Ouija Board Game Meanings, Real Uses, and the Secrets of Séances

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Ouija Boards blur the lines between the physical and spiritual realms. These boards are more than just a game; they have a deeper spiritual purpose and an interesting history and origin story!

However you feel about the mysterious forces that make Ouija boards work, it’s important to understand the rules and meaning before venturing into the spiritual unknown.

Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and referencing sources throughout AND at the bottom of this article.

Posts on this site may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission from your purchases (at no extra cost to you!)

What is a Ouija Board?

A Ouija Board is a flat and smooth board with letters, numbers, and words like ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ and ‘goodbye.’ It comes with a small piece called a planchette, often shaped like a heart or triangle, and it has three legs.

People using the board place their fingers on the planchette and ask if anyone is there. At this point, the planchette may move on its own, pointing to letters, numbers, or words to convey a message. Some spiritual practitioners believe the message comes from the subconscious. However, others believe your voice reaches the spirit world; the guides or spirits can hear your questions and respond back to you.

“The nature of the Ouija phenomenon is controversial; so too are its roots. No one person or culture can take credit for its development. Ouija origins are multiple and ancient, having been independently reinvented and rediscovered in a wide variety of locations.”

Stoker Hunt – Ouija The Most Dangerous Game
What is a Ouija Board?

How to Use a Ouija Board

Using the Ouija Board is an excellent divination technique, but it’s crucial to approach it with respect. Whether you’re in the Witchcraft or any other spiritual community, following these guidelines will guarantee a positive experience:

Have Serious Intentions

Treat the Ouija board as a tool, not a toy. Avoid pushing the planchette for laughs; it diminishes the experience for everyone involved.

Lighting and Atmosphere

While some prefer darkness with candlelight for ambiance, it’s not mandatory. Choose an environment that feels comfortable to you!

Eliminate Distractions

Turn off phones and other distractions. Maintain a focused mindset, and always play sober.

Positive Vibes

Sing or set a positive tone to create a happy atmosphere. Avoid using the board when feeling unwell or emotionally vulnerable.


Begin with a moment of meditation, imagining yourself surrounded by white light. Think about the questions you want to ask, avoiding those that induce fear or anxiety.

Take Notes

Keep a journal or Grimoire to document your Ouija board sessions.

Board Warm-Up

Circle the planchette in a figure-eight to “warm up” the board before starting.

Clear Communication

Choose one person to speak to the spirits slowly and clearly. Be patient and polite, and avoid rushing with too many questions.

Connection with Loved Ones

If communicating with ancestors or loved ones, bring a photo or item associated with them.


Some people use conductors like candle flames or a glass of water (spirits can ripple the water). This is especially useful for spirits with low energy levels.

Ouija Board Rules

According to the instructions on Hasbro’s Ouija Board

  • Never use the Ouija board if you think it’s just a game
  • Never use the Ouija board alone
  • Never use the Ouija board in a cemetery
  • Never leave the planchette on the Ouija board when you aren’t using it
  • Never forget to say goodbye to the Ouija spirits
  1. Gently place the planchette in the center of the Ouija board
  2. Gather closely around the board if you dare
  3. Each player places two fingers lightly on the planchette
  4. Let the bravest among you ask the first question
  5. Always speak slowly and clearly, just as friendly spirits prefer
  6. Be patient. If the planchette doesn’t move, ask another question – and focus!
  7. When you’re finished asking questions, move the planchette to GOODBYE to bid the spirits farewell!

Use your head. Don’t run to the Talking Board expecting to get answers to all of life’s problems. The spirits don’t necessarily have the answers – they can’t necessarily see into the future, and they may be the last persons to give you good advice.

Raymond Buckland “Book of Spirit Communications’
Ouija Board Rules

Are Ouija Boards Dangerous?

In 1973, a movie called The Exorcist was released which was about a young girl who was possessed by a demon after using a Ouija Board. It promptly became known as a portal to evil and Satan. Many religions denounced it, and it’s been burned along with Harry Potter books.

Prior to the movie The Exorcist, Talking and Ouija Boards were considered neutral and non-threatening. They were a way to connect with deceased loved ones or ancestors. Norman Rockwell even drew an illustration of a male and female playing the game. The Ouija Board was also featured on an episode of I Love Lucy when Ethel and Lucy attempted to have a seance.

The Ouija board began its career with no taint of evil. The reason for this is that it emerged in a cultural context (in China and then ancient Greece) in which many gods were respected,

and in which good and evil were intermingled freely and considered equally necessary parts of reality, expressed in the flows of seasons and in the cycles of decay and renewal, death and birth, that are acted out by all that lives.

Gina Covina – The Ouija Book

Dealing with Ouija Board Anxiety

If you’re still anxious about using a Ouija Board and want to proceed safely, here are some easy-to-follow tips:

Positive Mindset

Approach the Ouija board with positivity. Singing a happy song can invite friendly spirits and set the right atmosphere.

Invoke Protection

If you honor a specific god, goddess, or deity, ask for their protection during your session.

Setting Boundaries

If you sense an unwelcome presence during the session, politely thank the spirit but make it clear they must leave. Move the planchette to GOODBYE if necessary. Remember, you’re in control, not the spirit.

Cleanse the Space

Before using the board, cleanse the space in the method of your choice. Additionally, try using white or black candles, placing salt in a circle around you, or trying grounding and shielding techniques. Crystals like black tourmaline can offer protection.

Selective Communication

Focus on communicating with specific people or spirits, like loved ones or ancestors. Bring a photo or item associated with them for a more personal connection.

If the idea of using a Ouija board still makes you anxious, THAT’s OKAY! There are plenty of other divination options. In fact, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Scrying Divination
Magic Beginners Need To Know

Casting Bones
How To Read and Throw Bones

Pendulum Board 101
An Ultimate Guide For Beginners

How To Make a Sigil
Powerful Sigil Magic For Beginners

How to Read Smoke Divination
The Forgotten Art of Libanomancy and Capnomancy

Egg Cleanse Meaning
and Powerful Ritual Interpretation

Ogham Alphabet
Meanings, History, and Divination For Beginners

Candle Wax Reading
Revealing Hidden Meanings and Magic Symbols

Dice Divination With Numerology
Roll To Reveal Your Powerful Fate

Are Ouija Boards Real?

Whether Ouija boards really work is a topic of much debate and depends on your beliefs and personal experiences. Many spiritual practitioners have pretty strange and convincing Ouija board stories. They have received meaningful and sometimes eerie messages during sessions.

However, there’s no scientific proof we’re really connecting with anything supernatural or spiritual. Scientists connect the planchette’s movement to the ideomotor effect. This concept was first introduced by British physiologist William Benjamin Carpenter in 1852.

The ideomotor effect is when our subconscious mind is influenced by our thoughts and beliefs, making our muscles move without us realizing it. It’s our body’s response to what’s in our mind! In fact, several different case studies have been done on it.

How Do Ouija Boards Work?

What makes the ideomotor effect fascinating is that, instead of tapping into spirits or the paranormal, it reveals a form of communication with our own subconscious mind! This intriguing phenomenon can be a valuable tool and offer insights into ourselves on a deeper level.

In a study led by Ron Rensink, a psychology and computer science professor, along with Sidney Fels, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UBC, researchers explored whether the Ouija board could tap into unconscious knowledge.

“We didn’t know if we’d find anything, but when we did, the results really surprised us,” Fels says. When study participants were asked to answer or guess at a set of challenging questions, they were correct about 50 percent of the time. But when responding while using the board—which participants believed had the ability to “receive” correct answers from another person teleconferencing via a robot Ouija partner—they scored correctly upwards of 65 percent of the time.

In actuality, the robot was a ruse; it was not responding to the video-conferencing player, but subtly amplifying the study participants’ tiny, unconscious movements. “It was significant how much better they did on these questions,” Rensink says. “If you don’t think so, consider the difference playing roulette when the odds are 50-50 versus 65-35.”

Baltimore Magazine

This suggests that our subconscious mind might hold more information than we thought, holding onto information our conscious mind can’t easily access.

A follow-up study confirmed their findings, making researchers curious about further research. Does Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases impact our ability to remember things, both consciously AND unconsciously?

If you’re interested, I also found this interesting Psychology study that tracked eye movements to show how two people can create the Ouija effect. You can read more about this study here.

Are Ouija Boards Real?

Ouija Board Game History

Spirit Boards, also known as Talking Boards, date back long before the Ouija Board and even have roots in China and Greece as far back as 600 BCE. Early instances include alectromancy, an ancient form of divination using roosters.

The letters of the alphabet were placed in a circle with a corresponding piece of corn or wheat. The rooster’s choice of food was meant to spell out the answer to the medium’s question.

Another trace of some such communicating mechanism is found in the legend told by the Scandinavian Blomsturvalla of how the people of Jomsvikingia in the twelfth century had a high priest, one Völsunga, whose predictions were renowned for their accuracy throughout the land.

He had in his possession a little ivory doll that drew with “a pointed instrument” on parchment or “other substance,” certain signs to which the priest had the key. The communications were prophetic utterances, and it is said in every case they came true.

Planchette – Encyclopedia.com

Rise of Spiritualism: Connecting with the Beyond

Spiritualism, the belief that the living can speak to the dead, became popular in Europe during the early 1800s and reached America around the 1850s to 1860s. This surge in popularity is believed to be influenced by the large number of soldiers dying in the Civil War, with many families hoping to make contact with their deceased loved ones.

Spiritualism was not separate from religious beliefs but rather supported the theory of life after death and the continuation of our souls.

Communication Challenges with Early Spirit Boards

One of the initial challenges with Spiritualism was the slow and monotonous process of communicating with the dead. Typically, people would recite the alphabet and wait for a knock, sound, or movement to interpret or indicate a message. You can imagine how tedious and boring this was.

The Planchette: Automating Communication with the Other Side

The solution to these communication challenges was the planchette, invented in 1853 by a popular French Spiritualist named Mr. Planchette. This wooden tool was attached to a pencil, enabling messages to be received from entities or deceased loved ones.

The name planchette translates to “small board” or “sketch board” in French. It worked similarly to automatic writing, usually facilitated by a medium.

An American business called Kirby and Company started manufacturing planchettes with wheels on their legs, which increased their popularity. I was unable to determine an exact time frame for when they did so, but it appears to be around the late 1860s.

Who Invented the Ouija Board?

The Ouija Board was originally patented by a lawyer named Elijah Bond on February 10th, 1891. To obtain the patent, Bond brought his sister-in-law and gifted medium, Helen Peters, to the patent office in Washington.

During the application process, the officer said if they could accurately give his name using the Ouija board, he would approve their request for a patent.

All parties gathered around the Ouija board and asked it to provide the officer’s name, which it did accurately. It’s uncertain if the spirits actually did so or if Elijah Bond and Helen Peters actually already knew the officer’s name. Either way, the stunned patent officer granted Elijah Bond’s patent request.

Ouija Board’s Patent Journey

When Elijah Bond was in law school, he specialized in patents and trademarks. He formed a strong friendship with fellow student Harry Welles Rusk. After law school, Rusk, along with fellow Freemasons Charles Kennard, Williams H.A. Maupin, Col. Washington Bowie, and John F. Green, established the Kennard Novelty Company. Harry Welles Rusk became its president.

On October 30th, 1891, Elijah Bond assigned the Ouija patent to William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard. The details around whether Elijah sold the rights or was considered an investor in the Kennard Novelty Company remain unclear.

Ouija Board Production: Modification and Contention

The Kennard Novelty Company started production on the Ouija Board and decided to modify the planchette from its original design. They adapted the planchette from its original design, replacing wheels with three legs. Each leg had a felt pad, which made its movement smoother.

The planchette was sold alongside a smooth board featuring the alphabet, numbers, and phrases like ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ and ‘goodbye,’ which was now officially known as the Ouija board.

In 1892, the company’s name was changed to Ouija Novelty Company when Col. Washington Bowie decided to dismiss all the partners except his friend, Harry Welles Rusk. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of contention among all the partners.

Transition of Control: From Rusk to Fuld

Harry Welles Rusk continued as the company’s president until 1898, when he sold his share to Col. Washington Bowie for $100. Bowie assumed full control, including the production rights of the Ouija board.

In an interesting turn, Col. Bowie entrusted the company to his friend, protégé, and fellow Freemason, William Fuld, an original employee and stockholder. In 1919, Col. Washington Bowie assigned all rights to the Ouija Board to William Fuld for a symbolic $1.

William Fuld started construction on a large factory to manufacture Ouija boards after he says the Ouija board told him to do so.

I’m not a Spiritualist! I’m a Presbyterian. I built this factory on Ouija’s advice, but I haven’t consulted the board since. Things have been moving along so well I didn’t want to start anything.

William Fuld

Legacy of William Fuld: From Tragedy to Ouija’s Expansion

The story of the Ouija Board took a sad turn on February 24th, 1927, when William Fuld was killed in a tragic accident. William Fuld fell from the roof while overseeing a flagpole replacement at his Ouija Board factory. He eventually died due to his severe injuries and a broken rib that pierced his heart.

On his deathbed, Fuld made a heartfelt plea to his children: never sell the Ouija board. However, due to the declining health of his children, they eventually sold the company to the Parker Brothers (who later became Hasbro) on February 24th, 1966, marking the 39th anniversary of William Fuld’s unfortunate accident.

It turned out to be a wise investment for the Parker Brothers. In 1967, during the Vietnam War, a remarkable 2 million Ouija boards were purchased, surpassing even the popular Monopoly. This enduring popularity cements the Ouija Board as an iconic piece of paranormal history, continuing to captivate minds around the world.

In 2007, after a 15-year search, TBHS [Talking Board Historical Society] founder Robert Murch located Elijah Jefferson Bond’s unmarked grave in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

A year later, together with generous donations from Ouija enthusiasts, the cooperation of the cemetery itself, and the blessing of Bond descendants Walter Dent Jr. (Bond’s great grand nephew) and his daughter Winifred Pierce, a new memorial monument was erected to mark Bond’s grave and commemorate his involvement with the Ouija.

The headstone was crafted by Tegeler Monuments, and its backside contains the Bond’s iconic talking board drawing from the original Ouija patent. It has since become the cemetery’s most-requested gravesite for visitors.

Talking Board Historical Society
Elijah Jefferson Bond Gravestone Rear Detail
Elijah Jefferson Bond Gravestone Rear Detail. Wikimedia. Photo credit: Something Original.

How did the Ouija Board Get Its Name?

Ouija is pronounced Wee-juh, however this can be a topic of debate in the witchcraft and occult community. It’s commonly believed the name Ouija is a combination of the French and German words for “yes” (oui and ja). However, Robert Murch, the president of the Talking Board Historical Society, says that theory is wrong.

Murch says the powerful medium, Helen Peters (Elijah Bond’s sister mentioned above), originally asked the Ouija board what it would like to be called, and the name Ouija came up. When they asked the board what Ouija meant, it replied, “Good luck.

However, Helen Peters wore a locket with a picture of a woman she admired who resembled the famous author Madame Louise de la Ramee; her pen name happened to be Ouida. It’s possible that Ouija was a mix-up of Ouida, adding an interesting twist to how the board got its name.

Murch says, based on his research, it was Bond’s sister-in-law, Helen Peters (who was, Bond said, a “strong medium”), who supplied the now instantly recognizable handle…

…That’s the story that emerged from the Ouija founders’ letters; it’s very possible that the woman in the locket was famous author and popular women’s rights activist, [Madame Louise de la Ramee whose pen name was] Ouida, whom Peters admired, and that “Ouija” was just a misreading of that.

Smithsonian Magazine – The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board

Ouija Board Stories

From 1913 to 1937, a woman named Pearl Curran published many poems and writings by working with a Ouija board. According to Pearl, the Ouija board wrote the poems through a spirit who said her name was Patience Worth and claimed to be a 17th-century English poet.

How to Make a Ouija Board

Many people choose to create their own Spirit or Ouija boards and for many reasons! Some believe a homemade Ouija helps them connect more personally to the board. Others don’t like to buy the commercial Ouija board because they feel it’s cheap, don’t like how it’s marketed as a toy, or don’t feel connected to it. The option is of course, entirely yours!

There are also those that have found several problems with store-bought boards like the fact that the planchette legs move off the edge of the board. According to Raymond Buckland:

The design of the planchette. The instructions given (with the Ouija board) say: “The mysterious message indicator (planchette) will commence to move…as it passes over Ouija talking board each letter of a message is received as it appears through the transparent window covered by the message indicator.”

This is not strictly true. Sometimes you receive a string of letters that seem to make no sense whatsoever – until it is realized that the planchette is no longer showing the relevant letters through its plastic “window” on the one line, but it is pointing to the letters on the line above with its tapered end!

Consequently, you must often watch, and note, two sets of letters rather than one! To overcome this drawback, I suggest covering [over] the “window” and going solely by where the pointed end of the planchette indicates. Some other talking boards (and the original Fuld design) do not have the “window” – they are just a solid, heart-shaped pointer – and so it is a simple matter to see what letters are indicated.

Raymond Buckland “Book of Spirit Communications’

Here are a few ideas for those of you looking to create your own:

  • You can create your own planchette by using a CD with felt attached to the bottom portion to help it glide more easily.
  • Try not using a board at all and printing out letters, numbers, and phrases like ” yes, ” ” no, ” and ” goodbye. ” Place them in a circle on a smooth tabletop and use a wine bottle or shot glass as a planchette.
  • Using a wooden board from a craft or home improvement store, paint or draw all the elements of a spirit board onto the surface. I would sand this very well and coat it with something (Mod Podge or resin?) to make it smooth. You can use a wooden triangle or shot glass as a planchette. Adding felt circles similar to those used for furniture pads will help it move more easily.
  • Using a thrifted wooden table, try wood-burning or painting letters directly onto it. A collapsible one would make storing even easier! You could also try using a TV tray or a serving platter. I’ve even heard of people painting or wood-burning it directly on their coffee table, desk, or dining room table!

Original Ouija Board and Planchette patent:



I hope you all found this helpful!! Lots of love to you and remember as always…..


Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communications. Llewellyn Publications. 8 March 2004.

Covina, Gina. The Ouija Book. Simon & Schuster. 11 September 1979.

Hunt, Stoker. Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game. Harper Perennial Library. 23 October 1992.

McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez. The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board. Smithsonian Magazine. 27 October 2013.

Planchette Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Encyclopedia.com. <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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