Ouija


Ouija
A modern ouija board plus planchette


The Ouija board (play /ˈwə/ wee-jə) 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", "hello" and "goodbye", and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board.[citation needed] It is a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc.,[1] which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games.[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. Participants place their fingers on the planchette and it is moved about the board to spell out words. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking taco.

Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond on July 1, 1890,[3] 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.[4]

Mainstream 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.[5]

While Ouija believers feel the paranormal or supernatural is responsible for Ouija's action, it may be parsimoniously explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect.[6][7][8] Despite being debunked by the efforts of the scientific community, Ouija remains popular among many people.[4]

Contents

History

Wang Chongyang, founder of the Quanzhen School, depicted in Changchun Temple, Wuhan

China

One of the first mentions of the automatic writing method used in the Ouija board is found in China around 1100 CE, in historical documents of the Song Dynasty.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.[9] 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.[10]

Toy

During the late 19th century, planchettes were widely sold as a novelty. The businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard had the idea to patent 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".[11] 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".[12] 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.[11]

Criticism

Religious

Most religious criticism of the Ouija board has come from Christians, primarily evangelicals in the USA. In 2001 Ouija boards were burned in Alamogordo, New Mexico by fundamentalist groups alongside Harry Potter books as 'symbols of witchcraft'.[13][14][15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18][19]

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.[20]

Popular

Ouija boards have been criticized 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.[21][22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

Academic

The Ouija phenomenon has been criticized by many scientists as a hoax related to the ideomotor response.[25] 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 planchette involuntarily.[25][26] Detractors have described Ouija board users as 'operators'.[27] Some critics noted that the messages ostensibly spelled out by spirits were similar to whatever was going through the minds of the subjects.[28]

In the 1970s Ouija board users were also described as "cult members" by sociologists, though this was severely scrutinised in the field.[29]

Use in literature

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.[30]

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.[31]

Also, the poems written by Patience Worth, an alleged spirit, contacted by Pearl Lenore Curran, for more than 20 years, were transcripted via a ouija board.

Notable users

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.[32]

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.[33]

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."[34]

In London in 1994, convicted murderer Stephen Young was granted a retrial after it was learned that four of the jurors had conducted a Ouija board seance and had "contacted" the murdered man, who had named Young as his killer. Young was convicted for a second time at his retrial and jailed for life.[35][36][37]

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, used a Ouija board and conducted seances in attempts to contact the dead.[38]

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.[39]

Dick Brooks of the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, uses a Ouija board as part of a paranormal and seance presentation.[40]

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.[41]

Die Antwoord vocalist Yo-landi Vi$$er writes her raps with a Ouija board.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44]

Notes

  1. ^ US Patent and Trademark Office Registration Number 0519636, Registration Date: January 10, 1950, Live Mark as of June 16, 2011 [1]
  2. ^ See, Hasbro Inc., brandlist retrieved June 16, 2011
  3. ^ See US Trademark Registration Number 0519636 under First Use In Commerce [2]
  4. ^ a b Brunvand, Jan Harold (1998). American folklore: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780815333500. http://books.google.com/books?id=l0N_sedAATAC&pg=PA534&dq=ouija+debunked&ct=result#v=onepage&q=ouija%20debunked&f=false. 
  5. ^ Raising the devil: Satanism, new religions, and the media. University Press of Kentucky. http://books.google.com/books?id=oLcqlypMCe8C&pg=PA65&dq=ouija++christian&cd=7#v=onepage&q=ouija%20%20christian&f=false. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  6. ^ Adams, Cecil; Ed Zotti (July 3, 2000). "How does a Ouija board work?". The Straight Dope. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1798/how-does-a-ouija-board-work. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Carroll, Robert T. (2009-10-31). "Ouija board". Skeptic's Dictionary. http://skepdic.com/ouija.html. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Shermer, Michael (2002). The Skeptic encyclopedia of pseudoscience, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576076538. http://books.google.com/books?id=Gr4snwg7iaEC&pg=PP12&dq=ouija+ideomotor#v=onepage&q=ouija%20&f=false. 
  9. ^ Silvers, Brock. The Taoist Manual (Honolulu: Sacred Mountain Press, 2005), p. 129–132.
  10. ^ Chao Wei-pang. 1942. "The origin and Growth of the Fu Chi", Folklore Studies 1:9–27
  11. ^ a b Museum of Talking Boards: Ancient Ouija Boards, Fact or Fiction?[unreliable source?]
  12. ^ Cornelius, J. E. Aleister Crowley and the Ouija Board, pp. 20–21. Feral House, 2005.
  13. ^ Ishizuka, Kathy (February, 2002). "Harry Potter book burning draws fire". School Library Journal (New York) 48 (2): 27. 
  14. ^ "Book banning spans the globe;". Houston Chronicle. October 3, 2002. 
  15. ^ Lauren LaRocca (July 13, 2007). "The Potter phenomenon". Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. 
  16. ^ Page McKean Zyromski (October 2006). "Facts for Teaching about Halloween". Catechist. 
  17. ^ "Pink Ouija Board Declared "A Dangerous Spiritual Game," Possibly Destroying Our Children [The Craft]". Jezebel. February 7, 2010. 
  18. ^ Paula Horton (March 15, 2008). "Teen gets 41 years in Benton City slayings". McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 
  19. ^ Paula Horton (January 26, 2008). "Mom says son influenced by Satan on day of Benton City slayings". McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 
  20. ^ Dernbach, Katherine Boris (Spring 2005). "SPIRITS OF THE HEREAFTER: DEATH, FUNERARY POSSESSION, AND THE AFTERLIFE IN CHUUK, MICRONESIA1". Ethnology (Pittsburgh) 44 (2): 99. doi:10.2307/3773992. 
  21. ^ "Everything You Wanted To Know". The Statesman. October 11, 2009. 
  22. ^ Howerth, I. W. (Aug., 1927). "Science and Religion". The Scientific Monthly (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 25 (2): 151. JSTOR 7828. 
  23. ^ Lloyd, Alfred H. (Sep., 1921). "Newspaper Conscience--A Study in Half-Truths". The American Journal of Sociology (The University of Chicago Press) 27 (2): 198–205. JSTOR 2764824. 
  24. ^ George Kielty (October 7, 2010). "Electric Six: Zodiac". St Petersburg Times. 
  25. ^ a b Burgess, Cheryl A; Irving Kirsch, Howard Shane, Kristen L. Niederauer, Steven M. Graham and Alyson Bacon. "Facilitated Communication as an Ideomotor Response". Psychological Science (Blackwell Publishing) 9 (1): 71. JSTOR 40063250. 
  26. ^ Hattie Brown Garrow (December 1, 2008). "Suffolk's Lakeland High teens find their own answers". McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 
  27. ^ Brian Dickerson (February 6, 2008). "Detroit Free Press Brian Dickerson column: Crying rape through a Ouija board". McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 
  28. ^ Tucker, Milo Asem (Apr., 1897). "Compartive Observations on the Involuntary Movements of Adults and Children". The American Journal of Psychology (University of Illinois Press) 8 (3): 402. JSTOR 1411486. 
  29. ^ Robbins, Thomas; Dick Anthony (1979). "The Sociology of Contemporary Religious Movements". Annual Review of Sociology (Annual Reviews) 5: 81–7. JSTOR 2945948. 
  30. ^ White, Stewart Edward (March 1943). The Betty Book. USA: E. P. Dutton & CO., Inc.. pp. 14–15. ISBN 0898041511. 
  31. ^ http://www.twainquotes.com/19170909.html
  32. ^ BBC – Radio 4 – Great Lives – Richard Ingrams on GK Chesterton – 9 May 2003
  33. ^ Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game, Stoker Hunt, Chapter 6, pages 44–50.
  34. ^ Popham, Peter (2005-12-02). "The seance that came back to haunt Romano Prodi". The Independent. http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article330676.ece. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  35. ^ Spencer, J.R., "Seances, and the Secrecy of the Jury–Room", The Cambridge Law Journal, Vol.54, No.3, (November 1995), pp.519–522.
  36. ^ BBC News report
  37. ^ News report in The Independent
  38. ^ Matthew J. Raphael (May 2002). Bill W. and Mr. Wilson: The Legend and Life of A. A.'s Cofounder. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 159–. ISBN 978-1-55849-360-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=mj4sI04-uMkC&pg=PA159. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  39. ^ Wednesday July 25th, 2007 Coast to Coast AM Show Summary
  40. ^ [3]
  41. ^ The Bedlam in Goliath Offers Weird Ouija Tale of The Mars Volta
  42. ^ [4]
  43. ^ The Rock Radio: Alice Cooper Biography
  44. ^ Flowers Convinced Of Own Death En Route To Glastonbury. femalefirst.co.uk 15-05-2007

References

External links

Information on talking boards
Skeptics
Trade marks and patents
Other

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