Hello From the Other Side: The Ouija Board Explained


by Sandyi Offermann

ouijaboard Ouija Boards, also known as “spirit boards” or “talking boards” are a flat panel of glossed wood, cardboard, or other smooth surface adorned with the letters of the alphabet, numbers ranging from zero to nine, the words “Yes” and “No” and typically “Goodbye”.

Along with the board there is a “planchette” which is typically a piece of plastic, wood, or glass with a circle cut out through which to view a letter on the board the alleged spirit wishes to communicate to you.

The Ouija is designed to be used with two people. Ideally the board is placed on a flat surface between the individuals, or balanced on their laps. Each person places their hands lightly on the planchette, their fingertips barely putting pressure on it.

One person will act as the communicator to the spirit world and will ask questions out loud, allowing time for the spirits to answer. If there are spirits present who wish to communicate, the planchette will slowly begin to move across the board, allegedly on its own without either party pushing or pulling the planchette.

The planchette will slide across the board, stopping over each letter, ultimately spelling out responses to the posed questions.

Due to the laborious process, for best results, ask yes or no questions or simple questions that are best answered with one or two words, nothing that would require a sentence as an answer.

The actual word “Ouija” is a made up word and is derived from “Oui” and “Ja”, the French and German words (respectively) for “Yes”. Ouija Board literally means the “Yes Yes Board”.

The “Mystical Talking Board” made its US debut in the early 1880s having carried over from London which had produced the boards since the mid 1880s with the earliest patent for a precursor to the board having been filed by a professor of music, Adolphus T Wagner in January of 1854. Wagner’s version of the talking board was called a “Psychograph” or “Apparatus for Indicating Person’s Thoughts by the Agency of Nervous Electricity”. It was his hope that his device would allow for spirits to communicate at a broader level that the knocking and rapping heard in parlor seances that were taking the country by storm.

It was during the 1800’s that Europeans became infatuated with communicating with the dead. They began making their own “talking boards” using flat planks of wood with etched markings for letters and a glass or tool that could easily slide across the board.

The paranormal boom of the 1800s in the United States saw an uptick in the number of talking boars per household. They were broken out at dinner parties where consenting adults used them to communicate with the world beyond. Slowly though, the world of the paranormal began to be equated with satanic worship and the Ouija board quickly fell out of favor and was frowned upon.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s, almost a hundred years after their introduction to America, that the movie “Witchboard” thrust the device back into the pop culture zeitgeist. The highly successful horror film spawned two sequels and soon the talking boards were being sold on the shelves of toy stores everywhere. The Ouija was officially back and has remained accessible ever since, with boards continuously in manufacture.

The boards are fascinating, this can’t be denied. The idea that we are able to possibly communicate with those who have crossed over is an intriguing concept, but is it real?

The legitimacy of the Ouija Board has long been contested with science making some strong assertions that it is not ghosts or spirits moving the planchette at all, but subconscious muscle movements of the participants. These minuscule muscle movements produce what is called the ideomotor response or “IMR”. It is a complex process by which the brain forces the muscles of the body into reacting a certain way, subconsciously. In this case, the brain, in trying to formulate a response to stimuli (the asking of a question”, will cause minuscule movements to spell out responses. Simply put, we are moving the planchette and answering our own questions.

There are believers that when we use a board, we are indeed communicating with those who have left the world of the living. There are forums where people share their experiences using the Ouija board and many are convinced of its validity.

Should you decide to use the Ouija board to communicate with the dead, be advised, there are long-held rules by which to abide:

1) Do no use it alone. The board allegedly requires the energy of two or more people that a spirit can channel to move the planchette. According to lore created for the “Witchboard” films, solo use of the board can lead to possession of the individual using the board.

2) Do not provoke the spirit should you be lucky enough to come into contact with one. Be respectful. Ask simple questions, and do not force the spirit to answer any questions it wishes to ignore.

3) Always close out a session by saying good-bye and waiting for the spirit to respond in kind. Some paranormal investigators feel that activity in a haunting can be traced back to an unclosed Ouija board session wherein the board will become a portal through which the spirit world can physically pass.

4) Do not let kids use it. Ouija, though marketed as a game, can become a source of consuming obsession. The concepts of death and spirits/ghosts are best left to mature adults who can process the weighty themes. Children who use the board can become preoccupied with the idea of death resulting in panic, fear, and the belief that there are ghosts, monsters and demons in the home.

Have you personally used a talking board to communicate with the other side? Have you made contact and if so do you feel it was real or was it simple old-fashioned parlor tricks? Did you fear that you consorted with a demonic force?

Share your stories with us in the comments section below.

About the Author:

Sandyi Offermann  has been involved with the Paranormal & Supernatural  for over 3 decades. She has studied Occultism and is a Professional Medium, Reiki teacher , Holistic Therapist  .and has worked with various paranormal groups over the years . She teaches various tools and divination to others to help them move through this life with as much balance as possible .  Sandyi has studied and practiced Transpersonal Psychology (The psychology of spirituality and of those  areas of the human mind which search for higher meanings in life , and which move beyond the limited boundaries of ego .) 

“I keep an opened mind to all that is and all that could be . The Universe is vast and filled with knowledge . I am a seeker of the truth ! I believe that wisdom makes us stronger and compassionate to all . I am Student of the Universe .” -Sandyi Offermann
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About SPIRIT Seekers
Spirit Seekers is a Paranormal Research Team located in Arkansas, dedicated to investigating and documenting the spirit world around us. Our Team is committed to the research, documentation, education, and investigation of ghostly phenomena recorded through EVP, digital, film and video photography. Spirit Seekers consists of professional people who believe there is far more to the world around us than meets the eye. We believe that our spirits enter into another plane of existence upon physical death. For any number of reasons, some have elected to stay here or have been anchored here, unable to move on. We, as a whole, desire the knowledge and understanding of life after death. One of our main goals is to assist those who are experiencing paranormal phenomenon. We will look for authentic evidence of the paranormal and try to determine if the location is haunted. We do not charge a fee for our services. Please feel free to contact us if you need our assistance.

2 Responses to Hello From the Other Side: The Ouija Board Explained

  1. Susan E. says:

    Back in the 1960’s I was a young teenager and hung out with friends for hours using my Ouija Board. It was popular then more like a game than a serious spirit-connector. However, there were several “spooky” experiences that took place: feelings of disembodied presences (we thought) and bizarre answers to questions, like “who are we going to marry?” Some of us suspected one girl of manipulating the answers, though, so it may not have been as authentic as we wanted. But one day I went to get the board to bring to a friend’s house and it was no where to be found! I suspect my mom had tossed it, she probably thought it wasn’t a good influence for us…

  2. Julia says:

    Yes I’ve had without a doubt real spirit interactions using the ouija board,tarot cards, electricity. .
    The planchette was being held by myself and a friend. I had asked a few times if I could talk to my mother. The answer was always no. Then the last time I asked it spun around so quickly there’s no way it was either of us. Faster and faster, then my friend starts sobbing. She asked if my mother had made her so emotional ( ” I felt like I missed and loved someone more then I’ve ever felt! ) . We got a yes. We got a few more answers then it was over.

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