In every reported encounter with the alleged Ouija demon Zozo, there is a single common thread: darkness. To communicate with Zozo is said to invite an unrelenting demonic force into your life.
But what is Zozo? Why have seemingly thousands of people around the world encountered it, and what has happened to them? This, I’m afraid, is not an easy question to answer.
Its first appearance reportedly occurred in 1816, when a young girl in Picardy, France claimed to fall victim to a severe demonic possession. This was according to the Dictionnaire Infernal, published in 1818 by Jacques Collin de Plancy, in which the author shared numerous illustrations of demons and anecdotes regarding their existence. The passage regarding the demon Zozo – following short passages on an enchanted castle and Zoureg, a mysterious serpent – states simply:
“Zozo, demon qui, accompagne de Mimi et de Crapoulet, posseda en 1816 une jeune fille du bonrg de Teilly eti Picardie.”
The girl, or so she herself claimed, became the vessel for a number of demons, including Mimi, Capulet (or Grapoulet), and our mysterious Zozo. However, it should be noted, here at the beginning of all things, that Collin de Plancy wrote that the girl “wanted to pass herself off as possessed,” and after being sent to a hospital, “there was no further talk of possession.”
However, let’s speed up to modern times. When Ouija boards entered popular culture in the 20th Century, stories of Zozo began to rise, with numerous tales told of the Ouija demon and its strange effect on users of the board.
A Planchette Of Stories
Zozo is a complicated entity, or so it would seem. In most stories, it’s initially friendly, sometimes using a different name. Occasionally, it will appear in the middle of a conversation with another spirit and interrupt the communication.
The planchette performs strange figure eights or “inverted Zs,” and answers become repetitive. But it does not take long for an encounter with Zozo to turn frighteningly negative.
It’s difficult to tell which stories about Zozo are authentic and which are nothing more than urban legends. Some tell of horrific incidents, while others involve possession, spiritual attacks, curses, and other phenomena commonly associated with demonic forces. Some have even claimed that Zozo attached to them or their family, like a parasitic demon.
It’s important to remember that we’re entering the domain of folklore here. Stories told online. And from those stories, we can gather patterns of what people say has happened when the demon Zozo appears to take control of the Ouija board:
- The planchette draws figure 8s or Zs on the board
- The planchette rapidly spells out Z-O-Z-O, Z-A-Z-A, or even M-A-M-A, moving in a rapid left-to-right or right-to-left fashion (it’s unclear what relation “MAMA” may have to the Zozo demon)
- A conversation with one spirit is interrupted by another entity, which becomes increasingly antagonistic
- The entity often claims to be a deceased loved one
The following are a handful of anecdotes about Zozo that appear throughout the Internet.
“We called him Oz.”
In 2012, a user at Ghost-Space.com (now inaccessible, but may be found here) shared the story of a confrontation with a suspicious Ouija spirit. Her friend had been asking the spirit board questions about her recently-deceased father, which it answered correctly.
Then, the board unexpectedly turned its attention to her mother.
Again, the board seemed to have a supernatural knowledge of their parents. “We were both in tears,” she wrote. Then, the active spirit seemed to “switch” again. They asked who it was, this time, and the reply was haunting: “The pointer went O Z O Z O Z O Z O. We called him Oz. We asked him to blow out a candle to prove himself and before we completed the sentence the candle was out.”
The strange spirit also knew the exact time, when asked. However, it would later reveal a haunting truth – he had been there the whole time, posing as her friend’s father and her mother, answering questions correctly by reading their minds.
“…that’s how he gave us the answers to our questions, he was in our heads.”
The two of them immediately put the Ouija board away when the spirit began to curse. They wanted nothing more to do with this “Oz.” Unfortunately, when they returned to it a few weeks later, thinking the worst had passed, they again met Oz. “He was nasty, cursing at us, saying dark things,” she remembered. From then on, they seemed to experience nothing but bad luck.
It wasn’t until they finally researched their plight on the Internet that they learned of the infamous Ouija demon. Was “Oz” actually the malevolent Zozo?
A tale at Your Ghost Stories, published in 2012, shares yet another haunting experience. The poster, named April, had read stories about Zozo herself, but didn’t believe them at the time.
She’d recently moved in with her sister, and to celebrate they’d had a few friends over. After a while, they decided to have some fun with a Ouija board, to ask it some questions about the afterlife and perhaps learn about the future. Nothing had ever gone wrong before. It was just a game.
They placed the board on the table, and placed their hands on the planchette. “Is there anyone there?” April asked. The board replied Yes. When they asked it to reveal its name, the planchette glided over to the Z, then the O. Just as we’ve seen before, back and forth, Z O Z O Z O Z O. They asked the spirit what it wanted.
It replied, “Her.”
When they asked what it meant by that, it spelled out the name of one of her friends – “I was freaked,” recalled April – then returned to spelling its own name. Z O Z O. One of her other friends then became annoyed by the repetitive answers, and decided to provoke the spirit by cursing at it. “That’s when things got bad,” April said.
The planchette “began feeling hot” under their fingers. The spirit then began to spell out another word. M A M A. They felt a presence in the room. The air was heavy. Something was wrong. “I didn’t feel like myself,” April recalled, “I felt as if something was inside me.”
She felt nothing but hatred and anger, and began laughing and crying at the same time. It was at that moment they decided to end the Ouija session, though the strange feelings seemed to linger on.
On March 24, 2009, a man named Darren Evans from Tulsa, Oklahoma shard his own story at the website True Ghost Tales. He’d long been fascinated with the occult, particularly Ouija boards, and had experienced many strange phenomena. He was also shocked, he said, “by how many times ZOZO showed up even in many different states and many different Ouija boards.”
Zozo, it would seem, can be found everywhere.
Evans recalled one particular encounter with Zozo as being “extremely evil.” He had entered his bathroom only to find his one-year-old daughter nearly drowned. She’d been left alone briefly in the tub by her mother, and “somehow the water got turned on and was overflowing.” No one had physically touched the faucet.
The following day, she was “hospitalized for some weird internal infection” and put into isolation. “We almost lost her,” recalled Darren, “And that was when I began to suspect a demonic attack.” Could Darren’s constant encounters with the demon Zozo have put his daughter’s life in danger? Or is using the Ouija board alone, a portal to doors that should remain unopened, enough to bring about such a terrible fate?
Evans would later go on to research the demon Zozo and become a self-proclaimed “Zozologist,” starting his own blog and publishing a book on the topic titled The Zozo Phenomenon in 2016.
“The only thing that struck me as odd was the ‘ZoZo’ phenomenon. We would be using the board, and all of a sudden, it would start going from ‘Z’ to ‘O’, or even sometimes, ‘Z’ to ‘A’. Sometimes, it would go to random letters on the ouija board, but it would always come back to ‘Z’.” – from the now-defunct Talk Paranormal, My Ouija Experience by eric.u200x
Is Zozo a demon? Well, I suppose your first question would be, “Is Zozo even real?” But for now I’d rather concentrate on the stories as told and leave the skepticism to others. At any rate, not everyone believes Zozo is a demon.
Instead, there is a theory that Zozo is in fact nothing more than an evil spirit pretending to be a demon. After all, there’s no reason to believe that ghosts and other strange entities must tell the truth. They don’t have to play by any rules.
And that is a curious thing — in most communications with Zozo, the planchette on the Ouija board makes a repetitive movement through the alphabet, from Z to O and back again, over and over, as shared in the experience quoted above. But this could be a problem for those using the Ouija board.
You see, it is said that you shouldn’t go backwards in the alphabet (or in the numbers) on a Ouija board. Why? Because doing so is a method that demons and evil spirits use to open portals into our world and break through from the other side. Could the name ‘Zozo’ actually be a trick?
Zozo In Popular Media
Taking inspiration from the strange stories of Zozo, a horror film titled I Am Zozo was released in 2012. The film was shot entirely on Super 8, but unfortunately its reception, according to Wikipedia, was “overwhelmingly negative.” The film was, as you’d expect, about the terrifying events that follow after a group of friends use a Ouija board on Halloween.
The name Zozo features prominently in the game Final Fantasy VI, as a town where every resident tells lies. And the Led Zepplin used the symbol “Zoso,” which some have connected to Zozo.
Movies and other media aside, while reading about Zozo I couldn’t help but think of a final possibility: Could Zozo be a tulpa, a shared experience? Like the Philip Experiment on a much grander scale, or the countless stories (and real life delusions) shared about the Slender Man, Zozo could be our own creation.
But does that make it any less real?
So, I ask: Have you ever used a Ouija board? Ever encountered the entity known as Zozo? I’ve personally never used one; I have an old keychain Ouija board that I doubt would perform particularly well as a conduit for spirits, much less a demon. I’m not sure I believe. Do you?