FASCINATING FACTS: 15 Facts That You Definitely Don’t Know About The Ouija Board

FASCINATING FACTS: 15 Facts That You Definitely Don’t Know About The Ouija Board

Some people think of the Ouija board as a simple money-maker design inspired by the Ideomotor effect, while others believe it to be a medium between us and otherworldly spirits. The actual Ouija board itself basically consists of a flat ‘talking board’ and a teardrop-shaped planchette. The letters of the alphabet and the numbers from 0 to 9 are neatly arranged on the surface of the board, with a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ in the uppermost corners, accompanied by the sun in the one, representing light, and a moon in the other, representing darkness. At the bottom of the board is the word “goodbye,’’ and in the middle, often a pentagram – representing the five elements. This, you probably knew. These 15 strange facts about the Ouija board below, however, I bet you do not.

1. The Ouija board got its name after being asked what it should be called. Upon asking what it meant, the board allegedly replied with the words “good luck.”

Image source:  nerdist

Even though popularly believed that the name ‘Ouija’ originated from “yes” in French and German: “oui” + “ja”, its founder claimed otherwise. According to Robert Murch, the world’s foremost collector, historian, and expert on Ouija, when asked how the Ouija board got its name, Charles Kennard, the founder of Ouija back in 1891, claimed that after he and his sister asked the board what it should be named, it distinctly spelled out the letters OUIJA. The name itself, as he also mentioned, is an Ancient Egyptian word for ‘good luck.’(source)

2. During World War I, almost every household in the US had a Ouija board. In 1922, Ouija board sales even outsold Monopoly.

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In 1920 alone, three million Ouija boards were sold. In 1922, it even outsold Monopoly. At one point during this revolutionary rush, nearly every household in the USA had one either stashed in a cupboard or displayed on a coffee table.

Whereas most people perceived and played Ouija as a simple and innocent game, others used it to communicate with dead loved ones and otherworldly spirits. People were mesmerized by the product and willing to open up their wallets. The game was sold all over the country, mentioned in numerous news articles, and often featured in films.(source)

3. The movie ‘The exorcist,’ stopped the nation-wide Ouija fad dead in its tracks, resulting in many people destroying their Ouija boards in fear.

Image sources: 12

In the 1973 film The exorcist, a 12-year old girl named Regan MacNeil becomes possessed by demons through a Ouija board. Since almost everyone in America had access to a Ouija board at the time and most had a history of playing it, the events portrayed in the film ignited a widely-spread fear of the ‘true’ nature of the Ouija board – labeling it a gateway to hell and a tool of the devil.

Even today, the board is still believed by some to be far from  harmless, and that it’s is not a simple board game that marketers claim it to be. Needless to say, after the release of the film, many people destroyed their Ouija boards and sales plummeted. Even though the sales of these boards took a huge hit during the time, and subsequently developed a stigma, the controversy surrounding it drew in new buyers.(source)

4. The Ouija board comes with a set of rules which is often ignored by most players. Ignoring these rules, it states, can lead to demonic possession.

Image source: tumblr

Since most new players are usually so eager to get started, most of the rules provided with the board are often ignored.  The rules are, however, fatuous and often adapted from the original (see picture). They also have bizarre ‘consequences’ to those who fail to adhere to them, claiming that if you ignore certain rules you’d become possessed by the devil, or you would let evil spirits into our realm.  Three of these rules are said to be the most important of them, and they are “never ask the board when you are going to die, never play alone, and never talk about God”.(source)

5. During the 1890s, the Ouija board was marketed as a fun dating activity, often depicting members of the opposite sex sitting at a table and playing the game of Ouija.

Image sources: Saturday Evening PostBettmann/CORBIS

When the first branded Ouija boards were sold on a nation-wide scale back in 1891, it was marketed as a fun activity to be played with a member of the opposite sex, with the emphasis on its mysterious oracle element. It was only after the release of The exorcist in 1973 that people’s views on the previously innocent board game shifted drastically.

The Ouija newspaper ads usually featured well-dressed people in a family and social settings having fun. Words like ‘mysterious,’ and ‘wonderful’ could be used often for the depictions, and phrases like ‘afford astonishing results,’ and ‘Answers any question’ would appear frequently.(source)

6. The science behind the concept of the Ouija board is called the Ideomotor Effect. Ideomotor actions are unconscious and involuntary movements led by the subconscious.

Image sources: 1,2

Though still relatively unknown to the larger population, the Ideomotor effect explains phenomena such as automatic writing, commanding a pendulum to swing in different directions, and the Ouija board. The results are caused by unconscious behavior, as in reflexive responses to ideas. A person might know the answer to a certain question that is being asked to a spirit through the Ouija board, and then move the planchette involuntarily, either alone or with others. The more people take part, the more likely the board gives consistent and believable answers. Whenever a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question is being asked, the same would happen, as your body might direct the planchette to an answer that you are subconsciously predicting, or know the answer of. ‘Ideomotor actions are unconscious, involuntary motor movements that are performed by a person because of prior expectations, suggestions or preconceptions.’ (John Jackson, 2005).(source)

7. Elijah Bond, the man who patented the Ouija board, has a Ouija Board tombstone that was erected in 2007 by Ouija board collector and historian Robert Murch.

Image source: atlasobscura

Lawyer and inventor, Elijah Bond, patented the Ouija board in 1891. Even though talking boards, or spirit boards as they were sometimes referred to, had been around for several years, Bond patented the design after proving its functionality to an apparently shocked patent officer. Bond then employed a man named William Fuld, who worked himself up in the company and whose name later became synonymous with the Ouija board. Unlike Fuld, Bond never received the recognition he deserved while he was alive, and was thus buried in an unmarked grave in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. It was only years later in 2007 that Robert Murch, a Ouija board collector and Historian, located the unmarked grave and decided to pay tribute to Bond’s invention by erecting a Ouija board gravestone in his name.(source)

8. Novelist Emily Grand Hutchings claimed that she wrote the entire Jap Herron novel by channeling Mark Twain’s voice through her Ouija board.

Image source: publicdomainreview

In 1917, novelist Emily Grand Hutchings claimed that her book Jap Herron was dictated by Mark Twain himself, from whom she started receiving messages 2 years prior to the release of the book. 13 years before she started writing the book with the help of a Ouija board, Hutchings corresponded with Twain via letters, mostly asking his advice on writing.(source)

9. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics anonymous, claimed his popular 12-step recovery program was dictated through a Ouija board by a 15th-century dead monk named Boniface.

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Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholic Anonymous and writer of the controversial 12-step recovering program, claims he wrote the famous 12 Steps under the guidance of a 15th-century monk named Boniface. At the time, Wilson had a ‘spook-room’ in his house in which he frequently visited and apparently contacted spirits using a Ouija board. Wilson was known at the time for his involvement in LSD experiments with Aldous Huxley, and his effort to find a cure for alcoholism.(source)

10. Ouija board marketer William Fuld fell to his death while supervising the construction of a three-story Ouija board factory in Baltimore.

Image source: williamfuld

In 1917, after consulting the Ouija board which he had marketed and sold for over a decade, William Fuld built a three-story, thirty-six thousand square foot factory in Baltimore. According to Fuld, a spirit communicated with him through a Ouija board earlier that year, telling him to “prepare for big business.” During the construction of this enormous building, which was unlike any other in the area at the time, Fuld fell from the roof of his factory breaking several bones and suffering of a severe concussion. He died later that day in a nearby hospital after one of his broken ribs pierced his heart.(source)


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