So many horror movies starred this board game that most aren’t sure how exactly to pronounce. The Ouija board purports to allow players to communicate with the spirits of the dead, and ask them questions. Of course, most people know this basic premise and nothing much else, so we’ve helped you uncover some facts.
10 of them, actually, and they’re pretty damn creepy, like the game itself.
1. Name Origins
According to the man who acquired the patent for the board game, the name for the spirit board was apparently given by the board itself. The story goes that Elijah Bond, the man in question, sat with the board with his sister-in-law, and asked the board for naming advice.
The planchette (the small piece you put your hand on) guided them to spell “Ouija”. When asked what did that mean, the board answered, “Good Luck”.
2. Game Rules
Since the Ouija board began selling, the board was sold with some Game Rules, that were never in agreement about what would happen if not followed precisely. Some versions claimed that otherworldly spirits would be brought to this world, some others claimed it would cause possession, or open a doorway to Hell.
The numerous movies that came later didn’t help matters at all, though back then everyone was so excited to immediately start playing they probably didn’t really read the instructions.
There were, however, three main rules that were supposedly should never be broken: Never ask the board when you are going to die, never play alone, and never talk about God.
Patents are supposed to have a detailed description of how the patented item works. However, the patent for the Ouija board did not. This was because of how Elijah Bond even got the patent. He had reportedly brought a board to the patents officer, and demonstrated it. Supposedly he had gone in without knowing the officer’s name, and had the board spell it out.
The officer was so spooked he approved the patent without the proper paperwork.
4. Used in a trial once
In 1994, during the trial of a Stephen Young, a 35-year-old insurance broker who was accused of murdering newlyweds Harry and Nicola Fuller, the jurors had apparently asked a Ouija board about the real killer. The board had apparently told them Young was guilty, so the jurors decided he was.
When it was discovered the Ouija board had a hand in the conviction, Young was granted a retrial. Where he was found guilty again.
5. Violent Crimes
Throughout the history of the Ouija board, numerous violent crimes were blamed on the spirit board. Most of these cases popped up after the movies that were apparently “based on a true story”, like a case in 2001, when an ex-mayor in Oklahoma was stabbed to death in his sleep by his mother-in-law, who claimed the board told her he was evil and had to be killed.
In 2014, a man claimed the board told him to kill his family dog, and later on his wife and stepdaughter used the same board, which had apparently told them they were going to die. Which prompted them to set their house on fire.
6. Movie Adaptations
Speaking of movies, the Ouija board had gained a terrible reputation after the classic horror movie, The Exorcist, where a young girl became possessed by a demon through a Ouija board. The filmmakers had claimed it was based on a true story, which immediately sparked widespread fear of the board for being a gateway to Hell.
Sales for the board game plummeted, and even now people believe the board to be more than some simple board game. The subsequent stigma actually drew in some buyers, which is probably why the game still exists.
For those who don’t believe in ghosts and spirits, the board game can be explained by what’s called the Ideomotor Effect. This effect was also used to explain automatic writing, where a person trains his hand to write “by itself”. According to the Ideomotor effect, all these involuntary movement by the hands are actually controlled by your subconscious, and your hands are gently guided by your unconscious thoughts.
8. Alcoholic Anonymous
According to the co-founder of Alcoholic Anonymous, Bill Wilson, he wrote the famous 12-step recovery program under the guidance of a 15th century monk named Boniface, through a Ouija board. He had a ‘spook-room’ in his house where he would frequently spend time in to contact the spirits of the dead.
Wilson was also known to be a user of LSD, and had been involved in LSD experiments with Aldous Huxley (writer of Brave New World).
9. True Origins Mystery
For such a world-famous board game, the origins are mysterious. Nobody can actually confirm with any proof the true origins of a spirit board. There are numerous theories abound, of course, but none with actual evidence. Ouija boards have been linked to automatic writing, where mediums claim to have written down messages from spirits. Others have linked the board to ancient Chinese writing devices, or Pythagoras, who was said to have created similar boards back in 540 BC.
None of these theories has any real evidence.
10. Outsold Monopoly During WWI
Before The Exorcist came out in 1973, most people had believed in ghosts, and almost every family owned a Ouija board. In fact, the board was advertised as a family friendly game, or a good dating activity full of mystery and excitement. During the period of WWI, the board game even outsold Monopoly.