What is a Ouija board?

A Ouija board is a game in which messages are supposedly communicated by the dead to or through the players of the game. [Note: some people consider the Ouija to be “more than just a game,” but it is marketed as a game, and for purposes of convenience it will be referred to here as a game.] The playing pieces consist of a game board (like a Monopoly board) and a pointer, called a planchette. The game board has all the letters of the alphabet written on it. The numbers 0-9 are also usually included, along with yes/no and hello/goodbye spaces.

The layout of a typical board looks something like this:

The pointer is made of plastic or glass, and either points to the letters with one end or has a clear window embedded in it through which one can view the letters.

To play, two or more people lightly touch the pointer and concentrate on a question. The pointer will (hopefully) move and point to letters and numbers which will provide answers to your questions.

Ouija boards are also known as “witch boards” and “talking boards.” The nickname “ouiji” or “weejie” is also used by many people. Ouija is a brand name belonging to Hasbro, but the term has fallen into popular use and is generally applied to any sort of game with the same layout, whether homemade or store-bought.

Is the Ouija evil or just a game?

Since it’s nearly impossible to merge the two views on this topic, I’ve tried to accurately sum them up here:

* The Ouija board is not any more evil than your Monopoly board. It’s just a toy, a piece of cardboard, and any “evil” force you feel emanating off it is purely a result of your imagination. Yes, the pointer does work, but that’s the result of tiny involuntary physical movements, and the messages you see are coming from your subconscious or psychic mind.

* The Ouija is in fact a powerful tool, and its powers cannot, and should not, be written off entirely as your subconscious. Inexperienced Ouija users are especially prone to being affected by malevolent forces which communicate through the board, often masquerading as a departed loved one. The best way to avoid this sort of thing is not to use the board at all.

Where can I buy a Ouija board? Failing that, how can I make one?

You can, in the U.S. anyway, find a Ouija board on Amazon, or in a toy store or a game store. You might also be able to find one in a large bookstore. Parker Brothers makes a nice, relatively cheap, model.

To make a board, arrange all the letters of the alphabet on a smooth surface. You might also want the words “yes”, “no”, and “goodbye”, as well as the numbers. Use something that glides easily over the surface (like a glass) to use as a pointer. Now, place your fingers (this works best with a friend, by the way) gently on the glass and concentrate. Hopefully the glass will start to move and point to various letters, which will form words and sentences. Oh yeah, it helps if you ask a question first.

Are there any ‘rules’ I should follow when using the Ouija board?

If you consider the Ouija board as just another toy, then there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Holding on to the pointer helps, though. 🙂

If you believe that you are really contacting spirits through the board, you might want to follow a few basic guidelines:

* Use a silver coin as the planchette (pointer), or wear an article made of silver. The silver is supposed to protect you from harmful spirits.
* To improve “reception”, use a solid wood board, and work in male- female pairs.
* Draw a circle around you and the board, or make a circle of candles. Concentrate on creating a safe, protected place as you do this. Some people believe that spirits must stay outside this circle. Also, a well-lit area is said to drive away evil spirits.
* Always say goodbye to the entity you are talking with when you want to end a session. If you don’t say goodbye, and the spirit doesn’t reply in kind, he may be trying to stick around, maybe to make your life miserable. Additionally, do not explicitly invite the spirit to enter someplace, since this will make it hard to get rid of him later.
* It helps to have one additional person (not touching the planchette) present to transcribe the session. Sometimes the pointer starts moving too fast for you to read and process the words it’s spelling out. The transcription might also be helpful later on so you can look back on what happened. Another way to transcribe is to have someone call out the letters to a recorder, or record yourself on video.
* Don’t take anything the spirit says literally. Ouija boards are famous for lying or otherwise giving false information.

What does “ouija” mean?

The word “ouija” is actually a combination of two words, the french word “oui” and the German word “ja.” Both words mean “yes” in english.

A Brief History of the Ouija Board

From thmsgrtn@dordt.edu (Thomas Grotenhuis):

The ancient Egyptians used a device LIKE a ouija board. They used a ring attached to a strand of thread, held over a circular table with symbols on it, and the ring would strike the table to spell out answers.

The Ouija board, the kind we see in toy stores today, came about in 1889 when William Fuld of Baltimore, Maryland, and his brother Isaac, marketed Ouija boards to the American public. They had a small operation and the board was the hottest item they would ever produce. People bought the board not as a game, but as a device with which they would talk to their loved ones killed in battle (note the two World Wars happening; this was where the board’s popularity really soared). During this time, the fad spread, and so did Ouija’s notorious reputation as being more than just a “game.”

Finally in about 1960 or thereabouts, Parker Brothers approached the two Fuld brothers since they were having trouble making enough boards to satisfy the demand for them. PB then took over the rights to the ouija board and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ouija came about as kind of a by-product of the whole spiritualist craze that was all the rage in the early 1900’s, and during Houdini’s time as he debunked many ‘mediums’. Table-tipping was being done back then, and a Frenchman, who’s last name was “planchette”, produced a device that looked like a small table like a ouija pointer, that stood on two small stilts and a pen or pencil at the third point. The operator would sit with his hands as lightly as he could resting on the planchette, this device named after it’s inventor, and the thing would move, producing writing.

Ouija replaced the messy planchette (the writing was messy cursive scrawls) when a board was used in place of the sheet of paper, and all three stilts on the planchette were covered with felt enabling it to slide in any direction. This made the communications fast, clear, and easy. And specifically meant to be done with a partner, “gentleman and lady preferred.”

Eugene Orlando adds:

“William Fuld died in 1927, Isaac in 1939. Since Parker Brothers didn’t take over the William Fuld company until 1966, it would have been quite a trick to take it over from the brothers. But then it is alt.folklore.ghost-stories isn’t it? Actually, Parker Brothers saw a bargain when they saw one and bought the business from William’s kids. They had moved the factory into a smaller building and sold out not because there was so much demand for the ouija, but just the opposite. Ouija sales had never been worse. It took a Parkers advertising blitz to put the popularity back in the Ouija board.”

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