If there really is an afterlife, I’ll bet the best way to contact it is through a plastic, mass-produced board game from Milton Bradley! —Mad Magazine
Ouija board(s) just a game or something else entirely?
The Ouija board was first introduced to the American public in 1890 as a parlor game sold in novelty shops.
The game was reinvented by E.C. Reiche, Elijah Bond, and Charles Kennard. Kennard called the new board Ouija after the Egyptian word for good luck. Ouija is not really Egyptian for good luck, but since the board reportedly told him it was during a session, the name stuck.
Kennard lost his company and it was taken over by his former foreman, William Fuld, in 1892.
One of William Fuld’s first public relations gimmicks, as master of his new company, was to reinvent the history of the Ouija board. He said that he himself had invented the board and that the name Ouija was a fusion of the French word “oui” for yes, and the German “ja” for yes.
How Ouija Works
Ouija boards are commonly used in foretelling, spiritualism and by people having fun. The board usually has the letters of the alphabet inscribed on it, along with words such as ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘good-bye,’ and ‘maybe.’ A planchette, (3-legged device with an eye), is manipulated by those using the board. Users often feel the planchette is moving of its own accord rather than responding to their own unconscious muscle movements.
Ask a “spirit” a question and the pointer slides until it stops over “yes” or “no” or a letter on the board. Sometimes, the selections “spell out” an answer to a question asked.
Some users believe that paranormal or supernatural forces are at work in spelling out Ouija board answers. Others believe that those using the board either consciously or unconsciously move the pointer to what is selected. To prove this, simply try it blindfolded, have an unbiased witness take notes on what words or letters are selected.
Not for the Impressionable
Although Ouija boards are usually sold in the game section of stores, many people swear that there is something mysterious about them. These users find it difficult to explain that the “communication” is the result of reflecting unconscious thoughts. Why? One reason could be is that the “communications” are sometimes very contemptible and unpleasant. It is more psychologically pleasing to attribute wicked pronouncements to evil spirits rather than to admit that one among you is harboring vile thoughts. Also, some of the “communications” express fears rather than wishes, such as the fear of death, and such notions can have a very visible and significant effect on some people.
Observing powerful messages and the powerful effect of messages on impressionable people can be impressive. Yet, as experiences with facilitated communication have shown, decent people often harbor indecent thoughts of which they are unaware. The fact that a person takes a “communication” seriously enough to have it drastically interfere with the enjoyment of life might be an ample reason for avoiding the Ouija board.