Families celebrate Halloween in different ways. Some bring in the holiday by handing out candy, bobbing for apples, and watching Jason and Freddy battle it out. Other families prefer to honor the unseen, as they pull out the Ouija board. The Ouija board has been a popular game at Halloween parties. Teenagers and adults can ask about their futures with questions, such as “Who Will I marry?’ and “Was Willie the guy I saw kissing my husband by the Red Box last Saturday?”
The adventurous ones like to dive right into Ouija’s omniscience and dabble in the paranormal, in hopes that their deceased Aunt Rhoda can translate that awesome apple pie recipe from Latin to English. Maybe the spirit of Uncle Jack will tell us where he hid his old ice skates, so his brother could not try out for the varsity hockey team.
The Ouija board has been intriguing people for centuries. Have you ever wondered how the game was invented, before Hasbro created its latest glow-in-the dark version? Read on to discover the Ouija board’s enigmatic, creepy history.
In 1856, Ohio was the first state to introduce the Ouija board, the basic platform 18 by 20 inches at the time. By 1890, the Ouija board was marketed in Baltimore, Maryland, but did not do that well. Advertised as “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board” the board was ready for massive retail in February 1891. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania toy shop carried the mysterious board for only $1.50, much cheaper than the average $30 price to buy the game today.
William H.A. Maupin owned the first patent for the parlor game. The Kennedy Novelty Company was the initial producer of the Ouija board, Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard highly invested in the game. 11 years later, Kennard was given the boot, as William Fuld took over all Ouija board rights. Renaming the company as the “Ouija Novelty Company,” Fuld had about 21 patents and copyrights for the board, the game finally taking off.
Yet, those facts do not answer the question of how and why the Ouija came into our earthly existence. The invention of the Ouija board coincided with the rise of Spiritualism in the 19th century. Lilydale, New York, a small community about 10 miles from the city of Fredonia, was the place for this new religion. Mediums and psychics needed a portal to contact the dead and retrieve sacred messages, the board and its planchette doing the trick. The planchette, usually made of wood back then, had a triangular shape with three pencil eraser like points on the back of it. All people had to do was lightly place their fingertips on it and the board would answer any and every question by sliding. The plastic or hole in the center landed on a series of letters or a word. The basic format of the board includes the full alphabet, sun, moon, hello, good-bye, and yes and no.
Spiritualism is still alive and well. Lilydale is one of the most popular places to get a tarot reading, small cottages housing interesting psychics and mediums in the country. During the town’s peak season between June and September, many people flock to the community in search of messages, inspiration, and positive energy. However, most mediums do not use the Ouija board during readings.
Why would the board makers name the game “Ouija?” They didn’t. The name of the game surfaced when the makers asked the board its name while testing it out. The planchette spelled the word “O-U-I-J-A.” When the creators asked what the name meant, the board answered “Good Luck.” Some feel that the board was trying to write the name of someone that one of the mediums in attendance knew, her name “Ouida.” Either way, the name “Ouija” has stuck.
How Ouija really works is one of the game’s biggest mind bogglers. Some people think it is the energy of spirits and supernatural entities that are giving the answers. Logical individuals think the real reason is less exciting, what is known as the Ideomotor Effect. This states that the planchette moves through muscle movements of the players, these movements not under one’s conscious control. Whatever the energy source, the Ouija board has frightened and captivated people of all ages. It has also been the impetus for movies that portray Ouija as the entryway to evil and possession, films such as “Ouija” “Witchboard” and “Allison’s Birthday” showing what can go wrong when people brave souls dare to converse with the dead.
Some people claim that the Ouija board has been responsible for evil and unfortunate events. In 1930, a woman from Buffalo killed another female, the woman claiming the Ouija board told her to do it. Teenager Mattie Turley shot her father to his death, Turley stating that the board also told her to do it. The craziest Ouija board story concerns Stephen Young, who was on trial for a double murder in England in 1994. When the jury gave its verdict, the jurors said that they made their decision by contacting the Ouija board the previous evening. Young was given a retrial.
The game’s ownership has changed hands a few times, Parker Brothers purchasing the rights in 1966. Hasbro took over the Ouija board in 1991, its glow-in-the-dark version requiring no light to use. Stores such as Walmart and Spencers sell the board game. Players who are more interested in a technologically advanced board can ask questions online. That’s right. There is also an online Ouija board, your questions answered when your computer moves the digital planchette. Visit http://www.brainjar.com/dhtml/ouija/ or http://www.ouijaspirit.com/online-ouija-boards.htm to try your hand at internet Ouija.
The mysteries of Ouija continue to fascinate generations, its inner workings still up for debate. Readers, do you have any eerie Ouija board stories that you want to share? Please leave a comment on my page down below.