A Ouija (roughly pronounced "Weegee") board has the alphabet, numbers, and a few short words (yes, no, goodbye) written on it, with a pointer called a planchette
perched on top of it. At least two people touch the planchette and ask a question of the board. The pointer then may start to move, apparently on its own, and, it is hoped, provide an answer. Ouija boards are Newer Than They Think
; they were invented in 1891 (and Ouija is a trademark of Hasbro) and the idea the planchette was moved by spirits started in 1913.
The idea is that if there are spirits present, the planchette will move under their power, or someone with one hand under the table and a magnet, or someone a bit away with a remote control. It's usually one of those three. Unless magic and psychic powers are rampant in the work, someone will be accused of moving it himself, and he will of course deny the charge.
In Real Life
, it's believed the planchette moves because of the ideomotor phenomenon
; the people touching the pointer are moving it without realising they're doing so. However, many people (even those only moderately spiritual) believe that even if the likelihood of contact is exaggerated by horror movies, using an Ouija board is extremely risky, hunk of plastic or not.
A similar game called "Kokuri-san" is played in Japan. It also requires at least two people. A tori (traditional Japanese gate) is drawn in the middle, surrounded by the alphabet, yes/no and the numbers 0-9, not unlike your usual Ouija board. A window/door is opened to allow the titular spirit in. The players place a coin on the "board" and say "Kokuri-san, Kokuri-san, please come here" or something to that effect. With the coin as a planchette, you ask Kokuri-san questions, and, in theory, said spirit moves the coin to the answer. When finished, you are supposed to say "Kokuri-san, Kokuri-san, please go home" and then destroy the paper, either by burning it or tearing it into bits, and spend the coin before the night is out. Although it is generally considered a "safer" alternative to the Ouija board, since you're less likely to randomly summon a demon instead of your dear late grandmother, Kokuri-san is a Trickster spirit and thus can (and probably will) lie to you.
Needless to say, using any of these in a horror film is inadvisable
See also the (allegedly) harmless fortune-telling Magic 8 Ball
Anime and Manga
- The girls in Noein use one to try to figure out what's bothering Haruka (who is being hunted by people from Another Dimension). It spells out the name of the Big Bad: Noein, although at the time none of them knew what that meant.
- In Shaman King, Tamao uses a variant of this to perform divination's, in her initial appearance she is presented as being so shy as to be using it for regular communications as well.
- The Destiny Board from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- One chapter/episode of xxxHolic focuses on schoolgirls playing "Angel-San"; featuring a desk that has the Japanese alphabet written on it and functions similarly to an Ouija board. Instead of a planchette, the schoolgirls are each holding onto a pen which would circle the appropriate Japanese characters.
- Gugure! Kokkuri-san is built around this. Specifically, the titular "Kokkuri-san" is a mythical god that control ouija boards.
- Chapter 65 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is centered on a game of Kokkuri-san, a Japanese variant of Ouija Board.
- Paranormal Activity
- In the first film, Micah and Katie try to use an Ouija board to talk with a spirit, despite warnings of the dangers from their hired psychic help. At one point, the Ouija board even catches on fire.
- In The Marked Ones, Jesse, Hector, and Marisol are playing with a Simon electronic game when they find out they can use it as an Ouija board. Green is for yes, red is for no.
- A Ouija Board wakes the evil djinn in Long Time Dead.
- In Witchboard, the use of a Ouija board allows an evil spirit to enter our world and start committing murders.
- In Drive Thru, the villain communicates hints to his next murder victims through a Ouija board, a Magic 8 Ball, and an Etch A Sketch.
- Jason Quincy (Howie Mandell) uses what is called the Tabarrok Board in the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation in order to find out some things. Two of the answers he gets from it are Genesis 11:6 and "I AM".
- Regan in The Exorcist (also in the book) uses one to contact Captain Howdy.
- Characters in Amityville 3-D use a homebrew ouija board, and get in contact with spirits that tells them that one them is going to die.
- The wife in What Lies Beneath uses one to communicate with a murdered girl.
- The horror film Ouija is about this, obviously.
- The Haunted House where the eponymous television special in WNUF Halloween Special takes place was a scene to two grisly murders, committed by a man who was convinced that demons were talking to him through his ouija board.
- In The Uninvited, the people in the Haunted House stage a seance with basically a homemade Ouija board on a table—little cubes with the letters of the alphabet, pieces of paper with "YES" and "NO", and a wine glass instead of a planchette.
- The two boys of Radio Flyer ask a Ouija board if there's really a Bigfoot. Eventually they take their hands off of the planchette, and it even continues moving a little.
- Planchette automatic writing is discussed in The Haunting of Hill House. Mrs. Montegue and her assistant try to use it to contact the spirits of the house, which disgusts Dr. Montague, who approaches things from a more scientific angle.
- In Diana Wynne Jones' The Time of the Ghost, the titular ghost tries to send a message to her still-living sisters via an Ouija board they are playing with (though it doesn't go as well as she had hoped because she's not very good at manipulating physical objects yet).
- In The Stand, a Ouija board informs Nadine that she's supposed to be Randall Flagg's bride. Later, she uses one to contact him.
- Caroline in The Bailey Game owns one, and at one point she tries to use it to communicate with the ghost of a supposedly dead boy, Michael Bailey.
- In Victor Pelevin's Generation P, Tatarsky uses one to summon the ghost of Che Guevara and asks him for insight into advertising and marketing.
- Ephraim Kishon once met some people too interested in the occult. Since nothing happened when he joined the session, he gave the glass a little push by himself. The "spirit" they contacted introduced himself as "MR 4K?LLL", which the head spiritist interpreted as a spy's code name. Later, they contacted Aaron (Moses' brother) and asked him for his favorite Jews. The answer: "David... Judah Maccabee... Ben Gurion... Ephraim Kishon..." But is it his fault that Aaron likes reading good satires?
- A slightly upgraded version, using ball-bearings to minimize friction, appears in Childhood's End as a party game. The skeptic at the table points out that the responses are likely to be the result of subconscious memories moving the disc, even without the person's knowing it. The last of the questions asked becomes an important plot point.
- Calvin and Hobbes had a three-strip sequence in which Calvin and Hobbes play with a Ouija board. The first question asks, "Who is smarter, Calvin or Hobbes?", led to a tug of war. Calvin then asks the board whether he will grow up to be president, and it produces the answer G-O-D-F-O-R-B-I-D, which angers Calvin enough to kick the board. Finally, they ask the board how it knows all the answers to life's mysteries; the board answers "3."
- On April 1, 2005, FoxTrot, Get Fuzzy, and Pearls Before Swine did very similar strips involving Ouija boards being used by Bucky/Jason/Rat to justify hitting Satchel/Paige/Pig, respectively.
- In The Bat, Cornelia asks a Ouija board if her hysterical maid Lizzie is right about the Old Dark House where they are staying being haunted. The Ouija writes wildly, but the first intelligible string of letters spells "B-A-T."
- In Banjo-Kazooie, the player rides on a sliding glass over a series of letters in the same manner as on a Ouija board to spell a word in order to get a Jiggie.
- The World Ends with You includes a variation called "Reaper Creeper". It's a paper with three symbols inscribed on it, arranged in a triangle with a circle around them. Each has a different color: White, Black or Red. A 10-yen coin is placed on the paper and allowed to move by itself in order to provide answers to the one using it. The coin is moving by the player's influence.
- Dark Fall uses one in two of its games.
- Polly White brought one during her investigation with Nigel Danvers in the first game. You can use it to communicate with Thomas Callum, Betty's lover via a text parser.
- Another one can be used in Lost Souls to unlock a couple of easter eggs and play some minigames with Amy.
- The main menu of The 7th Guest is an Ouija board, here titled "The Sphinx". The save/load function makes use of the standard layout.
- Goliath The Soothsayer centers on an Ouija board, with a storyline based on the events surrounding the real band, the Mars Volta.
- The protagonists in Until Dawn are seen using one during the trailer. In-game, Chris, Ashley, and Josh use one (you know, for fun) as phase one of an elaborate prank horror scenario that Josh has crafted for Chris and Ash.
- In Gone Home, Sam and Lonnie use one to try to contact the spirit of Sam's Creepy Uncle Oscar, whom they believe to be haunting the house.
- The backstory of the first game in the The Blackwell Series has three girls using an Ouija Board to accidentally summon a demon called "The Deacon" who drives the girls to suicide. Upon learning that a Ouija Board is involved in the case, Joey has a Oh, No... Not Again! reaction and tells Rosa that the use of Ouija Boards always bring troubles.
- A "spirit board" kicks off the plot of Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell as the Boss is informed that he'll win the heart of a "Jezebel", who turns out to be Satan's daughter, and he's dragged down to Hell to marry her.
- Batman Beyond features an episode where some of Terry's female classmates try to contact a dead student through one. The board itself was redesigned slightly to fit the show's 20 Minutes into the Future motif.
- Camp Lazlo: The episode Soul Mates started with the main Squirrel Scouts trio playing with a Universe Board, which served the same purpose as Ouija but with the belief that the universe itself is communicating with them through it. Patsy used it to ask who her soul mate was (Lazlo) and Nina is excited to ask the same question, only to find out it read Chip. Denying that with a nervous laugh, Nina asked again and got Skip. This further confused the girls and asked which one. The planchette moves and reads "Both-of-them-!" before breaking.