Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Truth about Ouija Boards

For years, Oujia boards have been popular especially among children and young adults. Their main purpose is for connecting and communicating with "spirits" or "ghosts". Many people, including myself, have experimented with these boards at parties or on late nights spending time with friends. The participants or players place their fingers on a pointer or "planchette" and verbally ask questions out loud which are supposedly intended for a spirit. The spirit is supposed to answer by moving the planchette on the board to the given letters or "yes" or "no" responses.

Prototypes of Oujia boards have existed for a great number of years with roots in Greece from 540 B.C. and China from around 1100 B.C.. During the 1800s, businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard began selling planchettes (pointers) and boards on which the alphabet was printed. A man named William Fuld started producing these boards in 1901and marketed them under the name "Ouija". In 1966, Fuld's business was sold to Parker Brothers a.k.a Hasbro Games who currently still produces the infamous Ouija boards today.

Parker Brothers/Habsro Games makes no mystical claims directly on their Ouija product, and describes the board in the following manner on their website: “Turn out the the board and message indicator glow in the dark! How it works has been a mystery for over 30 years!” Spiritualists and occult followers claim that the board enables the user(s) to “channel” a spirit’s energy through themselves therefore enabling the planchette to move and spell out responses. According to one site,, dedicated to information and sales of these boards “Ouija messages obviously come from forces beyond our control. You contact or "channel" these entities through the board. They are discarnate spirits, ghosts, or other ethereal beings who have a purpose for contacting the living”.

Critics explain the Ouija phenomenon as stemming from ideomotor action also known as automatism. This means that users subconsciously direct the path of the planchette to produce a desired word or response that is their subconscious thoughts. The Penn&Teller: Bullshit! show attempted to clear up the mysticism surrounding Ouija boards. They ran an experiment using unbiased participants and directed them to ask “yes or no” questions. The participants were then blindfolded and the board was turned 180 degrees without their knowledge. The participants asked their questions, and the planchette pointed to bare areas of the board where the participants believed the "Yes" and "No" responses were located, although they were not.

So, do you believe in the power of the Ouija board?If you’re still not sure…why not go and ask it?

1 comment:

  1. I've heard that if you burn a Ouija board you can't close the portal of the spirit world and everyone you've called in will be trapped. I don't know who can actually see this portal or how to close it, but it's pretty amazing how much the power wood and plastic can have.