Ouija Board Myths Debunked: The Truth Behind the Mystique

An overview of the ouija board's captivating history, development, rise in popularity, commercial success, and its enduring presence in pop culture and media.

History and Development

An old, wooden ouija board sits on a dusty table, surrounded by flickering candles and mysterious symbols.</p><p>A sense of eerie anticipation fills the air

The ouija board has a captivating history woven with invention, the rise of spiritualism, and commercial ventures.

This section delves into how a simple game became a household name, symbolizing the quest for the unknown.

Origins and Patent

In 1890, Elijah Bond, an attorney, secured a patent for the first ouija board as a parlor game.

It featured a flat board adorned with letters, numbers, and a planchette used to spell out messages during a séance.

The idea was not entirely new; similar methods, like the use of a planchette with a pencil attached for automatic writing, were already in use during the 19th century.

Bond, along with Charles Kennard and other investors, formed the Kennard Novelty Company in Baltimore, Maryland, to produce the ouija boards.

Rise of Spiritualism

The ouija board’s popularity spiked during periods of turmoil such as the Civil War and after World War I, as grieving relatives sought communication with lost loved ones.

The Fox Sisters in New York also boosted the spiritualism movement, using the ouija board in their acts, claiming to communicate with spirits.

It wasn’t long before the ouija board became associated with the supernatural, a medium for messages from beyond.

Commercial Success

From a parlor game, the ouija board blossomed into big business.

In 1967, a year dubbed by the Associated Press as the one with more sales than Monopoly, the board’s popularity peaked. William Fuld, a businessman and former employee of the Kennard Novelty Company, took over the ouija board production and claimed to invent it, becoming synonymous with the board itself.

The Fuld family maintained control until Parker Brothers, known for producing Monopoly, acquired the rights in 1966, which later transferred to Hasbro, headquartered in Ohio.

They turned the ouija board into a household name, with a factory in Baltimore and nationwide sales, as recalled by ouija historian Robert Murch in a Baltimore Sun article.

Cultural Impact and Modern Usage

A group of people sitting around a table, with a Ouija board in the center.</p><p>The room is dimly lit, adding to the mysterious and eerie atmosphere

The Ouija board, once a parlor game of the late 19th century, has woven itself into the very fabric of pop culture, symbolizing a gateway to the spirit world.

Its intriguing history encompasses everything from entertainment to purported contacts with the afterlife.

Pop Culture and Media

The Ouija board surged in popularity when it was featured in the 1973 horror movie classic, The Exorcist, casting it forever into the shadowy realm of the supernatural on the silver screen.

In the years since, it has been depicted as a tool for characters to contact spirits, often with harrowing consequences, shaping its public perception substantially.

More recently, films like Ouija: Origin of Evil reignite its presence by offering chilling backstories that cater to the fascination with horror.

Halloween and Paranormal

Merchandisers creatively market Ouija boards as Halloween toys, incorporating them into the holiday’s tradition of ghostly tales and paranormal experiences.

The board is frequently found at séances, where mediums attempt to communicate with the spirit world.

Despite often being considered just a game, many users approach the board with a combination of curiosity and trepidation, especially during Halloween when the veil between the living and the dead is folklorically the thinnest.

Skepticism and Science

Skeptics and scientists alike point to the ideomotor effect — an unconscious, involuntary physical movement — as the scientific explanation for the board’s action.

This phenomenon suggests that the players subconsciously move the planchette to produce answers, connecting more with their own hidden thoughts rather than spirits.

Some also view interaction with Ouija boards as a psychological exercise that can bring subconscious material to awareness.

Despite these scientific interpretations, some individuals maintain a belief in the board’s ability to breach other dimensions, turning to historians and occultists who draw connections to ancient divination practices and the spiritualist movement.

Guidelines and Techniques

When hosting a session with a ouija board, it’s essential to understand the ideomotor effect—a psychological phenomenon where a person’s subconscious mind influences their movements.

This effect is often cited when explaining how the planchette moves seemingly on its own accord.

Individuals should approach the board with a sense of openness and curiosity.

Begin by deciding who will participate and sitting around the board, ideally at a table to provide a stable surface.

Each participant should lightly place their fingers on the planchette.

Start with a simple question. One commonly suggested technique is to warm up with basic, easy-to-answer questions.

This can help participants acclimate to the board and each other.

Maintain a respectful tone. Even if one is skeptical about spiritual communication, it’s advised to treat the session with respect to foster a sincere atmosphere.

Ouija boards have been a point of contention in Almogordo, NY, with some believing they can possess individuals or serve as a gateway to malevolent spirits.

Although science points to the ideomotor effect, those with such concerns should exercise caution.

Participants may also incorporate a circle of protection ritual before starting, a practice drawn from spiritualism, to create a safe space for communication.

The following table outlines some basic tips for asking questions:

Clear QuestionsPhrase inquiries clearly to avoid ambiguous answers.
PatienceAllow time for responses; the planchette may move slowly.
Closing the SessionWhen finished, move the planchette to “GOODBYE” to signal the end of the session.

Skeptics and believers alike engage with ouija boards as a form of entertainment or exploration into the unknown.

Regardless of one’s perspective on the accuracy of ouija board responses, following these guidelines can contribute to an intriguing experience with these enigmatic talking boards.

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