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Some Facts (and Fiction) About the Ouija Board

This article was written by Llewellyn
posted under Spirit Communication

The Ouija board is one technique for contacting spirits that has a reputation for being manipulated and used for evil purposes. I have delved into many types of divining, from numerology, tarot, and coin tossing, to pendulums, psychics, and palm reading. Like many people, I am fascinated with connecting to those who have passed, with receiving one more message from a loved one.

Laura, a good friend of mine, connects with spirits and she passes on messages from those spirits to folks they have left behind. Laura told me that she uses the Ouija board in a non-traditional way. She uses a piece of jewelry, like a necklace or a ring, dangling from a string as a pendulum. I was a skeptic, but on more than one occasion I watched her hold the pendulum and get messages.

At first, I believed she was swinging the pendulum on her own, but I asked who was there for me. Using a pendulum made from my necklace, she got the initials of my father. My dad passed long before I met Laura, so I didn’t think she knew his name. I went through a list of questions, most of which Laura could not know the answers to, and I got answers to all of them.

At one point she stopped reading for me because she said my father was very angry. She dropped the necklace and walked away from the reading. While the topic under discussion was one that would have angered my dad, a small part of me was skeptical that she could become so overwhelmed with emotion. I thought perhaps she was just tired and needed a break.

Then, Laura challenged me to learn this skill. I tried on a few occasions at her house with her Ouija board. She handed me the pendulum (made from my ring), but it just dangled and did not move. I got no results at all.

Laura’s Pendulum Method
Laura’s Ouija board was passed down to her from her mother as a child, but she set it aside because the parents of her friends disapproved, thinking it was evil. Years later, Laura begin exploring different ways of working with it again. She followed her instincts and put aside the planchette.

With her individualized pendulum, Laura instructs the seeker to focus on a single question, either out loud or in their head. Then she dangles the jewelry over the Ouija board and waits for an answer.

My sister, Teri, made her first attempt at divining this way at a gathering, but in a room full of noisy people she was too easily distracted.

Teri and I were heading off to a three-day retreat when Laura suggested we take her Ouija board with us. I thought it would be a waste of suitcase space, but Laura had been such a wonderful person that I couldn’t say no to her.

Teri and I drove through the hills of western Wisconsin, enjoying the beauty of the natural landscape and stopping at a natural spot we both connected to in our own way. Later in the evening, after relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery from our hotel balcony, we decided to clear off the coffee table and try working with the Ouija board. I took out a pendulum, closed my eyes to focus while she asked a question—and waited. Teri watched the board, because I find it easier to focus when my eyes are closed. We had an informal circle, with our single candle lit in a Kwan Yin statue.

At first nothing happened. The pendulum hung straight down, not moving even the slightest bit. I thought to myself that I knew this would be a waste of time. I offered my sister a chance to try again, but she encouraged me to continue.

We asked if there was a spirit there to talk to us. The pendulum swung slightly toward no. We both laughed. Teri said, “Then who was moving the pendulum?” After that we began to ask more questions. We asked if our dad was there. My pendulum swung just a little toward “yes,” as if in response to a gentle breeze.

We kept asking questions and receiving answers. At one point we both said we loved and missed Dad, and I almost immediately burst into tears. The pendulum was swinging wildly to yes. We knew that he was sending his love back to us. I was overwhelmed with the fierce love I received from him and couldn’t go on.

After a short break from the intense emotions, I continued to use the Ouija board to talk to Dad. We asked about our lives and his. We covered the whole family. We asked if there were others there and got a resounding yes, yet the only one who spoke to us through the Ouija was Dad.

Sometimes the pendulum would swing wildly and other times it would just sway gently. I could almost feel my father’s hand on top of mine pushing it toward one answer or another. My hand grew warm like it was enveloped in his. My arm didn’t tire as I expected it to—perhaps because I was so focused on the conversation or perhaps because my dad was there supporting me.

I’m not sure how much time we spent using the board to talk to Dad. It seemed like we were in a different place and time. Everything else seemed to fade for me except the connection I had with my sister and my dad. It was a magical time filled with power and love.

I was astounded to have such a positive result, and I owed Laura a huge apology for being skeptical about her skill and technique. Combining the pendulum with the Ouija board creates a unique tool to communicate with spirits. Laura has taught me well.

As with any new divination technique, I wanted to learn a bit more about the Ouija board. I knew there was a stigma attached, so I went into research mode.

Origin of the Ouija Board
I discovered a variety of beliefs. The current board and all the patents belong to Parker Brothers, who in the mid-1960s purchased it from the Fuld family. The Fuld family held these patents and made the boards since the late 1800s, and the popularity of the board fluctuated with the spiritualist movement. It seems the board itself evolved from the practice of table tipping and automatic writing.

Some sources claim this divination technique dates back to ancient cultures, but there is much skepticism on this point. There is one reference to a pendulum dish, which is a round dish with letters on the outer rim, being used in Roman times. This is interesting to me since it so closely relates to how Laura instinctively changed. While some research indicates this technique may date back as far as the ancient Egyptians, it is not definitive and the sources are vague. Indisputable, though, are the modern, patents. The earliest but lesser known patent is for a talking board in London, England in 1854. The Ouija brand was patented in the US in 1890.

The stigma of the Ouija board seems to have begun in 1972 with the movie The Exorcist. Prior to that, the board was used to communicate with dead relatives and other spirits. The Exorcist birthed a wave of movies that portrayed Ouija boards as tools for evil spirits to possess or cause harm to the user.

In general, there seems to be two opinions when it comes to the Ouija board. One belief is that it is just a game and that the movement of the planchette comes from the user’s subconscious mind. The other belief is that this is a spiritual tool, which may or may not bring in “evil” spirits, depending on how it is used.

My research revealed the following suggestions for using a board (numbers in parenthesis refer to resources listed at the end of this article):

  • Place board between users so all have easy reach for the planchette (3, 8)
  • Places fingers lightly on planchette (3)
  • Invite a spirit to join and ask for a willing spirit in order to keep out the negative (3)
  • Ask a question—only one at a time (3, 6, 8)
  • Have a third person to act as a scribe or use a tape recorder so you can be clear on the messages coming through (7, 8)
  • Always say goodbye and make sure the spirit does, so it doesn’t linger after the session is done (7)

In addition to these basic steps, I found numerous suggestions on safety and care:
  • Be serious and respectful (6, 8)
  • Clean and keep the board free of dust with a soft, dry cloth (6)
  • Use a slow circle around the board to get the planchette to move (8)
  • Smudge the board with sage to purify and a white candle for protection (8)
  • Use in a protective circle (7)
  • Use a silver coin or wear silver jewelry to protect from harm (7)
  • Say a prayer before using to keep away negative spirits (8)
  • Use common sense with regard to the message you receive; if you are uncomfortable with the message, ask the messenger to leave (7, 8)
  • Use at night (8)
  • Use a wood board (9)

All of these are suggestions different sources offered for using the Ouija board. Some may work and some may not. Laura has done all her scrying during the day, and my successful attempt was at night. My personal experience taught me that even with my own skepticism I could do a divination technique I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. I just needed to focus on the technique and not concentrate on my skepticism. With practice and a belief in my abilities, I am able to connect to spirits using the Ouija board. I just needed to trust my own abilities.

  1. http://zohrala.com/ouija/history.htm
  2. http://www.mitchhorowitz.com/ouija.html
  3. http://www.prairieghosts.com/ouija.html
  4. http://www.damnedgames.com/cf_ouijahistory.html
  5. http://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/ghost-stories/08-A-lot-of-people-on-this-group-say-the-ouija-board-is-evi.html
  6. http://zohrala.com/ouija/Howtouse.htm
  7. http://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/ghost-stories/10-Are-there-any-rules-I-should-follow-when-using-the-Oui.html
  8. http://www.damnedgames.com/cd_odirections.html

By Eileen Troemel (Dragonlady), from Llewellyn’s 2008 Witches' Companion. For current Llewellyn Almanacs and Calendars, click here.


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