Ouija, "The Mystifying Oracle," is a board game used to contact and communicate with spirits that exist beyond our physical realm. That is to say, if you subscribe to a belief in such things. It requires no special training or skills to operate, and can be used by anyone from "professional" mediums, psychics and other spiritualists to college students, teenagers and even children. It is a gateway into the world of the paranormal, much like a divining rod; it works for some people, and not for others.

Conceived by E.C. Reiche and Charles Kennard, the Ouija board was first marketed in its current form by the Kennard Novelty Company in 1890. Reiche received a message while using his new invention to call the board Ouija, after the Egyptian word for luck. Unfortunately, that isn't the Egyptian word for luck, but the name sounds exotic and mystical, so it stuck. Kennard's shop foreman, William Fuld, orchestrated a hostile takeover of the company in 1892, and began manufacturing the board game under his own name. Fuld reinvented the history of the Ouija, claiming that the name comes from the combination of Oui (French) and Ja (German, Norwegian, etc), making the name of the board "Yes, yes." While this doesn't make much sense, it is at least a somewhat better explanation of the name's origin.

The device itself consists of two parts. The first is a board (usually about 18" x 12" in size) with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0 through 9, and the words YES, NO and GOOD BYE printed or painted on one side. If hand made, the board may be constructed of almost any material (including paper), but most commercially sold versions are made of laminated wood particles with a printed paper label affixed to it.

The second component of the Ouija is called a planchette (or "little plank"), allegedly named for the French spiritualist who invented it in 1853. It is a pointing device about the size of your hand, and generally shaped like a heart. It rests on padded feet to elevate it above the surface of the board, and usually (though not always) contains a window. The feet were originally made from pencils, as the device was invented as a means to communicate with the spirits via automatic writing. The planchette is made of plastic in manufactured versions of the game.

The Ouija is used by placing the board on a flat surface with the planchette in the center. It is meant to be used by two people, but can be operated solo or by up to four players (any more would be impractical). The players lightly rest their finger tips on top of the planchette. When more than one living person is present, questions to the spirit world are generally asked aloud. The planchette will move, guided by an entity or entities inhabiting the spirit world, and spell out answers to questions that are asked. There are a lot of variables at work here, and using the Ouija successfully often takes a good deal of patience and practice. An open mind helps too. As with many things in life, your mileage may vary.

That the Ouija actually works is a difficult faith to impart upon most people, even those who witness one in action. In spite of those who would casually dismiss the Ouija out of hand as a mere plaything, or those who might condemn it as an instrument of evil, I am relatively certain that it is neither of these things. The Ouija is quite simply a conduit. But a conduit to what? Some believe the spirits of the dead speak through the Ouija, while others contend that they are spiritual beings such as angels or demons. Most skeptics maintain that it is merely the subconscious minds of the players that produce the results.

I have owned my personal Ouija board since 1985 when it was passed down to me by my mother, who owned it since she was a teenager in the 1950s. My board was manufactured by William Fuld, Baltimore, Maryland, whose company was sold to Parker Brothers in 1966. I have used this board on many occasions, both with friends and alone, and I can attest to its authenticity. I have watched it reveal facts which were unknown to me, but which were verified by skeptical participants using the board with me, or by impartial observers. I have seen the planchette "freak out" when used atop a tomb in a cemetary at night, explaining only with a YES that there were too many spirits present to communicate coherently. I have seen its power amaze and frighten those who doubted its genuine nature, and have had the planchette physically yanked out of my hands by unseen forces communicating through it.

When using the Ouija with some regularity, it is unusual for you to end up communicating with the same spirit more than a few times, unless you commonly invoke the board in the same location, or unless you call upon the spirit by name. I have often experienced instances where multiple spirits would fight over control of the board, making it difficult to discern exactly whom you were "talking to" at any given moment. It has been my experience that the planchette becomes sluggish and quite unresponsive when it is being accessed by multiple spirits at the same time.

I have never spoken to any spirit through the Ouija board that I actually believed to be the Devil. As this is a construct of the many Christian religions, I do not know whether or not such an entity really exists. I have encountered many separate spirits using the Ouija who have professed to be the devil or a devil of some sort, but which did not appear to me to be what they claimed.

To expound upon this point, each spirit that communicates through the Ouija has a separate and distinct personality. They respond to questions differently, use different language and grammar, have different moods, and express an attitude that becomes clear after even the shortest period of conversation. For example, I have spoken with the same spirit (in this case, his name was "Waldo", although he is not the only example I have) on at least five separate occasions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While I could identify him not only by the name he claimed, but by his use of language and his general demeanor with regard to the responses he gave to my questions, his attitude and mood varied greatly from session to session. Still, both I and my Ouija player knew it was the same spirit; "he" had made references to earlier conversations and spelled out things which "he" had mentioned in earlier sessions, but also things which other named spirits had mentioned to us in other sessions. This leaves open the possibility that the same spirit can claim multiple identities and personalities, and for Christians at least, undoubtedly reopens the Devil factor.

Regardless of all this, I have never had a "bad" experience with the Ouija. There have been some frightening experiences (particularly the one in the graveyard), and some which were frustrating due to the inexperience and skepticism of the person participating with me in channeling the planchette's movements. Also, there are many times when the planchette is simply unresponsive, which I have attributed to location and other mitigating factors.

While my friend qousqous claims that his Ouija board is "horribly mean", I feel this perception is based on his relative inexperience with using it. While many entities who communicate through the board do express themselves as angry or unkind spirits (And why not? You've woken them up!), some are quite friendly and genuinely pleasant. It all depends upon location, the state of mind you and your partner(s) are in when engaging in communication using the board, and the willingness of the spirits to speak.

As an interesting side note, I have never had a Ouija partner that claimed to have intentionally moved the planchette, or believed that I was controlling it in order to fool them. In most cases, the planchette moved so rapidly and with such force that it would often be nearly yanked from my fingers while responding to questions posed to it by myself, my partner, or other observers. This in itself was enough to convince every skeptic I have ever run across that the power displayed by the Ouija was genuine.

Source information: http://azaz.essortment.com/ouijahistory_rltn.htm
Much of the personal information in this writeup was originally posted on Sun Apr 1 2001 at 08:04:09 UTC
Special thanks go to Ereneta for inspiring me to add actual researched facts to this writeup.

This material is copyrighted ©2001, 2002 and may not be reproduced
in any manner or distributed outside of everything2.com without
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I have had my own experiences with Ouijas in the past. I read somewhere that one created on your own was better than one bought at a store. Something like 'a piece of you in the board'. All the ones I have ever played on, I've made with cardboard and a big black marker.

Cut out a big rectangle, about the same size as a normal board and then cut out a heart from another piece of cardboard and then cut out a round hole in the center of the heart. On the big board, wrote Ouija across the top. 'Yes and No' on opposite ends, diagonally towards the two top points. Wrote the alphabet slightly curved like a crescent moon but not too curved. Approximately three rows for the alphabet. Then numbers from 1 thru 0 across the bottom. And the last part, instead of 'good-bye' I would write 'leave' at the very bottom.

I have had some very frightening experiences with the board and haven't played it in about 10 years. I can't claim to have contacted the devil personally, but I would have to say that some of these entities were definitely evil.

First of all, we were kids when we started playing so we took risks that possibly other, more mature individuals wouldn't have taken. Once we got the hang of playing, we would ask it to give us signs. These signs were real and sometimes scary.

The following are examples of some of the things that happened.

- we had a friend that did not believe it really worked. We brought him over to my house. We started as we normally did, asking if the spirit was there. Most of the time, it would start moving almost immediately. After a while and few questions later, we asked it to give us a sign. The board started to spell out a number. At first, we didn't know what it was. Then, we asked it to do it again. One of us wrote down the number as it spelled it out. We were confused because none of us knew what it was. All of sudden, the guy that didn't believe, his eyes got really wide. He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and was stunned that it was the phone number of a girl he had talked to earlier that day. We didn't even know he had gotten her number. At this point, we knew we were on a roll, so we asked it for another sign. The ceiling fan all of sudden started to turn very fast. We were all sitting at the kitchen table so no one had touched it. Plus, it was a cheap fan so it didn't have a remote control.

- Another time, my friend was over my house at night and no one was home. We started messing with the Ouija and started asking it some pretty dark questions. All of a sudden it spelled out 'father evil in living room'. We jumped out of our chairs, ran out the house and ran down the street. We looked back towards my house and saw what looked like a silhouette standing in front of my house close to the street. We walked slowly towards it, trying to get a better look and it eventually disappeared as we got closer and closer. Still standing in the street, we finally reached right in front of my house. We looked (from the street) inside the window and we both saw a silhouette staring back at us from inside the house. That freaked us out enough that we went to my friends house and I didn't go back home until I knew for sure my parents had gotten back home.

We had so many other things happen, including that we were going to die when we were 15 and 16 years old. Which since I'm writing this, I guess it didn't happen. Unless, I'm one of them.

I don't want to say that you should or shouldn't play it. But I do want to say that it can be extremely addictive and can really mess with your head.

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