How Ouija Boards Work And All The Spooky Rules You Need To Know (Ghosts Not Included)

by Team Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
ouija board
Universal Pictures

Ouija boards are things of mystery. They’re sort of like a board game, sure. But they’re also like a fortune teller, plus a portal into another dimension — all-in-one. Needless to say, ouija boards are not to be taken lightly. After all, you’re trying to connect with a spirit and, if you’ve watched Ghostbusters, you know that can be asking for some trouble. Not that we’re saying you’ll encounter weird, scary ghosts who want to take down Manhattan. It’s just…you never know.

While they usually come out around Halloween, ouija boards are also a pretty popular activity for slumber parties and boozy get-togethers. If it’s your first time using an ouija board, you probably have a host of questions, like: How does it work? And, Is it evil? Which is why we compiled this list of everything you need to know about ouija boards, how they work, and what rules to follow.

Need more scary stuff in your day-to-day? Check out our creepy pages on scary facts, short scary stories, la lechuza, and more!

How do ouija boards work?

If you’ve never used a ouija board, it’s pretty straightforward to use. Whether you’re using it by yourself (by the way: brave!) or with a group, you will place your fingers very lightly on the triangular object, otherwise known as the planchette. You’ll appoint a leader who will ask the questions during the first round (that is if you’re planning more than one session at a time). Once a leader is designated, you’ll call to a spirit to come forward to help answer your questions. After you ask your first question, the planchette will either move through the alphabet listed on the board to spell something out, or simply point to “yes” or “no” in its top corners. You’ll hit “goodbye” when the spirit, or whatever you want to call it, wants to check out.

But… how does it work, as in, who’s driving this thing? Well, you can assume you’re channeling your great-aunt Betty or some bored spirit who’s got nothing to do but answer your most personal questions. Or, it might be the ideomotor phenomenon, which is what a Danish study found to be the reason behind that mysterious movement.

OK, so that doesn’t sound nearly as fun. So, if you want to know more about some typical ouija board rules, then read on.

What are the main ouija board rules?

Don’t use it alone

You could if you really wanted, but it’s best not to. Provided you believe you’re connecting to spirits, it’s a better idea to call them in with a group of people as it provides a grounding effect. Plus, it’s less spooky!

Use it in a dark and quiet place

Yes, it’s more spooky that way. But it also creates a quiet canvas for the spirit to enter. So turn off the TV and even your phones. It’s important to set the mood and get rid of any distractions. You do want the spirits to stop by, don’t you?

Don’t use it in a graveyard

Just don’t. Using a Ouija board in a graveyard is like trying to have a conversation with a million strangers trying to butt into your conversation. When communicating with a spirit, this is one discussion you don’t want to be interrupted. A random ghost sticking their two cents into your spiritual connection can be dangerous, so keep it safe and direct. Your bedroom or living room are great places to have this spooky dialogue because fewer random spirits are roaming around.

You can ask anything

…but a spirit can also tell you anything they want to say. Even the stuff you might not want to hear, so tread cautiously. That old saying, “Don’t believe everything you hear,” is key when making contact with ghosts. Be open, but at the same time, keep your guard up.

It’s polite to ask the spirit to introduce themselves

Granted, it’s not a necessity. Still, it’s helpful to know if you’re speaking to someone you have a connection with or just an ordinary Joe spirit, who might not have the best of intentions for you.

Only the leader can ask questions

It just makes things easier and doesn’t overwhelm the spirit with tons of scattered energy. It’s also considered good form if the leader doesn’t ask silly questions, or openly doubt the power of the board. For example, refrain from asking, “What will I eat for dinner tonight?” or “I don’t really believe in this, but whatever!” This creates low energy and will probably piss the spirit off.

Assign someone to write down the answers

After all, you can’t expect to remember everything the spirit tells you. It can get pretty confusing when the planchette is pointing toward multiple letters at a fast pace. Whoever isn’t working the planchette, should be writing down the letters or recording.

Always end the session with goodbye

Whether the spirit does it on their own, or you’ve had enough and want to leave the conversation, always exit by pointing the planchette towards “goodbye.” It makes it official.

When in doubt, listen to your gut

Don’t like the vibes of the spirit? Don’t be afraid to say “goodbye.” Remember, you’re in charge of the board, not the spirit.

Sage the room after you’re done

Using sage incense around the room is a great way to clear the space of any unwanted and lingering energy from the other side.

What does “Ouija” actually mean?

At some point in your Ouija board journey, you’re going to wonder where the name for the game originated. After all, it’s pretty unique! So, although talking boards had been around for quite some time, the official Ouija board was made and sold by a man named Charles Kennard and his colleague Elijah Bond. Well, Bond had a sister-in-law named Helen Peters who was known to be a medium. On April 25, 1980, during a session with Kennard and Bond, the trio asked the board what it wanted to be called. According to their letters and journals, the board responded, “Ouija.” When they asked what that meant, the board spelled out “good luck.”

What is phasmophobia?

Ouija boards can be fun, but they’re not for everyone. Some people suffer from phasmophobia, which is a fear of ghosts. Many find a thrill in spookiness and the supernatural, but they can manage their fear and anxiety. People who enjoy scary movies appreciate the feeling of excitement horror creates. However, a person with this phobia has an intense fear of ghosts and anything associated with the paranormal. So, if there’s someone in the group losing their sh*t during a seance, be considerate and play something else.

What are some good ouija board movies?

If you still need a little more clarity on how to use a ouija board, you could always turn to the screen. Be forewarned, though: These movies are far more likely to convince you not to use a ouija board than to use one.

  • Ouija (2014)
  • Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
  • Ouija House (2018)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • Veronica (2017)
  • I Am Zozo (2012)
  • What Lies Beneath (200o)
  • Grave Encounters 2 (2012)
  • The Uninvited (2009)
  • The Conjuring 2 (2016)
  • Witchboard (1986)
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  • White Noise (2005)
  • Seance (2007)
  • Don’t Panic (1988)

How about some funny ouija board jokes?

I use a Ouija board as a chopping board.

That’s how I make my soul food.

I tried asking a Ouija board for the name of my future wife.

The planchette kept moving from H to A and back. What kind of name is Hahaha?

Alphabet spaghetti makes a handy Ouija board for contacting people who’ve pasta way.

Why was the landlord upset after playing with the Ouija board?

He didn’t know there were so many people in the building who weren’t paying rent.

Using a Ouija board, I tried to communicate with the dead.

It spelled out “Ah ah ah ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.” Must have bought a Bee Gee board by mistake.

Why did the chicken get a Ouija board?

To contact the other side.

In desperation, I’ve been trying to meet girls through my Ouija board.

Unfortunately, they keep ghosting me.

I’m so dead inside that people keep trying to reach me through the Ouija board.

How do you communicate with the spirit of a Viking warrior?

With a Nor-Ouija board.

How does Mario contact the spirit realm?

With a Lu-ouija board.

Instead of using a Ouija board to talk to ghosts, I use a pile of window cleaners.

It’s my squeegee board.

I like Ouija boards.

It’s the only game I can still play with grandma.

Why did the chicken get an ouija board?

To contact its dinosaur ancestors.

I bought a German Ouija board.

It’s a Jaja board.

Can we stop with the Ouija puns, please?

I’m getting board of them.

My friend really believes he’s talking to ghosts when using a Ouija board.

I just think it’s a pseudo seance.

If you write an entire book using a Ouija board, you get all the credit…

Since it was technically written by a ghost writer?

Oh look, Ouija made a dad joke

Why did Pinocchio get along so well with the Ouija board?

Because it was another piece of wood that moved on its own.I actually find talking with spirits gets quite monotonous. I guess you can just call me Ouija bored.

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