Ouija Board
Apparatus for psychic communication. The name was derived
from the French word oui and the German word ja meaning
‘yes.’ A medium spells out messages by pointing out letters
on a board with the apex of a wooden tripod on rollers. It is an
ancient invention; a similar device was used in the days of Pythagoras,
about 540 B.C.E. According to a French historical account
of the philosopher’s life, his sect held séances or circles
at ‘‘a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs,
which the philosopher and his pupil, Philolaus, interpreted to
the audience as being revelations supposedly from the unseen
The original ouija board was replaced with a piece of alphabetical
cardboard, and a finger-like pointer was added to the
narrow end of the wooden tripod. If the pointer and the roll
at the apex is replaced by a pencil to form a third leg, the ouija
board becomes a planchette.
Mrs. Hester Dowden, an English medium stated ‘‘The
words come through so quickly that it is almost impossible to
read them, and it requires an experienced shorthand writer to
take them down when the traveller moves at its maximum
speed.’’ She also believed the cooperation of two automatists
led to the best results.
It is believed the ouija board, when used as a method of
communication, is slow and laborious but frequently works for
those unable to receive automatic writing with a pencil.
While the ouija board remains popular and is sold commercially
as a ‘‘game,’’ it has been attacked both by critics of the occult
and those within the occult community who consider it unsafe.
Some mediums claim to have started with the board and
‘‘discovered’’ their psychic abilities as a result of using it.
Gruess, Edmond G. The Ouija Board Doorway to the Occult.
Chicago Moody Press, 1975.
White, Stewart Edward. The Betty Book. New York E. P. Dutton,

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