The ouija board is the subject of a story about a group of irreverent young people playing with the device and asking it if there was a God: the board said "'YES' and the roof fell in, killing everybody - according to the Handbook for Grade School Nuns (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 107-8).
The Ouija board is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0–9, the words "yes", "no", "hello" (occasionally), and "goodbye", along with various symbols and graphics. It uses a small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic called a planchette. Its commercial introduction was by businessman Elijah Bond in 1890. An employee of Bond, William Fuld, took over production in 1901 using the name "Ouija", later popularizing its name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes". Ouija was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I. Mainstream religions and some occultists have associated use of the Ouija board with the threat of demonic possession and some have cautioned their followers not to use Ouija boards.
Bowen recalls "prowling the stacks" of the University of Notre Dame library and coming across a book written sometime before World War II about the Catholic position on spiritualism and related phenomena:
"Negative, you won't be surprised to hear. There was a whole chapter on the sinister Ouija board, in which I found a story to this effect: a certain priest had acquired an Ouija board so that he could study it with a view to writing about and exposing its diabolical nature. After using it for several evenings, he found himself subject to a kind of addictive craving, and resolved to consult it no further. Having made this resolution, he took to his bed and tried to sleep – but the Ouija board leaped off the table and in a series of bounds, hopped across the room and placed itself on his chest! I forget what the good father did next – ran screaming into the night, or poured holy water on the devilish apparatus, or threw it into the fire (I suppose he couldn't have done both of the last two things) – but having seen this, I have no doubt that other stories similar to the one John relates [in Saint Fidgeta] were being told. He could have made this particular one up himself; it's even possible that he was inspired to think of the Ouija board by the story I found in the library, because I was very amused by it and often related it to friends.”