Ouija boards have a long and storied history of causing havoc by summoning evil spirits. But how did they become the powerhouse they are in paranormal and spiritual circles? That can all be traced back to one man: Elijah Bond.
Planchette or spirit boards had been in vogue for years before Bond had the brilliant idea of patenting the design. But the popularity of spirit boards had been primarily limited to spiritualist circles during the Victorian era. Once Bond patented his design, which included the alphabet and “Yes” and “No”, in 1890, the trend took off. It would not officially become the Ouija board for 11 more years, until Bond’s employee, William Fuld, took over production.
Fuld claimed to have invented the board himself and invented the supposed etymology of the name ‘Ouija’—alternately, an Egyptian word for good luck, which the board itself told the Bonds, or from the combination of the French and German for ‘yes’.
Since then, the Ouija board has gone on to traumatize many teenagers at sleepovers with its eerie ability to tell the truth and conjure spirits. But the Ouija board’s creepy factor goes far beyond its slumber party potential. Learn about some of the creepiest Ouija board facts tonight.
1. Bond secured his patent with the help of his Ouija board.
According to the Ouija legend, Bond’s invention named itself. In addition, it also helped Bond secure the patent he needed to make his fortune on the planchette board. When Bond and his sister-in-law, Helen Peters, went to apply for their patent, the officer in charge of dispersing patents was, at best, skeptical. So, the officer asked them to prove that the board really worked—by asking it his name. Bond and Peters, with the help of their Ouija board, were able to discover the officer’s name, and he granted them a patent for the board.
2. A jury used the Ouija board to determine a defendant's guilt.
In 1993, Harry and Nicola Fuller were murdered not long after their marriage. An insurance broker, Stephen Young, was accused of their murder. After his first trial, Young was convicted—but it soon came out that the jury had used an Ouija board to discover whether or not the man was guilty.
Of course, Ouija board answers are not generally accepted in a court of law. Young was granted a retrial. He was convicted once again during the second trial and sentenced to life in prison.
3. Multiple people have blamed Ouija boards for their murderous actions.
When you ask someone why they’ve done something bad, you may not expect them to say that an Ouija board told them to do it. But that’s just what happened in the murder of Brian Roach. Roach, a former mayor of Minco, Oklahoma, was slaughtered by his mother-in-law in 2001. The mother-in-law, Roach’s wife, and his two daughters had been playing with an Ouija board together when the mother-in-law attacked Roach. She also tried to kill Roach’s younger daughter, who she believed was also being possessed.
Related: Contacting the Spirits: 15 People Share Their Scariest Ouija Board Experiences
Elsewhere in the UK, one family blamed a multitude of sins on their Ouija board. First, Paul Carroll drowned and dismember the family’s dog. Then, his wife and daughter took a number of prescription pills after an Ouija board session. After taking the pills, they attempted to set fire to their home.
4. Alcoholics Anonymous wouldn't exist without the Ouija board.
In the 1930s, a man named Bill Wilson was struggling with his alcohol addiction. Told by a doctor that he had a “wet brain” and would therefore struggle with alcohol for the rest of his life or be killed by it, Bill had nearly given up. Then, on December 11, 1934, Bill had a “spiritual breakthrough” and never drank again. Wilson had always be interested in the spiritual world and spiritualism, so he and wife Lois went to their Ouija board to find his next step.
Related: This Ouija Session Opened a Portal to the Dead
Wilson credited the Ouija board with telling him to reach out to other alcoholics and create his Alcoholics Anonymous group. In a letter to his adviser and priest, Father Dowling, Wilson said that the spirit of a 15th-century monk named Boniface had helped him come up with the proposed structure of AA.
5. Artists turn to the Ouija board for inspiration.
Many writers over the years have turned to the Ouija board for assistance in creating new stories. Whether they’ve approached the Ouija skeptically, or with serious belief, great works of art have resulted.
The most famous is Bedlam in Goliath, an album by The Mars Volta. The band members bought a Ouija board while traveling in Jerusalem. In their first session with the board, the band was told a story that they decided to use as the centerpiece for their next album. Over the next few weeks, as they recorded the album, a number of terrifying things happened. The studio flooded, causing immense damage, including equipment malfunctions. An engineer had a nervous breakdown, the drummer quit, and a band member’s foot was seriously injured.
Eventually, the band decided to bury the Ouija board rather than risk further injury. Once the board was buried, The Mars Volta were left undisturbed.
[via Smithsonian Magazine; AP; Listverse; RecoverReformation.org; Marquee Magazine]
Featured photo: Madeline / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: ryan / Flickr (CC); Jessie Pearl / Flickr (CC)