The official inventor of the first spirit board (which later went on to become known as a Ouija board) is Elijah Bond, who patented a planchette accompanying a board on which the alphabet is printed in 1890.
Spirit communication was very popular in the late 1800s and the layout of a spirit board was considered to provide a much better way of communicating with spirits. By the late 1880s, it became common practice with spiritualists to use one, which is what led Elijah Bond to patent the idea of the spirit board and planchette sold together. Production of the boards was taken over by employee William Fuld who later sold the patent and trademarks to Hasbro. Although the name Ouija is trademarked by Hasbro, the term is still used commonly to describe spirit boards in general.
Despite the patent being filed in 1890, the first known use of ouija-style alphabet boards actually dates back to China around 1100AD, where it was used for automatic writing as a method of contacting the spirit world. According to Chao Wei-pang in The origin and Growth of the Fu Chi, similar methods of spirit writing were also observed in ancient India, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.
The link between Ouija boards and the occult began when an American spiritualist by the name of Pearl Curran used a Ouija board as a divination tool in 1913. Pearl Curran claimed to have contacted a spirit named Patience Worth who had lived during 1649 -1649.
Many scientists believe that the activity taking place during a ouija board session can be explained by the ideomotor effect (unconscious muscle movements) - meaning that those using the board are moving the planchette without realising.
Others argue that the board is merely a tool for spirits to communicate their message, which they do by possessing the user and controlling them to move the planchette as required.
Despite the controversy, ouija boards are still a popular tool for amateur spirit communication attempts. What do you think? Have you ever used a spirit board?