Many different schools of thought exist on the usage of channeling boards, aka “Ouija boards.” Some believe them to be a tool of the devil, while others believe them to be a sham. Still, the notion persists that they are useful tools for contacting beings from another realm. Exactly what are these “Ouija boards,” where did they come from, and how do they work?
According to Webster’s College Dictionary, the ouija board is “a board game consisting of a planchette that is placed on a larger board marked with words, letters, etc., that can spell out messages presumably from telepathic or spiritualistic sources.” Somehow this concise definition lacks the romantic vision that has surrounded the Ouija board for decades. Perhaps there is a better way to explain this spiritual device.
The art of channeling has been documented since the ancient Egyptian era. It has undoubtedly been in use for much longer, probably as long as man has suspected the existence of a world beyond that which he could see. Commercially, the channeling board appeared at the middle to end of the 19th century. The production of this “board game” began as a small business that eventually fell into the hands of Parker Brothers, the board game company. A few different manufacturers have picked up the idea and created their own versions of the board, though very few of them have marketed them as toys.
The internet is full of stories of individuals’ experiences with channeling boards. Undoubtedly, people are getting these things to work, to actually spell out comprehensible messages. However, no one quite agrees on the source of the planchette’s movement.
There are four main theories. The most widely accepted explanation for the phenomena associated with channeling boards is that spirits or some other beings from the “other side” are speaking to us with the planchette and board as tools. Some report that the spirits are moving the planchette in answer to the questions, while others believe the ghostly beings are actually being channeled through the users’ bodies, thereby making the users hands move the planchette.
Others theorize that the planchette moves via the users own power, and the responses are not ghostly in nature, but a psychic phenomenon in which the users’ own ESP reveals the answers. The third rationalization is that the board’s answers are really subconscious thoughts and feelings emerging, much like a session of hypnosis. Lastly, of course, is the skeptic’s view that the movement of the planchette is solely due to the ideomotor effect (involuntary movement of the muscles in the hands and wrists).
While it is tempting to rely on Science and deny all existence of outside forces, the fact remains that nearly every user of the ouija board board has received an actual message. Whether that message comes from within us or from a spiritual dimension may be disputable; the fact that there is a message is not.
As I have studied many articles, books, and musings regarding the use of the channeling board, I have not found a single set of resources that agrees on any one group of procedures for proper use of them. Many warn not to use the board alone, while others insist this is perfectly safe. Some explain the necessity for the users to have an experienced medium in control of the board at all times, and yet others encourage all users, old, young, experienced, or novice. Several experts recommend the use of board opening and closing rituals in order to prevent evil spirits from coming through. In addition to the numerous usage instructions, I have also read many warnings about the infamous ouija board.
Skeptics denounce the boards, claiming they are purely the board game they are marketed to be. Christians especially take exception to the boards, insisting they are tools of the Devil. Their literature sites many Bible verses condemning the use of the satanic items. Even some believers in the supernatural reject channeling boards, claiming that the spirits do not hold the knowledge that users seek. The greatest fear, that of possession, is well documented in books, anecdotes, and Bible verses, and dramatized in horror movies.
How does one using a ouija board obtain satisfactory results and maintain safety? However differing the opinions of the experts are, there are a few words of advice that all agree on. First, when speaking to a “spirit,” use common courtesy. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. Do not attempt to anger the spirits or show them disrespect as many users have learned to regret these actions. Secondly, take all answers with a grain of salt. If users are speaking with beings from another place and/or time, who is to say that they know the details of his or anyone else’s future?
While I do not profess to know all the answers, I can, however, provide my humble opinion. The experience is what one makes of it. I do not believe that protection rituals need be performed by each person who wishes to operate a board. However, one’s frame of mind undoubtedly directly influences the results. Setting up a ritual complete with candles, meditation, fancy garb and the proper tools and lighting puts the inner self in the right mood to participate.
The ideal way to use the ouija board, however, is best left to the individual and what he/she feels is necessary to set the correct ambience. One may start with another’s ritual, then add or subtract as is felt necessary.
Of all the theories and ideas available regarding the channeling board, there is one concept in which I am confident. If a group of teenagers sets out to conjure up some nasty ghouls, then that is what they are likely to accomplish. Should a couple of serious occult students sit down with a channeling board, hoping to simply make contact with the “other side,” then that is bound to happen safely. A skeptic, bound and determined to denounce the powers of the board, will find just what is expected…nothing. The board itself is nothing but a tool. Just as with a hammer, it can be useless, dangerous, or very helpful.
Tara Scharlau is a critical care nurse who has always had an interest in Ouija boards. At the age of 16, she created her first handcrafted board. Now Tara owns and operates her own business, Taramisu’s Custom Channeling Boards, where you can purchase a handmade board of your own.