The word is pronounced "Wee-ja" but sadly often mispronounced (incorrectly) as "Wee-ji."
The origins of the Ouija board begin with two sisters; the Fox sisters, who actively claimed to communicate with spirits on a regular basis. They developed a system of knocks for each letter of the alphabet and so communicated with the spirit world using this method. Word traveled fast about the sisters' talent of contacting the dead and soon everyone from America to Europe wanted to do the same.
Parlour games were soon on the market with the first being the "Planchette" meaning Little Board in French. The Planchette was a board of wood with a pencil attached and two wheels. Fingers would be placed on the board of wood and the spirits would guide the movement of hands creating words. Of course these games were open to interpretation and often players could not decipher what it was the spirits were saying and soon became bored with the amount of time it took to spell out words.
More games such as this became available but in 1891 two gentlemen, Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard, had an idea to attach the planchette to a board with the alphabet on it and had in fact invented the first Ouija board. The famous "William Fuld", who at the time was an employee of Kennard eventually took over production of the board in 1901 under his own company name and quickly patented the name "Ouija". He then successfully sold his version of the board under that name.
Fuld claimed the word "Ouija" was entirely his idea and given to him via a séance using his very own board. He claimed the word was ancient Egyptian for "Good Luck". This is incorrect, but the name has continued on ever since.
William Fuld actively sued copies of the Ouija or any other companies daring to use the name or concept right up until his death in 1927. The Fuld business was eventually sold off to Parker Brothers (now Hasbro) in 1966. Hasbro still holds the trademark to this day, however this trademark is not international and also not genericizised for the Ouija board.
Ouija boards are sold in stores such as Toys 'R' Us (USA), however if you are serious about buying a board, and want it now, try printing out our Castle of Spirits very own Ouija board or if you want a proper wooden Ouija as sold by Hasbro try Amazon.com as they have a large range of Ouija Boards and similar items for sale.
You do not need an Ouija Board to conduct a seance.
The word séance is French meaning "seat, session", derived from old French term seoir,"to sit".
The Ouija board hasn't always enjoyed novelty status however, and as many of you may know, it has a darker, more sinister association.
The board was considered to be a fun game for all the family to play, especially for friends to gather and play after dinner parties in Victorian times. This was until the early 1920's, when a shadow was thrown over the use of the Ouija Board and contacting the dead.
Famous magician Harry Houdini who was also noted for debunking seances and querying the paranormal, wrote that five Harry Houdinipeople from Carrito, California were driven insane by using a board.
Some doctors began noticing altered states of mind in some constant users of the board, these states were sometimes so severe that commitment to an asylum was required.
Dr. Curry, a former medical direct of the Sate Insane Asylum of New Jersey claimed that the Ouija board was a dangerous factor in unbalancing the mind and believed that if their popularity persisted, insane asylums would be filled with people who used them.
The next major and probably the most momentous influence in the downfall of the Ouija was in 1973 after the release of the well known horror film The Exorcist.
In The Exorcist, Regan, the girl possessed by Pazuzu the Demon, first communicated with the Demon through an Ouija Board. For the first time the public wholeheartedly believed in the movie's idea that playing with a Ouija board could result in nothing but trouble, or, as in Regan's case... worse. The Ouija board then suffered a great decline in its popularity, people began burning their own boards and shunning the sale of them from game stores.
To this day the Ouija board has never shaken off that terrible connection with evil, the dark side and black magic.
How Does it Work?
There are many different theories as to why and how an Ouija board works. Psychologists and skeptics explain it as a simple type of muscle reflex that makes your hand automatically move and your subconscious mind control the words that are spelled out. This action is often called the "ideomotor effect". It is an unconscious motor action that is the result of suggestion or expectation and attributed to not only the action of Ouija boards, but also to table tipping and dowsing. There of course is no strong evidence to back up these claims, but we must still remain open minded to the fact that an Ouija board may not in fact be a way of communicating with sprits.