Ouija: Mystifying History of the Dreaded Talking Board

By on October 17, 2014

It began as a harmless board game. How did the Ouija get such a fearful reputation?
The strange history of the Ouija Board

The Ouija is a simple board with letters and numbers, and a planchette to point to them. It was invented by an attorney who marketed it commercially to turn a profit. I’m pretty sure the patent did not include portals to Hell.

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Nevertheless, Ouija Boards have always been a source of scorn for religious fundamentalists, who believe they are tools of Satan. Ouija burnings and pleas to end their production still happen here in the digital age, when science and technology is supposed to have evolved us beyond those archaic belief systems conceived by early civilizations to explain the natural world.

So how did a toy manage to get such a fearful reputation?

A Brief History of the Ouija Board

A vintage William Fuld Ouija Board
The Ouija Board has a long and unusually sordid history for a board game. It was first brought to the commercial market by a business man by the name of Elijah Bond in 1890 as nothing more than a parlor game. The “wonderful talking board” promised “never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes.”

It became hopelessly entangled in the occult years later when Spiritualists adopted it as a tool for divining.

William Fuld took over production of the game in 1901 and named it Ouija, claiming the board itself gave him the name. Fuld skyrocketed the Ouija into popularity in the 1920s. He had often consulted the Ouija on matters of business. At one point the Ouija told him to “prepare for big business.” Fuld took the advice, building the large new factory which he would eventually fall from and die in 1927.

Fuld’s family carried on the business until 1966, when they retired and sold it to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers was sold to Hasbro in 1991. Since then, Hasbro has released many different versions of the Ouija, including glow in the dark boards and pink boards for girls.

Though it has often been described as a hoax and a con, the Ouija has no shortage of people terrified to use it. There is always someone with sweaty palms and heart palpitations when the board comes out.

Of course, any harmless children’s game that summons the dead and inadvertently causes demonic possession is bound to get a little flack, right?

Except, historically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be any documented incidents of Ouija Board happenings that should make anyone uneasy. The closest is the story of Pearl Curran.

The Writings of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth

Pearl Curran communicates with Patience Worth through a ouija board
Over the years, strange stories of the Ouija have certainly managed to evoke a general sense of dread. The very first was that of St. Louis housewife and spiritualist Pearl Curran, who claimed that she began channeling a spirit calling itself Patience Worth in 1913. The spirit claimed to be from the 17th century and “across the sea.”

Curran wrote a series of novels, short stories and poems that she said Patience dictated to her through the board. This continued on until 1937, when Patience predicted Curran’s unexpected death by pneumonia on December 3rd of that year.

Hasbro’s Latest Ouija Board

Hasbro's latest edition of the Ouija board talking board game
Hasbro’s latest edition of the talking board (available here) harkens back to the original allure of the mystifying oracle.

Collectors and aspiring occultists ages 8+ will love the faux patina of Hasbro’s latest Ouija Board. The board itself is textured to get that real wood feel, and the planchette has an LED black light that lights up when you touch it, causing the white letters and numbers to glow as it passes over them.

The next time you need to invoke a demonic entity, do it in style.

For more information on the history of the Ouija Board check out Ouija historian Robert Murch’s website www.williamfuld.com

Have you had a strange experience with a Ouija board?
Share it in the comments below.

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42 Comments

  1. Pete

    October 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

    I dabbled a lot back in the day, but not anymore. I have an open mind to the whole Ouija experience if I’m honest. I was introduced to it by a friend and we didn’t really know what we were doing early doors.

    Our first attempt ended in failure, but the more we used it the better it worked.

    Yes, there were a few strange unexplainable happenings, but I’m still not sold on spirts or dark forces controlling it.

    The subconscious mind is very powerful and I do believe that the board feeds off of this like a tooling device.

    It is the fear of the unknown and people’s subconscious perceptions that fuel these boards, in my opinion.

    Interesting, my generation had open minds to this experience, but the new generation don’t. If I wanted to try one now, I’d struggle to find someone willing.

    • Paula Hifner

      October 30, 2016 at 3:03 am

      “Pete”, any kind of Divining needs to be done carefully, with protection and guidance. You need to find someone who works with Divination.
      Just recently My son and I purchased a simple Ouija Board from the local Halloween store. They said it was the only one they have sold so far, people are too afraid to even touch them, and what on earth was I going to do with it. Use it of course, being a practicing Pagan.
      I was literally quite pleasantly surprised. Drawing up the usual proctections and calling on my ancestors, guides, and guardians…the board was positively jumping to communicate. It was clear, kind, loving, informative, humorous, and most productive. We were safe, asked precise questions, had lengthy conversations, and then said “thank you, and goodbye”, closing the portal and circle, which is how it is done.
      You don’t throw a party and just leave all the gates and doors wide open. Anything good/bad/or otherwise could crash your party unanounced. Nor would I assume I could sit down in an F-18 and assume I knew how to fly it without learning how first. Same with the board.
      This is not a new gadget created to entertain guests in the parlor. It is a tool which must be used very carefully. I researched the history of the Ouija Board (which I have always been told means “yes, yes” in French/German) and found that the usual references to parlor gaming were the most predominent. However, there are histories as far back as 1100 AD during the Song Dynasty, which used a method known as fuji (??) or “planchette writing” to communicate with Spirits and Ancestors. Also, similar methods of spiritboard writing have been practiced in other countries such as ancient India, Greece, Rome, and medieval Europe. It’s not that new.
      I can certainly agree, though. Whomever thought that this would make a really neat gift item to give children or unknowing adults was not in his right mind!

  2. jennymcrawford

    August 28, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    they don’t wok for me. every time I’ve every used with one I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of it. When i wake up my friends are always making fun of me saying i missed a lot. Like this one time i fell asleep on the couch and they said a shadow floated around the room and stopped right above me then disappeared right when i woke up. i thought it was them picking on me but its happened several times with diffident people and different situations. when i was little i had a lot of problems with paranormal type things. I saw things that nobody else could see. now that I’m an adult i would do anything to have that back. It comes and goes but i want to know more about it.

  3. cinquenadia

    June 12, 2016 at 6:36 am

    It is nothing else than a playful tool to use our unconcious or upper mind which can connect to several levels of parallel worlds just like a tv receiving all sort of information/grabage/news and we do not have the ability to understand what is real and was is distorted by our believes/fears lost memories of us or of other humans connected to us in various way and with the common mind of the player giving power but also lot of information often distorted by many factors etc..I have developed a similar talking table but with 27 letters/numbers of creation inserted in a multy/magic way inside a stargate connected to our common past/present/future by the universal language we once all perceived and used but not today anymore, forced to learn only from external sources and not using our inner self in a sort of off/sleeping mode in humans but not in animals/insects and other form of lives still using it…to use that game for something useful, is necessary to be free of believes in silly stuff we have reprogrammed with to prevent us from using again our super mind or upper mind..NO DRUGS/RELIGIONS/ALIENS garbage if you really like to experiment for real with your inner self otherwise you will have only lots of garbage/lies/distorted information coming from your your inconcious mind or the collective mind or the mind of other people with or without a body connected to us in various ways

  4. Md73

    May 15, 2016 at 1:29 am

    I’ve realized through the years that the only ppl who seems to be afraid of them or believe they do anything; other than entertain bored and/or drunk ppl, are religious ppl/ppl who believe in god. Most of the time Catholics or ppl who were raised catholic. Which makes sense….if there were demons or evil spirits, fucking with religious ppl would be hilarious. (Plus…you already know they’ll believe anything without any real proof).

    • hunter

      August 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Jerk, you don’t know anything about the Catholics. Shut up stupid bitch

      • Diane Athene

        October 26, 2016 at 5:35 am

        Bit rude that reply have some respect fr women mate

    • Denise Williamson

      October 25, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      I’m not religious but I’ll never touch one…I’ve known people who have and have regretted it

  5. Jim Case

    April 7, 2016 at 10:53 am

    My most recent experience is my last. Had a few friends over who had lost loved ones, and we got my old 1930s vintage board out. Found it in the wall of an older house when it was remodeled. We joked around but decided to try it anyway. At first, nothing other than standard accusations that one is pushing it . Then it hsppened. The stylus started moving on it’s own. It spelled out eat more apples, and then burst into flames. Lol.

  6. Lucy

    February 14, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Spirit made me laugh when I asked why folks are so into filming paranormal as the answer was ‘people want to face their demons but are unconscious to their true motivations so we lie to ourselves and seek outside ….if work is done will to see oneself stronger than will to enhance a facade then we become conscious & go within slaying the real monsters and so begin to live free of the need for props AND monsters are no more !
    We all require love without judgement to thrive and manifest our hearts desires so stop mistaking kindness for weakness hurting good
    You never know when you may need good help

  7. rachewbacca

    February 7, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    My sisters and I played with our old Ouija board as kids. I remember asking it how will I be when I die. It told me 47, which was funny at the time but not now as I am currently 46…

    • AJ

      May 11, 2016 at 1:45 am

      Let us know how everything turned out next year, if you are able. Haha

  8. gina

    November 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    wow such great posts. 2 weird things have happened to me. i have not touched it since. im not comfortable typing what happened. but it shook me up….

  9. Doug

    November 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I once asked the Ouija board work God is power it spelled out Satan so we took it to the behind our house to burn it wouldn’t catch fire it took 3 days to get the board to totally burned up.

  10. Shadow

    November 3, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    When my dad walks in the room. If te Ouija board is out it lights itself on fire

  11. Nik

    November 3, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    My mom was getting spiritually attacked, and me and my friend were teenagers at the time and we decided to use the Ouija board to see if we can help resolve the problem of this spirit…..I could feel someone’s energy “covering” my wrist to the tip of my fingers pushing and pulling the pointer while we were doing this….long story short my friend had the “gift of sight” as a psychic told her and the spirit went into my friend ….I looked into her eyes and they were empty and she wasn’t responding to touch, shakes, or anything just stared off and all of a sudden she gasped and started crying and then she came out of the “hypnosis” but she said the spirit showed her what happened and he was hung for a crime he did not do where my Grandma’s house is built way back in the day……

    after that experience of not only her experience but feeling the energy control my hand I definitely believe and WILL NOT touch another one again unless I’m with someone experienced and knows what they are doing and how to send them back because it is a cool paranormal experience but still scary and we were lucky to not have harm done to us…

  12. Ghostgurl

    November 2, 2015 at 5:50 am

    I used one of these boards and it said it’s name was Jackso. Two days later, a guy named Jackson moved to my town and walked right up to me.

    He whispered “This entire story is a load of shit. Ouijas simply play the mind”

    So shuddup

  13. drew

    October 25, 2015 at 10:58 am

    You are tapping into unknown energies here that can cause objects to float in air.. I have seen this happen. At an earlier start, a silver crucifix can stall it. maybe a silver coin. For later times, the board must busted clean in half with a single blow from a ”sitter” to neutralize the ”energy”. One sitter, a mother, found a pillow smothering her baby’s face, when she went to check up on her baby. Do not eff about with these boards.. We simply DON’T KNOW why. Leave it at that then, teenagers.

  14. hunter

    October 24, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Ouija boards are dangerous

  15. Stephanie

    October 24, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    When playing by myself my friend’s board spelled out “Reap”. I left it alone after that.

  16. Tai Miller

    October 11, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Please let me explain the basic rules of summoning: 1. Seriously, don’t summon some one if you don’t know who they are. Ask for one of your ancestors or some one you know. 2. Don’t summon anything you can’t send back. If you don’t know how to send things back you might want to look it up, it’s not that hard. 3. Don’t summon some one you know is bad just because you think it makes you cool. It makes you dumb.

  17. Seth Baruti

    October 8, 2015 at 4:45 am

    I’m a naturally born skeptic, but my mother won’t touch one of these boards again. She swears that as a kid, she and her cousins were playing with one and they asked when her cousin, Doug, would die. It allegedly gave a date and said “Accident”. He ended up getting hit by a car (any dying) while crossing a street on the date the board had prognosticated.

  18. Marlene Shipp

    July 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    So my story is from the winter of 1967/68 when I was 14 & was playing it with my best friend. We asked it questions about family. I asked about my mom & it told me that she would die in a car crash, & told me that 2 of my younger sisters would never see the age of 21. We didn’t think much of it until July 8, 1968 my mother & 2 sisters were killed in a car crash & the names of my sisters were spelled out so there was no mistake that they never made it to age 21, they were 8 & 2 years old. So how do you explain this. My girlfriends mom through the game away & I have not touched one since. Strange & weird & bit creepy to me. No misunderstanding of the horrible end to 3 of my family members whom I miss very much. Im 61 now & have never forgotten.

  19. Cate

    April 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    The weirdest thing that happened was that I was given one as a gift by some friends, and when my parents had another couple over, the husband said it was a total crock, and demanded that I ask it a question for him.
    He asked, “Who did I lose my virginity to?”
    According to the board, it was a girl named “Helen Parsons”.
    The guy blanched white, got up, grabbed his coat, and walked out. We never heard from that family again.

    Hahah. Oooops.

  20. Christopher Mansouri

    February 1, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    When I was young my sisters and I used one. We had a cat who was acting funny. We asked the board if the cat was pregnant, it said YES, we asked how many kittens she would have and it said 6. She was pregnant and had 5 kittens, but we later found out she had eaten one, so she really had had 6. Those boards are nothing to play with.

  21. Caitlin

    January 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    When i used it it started out by saying it was bad, udie, etc. We said goodbye and took a break. Then, (idk if this was just a defect but it was creepy) the planchette started glowing and didn’t stop for about 5 minutes. There was a hidden message on the board saying 314 only visable with a blacklight. So we waited until 3:14am and started again. It said it was Michael Jackson, he died from illuminati, and when I said i love Thriller, he said Bitch try Beat It. This was funny at first, then on its own it started going from Z to 0 like z0z0z0 and then started doing figure 8s. We said goodbye and put the planchette on the bed. About 15 minutes later it glowed again. Anyway… go look up ZOZO. Seriously. That’s what is the freakiest part.

  22. sjane

    January 8, 2015 at 12:23 am

    When I was 15 I bought one and snuck it in past our strict Catholic parents. My 14 year old brother and I played it and started hearing weird noises. Something else happened which I guess I blocked out. We were terrified and threw it in the trash to be picked up. The next day when I got home from school, it was on my bed. We burned it later that day! After totally freaking out ofcourse.

  23. Joseph Guigli

    December 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I accidentally told this Mormon couple I had moved in with that I had a Ouija Board in my closet. Thats the only scary shit that happened was their reaction to being in the same house as the board.

    • LAURA

      December 28, 2014 at 7:06 am

      number one it wasn’t meant to be ocultish and then…….. things started happening i too had one when i was 11 i burned it!!!!

  24. Hoos Bin-Pharteen

    October 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    funny how ignorant and gullible some people can be

    • LAURA CAPPELLO

      November 6, 2014 at 9:12 am

      I WOULDN’T CALL THIS IGNORANT !! DON’T KNOCK IT UNLESS YOU’VE TRIED IT MY DEAR GASSY ASS LOL

  25. Germane

    October 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Nope we had to get priests in
    Horrifying
    Demonic that’s what happened our end with these boards

  26. Jamie simkins

    October 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I have never used one now that I know that the spirits can predict your demise I am a little scared

    • TrishaaBeanxo

      July 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Demons can’t predict, they can only lie, you speak to spirits and if ty out don’t follow the rules demons get through. I’ve done it for years and never had probablems. I did it to getspirits to leave me alone. And it worked. And I haven’t had a problem. But my friend has because she didn’t follow three rules. Do your research

  27. Patty Tasker

    October 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    My sister-in-law and i use to use her Ouija board alot but one nite i got asking questions about a friend of mine that had passed away! I wanted to know where his boots were that he never took off! We were shocked when it spelled out ‘in the trunk of my car where the spare tire should be!!!!” So we threw our coats on and drove to the next town over to his car and sure enough…….there was his boots!!!! Weird part is that his mom said she tore rtat car apart for 2 days and they were nowhere!!! My friend was letting me know we were still close/best friend!!!!

  28. Jaylah

    October 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    What happened?

  29. jacqueline campbell

    October 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    i had a real bad experience with the board when i was 15 year old, im now 56 years old and believe me its nothing too be laughed at.

  30. bLaKouT

    October 26, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Tried one. Never got it to do anything. I laugh at those who are afraid of it.

    • LAURA CAPPELLO

      November 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

      NOT THAT YOU KNOW OF ! IT DOESN’T ALWAYS ANSWER ON BOARD BUT OTHER WAYS AND MAYBE YOUR LUCKY IN KNEW IT WOULD SCARE YOU PROBABLY DIE OF A HEART ATTACK

    • Oohlala

      November 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Just because it didn’t work the first time does not mean they don’t work. I have always believed in the paranormal (for reasons to many to name here) but a “board game? ” not so much. I was 37 when I first used mine & didn’t get any responses, either…But I also didn’t know much about them other than movie fiction. Now, every single time I use it, it starts immediately revealing intimate details about me & loved ones. Just last week I went on & he said he was 23 yr old male named Yuri (I can’t recall the last name, but it ended in___ovsky) from the former USSR & had passed away decades ago. He asked me if I would pray for both him & my dad (who just passed) so they could “move on.” These types of things happen every single time… Lots of info I don’t know but can look up or ask a family member to confirm. I truly believe with my entire being that they do work & it’s not psychosomatic.
      If you don’t believe, I don’t know why they would bother to come through to you. Read up on the Board & please follow the rules. Do I believe it’s a portal to hell? No. But I do believe that there are good & bad spirits, just as there are good & bad people in this world.
      And with so many people that it has worked for-I think it unnecessary & classless for you to “laugh at those who are afraid of it.” But, ignorance is bliss, so they say…

  31. Liz Howard-Alexander

    October 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Honestly, I’ve never used one, but I always wondered why something supposedly so occultish and “evil” was always for sale at Toys-R-Us.

    And now I know. 🙂

What do you think?