What is known today as the Ouja Board was originally called the “talking board” in the late 1800’s, and it has turned out to become an American Culture classic and a top selling item found on store shelves. Ever since that time, there hasn’t been much change in the way it is packaged and sold including the items included within it. It has of a board consisting of letters of the alphabet, numbers from 0 to 9, a “yes” located beneath a sun on the top left of the board, a “no” beneath a moon on the top right and the word “goodbye” placed at the bottom middle beneath the alphabet and a “planchette” which is a tear shaped device with a peephole to reveal each letter as it moves across the board. The game revolves around the idea of two players sitting opposite to each other on each side of the board, proposing a question while resting their fingers on the planchette that will finally reveal the answer.
Many people used the “talking boards” as a way to communicate with the dead especially during the spiritualist movement of the 1880’s. The board was increasingly being used across spiritualist camps located in Ohio in 1886. It wasn’t until 1890 that the game was commercialized and started selling in markets after being patented by businessman Elijah Wood whose employee Willliam Fuld would eventually take over the company and give the product its name “Ouija,” which means good luck in Egyptian language.
Sold first in a tiny toy shop located in Pittsburgh, Tennessee in the winter of 1891 was the Ouija Board; a game of mystery. Advertisements boasted of its mysterious ability to get in touch “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial” and it’s whopping $1.50 price tag. Before its initial release, the game had to have proof of actually working before it would pass through The Patent Office. As history will tell us, the game was approved. The sales of the game would sky rocket between the 1920’s-1960’s, always seeing an influx of sales during war. The Ouija Board was mostly sold to those who sought peace and communication after losing loved ones at war, women who died during childbirth, or children that died from a fatal disease.
After being approved by The Patent Office, the game began selling in a tiny shop located in Pittsburg, Tennessee in the winter of 1891 as the Ouija Board. Advertisements displayed messages about its mysterious ability to foster a connection between the known and the unknown or the material and the immaterial and even took pride in its $1.50 price tag.It sold most well to those who wanted to connect with the soul of the people who had a horrible death during the war like women who died during childbirth and children who died from a fatal disease.
Scientists believed the effects of the Ouija Board to fall under pseudoscience. According to them subjects playing the game would be involved in a psychological phenomenon where they would unconsciously make motions as a result of an ideomotor response. Various lab studies confirmed that subjects involuntarily moved the planchette as mentioned in the book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal by a neurology professor Terence Hines that was released in 2003.
Unconscious muscular exertions have understood to be reason behind the moving of the planchette and the table. That’s why the illusion of objects moving by themselves have been known to convince many of the existence of spirits. The phenomenon of perceiving the tables and the Ouija Board as moving by themselves without realizing the real cause, unconscious muscle movements, behind it is what psychologists call a dissociative state. By definition a dissociative state is one in which consciousness is somehow divided or cut off from some aspects of the individual’s normal cognitive, motor, or sensory functions.
Throughout its history, skeptics have said that the game is actually a money making scam due to which it has been banned in many regions of the world by religious leaders who have warned users that they are communicating with demons. Despite being ridiculed to such extent the game remains a top seller on the shelves and is used in horror films and literature. It even outsold Monopoly during the 1960’s. However, it’s definitely remarkable that this product has survived in the market for over a century and yet remains the same.
Featured Image Source: cultofweird.com