Ouija

ouija by norman rockwell

Ouija [wee-jee] is a commercial trademark for a ‘talking board,’ which is a device marked with letters, numbers, and other symbols, supposedly used to communicate with spirits. It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood) 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 as a result of the ideomotor effect (a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously).

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. Some mainstream Christian religions have associated use of the Ouija board with the threat of demonic possession, as have certain Occultist movements.

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