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All About Ouija Boards

October 06, 2015

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Halloween is just around the corner, and what better time could there be to learn about everyone's favorite tool for contacting the dead? That's right, it's time to look a little closer at the history and use of the Ouija board. Don't be scared, it's just a game...right? 

What is a Ouija Board? 

  • Most of us have played around with a Ouija board (also known as a talking board or a spirit board) at some time or another in our lives.
  • In case you haven't, it is basically a board game-sized board, with the letters of the alphabet written on it.
  • It also typically includes the words "yes" and "no" and the numbers zero through 9.
  • The board comes with a planchette (a small piece of wood or plastic, usually heart-shaped).
  • The idea is for at least two people to to use the board to contact spirits.
  • The participants lightly put their fingers on the planchette, which sits on the board. A spirit then communicates by moving the planchette, spelling out words or answering yes or no questions. 

More can play, but it's usually easiest with just two people. More can play, but it's usually easiest with just two people. Courtesy of smithsonian.com

The History of the Ouija Board

The Ouija board (which represents a form of automatic writing, a process by which spirits communicate through people via their own writing) originated hundreds of years ago in China, and known as fuji (spirit writing). This practice was very popular during the Song Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty, but was outlawed during the Qing Dynasty (starting in the mid-17th century). This practice of contacting spirits through the use of letters and characters may also have been taking place in countries such as India or Greece, though there is little significant historical evidence for this. The modern form of the Ouija board first really took form in England during the 19th century, when spiritualism (the belief that those who have died can contact the living) became particularly popular. By 1901, a standard board was being produced. These days, the most common board is made by the board game company Parker Brothers. 

Spiritualism didn't just include spirit boardsSpiritualism didn't just include spirit boardsCourtesy of mentalfloss.com

Does the Ouija Board Really Work? 

  • Much as I hate to rain on the paranormal parade, most people do not believe that you can really contact the dead through a Ouija board.
  • For one thing, there is little evidence that it is possible to contact spirits at all, or that spirits of the dead even exist.
  • On top of that, numerous studies have suggested that, when a Ouija board planchette moves (and is not specifically being moved by one of the participants), unconscious muscle movements may be the cause.
  • Studies have also shown that participants may even move the planchette involuntarily, because the power of suggestion is so effective.

Check out the classic Parker Brothers Ouija board!Check out the classic Parker Brothers Ouija board!Courtesy of moviereviewsspoilers.com

Maybe you believe in the Ouija board, or maybe you don't. Ultimately, that's up to you...if you're brave enough to try! 

Have Your Say!

Do you believe in the Ouija board? Tell us all about it!