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A Ouija board (pronounced /ˈwiːdʒə ˌbɔːrd/, WEE-jə, and possibly derived from the French and German

Ouija
words for "yes", oui and ja),[1] also known as a spirit/fire key board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words 'yes' 'no' and 'goodbye', and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board. Similarly pronounced Hindi word Ojha means the ones who deal with spirits. The Ouija board was invented as a means to deal with ones spiritual self, to access a part of the soul not usually accessed. However is more commonly believed to be a way of communicating with spirits of the dead. Although nobody knows where the idea for such a device came from, there are records of Ouija-like instruments being used in ancient China, Greece, Rome and many other countries.[2] It uses a planchette(small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit's message by spelling it out on the board during a séance. The fingers of the séance participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves about the board to spell out words or become physically manifested. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking board.

Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond in the late 1890s, the Ouija board was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I.[3] Mainstream Christian religions and some occultists have associated use of the Ouija board with the threat of demonic possession and some have cautioned their followers not to use Ouija boards.[4]

While Ouija believers feel the paranormal or supernatural is responsible for Ouija's action, it may beparsimoniously explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiologicalphenomenon known as the ideomotor effect.[5][6][7] Despite being debunked by the efforts of the scientific community, Ouija remains popular among many young people.[3[1]]


HistoryEdit

[2][3]Wang Chongyang, founder of the Quanzhen School, depicted in Changchun Temple, Wuhan===[edit]China===

See also: Fuji (planchette writing)

One of the first mentions of the automatic writing method used in the Ouija board is found inChina around 1100 BCE, in historical documents of the Song Dynasty. The method was known as fuji 扶乩 "planchette writing". The use of planchette writing as a means of ostensibly contacting the dead and the spirit-world continued, and, albeit under special rituals and supervisions, was a central practice of the Quanzhen School, until it was forbidden by the Qing Dynasty.[8] Several entire scriptures of the Daozang are supposedly works of automatic planchette writing. Similar methods of mediumistic spirit writing have been widely practiced in Ancient India, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.[9]

[edit]VietnamEdit

See also: Caodaism===[edit]Toy===

During the late 19th century, planchettes were widely sold as a novelty. The businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard had the idea topatent a planchette sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed. The patentees filed on May 28, 1890 for patent protection and thus had invented the first Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891. They received U.S. Patent 446,054. Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device. An employee of Kennard, William Fuld took over the talking board production and in 1901, he started production of his own boards under the name "Ouija".[10] Kennard claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology, that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes".[11]The Fuld name would become synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld reinvented its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. The strange talk about the boards from Fuld's competitors flooded the market and all these boards enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s through the 1960s. Fuld sued many companies over the "Ouija" name and concept right up until his death in 1927. In 1966, Fuld's estate sold the entire business to Parker Brothers, who continues to hold all trademarks and patents. About ten brands of talking boards are sold today under various names.[10]

[edit]CriticismEdit

[edit]ReligiousEdit

Most religious criticism of the Ouija board has come from Christians, primarily evangelicals in the USA. In 2001 Ouija boards were burned in Alamogordo, N.M by fundamentalist groups alongside Harry Potter books as 'symbols of witchcraft'.[12][13][14] Religious criticism has also expressed beliefs that the Ouija board reveals information which should only be on God's hands, and thus it is a tool of Satan.[15] A spokesperson for Human Life International described the boards as a portal to talk to spirits and called for Hasbro to be prohibited from marketing them.[16]

In the murder trial of Joshua Tucker, his mother insisted that he had carried out the murders while possessed by the devil who found him when he was using a Ouija board.[17][18]

Bishops in Micronesia called for the boards to be banned and warned congregations that they were talking to demons and devils when using the boards.[19]

[edit]PopularEdit

Ouija boards have been criticised in the press since their inception; having been variously described as '"vestigial remains" of primitive belief-systems' and a con to part fools with their money.[20][21] Some journalists have described reports of Ouija board findings as 'half truths' and have suggested that their inclusion in national newspapers lowers the national discourse overall.[22]

Ouija boards have also been satirized in song. Singer Dick Valentine's lyrics suggest playing with them is comparable to 'playing with tiddlywinks' and nothing more. [23]

[edit]AcademicEdit

The Ouija phenomenon has been criticised by many scientists as a hoax related to the ideomotor response.[24] Various studies have been produced, recreating the effects of the Ouija board in the lab and showing that, at least under laboratory conditions, the subjects were moving the board involuntarily.[24][25] Detractors have described Ouija board users as 'operators'.[26] Some critics noted that the messages ostensibly spelled out by spirits were similar to whatever was going through the minds of the subjects.[27]

In the 1970s Ouija board users were also described as "cult members" by sociologists, though this was severely scrutinised in the field.[28]

[edit]Use in literatureEdit

Ouija boards have been the source of inspiration for literary works, used as guidance in writing, or as a form of channeling literary works. As a result of Ouija boards becoming popular in the early 20th century, by the 1920s many "psychic" books were written of varying quality often initiated by Ouija board use.[29]

Emily Grant Hutchings claimed that her 1917 novel Jap Herron: A Novel Written from the Ouija Board was dictated by Mark Twain's spirit through the use of a ouija board after his passing.[30]

Also, the poems written by Patience Worth, a alleged spirit, contacted by Pearl Lenore Curran, for more than 20 years, were transcripted via a ouija board. The poems are little known outside the occult circles.

[edit]Notable usersEdit

G. K. Chesterton used a Ouija board. Around 1893 he had gone through a crisis of skepticism and depression, and during this period Chesterton experimented with the Ouija board and grew fascinated with the occult.[31]

Poet James Merrill used a Ouija board for years, and even encouraged entrance of spirits into his body. He wrote the poem "The Changing Light at Sandover" with the help of a Ouija board. Before he died, he recommended that people not use Ouija boards.[32]

Former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi claimed under oath that, in a séance held in 1978 with other professors at the University of Bologna, the "ghost" of Giorgio La Pira spelled the name of the street where Aldo Moro was being held by the Red Brigades in a Ouija. According to Peter Popham of The Independent: "Everybody here has long believed that Prodi's ouija board tale was no more than an ill-advised and bizarre way to conceal the identity of his true source, probably a person from Bologna's seething far-left underground whom he was pledged to protect."[33]

In 1994, In London, convicted murderer Stephen Young's lawyers lodged an appeal against his conviction after his learning that four of the jurors had conducted a Ouija board seance and had "contacted" the murdered man, who had named Young as his killer.[34]

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, used the Ouija board to contact spirits.[35]

On the July 25, 2007 edition of the paranormal radio show Coast to Coast AM, host George Noory attempted to carry out a live Ouija board experiment on national radio despite the strong objections of one of his guests, Jordan Maxwell, and with the encouragement of his other guests, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, and Jerry Edward Cornelius.[citation needed] In the days and hours leading up to the show, unfortunate events kept occurring to Noory's friends and family as well as some of his guests, but these events would likely be considered coincidences. After recounting a near-death experience in 2000 and noting bizarre events taking place, Noory canceled the experiment.[36]

Goth band Fields of Aplomb has a song, Dissolve, on the 2003 CD Necromanteia which has been claimed by listeners to leave messages while playing the song.

Dick Brooks of the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, uses a Ouija board as part of a paranormal and seance presentation.[37]

The Mars Volta wrote their album Bedlam in Goliath based on their alleged experiences with a Ouija board. According to their story (written for them by a fiction author, Jeremy Robert Johnson), Omar Rodriguez Lopez purchased a Ouija board while traveling in Jerusalem. At first the board provided a story which became the theme for the album. Strange events allegedly related to this activity occurred during the recording of the album: the studio flooded, one of the album's main engineers had a nervous breakdown, equipment began to malfunction, and Cedric Bixler-Zavala's foot was injured. Following these bad experiences the band buried the Ouija board.[38]

Other musically related uses: Early press releases stated that Vincent Furnier's stage and band name "Alice Cooper" was agreed upon after a session with a Ouija board, during which it was revealed that Furnier was the reincarnation of a 17th century witch with that name. Alice Cooper later revealed that he just thought of the first name that came to his head while discussing a new band name with his band.[39]Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers, believes his death will be associated with the number 621 (which is also his birthday, June 21) from having used a Ouija board.[40]

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