What is a "talking board?"
The term "talking board" is the generic name for a message board with numbers, letters, and a movable message indicator. The message indicator, touched lightly by one or more persons, slides or pivots along the surface of the board to spell out words. Hence, the name "talking board." There is debate about whether the messages come from supernatural entities or are some form of psychological phenomenon originating from the players. Boards using pendulums, fixed spinners, or rolling balls, are not technically "talking boards" although they may have the same effect. Talking boards are also referred to as Ouija boards, witch boards, spirit boards, oracle boards, and most recently, channeling boards. The name "Ouija" is a registered trademark for Parker Brothers' William Fuld Talking Board Set.
When was the first Ouija board invented?
The first "Ouija" board was invented in 1890. Earlier talking boards (alphanumeric tables with rotating pointers), date to the 1850's. We don't see true talking boards much before that.
But I heard that ancient Ouija boards date to 540 BC.
The 1850’s aren’t old enough for you? Read about Ancient Ouija Boards: Fact or Fiction.
How many different kinds of talking boards are there?
No one really knows but it is safe to say hundreds, maybe thousands.
What is the Museum of Talking Boards?
The Museum of Talking Boards is our main website. There we cover the history, lore, theory, and use of the Ouija board. There are also pictures of over seven dozen antique talking boards. You won't find anything else like it on the Internet.
It's a pretty big website. What if I want to look up just one thing?
Our site is fully searchable, either from our Search Page or from our Site Map. This is the way to go if you want to find the names of certain boards, manufacturers, or just look up keywords (e.g. "ouija invocation"). It's a real time saver.
Is there an actual place called the Museum of Talking Boards?
No, the MTBs is strictly cyberspace. The boards pictured are from our personal collection.
Where did you get your historical information about Ouija boards?
Our information is from historical and court records, books, newspaper accounts, spiritualist and other journals, US patents, and interviews with relatives of manufacturers. See our references page. We strive for accuracy but do admit to letting a little popular folklore to seep in here and there. Historical corrections are always welcome, so speak up if you have something to add.
Where can I find a really old Ouija board?
You can search antique stores, flea markets, and auction houses. eBay online usually has many for auction. If you are interested in collecting talking boards, be sure to visit our Collector's Corner.
Are there any talking boards currently manufactured that you would recommend?
Yes, there are. Go to our List of Currently Manufactured Talking Boards.
What if I don't like store-bought boards?
You may be a candidate for a handcrafted board. Take a look at our Handcrafted Boards and Accessories.
Ouija boards are impossible to find where I live. Do you know anyone who can ship me a board?
Go to our List of Currently Manufactured Talking Boards. Most of the sellers listed will ship anywhere in the world. Check with them for the cost of shipping.
Who sells Ouija boards in (insert your city/country here)?
It's the Ouija that knows all, tells all, not us. Check your local phone book or call information for your city.
Why are Ouija boards banned in England?
England has not banned Ouija boards. This is a rumor that refuses to die. We are not aware of any countries that have specifically banned Ouija boards. If you know differently, do contact us. Please arm yourself with the specific laws, statutes, so that we may verify them.
If I make my own talking board will it work as well as a "real" one?
Homemade talking boards work just fine. We have seen some wonderful examples dating back almost a century. For detailed instructions see our page, How to Make a Talking Board.
Should I always believe the messages that I receive through the Ouija board?
Only if you think that the dead are incapable of lying. If not, it may be prudent to be skeptical sometimes.
What if I think that the messages come from within myself? Then can I believe them?
Only if you think that you are incapable of lying to yourself. If not, it may be prudent . . . .
Have you heard of a game called "Ask the Glass?" We played it as teenagers.
Ask the Glass is a an improvised Ouija board made of letter cards or Scrabble pieces placed on a table and arranged in a circle. An inverted wineglass sits in the middle of the circle and serves as a message indicator. The sitters place their fingertips on the base of the wineglass, or on the bowl if tipping is a problem. Also known as "The Spirit of the Glass," this impromptu party game is often people's first introduction to the Ouija board.
I'm interested in reading more about the Ouija board. What is available?
See the list of books and articles on the Ouija and Ouija inspired works at our Boards in Books page.
Why are Ouija boards called witch boards?
To capitalize on the Ouija's reputation of conjuring spirits and foretelling the future, some talking board manufacturers added witches to their designs starting in the early 1900's. Swamis were also a popular design. They were called oddly enough, "Swami boards."
Do witches use Ouija boards?
Ouijas are non-denominational. Anyone can use a Ouija board.
I'm a Wiccan, a witch-practitioner. Real witches don't contact demons, we don't foretell the future, and we don't look like the "witches" on Ouija boards, either.
We know that. You must remember that the public's conception of witches was much different around the turn of the century. We're just telling you why talking boards were called "Witchboards," that's all.
Do I need special training to use a Ouija board?
Some find the directions on the box sufficient. If you need more, have a look around the website. We've got lots and lots of directions.
Sometimes it is hard to find partners. Is it OK to use the Ouija board alone?
Absolutely. Many people have great success using the Ouija by themselves.
How do I properly "open" and "close" the board? Is a special ritual needed to avoid demonic influences?
Whether you need to do this or not is a personal decision. There is certainly a lot of debate on the subject. Within the last twenty years, the New Age movement has lent a unique perspective to the use of the Ouija board. New Agers believe that the proper protocol when channeling a spirit, is the same whether working alone or with the aid of an instrument. Consequently, a session with the Ouija board should always begin and end with a group of correct behaviors intended to strengthen one psychically and to protect against any unfriendly "entities." For further study on this we recommend exploring some of the New Age newsgroups and websites. That answer your question?
What do the sun, moon, and people in the corners of the Ouija board signify?
Traditionally, the sun (originally designed as a full moon) means "YES" or conditions favorable. The waxing crescent moon with the single star (the evening star, really the planet Venus, representing enlightenment) means "NO" or conditions unfavorable. The people in the lower corners don't mean much of anything and are just part of the design. If the planchette cycles repeatedly to the sun and moon and/or people below, it means the board is not cooperating. Try again later.
What does the GOOD BYE on the board mean?
It means the same as when your friend hangs up the telephone. When the planchette goes to GOOD BYE you need to stop your session because no one is listening.
I'm a Kardecian Spiritist. Nowhere at the Museum of Talking Boards do you mention the different types of spirits or how to be a medium. Why is this?
We are fully versed in the different schools of Spiritualism/Spiritism, know the differences, and respect them all. We felt, when creating our website, that it should not be about Spiritualism/Spiritism or mediumship directly. This is not out of disrespect. There are so many different spiritual beliefs that it is difficult to elaborate on one without slighting the others. A comprehensive study of the subject is beyond the scope of the Museum of Talking Boards.
The Ouija board is a tool of the Devil. Absolutely no good can come from its use, only eternal damnation.
We understand your position and recommend that you never use a Ouija board. We would never argue with you since we realize that the Ouija has a reputation to maintain.
My Ouija board has really been freaking me out! What should I do?
Well, you might want to stop using it! You shouldn't do anything that distresses you. I'm surprised that we have to tell you this.
The other night while using our Ouija, we were attacked by a Class 5 low level elemental. Or maybe it was an astral corpse or semi-animated shell waiting to dissolve. After threatening us, it made scary noises and made the planchette fly around the room. What should we do if this happens again?
Call 911? You're joking, right?
What is the proper way to dispose of my Ouija board? Should I break it into seven pieces, say the Lord's Prayer, sprinkle it with Holy Water, then burn it? What?
You may donate it to the Museum of Talking Boards. We will see that it gets a proper home and that your karma gets corrected. Under no circumstances should you burn your Ouija. Ignoring proper fire precautions cause a large percentage of residential home fires every year.
What in the world is a psychograph?
A psychograph is a mentally unstable talking board that will kill you if you use it. Just kidding! Psychographs were early ancestors of Ouija boards. They were also known as dial plates and Spiritoscopes.
What are the three things to NEVER ask a Ouija board?
One of them is: "Am I fat?" Sorry. That's a Ouija joke. See our extensive list of superstitions, things not to do, and the possible dire consequences. Go to Ouijastitions.
What does ideomotor response mean?
Ideomotor response is the fancy-schmancy term scientists use to say that you moved the message indicator yourself without knowing that you did it. Well? Did You?
The Ouija Board won't work for me. Am I doing something wrong?
Like many things in life, people sometimes have better luck with the Ouija when working with a partner. Then again, some may have no luck at all.
OK, so I got a partner and it still didn't work, now what?
Look, you wouldn't go to someone's door and just stand there and do nothing, would you? You have to knock and ask, "Is anyone there?"
I knocked. I asked. It still didn't work. What's the problem now?
The Ouija is a great mystery and we do not presume to know all the answers. It does not work for everyone.
What is the marker thingie called?
The proper name is planchette (plan-'shet) from the French word for "little plank." Some believe that the actual inventor's name was Planchette. Wouldn't that be a coincidence? If French is hard for you, call it a message indicator. Never call it a carriage, center dome, cursor, do-hickey, doo-dad, eye, fulcrum, glide, glider, guide, heart, letter finder, locator, marker thingie, marker, mover, paddle, palmier, plachet, plank, plaque, planchard, plantain, platent, plinth, pointer, receptor, shuttle, slider, seer, spade, speaker, stylist, stylus, triangle, or trivet. This is considered very bad form. And whatever you do, never, EVER call it a "puck." If you don't know why, we suggest you look that word up in your dictionary. On second thought, call it anything you please. If it sounds interesting and enough people use it, we will eventually list it here.
Have you heard of a spirit named _______?
The message indicator keeps spelling out: "CTHULHU R LYEH WGAH NAGL FHTAGN." Can you tell me what this means?
Gosh, no. We have absolutely no idea. You will have to trust your instincts on this one.
How much is my old Ouija board worth?
We will be happy to appraise your talking board, time permitting. Now listen up, please. We will need a complete description of your board, and a complete description of the original box and planchette if you should have them. You would be amazed at how many different talking boards there are with the same name. If you ask us how much your "Ouija board" is worth we aren't going to be able to help you very much. Make it easy on yourself and browse our Gallery of Talking Boards. When you find your board, just say, "it's the 'Ouija board,' Gallery One, second one down," or whatever. That's easy for you, and easy for us. Include with your description a rational evaluation of your board's condition. Make a note of any flaws like smeary printing, torn lithos, or any other damage that you observe.
What if I don't believe in Ouija boards?
That is perfectly all right. We don't believe in you either.
Since using my Ouija board I have been hearing voices and seeing weird things. What should I do?
Stop using your Ouija immediately! You KNOW who you must see. Go pronto!
How do you pronounce the word "Ouija?"
The proper pronunciation is 'wE-ja, but you may also use the more colloquial 'wE-jE. Totally inappropriate are: oh-jee, oh-ja, oh-jar and hoo-jee.
Ouija is a combination of the French and German words for "Yes" right?
The answer to this question is "YESYES" and "NONO."
Should I light candles before using a Ouija Board?
We are all for the proper atmosphere. Dress in black too, but remember to observe proper fire precautions. Have an extinguisher handy and never indulge in alcoholic beverages or mind altering substances while using matches.
Send me EVERYTHING you have on Ouija boards! Right away!
Sorry. What you see is what you get. In order to view all we have to offer, please use our Site Map. After your visit, be sure to avail yourself of the reading material listed on our Boards in Books page.
We're really impressed with the Museum of Talking Boards and would like to borrow a dozen or so of your images plus a few pages of text for our website. We will link you, of course.
That's very kind of you. Sorry, no. We would like the Museum to stay right where it is. We hope you understand.
You collect talking boards. That's a rather strange hobby, isn't it?
We think collecting Beanie Babies is a strange hobby.
What does 314 mean?
Here's a hint: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939 9375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825 (Don't tell anyone!)
So what ever happened to Hank Maloney? Did he survive his heart attack?
Hank survived his heart attack and sends his thanks for all your get well cards. Iris and Hank are currently retired and living in Florida. They refuse to donate their lottery winning Ouija to the Museum of Talking Boards.
OK, we give up! WHO is Captain Howdy?
Sorry, the marker-thingie doesn't seem to be moving right now. Try again later. Thanks for visiting.
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