“WHEN OUIJA AND SEANCES GO HORRIFYINGLY WRONG” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Seances and spirit boards have a long history in cultures around the world, however, not every attempt at communication with the afterlife goes as planned. Even experienced mediums may run into an unpleasant spirit from time to time, and those who have no experience whatsoever may find themselves overwhelmed by a strong-willed entity with an inclination to do harm. We’ll look at numerous examples of seances and Ouija board sessions that went horrifyingly wrong, one particular demon who seems to show up more often than others that should scare the hell out of you, and later in the episode we’ll look at the flip side of seances – the ones that aren’t real at all. We’ll talk about masquerading mediums, imitation investigators, and dubious demonologists. Perhaps this episode will serve as a cautionary tale to leave the dead to rest in peace.
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“When Ouija and Seances Go Horrifyingly Wrong” uses research from Melissa Brinks: https://tinyurl.com/y24rylju, and Jacob Shelton: https://tinyurl.com/yx48q3e6
“Zozo The Ouija Demon” by Maggie Clendenin: https://tinyurl.com/y5aynmj9
“Masquerading Mediums, Imitation Investigators, and Dubious Demonologists” by Melissa Brinks: https://tinyurl.com/yyrbfz2u
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Almost everyone is curious about what happens beyond the grave. Some are so eager to know that they try to reach the other side before they themselves die. Seances are a means of trying to communicate with spirits who have passed. These ceremonies, led by a medium or other spiritual guide, claim to connect people with ghosts or other entities to learn about their unfinished business, their life after, or how to go on without them. Sometimes, they’re conducted through a spirit board or other means of communication, while others are simply done by a spiritually sensitive person inviting a spirit to overtake their bodies. Of course, the most common spirit board is the Ouija board. The Ouija board’s intricate hand-drawn letters and numbers beckon you to trace the planchette along their curves and call on whatever lies beyond the wall of death. Scary Ouija board stories or seances where something didn’t go as planned are particularly terrifying because they deal with an unknown presence that the victims invite into their homes – the one place where we’re supposed to be able to relax and escape the corporeal haunting that is real life.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
This month marks five years of Weird Darkness, and I’m celebrating by raising funds and awareness about depression which I’ll tell you about later in the podcast, but I’d like to invite you to visit DarknessChallenge.com now to learn more about it – that’s DarknessChallenge.com. Plus on Halloween evening I’ll have my annual Halloween Live Scream where I not only do the podcast LIVE, but I do it on video – this year on both YouTube and Facebook at the same time if all goes according to plan, so be listening in the days ahead for details on exactly what time on October 31st that will be taking place!
Coming up in this episode…
Seances and spirit boards have a long history in cultures around the world, however, not every attempt at communication with the afterlife goes as planned. Even experienced mediums may run into an unpleasant spirit from time to time, and those who have no experience whatsoever may find themselves overwhelmed by a strong-willed entity with an inclination to do harm. We’ll look at numerous examples of seances and Ouija board sessions that went horrifyingly wrong, one particular demon who seems to show up more often than others that should scare the hell out of you, and later in the episode we’ll look at the flip side of seances – the ones that aren’t real at all. We’ll talk about masquerading mediums, imitation investigators, and dubious demonologists. Perhaps this episode will serve as a cautionary tale to leave the dead to rest in peace.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
OUIJA AND SEANCES GONE WRONG==========
The allegedly true stories from seances and Ouija board sessions I’m about to share with you suggest that communication with those who have passed is not always in our best interests. From accidentally unleashing a demon on your girlfriend to cursing your band’s next album, dabbling too heavily in spirit communication can have dire consequences. These seance stories will make you think twice about lighting a few candles and bringing out that dusty old Ouija board from your closet.
After reading a collection of spooky Ouija stories that happened to Redditor /u/kimmygibblersaywhat, you would probably go out and buy a ticket for the “no thank you” train just like me. The writer’s most terrifying story comes from an evening when a spirit named “Deb” proved that it exists by explaining that it knows where she and her friends smoke, possibly insinuating that it’s watching them as they get their fix. Not freaked enough by this information to stay inside, the Redditor and her friend Hailey pressed Deb to prove she is real: “I said “How will we know [you’re real]?” and she said “TREES.” I am like “screw that” and Hailey says we have to do it. So, we’re smoking outside, I’m looking into the forest sweating balls in fear, thinking I’m going to see a demon face in the branches or something. Eventually we relax, but then Hailey, mid-sentence, her face drops and goes white and shes like, “Get inside NOW.” I toss my cigarette and jump in the window. We close the blinds and we’re breathing super heavy. I’m like, “What happened?” She says that behind me, in the distance, there was a big, like, 100-foot-tall tree. There was NO wind, I remember this because I was watching my cigarette smoke go directly up and I was blowing perfect O’s without them disappearing. She says the tree was still, then suddenly the WHOLE tree, including the trunk, moved back and forth, then went back to perfectly still. I was like “HELL NO,” and after awhile of freaking out, sat back at the board. When we put our fingers on it, (the board) said, “Did you see?”
Redditor /u/huxleypearl relates a Ouija board story that seems to be more about a family of intuitive people who live in a haunted house than anything else. But it’s worth noting that their spooky troubles didn’t begin until they horsed around with a Ouija board. Afterward, their ghostly issues included phantoms pulling on a baby’s limbs, a black-clad ghost slave family, and the appearance of a creepy red door. What’s more, the sister in this family may have summoned up something very troubling: “…her sister said that she was playing with the board one day, and when she asked who she was “speaking” to, she got a weird name. It struck her as odd, but she didn’t really worry about it. Weeks later, she watched a special on the History channel or something; they were discussing demonology. She recognized one of the names as being the strange one she had encountered through the Ouija board.”
If you’ve seen The Conjuring, you have some idea of what happened in the life of Andrea Perron. But the film didn’t tell the whole story. In 1971, Perron and her family moved to a house in Harrisville, RI. They soon discovered that the house was filled with spirits who hadn’t yet passed on due to continuous unexplained phenomena happening. Scared for their lives, the Perron family called upon paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren for help. They promised to try to help the family get the spirits out. When a medium performed a seance, it went dreadfully wrong. She summoned a spirit that went after Perron’s mother, Carolyn, throwing her around the house with such force that she sustained a concussion. Perron said, “It was the most terrifying night of my life.” After the seance, the family no longer experienced severe supernatural events. Andrea Perron has written three books about the hauntings experienced by her family in their Harrisville home.
While messing around with a Ouija board as a young man, the stepdad of a former Redditor was visited by a demon who told him that his firstborn child would perish. Understandably, the next morning the guy tried to get rid of the board first by throwing it away, then by burning it, and finally burying it with a Bible on top for good measure. Years later, his wife miscarried their first child.
While playing with a Ouija board with some friends from high school, Redditor /u/Helvin3 and some friends encountered a spirit named Niall who said that he had been slain by his father. The group tried to move on from this conversation, but the spirit continued to insist that he wanted answers, even going so far as to spell out “satisfy my requests.” After that, the friends “abandoned everything: the board, the house, the street.” Truly, the only way to bust a ghost.
In 1941, psychic Helen Duncan was approached by a mother looking for news of her son, a soldier in the British Royal Navy. Duncan held a seance to conjure up any spirits with news of the man. She revealed that the young man had been lost in the sinking of the battleship HMS Barham . Remarkably, the ship’s sinking hadn’t yet been revealed to the public to prevent a loss of morale in the difficult days of WWII. Among the people at the seance were two lieutenants of the Navy. They were immediately suspicious of Duncan, prompting two undercover police officers to attend another seance. The officers promptly detained her, and Duncan was tried under section 4 of the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which forbade deceitful spiritual activity. She was the last person to be tried for witchcraft before the Act’s repeal in 1951.
After building a spirit board with his sister, Redditor/u/lifeinhexcolors says the duo contacted a spirit named Roger who perished of food poisoning and knew that the brother and sister’s older sibling “wanted to talk to them.” Shortly afterward, the older sister, who was upstairs vacuuming, called for the kids to help her with the household chores. The spirit-boarding duo got so freaked out that they threw their board away, only for it to return the next day.
Imagine a Ouija board that was so pent up with spooky energy that it didn’t even have to be used to start screwing around with your life. That’s exactly what happened to Redditor /u/zombiethoven, who took the board in question from a friend who said that every time she tried to use it, the same spirit continued to show up. After taking the board to its new home, things began to move around in the middle of the night, footsteps were heard, and the cats were not happy. But really, when are cats happy?
Experimental rock group The Mars Volta almost canceled an entire album due to a supposedly cursed spirit board. After guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López picked up a Ouija board in Jerusalem and the band used it, they started experiencing strange happenings, including tracks disappearing from the computer, two floods in the studio, equipment ruined, and a valued engineer quitting. True to form, the band channeled the strange events into their album “The Bedlam in Goliath,” released in 2008. Rodríguez-López buried the board to avoid any future incidents, and the band released two more albums before breaking up in 2013.
While using a Ouija board to contact the spirit of a young girl’s grandmother, Redditor/u/ouououiii and a group of friends were contacted by the spirit of something that wore wooden clogs and had the touch of something not quite human. After being called, the spirit entered the room and “touched” everyone in the circle, causing them to hyperventilate: “Suddenly the girl sitting closest to the door starts hyperventilating and tears fill her eyes. We’re all basically frozen in fear at this point. It’s really hard to get a feeling for how fast time went, but not long after it started, it stops and starts with person on her left side doing the same. I don’t think I really understood at that time, that I was next in line. It ended with the person next to me, and I suddenly felt something touch my shoulders. It wasn’t completely like the physical touch of a human, but it definitely was something that put weight on my shoulders. I of course freeze and start hyperventilating at the shock of something unknown touching me. When this had gone halfway through the circle, it jumps straight at the granddaughter, who starts with the same hyperventilating and breaks down crying.”
While playing with a Ouija board late at night, Redditor/u/frostfromfire asked for a simple sign so they could know they were actually communing with the spirit realm and not just absentmindedly moving the planchette around. That’s when their local flood alarm sounded three times, even though there was no rain that night.
Bradford J. Angers, a magic store employee and psychology student, got more than he bargained for when a customer paid him $100 to perform a fake seance complete with sounds and visuals. With the aid of a partner, Angers set out to create an entirely fabricated seance that appeared real. Angers pulled it off without a hitch, with disembodied voices speaking predictions about the attendees’s loved ones from a mist that formed in the center of the table. Once it was over, Angers went to help his partner disconnect the equipment they used to produce the special effects, only to find that his partner and the equipment had been locked outside the entire time. Whatever happened during the seance had nothing to do with their plans.
Redditor/u/TwistedMissy tells a Ouija story about their grandmother, who decided to pass some time with her lady friends and husband one spooky eve. After reaching a spirit and asking the basics, they cut to the chase and asked how the ghost passed. The ghost said it would tell them, but not until the “boy” left the room. After the grandpa left, the spirit began to relay the story of its demise, but when the grandpa returned to fetch his wallet, the spirit cut its chilling tale short.
While playing with a Ouija board with his cousin Donny in a camper outside of his house, Redditor/u/Roblicki kept receiving the same message again and again. The letters “H” and “A” followed by “You are trapped.” When the two cousins decided to leave the camper, they discovered that the door handle had broken off – they were trapped. Eventually they got out of their prison, but that was the last time either of them messed with a Ouija board.
Some Ouija board experiments are fun ways to spend a harmless Saturday night, but others can be eerie. This Reddit user described an experience on an army base when dabbling with a Ouija board led her and a group of friends to contacting a spirit named Sheryl. This spirit said she perish in a car accident and was searching for her boyfriend. After continuing to use the board, they managed to get in touch with the boyfriend, who said he was sorry and he loved her very much but couldn’t explain why he was sorry. The group contacted a third spirit who said that the reason the boyfriend was sorry was because he was in hell and the girlfriend was in heaven. At that moment, all of the candles in the room flickered out.
On New Year’s Eve 1991, while drinking like only teenagers can, Redditor/u/eatmycupcake and their siblings contacted a spirit named Eugene. “We asked “Why are you contacting us, Eugene?” We received the answer “Afraid.” That seemed a bit more serious. We asked “Why are you afraid, Eugene?” It replied “Music. Music.” over and over. Nonsense. Then we got a series of numbers. Puzzling. My brother had the bright idea to turn on the radio to [the] station indicated by the numbers. To our surprise, there really was a station there. The song “Don’t Leave Me Stranded” by Heart was playing. The board immediately started saying “Heart. Heart. Heart.” I thought my brother was just playing off of what he was hearing and was screwing with me. Then it started saying “Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Don’t go. Church. Church. Afraid. Don’t go.” over and over and over. We assured it we weren’t going to go, but it dwindled into nonsense after a while. It was getting really late (early?) and we decided to go to bed.” The next afternoon, while everyone was eating breakfast, the family’s father received a phone call letting him know that his uncle, Eugene, had had a heart attack the previous night and died multiple times on the table, only to be revived very early that morning. He had been terrified of losing his life because he hadn’t attended church in decades.
It’s a well-known fact that the Queen Mary, a historic cruise ship permanently docked in Long Beach, California, is one of the most haunted sites on the planet. So it makes perfect sense that someone would have a very scary Ouija experience on board the ship – even if they made their board out of two pieces of paper and some Band-Aids. When Redditor /u/gardn198 and some friends decided to experiment on the ship, they spoke with a spirit who said that its name was Zack, and who may have tried to physically assault the team after they went to bed that night. Each member of the crew suffered night terrors, with one of them running through the “Our Father” prayer in a state of lucid dreaming.
Redditor /u/Wuwuhu tells a couple of stories about their strange Ouija board that predicted major events in the lives of those who used it, but the most interesting thing they mention is how the board consistently had 35 cents in its box. One of their friends ended up taking the change “for luck,” and kept it on them at all times. Months later, the change was able to help them make a pay phone call that got them out of a sticky situation.
Growing up in a creepy, seemingly haunted room can force anybody to take drastic measures. For this unidentified man growing up in Michigan, he knew his room had a bad vibe. When he allowed two occult-dabbling friends to hold a seance to find out the cause of his eerie visions and unexplained voices, things went from bad to worse. The seance backfired – his girlfriend started angrily shouting for the friends to leave. After they left, the man found her trapped in the room, unable to move. Once he pushed a dresser out of the way to gain access, he tried to pick her up but found that she was heavier than normal. Once he got her out, they escaped to the home of his friends where she revealed that she felt like she had been possessed. The friends returned to his home to try and rid his room of the evil entity. They ended up contacting a demon named Enlil who told them it had been using the bedroom as a gateway and the seance had enabled him to escape, along with a host of other terrifying spirits. The friends managed to close the gateway and rid the room of spirits. From then on, the room seemed to be normal.
When Redditor /u/Wuwuhu decided to use her Ouija board in the wilderness one afternoon, she and her family spoke to a spirit who may have been reaching out for help. After meeting something calling itself Patrick, the family had a good time joking around with the ghost until it told them that he’d been brutally assaulted and slain near where they were hanging out. After the family shut the conversation down, they returned home and checked up on the story, which had been reported in the local news.
If you’ve seen any horror movie with a Ouija board, you know that the last thing you want to do is burn a spirit board. We don’t know the exact science behind it, but something about setting one of these things on fire angers all of the ghosts and then you have to figure out how to get them out of your house. Redditor /u/0rphantear decided to get spooky with his friends one day and printed out a Ouija board from the internet (ugh, the internet), and after they failed to get anything going with the ghost, they burned the board in the fireplace. But then everything got creepy. A set of downstairs doors opened randomly, and they heard continual banging from downstairs. The creepiest part of the entire story is that one piece of the board survived: the word “Yes.”
While you can’t trust everything a Ouija board tells you, this Reddit user discovered there might be more truth to a prediction than meets the eye. According to the post, the Redditor asked the spirit they connected with to make a prediction about a future news event, to which the spirit replied, “DI DIE DI DIE DI DIE DI DIE” and then “PRINCESS DI.” When asked how this would happen, it responded “CAR ACCIDENT.” When asked where this would happen, it gave the answer “PARIS.” When asked when, it replied “OHIO.” The Redditor ended up going to Ohio, but nothing happened, so the spirit’s message was dismissed as irrelevant. A month later, the Redditor went on another trip to Ohio. During that trip, Princess Diana of Wales lost her life in a tragic car accident in Paris.
After having some success speaking with spirits via a Ouija board in college, Redditor /u/Donnienarco89 claims to have accidentally “attached” themselves to two ghosts who followed them home after graduating school. The spookier of the beings was an old man who wore a hat and smoked a pipe while sitting next to the Redditor as they slept and shouted at them to “WAKE UP!” The haunting became so bad that the Redditor and their mother had to cleanse their house.
If you’re using a Ouija board and the spirit gets tired of you and wishes you a good day, don’t get offended – and definitely don’t keep pestering the entity, because things won’t go well. While playing with a Ouija board in their teens, one former Redditor and their friends continually pestered a spirit after it told them “Good Bye” multiple times. Finally, the spirit got so tired of these meddling kids that it called them on the phone, spoke to one of their dads, and said, “Don’t f*ck with me.” Yikes.
Take some advice from Redditor /u/bluejake42, who accidentally invited a demon named Caus into his dreams, and leave well enough alone when you’re using a Ouija board. The writer says that while they don’t necessarily believe in spirits, the conversations they had with this entity on an abandoned basketball court have made them believe that something is out there: “He said he was blonde, blue eyed, and burned. All of which I thought was a weird description and when I asked what he meant by burned he said “F-I-R-E.” Fire. I asked, “Did you die in a fire?” There was some hesitation. I thought I hit the wrong nerve or something with this spirit. It was a long pause… then, “YES.” I asked what year and it said “1-8-1-6” 1816. Okay, so at this point I just start talking to Caus like an old chum or something. I begin to ask about his family life and things like that. While I didn’t believe it, I still had fun. I asked him if he could visit me because I thought he was “an alright guy.” Caus said, “D-R-E-A-M-S” Dreams. I said, “sure, visit me in my dreams. That’d be alright.” Spoiler alert: Caus did indeed come visit the Redditor in their dreams, and it wasn’t pretty. After speaking to the creature and inviting it out of the board, no one else was able to contact anything, so it’s possible that the demon took over the Ouija board and is still waiting for the Redditor to return to their game.
When Redditor /u/DorianGray98 and their cousin, who live together, decided to dig up an antique Ouija board and play around with the spirit world, they may have gotten more than they bargained for. After goofing around with a spirit, they put the board away without dismissing the spirit, thus inviting it to creep them out constantly, even when they were going to the bathroom. They destroyed the planchette, burned the board, and buried it – but then the board reappeared on their doorstep.
Proving the existence of the supernatural to a skeptic is often futile, but that didn’t dissuade Cindy Lawson’s mother from trying to make her friend Ricky a believer. Lawson’s mother was part of a singing group, and the troupe wanted to prove to Ricky – a non-believer – that spirits were real. They held a seance and asked for a series of escalating signs, including slamming doors, strange smells, and knocking sounds. The night culminated with a visit from a spirit identified as Lorenzo de Medici, a famous patron of the arts in Renaissance Italy, who predicted the skeptical Ricky would soon suffer an accident during his act as a trick cyclist. Though Ricky laughed at the prediction, he did in fact suffer a significant mishap several weeks later, perhaps prompting him to reassess his skepticism about the supernatural realm.
While using a Ouija board with some friends to communicate with a spirit from beyond the grave, Redditor /u/n8sobes1216 chatted with a young woman named Bridget, who claimed to have perished in a car accident. When the friends grilled her about the facts of her passing (make and model of the car, the year of the event, etc.) the spirit freely gave up her answers until the game ended. The Redditor says they looked up Bridget’s info online and discovered that it was true, and ever since then, they’ve felt like something is following them.
Maybe Redditor /u/slackerish‘s first mistake was getting cross-faded before invoking a demon through a Ouija board. Or maybe it was not shutting down the conversation when they discovered they were talking to a demon. Either way, they kept chatting with this alleged demon until it said that it wanted to hurt everyone using the board, which is never a good sign. When the players went home, they discovered all of their furniture moved around and all of the cabinets open. Whether this was simply a prank or the work of a demon is yet to be seen.
Redditor /u/iamaballsack-ama went out of their way to get haunted by something that came through their Ouija board. After trying and failing to contact a spirit the first time, they cut the lights, lit some candles, and turned on an old radio to play nothing but white noise while they tried to make contact with the other side. That’s a pair of bad idea jeans if ever there was one. When a spirit finally responded, the Redditor and their friends learned that its name was Zozo, and from there, things went about poorly as they could: “We began to try and move the planchette in circles like you do when you’re expecting an answer, and all of the sudden, it… stopped at the “hello” spot of the board and would not… move. We actually slid the whole board off the table trying to get it to move. It was being pushed down, hard.” The planchette continually alternated between “Hello” and “No,” the radio emitted screeching sounds, a bunch of objects fell off the top of the refrigerator, the candles blew out, and a cat that lives at the house began walking with a limp the next day. Weird activity continued in her home for the next two weeks. Such is the power of ZoZo.
Whether you’re a true believer or one of those skeptics, these stories of spirits haunting the living from the confines of a Ouija board or through a séance, truly are chilling – and should make you think twice before communicating with entities from beyond. If not, then just keep listening.
Individual stories of spirit contact are creepy enough, but even more eerie is the number of people who claim to have contacted one particular entity… which has named itself Zozo. The spirit is most known for having intimate knowledge of people’s lives and for its ability to manipulate people and objects to cause harm. The entity’s origins are murky, but people around the world claim to have interacted with it during seances while using spirit boards or while practicing auto writing. Sometimes, Zozo is a mere trickster, while other times it has reportedly possessed people and caused harm. When Weird Darkness returns we ask the questions, “Is Zozo real? And if so, what is he? Or it?”
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October is here… and that means monsters are everywhere! On the television, in people’s yards and windows, in strip malls and big box stores… but my favorite monsters are in my pocket – and they are my best fiends. Not best friends, I said best fiends! This is probably my favorite time of year to play Best Fiends too, because they really creative with the characters and graphics, bringing out spooky levels to play, creepy (and sometimes hilarious) outfits all the fiends show up wearing, and numerous challenges all with the Halloween theme, all October long! It’s just one more way to keep the Halloween spirit alive in your house – and a lot of others are into the spooky Best Fiends spirit too, because the game has been downloaded over 100 million times! Best Fiends is the perfect mobile game to get you in the mood for the Halloween party, play it while listening to Weird Darkness, and it’s also great to play during trick-or-treat hours as you wait in-between bell rings for the little fiends in your neighborhood to come begging for candy! You can walk away from Best Fiends anytime you need to, then come back to it later and pick up right where you left off! Best Fiends is absolutely free to download, so kick your Halloween spirit into high gear and download Best Fiends – you’ll love having the little monsters in your pocket too, I promise! You can find Best Fiends in your Apple App Store or Google Play. Look for Best Fiends – that’s like the word FRIENDS, but without the letter “R” – BEST FIENDS!
ZOZO THE OUIJA DEMON==========
Stories of the Ouija board demon Zozo have been circulating for just about as long as the Ouija game itself has been around. Who is Zozo? Depends on who you ask, but most people familiar with Zozo believe it to be either a demon, a Tulpa, a mischievous ghost trying to scare and impress the living, or just a product of the ideomotor effect. Regardless of Zozo’s true identity and origins, tales of harrowing encounters with it have become so widespread that they’ve inspired books and horror movies. Of course, while Ouija is sold as a board game – a toy, and your chances of accidentally speed-dialing a bona fide evil spirit in the middle of your Halloween party are pretty low, it’s probably something you don’t want to risk, because you are still literally asking a spirit to come through the veil – and opening that door is never a good idea.
Several people claim to have been possessed by Zozo, and the experiences they describe are absolutely nightmarish. Paranormal researcher Darren Evans recounted having a nervous breakdown when Zozo stalked and tormented his daughter until she had to be admitted to a hospital.
The Internet is also rife with spine-chilling tales of meeting Zozo and facing the aftermath of each encounter. According to one witness, Zozo first asked a series of questions about players’ families through a spirit board before mysteriously extinguishing a candle and going on to cause a streak of nasty luck for the witness and her friend.
Another witness, who also claimed to have contacted Zozo through a spirit board, allegedly spent some time with a friend talking to a spirit named Zozo until her friend began experiencing strange symptoms that started with a headache and culminated with her inexplicable disappearance from the house in the middle of the night.
The first recorded account of a supernatural encounter with an entity calling itself “Zozo” dates back to far before Darren Evans’s reports. In the last published edition of Le Dictionnaire Infernal, the same book that contains the symbol that Evans claimed was a representation of Zozo’s name, the author documented a case of demonic possession that took place in the village of Teilly in 1816. The case concerned a girl who claimed to be possessed by three demons. Their names were Mimi, Crapoulet… and Zozo.
According to another theory, Zozo is another name for the Mesopotamian demon Pazuzu. If Zozo really is a nickname for Pazuzu, this creature has been terrorizing occultists and party game enthusiasts for at least 2,700 years.
Most descriptions of Zozo refer to it as a demon, but the truth is that nobody knows what it is. Zozo’s MO is to introduce itself to unwary spirit board users, interact with them through the board for a little while, and then slowly begin to spread its influence over their lives. Though a few connections exist between the name “Zozo” and the identity of a Mesopotamian demon, it’s not entirely clear if Zozo calls itself a demon or if reports of its malicious behavior have earned it a demonic reputation.
Zozo may not be just one entity, either – after all, if ghosts exist and we can truly speak to them, there’s nothing preventing them from using the name Zozo to scare us. In fact, there might not even be a Zozo – the trademark bizarre planchette movements and negative feelings associated with Zozo could easily be produced subconsciously by anyone familiar with the nasty rumors surrounding its name.
While not every Zozo story involves ongoing torment at the hands of a mysterious force, even temporary contact with Zozo can be an unsettling experience. People who claim to have encountered Zozo often describe experiencing sudden intense feelings of anger, fear, depression, or suicidal ideation while speaking with the entity through a spirit board.
Some victims even say they’ve experienced physical symptoms, including headaches, sleepwalking, and in one case, an infection. Inexplicable strings of bad luck have also been attributed to Zozo. To date, there are no confirmed instances of actual deaths caused by Zozo, but the incidents recounted by alleged victims are ghoulish enough to lose sleep over.
Almost every story of an encounter with Zozo involves a spirit board, but even if you don’t pick up the planchette, you might be unlucky enough to attract Zozo’s attention. Some have contacted it through pendulum dowsing, a system similar to a spirit board that uses a suspended weight instead of a planchette to indicate answers. Others have reported meeting Zozo through automatic writing sessions or hypnosis.
Researchers have also captured what they claim is EVP audio footage of Zozo, although the video containing the audio footage seems to have been taken down for some reason, otherwise I’d share it with you. Darren Evans, the most well-known researcher of the Zozo phenomenon, has even taken what he believes to be a photograph of Zozo… which it too seems to be missing now from the internet. Perhaps Zozo simply doesn’t like proof of his existence being documented.
Most encounters with Zozo start off as deceptively benign conversations before they start to turn sinister. However, there are several signs that can tip you off in time for you to disengage before anything truly creepy happens. Here’s how you’ll know it’s time to put the game away:
- The planchette will move in a rainbow pattern from side to side, sometimes pointing to O and Z over and over.
- The planchette will move in repeated figure eight movements.
- The planchette will spell out any version of Zozo’s name (watch out for Zozo, Zoso, Zaza, or Mama in particular).
- You might see what look like shadows moving around the area where you’re playing.
- You and whoever you’re playing with will start to feel scared, uneasy, or upset.
If you suspect you might have made contact with Zozo, the best thing you can do is to stay calm. If Zozo really is a demonic spirit, your fear will just make it stick around. If you’re using a spirit board, close the session by moving the planchette to GOODBYE. This will formally end the game, and you won’t be able to make contact with Zozo anymore.
If you aren’t using a spirit board, end your game or session according to its official rules as quickly and calmly as you can. Even if Zozo is nothing more than a product of the ideomotor effect and an overactive imagination, just removing the source of your fear will help you escape the feeling of being haunted.
The easiest way to avoid forming an unwanted connection with Zozo is to stop communicating with it for a while. If you use a spirit board, put it away for a while or use it somewhere besides the place where you believe you’ve run into Zozo. Cleansing your home (or anywhere in particular where you feel like Zozo is more likely to bother you) is also a pretty reliable way of staving off negative influences and regaining some peace of mind. If you’re a spiritual person, go ahead and give your place a cleanse with whatever tools work best for you, such as sage or holy water.
If you’re dealing with a run of bad health or cruddy luck, your best course of action is to take care of yourself – remember that what goes down will come up again. Don’t ignore your physical or mental health, whether it’s creepy spirits or garden-variety health problems that have you worried. And if you’re 100% convinced that what you’re facing is an actual demonic spirit, you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ exorcism.
Zozo goes by many other names—Zoso, Zaza, Zo, Oz, and even Mama or Abacus. Some sources also associate Zozo with Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon king of the southwest wind and the inspiration for the villainous spirit in The Exorcist.
Darren Evans, a paranormal researcher whose reports brought Zozo into the public eye, described encountering Zozo through a Ouija board with a symbol etched into it that could be read as the name “Zozo.” Curiously, this symbol is almost identical to the “Zoso” symbol used to represent Jimmy Page on the inner sleeve of the fourth Led Zeppelin album. While it’s not impossible that Page took graphic design advice from a demon, it’s more likely that he adapted the symbol from Le Dictionnaire Infernal, an encyclopedia of demons written in 1818.
However, this book lists the symbol as a protective sigil, not a demonic one. This means that Evans, a Zeppelin fan, probably took Zozo’s name from the symbol he saw in the album and gave it a demonic origin story—or Zozo just happens to be really into Zeppelin.
There’s no guarantee that any given spirit board session will bring you face to face with Zozo – but why leave it up to chance? Before you pick up the planchette, take a minute to set some ground rules for whoever – or whatever – you’re hoping to contact. If Zozo does indeed exist, it might think twice before trying to intimidate you if you’ve shown that you’re willing to take control of the encounter. Just dedicate a minute or two before your session to state firmly that you’re not interested in talking to anyone who wants to scare or control you, and that if they try, you’re going to tell them GOODBYE.
This might not sound like it would do much to deter a demon, but it definitely won’t hurt to introduce yourself as someone willing to fight back against any unruly spirits looking for someone to haunt.
Of course, there’s always the alternative… just don’t mess with a Ouija board.
MASQUERADING MEDIUMS, IMITATION INVESTIGATORS, AND DUBIOUS DEMONOLOGISTS==========
Fake psychics are almost as compelling as the real deal. Being a psychic, medium, or other afterlife mediator is rarely a lucrative career, but the flash-in-the-pan attention it can garner has drawn many aspiring supernatural superstars to the field. Fake mediums and other supernatural frauds have a long history in America and beyond, inspiring figures like Harry Houdini to dedicate their lives to exposing the hoaxes. When it comes to supernatural phenomena, the burden of proof always falls on the person who claims that they can communicate with the dead or banish bad spirits. If you say that’s what you can do, then that’s what you’re expected to do – but these fake psychics and other charlatans instead prey on the fear and grief of others to make their tricks seem believable. Here are just a few of the trickiest psychic frauds who have been making the rounds.
The most common depiction of a medium often includes a group of people sitting around a table watching a crystal ball, waiting to hear rapping sounds indicating that someone is trying to communicate with the leader of the séance. Those rapping sounds, however, can be directly traced back to the Fox sisters – Leah, Margaret, and Kate – whose antics shaped the future of American spiritualism. As religious movements were gaining strength, the sisters discovered that they could make rapping sounds by cracking their joints, which they used to convince others that they were communing with the dead. Eventually, Margaret and Kate confessed to their trick, though Margaret recanted her confession when she hit a period of poverty later in life.
Anyone remember Miss Cleo? Miss Cleo was once a mainstay of the late-night infomercial circuit, promising that she’d reveal the future to callers using tarot cards and other psychic methods. In actuality, Miss Cleo was Youree Dell Harris, a woman from Los Angeles who joined the Psychic Readers Network in the late ’90s. The network was later fined for fraudulent claims and billing deception, and ultimately revealed to not even be filmed live – they were delivered from a script. Though Harris herself was not indicted, she was the face of a company with serious lapses in ethics, making her one of the most visible fake psychics in history.
Sylvia Browne was one of the best-known television psychics, especially for her work with police in finding missing people. Unfortunately, most of her predictions were revealed to be completely wrong – on more than one occasion, Browne said that missing people were dead when they were later found alive. In one particular case, she told the mother of missing girl Amanda Berry that her daughter was dead. The mother died two years later – seven years before her daughter was found alive. In fact, according to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, of the cases with conclusive endings, none of Browne’s predictions were actually correct.
Uri Geller is one of the world’s most famous (or maybe infamous) psychics, best known for his apparent spoon-bending ability. However, during a 1973 appearance on The Tonight Show, the host coerced Geller into using objects he selected rather than Geller’s usual equipment. After spending some time contemplating the objects, he claimed that he wasn’t feeling strong enough to perform his feats and called it off. Carson, the host that evening, was familiar with stage magic and had set the situation up to prevent Geller from using sleight of hand or other trickery. When Geller declined to perform without his own spoons and other objects, it was a pretty clear signal that when he wasn’t in control Geller’s powers seemed to mysteriously vanish.
Harry Houdini, the famed American magician, began his investigation into the supernatural shortly after the death of his mother in the 1920s. Consumed with grief, he attended numerous séances in an attempt to contact his mother; however, with each one he attended he quickly discovered the tricks and sleight of hand being used by the self-proclaimed mediums. From that point on, Houdini made it one of his life goals to discredit and debunk exploitative mediums. Then, in 1923, he encountered Mina Crandon – who was being considered by Scientific American magazine to be a true medium. To test her skills, Houdini developed a fraud-proof cabinet for her to perform with, and promptly discredited her when she failed.
“Hollywood Medium”’s Tyler Henry gets by with his youthful good looks and odd habit of scribbling on paper to focus his psychic energy, but this modern-day medium is merely a skillful cold-reader and, most importantly, a Google-fanatic. Though Henry claims to know nothing about the celebrities whose deceased loved ones he calls upon, almost every fact he reveals on the show can be easily searched for. And if it isn’t easily searched, the celebs in question often don’t know what he’s talking about. We have only Henry’s word to go on that he doesn’t use Google, and with his predictions always involving celebrities who are under significantly more public scrutiny than the average person, it’s hard to believe that he’s the real deal.
This one will be controversial, I know. The cases surrounding Ed and Lorraine Warren – arguably the world’s most famous paranormal investigators – have inspired films like The Conjuring, Annabelle, and the entirety of the Amityville haunting story. But they’re also incredibly flimsy – apply the principle of Occam’s razor to any of their numerous cases and it becomes obvious that there are far more plausible explanations for the events than the presence of demons or hosts. Even if the Warrens do have some truly supernatural cases under their belts, there’s still a whole lot about these stories that doesn’t add up. It’s far more likely that, in the process of dealing with some truly unexplainable events, they discovered there was profit and fame to be had, leading to a well-crafted image of being real-life ghostbusters.
Theresa Caputo gained fame as a medium for her down-home, earnest persona (The Long Island Medium) – listening to her speak, you really get the impression that she cares about you and your grief. But that’s a carefully cultivated image, and one that suits her quite well as she uses cold reading and vague statements to make her clients feel like she really is receiving messages from deceased loved ones. Like many television mediums, Caputo relies on spectacle and intentionally vague statements to convince people that she’s actually conversing with their relatives. The combination of her personality and her ability to cold read is what makes her such a captivating figure. She clearly has a talent for reading people, though the purpose she puts it to is worthy of some side-eye.
James Van Praagh, another medium who claims to be able to connect people with their lost loved ones, is a frequent subject of examination for skeptics. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry visited Van Praagh’s show in 2003, revealing not only that the medium was not psychic, but that he wasn’t particularly good at cold reading either. His heavily edited show makes it seem as though he has a lot of hits with his psychic reading ability, but the investigation revealed that he actually spends far more time floundering than he does telling people what they want to hear.
Most fans of ghost hunting shows know that there’s at least some trickery at work, but the show “Most Haunted” took that to a whole new level. Investigators fed Derek Acorah, a medium on the show, the fake name Kreed Kafer – an anagram for ‘Derek Faker’ – and Acorah claimed to become possessed by the spirit. Acorah then claimed that he’d spoken to another fictitious spirit, worked in some false history based on the intentionally bad information he received, and communicated with spirits from an asylum while actually just being in an average home. Though he has been caught lying on television repeatedly, Acorah continues to claim that he is a genuine medium.
Rosemary Altea, like many television mediums, makes her living by contacting the dead for bereaved families. But unlike most television mediums, she was exposed on television by Penn and Teller, where tapes and interviews revealed that she wasn’t even cold reading the audience – she’d asked the audience questions beforehand or been fed information by her literary agent. Knowing this, her conversations with grief-stricken parents and family members feel pretty ghoulish. One writer believes that Altea is not intentionally deceiving people, but rather that she learned how to read people by accident and merely uses the skill for personal gain.
Up next we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments! But first, a quick note of thanks to all of you who voted in August and September! Weird Darkness has just been ranked the number two true crime and horror podcast in the world according to Podcast Magazine! That’s thanks to YOU, my Weirdo Family and all of your votes last month, and I can’t thank you enough! That list is shared with thousands of subscribers who read Podcast Magazine and hopefully that means we’ll have a few more new Weirdo family members in the near future! So again, thank you Weirdo family! I truly appreciate it!
CHAMBER OF COMMENTS==========
Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, you can join the very active “Weird Darkness Weirdos” Facebook Group, and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! And you can drop me an email anytime at: darren @ weirddarkness.com.
(Review from Mike1002): Sanity inducing Insanity! “I am a state government employee that picked up on listening to this show in the midst of the 2020 pandemic. Our office closed and when we started back to work, we were not given the option to work from home. I work in a crowded office building and I pretty much have to stay in my little office shut away from everyone else. I have anxiety and struggle with depression and the prospect of being shut in a tiny office room all alone in a crowded public building (I also have mild hypochondria) in the midst of a pandemic and you have a recipe for some very unpleasant mental states. It is like a really bad post apocalyptic TV series with no zombies. Boring and stressful all at once. Enter Darren and the Weird Darkness Podcast. Darren’s amazing narration and story choice’s came to me by accident after I had caught up on listening to another podcast. I needed something to keep my mind focused on work and not the disease outside my door (maybe it came through our office, maybe it didn’t) and this podcast was a Godsend. Imagine my surprise at the end when Darren quotes a Bible verse. I am a Christian and a part time pastor and Darren’s genuine compassion for people combined with his ability to tell great strange and weird stories told me I had found “my podcast.” I listen every day and have even sent in my own real life story of encounters with angels and evil spirits, maybe someday it will pop up in the show. Darren has accomplished something special here. A show that offers escape from the struggles of day to day life, while offering “light as we come out of the darkness.” God bless you Darren, you are an essential worker to this government desk jockey and part time pastor.”
REPLY: Thank you, Mike… I am really glad to hear that I’m helping to keep you insane, er, uh… I mean SANE in this crazy world. The anxiety and depression is horrible right now even for those who suffer mildly like myself – this quarantine and the constant stream of bad news can’t help but dampen your spirits and drag you down mentally. But one of the things that lifts me up is getting reviews and emails like this, letting me know that I’m lifting the burden of others with them listening to the show. God bless you, Pastor Mike!
(Email from Mike): Just wanted to say Thank You for the PodCast “ Weird Darkness”. I’m relatively new, I’ve been listening for the past 8 months or so. I love the t-shirt that I bought on teepublic and hope the money actually goes to you and your efforts. I’ve always struggled with depression but listening to your podcast seems to make the day a little less foggy. I was wondering if I could use a picture from the store to make a mask?? Or what would be even better is to have TeePublic create it so that you would get the notoriety and business. The pic is your Weird Darkness banner on TeePublic. I think it would make a great t-shirt and/or mask. Thank you for your time and of course thanks for all your hard work. –Mike
REPLY: Yes, you can do that now – per YOUR request, I’ve gone in and made the giant skull and city street banner available now for the tees, hoodies, stickers, phone cases, etc…. And yes, facemasks! For those who don’t know how to get to the facemasks for the pictures you like, just go to the design you want to use in the Weird Darkness store, scroll down on that same page just a little bit and you’ll see other items with that same design, like a coffee mug, hoodie, etc. Directly under those, in text, you’ll see other items like stickers, magnets, and you’ll see “mask” as one of those links. As for where the money goes, a lot of it goes to TeePublic because they are the ones who provide all of the materials like the cloths the inks, the printing presses, etc., and the rest comes to me. 100% of the portion that I receive, I donate to the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression.
(Review from EL1AS Re: “HAIRY HUMANOIDS OF TEXAS”) Very interesting. I grew up near Converse, TX! I didn’t know there was a werewolf sighting there back in the day. They never taught us as kids. Perhaps it is one of those things where the entire community chooses to forget. My aunt taught me about the Donkey Lady though. Apparently, as a kid she had “dreamt” about the Donkey Lady coming to her window and asking her if she wanted to play. She remembers she looked like a tall lady with long black hair. Her skin was the hide of a donkey with the face being of a donkey as well. She remembers riding on her shoulders as she ran around making donkey noises. She thought it was a dream but when she woke up the next morning her feet were muddy and had left footprints coming back from her window. She actually grew up near the famed Donkey Lady bridge which makes her story creepier.
REPLY: That is a freaky story from your mother, Elias! Okay, for everyone who is listening right now – no matter how cute, cuddly, and/or friendly it appears, if a talking donkey lady comes up to you and asks if you want to come out and play, you say NO.
I received a couple of emails recently regarding the “Most Haunted Lighthouses In The World” episode, which I’ll link to in the show notes.
(Here’s an email from Rachel): I have been listening to your podcast for a few years and I love it. I always tell people about it when they want to hear a scary or creepy story. I was listening to “The Most Haunted Lighthouses in the World” episode that aired on September 23rd and was surprised to hear about a few places in my home state of Michigan. My parents actually grew up not far from the Presque Isle lighthouse. I have been there several times. I personally have never experienced anything paranormal there. I also had a bit of a chuckle when you mispronounced the names of a few of the places. Trust me I realize why you mispronounced them. Everyone who lives in Michigan gets it. So I thought I would give you a little education in the “proper” Michigan pronunciations. All in good fun though. Presque Isle is pronounced as Presskeel. All smooshed together and no separation between words. I think smooshing the words together is just a Midwestern thing. Mackinac is actually Mackinaw. Yes I know it has a C at the end but just pretend it’s really a W. Huron is pronounced more like Here-ron not Her-Ron. Michigan is full of cities and towns that are pronounced differently then how they are written. And some of them are just downright weird.
(Another email about Michigan names from Logan): Hey Darren just wanna say I LOVE WEIRD DARKNESS. Listen everyday on my way to work. Also love all the work and advocacy you do for people with depression. You’ve probably made more of an impact than you realize. You’re a good man. Proud to call myself a weirdo. I live in Michigan and when you did your most haunted lighthouses episode you mispronounced huron. (Here-on) And Mackinac. (Mack-in-aw) it’s alright try pronouncing Ypsilanti. Or kitchitikipi most Michiganders can’t even do it!
REPLY: I’m not even sure I know exactly how to pronounce Michiganders. This is exactly why I don’t live in Michigan. I refuse to live in a state that doesn’t under how phonics works.
(Review from Joker_Alpha81): “Darren we’re a military family and we LOVE listening to your podcast. I’ve even shared a story for Weird Darkness once as well. We always recommend your podcast to friends and family. Your narration skills are top notch, and your work ethic is outstanding. From start to finish your podcast is easily one of, if not the best on air. Your mission to spread the light, your genre mixture, and dramatizations easily set you apart from everyone else. Much love from Eglin Air Force Base brother ! – Joe”
REPLY: Thank you for your service, Joe – and for all those in your family who have served or who have supported those who have served. It’s an honor and privilege to entertain you. For the longest time I wanted to serve my country, but I never enlisted in the service like father and grandad did, because I knew I couldn’t cut it – I’ve always been horrible at taking orders, just ask Mrs. Marlar. But knowing that I do have men and women in uniform that listen to the podcast really feels good, and hearing from you with confirmation of that is all the thanks I need. Thank you, sir!
I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and letters next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page of the website, or drop me an email at darren @ weirddarkness.com.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
Thanks for listening. If you like the podcast, please – tell someone about it. Recommend Weird Darkness to your friends, family, and co-workers who love the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime like you do! Every time you share the podcast with someone new, it helps spread the word about the show – and a growing audience makes it possible for me to keep doing the podcast. Plus, telling others about Weird Darkness also helps get the word out about resources that are available for those who suffer from depression. So please share the podcast with someone today.
And again, this month I’m raising awareness and funds to battle depression and I need your help – please visit DarknessChallenge.com to give as much as you can, and if you struggle with depression, consider making a video to help raise awareness. Get the details about the video challenge or make a donation, or do both at DarknessChallenge.com.
Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“When Ouija and Seances Go Horrifyingly Wrong” uses research from Melissa Brinks and Jacob Shelton
“Zozo The Ouija Demon” by Maggie Clendenin
“Masquerading Mediums, Imitation Investigators, and Dubious Demonologists” by Melissa Brinks
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
And a final thought… “You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.” – Ruth E. Renkl
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.