Mystic Magic: Ouija Boards

A talking board. Photo retrieved from

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     If you have been reading my articles for a while, you are aware that I kind of sort of started my journey my freshman year with Tarot cards.

     There is a whole story behind that, somewhere back in our papers, about ghost hunting in Hopwood and whatnot. It is actually what I would like to discuss this week: ghost hunting, and the use of Ouija boards and seances by people who have not done their research.

     I have never participated in a séance, and I have never touched a Ouija board, which is pronounced wee-jee. According to the Smithsonian magazine article on the board, Ouija is actually American in origin. It was first mentioned in Pittsburgh and New York papers in 1891, after Charles Kennard designed a board and joined together with Elijah Bond, an attorney, and Bond’s sister-in-law, a medium.

     The name of the board came from the three asking it what it wanted to be called. The board replied, “Ouija,” and when asked what that meant, the board responded, “Good luck.” Many think that the board was misreading the name of an activist, whose painting was hanging in the room, as her name was Ouida. Regardless, the patent was filed in 1891 after Bond and his sister-in-law traumatized some poor patent officers who demanded that they prove the board worked.

      Surprisingly, it was not until 1973’s “The Exorcist” that people became wary of the board. Before then, everyone and their mother seemed to have a Ouija board, and no one shied away from using it.

     There is a lot of science behind ideomotor movements, where even if you are not thinking, your hands move on their own. People use this to explain the movements of the planchettes, which could be one explanation. The other could be that there really is a spirit present that is trying to communicate.

     If we assume it is a spirit, then there are certain rules to using a Ouija board in order to protect yourself. For one, if you are spiritual or witchy in any way, do your research on protection if you have not already. Protection is important in everyday life, so no slacking.

     Many seem to come to the conclusion that you should not use the board alone, which I agree with. One person is assigned to be the spokesperson of the group, as questions from multiple people can confuse the spirit. The questioner has the job of not only questioning, but also opening the board to positive spirits, and to reject anything negative that tries to come through.

     Start by asking some yes or no questions as warm ups, and then move on from there. Be polite, be patient, and do not ask questions you might not want the answer to, such as ‘when am I going to die’ or ‘will I ever find love.’ Do not ask for signs of a presence, and do not let the spirit control the questioning. Above all, do not believe everything the board tells you. Like with research, one source is not the end-all, be-all.

     To close the board, which you must do at the end of every session, slide the planchette to ‘Goodbye’ and leave it there. Failing to close the board can lead to hauntings and worse, so better stay on the safe side.

     Seances work a little bit differently, so we will go over them next week. Stay tuned!

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