(Originally posted 10/5/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
When the gringa was growing up in a strict Southern Baptist household, Ouija boards were banned. The gringa should feel fortunate that my mother was more lenient than her parents. My mother grew up in an even stricter religious household where a deck of cards was considered to be just as Satanic as an Ouija board. But where did the Ouija board really come from?
Did Satan design and deliver it to mortal man? Is the Ouija board a gateway to communicate with the dead? Does one risk demonic possession or an invitation for a ghostly haunting if a bit of fun is had with this device? Probably not.
The Ouija board was first marketed in America during the 1800s. But this was just a mordernized version of an ancient Chinese trinket that dates back to 1100AD. When early Americans became curious about communicating with the dead, a rash of mysticism arose.
Hypnotists came on the scene but it was really the spiritualists that commanded the era. And certainly in capitalist America there was a cunning entrepreneur who realized that, although lacking in acting skills and unable to pass self off as a medium or psychic, it would be easy to head to the woodshop and craft a device that assists anyone in talking with the dead.
You heard the gringa right. The Ouija board as we know it today is nothing more than a clever capitalist’s Shark Tank dream come true of the 1800s. Designed after the many cultures who practiced supernatural “automatic writing” practices, rather than being the spawn of Satan, the Ouija board is the offspring of centuries of ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Medieval Europeans.
What the heck was going on in America to have good Christians begin to dabble in the black arts? After the Civil War ravaged families, there were plenty of heartbroken, lonely people, as well as guilt-ridden people, who were desperate to connect with dead loved ones. And dead loved ones were in abundance after a war that decimated the American population.
Actors and actresses turned spiritualists groomed their acting skills and added parlor tricks to their repertoires. Ghostly tapping on walls, levitating tables, and smoky emissions were the skills of spiritualists that earned them a loyal following and steady income. Some even enjoyed a celebrity status, like the Fox sisters of New York. So, if you wanted to get on the ghost-talking gravy train express but couldn’t act your way out of a paper bag, you equipped yourself with an Ouija board and held seances.
So, are Ouija boards imbued with magical powers? Certainly. They make money disappear quick as a wink. Happy Halloween season, my dear readers!
Source: The Vintage News
Image Credit: Cornucopia 3D
Video Credit: Crypticc