This will prevent working from memory or using an understanding of where the Yes and No responses are on the board and sliding the planchette in that direction to create a pattern of seemingly coherent responses. Then, proceed to ask your questions with a third party recording letters where the planchette lands. A planchette that was easily spelling out words or answering questions before and now begins to spell out gibberish indicates one or both of the participants were likely causing planchette movement either intentionally or subconsciously.

More Signs of Unconscious or Intentional Planchette Movement

If you suspect someone is intentionally or subconsciously moving a planchette, there are other signs to watch for before you whip out the blindfold.

  • One or both players is resting their elbows on the table instead of holding them up off its surface.
  • You are unable to shine a light between the fingertips and the surface of the planchette.
  • The planchette doesn't move smoothly but instead is jerky in its movements as if it is being pulled on by different forces.
  • The planchette spells words and answers that closely align with either of the operators' linguistic styles, word use, or belief systems.
  • The planchette misspells words that one of the people operating it frequently misspells or uses abbreviations that person commonly uses. For example, it is unlikely a spirit will communicate by spelling out LOL, BRB, or other text speak.
  • The planchette spells current slang words or phrases.
  • You switch one or both planchette operators, and the response pattern changes drastically.

What About When You're Alone?

If you're operating the Ouija board alone, it may be difficult to tell if you are subconsciously affecting the movements of the planchette. There's always a chance you're influencing its movement via the ideomotor effect. Because of this, always rest your fingertips with a featherlight touch on the planchette, keep your elbows off the table, only use two fingertips on each hand, and try to detach yourself from expectations or personal agendas. Be aware of patterns of responses that closely match your current way of thinking or reflect your deepest desires.

What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Influencing the Planchette

If you've watched for signs and suspect one or both parties operating the planchette are influencing its movement, then if you're in a larger group, it's time to switch operators or try the blindfold test. If there are only a few of you, you can try the blindfold test. You don't need to make any accusations. Simply suggest it's time to try an experiment or see how the energy works with other people on the planchette. A person influencing movement via ideomotor action won't know you're switching because you suspect they are causing the responses, and one who is influencing it intentionally will suspect that's why but most likely won't say anything to protect his or her secret.

Can You Salvage the Ouija Session?

With new planchette operators in place, can the session be saved? There's no reason it can't, particularly if you haven't generated negativity by making an accusation. Continue your new session with the replacement planchette operators. If, however, there has been any unpleasantness due to the switching of people on the planchette, it's best to end the session and try again another time when there isn't negative energy in the room. Always end a session by sliding the pointer to Goodbye. Better safe than sorry, and operating a Ouija board when negativity is present may open participants to negative spirits or entities.

How to Tell if Someone is Moving the Ouija Board Planchette