Real Zombies Of Haiti
The shuffling, creepy zombies associated with low budget cult films are a fact of life in Haiti.
Haitians so greatly fear the bodies of dead loved ones being stolen and turned into zombies they will often dismember a dead relative before burial. Others will stand guard over fresh family graves until decomposition makes the body worthless.
The bokor is the voodoo sorcerer of Haiti, and instils terror into the hearts of the living. He can create paralysis or death by spreading a powder on the ground where someone walks.
He will often create misery by ritually damaging a voodoo doll representing an intended victim. But his greatest power is his ability to make zombies.
Voodoo lore suggests that the bokor traps his victim’s soul by sucking it out of the body and sealing it in a bottle. Death and burial soon follow.
The bokor goes to the grave at night, opens it and calls the victim’s name. The bottle containing the victim’s soul is passed briefly under the nose to revive the body, and the zombie is led away.
Rituals, drugs, and shocking beatings are issued to the zombie in copious quantities to ensure absolute compliance.
An American scientist revealed in 1982 that the bokor used a slow acting poison to paralyse his victims. The zombie-like state is created by a substance that contains tetrodotoxin, a chemical which lowers a person’s metabolic rate to the point where he appears to be dead.
Once buried, the victim often does die from the poison or from suffocation. If he is still alive when the bokor reaches him, he will be forced to eat a mysterious paste containing a powerful psychoactive substance such as datura stramonium – known as the zombie cucumber.
This causes memory loss and disorientation. The new zombie will soon become a submissive slave to his master the bokor.
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