The Ouija board (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 various symbols and graphics. It is a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc., which markets and distributes the Ouija Board as part of its line of board games. 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 board.
Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond on July 1, 1890, 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.
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.
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. Despite being repeatedly debunked by the efforts of the scientific community and denounced as a tool of Satan by conservative Christians, Ouija remains popular among many people.
What makes the Ouija so different and controversial is that it has a certain notoriety. Without this reputation it would be just another board game like Monopoly or Chinese Checkers. Speaking of games, someone once made the observation that Ouija was really Scrabble with attitude, and this may be true on more than one level. The Museum of Talking Boards would not be complete without a few interesting Ouija narratives. These are entertainment pieces and we do not necessarily expect you to take them as gospel. Notice how they reveal more about the people involved with the Ouija than the actual board itself. The Ouija board, while usually expected by popular culture to reflect the darker side of life, can also act to inspire and direct, as you will see. That said, we present the following accounts, some old, some new, all thought provoking and worthy of further investigation.