I actually wrote this post a few years ago but decided I wanted to expand a little bit upon it so enjoy!
Awhile back I came across an article on the internet that listed a bunch of different style Spirit Boards (i.e. “Ouija Boards”), I shared this to my personal facebook page because I absolutely love Spirit Boards. Not surprisingly, most of the comments were about how terrible Spirit Boards are. (I posted this on my facebook page again, lets see if it happens again!) Spirit Boards are unfortunately one of the most controversial tools used in mediumship today, despite the fact that they were once considered to be an essential tool for spirit communication.
The concept of a spirit board developed through a combination of two forms of physical mediumship: ‘table-tipping,’ where the alphabet was spoken allowed during a seance and the spirits would ‘tip’ the table when the correct letter was chosen, and “planchette writing” where a small wooden board would be used to produce automatic writing (early versions sometimes had small wheels on them, and would have a space for a pencil to be attached). These tools were combined to make an easier method, where the planchette could be moved by the spirits to point to letters pre-written on a small board.
In 1890 businessman Elijah Bond designed and patented a spirit board he termed the “Ouija Board.” This patent would eventually be acquired a few years later by William Fuld, who is truly responsible for the popularity of the Ouija Board and is considered the “Father of the Ouija Board.” Through a hugely successful marketing campaign he turned the concept of a “Ouija Board” into a household name.
Early Spiritualist literature promoted the uses and benefits of spirit boards for developing mediumship. In Spirit Mediumship by Rev. E. W. Sprague he lists these methods among forms of physical mediumship, and in Genuine Mediumship by William Walker Atkinson, he actually mentions Ouija Boards by name, stating, “Ouija Boards are sold at a moderate price, and will be found a valuable adjunct to any spiritualist circle.” He also gave instructions on how to use them, also explains how the reader can create their own at home.
Unfortunately, with its mass production the spirit board became removed from it’s spiritual purpose and became to be seen as a parlor game to entertain and frighten people. This lead to misuse and misunderstanding, which then ended up causing these simple boards to be surrounded in urban legends and Hollywood Horror pop culture.
I remember asking for a Ouija Board for probably my eighth or ninth birthday. I remember mostly playing around with it and looking at it, but having very little desire or interest to conduct a seance, I mostly just wanted to own it because I thought it was fun looking and ‘spooky’. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I would seriously begin to practice and use one. I used it as a way to practice physical mediumship and communicate with my spirit guides: both in solitary sittings by myself, and also fairly often with a good friend of mine who was also interested spiritualism and spiritual phenomena (and is also a fantastic medium!).
Thankfully due to a new generation of freethinking Spiritualists, the taboos surrounding Spirit Boards are slowly beginning to be overcome, and the practice is making a bit of a resurgence. It may take awhile for the image to recover from all the damage done, but it seems that the Spirit Board is finally being restored back to its rightful place as a Spiritualist tool of healing and spiritual development.