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Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board

If you believe in ghosts and spirits, then you probably already know the significance of an Ouija Board. But Ouija boards fascinate even the skeptics because of the mysteries and the stories revolving around it. But there are also a lot of questions regarding the Ouija board, like how does it work, where did it originate from, and why is it so popular.

So here is just about everything you need to know about an Ouija Board.


Talking boards have been prevalent since as early as 1100 AD when Chinese used fuji or “planchette writing” to communicate with the supernatural. Then when spiritualism came into being, talking boards became even more popular for conducting seances and talking to the dead.

The Ouija board we know of today was actually designed and later marketed by Elijah Bond in 1890. Earlier, this talking board was just a parlor game meant for fun purposes. But later during World War I, Pearl Curran, an American spiritualist popularized its use as a divining tool. After this, more and more people started using it to “contact the dead”. And after the Ouija Board started appearing in movies like “The Exorcist” (1973), there was no looking back.

The name “Ouija” was given by Helen Peters, the sister-in-law of Elijah Bond. She was wearing a locket bearing the face of a women’s rights activist named Ouida. So she decided to name this new board game after her but misspelled the name to “Ouija”, and the now popular handle was born.

What does it consist of?

Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board
Source: Amazon

The complete Ouija board set includes a flat board with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-9 and the words “yes”, “no”, “hello”, and “goodbye” on it. This board comes with a small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic called a planchette. The planchette also has a small magnifying glass built in it. This planchette is used by players to communicate with the dead.

Earlier, the planchettes had a writing device (a pen) attached to it, so that the spirit could write out an answer. But later the design was abandoned due to inconvenience and ineffectiveness.

How to use an Ouija Board?

Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board
Source: Cosmopolitan

Most Ouija Board sets come with a manual of instructions on how to play with it. But I am assuming that many of you may not have access to an Ouija board. So here is a general idea of how to play with one:

  1. Set the mood. I mean obviously, you will enjoy a spooky game more in lights out and dimly-lit candles. Set the mood to play the game. Remove all distractions from the room, so that you can focus on the game.
  2. Now set the Ouija board somewhere. Sometimes it is said that you need to place the Ouija board on the players’ thighs. But it really doesn’t matter.
  3. All the players should now place a finger on the planchette. Now one person from the group will talk to the spirit. This person should call out to the spirits and ask them to indicate their presence. A tip– while calling the spirits, make sure you only wish to contact the good ones and not the malevolent ones.
  4. When you get a response from a spirit, talk to them. Be polite, and ask neutral questions about who they are, etc.
  5. After you are done playing and wish to end the game, say goodbye (by moving the planchette to “goodbye”) and close the session. Make sure that none of the players remove their finger from the planchette until the session has been closed properly.

Important Precautions to take while playing with an Ouija Board

Now, contacting the dead can be a scary business. You don’t want unwanted spirits roaming in your house and making your life hell. By playing with an Ouija Board, you are providing these spirits a doorway to this world. So if you just want the game to be a game and not turn into something sinister, here are some precautions you should take-

Do not taunt the spirit

No spirit, good or bad, likes to be taunted. Spirits are otherworldly creatures with powers you can’t even imagine about. Never ask silly questions from spirits or make fun of them. Be polite and respectful. Don’t be scared, but don’t be insolent either.

Do not play alone

It is advised not to play alone because then you become more vulnerable to possession. Every human being emits some positive, alive energy. The more people playing the game, the more positive energy there is. This will ensure that the spirit doesn’t have much of an upper hand. So whatever you do, do not play alone.

Do not play if you are drunk or emotionally disturbed

Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board

Contacting the dead requires a lot of mental strength on your part. A person who is emotionally disturbed or drunk doesn’t have a lot of mental strength. This makes him vulnerable to manipulation by the spirit and also to possession. So if you are in a mentally weak state, do not play the game. Try to not even witness the game in such a condition.

Don’t take your fingers off the planchette without saying goodbye

Closing your Ouija session is of utmost importance. If you take your fingers off the planchette without saying goodbye, it signifies improper closure of the session. And the spirit that you invited will stay trapped forever in the human world, and cause trouble for you. So even if you are scared, keep your fingers on the planchette. Only take them off after saying goodbye.

Don’t leave the planchette on the board

The planchette is what the spirits use to contact you. If you leave the planchette on the board, the spirits will think that the session hasn’t ended. And then, they will try to contact you, and enter the living realm. So store the planchette separately from the Ouija board.

Don’t play in the cemetery

Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board

Many of you may feel that a cemetery is the best place to play with an Ouija board. But that is not so. A cemetery has all kinds of spirits roaming around. So if you play in a cemetery, you will risk the entry of more than one spirit in the living realm, not all of which may be good. Don’t take unnecessary risks, even if you are a skeptic.

Say goodbye to the spirit immediately if

  1. If the spirit is leading the planchette down the alphabet or the numbers, end the session and say goodbye. Chances are that it is a malevolent spirit.
  2. If the spirit is making an infinity sign with the planchette, it is a malevolent spirit. Say goodbye and end the session.
  3. If you find that time has gone missing, immediately close the session. Losing track of time and finding that time is passing faster than you thought is a sign of paranormal manipulation. So, say goodbye immediately.
  4. If the spirit is saying insolent things, again, it is a malevolent spirit. Do not indulge in further conversation and say goodbye.

Do not burn the Ouija Board

You may think that it is the best way to close the spirit gateway, but it isn’t. Burning the Ouija Board will only agitate the spirits and make things worse for you.  Never, ever burn an Ouija Board. If you want the spirits to not bother you, bury it somewhere remote, or just store it with the planchette away from the board.

What does science say about the Ouija Board?

Till now, I have been talking about what the believers say about this paranormal game. But what about the scientists and the skeptics? They have a completely different theory about the Ouija board.

According to scientists, the spirit controlling the planchette is actually the players themselves, by virtue of something known as the “ideomotor effect”. The ideomotor effect is a psychological phenomenon that makes your body move unconsciously. Ever experienced your leg jerking involuntarily when you are half asleep? That is an example of the ideomotor effect. This effect takes place subconsciously, so the person doesn’t know that his body is moving.

When the players are moving the planchette, they are actually the ones controlling the planchette with their fingers unconsciously. Because they are under the impression that the planchette is supposed to move on its own, they move it unconsciously to gratify their belief.

Scientific studies on the Ouija Board

Everything You Need To Know About The Ouija Board
Source: Medical Xpress

One study in Baltimore had the players wear eye-trackers while playing the game. They had to first spell the word “Baltimore” on the Ouija Board, then play the game normally. In the first case, the players’ eyes fell instinctively on the next letter after every letter was spelled out. Now in the second case, they didn’t know what to spell out. But once the first letter was spelled out (unconsciously), the players’ eyes again started moving instinctively on the next letter they felt would spell itself out.

In that study, the players who believed staunchly in the supernatural believed more readily that the planchette moved by itself. However, the skeptic ones did not believe it so readily.

In another study, the participants had to play the game, once with their eyes open and then blindfolded. When they played the game with their eyes open, they had a legitimate looking Ouija session where the spirit spelled out genuine words. However, when they played the game blindfolded, the board spelled out gibberish words that made no sense whatsoever.

The conclusion

Ouija board is just another game, like all other board games. It should not be taken very seriously. And there is no reason for you to change your belief about something just because someone else influenced you. If you believe that spirits exist, by all means, believe in the power of the Ouija board. But if you are a skeptic, science has a theory to appease your confusion too. At the end of the day, the Ouija board is just a game and should be treated like one. To each his own!

Shubhi Srivastava
Shubhi Srivastava
A pen is my mightiest sword.


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