Ouija

Ouija

Overview

The Ouija board also known as a spirit/fire key board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words "yes", "no", "hello" and "goodbye", and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board. It is a registered trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 of Hasbro Inc., which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games.
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Encyclopedia

The Ouija board also known as a spirit/fire key board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words "yes", "no", "hello" and "goodbye", and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board. It is a registered trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 of Hasbro Inc., which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games. It uses a planchette
Planchette
A planchette , from the French for "little plank", is a small, usually heart-shaped flat piece of wood that one moves around on a board to spell out messages or answer questions. Paranormal advocates believe that the planchette is moved by some extra-normal force. The motion is due to the...

 (small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit's message by spelling it out on the board during a séance
Séance
A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma"...

. Participants place their fingers on the planchette and it is moved about the board to spell out words. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking board.
Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond
Elijah Bond
Elijah Jefferson Bond was an American lawyer and inventor.Although he invented and patented items including a steam boiler, he is best remembered for patenting what became known as the Ouija Board. He filed for a United States patent on May 28, 1890. Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin...

 on July 1, 1890, the Ouija board was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Mainstream religions and some occultists have associated use of the Ouija board with the threat of demonic possession
Demonic possession
Demonic possession is held by many belief systems to be the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying...

 and some have cautioned their followers not to use Ouija boards.

While Ouija believers feel the paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 or supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 is responsible for Ouija's action, it may be parsimoniously explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect
Ideomotor effect
The ideomotor effect is a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously. As in reflexive responses to pain, the body sometimes reacts reflexively to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action. For instance, tears are produced by the body...

. Despite being debunked by the efforts of the scientific community, Ouija remains popular among many people.

History



China



One of the first mentions of the automatic writing method used in the Ouija board is found in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 around 1100 CE, in historical documents of the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

. The method was known as fuji
Fuji (planchette writing)
Fuji is a method of "planchette writing; spirit writing; automatic writing" using a suspended sieve or tray to guide a stick which writes Chinese characters in sand or incense ashes....

 扶乩 "planchette writing". The use of planchette writing as a means of ostensibly contacting the dead and the spirit-world continued, and, albeit under special rituals and supervisions, was a central practice of the Quanzhen School
Quanzhen School
The Quanzhen School of Taoism originated in Northern China. It was founded by the Taoist Wang Chongyang in the 12th century, during the rise of the Jin Dynasty...

, until it was forbidden by the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. Several entire scriptures of the Daozang
Daozang
Daozang , meaning "Treasury of Dao" or "Daoist Canon", consists of around 1400 texts that were collected circa C.E. 400...

 are supposedly works of automatic planchette writing. Similar methods of mediumistic spirit writing have been widely practiced in Ancient India, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.

Toy


During the late 19th century, planchettes were widely sold as a novelty. The businessmen Elijah Bond
Elijah Bond
Elijah Jefferson Bond was an American lawyer and inventor.Although he invented and patented items including a steam boiler, he is best remembered for patenting what became known as the Ouija Board. He filed for a United States patent on May 28, 1890. Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin...

 and Charles Kennard had the idea to patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 a planchette
Planchette
A planchette , from the French for "little plank", is a small, usually heart-shaped flat piece of wood that one moves around on a board to spell out messages or answer questions. Paranormal advocates believe that the planchette is moved by some extra-normal force. The motion is due to the...

 sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed. The patentees filed on May 28, 1890 for patent protection and thus had invented the first Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891. They received . Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device. An employee of Kennard, William Fuld
William Fuld
William Fuld was an American businessman, inventor, and entrepreneur from Baltimore, Maryland who is best known for his marketing and manufacture of Ouija boards from the 1890s through the 1920s. Fuld is seen as the father of the Ouija board...

 took over the talking board production and in 1901, he started production of his own boards under the name "Ouija". Kennard claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology, that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes". The Fuld name would become synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld reinvented its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. The strange talk about the boards from Fuld's competitors flooded the market and all these boards enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s through the 1960s. Fuld sued many companies over the "Ouija" name and concept right up until his death in 1927. In 1966, Fuld's estate sold the entire business to Parker Brothers, who continues to hold all trademarks and patents. About ten brands of talking boards are sold today under various names.

Religious


Most religious criticism of the Ouija board has come from Christians, primarily evangelicals in the USA. In 2001 Ouija boards were burned in Alamogordo, New Mexico
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Alamogordo is the county seat of Otero County and a city in south-central New Mexico, United States. A desert community lying in the Tularosa Basin, it is bordered on the east by the Sacramento Mountains. It is the nearest city to Holloman Air Force Base. The population was 35,582 as of the 2000...

 by fundamentalist groups alongside Harry Potter books as 'symbols of witchcraft'. Religious criticism has also expressed beliefs that the Ouija board reveals information which should only be on God's hands, and thus it is a tool of Satan. A spokesperson for Human Life International
Human Life International
Human Life International is an American-based Roman Catholic activist pro-life organization. Founded in 1981 by Father Paul Marx , HLI is located in Front Royal, Virginia. Human Life International describes itself as "the largest international pro-life organization in the world", noting that it has...

 described the boards as a portal to talk to spirits and called for Hasbro to be prohibited from marketing them.

In the murder trial of Joshua Tucker, his mother insisted that he had carried out the murders while possessed by the Devil who found him when he was using a Ouija board.

Bishops in Micronesia called for the boards to be banned and warned congregations that they were talking to demons and devils when using the boards.

Popular


Ouija boards have been criticized in the press since their inception; having been variously described as "'vestigial remains' of primitive belief-systems" and a con to part fools with their money.

Some journalists have described reports of Ouija board findings as 'half truths' and have suggested that their inclusion in national newspapers lowers the national discourse overall.

Ouija boards have also been satirized in song. Singer Dick Valentine's lyrics suggest playing with them is comparable to 'playing with tiddlywinks' and nothing more.

Academic


The Ouija phenomenon has been criticized by many scientists as a hoax related to the ideomotor response. Various studies have been produced, recreating the effects of the Ouija board in the lab and showing that, at least under laboratory conditions, the subjects were moving the planchette involuntarily. Detractors have described Ouija board users as 'operators'. Some critics noted that the messages ostensibly spelled out by spirits were similar to whatever was going through the minds of the subjects.

In the 1970s Ouija board users were also described as "cult
Cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

 members" by sociologists, though this was severely scrutinised in the field.

Use in literature


Ouija boards have been the source of inspiration for literary works, used as guidance in writing, or as a form of channeling
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

 literary works. As a result of Ouija boards becoming popular in the early 20th century, by the 1920s many "psychic" books were written of varying quality often initiated by Ouija board use.

Emily Grant Hutchings claimed that her 1917 novel Jap Herron: A Novel Written from the Ouija Board was dictated by Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

's spirit through the use of a ouija board after his passing.

Also, the poems written by Patience Worth
Patience Worth
Patience Worth was allegedly a spirit contacted by Pearl Lenore Curran . This symbiotic relationship produced several novels, poetry and prose which Pearl Curran claimed was delivered to her through channelling the spirit, Patience Worth.- About Pearl Curran :Curran was born Pearl Lenore Pollard...

, an alleged spirit, contacted by Pearl Lenore Curran, for more than 20 years, were transcripted via a ouija board.

Notable users


G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

 used a Ouija board. Around 1893 he had gone through a crisis of skepticism and depression, and during this period Chesterton experimented with the Ouija board and grew fascinated with the occult.

Poet James Merrill
James Merrill
James Ingram Merrill was an American poet whose awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Divine Comedies...

 used a Ouija board for years, and even encouraged entrance of spirits into his body. He wrote the poem "The Changing Light at Sandover" with the help of a Ouija board. Before he died, he recommended that people not use Ouija boards.

Former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi is an Italian politician and statesman. He served as the Prime Minister of Italy, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008...

 claimed under oath that, in a séance held in 1978 with other professors at the University of Bologna
University of Bologna
The Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna is the oldest continually operating university in the world, the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation. The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088...

, the "ghost" of Giorgio La Pira
Giorgio La Pira
Giorgio La Pira was an Italian politician who served as mayor of Florence twice . He also served as deputy of the Christian Democratic Party and participated in the assembly that wrote the Constitution of Italy after World War II...

 spelled the name of the street where Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

 was being held by the Red Brigades
Red Brigades
The Red Brigades was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organisation, based in Italy, which was responsible for numerous violent incidents, assassinations, and robberies during the so-called "Years of Lead"...

 in a Ouija. According to Peter Popham of The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

: "Everybody here has long believed that Prodi's ouija board tale was no more than an ill-advised and bizarre way to conceal the identity of his true source, probably a person from Bologna's seething far-left underground whom he was pledged to protect."

In London in 1994, convicted murderer Stephen Young was granted a retrial after it was learned that four of the jurors had conducted a Ouija board seance and had "contacted" the murdered man, who had named Young as his killer. Young was convicted for a second time at his retrial and jailed for life.

Bill Wilson
Bill W.
William Griffith Wilson , also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W., was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous , an international mutual aid fellowship with over two million members belonging to 100,800 groups of alcoholics helping other alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety...

, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid movement which says its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety." Now claiming more than 2 million members, AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio...

, used a Ouija board and conducted seances in attempts to contact the dead.

On the July 25, 2007 edition of the paranormal radio show Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM is a North American late-night syndicated radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate to either the paranormal or conspiracy theories. It was created by Art Bell and is distributed by Premiere Radio Networks. The program currently...

, host George Noory
George Noory
George Ralph Noory is a Lebanese-American radio talk show host.As of 2010, he is the weekday host of the late-night radio talk show Coast to Coast AM. He is heard across the United States and Canada on many AM and FM stations as well as on XM Satellite Radio. His show is one of the most listened...

 attempted to carry out a live Ouija board experiment on national radio despite the strong objections of one of his guests, Jordan Maxwell, and with the encouragement of his other guests, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, and Jerry Edward Cornelius. In the days and hours leading up to the show, unfortunate events kept occurring to Noory's friends and family as well as some of his guests, but these events would likely be considered coincidences. After recounting a near-death experience in 2000 and noting bizarre events taking place, Noory canceled the experiment.

Dick Brooks
Dick Brooks (entertainer)
Dick Brooks, considered a magician of renown has been a professional performer since leaving school, was born in New York City. As a teenager he joined a Department of Parks magic club headed up by the official magician of New York City, Abe Hurwitz , who was also the father of the soon to be...

 of the Houdini Museum
Houdini Museum
The Houdini Museum was established in 1988 at 1433 N. Main Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA. It is in a turn-of-the-20th-century building that has been entirely renovated. Houdini performed in Scranton and did several special challenges there. His brother, Hardeen, also appeared in Scranton...

 in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton is a city in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, United States. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County and the largest principal city in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area. Scranton had a population of 76,089 in 2010, according to the U.S...

, uses a Ouija board as part of a paranormal and seance presentation.

The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta is a Grammy award winning American progressive rock band from El Paso, Texas. Founded in 2001 by guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the band incorporates various influences including progressive rock, krautrock, jazz fusion, Latin American music, and...

 wrote their album Bedlam in Goliath based on their alleged experiences with a Ouija board. According to their story (written for them by a fiction author, Jeremy Robert Johnson), Omar Rodriguez Lopez purchased a Ouija board while traveling in Jerusalem. At first the board provided a story which became the theme for the album. Strange events allegedly related to this activity occurred during the recording of the album: the studio flooded, one of the album's main engineers had a nervous breakdown, equipment began to malfunction, and Cedric Bixler-Zavala
Cedric Bixler-Zavala
Cedric Bixler-Zavala is a Grammy Award-winning Mexican-American musician known for his work as frontman and lyricist of the progressive rock band The Mars Volta, and previously as frontman and occasional guitarist of the post-hardcore punk group At the Drive-In...

's foot was injured. Following these bad experiences the band buried the Ouija board.

Die Antwoord
Die Antwoord
Die Antwoord is a hip hop group from Cape Town, South Africa, consisting of three members: Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek.-Background:...

 vocalist Yo-landi Vi$$er writes her raps with a Ouija board.

Other musically related uses: Early press releases stated that Vincent Furnier's stage and band name "Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is an American rock singer, songwriter and musician whose career spans more than four decades...

" was agreed upon after a session with a Ouija board, during which it was revealed that Furnier was the reincarnation of a 17th century witch with that name. Alice Cooper later revealed that he just thought of the first name that came to his head while discussing a new band name with his band. Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers
Brandon Richard Flowers is an American musician, best known as the frontman of the Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers. He has also released a solo album titled Flamingo.-Early life:...

, the lead singer of The Killers, believes his death will be associated with the number 621 (which is also his birthday, June 21) from having used a Ouija board.

External links


Information on talking boards
Skeptics

Trade marks and patents

Other