15 Strange Facts That You Definitely Don’t Know About The Ouija Board

Some people think of the Ouija board as a simple money-maker design inspired by the Ideomotor effect, while others believe it to be a medium between us and otherworldly spirits. The actual Ouija board itself basically consists of a flat ‘talking board’ and a teardrop-shaped planchette. The letters of the alphabet and the numbers from 0 to 9 are neatly arranged on the surface of the board, with a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ in the uppermost corners, accompanied by the sun in the one, representing light, and a moon in the other, representing darkness. At the bottom of the board is the word “goodbye,’’ and in the middle, often a pentagram – representing the five elements. This, you probably knew. These 15 strange facts about the Ouija board below, however, I bet you do not.

1. The Ouija board got its name after being asked what it should be called. Upon asking what it meant, the board allegedly replied with the words “good luck.”

Ouija board
Image source:  nerdist

Even though popularly believed that the name ‘Ouija’ originated from “yes” in French and German: “oui” + “ja”, its founder claimed otherwise. According to Robert Murch, the world’s foremost collector, historian, and expert on Ouija, when asked how the Ouija board got its name, Charles Kennard, the founder of Ouija back in 1891, claimed that after he and his sister asked the board what it should be named, it distinctly spelled out the letters OUIJA. The name itself, as he also mentioned, is an Ancient Egyptian word for ‘good luck.’(source)

2. During World War I, almost every household in the US had a Ouija board. In 1922, Ouija board sales even outsold Monopoly.

Man and woman playing Ouija board
Image source: www.vintag.es

In 1920 alone, three million Ouija boards were sold. In 1922, it even outsold Monopoly. At one point during this revolutionary rush, nearly every household in the USA had one either stashed in a cupboard or displayed on a coffee table.

Whereas most people perceived and played Ouija as a simple and innocent game, others used it to communicate with dead loved ones and otherworldly spirits. People were mesmerized by the product and willing to open up their wallets. The game was sold all over the country, mentioned in numerous news articles, and often featured in films.(source)

3. The movie ‘The exorcist,’ stopped the nation-wide Ouija fad dead in its tracks, resulting in many people destroying their Ouija boards in fear.

The Exorcist
Image sources: 1, 2

In the 1973 film The exorcist, a 12-year old girl named Regan MacNeil becomes possessed by demons through a Ouija board. Since almost everyone in America had access to a Ouija board at the time and most had a history of playing it, the events portrayed in the film ignited a widely-spread fear of the ‘true’ nature of the Ouija board – labeling it a gateway to hell and a tool of the devil.

Even today, the board is still believed by some to be far from  harmless, and that it’s is not a simple board game that marketers claim it to be. Needless to say, after the release of the film, many people destroyed their Ouija boards and sales plummeted. Even though the sales of these boards took a huge hit during the time, and subsequently developed a stigma, the controversy surrounding it drew in new buyers.(source)

4. The Ouija board comes with a set of rules which is often ignored by most players. Ignoring these rules, it states, can lead to demonic possession.

Original ouija board directions
Image source: tumblr

Since most new players are usually so eager to get started, most of the rules provided with the board are often ignored.  The rules are, however, fatuous and often adapted from the original (see picture). They also have bizarre ‘consequences’ to those who fail to adhere to them, claiming that if you ignore certain rules you’d become possessed by the devil, or you would let evil spirits into our realm.  Three of these rules are said to be the most important of them, and they are “never ask the board when you are going to die, never play alone, and never talk about God”.(source)

5. During the 1890s, the Ouija board was marketed as a fun dating activity, often depicting members of the opposite sex sitting at a table and playing the game of Ouija.

Norman Rockwell art depicting a man and woman playing Ouija
Image sources: Saturday Evening Post, Bettmann/CORBIS

When the first branded Ouija boards were sold on a nation-wide scale back in 1891, it was marketed as a fun activity to be played with a member of the opposite sex, with the emphasis on its mysterious oracle element. It was only after the release of The exorcist in 1973 that people’s views on the previously innocent board game shifted drastically.

The Ouija newspaper ads usually featured well-dressed people in a family and social settings having fun. Words like ‘mysterious,’ and ‘wonderful’ could be used often for the depictions, and phrases like ‘afford astonishing results,’ and ‘Answers any question’ would appear frequently.(source)

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