"Sticks and stones will surely break your bones... but a Coco Macaque will kill you!"
"Papa Joe The Good-man" 2010
Many fear the legend of a real Haitian Voodoo death implement known as the the coco macaque. It may be referred to as a Coco-macacaco, coco macaco, The devil's prickly pole, canne de tobago or simply the black magic bokors or sorcerer’s death stick.
Many magical secrets about these weapons have woven their way through out history and the supernatural myths in the islands of the Caribbean, South and Central America, Africa and the Southern United States. The haunted traveling sticks or clubs which has been said to have the remarkable magical power to move on its own and carry out good deeds as well as sinister errands for its soul master is still a revered and well respected weapon to many even today.
Bokors (male) or Caplata (female) in the religion of vodou are sorcerers or houngan (priests) or mambo (priestess) for hire who are said to 'serve the loa with both hands', meaning that they can practice both dark magic and benevolent magic. Their black magic includes the creation of zombies and the creation of 'ouangas', talismans that house spirits. The name Bokor can also refer to the leader of the Makaya division of Vodou (which originated in the Congo region) and Bokor/Caplata also refers to the highest initiation rank in Dominican Vodou.
Bokors are featured in many Haitian tales and are often associated with the creation of 'zombis and evil coco macaques'. Also, bokors are said to work with zombi/zombie astrals - souls or spirits which are captured in a fetish and made to enhance the Bokor's power. These souls can be attached, trapped or imprisoned in any inanimate object including knives, jars, bottles and also clubs and sticks. Les Invisibles--all spirits, or unseen hands often help in magical works.
Bokors normally work with Loas Baron Samedi, Kalfou, Legba and Simbi (snake loa) plus in some cases they are said to work with Grand Bois, the loa of the forest. Bokors are similar to the "root workers" of voodoo and New Orleans voodoo. Some may be priests of a vodou house. Bokor are usually chosen from birth, those whom are believed to bear a great ashe (power). A Bokor can be, by Judeo-Christian terms, good or evil, though some sources consider him an evil version of a houngan. Coco Macaques or often passed down through the generations, especially those that hold or wield great supernatural or paranormal powers. Many of these great staffs or batons might hold imprisoned more then one soul or spirit.
Houngan is the term for a male priest in the voodoo religion in Haiti (a female priest is known as a mambo). The term is derived from the Fon word "hùn gan". There are two ranks of houngan, huongan asogwe (high priest) and houngan sur pwen (junior priest). A houngan asogwe is the highest member of clergy in voodoo; he is the only one with authority to ordain other priests. It is the houngan's role to preserve the rituals and songs and maintain the relationship between the spirits and the community as a whole (though some of this is the responsibility of the whole community as well). They are entrusted with leading the service of all of the spirits of their lineage. Many carry with them actual coco macaques as a sign of their station, power and inherited status.
Mambo is the term for a female (as opposed to the Houngan, or male) High Priest in the Vodou religion in Haiti. They are the highest form of clergy in the religion, whose responsibility it is to preserve the rituals and songs and maintain the relationship between the spirits and the community as a whole (though some of this is the responsibility of the whole community as well). They are entrusted with leading the service of all of the spirits of their lineage. There are two ranks of mambo, mambo asogwe (high priest) and mambo sur pwen or mambo sur point (junior priest). A mambo asogwe is the highest member of clergy in vodou; she is the only one with authority to ordain other priests. And in most cases a Mambo keeps a large Coco Macaque near her at all times for protection from evil forces and enemies.
Coco macaque is what many refer to as a very real magical Haitian vodou implement or black magicians helping tool. Made of Haitian Coco-macaque palm wood or what ever wood one has at hand it is basically just simple thick 1 to 2 inch wooden palm tree stick, which is supposed to be possessing one of many magical powers, The strangest one is that to be able to stand up and walk on its own. Though it's appearance of walking is described more like a hopping or bouncing action. This Voodoo Magic walking stick is not bound by gravity and is said to bounce off of houses and homes and even roofs as it travels to it's commanded destination.
Sometimes many people might refer to them as Voodoo Zombie Canes and swear that by all known accounts and means that they or it is possessed by the spirits of the dead. By all old Haitian accounts many will tell you that it is a simple design or sometimes crudely hand carved by a voodoo black magic priest using what ever found wood is available to them at the time. And it is a cursed or controlled by specific spirit that causes the walking stick to appear to move all by itself.
A real coco macaque is not just a common found skull-topped walking stick that so many people find in large quantities in the New Orleans French Quarter. These sticks are usually for decoration or entertainment purposes only and are often confused with real magical sticks made by the real voodosants of the city. Many people who buy them mistake them for the true magic weapon or wand of old and often pay high prices for theses poor often imported imitations.
Tales in Haiti, New Orleans and Miami often state that the owner of such a magic voodoo hoodoo stick can send it on errands and have it do his dirty work, and if so it happens to bash someone on the head they will be dead by the next morning.
A normal club (also known as cudgel, baton, truncheon, or bludgeon) is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon. Typically, a club is small enough to be wielded in one hand. Various kinds of clubs are used in martial arts and other specialized fields, including the law enforcement baton. The wounds inflicted by a club are generally known as bludgeoning or blunt-force trauma injuries.
Coco macaque often described by witness as a heavy solid strong sticks or clubs, and was used in the hands of many as a tool for bludgeoning their victims or enemies in combat. It has often been called the Haitian Peace Keeper, or the Cuban Death Club. In New Orleans they refer to them as the Zombie Staff or Spirit Stick.
There are also gruesome tales from around the world of these magic sticks and canes performing a form of the evil torture of bastinado on the intended victims as they sleep. In some form of this black magic spell the stick has been known to tie its victims feet and wrap them snug in their covers and sheets in a way they cannot move them. The stick then begins to beat the soles of the person brutally until they bleed or every bone in the ankles, foot or feet or broken.
A black Bokor might send a Voodoo stick to break one toe of a person who them money each night until the debt is paid. If this fails then it returns and breaks a another toe and repeatedly moving on each consecutive night after all the toes are broken to the knees, then the legs and eventually the groin to force the person to pay. Some old New Orleans tales tell of such magic sticks actually beating people in public across the behind, knocking out teeth, and sometimes insertions of themselves into a persons rectum. These voodoo cursed weapons have been known as the stories go to set them set upon a persons home breaking windows. A few stories I have heard over the recent years tell of a COCO-MACAQUE entering a home and throwing out and destroying all of persons personal cherished belongings. True or not the persons who had it happen to them say neighbors actually witnessed this and saw this occur.
Maj. General Lemuel Shepherd (Iwo Jima, 1942). Click photo to view larger size.
"[Shepherd] fondly hopes that Marine officers will once more take to carrying swagger sticks, and in the field he is never without his own oversized version, a polished length of Haitian Coco-macaque wood -- Time 11-24-52
The swagger stick was not generally carried by US military officers, having long ago gone out of style, until early 2010 when Military Police officers and senior NCOs in Korea began carrying them in honor of their Korean Army counterparts. In the Korean Army, swagger sticks are made of metal and are issued to commanders when they take command. Military Police in Korea have begun carrying them again, a trend that is spreading across the Military Police Corps.
US Army General George S. Patton carried a swagger stick throughout World War II; however his contained a concealed blade, similar to a Victorian gentleman's sword cane. also very similar to a Cudgel - A stout stick carried by peasants during the Middle Ages. It functioned as a walking staff and a weapon for both self defense and in wartime.
A swagger stick is a short stick or riding crop usually carried by a uniformed person as a symbol of authority. A swagger stick is shorter than a staff or cane, and is usually made from rattan. Originally, the swagger stick was a functional implement used to direct military drill and maneuvers, or to administer physical punishment. In the Roman army, a short vine wood staff called a vitis was carried and used for corporal punishment by Centurions (often career soldiers), but not by higher officers (often from the sociopolitical elite). Nowadays it is more often a traditional visual attribute. Swagger sticks are most familiarly carried by military officers or more senior non-commissioned officers. They are also often carried by officers in police and paramilitary forces.
Knobkierrie A Knobkierrie, occasionally spelled knopkierie or knobkerry, is a strong, short wooden club with a heavy rounded knob or head on one end, traditionally used by Southern African ethnic groups including the Zulu, as a weapon in warfare and the chase. The word Knobkierrie derives from the Dutch knop (knob or button), and the Bushman and Hottentot kerrie or kirri (stick).The weapon is employed at close quarters, or as a missile, and in time of peace may serve as a walking-stick. The head, or knob, is often ornately carved with faces or shapes that have symbolic meaning. The knobkierrie itself serves this function in the crest of the 2000 new federal coat of Arms of South Africa.The name has been extended to similar weapons used by the natives of Australia, the Pacific islands and other places.
Jutte - One of the more distinctive weapons of the samurai police (Keisatsu-Kan) was the Jutte. Basically an iron rod, the Jutte was popular because it could parry the slash of a sword and disarm an assailant without serious injury. Essentially a defensive or restraining weapon, the length of the Jutte requires the user to get extremely close to those being apprehended. A single hook or fork, called a Kagi, on the side near the handle allowed the Jitte to be used for trapping or even breaking the blades of edged weapons, as well as for jabbing and striking. The Kagi could also be used to entangle the clothes or fingers of an opponent. Thus, feudal Japanese police used the jutte to disarm and arrest subjects without serious bloodshed. Eventually, the Jutte also came to be considered a symbol of official status.
The word baton, from the French bâton (stick, also in ordinary senses; itself from Late Latin bastum "stout staff," presumed of Celtic origin), has been used in English at least since 1590 (earlier as a weapon) to indicate a type of formal attribute of office in the shape of a rather short stick, shorter than a staff, not for use (unlike the swagger stick) but an ornate symbol of authority, often worn with a uniform. A short, heavy white baton was the symbol of the imperial mandate given (as his title reflects) to a Roman military legate; he held it high proclaiming 'above your head and mine' to invoke his right to represent the emperor with an authority no one present could challenge. (It is possible that the Spartan cipher rod, Scytale, also had a related military status, and may well predate this, though its first detailed reference in Plutarch dates from the Roman period.) After this Roman symbol the French kings, and next Napoleon I Bonaparte, creator of the First French Empire, modelled the ornate batons for their marshals (top generals, often also given high noble titles, etc.), emblematically sewn with stars or bees respectively; this was echoed by marshal's batons in other armies.
These the coco macaque canes from palms many have called swagger sticks, are a polished length of Haitian Coco-macaque wood, Bactris plumeriana a species of palm endemic to Hispaniola. This very hard wood and used over the generations as a weapon of great power and still to this day used to strike fear into those who see them carried in public.
It was described often as a kind of knotty club often used as a defensive or offensive weapon, depending on who challenged him or the recipient. It's name became popular in the press once when it was used against political activists opposed to the dictatorship in Cuba and Haiti. The cocomacaco, primitive but effective form and means of deterrence, became the symbol of "guaperia" of the militia of Haitian dictator Papa Doc Rimane. The Cocomacaco was the main weapon of the notorious tonton macutes, his the personal body guards.
Many refer to the the proverb macho Cuban :.... wives are corrected with cocomacaco hard! When speaking of one of it's heavy handed uses.
In folklore stories of such Cocomacaco magic sticks are known to be sent by the use of a secret form of Cuban or Haitian black magic to break a persons toes or fingers or knock out their teeth that is if they do not have the money to pay off a debt. Some accounts liken them to a Rungu. A rungu (Swahili, plural marungu) is a wooden throwing club or baton bearing special symbolism and significance in certain East African tribal cultures. It is especially associated with Maasai morans (male warriors) who have traditionally used it in warfare and for hunting. Singlestick, also known as cudgels, refers to both a martial art that uses a wooden stick as well as the weapon used in the art. It began as a way of training soldiers in the use of swords such as the sabre. Canne de combat, a French form of stick fighting, is similar to singlestick play, but is more a method of defense with a walking stick.
Each time a Coco Macaque comes to ones home and they do not have what is owed to the owner, the Black magic stick might poke out an eye on occasion, the next time break a nose or beat someone in their privates until they give in and tie what ever cash or secure it with a long red string or strong rubber bands to it's handel, to send it on it's way.
Bactris plumeriana Family: Arecaceae Palm Tree is a clumping palm with spiny trunks to about 3m tall, and 8cm in diameter. Leaves are pinnate, slightly recurved and up to 1.5m long, with up to 60 pairs of leaflets. It has a white inflorescence and brown fruit.
The Coco macaque, or as it is sometimes called a haunted Voodoo Zombie Stick, is said to be magically prepared only on November 1st, and many who know of it's dark magical secrets will tell you that they believe that a ghost or Lwa controls it with unseen hands. Sometimes describes as a heavy jointed or knuckled wooden cane or rough hand carved wooden stick or a simple looking walking stick. They might have a knob as a handle or just be simply tied with strings or strips of red cloth or a goats tanned and dyed hide braided with bones or religious holy medals or voodoo amulets.
The powers of this magic stick often tell of it's original soulless club being infused with that if a living spirit or ghost. In the Voodoo cult of Haiti, a zombie is the slave of a magician As is the Coco Macaque. The soul may have been removed by magic from a living person, or the body of someone recently deceased may have been brought up out of the grave after the soul had been separated from it by regular rites of death. As the lord of the dead, Ghede has the power to animate corpses as zombies or infuse them into this specially prepared stick. The spirit can as many believe only be set free after a set time or if the person who placed the spirit their decides to set them free from years upon years of faithful service.
There have even been sorted tales of women being beaten brutally by such sticks when a husband is away if they disobey a rule the husband had stated before he left. One story often told is how women and men have been beaten to death or even sexually violated by such magical weapons when they tried to destroy them when they came to call.
If it is used to hit an enemy, the enemy will die before the dawn. It has also been known to break a persons arms hands and legs in successive attacks over a period of days and nights just because someone doesn't like the person.
Sometimes these magic walking sticks have been sent alone far distances and even to distant shores to collect financial debts or to deliver notes and urgent messages. Many stories of people hearing 5 loud strong knocks or raps upon their doors in the day or night have been told. When the person who the stick has been sent to opens their doors and to find a real "COCO MACAQUE" silently still and leaning against the door jam with a note tied to it. The person then reads the note and possibly one might send a reply by fastening it to the stick and firmly shutting the door once this is done. When the open the door minutes later the Coco macaque is usually no where to be seen.
If it is used in or by the hand of it's owner to hit an enemy in person, the owner of such a stick needs only to gently tap their intendent victim gently and the enemy will die before the dawn even though the initial direct blow leaves no mark and can be barely felt by the victim. The same can be said for lightly tapping on a persons toe or hand to break their bones. The same procedure many Voodooist will tell is that if you use your voodoo stick to tap on an enemies picture you will get the same results as long as the intent is there and your wish is spoken aloud to the Coco Macaque Stick before hand.
There too have come over the years stories of two such magic sticks or more appearing in public and and having a intense combat between them. As if wielded by unseen hands the magic sticks battle it out until one stick lay in splinters in the gutter. Though physically destroyed the smaller pieces are said to carry the same intense powers as a whole club and often they will keep fighting with magical shards flying through the air.
Many who witness such magical stick fighting say that the splinters fly like darts an often get stuck in buildings and innocent bystanders. One such tale tells of a innocent person being hit by a magic splinter and that it traveled through their body to their heart killing them days later. The broken sticks and the thousands of splinters are said to travel back on command to their original owner and that the magical killer shards might be sent out one by one in the future to kill or maim enemies.
Buying a real Coco Macaque of your own these days is still possible. In Old New Orleans there is still one man who is said to possess the knowledge of how to curse or hex the sticks to do ones biddings. He is called by many "Papa Joe The Goode-Man". He is of course a well known local voodooist ceremonial knife, cane and staff maker who sells his designs to private individuals only. And many in town will tell you is actually one of the few Americans that know the hidden secrets of how to produce and construct a real Coco Macaque. Though the price for one may be very expensive to some, he says he sells several each year to collectors and those with specific needs. Each Coco Macaque is different he will tell you and they must be made to several strict specific rules and told at their making what powers and actions they can perform. Real Voodoo Hoodoo Death Sticks he says he does know how to make, but the price one pays for one is usually with their own life.
Zombie Batons though they might have been a larger Coco Macaque at one time resemble thick short stub clubs. And they might be if not as deadly but more powerful in the halved state then from when they were once whole sticks. When the original stick is broken in two the two halves can act independently.
A magic stick used as a ceremonial weapon is an object used for ceremonial purposes to display power or authority. Their form is typically carved and ornately designed to show status and power and to be an impressive sight, rather than practicality as a weapon. Quite often, ceremonial weapons are constructed with precious metals or other materials that make them appear to be too delicate for combat use. One might take the magical instrument and disguise it as a cane, a spoon, a knife handle or a garden stake. Many broken magic sticks are said to be used as drum sticks and become even more powerful in time from this use. Many are used as magic wands of a type only to display their powers to move on their own to those a magician might want to frighten. One old story tells of a coco macaque handled knife or machete that was used by an evil magician to hack his enemies to pieces. The evil Bokour was never tried are charged for these horrific crimes because he lived several miles away and only his magic coco macaque handled machete traveled the distance to do the evil deeds.
The powers of the Coco Macaque are said to manifest themselves solely from the Petwo (also Pethro, Petro loa) a family of vengeful loa (spirits) in Haitian Vodou religion. The story is that they originated in Haiti, under the harsh conditions of slavery. The term petwo can also refer to a drum used in the music of Haiti. An often surprising fact is that this noticeably Taino Amerindian-influenced branch of Haitian vodou.
Ogoun Feraille, the god of war, is said to rule over these magical weapons and by their great power to make men of her army impervious to bullet and blade. One old story tell that the army came marching into the capital carrying their coco macaque sticks to which had been tied a red handkerchief. This was a special sign that Ogoun was protecting them and adding her power to the magic clubs and wands.
Making A Real Coco Macaque
A coco macaque many black magicians bokors will state needs to be collected at a cross road at midnight, on November 1st. And it must be chopped down with a single strong blow from a specially prepared knife or magical ritual blessed machete. The actual machete used must have a actual hand made specially prepared handle made of the coco macaque and be blessed three times by Lwas over the course of the year before it it used.
Once the stick or stafF is fielded it must be blessed then carved and polished by hand. Strings, ropes of jute or goat leather attached, and some might even attach human or animal bones seeking certain or specific powers by doing such. Some bokors might tell you that the tying of knots are necessary where others dismiss it entirely. The entire process of making such an instrument of great magical proportions takes time. An old proverb states "Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li." Which means "Little by little the bird builds its nest." The same goes for constucting such unique quality in magical goods.
The staff is then buried for thirteen nights in a cemetery in or near the grave of a convicted murderer. It is usually placed in a small self styled long box made of wood from a coffin. In the coco macaques coffin is placed dirt gathered from 13 different magical locations. Some of which locations might include a hospital, cemetery, jail, a sacred spring, soil from a mountain top, a bakery, mud from a flowing fast river and waterfall, white sand from a beach, dirt from a well traveled cross road, dark black soil from near a voodoo peryistle, Soil from both a courthouse ad police station, soil from 7 seven churches gathered at the dark of the moon. also placed in the box is said the skin of a snake, the head and tail of a turtle and the claws of a crab. Other ingredients might also include the tongue and testicles of a black he goat, the wings or a whole bat, the front paws of a black dog, the pungent urine of a Haitian Solenodon, and the right and left ear of a white and black cat, a pigs back left paw the guts and heads of several different frogs or the eyes and tails of a flamingo, caiman, monkey and the tongue tail and teeth of a large fat rat. Many bokors and Hougans in Haiti all have their own special secret recipes as well as spells or invocations to certain spirits to bring the evils side of this magic weapon to life. The most important part of the ritual is single handedly capturing a ghost or a lost soul and commanding to be imprisoned or locked to the staff or cane to make it work.
Papa Joe the master voodoo staff carver of New Orleans also instructs that a real magic walking stick or protective running zombie staff as they are often called might encompass the use of specific found woods, such as, maple, sycamore, willow, water oak or white pine that has been struck by lightening. But suggest that all must be magically prepared at certain hours and times of the year to infuse such objects with exacting powers.
"One might want a simple walking staff that can cause people to go crazy or protect them from enemies", tells Papa Joe. "Another might want one to run errands or just to have one to say they own it." "Yes they are real ", he states. "Of course and their or those that want one for only doing evil deeds." Papa Joe makes his magical walking sticks, canes and tall staffs and also the dreaded Coco Macaque if the price is right. He makes no guarantees of their magical powers but states that the magic in them may work for some very well right away, but for others warns it might lay dormant for months are years. The power of the staff many say choose to only begin working for it's owner once they and the stick become one.
In time all such magic weapon shows it's true power to it's new owner. Where as some magic sticks or canes begin immediately bonding with their owners and doing their deeds instantaneously. "You never know when the spirit of a real Coco Macaque will be ready to perform in the hands of a an un initiated person to voodoo and hoodoo." "If the spirit likes you then it will do your bidding the second it falls into your hands and claims you as it's master."
The Coco Macaque may as many tell demand special gifts or certain specific attention. They are seen as hard working objects with many great powers. And just as spirits need to be fed traditionally and attended by those who own them. The rites may include bathing the staff in blood or urine and as many call it this is a *manje, a feeding, where the life of animals--chickens and goats for the most part, occasionally a pig or even cattle, are sacrificed to transfer their life giving powers into the black magic staff, wand cane or club. Other then viewing the coco macaque as a living entity the actual manje are to feed the staff unseen spirits, or in essence just to ask the dead or Loa who controls the object to remember particular services which have been so provided.
Zombies (from 'Encyclopedia of Death and Dying' web site, with added references there.
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