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Zozo, the Ouija Board's Most Famous Demon

An internet hoax, or a haunting through the ages?

zozo ouija board demon
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  • Photo Credit: James Fitzgerald / Unsplash

Oujia boards occupy a significant spot in supernatural folklore. Dabblers in the occult have probably tried to communicate with the dead using one of these famous spirit boards. Curious horror lovers have likely heard at least one allegedly true story from someone whose attempt to use a Ouija board went terribly wrong. Even people with no interest in the paranormal may have spotted a Oujia board for sale in a toy store.

Differing impressions aside, the fact remains that Oujia boards have a spooky mystique. Whether or not they truly allow users to communicate with the other side, the possibility has caused no small amount of excitement and fear. Wouldn't it be cool if you could talk to the dead? Some people think so.

Related: 9 Terrifying True Life Ouija Board Stories

On the flip side, using a Ouija board is not without risk. No one would ever accuse any occult ritual of being safe, and spirit boards are no different. Numerous cautionary tales abound. Depending on where you use the board, you might invite something into your space, and that something may never want to leave. You might have set out to communicate with your recently departed aunt, but something else may masquerade as your dead relative instead. And, perhaps the most possibility of all, if you don't close your session with the Ouija board properly—typically by moving the planchette across the word "GOODBYE"—you might open a portal to the spirit world.

Fans of the supernatural have probably heard stories about all of the above. Ouija board users aren't shy about sharing their unexplained experiences. And in today’s digital age, these stories can now be shared online, where they can spread across the internet to inspire people everywhere.

The Rise of Zozo

In March 2009, Darren Evans shared his own personal experiences with a Ouija board on the online site, True Ghost Tales. His story revolves around encounters with a specific entity named Zozo. These interactions follow a pattern recognizable to people familiar with Ouija board sessions gone awry. The entity first manifested as a friendly spirit, but subsequent communications reveal its true, hostile nature.

According to Evans, Zozo proceeded to threaten him and his loved ones. For example, Evans claimed his then-girlfriend underwent a stark personality change after the entity declared its intention to possess her. The problems didn't end there. Allegedly, his young daughter nearly drowned in a bathtub and would later be hospitalized for a mysterious infection. While these incidents can be easily explained away as coincidences, Evans sincerely believed he and his family were under demonic attack by Zozo.

Related: Haunted People: She Was Stalked by the Menacing Spirit of a Former Flame

Less easily explained away were the strange occurrences around his home. House guests said they heard voices coming from inside the walls. Lights would turn on and off by themselves. Doors would unlock and open without any help. All these incidents are classic hallmarks of a haunting—possibly by an entity who used a spirit board as a conduit into our world and now refuses to leave.

Given these unusual experiences, you'd think Evans would stop using the Ouija board. Even the most hardened skeptic would probably decide to leave things alone at this point. And by all accounts, Evans was the opposite of a skeptic. But by his own admission, he kept using the spirit board despite warning other people away from any encounter with an entity that calls itself Zozo.

Related: 5 Creepy Facts You Didn’t Know About the Ouija Board

Have Other People Encountered Zozo?

Despite Evans's tale not being especially unique from other unlucky Ouija board encounters, Zozo would go on to take over the paranormal world. Evans's encounter went viral, and more alleged Zozo stories sprouted up across the internet, many of which ended up being retold on various podcasts and covered by many YouTube channels.

The stories typically followed a similar pattern to the traditional Ouija board encounter. A person holds a session with a Ouija board. They communicate with an entity that may start out friendly but always ends up hostile. Sometimes strange occurrences take place during the session or begin shortly after. But in every one of these encounters, the entity identifies itself as Zozo.

Related: 9 Disturbing Cases of Real-Life Exorcism and Possession

While the number of alleged Zozo encounters exploded after the original posting on True Ghost Tales, Evans himself claims to have read other stories recounting similar interactions before sharing his experiences online. So what's going on here? Is Zozo a real entity that has contacted unsuspecting dabblers of spirit boards throughout history? Is Zozo an internet urban legend that inspired similar stories the same way that Slenderman created an entire mythos at the height of his popularity?

Or, as Evans claimed, is Zozo something much older—something that predates the internet itself?

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  • Photo Credit: Camila Quintero Franco / Unsplash

Zozo Throughout the Ages

Whether or not you believe Evans's account or the many others like it, the fact remains that the name Zozo does appear throughout history. One of the earliest mentions can be found in Le Dictionnaire Infernal, first published in 1816. Within its pages, author Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy tells the story of a girl possessed by three demons, one of which was named Zozo. But less acknowledged is that within the same text, de Plancy would go to assert that the girl's story was untrue. The declaration isn't without merit, because the girl was previously punished for false claims of demonic possession.

Related: From The Exorcist to Incarnate: 6 Creepy Examples of Demonic Possession in Horror

Other people think the name Zozo comes from Pazuzu, a Mesopotamian deity said to be the king of demons associated with the wind. According to ancient religious beliefs, he caused famine and brought locusts down upon the people. If the name Pazuzu sounds familiar, there's a good reason. Horror aficionados will recognize him as the demon that possesses Regan in The Exorcist

If these details do little to convince you of Zozo's actual existence, you're not alone. It does sound suspiciously like someone cobbled together various tidbits of supernatural lore to gain internet stardom.

Zozo in Modern Pop Culture

True or not, the Zozo story followed in the footsteps of many viral sensations before it and inspired a feature-length film. I Am Zozo, a psychological thriller, was released in 2012 to mixed reviews. The movie revolves around five teenagers who play with a Ouija board on Halloween and inadvertently summon a demon. The film drew inspiration from the numerous Zozo stories in circulation at the time. 

Related: 8 Ouija Board Movies That Will Keep You Up at Night

For his part, Darren Evans would later appear on Ghost Adventures. He would also publish a book about his experiences in 2016. In both instances, he added more details to his alleged Zozo encounters, which only cast more doubt on the veracity of his claims. Memory is fallible and it's true that some details of incidents may come to us later, but skeptics point to this further embellishment as the actions of someone wishing to remain relevant.

Is Zozo Real or Not?

We may never know if Darren Evans made up his original Zozo encounter. We do know that despite his claims of other Zozo stories having been shared online at the time of his first posting, they have never been found. Nevertheless, the entity caught the attention of the internet and other dabblers in the occult. Even if Zozo himself may not be real, we cannot deny that there are many stories of Ouija board sessions gone awry. Perhaps the truth is something simpler: he gives a unified name to a common experience shared by spirit board users who accidentally contact a hostile spirit.

Related: A Selection of Internet Urban Legends to Chill You to the Bone

Featured photo: James Fitzgerald / Unsplash