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Clairvius Narcisse: ZOMBIE

Clairvius Narcisse Zombie -- In 1962, according to his death certificate, the Haitian peasant Clairvius Narcisse died near his home village in the Artibonite Valley. Though physically strong and rarely ill, he had begun to have difficulty breathing after a dispute with his brother over a piece of land. Weakened and nauseated, he began to spit blood and died two days later. His body was buried in a small rural cemetery.

Clairvius Narcisse The Zombie

In folklore, a zombie or zombi is an animated human body devoid of a soul. In contemporary versions these are generally reanimated or undead corpses, which were traditionally called "ghouls". Stories of zombies originated in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Vodou.

On the Caribbean island of Haiti. They are some who has been raised from the grave by real voodoo priest, often used as slave labour for the rest of their un-natural life. Zombies can move, eat, hear and speak, but they have no memory and no insight into their condition. There have been legends about zombies for centuries, but it was only in 1980 that a real-life case of Clavirvius Narcisse was so documented.

This Zombie story begins in 1962, in Haiti. Narcisse was turned into a Zombie by a a real Voodoo Priest, The story goes that he was turned over or sold to him by his actual brothers, because Clairvius refused to sell or hand over to them his share of the family land.

Soon after Clairvius "officially" died, and was buried. However, he had been later secretly unburied, and was actually working as a zombie slave on a sugar plantation with many other zombies.

In 1964, his zombie master died, and he wandered across the island in a psychotic daze for the next 16 years. The drugs that made him psychotic were gradually wearing off. In 1980, he accidentally stumbled across his long-lost sister in a market place, and recognized her. She didn't recognise him, but he identified himself to her by telling her early childhood experiences that only he could possibly know.

Story By Quentin Victor Garrets - Artwork by Ricardo Pustanio

 

According to the many that I have spoken to from New Orleans to Miami's "Little Haiti" that practice the magic of Voodoo, a dead person can be revived or reanimated by a bokor or Voodoo sorcerer. Some have even told me that they have seen real Zombies walking the streets in urban America. Weither this is fact or fiction one can only surmise what is the real truth about the walking dead.

The Reverends Zombie

Also See: The Real Reverend's Zombie: A Tale of New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo

Once made Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. "Zombi" is also another name of the Voodoo snake god Damballah Wedo, of Niger-Congo origin; it is akin to the Kongo word nzambi, which means "god". There also exists within the voudon tradition the zombie astral which is a human soul that is captured by a bokor and put into a jar or bowl or bottle, and used to enhance the bokor's power. In New Orleans Voodoo Zombie Bottles are the tradition where ghosts or lost souls are captured and put into a decorated bottle and made to do ones bidding. This tradtion dates back to the days of Marie Laveau and Sanite Dede two New Orleans Voodoo Queens. Laveau also had a great snaked named Zombi which was often present at her Voodoo Public rituals and ceremonies in New Orleans.

In 1937, while researching folklore in Haiti, 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 Felicia wandering the streets in a daze thirty years after her death, as well as claiming the same with several other people. Hurston pursued rumors that the affected persons were given powerful drugs, but she was unable to locate individuals 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 medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony."

THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW

Several decades later, Wade Davis, a Canadian ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). Davis traveled to Haiti in 1982 and, as a result of his investigations, claimed that a living person can be turned into a zombie by two special powders being entered into the blood stream (usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: 'powder strike'), induced a 'death-like' state because of tetrodotoxin (TTX), its key ingredient. Tetrodotoxin is the same lethal toxin found in the Japanese delicacy fugu, or pufferfish. At near-lethal doses (LD50= 5-8µg/kg), it can leave a person in a state of near-death for several days, while the person continues to be conscious. The second powder, composed of dissociatives like datura, put the person in a zombie-like state where they seem to have no will of their own. Davis also popularized the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who was claimed to have succumbed to this practice.

In 1962, according to his death certificate, the Haitian peasant Clairvius Narcisse died near his home village in the Artibonite Valley. Though physically strong and rarely ill, he had begun to have difficulty breathing after a dispute with his brother over a piece of land. Weakened and nauseated, he began to spit blood and died two days later. His body was buried in a small rural cemetery.

Others have discussed the contribution of the victim's own belief system, possibly leading to compliance with the attacker's will, causing psychogenic ("quasi-hysterical") amnesia, catatonia, or other psychological disorders, which are later misinterpreted as a return from the dead. Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing further highlighted the link between social and cultural expectations and compulsion, in the context of schizophrenia and other mental illness, suggesting that schizogenesis may account for some of the psychological aspects of zombification. 

There remains considerable skepticism about Davis's claims, and opinions remain divided as to the veracity of his work,although there is wide recognition among the Haitian people of the existence of the "zombie drug". The Voodoon religion being somewhat secretive in its practices and codes, it can be very difficult for a foreign scientist to validate or invalidate such claims.

The True Story Of Clairvius Narcisse

A Haitian man said to have been turned into a living zombie with the use of a combination of drugs. His case attracted considerable interest and some scientific investigation at the time.

According to reports, Clairvius was poisoned with a mixture of various natural poisons to simulate death. The instigator of the poisoning was alleged to be his brother, with whom he had quarreled over land. After his "death" and subsequent burial on May 2, 1962 his body was recovered and he was given a paste made from datura which at certain doses has a hallucinogenic effect and can cause memory loss. His new 'master', a bokor (sorceror), then forced him, alongside many other zombie slaves, to work on a sugar plantation until the master's death in 1964. When the bokor died, and regular doses of the narcotic ceased, he eventually regained sanity (unlike many others who had suffered brain damage from being buried alive) and returned to his family after some time, though only after finding his brother had died.

Narcisse's story was popularized in the book The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, who is currently an "explorer in residence" for National Geographic. Although many are critical and suspicious of Mr. Davis' work, his hypothesis that Clairvius Narcisse was drugged with a neurotoxin that simulates death, is scientifically possible.

Also See: PASSAGE OF DARKNESS: THE ETHNOBIOLOGY OF THE HAITIAN ZOMBIE By Wade Davis. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press. 1988

The essence of Davis' claim is this:

there are zombies
however, there are actually very very few of them
they are created in part by a poisoned powder
however, they are created in part by the effects of the culture
zombies are created when a person first falls into a death-like trance which is both drug and culturally induced
then is revived and kept under the control of the houngan by the use of other drugs
zombies are created by Voodoo priests who are members of the Bizango secret societies
Bizango societies constitute a totally secret and hidden other government beneath the surface of Haitian society
zombification is not random nor for profit or personal vendetta
zombification is the ultimate punishment to someone who has seriously violated the law of the Bizango society

The poison apparently used was derived from the puffer fish, which produces a well known and highly documented neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) which produces paralysis and in modified form can mimic death through reduced metabolism and heart rate. The secretions of the poisonous cane toad bufo marinus were apparently used as an anaesthetic companion drug, while the rescucitating, mind-controlling drug was said to be made from the weed datura stramonium.

The Making Of Real Zombies

In Haiti, people are buried very soon after death, because the heat and the lack of refrigeration makes the bodies decay very rapidly. This suits the zombie-making process. You have to dig them up within eight hours of the burial, or else they’ll die of asphyxiation.

The skin of the common toad (Bufo bufo bufo) can kill - especially if the toad has been threatened. There are three main nasties in toad venon - biogenic amines, bufogenine and bufotoxins. One of their many effects is that of a pain-killer - far stronger than cocaine. Boccaccio’s medieval tale, the Decameron, tells the story of two lovers who die after eating a herb, sage, that a toad had breathed upon.

The other half of the witch doctor’s wicked potion comes from the pufferfish, which is known in Japan as “fugo”. Its poison is called “tetrodotoxin”, a deadly neurotoxin. Its pain-killing effects are 160,000 times stronger than cocaine. Eating the fish can give you a gentle physical “tingle” from the tetrodotoxin - and in Japan, the chefs who prepare fugo have to be licensed by the government. Even so, there are rare cases of near-deaths or actual deaths from eating fugo. The toxin drops your temperature and blood pressure, and puts you into a deep coma. In Japan, some of the victims recovered a few days after being declared dead.

Back in Haiti, once you’ve got the zombie-in-waiting out of the ground, you make them mad, by force-feeding them a paste made from datura (Jimsons Weed). Datura breaks your links with reality, and then destroys all recent memories. So you don’t know what day it is, where you are and, worst of all, you don’t even know who you are. The zombies are in a state of semi-permanent induced psychotic delirium. They are sold to sugar plantations as slave labour. They are given datura again if they seem to be recovering their senses.

Datura (Jimsons Weed, Angel’s Trumpet, Brugmanisa candida) contains the chemicals atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, which can act as powerful hallucinogens in the appropriate doses. They can also cause permanent memory loss, paralysis and death.

The person who applies these chemicals to a victim has to be quite skilled, so that they won’t kill them. There is a very small gap between appearing-to-be-dead, and actually being dead.

Haitians believe that the “zombie powder” works when merely brushed on the skin, and therefore can be administered without the victim’s knowledge. According to legend, the powder can be smeared on the doorstep of the victim’s house so he will absorb it through the soles of his feet. Davis points out that all reliable reports show that the material must enter the blood directly, through a cut or abrasion, and it is therefore unlikely that it could be administered without the victim’s knowledge.

Somehow, Narcisse received a dose of the zombie powder. He became ill, went to the hospital, became paralyzed, and “died.” He later said that he was conscious throughout and heard himself pronounced dead. After burial, he was dug up, beaten “to prevent his spirit from reentering his body,” and led away to a distant plantation. According to some accounts, zombies are fed a paste made from datura stramonium—the zombie’s cucumber—that contains tropane alkaloids capable of inducing a psychotic state. Continued doses could keep a zombie confused and docile during his new life as a slave.

In the case of Narcisse, the slave owner died after 18 years, and Narcisse regained his freedom by simply wandering away from the plantation.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the October 1987 edition of ChemMatters. ChemMatters is an award-winning quarterly magazine for high school chemistry students. Each issue includes articles which reveal chemistry at work in everyday life.ChemMatters was designed for teachers to use as a supplement to their first year high school chemistry course. A teacher's guide is available which provides additional information on articles, follow-up hands-on activities, classroom demonstrations, and additional resources.

HAITIAN VOODOO IN THE NEW WORLD

There are large numbers of Haitians who inhabit the "Little Haiti" section of Miami and in New Orleans where Haitian Voodoo is practiced by many non- Haitians. In New York City, the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush, Crown Heights, and Canarsie are home to many Haitian voodooist. In the Borough of Queens, Jamaica, Queens Village, Rosedale and Cambria Heights have large Haitian Voodoo populations. Many successful Haitians move east to Long Island, where Elmont and other towns have seen many new residents. Other enclaves that contain Haitians include Boston, Cambridge, Malden and Brockton Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois, Orlando, Florida, and Newark, New Jersey and its surrounding areas.

Haitian culture is a mix of primarily African and French elements with minor influences from Spanish and Taíno culture. The African and European influence is greatest however in nearly all aspects of society. Haiti's official languages are French and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisyen). Nearly all Haitians speak the latter, a creole based primarily on French and African languages, with some Spanish, English and Taíno influences. Spanish is spoken near the border with the Dominican Republic, and is increasingly being spoken in more westward areas, as Venezuelan, Cuban, and Dominican trade influence Haitian affairs, and Haiti becomes increasingly involved in Latin American transactions.

Catholicism is the official state religion in which the majority, approximately 80%, of the population professes. An estimated 20 percent of the population follows the teachings of various Protestant churches. Many Haitians, especially Roman Catholics, also practice Vodou[24] (Voodoo), almost always in addition to traditional Catholic observances. Vodou followers believe that spirits called "loa" protect their children (vodou believers) from misfortune. Many Haitians, mainly Protestants, oppose vodou and the related reliance on sorcery and witchcraft. Haitian vodou is very similar to the Santería practiced in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and the Candomblé practiced in Brazil.

Pantheon
Adjassou-Linguetor - Haitian loa (goddess) of spring water.
Adjinakou - Haitian loa in the form of an elephant.
Adya Houn'tò - Haitian loa of the drums.
Agassou - Haitian loa which guards the Dahomean traditions.
Agwe - loa of fish and aquatic plants.
Aido Quedo - loa of fertility and snakes.
Ayida-Weddo - Haitian goddess, where she is also known as Rainbow Snake. She is married to Damballa.
Ayizan - Haitian goddess of the marketplace.
Azaka Medeh - loa of harvest.
Azaka-Tonnerre - Haitian god of thunder, agriculture and farmers.
Bacalou - Haitian voodoo evil spirit depicted by the skull and crossbones.
Badessy - Haitian god of the sky.
Baron Samedi - loa of the dead.
Boli Shah - Haitian family loa.
Bossou Ashadeh - Haitian loa, king of Dahomey.
Boum'ba Maza - Haitian family loa.
Bugid Y Aiba - Haitian (and Puerto Rican) god of war.
Captain Debas - Haitian family loa.
Clermeil - Haitian god of flowing waters.
Conga - Haitian voodoo deity.
Congo - Haitian voodoo deity.
Damballa - father of the loa and humankind.
Dan Petro - Haitian god of farmers.
Dan Wédo - Haitian loa of the king of France.
Diable Tonnere - Haitian god of thunder.
Diejuste - Haitian voodoo deity.
Dinclinsin - Haitian voodoo deity feared for his severity.
Eleggua or Eshu - Child trickster deity.
Erzulie - Haitian voodoo goddess of beauty, dancing, flowers, jewels, love and luxury. Married to Damballa, Agwe and Ogoun. She is depicted as a water snake. Also called Mami Wata in African mythology.
Gran Maître - Haitian creator god.
Grand Bois - Haitian loa of creation.
Kalfu - Haitian god of the night, symbolized by the moon. Thought to be very dangerous.
Lemba - Haitian voodoo deity.
Limba - Haitian loa believed to live among rocks. Thought to have insatiable hunger and eats people, even his own followers.
L'inglesou - Haitian loa which lives among rocks and in ravines.
Loco - Haitian god of trees, plants and healers.
Lutin - The ghost of an unbaptized child in Haitian voodoo tradition.
Mademoiselle Charlotte - Haitian loa who resembles Caucasian women.
Mait' Carrefour - Haitian god of magicians and lord of the crossroads, also called Kalfu.
Maîtresse Délai - Haitian loa who is a patron of the hountor or tambourine player.
Maîtresse Hounon'gon - Haitian loa which chants the canzo or ordeal by fire in voodoo tradition.
Maman Brigitte - Voodoo death loa.
Marassa - The twin gods of Haitian voodoo.
Marassa Jumeaux - The ghosts of dead twins in Haitian voodoo tradition.
Marinette - Haitian loa, violent and powerful.
Mambo - Haitian loa who brings storms.
Mounanchou - Haitian voodoo deity.
Nago Shango- Haitian voodoo deity.
Obatala - yoruba creator god.
Ogoun - Haitian voodoo god of fire, iron, politics, thunder and war.
Oloddumare - youruba creator god.
Oshun - yoruba goddess of love, also Erzulie (in Voodoo).
Oya - yoruba warrior goddess.
Papa Legba - intermediary between the loa and humanity.
Pie - Haitian god of floods, soldier loa.
Simbi - Haitian water snake loa, which is one of the three voodoo cosmic serpents.
Sobo - Haitian god of thunder.
Sousson-Pannan - Haitian loa thought to be evil and ugly, with a body covered in sores.
Ti Jean Quinto - A mean Haitian spirit which lives under bridges and assumes the form of a policeman.
Ti Malice - Haitian trickster loa.
Ti-Jean Petro - Haitian snake deity and the son of Dan Petro.
Yemalla - Yoruban mother goddess, also called LaSiren, Mami Wata

Asagwe - Haitian voodoo dancing used to honor the gods.
Avalou - Haitian voodoo dance which means supplication.
Coco macaque - Haitian voodoo implement. It is a stick, which is supposed to be able to walk on its own. The owner of a coco macaque can send it on errands. If it is used to hit an enemy, the enemy will die before the dawn.
Gangan - Haitian voodoo shaman.
Ghede - family of spirits related to death and fertility
Guinee - Haitian afterlife. It is also where life began and the home of their gods.
Hungan - Haitian priests. They lead the peoples in dancing, drumming and singing to invoke the loa.
Loa - Haitian god or goddess.
Mambo - Haitian priestess who, together with the Hungan, leads the voodoo rituals and invokes the loa.
Petro - aggressive and warlike family of spirits
Rada - old, benefic family of spirits
Ville au Camp - The underwater capital of the loa.

RESOURCES

The SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW by Wade Davis (Author)

Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie by Wade Davis (Author), Richard Evans Schultes

The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to Voodoo by Shannon R Turlington (Author), Shannon R. Turlington (Author)

The theory on which, the belief in Zombis is based on which some healers of Haiti (Nganga) have the faculty to bring again to dead and buried people to the life. These revived human beings are the Zombis, "the dead life". Also one thinks that during the night some people have the energy to fly through the air with an enormous red flame under her arms: these are werewolves. In the dances of the vudú, the farmers of Haiti put themselves furious since they are had by these spirits. When one is in this state, the doctor can predict the incidence to him of a catastrophe, the birth, or the death; how he will be able to gain immense fortunes; he will be able to describe what happens in its home when a man is absent of his family... the doctor also has energy on like avoiding any disease or catastrophe of which he can be victim.

In the moved away areas of the country, the belief is that some rich farmers are lucky in their companies because the mysterious beings help them, because they work in his farms; who rob the money for them; who travel at a fantastic speed, faster than the automobiles. One thinks that they are dead men and women who were brought again to the life with the use of some powerful drugs (Wanga).

The Zombis does not eat any salt. If they make it, they get be conscious from the state of his abnormal existence and must therefore probably leave his masters. This belief came originally from Africa.

Todavia is a mystery the composition of the substance that takes to enter state zombie. Single in that mysterious place they know really its components, which is safe is that it causes incredible effects.

Translated from www.pasarmiedo.com/zombies_haiti.php

 

 

About Quentin Victor Garrets

Garrets Is a native New Jordanian that collects oral stories passed down through the generations. '

Also See: VIOLETTE WITH EYES TO DIE FOR! Among these tales one of the most tragically gruesome is that of Little Violette whose name rings through infamy, forever associated with the epithet “The Zombie Child.” 

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