The History of the Ouija Board / Spirit Board

The Ouija board, spirit board or talking board, has fascinated practitioners of the occult, divination, witchcraft and spiritualism for thousands of years. 

I love to create ouija boards, and while researching, illustrating and designing my own spirit boards, I discovered that the concept of using a board with letters and numbers to communicate with spirits dates back to ancient times: there is evidence that “planchette writing” (a form of automatic writing) was first used in China during the Song Dynasty (1100AD). 

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During the mid-19th century, spiritualism was growing in Europe and the United States, based on the knowledge that departed souls can interact with the living and send communication. Spiritualists of the time sought to make contact with the dead, usually through the assistance of a medium. While some early mediums worked in a trance like state, others used Spirit Boards. (Here you can learn how to use a Spirit Board / Ouija Board and hold your own seance.)

The modern talking board (Ouija board) as we know it emerged in the late 19th century and in 1890, businessman Elijah Bond patented the Ouija board. Bond, along with Charles Kennard and William H.A. Maupin, formed the Kennard Novelty Company to manufacture and market the boards. 

The term "Ouija" is believed to have different sources:  many believe the word is a simple combination of the French and German words for "yes". Others believe it is derived from an ancient Egyptian word for "good luck”.

As Spiritualism was so popular during the early 20th century, Ouija Boards quickly became a commercial success. Initially, it was marketed as a parlor game / board game, but for those  genuinely interested in spiritual communication, it became a useful tool for contacting the spirit world. 

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While the talking board has always remained popular, it has been, at times, slightly controversial because some people believe it can open portals to malevolent spirits or even possess its users. Ouija boards have made numerous appearances in popular culture, from literature, film, television and horror movies, such as "The Exorcist," but remember when used correctly, it is entirely safe to open up a gateway to the Spiritual world.

The history of the Ouija board reflects humanity's enduring fascination with the unknown and our ongoing quest to understand the mysteries of life and death, the spirit, the soul and the space beyond the liminal. That remains today with the modern witch, green witch, hedge witch and pagan communicating with spirits safely using talking boards as a fundamental of their spiritual practice.

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