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Ouija is a popular board game that utilizes flat board with letters and numbers and a heart-shaped piece of wood called the planchette. In using the board, players place their hands on the planchette and wait is start moving around the board to spell words. The board also contains the words, “yes,” “no,” “hello,” and “goodbye.”
Ouija was first introduced by Elijah Bond, a businessman, in July, 1980. Originally, no one considered the game as spiritual until American spiritualist Pearl Curran used it for divine purposes in World War I. The board was used in communicating with the dead.
Meanwhile, some Christians disapprove using Ouija because of the possibility of being possessed by demons. On the other hand, occultists have conflicting views regarding use of the board.
Use of Ouija and related beliefs are categorized as pseudoscience. Movement of the board is usually attributed to unconscious movement of the person controlling the pointer. This psychophysiological event is called ideomotor effect.
HISTORY OF OUIJA
Ouija board utilizes automatic writing method, fuji, a technique which was first traced in China in 1100 AD. Using planchette for necromancy and communicating with spirit world was common in Quanzhen School. However, such practice was initially banned under Qing Dynasty. Some Daozang scriptures was assumed to be created through planchette writing.
During American Civil War, mediums made a lot of money by helping the living communicate with their dead loved ones. Talking boards then became one of most commonly used medium for spiritual communication.
COMMERCIAL USE OF OUIJA
Elijah Bond patented a form of planchette with board similar to talking boards. After several patents, a board called “Ouija” was manufactured by William Fuld. Charles Kennard that the “Ouija” is an ancient Egyptian word, which means “good luck.” Meanwhile, Fuld opted to use etymology that is more popular today: that “Ouija” represents combined “French” and “German” words for “yes.”
Fuld took advantage of popularity of Ouija and went as far as claiming that he invented the game. The board became popular in 1920s through 1960s. Ouija business by Fuld was eventually sold to Parker Brothers, which was sold to Hasbro in 1991. At present, same company serves as holder for all trademarks and patents of the board game.
OUIJA AND SCIENCE
Movement of planchette on Ouija is attributed to ideomotor response, which was characterized by Michael Faraday on table-turning.
There were a number of studies that focused on simulating effects of Ouija board under laboratory conditions. Results showed subjects moving the planchette with involuntary movements. Meanwhile, some people consider Ouija board users as operators, whereas other people assumed that messages obtained through the board result from thoughts of users.
OUIJA IN PRINTED WORKS
Ouija also was a popular object of written works. For example, Emily Grant said that Mark Twain dictated through an Ouija board her novel. Meanwhile, Pearl Lenore Curran reportedly used Ouija in communicating with Patience Worth. Husband–wife tandem Jane Roberts and Robert Butts experimented with Ouija during Roberts’ research for a book on extra-sensory perception she was working on.