Ingredients, Steps, and Measurements in Making Zombies
Today, when we think of zombies, the first thing that comes to mind are the hordes of the walking dead moving through the streets with the intent to devour everything in sight. It is a picture that we are now commonly presented with and with which we identify this word. But have you ever wondered where did this term come from? Is there something that inspired this idea somewhere in a mythology or a belief?
The answer is that there is, and it is located in Haiti. In Haitian voodoo belief there are people, mages, called Bokor, who have mystical powers to transform a man into a zombie after death. But how is it possible?
In Haiti, there is a belief that if a man dies a natural death if he had lived a good life, he becomes one of the Loa Spirits. If a person dies a violent death, it is believed that his soul is weak and is therefore suitable to be seized by the Bokor. The Bokor binds the soul to a talisman or a fetish and this is called the Astral Zombie. These talismans are used to increase Bokor’s mystical powers and serve to raise corporal zombies.
The body of the owner of the trapped souls Bokor can then use in a variety of ways. The Bokor can force him to do hard physical labor, to attack enemies, in a word, anything the Bokor orders, the slave will do. They, the people who study this voodoo stuff, say that there is a way to turn living people into zombies. Supposedly an extremely powerful Bokor is necessary in this case, who can draw, with his enchantments, the soul of a living man.
When a bokor wants to turn a still living, breathing man into a zombie. A bokor must take certain steps. He has to put a curse on the targeted figure. When the prescribed curse is performed, the man who is the victim begins to slowly get fades and withers until he finally dies. To all the people overlooking this performance, it appears as if he had died of a mysterious illness. After the families bury their deceased, the Bokor comes to the tomb and excavates the deceased, takes the corpse, and then starts the ritual of converting the deceased into zombies.
Those who have seen these zombies testify about their appearance. They say that their gaze is fixed at one point, and that their skin has a strange grayish color. Movements of the zombies are slightly slowed down and they cannot pronounce anything more complex than short phrase. It is often claimed that the zombies have superhuman strength and that’s why they are used as physical laborers. They are completely insensitive to any kind of physical stimuli to their body, and therefore do not feel pain.
It is claimed also that those who become zombies, remain under the control of their master, the Bokor who had cursed them, until he liberates them and they are damned to serve in line with all his wishes and commands.
How is it possible that one person can have this much power?
Scientists who have investigated this phenomenon in Haiti claim that there was not any magic involved, but it is a toxic chemical substance that they have used which causes these symptoms. Specifically, they found that the Bokor make the toxic powder from grinded plants and animals, and that is the powder used in order to “curse” the sacrifice. In the analysis of these powders, they found that the vast majority of them contain the same substance: One or more species of puffer fish, which often contain a deadly neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin; a marine toad (Bufo marinus), which produces numerous toxic substances; a tree frog Hyla (Osteopilus dominicensis), which secretes an irritating (but not deadly) substance. The powder also contains different ingredients of plants and animals, which causes skin irritation and changes in its color.
The powder is even found to contain human remains
What is interesting is precisely the use of tetrodotoxin. This toxin causes paralysis, which creates the illusion of death. The theory is that the victim looked dead, the family would bury him, and then the Bokor would pull out the victim, and since the poisoned person believed he was dead, he now believed himself to be a zombie.
Another theory is that this poison intoxication and burying the dead man can cause permanent brain damage, which would easily explain the behavior awaken zombies. There are a number of confirmed cases of people fully recovering from such poisoning, thus explaining the cases when the zombies are liberated from the curse. Yet today this kind of scientific explanation rather disputed, both from religious and scientific circles.
In any case, according to the beliefs of the voodoo religion, it is quite possible to convert men into zombies by trapping their soul. According to the voodoo religion, the soul consists of two aspects. The first aspect is the gros bon ange (great good angel) while the other aspect ti bon ange (little good angel). Great good angel is part of the soul, which is responsible for basic biological functions. That’s the part that regulates the flow of blood through the body as well as breathing. Ti bon ange is the part that makes a man’s personality. This is the part that gives awareness, individuality, will and character. During the ritual, this part of the soul leaves the body and the spirits or Loa are the ones who would take over it. During this time, this part of the soul is extremely vulnerable and can be stolen.
It is this part of the soul, ti bon ange that is the part that Bokor steals from the man and puts into a container, or astral. The astrals are talismans that are a Bokor’s source of power. In the context of voodoo belief, a zombie is what remains of a man when you take his very core. When his personality, his character, and free will are taken from him, the only thing that remains is a mindless shell that can understand only primitiveness and is only capable of following orders.
It is easy to see how such a belief is built on the Haiti. This was the land of slaves and its inhabitants led the long struggle for independence and freedom. During the colonial slave-owning society slaves valued freedom of spirit, will and mind. Revocation of this was the equivalent of death for them and it is completely understandable why people who lived without free will are considered the walking dead. The fear of becoming a zombie like this is worse than death itself for the Haitians.
Regardless of the explanations you accept as true, the voodoo religion boils down to the same thing. By chemical means or magical, the Bokor removes the freedom of the will from a man, erases his very essence and thereafter the man remains only a blank slave that is capable only of following his masters commands, which the now created zombie obediently fulfills.
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