The history of séance communication can be traced back to the third century but it was during the 1800's that the séance became popular.
(Fox sisters at Hydesville March 1848)
The spiritualism movement began in the United States in a small town in upstate New York called Hydesville with three young women, Leah, Margaretta and Kate Fox who communicated with the dead on the night of March 31st 1848. The most common version of their story is that a few weeks before that night, the Fox family had heard unexplained rapping, footsteps and other noises. On the night of March 31st, Kate Fox suddenly decided to challenge the spirit. She clapped a few times and soon after there were the same amount of taps. Margaretta joined in and finally Mrs. Fox demanded the spirits tap out her daughter's ages-it did, 11 and 13. They eventually assigned a code for letters of the alphabet so they were able to spell out longer and more detailed messages. Continuing dialogue with the spirit revealed that it was the spirit of a man who had been killed and buried in their home. Hair and bone remains were found the following summer and the girls became a world wide sensation. The three sisters found themselves traveling all over the region holding public and private séances.
Their eerie experience set fuel to a flame that spread as far as Europe. People began holding organized séances where they would ask spirits questions that would be answered by a series of raps or knocks. Many messages received from the spirits were proved to be factual and in addition to the messages, other phenomena was being witnessed and verified by many of the most credible people in American and European history.
In 1888, Margaretta Fox confessed that she had been the one making all of the rapping noises with a double-jointed toe. It was said that the eldest sister Leah had taken the majority of their earnings leaving Margaretta and Kate with nothing but their confession of being cheats earned them both a large sum of money. In 1985, Margaretta recanted her confession in writing shortly before she died. In 1905, the Boston Journal reported that the skeleton of a murdered man had been discovered in the walls of the Fox house proving that the sisters had in fact been telling the truth about their capabilities. Despite wether you believe their claims or not, there is no denying the fact that these women will forever be credited with opening up the possibility of seeing, hearing and communicating with the dead.
The origins of the concept of the ouija board date all the way back to the fourth century when Emperor Valens ruled Rome and it is believed to have been used by the Greeks before the Christianity came along. The earliest known patent for this concept was filed in London, England by Adolphus Theodore Wagner. He described his product as follows: “PSYCHOGRAPH, OR APPARATUS FOR INDICATING PERSONS THOUGHTS BY THE AGENT OF NERVOUS ELECTRICITY” on January 23, 1854. This patent goes on to describe the device and identify it as a talking board. “The apparatus consists of a combination of rods or pieces of wood joined so as to permit of free action in all parts. From one of the legs of the instrument hangs a tracer; on one or more of the other extremities is fixed a disc, upon which the operator is to place his hand, and from this extremity or these extremities depends another tracer. The other parts of the apparatus consist of a glass slab or other non-conductor, and of an alphabet and set of figures or numerals. Upon a person possessing nervous electricity placing his hand upon one of the discs the instrument will immediately work, and the tracer will spell upon the alphabet what is passing in the operator’s mind.”
The ouija board as we know it today was created in America shortly after the planchette had made its way over seas by a coffin maker from Maryland named E.C. Reiche. He devised a wooden lap tray with the letters of the alphabet arranged in two lines across the center of the board. Below these letters, he placed the numbers 1-10 and the words YES and NO in each lower corner of the board. He used the planchette with his board but removed the pencil tips and placed wooden pegs on the bottom of it. In this way, the planchette was free to move about the board.
Reiche was more interested in spirits than making money so he sold the invention to his friend, Charles Kennard, who then founded the Kennard Novelty Co. with borrowed money and began the first commercial ouija boards around 1886. The first patent for it was filed on May 28, 1890. After financial backers put Kennard's shop manager, William Fuld in control, the company's name was changed to Ouija Novelty Company and Fuld began claiming the name "Ouija" came from the French and German words for yes, oui and ja. Reiche had formerly said that the board told him Ouija was the Egyptian world for luck.
In 1966, the company was sold to Parker Brothers, who is known for their success with toys and board games, produced replicas of Fuld's board and for a short time, a deluxe wooden edition. They hold all the patents and trademarks to the board which is still produced in large numbers. Despite the fact that it is sold in toy stores, it remains a near duplicate (albeit a cheaper quality) of the Spiritualist board that was sold many years ago.
From the Parker Brothers Ouija Board:
It has always been mysterious. It has always been mystifying. Sit opposite your partner and rest your fingers lightly on the planchette. Now ask your question. Concentrate very hard...and watch as the answer is revealed in the message window. Will it tell you YES...or NO? Will it give you a NUMBER...or SPELL out the answer? Ask any question you want. Ouija will answer. It's only a game isn't it?
While ouija boards and séances are done year round, Halloween has long since the day of the ancient Druids been considered the best time for contacting the spirit world.
May the dead rise up to greet you =) -