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Scientific research on zombies and voodoo

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Zombies (Zombies group in the modern view, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Braaaaaiiins…..jpg)

A zombie (zonbi in Haitian Creole; nzumbe or nzambe in Kimbundu/Kikongo) commonly refers to a person who lost all forms of consciousness and humanity, adopting violent behavior towards human beings and whose evil is terribly contagious.

It is rooted in Haitian culture and is also used to describe victims of voodoo spells to bring the dead back to life or destroy the consciousness of an individual to make it exploitable. The word “zonbi” in Creole means “spirit” or “returning”. It also refers to the spirits of the gods of African tribes. Since the nineteenth century, zombies have thus taken many forms and meaningful echoing, especially in European and American folklore.

The concept

The term refers to two types of quite different creatures. In the voodoo culture, the zombie is a reanimated dead and under the complete control of a wizard. However, along with this type of creature, the Western popular culture refers to all zombies as partially decomposed undead devoid of language, reason and often awareness, that survive by feeding on human flesh of the living. In some stories the zombies are created from a drug or virus.

These currently recurring monster in the horror stories have been popularized by the movie Night of the Living Dead (1968). At present, the term zombie was generalized to refer to any animated and decomposed creature, featuring a grayish or bluish color and large wounds and scars all over the surface of his body. By that they oppose including vampires, who usually look like normal humans and does not look like corpses (notwithstanding the paleness of their skin), as well as ghosts, whose existence is manifested on the purely spiritual and that are difficult to perceive for the living. As for skeletons, it is never as zombies whose decomposition is complete.

However, an important distinction must be made between the two conceptions of this type of zombie. The first, which is also the oldest, means ghosts of dead bodies, often risen through occult and handled by a wizard. The second, more recent, means in fact alive and well at the origin but people who have been infected by a disease or a chemical element, which give them the appearance of rotting undead standing unintelligent and continually seeking the flesh of the living. Their condition is better explained medically, but they are often more out of control, and above all, they are much more numerous: in general, dramas depict a handful of heroes to face countless hordes of zombies.

By extension, the term can also refer to someone who is absently, amorphous.

Africa and voodoo

West Africa

During the deportations, slaves from Africa brought with them their beliefs. Although voodoo as practiced in Africa was originally limited to the west of the continent, voodoo practiced by exiled slaves is a syncretism of religions such as Catholicism and African and island beliefs.

We find many similar sounding names in African beliefs, according to ethnic groups and countries, to designate various spirits, demons or ghosts: Mvumbi and Nsumbi (Congo region), Ndzumbi (Mitsogo of Gabon), Nvumbi (Angola) Nzambi and Zumbi (Kongo), bibi or bi zan zan (Ewe and Mina).

South Africa

In the beliefs of South Africa, the concept of zombie from the twentieth century covers the idea of ​​spirit prisoner of a witch who forced him to work.

Zombie(A zombie, at dusk in a sugar cane field in Haiti, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zombie_haiti_ill_artlibre_jnl.png)

In Haiti (and the Caribbean)

The zombie concept has assumed great importance in Haitian culture. It is not only related to African roots, but also to slavery and oppression in the island.

The first known mention of the word “zombie” in the Caribbean is made in the work of Pierre Corneille Blessebois in 1697, Grand Peru Zombi, or the Countess of Cocagne. In this autobiographical novel, referring to his time in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, the figure of the zombie is essentially an evil spirit, disembodied.

Scientific research

In 1937 the American writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston visited Haiti to investigate the case of Felicia Felix-Mentor, died and buried in 1907, but it was said she still wandered thirty years later in the form of a zombie. The writer concludes his inquiry by saying that zombies are only persons under private psychotropic of their will, not undead.

In Haitian voodoo, the zombie is a victim of a Bokor (voodoo priest), immersed in a cataleptic and private state of his soul by administering a powerful drug containing tetrodotoxin. The victim, who pass for dead, is then buried; after a certain time (within 24 hours under worth dying of anoxia), the sorcerer returns to dig up the body of their victim to “resurrect” while reciting various spells. Extracted from his grave, it is immediately administered to him, and again the next day, a paste or a liquid containing atropine or datura, antidote that eliminates the effects of the poison and taken out of his lethargy. Then it is given a hypnotic drug that makes the victim amnesic and enslaved him, this state being facilitated by hypoxic brain damage due to oxygen consumption in the coffin. Tetrodotoxin having destroyed their sensory nerve fibers, some zombies rendered insensitive to small necrotic wounds of mucous membranes (such as the tongue or soft palate, which gives them a deep voice).

The drug is made from tetrodotoxin, a potent poison that is found in the Tetraodon (blowfish, Haitian fufu or Japanese fugu) and administered as a liquid to ingest or contact with the skin in the form of powder (in particular placed in shoes or inside the clothing, this powder is associated with an irritant-type toad venom substance so that the person scratches and that the powder penetrates the skin). In Haiti, it is the term “receiving a blow powder.” It would give the victim any appearance of a dead by an apparent standstill of the vital functions (catalepsy), while the subject would remain conscious and continue to hear what is happening around him. According to sources, the poison would have a limited effect in time or could be canceled with an antidote. This practice, common in Haiti and Benin, is prohibited, but it nevertheless continues, voodoo is an ancestral tradition in the culture of these peoples.

Clairvius Narcisse is a victim of “zombification” who could testify. Until the nineteenth century was hovering fear in the people of Central Europe of a return of the dead; that is why during the vigil of the dead, it was common to knock out the supposed death if he rose from the deathbed. Since the methods for confirming death was very uncertain, this practice was very frequent.

In the late 1990s, nearly 1,000 new cases of zombification were recorded each year.

Translated from Wikipedia

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