The Ouija (which is said to take its name from a combination of the French and German for 'yes') was re-invented as a parlour game in 1898 at the height of the spiritualism craze, by the Fuld brothers of Baltimore.
The Ouija is the second highest selling board game in Europe and the USA with over 25 million sold. Despite its scary reputation it is easy to find them for sale in toy and novelty shops.
Ouija boards are sometimes used with a planchette, which is a board mounted on two casters on which the sitters in the circle each lightly places a finger. Occasionally, an upturned glass is used in place of the planchette. There is no doubt that many people will vouch for the Ouija board working but how they work and where exactly the information comes from is another matter.
Sceptics argue that the so-called 'spirit messages' received during sessions are in fact originating in the sitters unconscious and the movements of the hands are caused by involuntary muscle contractions known as "ideomotor" action. Whatever the source, there is no doubt that messages - many of them making "unpleasant predictions" have been received this way.
SO IS THE INFORMATION REALLY COMING FROM SPIRIT?
Mediums and spiritualists insist the information is being given from the other side. But it's important to remember that it's possible someone is pushing the planchette or glass intentionally. It is also a possibility that the sitters are communicating telepathically with each other and unconsciously answering each others 'secret' questions by manipulating the planchette without even realizing they are doing so.
SO ARE OUIJA BOARDS DANGEROUS?
Horror fans will recall that it was through a Ouija board that the little girl in the Exorcist became possessed but in real life there have been disturbing accounts of impressionable individuals (particularly teenagers) committing suicide after using the board obsessively and claiming they have been possessed by dark forces.
It must be remembered however that these are the exception rather than the rule. The Ouija board is just a piece of cardboard or wood with some letters printed on it! But, it's not advisable that anyone of nervous disposition or anyone suffering from depression use it as there are few accounts of positive uplifting messages being passed through this source.
Also ,you should never use a Ouija board to ask questions about your future or those you know, as you may find the answer given upsetting and hard to forget. Even if you have no belief in the Ouija board, it is best not question it in this way!
Copyright Linda Preston 2008
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