The Ouija board is a mystifying device.
Regarded by some as a sacred tool and others as just a silly game, the Ouija board has become a household name for communicating with “ghosts” or deceased relatives. While the verdict is still out as to whether the Ouija board will actually help you communicate with the spirit world, the origins of the spooky instrument have been muddied over the years.
Luckily, we’ve gathered enough research to set the record straight about Oujia and where it comes from.
You may have first experienced the Oujia board as a teenager, secretly dabbling with the occult behind your Christian parents’ back. Or, you may have known better and decided to avoid the Oujia board entirely in hopes to avoid its supposed “demonic” properties.
Regardless of whether you’ve actually seen a Ouija board in the flesh, the famous occult tool has been featured in countless movies, television shows, and books. But, have you ever wondered where the Ouija board comes from?
Officially, the Ouija board was patented in 1891 by Elijah Bond. It’s rumored the name “Ouija” originated when a medium who asked the board what it would like to be called. The board apparently replied “Oujia” and explained it was a term similar to “good luck.”
However, the Oujia has a much, much longer history.
Ancient Occult Origins
According to historical documents from the Song Dynasty, one of the first recorded mentions of the Oujia method was found in China around 1100 A.D. It was referenced as “fuji” which is also known as “planchette writing.” Fun fact, the tool used to hover over the Ouija board is known as a planchette.
The Chinese used fuji to communicate with the spirit world during sacred rituals until the Qing Dynasty forbid the practice. Other methods of communicating with the spirit world, similar to Oujia, were practiced in ancient India, Greece, Rome, and even medieval Europe.
But the history of Oujia doesn’t stop there.
More Than Just A Party Trick?
In the 19th century, many mediums began to use different methods to contact the deceased as part of what’s known as the spiritualist movement. Although at the time the Ouija board was merely known as a “talking board,” this device was wildly popular during the Civil War after many Americans wanted to communicate with their deceased loved ones.
After being patented in 1891, the Ouija board became well known as a commercial parlor game. During this time, the understood meaning of the word Oujia even changed, from “good luck” to a fusion of the French and German words for “yes.”
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Ouija board was marketed to children. This can widely be attributed to the trademark of the board changing hands from Parker Brothers to Hasbro Inc. in 1991. Even though Hasbro basically decided to turn the board into a game recommended for players 8 years and older, the success of the Oujia board thrived under Parker Brother’s time.
In fact, new factories had to be opened to keep up with demand for Oujia boards during the Great Depression. In 1967, one year after Parker Brothers bought the game, 2 million boards were sold across the United States, even outselling Monopoly.