An antique Ouija board

Be Careful What You Wish For: Ouija Boards Unraveled

(Read the article on one page)

Ouija boards—also called spirit boards or talking boards—have been part of various cultures long before the introduction of the "game" in the 19 th century.  "Ouija", in fact, is the name of the game invented by Elijah Bond. Authentic Ouija boards are known to practitioners as the aforementioned spirit or talking boards. Regardless, these panels all share characteristics: the board itself has each letter of the alphabet dictated, as well as the numbers 0-9, and then whether or not it is inscribed with "hello", "goodbye", or other full words depends on the creator of the board. Each board has a planchette, an essential piece in the ritual. It is the planchette which the people choosing to communicate place their hands upon in the hope that the spirits will move it to create a message.

20th century Ouija Board ‘Rules’

20th century Ouija Board ‘Rules’ ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

An Earthly Explanation of How Ouija Works?

Despite the lengthy history of talking boards, modern scientists are highly invested in disproving their use. One of the prominent theories is called "the ideomotor effect". This effect can occur in two different ways: either someone intentionally moves his/herself to jostle the table, or the audience accidentally moves the table through subconscious muscular twitches. When paired with a strong desire for a supernatural effect, it is easy for spirit board users to believe the spirits are behind the movements. In essence, the ideomotor effect is most effective when the participants have a strong source of faith in the board.

An original Ouija board created in 1894

An original Ouija board created in 1894 ( Public Domain )

The ideomotor effect is best exemplified in a parlor trick called table tilting. This practice is precisely what it sounds like—the table shifted and moved, thereby allowing the pointer to as well. This could be a simple actual tilting by a certain person or party, or a more athletic affair. Popular in the Victorian era, when the supernatural and occult were of intrigue to the rich and poor alike, table tilting consisted of the table jerking violently in which "the sitters would find themselves chasing around the room trying to keep up with the table". Interestingly, though this practice did prove the falseness of the spiritual claims, experiments revealed it was caused by the aforementioned accidental movements or muscular twitches by the participants.

Participants in a Ouija Game

Participants in a Ouija Game ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Chinese Origins

Historically, talking boards find their beginnings in the Chinese Liu Song Dynasty (5 th century AD) and was popularized later in a subsequent Song Dynasty (10-13 th centuries AD). Called planchette writing or fuji (fu chi ), these boards were similarly used to communicate with the deceased, however it was believed to be a form of necromancy rather than a mere instrument akin to a telephone. In fuji, however, the writing was created through a "sieve to which was attached a short stick. It was held generally by two persons at either side to trace characters on sand or ashes…The characters were supposed to have been produced by the gods". These historical facts are pertinent to the study of talking boards as it reveals the extensive culture surrounding the practice.

The Modern Board

In the present day, spirit boards continue to be known as a form of telephoning between the worlds of the living and the dead. The board itself has retained the general template of the earlier nineteenth century patented models (i.e. Bond's "game").

An English Ouija Board with Planchette

An English Ouija Board with Planchette ( Public Domain )

While talking boards have become less seriously valued among participants today, it does remain an occasional "game" or, more regularly, a daring challenge. For all the experiments science has performed, few things are more powerful than the beliefs of the mind.

Top image: An antique Ouija board ( Etsy)

By Ryan Stone

References

Faraday, Michael. 1853. "Experimental Investigation of Table-Moving", Athenaeum, No.1340. pp. 801–803.

Faraday, Michael. 1853. "Table-Turning."  The Times , No.21468. pp. 8.

French, Chris. 2013. "The unseen force that drives Ouija boards and fake bomb detectors." The Guardian . Accessed May 28, 2017.

Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/apr/27/ouija-boards-dowsing-rods-bomb-detectors

Murch, Robert. 2007. "Elijah J. Bond." e lijahbond.com. Accessed May 27, 2017.

Comments

I have learned other than what is posted. It is not a toy or fun and games. How this works is the demons that have been with you and know you, as described on animal house as devil and angel talk to others demons belonging to other people, and that's how come they can be accurate, but since this world is almost vacant in learning about demons. Few are the number of believers who understand.

So my warning is, if one ever stumbles upon one of these things....destroy them so they are not usable, and never give them away. It's no gift to get free demons.

People can get an infestation of weirdness if it is used, but believers can purge their own home should they discover their children had just wanted to play or have fun with friends. You don't need a priest, just your own belief in Christ will allow you to cast out demons in the home or a loved one in the name of Christ.

Like pendulum, the board works by extern intervention and one of this are the muscular nerves of two diferent arms. Of course that the pointer doesnt move by itself but these scientist cannot prove these things with primitive mens and sceptical minds.
This site was interesting once, but now im reading just uninteresting references from other sites. And the title was stupid with no relation to the text.

EID comes after just after the month of Ramadan is Also Called as EID ul- Fitr and the Bakari EID is called as EID ul- Adha.

I assume that you will understand that when you make a comment like " Interestingly, though this practice did prove the falseness of the spiritual claims, experiments revealed it was caused by the aforementioned accidental movements or muscular twitches by the participants." you are making a claim exactly parallel to saying "experiments did prove the falseness of medical research".

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Great Pyramid of Egypt. Source: BigStockPhoto
A new set of investigations in ancient Egypt have led to some startling discoveries – the translation of an ancient papyrus, the unearthing of an ingenious system of waterworks, and the discovery of a 4,500-year-old ceremonial boat – may be the final pieces to the millennia-old puzzle of how the Great Pyramid of Egypt was really built.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article