In 1932 the film White Zombie introduced the world to the Haitian Voodoo Zombie. The movie, staring Bela Lagosi told the story of of a young man who turns to a Voodoo witch doctor to lure the woman he has fallen in love with from her fiance, but the witch doctor instead turns her into a zombie slave for himself. The film sparked the curiosity of many scholars and doctors. Soon many were researching the Haitian Voodoo religion.
Zombies originated from the Congo and were called “Nbzambi”. When slaves from all over Africa were brought over during the slave trade, their religions were blended together and Zombies found a new home in Voodoo. Haiti was a port for many slave ships, it also had many Sugarcane plantations and soon became the home of the Voodoo Religion.To this day Voodoo followers still fear being made into a zombie.
In Voodoo there are two types of zombies. Neither involve transmission from a bite. The first type is the Spiritual Zombie. It is believed that a person has two souls, the Great Angle and the Little Angle. When a person dies the Great Angle leaves at he moment of death. However it takes the Little Angle three days to leave the body, During that time a witch Doctor also known as a Houngan, may invoke the spirit of Congolese Ghede to convince the Little Angle that the body is still alive and it must stay and serve the Houngan. The Houngan can then manipulate the zombie to do its bidding, The Second Type of Zombie is known as a Herbal Zombie.The West Africans were master chemists. These Zombies were made using four steps. The first step was cultural. Growing up all members of the Voodoo religion were told cautionary tales of zombies.Being raised to believe in the possibility of zombies made them more susceptible to believing they could truly become one.The second step was poisoning the victim using a combination of herbs including Blow Fish poison (Tetrodotoxin). Then the combination was administered, usually by being put into a persons shoes. Then the person would take on a state of false death.After being pronounced dead the victim would prepared and buried. After dark the victim would be dug up by the Houngan and his servants, The last step would be an antidote made of herbs with a similar reaction to atropine. Once revived the victim is given hallucinogens including a powder made of the Trumpet Flower, to keep them confused and disoriented. The victims sometimes remembers their burial since the poison is a paralytic , so they actually believe they have died and become a zombie.The Zombie is then put to work. The Houngan can the control the zombie as long as the Victim remains drugged.
The only proven case of a Voodoo Zombie is the case of Clairvius Narcisse. Clairvius begun to have body aches, and a fever. He went to his local hospital where they diagnosed fluid in his lungs and a very low blood pressure. The next day he was pronounced dead by two different doctors. The day after he was buried. Two years later his family got a shock when he showed up on their door step alive. It was confirmed he was who he claimed to be. He told his family and doctors that he was dug up and carried to a Sugarcane plantation where he worked for the two years under the control of a Houngan. He did not remember all of the time he spent as a zombie but could remember bits and pieces of the two years.
Today there is a large number of followers of the Voodoo religion that call New Orleans Home.The influence of the Voodoo religion can be seen through out New Orleans. Remember when you go to to Marti Gras , you might want to watch out for those Houngans. We wouldn’t want you turning into a zombie now do we?