Ouija (pronounced wee-juh or wee-jee) refers to the belief that one can receive messages from ghosts, spirits, and other anomalous and/or paranormal entities by the use of a ouija board and planchette. The fingers of the participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves on the board so as to spell things out.
Some practitioners claim to have invented electronic ouija boards, which make use of keyboards. Various Christian religions have argued that ouija is evil and can lead to spiritual possession. Psychologists compare the phenomenon to that of automatic writing, wherein the unconscious thoughts of the participants are translated into physical words.
The term "ouija" is derived from the French "oui" (for "yes") and the German "ja" (for "yes"). Ouija became most popular during, and after, World War I; when it was marketed (and trademarked) as a means of communicating with dead soldiers. Parker Brothers holds a patent for a ouija board; which it markets as a children's toy.
Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill used a ouija board to conduct seances, and recorded what he claimed were messages from deceased persons. He combined these messages with his own poetry in The Changing Light at Sandover. (1982)