A séance is an attempt to contact the dead either by conjuring up manifestations of spirits, from messages relayed through a Medium, or via a Ouija Board.
In ancient times only prophets, seers, and Cunning Folk were called on to access with the world beyond death, but after Baron Lyttelton published a book called Communication With the Other Side (1760) ordinary people were drawn to the idea of “penetrating the veil” for themselves. The popularity of séances soon developed into a new religion called Spiritualism.
The early Spiritualists used a talking board at their camps in Ohio (1886), a device that became known as a Ouija Board. This tablet gave everyone equal access to the world beyond. The name Ouija was said to stem from the Egyptian word for good luck, though others have argued it is a combination of the French and German words for yes. The first commercial board was created in 1894 by Elijah Bond.
The flat board is marked with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-9, “Yes,” “No,” and “Good bye.” A moveable marker or planchette – usually made of plastic or wood – spells out words when the participants place their fingers on it. It is a form of automatic writing.
Over the years this form of communication has been criticized by the Church as a dangerous tool of Satan. Other users argue it is simply a harmless parlor game. And some modern day psychologists claim that the Ouija Board offers a fascinating insight into the minds of the players because they are unconsciously moving the marker according to their own secret thoughts, fears, and desires.
Ghost Research Society. “Ouija: Not a Game,” at http://www.ghostresearch.org/articles/ouija.html
Psychicsuniverse.com. “Holding A Séance: How To Do It Sanely and Safely,” at http://www.psychicsuniverse.com/articles/spirituality/living-spiritual-life/rituals/holding-s%C3%A9ance-how-do-it-sanely-and-safely
Smithsonian.com. “The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board,” at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/
Wikipedia. “Ouija,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouija