Zombies -

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.

Clairvius Narcisse

came from the village of L' Estere. Although in excellent health, one day in 1962, he suddenly "died." Although he couldn't move, he was completely aware of everything around him including the sound of dirt that was falling on his coffin.

Below is a picture of him under the trance :

For the next two years, Narcisse was kept drugged and used as a slave worker with about 100 other zombies.

One day, the overseer forgot to administer the drugs which kept these zombies in a trance like state and several of them regained their minds, killed the overseer and escaped. Narcisse was lucky to make a full recovery of his mind.

Below is a picture of him much older fully recovered ;


Felicia Felix-Mentor was not so lucky. Twenty-nine years after her death, she was found walking around naked. She had lost all ability to speak and appeared incapable of any kind intelligible thought. Unfortunately, for Felix-Mentor, her time spent as a zombie caused irreversible damage.

How to Avoid Becoming a Zombie

Family members will go to great lengths to prevent the body of a loved one from becoming a zombie. Families that have money will bury the body under a stone slab so the body can't be removed. In other cases, families take turns watching over the grave for 36 hours. After that, the body cannot be removed.

Other times, the corpse is killed again to make sure it is really dead. There have also been occasions when a family member is buried with a knife so the person can defend himself should he still be alive when his body is exhumed.



Modern zombies

as portrayed in books, films, games, and haunted attractions, are quite different from both voodoo zombies and those of folklore. Modern zombies are typically depicted in popular culture as mindless, unfeeling monsters with a hunger for human flesh.

Modern zombies come in mobs and waves, seeking either flesh to eat or people to kill or infect. They are generally incapable of communication and show no signs of personality or rationality. Their collective and almost absurd presence (since they are dead) is closely tied to the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse the collapse of civilization caused by a vast plague of undead. The ideas are now so strongly linked that zombies are rarely depicted within any other contex.

Viral/Infection Zombies

These zombies usually originate from some kind of virus or ailment. A bite or scratch from a zombie can lead to death. Upon death the corpse reawakens as a zombie with a craving to feed on and kill other beings. There are usually immediate memory loss and personality change. Bodies remain functional as long as there is a connection to the brain and no significant brain damage, even when appendages are missing or not operable. Not all 'zombies' in this category are technically undead.

Fast moving zombies

In some movies, zombies are portrayed as fast moving super-predators who seem to take on animal-like movements and hunting techniques. They sometimes run on all fours or sprint long distances until they have caught their prey. Sometimes they seem to go on the prowl in a zombie pack looking for people to devour. They can smell and hear you and there is no escape once one is on your trail.

Parasite Zombies

Usually created by some sort of parasite, the human in question looses total control over his own body, which is hijacked by the host.

A parasite may it be alien or native can quickly spread within the population, controlling the decision centres and government officials. Such creatures can be found in Planet of Vampires or Ghosts of Mars.

Radioactive Zombies

Radiation has numerous effects on biological tissue such as causing brain damage, deformations, or even mutations of DNA. This could result in zombification depending on what effect the radiation has on the organism.

Not all bite victims are Zombies. Unless infected by some kind of mutagenic pathogen, and subsequently become deceased and re-animated with the hunger for the living, a human cannot be termed a Zombie.

A philosophical zombie

p-zombie or p-zed is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experience or subjective consciousness, qualia, or sentience. In this sense zombies are mere automaton, completely 'mindless' in the conscious sense. If you shoot a p-zombie, he cries out as if he feels pain, but he really doesn’t, because there is no consciousness there to do the feeling.

Origin: philosophy

They are found in philosophical articles on consciousness.

The notion of a philosophical zombie is mainly a thought experiment used in arguments (often called zombie arguments) in the philosophy of mind, particularly arguments against forms of physicalism, such as materialism and behaviorism.

A behavioral zombie is behaviorally identical with humans and yet has no conscious experience.

A neurological zombie has a human brain and is otherwise physically identical to humans; nevertheless, it has no conscious experience.

A soulless zombie lacks a soul but is otherwise indistinguishible from an ordinary person; the concept is used to question what, if anything, the soul does.

Zombie arguments are generally used against claims of physicalism, the position that everything has a physical property, and they support a form of dualism, though not every dualist believes in p-zombies. In the p-zombie cases, the dualism they support is that there are two types of substances in the world: physical substances and mental substances.

According to physicalism, the physical facts determine all other facts; it follows that, since all the facts about a p-zombie are fixed by the physical facts, and these facts are the same for the p-zombie and for the normal conscious human from which it cannot be physically distinguished, physicalism must hold that p-zombies are not possible, or that p-zombies are the same as normal humans.

According to behaviorism, mental states exist solely in terms of behavior: belief, desire, thought, consciousness, and so on, are simply certain kinds of behavior or tendencies towards behaviors. One might invoke the notion of a p-zombie that is behaviorally indistinguishable from a normal human being, but that lacks conscious experiences. According to the behaviorist, such a being is not logically possible, since consciousness is defined in terms of behavior. So an appeal to the intuition that a p-zombie so described is possible furnishes an argument that behaviorism is false. Behaviorists tend to respond to this that a p-zombie is not possible and so the theory that one might exist is false.

However, the zombie argument against physicalism in general was most famously developed in detail by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996). According to Chalmers, one can coherently conceive of an entire zombie world: a world physically indiscernible from our world, but entirely lacking conscious experience. In such a world, the counterpart of every being that is conscious in our world would be a p-zombie.

Chalmers says that the logical possibility of zombies is one way of illustrating that there is no logical relationship between physical constructs and consciousness. Of course some philosophers find the logical possibility of zombies to be ludicrous, and some scientists wonder whether anything really important can be drawn from something that is merely conceivable but not known to exist. Chalmers believes that most arguments using zombies "can actually be rephrased in a zombie-free way," to allow people to consider the arguments on their own merits with or without the zombies, but zombies allow the philosopher to provide "a vivid and provocative illustration.

Voodoo, Zombies & the Puffer fish

Vodun, popularly known as voodoo because of Hollywood's misrepresentation, is a religion that originated in West Africa. It can be traced back to the 18th and 19th Century Yoruba people, who lived in parts of the countries that today are called Togo, Nigeria and Benin.

Some anthropologists believe that Vodun's roots may go back 6,000 years. Vodun is the dominant religion in Haiti and was recognized as the official religion of Benin in 1996. It has 60 million followers worldwide and is also practiced in Ghana and the Dominican Republic, as well as cities of the American Deep South such as New Orleans. In the 1700s, Vodun-practicing West African slaves were shipped to work on French plantations in Haiti (called Hispaniola at the time). The French tried to proselytize them to Catholicism but the slaves secretly continued to practice their own religion.

Vodun therefore contains elements of Catholicism but has no sacred text, church or religious leaders. Both religions share a number of similarities. Both believe in a supreme being, an afterlife and the existence of invisible spirits, and both use ritual sacrifice and consumption of flesh and blood as the centerpiece to some of their ceremonies.

Followers of Vodun worship a pantheon of spirits, referred to as Loa (meaning 'mystery' in the Yoruba language). These spirits were once people who led exceptional lives and are therefore similar to Christian saints. The Loa are believed by Vodun followers to govern every aspect of their lives. At the same time they are dependent on their worshippers for the sacrifices made to them, so that there is an interdependence of spirits and worshippers.


Vodun ceremonies involve outdoor gatherings where people try to make contact with the spirit world. The ceremonies typically involve a feast, the creation of a pattern of flour or cornmeal on the floor (a veve), drumming, dancing and chanting. The dance intensifies until one of the dancers is possessed by a Loa and falls to the ground, at which point it is the spirit which is in control of the dancer's body. During the ritual sheep, goats, chickens or dogs are sacrificied in order to gain favour with the spirits.

A houngan is a Vodun priest, a mambo a priestess and a bokur a Vodun sorcerer believed to be endowed with the power to perform black magic. Powders used by the sorcerers give them power over their victims, with one of those powers being zombification.

In Haiti, zombification is a punishment for severe crimes. Coupe poudre is the powder used by a bokur to induce zombification. The active ingredient of coupe poudre is tetradotoxin (TTX), produced in the liver and ovaries of some species of puffer fish (e.g. Fugu rubripes). TTX is a neurotoxin 500 times more potent than cyanide. It acts by blocking the sodium ion channels which enable nerve and heart cells to produce electrical impulses. In miniscule doses TTX causes a near-death state in which metabolic functions are depressed, so that breathing and pulse rate are undetectable. Total paralysis follows, although the brain and senses remain intact. The victim is thought to be dead and is buried alive.

A few days after being buried, the 'zombie' is disinterred and given another powder containing atropine and scopolamine. These are toxic and hallucinogenic compounds from the plants Datura metel and Datura stramonium (both known as the 'zombie cucumber'). This powder, when administered, puts the victim into a permanent state of delirium and disorientation in which they experience delusions and hallucinations. He or she can then be made to do menial work for those against which the crime was committed.

The puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan. Only small amounts of the fish are edible and preparation is extremely difficult. Only highly trained chefs can remove the organs which produce TTX. Trace amounts of the toxin cause a tingling sensation on the tongue and lips when puffer fish is eaten.


Every year a small number of people eat puffer fish which has not been properly prepared and die by cardiac arrest as a result. There are also cases of people who are buried alive after going into a state of deep suspended coma, hence the Japanese practice of leaving those thought to have been killed by eating puffer fish next to their grave for three days before burial.

Although zombies are found all over the world, but Haiti is where most the reorts come from. The phenomenon of Vodun zombification can be ascribed to the socialization process, in which one acquires personal knowledge of the Vodum religion and the expected effects of the sorcerer's powder.

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