Ouija Boards

For decades, mediums, spiritualists, and those simply interested in communicating with the dearly departed have turned to the Ouija board to help them accomplish this goal. But while many claim the board is nothing to be afraid of, people still fear the possibility that who you are talking to may not be who you think they are. Not only that but what if who you are talking to is not a ‘who’ at all but a ‘what’?

What is a Ouija Board?

A Ouija board is a board labeled numerically and alphabetically used to connect with spirits or ghosts. The board is typically made of wood, paired with a plastic planchette, which aids in the communication by revealing numbers, letters, a yes or a no, and a goodbye as it slides across under your fingertips. Since it’s still being sold in the board game aisle, some think it’s just a game, but is it really?

In 1981, they were introduced by ads in the paper. It was described as “a magical device” and “interesting and mysterious.” But where did this idea come from?

It came from Spiritualism (the belief that the deceased can reach out and communicate with the living). This belief migrated from Europe to America around the mid-1800s, reaching its peak soon-after with the help of the Fox Sisters, who claimed they had the power to receive messages from spirits as well as others who claimed to possess the ability. Séances then became a popular pastime, which was the action of placing palms to table-tops and watching it shake and move aggressively and then, those who participated would state it had nothing to do with them. It became such a prominent activity for those who were desperately trying to reach out to their loved ones, as the life span back then was generally not very long at all.

Hopping on top of an opportunity to make some serious money, Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard (at Baltimore, MD) gathered a couple of other men and started a company called Kennard Marketing Company in 1891. They would then produce and sell spirit boards of their own, taking advantage of their increasing popularity, though they needed a name. The four men, along with the sister-in-law of one, turned to the board itself for the answer. “Ouija” was the response they received and after they asked what it meant, it replied again saying “good luck”. The ‘toy’ was patented by an officer who requested for the board to spell out his name, which was successfully done, though it isn’t known if it spirits from the other side were to blame or if it happened because the men knew of his name-it’s not exactly clear.

Note: This next section contains darker subject matters. Continue at your own risk.

There is a common, dark occurrence that may happen when using the board. Often reported, is communication with the demonic entity, ZoZo, who is known as the Ouija board demon. It is said that if it reaches out to you (by repeating the spelling of its name over and over), life may get a bit more complicated as it torments and taunts you from then on. Some have claimed to have been possessed and/or physically harmed and influenced by this malevolent being. Some accounts of sexual assault have been told as well…Yikes! There really isn’t a limit to what it is said to do. So, be extremely careful when using the spirit board, because more often than not, it could be too late before you even realize your speaking with ZoZo.

The Ouija Board in Media

Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn in the movie the Exorcist

Supposedly stemming from a dark and dangerous encounter with the board, The Exorcist tells the story of a 12-year old boy who bends at the influence of a demon. This had people questioning and just plain terrified of the Ouija board and because of this common reaction, the subject matter screams opportunity for filmmakers. Thereafter, more and more movies would then be made about the object and the dark repercussions that came with using it. One of my personal favorites was the Paranormal Activity series. While it didn’t involve much with the spirit board, I recall a memorable scene in which the family attempted to burn it without any luck, which is actually said to be an effective method for keeping the contacted spirits at bay. Another example would be a movie based entirely around the dark, malevolent effects – Ouija. Those are only a few of the many examples where the idea of the Ouija board is utilized in the media to scare and terrify viewers…and often working.

While I am not a skeptic, nor a believer of the oracle, I do want to talk briefly about the other side of the conversation. Scientists don’t believe in the mystery and the paranormal aspect of it, of course. They simply infer that the users are doing it themselves, no matter how many times they say it’s not them, and state that users may not even know they’re controlling the planchette, claiming it to be psychological, paired with unconscious muscle movement. They dismiss the phenomena as being the result of human manipulation for reassurance and/or to convey the responses that are wanted, called the Ideometer Phenomenon.

I, personally have never used one myself, nor do I honestly desire too. And whether or not the board really is a mystery, I have no idea, but being over a century later, still being widely used and portrayed today, there’s no question at just how much this flat piece of wood made its mark on the world.

Thank You For Reading. As always, you can share your experiences in the comments below!

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