(WYTV) – Ouija boards, or “talking boards,” came from American Spiritualism, a 19th-century religious movement that believed in communicating with the dead.
You have a flat board with the letters of the alphabet in two semi-circles above the numbers 0 through 9; the words “yes” and “no” in the uppermost corners and “goodbye” at the bottom. You also have a “planchette,” usually with a small window in the body, used to maneuver about the board.
Two or more people would sit around the board, place their fingertips on the planchette, pose a question and watch, as the planchette moved from letter to letter, spelling out the answers.
In 1890, three entrepreneurs, Elijah Bond, Charles Kennard and William Maupin secured the patent for the Ouija board and started selling them for $1.50.
It became a very popular money maker.
Contrary to popular belief, “Ouija” is not a combination of the French for “yes,” oui, and the German “ja.”
Elijah Bond’s sister-in-law and others were sitting around the board before it had a name and asked the board what to call it and “Ouija” came through.
One of the largest toy companies, Parker Brothers, eventually bought the manufacturing rights in 1966, and kept a darker marketing style.
Then, in 1973, overnight, it became the devil’s tool when the young girl in the movie, The Exorcist, became possessed after playing with it.
It’s still marketed with a hint of mystery and plenty of spiritualists will tell you don’t mess with it, especially not this Saturday night, Halloween, under a full moon, in a candlelit room.