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Ouija Board: It's just a game. Or is it?

Updated on January 11, 2015

Vintage Ouija Board

Ouija board has been around for centuries and comes in many styles today
Ouija board has been around for centuries and comes in many styles today | Source

Do you believe?

Ouija Boards have been through history since 1891. The Ouija board is as mysterious as it can be, and had been proved to work at the Patent Office before it was patented in 1891. The real history of the Ouija board is as crazy as the name itself. Straight out of a 19th century obsession with Spiritualism, where it was a belief that the dead were able to communicate with the living. Spiritualism had been around for years in Europe, and hit America in 1848 with the sudden promience of the Fox Sisters of Upstate, New York. The Fox sisters had claimed to receive messages from spirits who rapped on the walls to answer questions, recreating this feat of channeling in parlors across the states. Another story of how Ouija started goes back in the 1890's, in the state of Ohio, when spiritualists were bored with how long it took spirits to communicate. They invented a makeshift board with letters and numbers on it that would allow the spirits to spell out their communications.

The first few advertisements started appearing in papers of "Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board". This boomed through a Pittsburgh toy and novelty shop, describing a magical device that answered questions about the "past, present and future". It promised never failing amusement and recreation for all classes. It was a mere link between the known and the unknown. The Ouija board is a mysterious talking board which is sold in board game aisles and even still today. A flat board with the letter of the alphabet arrayed in two semi circles above the number zero to nine. The words "yes" and "no" in the uppermost corners, with "goodbye" at the bottom. The tool, accompanied with a planchette, which was a teardrop shaped device, typically with a small window in the body of it. It was used to maneuver about the board. The idea of course, was that two or more people would sit around the board, place their finger tips on the planchette, pose a question or two, and watch or wait patiencely as the planchette moved about the letters to spell out answers on it's own. The biggest difference is in the materials, the board is now usually cardboard, rather than wood and the planchette is plastic.

By the second part of the 19th century, spiritualism reached millions of adherents thanks to the aided stories of the Fox sisters. During the Civil War, spiritualism gained adherents in droves, people desperate to connect with loved ones who had gone away to war and never to return back home. Communicating with the dead was common, it wasn't bizarre or weird. Today, most of us look at it and think "Why are you opening the gates of hell?". But opening the gates of hell wasn't on anyone's mind when the Kennard Novelty Company had formed, the first producers and investors of the Ouija Board. Charles Kennard had pulled together some investors, including Elijah Wood to exclusively make the marketing talking boards. It wasn't long after that Kennard got together to invent and market the product. Knowing they could make money from the Ouija board, five men, and Kennard got together to market the board.

Contrary to popular belief, the name Ouija is not a combination of Oui and Ja, French and German words for yes. When asked the board why Ouija, it spelled out "Good Luck". Helen Peters was a sister in law of one of the investors by the name of Elijah Wood. Elijah Wood was given a patent for the board in February 1891. Helen Peters, during a senance with the investors; and even Elijah Wood had asked the Ouija board what to call it. As weird, it was the word also inscribed on Helen's locket, above the picture of a woman. Later it revealed the woman in the locket was that of a women's right activist by the name of Ouida.

By 1893, Kennard was out of the company, and employee William Fuld had taken over. Though he was best known as "father of Ouija", he didn't invent it, but was rather good at selling the board. All through the 1800's and into the 1960s, the Ouija board was considered good, clean and family fun. William Fuld had filed for his own patent of the Ouija board in July 1892. It basically was to put improvements to the talking board. Fuld and his brother, Isaac had founded the Isaac Fuld & Brother in 1897. The Ouija Novelty Company signed a three year agreement with the brothers to manufacture and sell the Ouija board.

However, in 1901 William and the Ouija Novelty Company had opted out on continuing their agreement, and this allowed Isaac to manufacture and sell the boards. The Ouija Novelty Company then signed a new agreement with William. Whether or not the brothers had a falling out that led to this decision, or the act itself caused hurtful tensions, it resulted in a family feud that lasted over a century. In 1997, it took the grandchildren of both Willam & Isaac Fuld to contact Robert Murch Jr. Murch is the world's foremost collector, historian, and expert on Ouija boards. Murch then found himself in the middle of the ninety six year old feud. Through Murch's research and help, he had finally ended the Fuld feud which had lasted almost 100 years.

Even Norman Rockwell had painted a ouija playing young couple in the 1920s that had appeared eventually in the Saturday Evening Post. The Ouija board maintained it's reptuation until 1973, when the movie, the "Exorcist" was released. The main character becomes possessed by the devil after playing with an Ouija board by herself. In the following years, Ouija board was then denounced by religious groups as Satan's preferred method of communication. Even after seeing the 2014 of the movie, "Ouija", it did nothing to change much of the reputation. A teenage girl who mysteriously is killed after a bad experience with the Ouija Board. Her friends, who then try to communicate to her by using the board, which results in horrific consequences. Hasbro, who now owns the Ouija board, has changed their phrasing of when purchasing the board these days from "It's just a game, isn't it?" to now when opening the board, one will find the new phrase of "Don't play Ouija if you think it's just a game". Through history there are countless stories of how the Ouija started. Many of us have had our own true experience with Ouija boards. Whether good or bad, many people still believe the board leads to the devil.

My own personal experience with the Ouija board happened when I was 19. At this age, I was just learning about the Paranormal and Spirit world. Fairly not truly understanding it all then, me and several friends got together on a summer night at a friends house. We lit candles, all through the room in preparation for the senance. The board, placed on a table, in the room, was antique and made out of wood, and of vintage. My first time witnessing a board I was quite intrigued by it. Fascinated to see how it worked communicating with spirits. With the lights off, windows open for the summer breeze, and candles smelling the room, five of us sat around the table with the board. We were told then to place our fingers on the planchette. At first I thought this was just something where one of us would make it seem no one was moving it; by asking simple questions. Nothing of course happened for awhile, though kept going on for a good fifteen minutes. It wasn't long the planchette began to move slowly around the board. I originally thought someone was forcing it to move, as most would assume that a friend in the senance would do so. It didn't take long to realize none of us were forcing the planchette to move about, though some of us laughed and giggled. We started asking different questions, where the board moved about and spelled out words, to simple "yes" and "no" questions. The more we asked, the faster the planchette moved about the board. The senance got creepier when the planchette didn't respond for a minute or two with our questions and kept moving about the board in a circular motion. It didn't take long that it started moving slowly over the letters, Z and O. Faster and faster it spelled out the word, "ZoZo". None of us had heard of Zozo, which in today's society most have to come realize is an evil entity that comes through the boards. The candles blew out like a gush of wind had blown in the room, and the front door flew wide open scaring half of us too death. The window in the room slammed down shut so hard; we were surprised the glass did not break. At one point I had removed my fingers off the planchette as most of us were scared of what was happening. I was told we were safe; and that putting my fingers back on the board to finish what we had started.

When asked who ZoZo was and no response at first, the board floated up in the air, above our heads, and floated airborne for some time. I laughed at first, thinking it was nothing of a joke where a friend had tied some string on the top of the ceiling to scare all of us too death. I took my other hand and upon checking out under and above the board being airborne; there was nothing to explain why the board was just floating as it was. Before I could even scream in my head; the board went flying with such force through the room, where it slammed up on the wall and coming to a hault to the ground. Most of us were so freaked out, some screamed while others as myself just were in shock and frozen to the core. A friend went and picked the board up, brushed it off, and brought it back on the table and told us to put our fingers back on the board so we could finish. Some of us, as myself, was too petrified to finish, but as requested we thought we could finish what we started. Within seconds of us touching the board, the planchette started going crazy around the board, and spelled out the word of the entity, ZoZo again. One of our friends started acted a little different. Her face turned pale white, and her eyes rolled in the back of her head, something out of a horror zombie movie. I was too scared too scream, that others noticed it too and one kept asking her if she was alright. My friend had gazed at us then spoke in a voice , none of which was of her own. Once I heard that frightful voice in my friend; I was so scared out of my wits I had broken the planchette and stood up. Before long, our friend was alright, asking why most of us were screaming and looking confused. When asked if she knew what had happened to her; she had no idea. All she did remember was someone or something she couldn't explain had told her to sit still and not speak. She remembered feeling of being sexually attacked and darkness . She could not recall what happened even after one of us told her what we witnessed.

For years, none of us ever spoke of that day to anyone else. A secret that was kept for over centuries and most of us just went on with our lives as we got older. I didn't comprehend what had happened, and quite frankly I was too scared to even ask or share it with others then. That was until as I got older; I did research. I had learned that what happened to me and my friends has happened to others as time went on. I learned the real reason behind what and who ZoZo was. ZoZo is a complicated entity, who might appear initially friendly, sometimes using a different name. ZoZo also appears in the middle of a conversation with another spirit and even interrupt the communication.

The very first reported appearance of the entity happened in France, in 1816 when a young girl had fallen victim to a severe demonic possession. She was then a vessel for a number of other demons, one of which was the mysterious ZoZo. Most stories I had researched of ZoZo were difficult to tell of which that were authenic and which were nothing more than an urban legend. Some told stories of murders to suicides, while some involved possession, physical ailments, abuse, curses and other phenomena commonly associated with demonic forces. Each story I researched on ZoZo had tales of what I had experienced as a young adult, to a few with possessions, and some with curses. These days, it's common for ZoZo to bring darkness through the Ouija Board.

No matter how one looks at this entity of ZoZo, one thing is a fact, pure evil. Within the stories of Ouija boards through history it's no wonder why many always ask the questions of why one would one want to open the gates to hell. Through my own personal experience, I encourage those who think that this board is merely just a "game", to know that things can and will happen if one does not know what they are doing. If you think it's just a game, then you shouldn't play with the board. Whether one thinks that playing the Ouija board is pure innocence, and even playing alone, should really understand consequences that can happen when using it, pure darkness.


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    • profile image

      Thomas Sam 

      3 years ago

      Awesome! Very insightful, had no idea there was so much to it.


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