Talking Boards: Terrifying Tales of Ouija Boards and Demons, Possession, and Death
Ouija boards, also known as talking boards or spirit boards, are a relatively modern tool/game that strikes fear and wonder in the hearts of many people. Almost everyone has heard stories of someone connecting with malevolent beings or suffering unfortunate events following the use of a Ouija board. But what’s the real story behind these terrifying tales?
Introduction to the Ouija Board
Spirit boards have been in use since at least the 19th century in America and rose in popularity with the interest in spiritualism – the belief that the dead can communicate with the living. ‘Ouija’ boards weren’t released until Kennard Novelty Company produced them out as parlor games in the late 1800s.
A Halloween party featuring a Ouija board. (simpleinsomnia/CC BY 2.0)
Mediums claimed they were intermediaries between the living and the dead and employed a number of techniques in their work. One method involved the use of planchettes with two wheels at one end, and a pencil at the tip, forming a third leg. A medium would place his / her finger on the planchette, a question was asked, and an answer would be written out by a ‘spirit’ who was believed to have moved the device. This set the precedence for the planchettes of Ouija boards, which are made of wood or plastic and have a hole or pointer to spell out answers. The board itself usually has the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0 – 9, and words such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘goodbye’.
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"Mystic Hand" planchette. (Fair Use)
Today, Ouija boards can also come with a set of ‘rules.’ These are generally a list of warnings for users. Some examples include: not letting the planchette touch the four corners of the board or ‘count down’ numbers or go backwards through the alphabet, not asking about your own death, and NEVER playing the game alone.
The following are some stories said to have taken place, perhaps when Ouija users didn’t follow the rules…
20th century Ouija Board ‘Rules’ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
"Curiosity Killed the Cat…"
The night was like any other. Quiet, calm. The girls were all in high school so it wasn't as though they were able to go out and "party." Further, they were simple girls. Close friends. Cheerleaders with strong Christian morals. It was highly unusual that one of them brought a spirit board to their sleepover.
It was the Hasbro game, Ouija. Easily found in most stores and thrift shops and reasonably priced, it wasn't hidden away in a dark corner of an old, dingy attic with a foreboding, wilting candle flickering across its surface. One would never expect it to do anything more than cause a few laughs.
The girls gathered around the board in a misshapen circle at the dining room table. A friend of theirs was absent that night, so they decided to inquire what she was up to. The spirits would surely know, the girls reasoned. The spirits were supposedly everywhere, watching, waiting. Surely they would be able to tell them what their missing cheerleader was doing on a Friday night. Perhaps she had a date.
Painting of teen-aged girls playing with a Ouija board. (Judithcarlin/CC BY SA 4.0)
The board said nothing. The girls asked ordinary questions and waited patiently for the planchette to move. Every now and then, one of the girls would twitch or shift the planchette in an obvious way. They'd all giggle nervously and laugh, and then move on. Eventually, the game wore out its excitement. They put the game away and moved on with their night.
A week later, their absent friend was in a terrible car accident. She died in the hospital.
None of the girls ever discovered what she'd been up to the night of the sleepover.
But none questioned whether they might have painted a spiritual target on her back.
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"…Satisfaction Brought it Back."
Ouija boards apparently have a habit of bringing the unwanted into sacred spaces or homes. However, often overlooked is that Ouija boards themselves are not always wanted in certain spaces. Such was the case of a young man, who will remain unnamed.
Participants in a Ouija game. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
In his childhood years, his siblings had brought a Ouija board into the family home. They were kids; they did not know the board was anything more than a game.
The board wasn't in their house long before his mother entered the bedroom in which he and his siblings were playing, and wrenched the board away mid-question—mid-séance, one might say. His mother, far more knowledgeable about the subject of talking boards, threw the board away immediately and forbid her children from ever bringing one into her home again.
The next day, the boy watched as the garbage truck uplifted his trash can and dumped the Ouija board in a pit of old food, soiled garments, and other unmentionables.
A modern Ouija board plus planchette. (Public Domain)
Years later, the boy—now an adult—received a call from his mother. She was demanding to know why she had just discovered the Ouija board in her attic! She was angry and outraged, thinking her children had disobeyed her all those years ago.
Except he had watched the Ouija board get thrown out. He had watched the truck drive off, and had never seen the board again. Maybe it was a different board, he reasoned with his mother. It would have been a likely story, and far more easily explained. Unfortunately, his mother knew it was the very same, for his brother's name—the same brother who had brought the Ouija board home, and who had died soon after it was trashed—was carved onto the back of the board.
The Terrifying (And Changing) Story of ZoZo
One of the most popular legends connected to Ouija board use gone wrong are the numerous tales one can find today of the demon ZoZo. This infamous being has allegedly been around for centuries and has found Ouija boards a good outlet for wreaking havoc in humanity with physical and mental harm.
Also spelled ZoSo, ZaZa, Zo, MaMa, Oz, Zo, Za, or Pazuzu, some say this being is an ancient force from Hell, others fear even saying its name out loud conjures it, and still more claim it can shapeshift and has the ability to possess individuals.
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‘In Search of Zozo’ by Monique Ligons. (Monique Ligons)
In 2009, Darren Evans became the first person known to have posted his experience with the demon online. Evans apparently had his first contact with ZoZo while using a Ouija board with his girlfriend. After some time ZoZo is said to have threatened Evans’ sister (and/or daughter), who nearly died, caused Evans to have a nervous breakdown, and created other terrifying incidences for himself and his family.
After seeking an exorcism, ZoZo is said to have left Evans and his family alone, but Evans now runs a site as a ‘Zozologist’ which is a space for others to share their horrifying connections with the demon and is meant to warn others about the perils of using Ouija boards.
A modern Parker Brothers Ouija Board. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Darren Evans’ story also inspired filmmakers at One World Studios to create the horror film I Am Zozo in 2012 and has led to Evans’ appearance on the paranormal television series, Ghost Adventures. Evans has also released a book, The Zozo Phenomenon, telling his terrifying tale.
But a close inspection of the ZoZo phenomenon shows it may not be as old as some people claim. For example, the first known reference to this being is said to come from the 1818 Le Dictionnaire Infernal, a demonological encyclopedia written by Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy. However, in this book the author writes that a girl faked demonic possession and named one of the three demons possessing her as Zozo.
Depiction of the demon Asmodeus from ‘Le Dictionnaire Infernal’. (Public Domain)
Skeptics have some other questions about Evans’ story, for example they wonder about his discovery of a board with the word ‘Zozo’ on it (this detail was apparently added to later accounts). The appearance of the word itself is also questionable as it has been linked in appearance to the ‘Zoso’ symbol used by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and much earlier (in the 16th century) in connection to the planet Saturn.
Darren Evans claims to have found a Ouija board with ‘Zozo’ and wings etched on it, similar to the depiction in this image. (The Zozo Ouija Phenomenon)
Are the above accounts just fiction created for modern-day ghost stories? Could they be coincidences? Or is there a real impact of using a Ouija board that can be linked to supernatural events? You decide.
By Ryan Stone
Anonymous. 2010. "Ouija Stories." One-on-one interview/personal communication by author.
Commins, Leanna. 2016. "8 Ouija Board Stories That Will Make You Throw Yours in the Trash Immediately." Cosmopolitan. Accessed May 30, 2017. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/a6962920/real-life-ouija-board-stories/
Jason. 2009. "Ouija Board Returns from the Trash." True Ghost Tales. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://www.trueghosttales.com/ouija-boards.php.
The Paranormal Scholar. 2016. “Unmasking Zozo the Ouija Board Demon: the Making of a Modern Myth.” Accessed June 10, 2017. http://paranormalscholar.com/unmasking-zozo-the-ouija-board-demon/
Evans, D. n.d. “The Zozo Ouija Phenomenon.” Accessed June 10, 2017. http://zozotheouijaspirit.blogspot.com/