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Zombies & Hatian Voodoo

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Author Topic: Zombies & Hatian Voodoo  (Read 3239 times)
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« on: January 27, 2007, 10:52:26 am »


Zombies : are a very real phenomenon typically associated with the voodoo practicing, West Indian country of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. Zombies are persons who have ‘died’ but are not really dead, they are alive in a state of being, referred to as the undead. Evil sorcerers called bokors bring their victims back to a zombie state of life. This life is not a full life but a weird half-life where the zombie is incapable of thinking for itself, and it has no prior knowledge as to who it was. The bokors take their victims to remote areas where they are put to work as slaves. The whole idea of zombies is so ingrained in the psyche of the locals, that even the poorest of peasants are willing to pay quite large amounts of money to have heavy slabs placed on the coffins of their loved ones. This is thought to deter the bokors.

An American biologist Wade Davis suspected that some mysterious substances were used in zombification and he set about to find them. He discovered two noteworthy constituents:

- tetrodotoxin – obtained from puffer fish – an effective nerve poison, inducing deep paralysis.

- A fluid – secreted by the skin glands of the highly poisonous cane toad Bufo marinus – an effective hallucinogen and strong anaesthetic.

Other drugs such as ‘zombie cucumber’ Datura stramonium were thought to aid in the resuscitation and mind control of the victim.

It was also found that if persons that had been paralysed using the above drugs and left in their coffins too long, the effects of the mind controlling drug Datura stramonium were enhanced due to oxygen starvation, also adding to irreversible brain damage.

The idea of a rotting corpse brought back to life possibly has more to do with the work of novels and movies. However the idea of zombies as drugged individuals, pronounced dead and then buried alive in a coffin awaiting complete brainwashing appears to hold more truth.
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2007, 10:57:33 am »


A zombie is a dead person that is brought back to life through a curse (voodoo, necromancy) or a mutation and has recovered some vital functions like movement.

They are near-mindless, possessing little reasoning power, though many can perform "remembered behaviors" from their mortal existence.

Zombies are omnipresent in the folklore of Haïti, where they are created by voodoo, an african type of black witchcraft. More recently, zombies films have exposed new theories according to which man-made virus or genetical experiments are held responsible for the creation of zombies. Such films put a strong emphasis on flesh and blood : rotting bodies and their attendant maggots, as well as the still-warm gore resulting from savage, often cannibalistic attacks upon the living.


Zombies have been confused with many other monstrous creatures. Monstrous will try to make a clear distinction between the different entities that proceed from death.

Some zombies have the appearance of the living but their lack of free will and souls give them the appearance of mechanical robots.

Other display visible signs of desiccation, decay and emaciation on their face and body. They have blank, expressionless faces that become more animated when they get hungry and engage in a feeding frenzy.

They are incapable of speech, but often tend to make moaning and guttural sounds. They are normally encountered wearing whatever clothing they wore in their human life, prior to reanimation.

What is not a zombie

A ghost

In many films, the plot is centered around a ghost seeking revenge that may be depicted as corporeal rather than ethereal. Some of these revenants look like zombies, depicted with outrageous decayed bodies (13 Ghosts – 2001) but they are not. The living dead are first and foremost corpses that continue to move around, manipulated by an outside will or self-driven. They are neither manifestations of ectoplasmic fury; nor undead spirits.

A mummy
Even if the mummy can be considered as an animated corpse, the tradition that has developed from Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932) through the Hammer films of the fifties and sixties gives the mummy a conscious mind and the ability to regenerate its body. Another common trait between both monsters is the mummy’s power to rise the deads. Interestingly Anne Rice's novel The Mummy, Or Ramses the Damned combines the mummy and the zombie tradition. Dawn of the Mummy (1981) combines the classic Mummy plot (a mummy, whose tomb is violated, takes revenge on those responsible) with the zombie tradition. Pharaoh Safiraman rises from his tomb, along with the corpses of his retinue, who emerge zombie-like from the sands and proceed to stumble about killing archaeologists, a film crew involved in filming a fashion layout, and the locals. The Mummy rarely participates in the bloodletting, decapitation and flesheating, but simply orchestrates the slaughter.

A ghoul
Occasionally “post-Romero” zombies are referred to as “ghouls”, a name suggested by their cannibalistic tendencies. This is a common mistake as Ghouls are monsters or evil spirits that haunt cemetaries, robbing graves as they prey on the flesh of the deads. Ghouls are neither dead bodies, nor deprived of consciousness.

A nearly-dead
There are a number of movies in which characters indulge in zombie-like behavior but are not really zombies as such. Most generally these are possessed or sick; their rationality and usually their wills have been suppressed, and, since they are inevitably going to die, they can be considered as dead. They are zombie-like on a metaphorical level, if not on a literal one.

A cannibal
Another close cousin of the zombie is the cannibal; a subgenre popularized by Italian directors in particular. Cannibal Apocalypse (1982) is very close to the zombie film. But if zombies are usually cannibal, all cannibals are not zombies.
The term cannibalism comes from Canibales, the name given by the Spanish to a reputedly man-eating tribe of Carib Indians who lived in the West Indies when Christopher Columbus arrived.

The practice of cannibalism has been reported throughout history in many parts of the world. Some evidence points to its practice as early as Neolithic times. Herodutus and other ancient writers described cannibalistic peoples. In medieval times the Italian traveler Marco Polo reported that tribes from Tibet to Sumatra practiced cannibalism. It was practiced among many North American Indians, especially the tribes of the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Until recently cannibalism was believed to still exist in central and western Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Sumatra, New Guinea, Polynesia, and remote parts of South America. Several rationales have been proposed for the practice of cannibalism. In some cultures, it was believed that the person who ate the dead body of another would acquire the desired qualities of the person eaten, something like gaining courage from eating a brave enemy. In a few instances cannibalism may have been dictated by no other motive than revenge since it was believed that an enemy's spirit would be utterly destroyed if the body were eaten, thus leaving nothing in which the ghost could live. Cannibalism was sometimes part of a religious practice. The Binderwurs of central India ate their sick and aged in the belief that the act was pleasing to their goddess Kali. In Mexico thousands of human victims were sacrificed annually by the Aztecs to their deities. After the ceremony of sacrifice, the priests and the populace ate the bodies of the victims, believing that this would bring them closer to their gods.

A Frankenstein monster-like or other artificially created monsters
Albeit made up of dead bodies, such a monster is not a true zombie: he is a new creation and has no personal past, he is usually not interested in flesh (though there is some overlap at times).
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2007, 10:58:41 am »


Two kinds of zombies exists in modern popular culture: one created by voodoo resulting in a spell-bound near dead state, and creatures created by scientific experimentation of strange chemicals on living humans (as popularized by a series of films on the "living dead" theme).

Voodoo zombies.
Origin: Haïtian beliefs and supersitions

The word 'voodoo' (vodou, vaudou, vodoun or vodun) derives from the word 'vodu' in the Fon language of Dahomey meaning 'spirit' or 'god’ and describes the complex religious and belief system that exist in Haïti, an island of the West Indies. The foundations of voodoo were established in the seventeenth century by slaves captured primarily from the kingdom of Dahomey, which occupied parts of today's Togo, Benin, and Nigeria in West Africa, it combines features of African religion with the Roman Catholicism of the European settlers. Today over 60 million people practice voodoo worldwide. Religious similar to voodoo can be found in South America where they are called Umbanda, Quimbanda or Candomble. It is widely practiced in Benin, Haiti and within many black communities of the large cities in North America.

Unfortunately, in popular literature and films voodoo has been reduced to sorcery, black witchcraft, and in some cases cannibalistic practices, generating many foreigners' prejudices not only about voodoo but about Haitian culture in general.

The voodoo religion involves belief in a supreme god (bon dieu) and a host of spirits called loa which are often identified with Catholic saints. These spirits are closely related to African gods and may represent natural phenomena — such as fire, water, or wind — or dead persons, including eminent ancestors. They consist of two main groups: the rada, often mild and helping, and the petro, which may be dangerous and harmful. There are two sorts of priests in the traditional voodoo folklore: the houngan or mambo who confine his activities to "white" magic i.e bring good fortune and healing and the bokor or caplata who performs evil spells and black magic, sometimes called "left-handed Vodun". Rarely, a houngan will engage in such sorcery; a few alternate between white and dark magic.

One belief unique to voodoo is the zombie. The creole word “zombi” is apparently derived from Nzambi, a West African deity but it only came into general use in 1929, after the publication of William B. Seabrook's The Magic Island. In this book, Seabrook recounts his experiences on Haiti, including the walking dead. He describes the first 'zombie' he came across in this way:

"The eyes were the worst. It was not my imagination. They were in truth like the eyes of a dead man, not blind, but staring, unfocused, unseeing. The whole face, for that matter, was bad enough. It was vacant, as if there was nothing behind it. It seemed not only expressionless, but incapable of expression."

Haitian zombies were once normal people, but underwent zombification by a "bokor" or voodoo sorcerer, through spell or potion. The victim then dies and becomes a mindless automaton, incapable of remembering the past, unable to recognise loved ones and doomed to a life of miserable toil under the will of the zombie master.

There have been some rare occasions of juju zombies temporarily regaining part of their mental faculties. This rare occurrence has only been observed when a zombie encounters situations that have heavy emotional connections to their mortal lives.

There are many examples of zombies in modern day Haiti. Papa Doc Duvallier the dictator of Haiti from 1957 to 1971 had a private army of thugs called tonton macoutes. These people were said to be in trances and they followed every command that Duvallier gave them. Duvallier had also his own voodoo church with many followers and he promised to return after his death to rule again. He did not come back but a guard was placed at his tomb, to insure that he would not try to escape, or that nobody steal the body. There are also many stories of people that die, then many years later return to the shock and surprise of relatives. A man named Caesar returned 18 years after he died to marry, have three children and die again, 30 years after he was originally buried. Another case involved a student from a village Port-au-Prince who had been shot in a robbery attempt. Six months later, the student returned to his parent’s house as a zombie. At first it was possible to talk with the man, and he related the story of his murder, a voodoo witch doctor stealing his body from the ambulance before he reached hospital and his transformation into a zombie. As time went on, he became unable to communicate, he grew more and more lethargic and died.

A case reported a writer named Stephen Bonsal described a zombie he witnessed in 1912 in this way: a man had at intervals a high fever, he joined a foreign mission church and the head of the mission saw the him die. He assisted at the funeral and saw the dead man buried. Some days later the supposedly dead man was found dressed in grave clothes, tied to a tree, moaning. The poor wretch soon recovered his voice but not his mind. He was indentifed by his wife, by the physician who had pronounced him dead, and by the clergyman. The victim did not recognized anybody, and spent his days moaning inarticulate words.
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2007, 10:59:57 am »


by James Dilworth

A zombie is a dead person that is brought back to life through means of Vodoun or necromancy, destroying the mental processes of this person through the process. Most people consider zombies only to be the stuff of horror books and movies, but they do exist in Haiti in the present day. Thousands of people in Haiti are considered to be zombies, some of which lead normal everyday lives with families, jobs and are respected citizens. It¹s even considered to be a crime to make a zombie in Haiti.

Haitian Penal Code:

Article 249. It shall also be qualified as attempted murder the employment which may be made against any person of substances which, without causing actual death, produce a lethargic coma more or less prolonged. If, after the person had been buried, the act shall be considered murder no matter what result follows.

To make a zombie, a voodoo practitioner makes a potion that consists of mainly the poison of the pufferfish (one of the strongest nerve poisons known to man, the clinical drug norcuron has similar effects and is used during surgery) that is given to the intended victim. This causes severe neurological damage, primarily effecting the left side of the brain (the left side of the brain controls speech, memory and motor skills). The victim suddenly becomes lethargic, then slowly seems to die. In reality, the victim¹s respiration and pulse becomes so slow that it is nearly impossible to detect. The victim retains full awareness as he is taken to the hospital, then perhaps to the morgue and finally as they are buried alive. Then, at the voodoo practitioner¹s leisure does he come to retrieve the victim, now become a slave, as a commodity (at one time it was said that most of the slaves who worked in the sugar cane plantations of Haiti were zombies. One case in 1918 had a voodoo priest named Ti Joseph who ran a gang of laborers for the American Sugar Corporation, who took the money they received and fed the workers only unsalted porridge). A zombie will remain in a robot-like state indefinitely, until he tastes either salt or meat(so much for ³The Night of the Living Dead²). Then the zombie becomes aware of their state, immediately returning to the grave. The reality behind the zombie has only been taken seriously by medical science within the last ten years, since the use of CAT scans of the brain, along with the confessions of voodoo priests, explaining their methods. Previous to that, zombies were considered mental defective by science or explained as stunts to try to confuse scientists.

There are many examples of zombies in modern day Haiti. Papa Doc Duvallier the dictator of Haiti from 1957 to 1971 had a private army that was said to consist of zombies, called tonton macoutes. These people were said to be in trances and they followed every command that Duvallier gave them. Duvallier was also a devout voodooist, as are many people in Haiti, who lead a voodoo church¹ with many followers. He also claimed that he was immortal and he would rule Haiti forever¹, promising to return after his death to rule again. After his death (a heart attack), he did not come back, although a guard was placed at his tomb, to insure that he would not try to escape, or so someone wouldn¹t try to steal the body (this is a common practice in Haiti, along with the padlocking of tombs, for the same reason). There are also many stories of people that die, then many years later return to the shock and surprise of relatives. A man named Caesar returned 18 years after he died to marry, have three children and die again, 30 years after he was originally buried. Another case involved a student from a village Port-au-Prince who had been shot in a robbery attempt. Six months later, the student returned to his parent¹s house as a zombie. At first it was possible to talk with the man, and he related the story of his murder, a voodoo witch doctor stealing his body from the ambulance before he reached hospital and his transformation into a zombie. As time went on, he became unable to communicate, he grew more and more lethargic and died.

A case reported a writer named Stephen Bonsal described a zombie he witnessed in 1912 in this way:³A man had at intervals a high fever he had joined a foreign mission church and the head of the mission saw the patient die. He assisted at the funeral and saw the dead man buried. Some days later the supposedly dead man was found dressed in grave clothes, tied to a tree, moaning. The poor wretch soon recovered his voice but not his mind. He was indentifed by his wife, by the psysicain who ahd prounced him dead, and by the clergyman. The victim recognized no-one, and his days were spent moaning inarticulate words no-one could understand².


Sources Quoted

Arthur C. Clarke¹s Mysterious World: Zombies and Voodoo BBC and Discovery Channel 1996

Cassiel The Encyclopedia of Black Magic 1989 New York Mallard Books

The Haitian Penal Code

Out of This World Volume 20 1975
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2007, 11:01:04 am »

7. Zombies and Werewolves

Saint Domingue (Haiti), the western part of the once-Spanish island called Hispanola where Columbus had landed, was a colony of France. It produced coffee and sugar under the sweat and blood of imported African slaves. These slaves were brutally treated, and they kept themselves alive only with the aid of their religion. The Yoruba tribe in western Africa was largely responsible for carrying the belief in Vodu to the new world. (Voodoo was also known as Vodu or Vodun.)

In Saint Domingue, the Voodoo priests (or "houngans") and the paid-priests (or "bokors") had used Voodoo charms and potions as a form of biological warfare against the French who enslaved them, even poisoning their food supply on occassion. The Voodoo priests also drugged slaves who had betrayed the cause of slave revolution with Voodoo concoctions from natural herbs and from animal parts and held them as slaves. This is possibly the origin of the zombie.

The zombie was a resurrected body without a soul -- a social outcast who served the will of the Voodoo master. Supposedly, the zombie was raised from the dead, without free will or a soul. However, one modern theory is that the zombie never really died but was the victim of a drug. This Voodoo concoction is believed to have consisted of carefully selected herbs and animal parts, especially from the puffer fish, which contains a neurotoxin that causes a type of paralysis in the nervous system. The Voodoo priest also knew how to apply an antidote which could "resurrect" the zombie, but keep him dazed enough to be easily controlled. Most people, however, did not have the "magical" knowledge of the Voodoo priest. They believed the zombie was actually the living dead, a soulless body returned from the grave. Historically, Voodoo priests used to induce zombiism as a punishment for criminals; additionally, bokors could make someone into a zombie for a fee.

This belief of zombies weaved its way to New Orleans from Haiti as well, although zombies were not known in the Yoruba tribe in Africa. The belief in actual zombies was not as strong in New Orleans as in Haiti, but the term Zombi was certainly used in rituals, as evidenced by Marie Laveau's snake whose name (spoken in a Caribbean French patois) was Li Grand Zombi.

Another supernatural creature, the werewolf, was believed in only intermittently in Haiti, and was never widely accepted in New Orleans. However, the Cajuns (or more correctly Acadians, Frenchmen who were expelled from Nova Scotia in the 18th century by the British and settled in the bayous of Louisiana) did believe in the loup-garous -- a type of wolfman. This bayou lycanthropy apparently had no relation to Voodoo per se, although a form of Voodoo called "Hoodoo" worked its way into the bayou. This was more of a belief in herbal magic than a religion. Basically, the Voodoo of Africa and Haiti was an animist spirit-based religion, while Hoodoo was a non-religious, herbal based practice. New Orleans Voodoo was a mixture of the two.
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2007, 11:01:56 am »

8. Marie Laveau's Legacy

In the later years of her life, Marie Laveau gradually moved away from pure Voodooism. Some of her critics claimed she was in league with the Devil (or "Papa La Bas" as the Devil was also known in New Orleans Voodoo, from the French word meaning "down" or "low," an obvious allusion to hell). Yet she had once been a devout Catholic, and over time she began to incorporate Roman Catholic elements into her Voodooism. Statues of the Saints, the belief in the Virgin Mary, and Holy Water were now mixed in with the snake, the Zombies, and the gris-gris. Eventually, Marie Laveau would give up on Voodoo altogether and return completely to the Roman Catholic religion.

In 1869, past the age of 70, Marie Laveau was replaced as Voodoo Queen by a woman named Malvina Latour. Supposedly, Marie was voted out by the Voodoo worshipers at a meeting near Maison Blanche on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Sadly, her followers had determined Marie had grown too old to be in charge. Marie spent the rest of her life as a devout Roman Catholic and dedicated much time and effort visiting the prisoners in the local jail as an act of charity; she even helped build prayer altars for them in their jail cells, it was said.

Malvina Latour could not, however, maintain cohesion within the Voodoo belief, and soon she was challenged by rival queens and Voodoo doctors who acquired their own followers. The most notable of the successor Voodoo doctors was James Alexander, who operated from Orleans Street at the back of the French Quarter. None of the subsequent queens and doctors who followed Marie Laveau could inspire or manipulate Voodoo worshipers to the degree of unifying the faith. As a result, Voodoo in New Orleans began its irretrievable decline. In 1881 Marie Leveau died, and she was buried in St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 down on Basin Street.

Today when one speaks of the Voodoo Queen in New Orleans, typically only one name comes to mind -- Marie Laveau.

The Voodoo Queen stills lives on today in New Orleans, if only in legend. Her grave is visited by the faithful and the curious year-round. Many come to her tomb and place small offerings there, like beans, food or various Voodoo items. Many make chalk marks on the face of her stone tomb, in the sign of an X or a cross.

Still others believe that Marie Laveau's spirit rises on St. John's Eve, June 23, and holds court over a spectacular Voodoo ritual. (See "Ghosts of New Orleans" for more details.) Needless to say, there is debate as to whether an actual ghost of the Voodoo Queen exists. But of the sorceress herself, one thing is absolutely certain -- of all the practitioners of the Voodoo faith, no one in New Orleans was ever more renowned or more influential or more powerful than Marie Laveau.
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2007, 11:02:58 am »


Zombies, the walking dead, are empty shells of men, automatons with no inner life at all....corpses raised from the dead to be slaves to their Voodon master. In Hollywood movies, they are creatures to be afraid of, who come seeking brains to eat, undead monsters that cannot be reasoned with or fought. In pubs a zombie is a drink made from Light Rum ,Jamaica Rum , Apricot-flavored Brandy , Pineapple Juice , lime Juice , Orange juice, passion fruit juice and powdered sugar over crushed ice.
In Haiti they know that zombies are not be taken lightly, although they do not fear the zombies themselves, they fear BECOMING zombies!

The word "zombie is derived from the Congo word, "nzambi", which means, "spirit of a dead person". The first references to zombies were discovered in Haiti, a tiny Caribbean island that won its independence from French slavers in 1804 and began creating its own unique culture and way of life - heavily influenced by the African Dahomeny religion of many gods, and the pretence of Catholicism that it hid under when waves of missionaries tried to crush their religion.

Haitians believe that relatives or friends who have sufficiently annoyed others, are in danger of being turned into zombies. A Bokor voudon sorcerer is believed to reanimate a freshly buried corpse of such a person. To make sure this doesn't happen, relatives attend the funeral and stab the body in the heart or remove the head, this second death ensures that the soul is truly gone and the body can never rise again.

Zombie slaves can be spotted by their curious lurching walk, swaying side to side, their eyes are glazed, and they have nasal voices. The nasal voice is attributed to the voodoo god Baron Samedi, Lord of the burial grounds. A zombie who tastes salt or meat becomes conscious again and is released from the bokor's control to return to his grave.

In 1912 Stephen Bonsal wrote an account of a man he saw buried being found, in his grave clothes several days later, moaning inarticulate words and recognizing none of those who could identify him, such his wife and the doctor who had pronounced him dead. In 1959 Francis Huxley reported on a zombie discovered wandering a Haitian village street and recognized by a woman as her nephew who had been buried four years earlier. Clairvius Narcisse, In spring, 1962 Narcisse "died" at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti. His death was verified by the hospital staff. 18 years later Narcisse turned up alive and well, and claimed to be an escaped zombie. As recently as 1993, Andre Ville Jean-Paul gathered crowds to tell of how he was buried alive and resurrected as one of the living dead. This was a serious matter for the authorities because zombification was outlawed oficially in 1989 with a life sentence, and also because of the political aspects - Voudon was behind the successful revolt against the French slavers. He says he was in a coffin for two weeks, and then put to work in the rice fields with 18 other zombies.

Anthropologist Wade Davies went to Haiti and uncovered that zombies are the result of interplay between social rules imposed by a secret voodoun government of Bizango sorcerer societies and the use of powerful drugs. The drugs that can make a man seem to be dead, and then revive him, are naturally worth a great deal to the science of anaesthesia and to drug companies.

The powder is able to be absorbed straight through the skin, so the Bokor needs to only sprinkle it on the floor or blow it in the face.

Davies bought the zombie-making powder from a Bokor and obtained the full ingredient list and magical process. To make zombie powder you need:

Human flesh and bone, a toad made more poisonous by scaring it with a stinging worm, a poisonous centipede, a particular species of spider, several psychoactive herbs such as damiana and datura, and a puffer fish.

All of the ingreients are psychoactive and toxic, with the exception of the human meat, but the interesting one is the puffer fish which makes a poison called tetradotoxin, which is a sodium channel blocker that disrupts communication in brain cells.

The puffer fish is the source of the Japanese delicacy Fugu, where the deadly poison sacs are removed before eating. Trace remains of the drug give Japanese diners a euphoric buzz, more than that kills.

The symptoms of tetradotoxin poisoning appear quickly: slight numbness of the lips and tongue, feelings of floating, headache, rapid pulse, nausea, trouble walking, trouble speaking, trouble breathing, paralysis, then coma or death. The coma gives the full appearance of death, good enough to fool many doctors.

Of course this raises the question of whether those people who "died" of puffer fish poisoning should really have been buried, but I'll leave that one to your imagination.

Tetradotoxin is 10 000 times deadlier than cyanide. Its made by bacteria which not only live in the puffer fish, but are also made use of the Australian blue ringed octopus, Australian Xantides crab, the Taricha salamander from California, and marine bacteria in the North Sea.

The victim in a coma may in fact still be conscious and awake because of the parts of the brain that are left untouched by the drug, so the victim will hear his own funeral and be aware of his own burial. Naturally, when he is dug up (if he is lucky) by the Bokor, he is awake and traumatised and willing to believe he has been reanimated. He is then drugged again with datura (known as "zombie cucumber") and kept a suggestible and biddable slave. Timothy Leary showed that psychoactive drugs effects are determined by the expectations both of the subject taking the drugs, the people around them, and the society they live in. In a religion that grew out of a rebellion against slavery, its no wonder that this means of social control is so effective.

So are you safe from becoming a zombie, if you stay out of Haiti and avoid the poisonous animals? When you clicked on this page, you probably thought You Yourself did it -- that is, the conscious being that is the sum of your experiences, thoughts and dreams, the self that perceives the tone and timbre of my voice; the self that thinks, therefore it is, the self that you know lives in your head, just behind your eyes. But You Yourself didn't click on this page or reach out to pick up your teacup a few moments ago. The Zombie did.

The Zombie is a metaphor being used by psychologists and neuroscientists to capture a strange division in our minds.

By the time you notice a spider in the bath, it should be obvious that your unconscious brain and body--alias the Zombie--have already "seen" it and begun to flinch. And by the time your conscious self realises that you are blushing, sneering or giggling inappropriately at a cocktail party, it's too late to preserve your dignity--the Zombie within let loose the emotion without consulting You Yourself.

Yet reflex reactions and hair trigger emotions are merely the flashier of its talents. As psychologists and neuroscientists probe the mind more deeply, they are uncovering evidence of subtler unconscious perceptions and abilities of which science has been only dimly aware until now. Even now unconscious circuits of the brain are processing sensory information You Yourself knows nothing about, and initiating little movements on the sly.

Ever notice how sometimes you just find yourself doing the right thing? Researchers measuring brainwaves have found that the signals to move muscles are often initiated BEFORE the signals have time to be processed by the conscious mind. Yet we rationalise our automatic behaviour and remember having made a conscious decision to act.

While the Voodoun sorcerers in haiti control society through people's fear of becoming a zombie, neuroscientists may discover that its ALL.... TOO... LATE!!
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2007, 11:03:57 am »

The Secrets of Haiti’s Living Dead
A Harvard botanist investigates mystic potions, voodoo rites, and the making of zombies.

Gino Del Guercio

Five years ago, a man walked into l’Estère, a village in central Haiti, approached a peasant woman named Angelina Narcisse, and identified himself as her brother Clairvius. If he had not introduced himself using a boyhood nickname and mentioned facts only intimate family members knew, she would not have believed him. Because, eighteen years earlier, Angelina had stood in a small cemetery north of her village and watched as her brother Clairvius was buried.

The man told Angelina he remembered that night well. He knew when he was lowered into his grave, because he was fully conscious, although he could not speak or move. As the earth was thrown over his coffin, he felt as if he were floating over the grave. The scar on his right cheek, he said, was caused by a nail driven through his casket.

The night he was buried, he told Angelina, a voodoo priest raised him from the grave. He was beaten with a sisal whip and carried off to a sugar plantation in northern Haiti where, with other zombies, he was forced to work as a slave. Only with the death of the zombie master were they able to escape, and Narcisse eventually returned home.

Legend has it that zombies are the living dead, raised from their graves and animated by malevolent voodoo sorcerers, usually for some evil purpose. Most Haitians believe in zombies, and Narcisse’s claim is not unique. At about the time he reappeared, in 1980, two women turned up in other villages saying they were zombies. In the same year, in northern Haiti, the local peasants claimed to have found a group of zombies wandering aimlessly in the fields.

But Narcisse’s case was different in one crucial respect; it was documented. His death had been recorded by doctors at the American-directed Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles. On April 30, 1962, hospital records show, Narcisse walked into the hospital’s emergency room spitting up blood. He was feverish and full of aches. His doctors could not diagnose his illness, and his symptoms grew steadily worse. Three days after he entered the hospital, according to the records, he died. The attending physicians, an American among them, signed his death certificate. His body was placed in cold storage for twenty hours, and then he was buried. He said he remembered hearing his doctors pronounce him dead while his sister wept at his bedside.

At the Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurologie in Port-au-Prince, Dr. Lamarque Douyon, a Haitian-born, Canadian-trained psychiatrist, has been systematically investigating all reports of zombies since 1961. Though convinced zombies were real, he had been unable to find a scientific explanation for the phenomenon. He did not believe zombies were people raised from the dead, but that did not make them any less interesting. He speculated that victims were only made to look dead, probably by means of a drug that dramatically slowed metabolism. The victim was buried, dug up within a few hours, and somehow reawakened.

The Narcisse case provided Douyon with evidence strong enough to warrant a request for assistance from colleagues in New York. Douyon wanted to find an ethnobotanist, a traditional-medicines expert, who could track down the zombie potion he was sure existed. Aware of the medical potential of a drug that could dramatically lower metabolism, a group organized by the late Dr. Nathan Kline—a New York psychiatrist and pioneer in the field of psychopharmacology—raised the funds necessary to send someone to investigate.

The search for that someone led to the Harvard Botanical Museum, one of the world’s foremost institutes of ethnobiology. Its director, Richard Evans Schultes, Jeffrey professor of biology, had spent thirteen years in the tropics studying native medicines. Some of his best-known work is the investigation of curare, the substance used by the nomadic people of the Amazon to poison their darts. Refined into a powerful muscle relaxant called D-tubocurarine, it is now an essential component of the anesthesia used during almost all surgery.

Schultes would have been a natural for the Haitian investigation, but he was too busy. He recommended another Harvard ethnobotanist for the assignment, Wade Davis, a 28-year-old Canadian pursuing a doctorate in biology.

Davis grew up in the tall pine forests of British Columbia and entered Harvard in 1971, influenced by a Life magazine story on the student strike of 1969. Before Harvard, the only Americans he had known were draft dodgers, who seemed very exotic. “I used to fight forest fires with them,” Davis says. “Like everybody else, I thought America was where it was at. And I wanted to go to Harvard because of that Life article. When I got there, I realized it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.”

Davis took a course from Schultes, and when he decided to go to South America to study plants, he approached his professor for guidance. “He was an extraordinary figure,” Davis remembers. “He was a man who had done it all. He had lived alone for years in the Amazon.” Schultes sent Davis to the rain forest with two letters of introduction and two pieces of advice: wear a pith helmet and try ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic vine. During that expedition and others, Davis proved himself an “outstanding field man,” says his mentor. Now, in early 1982, Schultes called him into his office and asked if he had plans for spring break.

“I always took to Schultes’s assignments like a plant takes to water,” says Davis, tall and blond, with inquisitive blue eyes. “Whatever Schultes told me to do, I did. His letters of introduction opened up a whole world.” This time the world was Haiti.

Davis knew nothing about the Caribbean island—and nothing about African traditions, which serve as Haiti’s cultural basis. He certainly did not believe in zombies. “I thought it was a lark,” he says now.

Davis landed in Haiti a week after his conversation with Schultes, armed with a hypothesis about how the zombie drug—if it existed—might be made. Setting out to explore, he discovered a country materially impoverished, but rich in culture and mystery. He was impressed by the cohesion of Haitian society; he found none of the crime, social disorder, and rampant drug and alcohol abuse so common in many of the other Caribbean islands. The cultural wealth and cohesion, he believes, spring from the country’s turbulent history.

During the French occupation of the late eighteenth century, 370,000 African-born slaves were imported to Haiti between 1780 and 1790. In 1791, the black population launched one of the few successful slave revolts in history, forming secret societies and overcoming first the French plantation owners and then a detachment of troops from Napoleon’s army, sent to quell the revolt. For the next hundred years Haiti was the only independent black republic in the Caribbean, populated by people who did not forget their African heritage. “You can almost argue that Haiti is more African than Africa,” Davis says. “When the west coast of Africa was being disrupted by colonialism and the slave trade, Haiti was essentially left alone. The amalgam of beliefs in Haiti is unique, but it’s very, very African.”

Davis discovered that the vast majority of Haitian peasants practice voodoo, a sophisticated religion with African roots. Says Davis, “It was immediately obvious that the stereotypes of voodoo weren’t true. Going around the countryside, I found clues to a whole complex social world.” Vodounists believe they communicate directly with, indeed are often possessed by, the many spirits who populate the everyday world. Vodoun society is a system of education, law, and medicine; it embodies a code of ethics that regulates social behavior. In rural areas, secret vodoun societies, much like those found on the west coast of Africa, are as much or more in control of everyday life as the Haitian government.

Although most outsiders dismissed the zombie phenomenon as folklore, some early investigators, convinced of its reality, tried to find a scientific explanation. The few who sought a zombie drug failed. Nathan Kline, who helped finance Davis’s expedition, had searched unsuccessfully, as had Lamarque Douyon, the Haitian psychiatrist. Zora Neale Hurston, an American black woman, may have come closest. An anthropological pioneer, she went to Haiti in the Thirties, studied vodoun society, and wrote a book on the subject, Tell My Horse, first published in 1938. She knew about the secret societies and was convinced zombies were real, but if a power existed, she too failed to obtain it.

Davis obtained a sample in a few weeks.

He arrived in Haiti with the names of several contacts. A BBC reporter familiar with the Narcisse case had suggested he talk with Marcel Pierre. Pierre owned the Eagle Bar, a bordello in the city of Saint Marc. He was also a voodoo sorcerer and had supplied the BBC with a physiologically active powder of unknown ingredients. Davis found him willing to negotiate. He told Pierre he was a representative of “powerful but anonymous interests in New York,” willing to pay generously for the priest’s services, provided no questions were asked. Pierre agreed to be helpful for what Davis will only say was a “sizable sum.” Davis spent a day watching Pierre gather the ingredients—including human bones— and grind them together with mortar and pestle. However, from his knowledge of poison, Davis knew immediately that nothing in the formula could produce the powerful effects of zombification.

Three weeks later, Davis went back to the Eagle Bar, where he found Pierre sitting with three associates. Davis challenged him. He called him a charlatan. Enraged, the priest gave him a second vial, claiming that this was the real poison. Davis pretended to pour the powder into his palm and rub it into his skin. “You’re a dead man,” Pierre told him, and he might have been, because this powder proved to be genuine. But, as the substance had not actually touched him, Davis was able to maintain his bravado, and Pierre was impressed. He agreed to make the poison and show Davis how it was done.

The powder, which Davis keeps in a small vial, looks like dry black dirt. It contains parts of toads, sea worms, lizards, tarantulas, and human bones. (To obtain the last ingredient, he and Pierre unearthed a child’s grave on a nocturnal trip to the cemetery.) The poison is rubbed into the victim’s skin. Within hours he begins to feel nauseated and has difficulty breathing. A pins-and-needles sensation afflicts his arms and legs, then progresses to the whole body. The subject becomes paralyzed; his lips turn blue for lack of oxygen. Quickly—sometimes within six hours—his metabolism is lowered to a level almost indistinguishable from death.

As Davis discovered, making the poison is an inexact science. Ingredients varied in the five samples he eventually acquired, although the active agents were always the same. And the poison came with no guarantee. Davis speculates that sometimes instead of merely paralyzing the victim, the compound kills him. Sometimes the victim suffocates in the coffin before he can be resurrected. But clearly the potion works well enough often enough to make zombies more than a figment of Haitian imagination.

Analysis of the powder produced another surprise. “When I went down to Haiti originally,” says Davis, “my hypothesis was that the formula would contain concombre zombi, the ‘zombie’s cucumber,’ which is a Datura plant. I thought somehow Datura was used in putting people down.” Datura is a powerful psychoactive plant, found in West Africa as well as other tropical areas and used there in ritual as well as criminal activities. Davis had found Datura growing in Haiti. Its popular name suggested the plant was used in creating zombies.

But, says Davis, “there were a lot of problems with the Datura hypothesis. Partly it was a question of how the drug was administered. Datura would create a stupor in huge doses, but it just wouldn’t produce the kind of immobility that was key. These people had to appear dead, and there aren’t many drugs that will do that.”

One of the ingredients Pierre included in the second formula was a dried fish, a species of puffer or blowfish, common to most parts of the world. It gets its name from its ability to fill itself with water and swell to several times its normal size when threatened by predators. Many of these fish contain a powerful poison known as tetrodotoxin. One of the most powerful nonprotein poisons known to man, tetrodotoxin turned up in every sample of zombie powder that Davis acquired.

Numerous well-documented accounts of puffer fish poisoning exist, but the most famous accounts come from the Orient, where fugu fish, a species of puffer, is considered a delicacy. In Japan, special chefs are licensed to prepare fugu. The chef removes enough poison to make the fish nonlethal, yet enough remains to create exhilarating physiological effects—tingles up and down the spine, mild prickling of the tongue and lips, euphoria. Several dozen Japanese die each year, having bitten off more than they should have.

“When I got hold of the formula and saw it was the fugu fish, that suddenly threw open the whole Japanese literature,” says Davis. Case histories of fugu poisoning read like accounts of zombification. Victims remain conscious but unable to speak or move. A man who had “died” after eating fugu recovered seven days later in the morgue. Several summers ago, another Japanese poisoned by fugu revived after he was nailed into his coffin. “Almost all of Narcisse’s symptoms correlated. Even strange things such as the fact that he said he was conscious and could hear himself pronounced dead. Stuff that I thought had to be magic, that seemed crazy. But, in fact, that is what people who get fugu-fish poisoning experience.”

Davis was certain he had solved the mystery. But far from being the end of his investigation, identifying the poison was, in fact, its starting point. “The drug alone didn’t make zombies,” he explains. “Japanese victims of puffer-fish poisoning don’t become zombies, they become poison victims. All the drug could do was set someone up for a whole series of psychological pressures that would be rooted in the culture. I wanted to know why zombification was going on,” he says.

He sought a cultural answer, an explanation rooted in the structure and beliefs of Haitian society. Was zombification simply a random criminal activity? He thought not. He had discovered that Clairvius Narcisse and “Ti Femme,” a second victim he interviewed, were village pariahs. Ti Femme was regarded as a thief. Narcisse had abandoned his children and deprived his brother of land that was rightfully his. Equally suggestive, Narcisse claimed that his aggrieved brother had sold him to a bokor, a voodoo priest who dealt in black magic; he made cryptic reference to having been tried and found guilty by the “masters of the land.”

Gathering poisons from various parts of the country, Davis had come into direct contact with the vodoun secret societies. Returning to the anthropological literature on Haiti and pursuing his contacts with informants, Davis came to understand the social matrix within which zombies were created.

Davis’s investigations uncovered the importance of the secret societies. These groups trace their origins to the bands of escaped slaves that organized the revolt against the French in the late eighteenth century. Open to both men and women, the societies control specific territories of the country. Their meetings take place at night, and in many rural parts of Haiti the drums and wild celebrations that characterize the gatherings can be heard for miles.

Davis believes the secret societies are responsible for policing their communities, and the threat of zombification is one way they maintain order. Says Davis, “Zombification has a material basis, but it also has a societal logic.” To the uninitiated, the practice may appear a random criminal activity, but in rural vodoun society, it is exactly the opposite—a sanction imposed by recognized authorities, a form of capital punishment. For rural Haitians, zombification is an even more severe punishment than death, because it deprives the subject of his most valued possessions: his free will and independence.

The vodounists believe that when a person dies, his spirit splits into several different parts. If a priest is powerful enough, the spiritual aspect that controls a person’s character and individuality, known as ti bon ange, the “good little angel,” can be captured and the corporeal aspect, deprived of its will, held as a slave.

From studying the medical literature on tetrodotoxin poisoning, Davis discovered that if a victim survives the first few hours of the poisoning, he is likely to recover fully from the ordeal. The subject simply revives spontaneously. But zombies remain without will, in a trance-like state, a condition vodounists attribute to the power of the priest. Davis thinks it possible that the psychological trauma of zombification may be augmented by Datura or some other drug; he thinks zombies may be fed a Datura paste that accentuates their disorientation. Still, he puts the material basis of zombification in perspective: “Tetrodotoxin and Datura are only templates on which cultural forces and beliefs may be amplified a thousand times.”

Davis has not been able to discover how prevalent zombification is in Haiti. “How many zombies there are is not the question,” he says. He compares it to capital punishment in the United States: “It doesn’t really matter how many people are electrocuted, as long as it’s a possibility.” As a sanction in Haiti, the fear is not of zombies, it’s of becoming one.

Davis attributes his success in solving the zombie mystery to his approach. He went to Haiti with an open mind and immersed himself in the culture. “My intuition unhindered by biases served me well,” he says. “I didn’t make any judgments.” He combined this attitude with what he had learned earlier from his experiences in the Amazon. “Schultes’s lesson is to go and live with the Indians as an Indian.” Davis was able to participate in the vodoun society to a surprising degree, eventually even penetrating one of the Bizango societies and dancing in their nocturnal rituals. His appreciation of Haitian culture is apparent. “Everybody asks me how did a white person get this information? To ask the question means you don’t understand Haitians—they don’t judge you by the color of your skin.”

As a result of the exotic nature of his discoveries, Davis has gained a certain notoriety. He plans to complete his dissertation soon, but he has already finished writing a popular account of his adventures. To be published in January by Simon and Schuster, it is called The Serpent and the Rainbow, after the serpent that vodounists believe created the earth and the rainbow spirit it married. Film rights have already been optioned; in October Davis went back to Haiti with a screenwriter. But Davis takes the notoriety in stride. “All this attention is funny,” he says. “For years, not just me, but all Schultes’s students have had extraordinary adventures in the line of work. The adventure is not the end point, it’s just along the way of getting the data. At the Botanical Museum, Schultes created a world unto itself. We didn’t think we were doing anything above the ordinary. I still don’t think we do. And you know,” he adds, “the Haiti episode does not begin to compare to what others have accomplished—particularly Schultes himself.”'s%20Living%20Dead.htm
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2007, 11:06:06 am »


Haiti Table of Contents
Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti, but voodoo may be considered the country's national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists believe that their religion can coexist with Catholicism. Most Protestants, however, strongly oppose voodoo.

Misconceptions about voodoo have given Haiti a reputation for sorcery and zombies. Popular images of voodoo have ignored the religion's basis as a domestic cult of family spirits. Adherents of voodoo do not perceive themselves as members of a separate religion; they consider themselves Roman Catholics. In fact, the word for voodoo does not even exist in rural Haiti. The Creole word vodoun refers to a kind of dance and in some areas to a category of spirits. Roman Catholics who are active voodooists say that they "serve the spirits," but they do not consider that practice as something outside of Roman Catholicism. Haitians also distinguish between the service of family spirits and the practice of magic and sorcery.

The belief system of voodoo revolves around family spirits (often called loua or mistè) who are inherited through maternal and paternal lines. Loua protect their "children" from misfortune. In return, families must "feed" the loua through periodic rituals in which food, drink, and other gifts are offered to the spirits. There are two kinds of services for the loua. The first is held once a year; the second is conducted much less frequently, usually only once a generation. Many poor families, however, wait until they feel a need to restore their relationship with their spirits before they conduct a service. Services are usually held at a sanctuary on family land.

In voodoo, there are many loua. Although there is considerable variation among families and regions, there are generally two groups of loua, the rada and the petro. The rada spirits are mostly seen as "sweet" loua, while the petro are seen as "bitter" because they are more demanding of their "children." Rada spirits appear to be of African origin while petro spirits appear to be of Haitian origin.

Loua are usually anthropomorphic and have distinct identities. They can be good, evil, capricious, or demanding. Loua most commonly show their displeasure by making people sick, and so voodoo is used to diagnose and treat illnesses. Loua are not nature spirits, and they do not make crops grow or bring rain. The loua of one family have no claim over members of other families, and they cannot protect or harm them. Voodooists are therefore not interested in the loua of other families.

Loua appear to family members in dreams and, more dramatically, through trances. Many Haitians believe that loua are capable of temporarily taking over the bodies of their "children." Men and women enter trances during which they assume the traits of particular loua. People in a trance feel giddy and usually remember nothing after they return to a normal state of consciousness. Voodooists say that the spirit temporarily replaces the human personality. Possession trances occur usually during rituals such as services for loua or a vodoun dance in honor of the loua. When loua appear to entranced people, they may bring warnings or explanations for the causes of illnesses or misfortune. Loua often engage the crowd around them through flirtation, jokes, or accusations.

Ancestors (le mò) rank with the family loua as the most important spiritual entities in voodoo. Elaborate funeral and mourning rites reflect the important role of the dead. Ornate tombs throughout the countryside reveal how much attention Haiti gives to its dead. Voodooists believe the dead are capable of forcing their survivors to construct tombs and sell land. In these cases, the dead act like family loua, which "hold" family members to make them ill or bring other misfortune. The dead also appear in dreams to provide their survivors with advice or warnings.

Voodooists also believe there are loua that can be paid to bring good fortune or protection from evil. And, they believe that souls can be paid to attack enemies by making them ill.

Folk belief includes zombies and witchcraft. Zombies are either spirits or people whose souls have been partially withdrawn from their bodies. Some Haitians resort to bokò, who are specialists in sorcery and magic. Haiti has several secret societies whose members practice sorcery.

Voodoo specialists, male houngan and female manbo, mediate between humans and spirits through divination and trance. They diagnose illnesses and reveal the origins of other misfortune. They can also perform rituals to appease spirits or ancestors or to repel magic. Many voodoo specialists are accomplished herbalists who treat a variety of illnesses.

Voodoo lacks a fixed theology and an organized hierarchy, unlike Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Each specialist develops his or her own reputation for helping people.

François Duvalier recruited voodoo specialists to serve as tonton makouts to help him control all aspects of Haitian life. Duvalier indicated that he retained power through sorcery, but because voodoo is essentially a family-based cult, Duvalier failed to politicize the religion to any great extent.
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2007, 11:07:17 am »

[Categories: Vodun, Slavery, Legendary creatures, Death]

A zombie is a kind of (Click link for more info and facts about undead) undead, or figuratively, a very apathetic person.

Zombies in VoodooAccording to the tenets of (A religious cult practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries (especially Haiti); involves witchcraft and animistic deities) Voodoo, a (People who are no longer living) dead person can be revived by a (Click link for more info and facts about houngan) houngan or (Click link for more info and facts about mambo) mambo. After ((New Testament) the rising of Christ on the third day after the Crucifixion) resurrection, it has no will of its own, but remains under the control of the person who performed the (Any customary observance or practice) ritual. Such resurrected dead are "zombies".

In 1937, while researching (The unwritten literature (stories and proverbs and riddles and songs) of a culture) folklore in (A republic in the West Indies on the western part of the island of Hispaniola; achieved independence from France in 1804; the poorest and most illiterate nation in the Western Hemisphere) Haiti, (Click link for more info and facts about Zora Neale Hurston) Zora Neale Hurston encountered the case of Felicia Felix-Mentor, who had died and been buried in 1907 at the age of 29. Villagers believed they saw her wandering the streets in a daze thirty years later(*)
, but this was subsequently found to be false.(*)

Hurston pursued rumors that persons were given powerful (A substance that is used as a medicine or narcotic) drugs, but was unable to locate anyone willing to offer much information. She wrote "What is more, if science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important (A thorough physical examination; includes a variety of tests depending on the age and sex and health of the person) medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony."(*)

Several decades later, (Click link for more info and facts about Wade Davis) Wade Davis, a (A river rising in northeastern New Mexico and flowing eastward across the Texas panhandle to become a tributary of the Arkansas River in Oklahoma) Canadian ethnobotanist, was the main person to present a (Click link for more info and facts about pharmacological) pharmacological case for zombies in two books - (Click link for more info and facts about The Serpent and the Rainbow) The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). Davis travelled to (A republic in the West Indies on the western part of the island of Hispaniola; achieved independence from France in 1804; the poorest and most illiterate nation in the Western Hemisphere) Haiti in 1982 and as a result of his investigations claimed that zombies could be made by the ingestion of two special (Any of various cosmetic or medical preparations dispensed in the form of a powder) powders. The first, coupe poudre, induced a 'death-like' state, the key ingredient of which was the (Click link for more info and facts about pufferfish) pufferfish (Tetraodontiformes) (A poisonous substance produced during the metabolism and growth of certain microorganisms and some higher plant and animal species) toxin (Click link for more info and facts about tetrodotoxin) tetrodotoxin (TTX). The second powder of dissociative (A psychoactive drug that induces hallucinations or altered sensory experiences) hallucinogens held the person in a will-less zombie state. (Click link for more info and facts about Clairvius Narcisse) Clairvius Narcisse was alleged to have succumed to this practice. There was considerable (The disbelief in any claims of ultimate knowledge) skepticism to Davis's claims; he was widely accused of (Intentional deception resulting in injury to another person) fraud and opinions remain divided as to the veracity of his work.

Others claim zombies are sufferers of various (Click link for more info and facts about psychiatric disorders) psychiatric disorders such as (Click link for more info and facts about catatonic) catatonic (Any of several psychotic disorders characterized by distortions of reality and disturbances of thought and language and withdrawal from social contact) schizophrenia whose symptoms are misinterpreted as a return from the dead.

Zombies in fictionZombies are regularly encountered in (Something that inspires horror; something horrible) horror- and (Imagination unrestricted by reality) fantasy-themed (A literary work based on the imagination and not necessarily on fact) fiction, (Photographic material consisting of a base of celluloid covered with a photographic emulsion; used to make negatives or transparencies) films, (A game played against a computer) video games and (Click link for more info and facts about role-playing games) role-playing games. They are typically depicted as mindless, shambling, decaying (The dead body of a human being) corpses with a hunger for human flesh, most famously in (Click link for more info and facts about Night of the Living Dead) Night of the Living Dead. Often, the zombies will have (Supernatural forces and events and beings collectively) supernatural strength and constitution, and sometimes (more often in (Light and humorous drama with a happy ending) comedy zombie films) will be able to run, or even still possess the ability to hold conversation. Some films (such as (Click link for more info and facts about 28 Days Later) 28 Days Later) feature living but otherwise zombie-like humans, usually as the result of (An impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning) disease.

In fiction zombies can generally be disabled by either dismemberment or the destruction of the brain and/or upper spinal column. In a few cases the entire body of the zombie must be destroyed as individual limbs or even fingers continue to move after being severed from the body ( (Click link for more info and facts about The Evil Dead) The Evil Dead, (Click link for more info and facts about Return of the Living Dead) Return of the Living Dead, The Curse of the Black Pearl).

The (Click link for more info and facts about Resident Evil) Resident Evil series of (A game played against a computer) video games makes particular use of zombies.

Other causes of zombies in fiction include (Energy that is radiated or transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles) radiation acting on the (That part of the central nervous system that includes all the higher nervous centers; enclosed within the skull; continuous with the spinal cord) brains of the dead, (Click link for more info and facts about evil magic) evil magic or (Click link for more info and facts about Vodun) Vodun, extraterrestrials, the use of (A substance that is used as a medicine or narcotic) drugs, (Click link for more info and facts about viral) viral infection (see (Click link for more info and facts about T-Virus) T-Virus, (Type genus of the Solanaceae: nightshade; potato; eggplant; bittersweet) Solanum), telepathic control or the substitution of the brain for some sinister artifact.

Many works of fiction feature zombies, who spread their affliction from one to another, in a viral fashion. More often than not, the condition is spread through means of a bite, or scratch, and the victim will most likely die and mutate soon after. In others, however, the condition is only acquired after death.

The character of Reginald Shoe in (Click link for more info and facts about Terry Pratchett) Terry Pratchett's (Click link for more info and facts about Discworld) Discworld books, became a zombie after being shot by refusing to stay dead. He later formed a support group for other undead, claiming they were merely "differently alive".

Zombies in FilmAlthough the depiction of zombies in film has recently become varied, they were originally presented in (Click link for more info and facts about White Zombie) White Zombie (Victor Halperin, 1932) as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician/overlord. This depiction continued through the 1930's until they started to move around ambiguously more of their own accord, as in I Walked with a Zombie (Jaques Torneur 1943).

In 1968, (Click link for more info and facts about George Romero) George Romero's (Click link for more info and facts about Night of the Living Dead) Night of the Living Dead premiered, primarily in downmarket, urban theaters. Critics reacted negatively to the depiction of cannibalism, gore, and pessimism in the movies, since the crowds who went were predominantly children left by their parents for the matinee show and black audiences. Cannibalism in horror was nothing new at the time, but the movie cannonized a few aspects of zombies.

First, many movies followed Night in having a bullet to the head as the way to kill a zombie. Second, zombiism is contagious and not just the result of magic performed on a dead (or living) body. In Night, the explanation on TV is that radiation from a satellite returning to earth may be causing the return of the dead, but Romero only added this explanation to please the studio, and considers their origin unimportant. The movie took a while to gain a following, and Romero's sequel in 1978, (Click link for more info and facts about Dawn of the Dead) Dawn of the Dead, released internationally.

Following its fame, (Click link for more info and facts about Lucio Fulci) Lucio Fulci released (Click link for more info and facts about Zombi II) Zombi II (Dawn was relased under the name Zombi in Italy and internationally). Back in America, Dan O'Bannon eventually directed (Click link for more info and facts about Return of the Living Dead) Return of the Living Dead, in 1985. He had worked with Romero on Night, and both had wanted to continue making zombie movies. Since then, zombies have become a stereotypical movie monster, and have spread to video games, where they are a mainstay monster. These movies have spawned parodies, with the recent film Shaun of the Dead.

(Click link for more info and facts about Resident Evil) Resident Evil (Paul Anderson, 2002) represents the transition back from 'video game zombies' to the movies. With a soundtrack by Marilyn Manson, the movie typifies much of what has happened in the film genre's treatment of zombies, entertaining these recurring possibilities:

A character has been bitten and contemplates suicide, at the risk of turning into 'one of them'
An elite team of agents runs out of ammo trying to stop all the zombies
Zombies are scored with synth music, and occassionally rock.
A familier character appears later in the movie as a zombie and attacks the protagonists instead of rejoining them.
The gist of the film is apocalyptic
Zombies are mindless and always ready to attack, no matter the condition of their bodies

Resident Evil 2 replays all these themes, speeding through all genre conventions and arriving at a very different sci-fi theme, effectively abandoning zombies, or dealing with them only as a form of superhuman mutation of the body.

See (Click link for more info and facts about List of zombie movies) List of zombie movies.

Zombies in Video Games (Click link for more info and facts about Resident Evil) Resident Evil Series - Features typical flesh-eating zombies (and stranger creatures) created by synthetic means, i.e. using mutagenic viruses created by an evil corporation.
(Click link for more info and facts about House of the Dead) House of the Dead, and sequels - Zombie blasting arcade games once famed for their extremely violent portrayal of anti-zombie combat.
(Click link for more info and facts about Typing of the Dead) Typing of the Dead - A (A product made during the manufacture of something else) spin-off/ (A place (seaport or airport) where people and merchandise can enter or leave a country) port of House of the Dead that tries to serve as a typing trainer.
(An unpleasant or disastrous destiny) Doom, and sequels - The player combats gun-weilding, satanic zombies (among other demons) on Mars.
(The time required for something to fall to half its initial value (in particular, the time for half the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate)) Half-Life and (Click link for more info and facts about Half-Life 2) Half-Life 2 - Zombies are created via alien creatures called headcrabs, which take over the victim's nervous system. Half-Life 2 features several zombie variants, including a fast running one and a toxic one.
(Click link for more info and facts about Halo series) Halo series - The parasitic (The rising of a body of water and its overflowing onto normally dry land) flood bear a strong resemblences to most popular conceptions of zombies, including rising from corpses and mindlessly warring against the living.
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2007, 11:08:24 am »

Study Reveals Pittsburgh Unprepared For Full-Scale Zombie Attack
October 19, 2005

PITTSBURGH—A zombie-preparedness study, commissioned by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and released Monday, indicates that the city could easily succumb to a devastating zombie attack. Insufficient emergency-management-personnel training and poorly conceived undead-defense measures have left the city at great risk for all-out destruction at the hands of the living dead, according to the Zombie Preparedness Institute.

Pittsburgh, a prime target of the undead.
"When it comes to defending ourselves against an army of reanimated human corpses, the officials in charge have fallen asleep at the wheel," Murphy said. "Who's in charge of sweep-and-burn missions to clear out infected areas? Who's going to guard the cemeteries at night? If zombies were to arrive in the city tomorrow, we'd all be roaming the earth in search of human brains by Friday."

Government-conducted zombie-attack scenarios described on the State Department's website indicate that a successful, citywide zombie takeover would take 10 days, but according to ZPI statistician Dr. Milton Cornelius, the government's models fail to incorporate such factors as the zombies' rudimentary reasoning skills and basic tool use.

"Today's zombies quickly learn to open doors, break windows, and stage ambushes," Cornelius said. "In one 1985 incident in Louisville, a band of zombies was able to lure four paramedics and countless law-enforcement officials to their deaths by commandeering an ambulance radio and calling for backup."

ZPI researchers noted that tens of thousands of Pittsburgh citizens live in close proximity to a cemetery. This fact, coupled with abnormally high space-radiation levels in eastern Pennsylvania and ongoing traffic issues in the East Hills and Larimer areas, led Cornelius to declare the likelihood of a successful evacuation as "slight to impossible."

"The designated evacuation routes would be hopelessly clogged, leaving many no choice but to escape by foot," Cornelius said. "Add a single lurching zombie into that easily panicked crowd and you've got a nightmare scenario."

Cornelius' model shows that after the ensuing stampede, "the zombie could pick and choose his victims," and predicts the creation of hundreds of new undead "in a single half-hour feeding frenzy."

Pittsburgh's structural defenses are particularly inadequate. The city's emergency safe houses, established by a city ordinance in the early '70s, lack even the most basic fortifications for zombie invasion.

Enlarge Image

Pittsburgh residents participate in a zombie-preparedness training exercise in 1998.
"Under the ordinance, wooden tool sheds and rusty station wagons are classified as adequate shelter," Cornelius said. "But once dozens of zombies hungering for living flesh begin pounding on the walls and driving their half-decomposed fists through the windows, sheds and cars quickly give way."

Federal Undead Management Agency spokesperson Dr. Sheena Aurora downplayed the ZPI report, arguing that zombies move slowly and can be easily overpowered. Aurora advised citizens to look over their shoulders frequently, adding that a large shopping mall can serve as a "long-term, even fun" refuge from zombies.

Such assertions alarm zombiologist Olivier Baptiste, who calls FUMA's information "hopelessly outdated."

"Dr. Aurora's claims are based on decades-old zombie models," Baptiste said. "Widely released evidence from recent years clearly shows that zombies can run just as fast, if not faster, than a living human."

Added Baptiste: "That FUMA trains its field agents to shoot zombies in the torso, rather than the head, demonstrates just how out of touch the government is."

Evans City, PA Police Chief Gino Fulci said zombie preparedness comes down to training on the local level.

"Children need to be taught from preschool that they might have to put a bullet between the eyes of their own undead mother," Fulci said. "'Destroy The Brain' banners should be hung above the entrances of schools, churches, and town halls everywhere."

Cornelius recommends that Pittsburgh residents prepare a "go-bag" containing a Glock 17 pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition. If leaving the house is not an option, Cornelius advises residents to barricade all first-story doors and windows, and have at least one method of suicide prepared, should zombies successfully breach the home.
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