The history and use of Ouija boards

The history of the Ouija board

The Ouija board has changed very little since it was first advertised in 1891. Essentially it is just a flat board with letters and numbers printed on it and accompanied by a teardrop-shaped pointer called a planchette. The original boards and planchettes where made of wood whereas modern boards tend to be of cardboard and the planchettes are made of moulded plastic. Groups of two or more people would then sit around the board whilst resting their finger tips gently on the planchette and begin to ask questions. To the amazement of the participants, the planchette would then move from letter to letter spelling out the answers.

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Ouija boards were a natural progression of American spiritualism that allowed people to commune with the spirits in the comfort of their own homes. Unlike modern views of the use of Ouija boards, the late 19th century spiritualist movement went hand in hand with Christianity and it was acceptable practice to hold seances. This continued quite happily until 1973 when the film "The Exorcist" showed the Ouija board as a tool for demonic possession. Overnight the Ouija board turned from a harmless parlour-game to a satanic gateway that allowed the devil into your home. Subsequent horror films then proceeded to further cement the satanic overtones and history was effectively rewritten. Sales of Ouija boards have continued but the reasoning behind the purchases had changed; people no longer wanted spiritual, they wanted spooky.

How to use a Ouija board

Open the session

The method of doing this is entirely personal and can be influenced by your own religion or beliefs.  Greet the spirits warmly and ask that only positive energy is sent via the board.

Pick a spokesperson

Pick one person to ask the questions. Other players can think up questions but only the main person should address the board. Do not ask any questions that make any of the players uncomfortable or that they do not agree with.

Start communicating

Each player should place their index or middle finger lightly on the planchette then slowly move the planchette in clockwise circles to "warm up the board". This should be the only time that you intentionally move the planchette. Once you have warmed the board, start the session by opening a line of communication.  Don't be afraid to use the cliched "Is there anybody there?" line, it's the perfect opener. If the planchette doesn't move straight away, don't give up, Sometime it can take a little while so encourage the spirit to use the combined energy of all of the players to move the planchette.

The spokesperson should then begin to ask questions. Always be respectful and give the spirits time to respond. It is best to start with simple questions to begin with until you get a feel for the session. Start with easy yes/no questions like "Are you male/female?" or ones like "How many spirits are present?".  You can then move onto questions where the answer requires to be spelled out such as "What is your name?" or "When did you die?"

Continue the session for as long as needed but stop if any of the players feel uncomfortable or unwell.

Close the session

To make sure the session is closed properly, physically move the planchette on “Goodbye” at the end of your Ouija session. If you forgot to do it last time you can’t go back and do it now; that channel has already been left open and you’ll need to begin a new session and shut it down properly this time. If possible, get the same group of people who were there previously and make sure you go to “Goodbye” at the end.

When to get rid of a spirit board

It may be time to get rid of your Ouija board or buy a new one when you experience any (or all) of the following...

  • The planchette moves on its own (when no-one is touching it) or consistently loops in a figure 8;
  • The board says things, like DEATH, ZOZO or EVIL;
  • The board “admits” that it’s satanic in origin or spells out the names of demons; or
  • The board insists that its name is a number or points to certain “power numbers” like 666

How to correctly dispose of a Ouija board

So, you've decided you need to get rid of your Ouija board. Maybe you had a bad experience or maybe you've just moved on from that period in your life. Whatever your reasons, there are various methods suggested for the correct disposal of a Ouija board and we have outlined some of them here...

Ignore it

Ensure that the board was closed down properly during your last session (see above) and wrap the planchette in a cloth so that it can't make contact with the board again. Put the board and planchette in your attic, basement or the back of a cupboard. If the board was closed properly during the last session and it isn't disturbed the should be no reason to worry.

Bury it

Many people believe that you should bury the board face down (some even go as far as burying them in consecrated ground). If you decide to take this option, wrap the board or planchette in cloth to ensure they do not come in contact with each other during the burial. Once the board is buried, cover the area with a large amount of salt (enough to completely cover the hole you dug leaving no gaps or holes). The theory is that during the next rainfall, the salt will soak into the ground and purify the board. Make sure that the wind doesn’t blow any salt away before it rains (probably best to do this right before a good storm) and re-salt any gaps that appear.

Burning & cutting

Most people advise against damaging the board by burning, cutting or similar actions. If the planchette has a glass window, make sure you don't lose or break it.

Donate it to us

Before doing anything drastic with your spirit board why not consider donating it to us. There is a theory that once a board is given to a new owner, the connection to the previous owner is broken. We'd be more than happy to take your old Ouija boards to add to our collection. 

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