Are Talking Boards “Just Toys”
Talking Boards, also known as Witch Boards or more commonly Ouija Boards have always been a controversial subject among almost everyone. Can these boards really be used to communicate with the other side, and if so, why are a lot of these boards sold through toy stores as “games” or novelty items? How did such things end up being marketed to young children and teens that are often inexperienced with the paranormal? In fact, a lot of people credit their first paranormal experience to the use of these boards. A few of these questions are answered in the history of the Talking Board.
The Ouija board was not the first tool used in attempt to communicate with spirits. In fact the Planchette, the object used to point to the letters and numbers on these boards, was once used all by itself. The word Planchette translates to “Little Plank” in French and was once used with pencils attached to the legs by mediums for automatic writing. The idea behind automatic writing was to have the spirit “take over” the medium and write out messages for friends or family that eagerly awaited answers or just simply needed closure. The actual board came from E.C. Reiche, a cabinet and coffin maker from Maryland who made a wooden tray with letters and numbers. The Planchette was then modified to be used without the pencils so it could be moved easily around the board. The word Ouija comes from combining the French and German words for “yes”, oui and ja. Reiche later sold the invention to Charles Kennard who founded the Kennard Novelty Co He and William H. A. Maupin filed for the first patent on these boards on May 28, 1890. This is where the better known name in Ouija comes into the picture, William Fuld, who was the shop manager at the time, decided to go into business for himself and changed the name to the Ouija Novelty Co. This company was later sold to Parker Brothers© in 1966. This is how these boards ended up in toy store aisles.
Today these boards come in many different styles with the same basic idea, there is even a pink Ouija board made especially for girls, but the question remains, is this really something to “play” with? There are hundreds of cautionary tales about using these boards. We have all heard the stories of one being used at a teen party for fun, and then weird things begin to happen. The candles that were lit are blown out, there are scratching sounds on the wall, whispering noises and so on. Some believe these boards are an easy way to open a gateway. You are not only openly inviting spirits into your home but allowing it to manipulate your own movements by guiding the plachette to reveal messages. There is even the belief that those using these boards open themselves up for possession by demons or inhuman entities, that once a gateway is opened there is no guarantee of who or what you’re getting. Another theory is the board is a simple divination tool like tarot cards or the pendulum.. Our subconscious is really the one guiding the planchette to the letters or numbers and there is no spirit involvement what so ever.
The answer may never be completely clear on the subject of how the board actually works, but the one thing most agree on is the mystery surrounding it is what has kept it selling for well over a century. There are books on Ouija, collectors of Ouija, and even an online Ouija board! This little invention is everywhere and in many forms. We will continue to see them make appearances at parties and in movies as long as there are people who are intrigued by the unknown and enjoy feeling a little scared, after all it’s just a game, right?