Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Haitian Zombies

Recently the news has made reference to zombies in connection to several heinous crimes that have been committed in the US. This is not a post about ghosts but I think it might be of interest considering the recent news stories. 

Zombies in pop culture are portrayed as the “living dead”. Most cultures state they are fictionalized monsters. But in Haiti most people believe in zombies. In fact, Haitian voodoo witchdoctors create them. *

In popular films, such as, “Night of the Living Dead” and “Zombieland” zombies are portrayed as dead, rotting humans that come back to life and shuffle around murdering the innocent. 

It is a given that these monsters are not real. 

But the idea for zombies didn’t originate in classic literature, like Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, but rather from religious voodoo Haitian tradition.

Haiti is a country with a strong voodoo and black magic tradition. The word “zombie” comes from a Creole word. The term zombie is used in Haiti to describe a person that has been brought back to life but is unable to speak and is controlled by a voodoo priest. 

Researchers have concluded that many Haitian voodoo witchdoctors use a portent mixture of drugs to exert control over their innocent victims. This is known as the “Zombification” process.

This process starts when a witchdoctor or as they are called in Haiti, “Bokors” choose a victim which they give a variety of drugs to that act as a powerful neurotoxin that causes the illusion of death. Their victim’s heart slows, their bodies become paralyzed, and their breathing becomes so shallow no one can detect it. 

What is horrifying about this process is the victims’ brain still functions normally. These Bokors do this so their victims will be pronounced dead.

These victims are alert and can hear their relatives weep as their body is placed in a coffin and the lid is nailed shut. They are in a state of confusion as their body that will not move is lowered into darkness. They scream silently for they cannot speak. 

The next thing they hear is a shovel digging at the dirt that lies above them. The lid is pried open and they see the local witchdoctor. Their body is removed from the coffin and their living nightmare continues.

They cannot resist as the Bokor gives them another portent mixture of drugs. These drugs are psychoactive in nature and sometimes render the victim completely incompetent. At best they take most of the victim’s memory away. The victim now wanders mindlessly following the Bokors’ commands. The Bokor then puts his victims to work in his sugar cane fields in order to increase his wealth.

The family and friends of these victims because of their deep rooted Haitian belief in voodoo do not protest. In fact, they shun and avoid their loved ones believing their souls have been stolen by the Bokor. Hence, these victims are doomed to a living hell.

Cases of this being done are well documented. In fact, there are numerous accounts of people being turned into mindless slaves by voodoo priests. 

One case involves a man who was pronounced dead, 18 years later he was discovered working in the fields and under the control of the local witchdoctor. The man in the photo, Clairvius Narcisse--was found by a family member who thought he had been dead all those years. **

So Haitian zombies are the victims not the victimizer.

Films like The Serpent and the Rainbow have highlighted the real zombies of Haiti. The Haitian people when asked if they believe in zombies always answer yes. Then they walk away in fear.

* People who still practice the voodoo religion in Haiti strongly deny these stories. They state they are Roman Catholic. They do admit though that their voodoo practices include rituals that allow them to communicate with the dead. They do this by going into a trance.

** His family buried him in 1962. In 1981 his sister screamed as she spotted him approaching her in a public market. It was thought Clairvius died in a hospital in 1962 complaining of strange sensations all over his body. He told his sister he heard everything as they buried him but he couldn't speak. 

After he was buried a voodoo priest came to his grave and removed his body from the coffin. He was beaten and tied up. The priest had his body taken to an area far from his home. 

He then was forced to work on a farm day and night with other semi-stupefied people. Over 200 witnesses confirmed he was Clairvius. His case received international attention. Cases like Narcisse's have been reported all over Haiti--even in recent years.

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