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.
Also See: The
Real Reverend's Zombie: A Tale of New Orleans
Voodoo and Hoodoo
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
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.
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.
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
there are zombies
however, there are actually very very few
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
The Making Of
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
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
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 (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.
Adjassou-Linguetor - Haitian loa (goddess)
of spring water.
Adjinakou - Haitian loa in the form of an
Adya Houn'tò - Haitian loa of the drums.
Agassou - Haitian loa which guards the Dahomean
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
Ayizan - Haitian goddess of the marketplace.
Azaka Medeh - loa of harvest.
Azaka-Tonnerre - Haitian god of thunder, agriculture
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
Diable Tonnere - Haitian god of thunder.
Diejuste - Haitian voodoo deity.
Dinclinsin - Haitian voodoo deity feared for
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
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
Maîtresse Hounon'gon - Haitian loa which
chants the canzo or ordeal by fire in voodoo
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
Oya - yoruba warrior goddess.
Papa Legba - intermediary between the loa
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
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
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
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
Loa - Haitian god or goddess.
Mambo - Haitian priestess who, together with
the Hungan, leads the voodoo rituals and invokes
Petro - aggressive and warlike family of spirits
Rada - old, benefic family of spirits
Ville au Camp - The underwater capital of
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.