In this brief 3-part series, we will explore the origins and history of something myself and my readers are fascinated with: Zombies!
So where did zombies come from? And how much longer until they finally take over?
Early Zombie History
Let’s begin our study of Zombie History in Haiti, a country that lives and dies through the world of witchcraft and spells. One of the earliest zombie cases started in 1937. While researching folklore in Haiti, Zora Neale Hurston encountered the case of a woman who appeared in a village, and a family claimed she was Felicia Felix-Mentor, a relative who had died and been buried in 1907 at the age of 29.
Hurston pursued rumors that the affected persons were given a powerful psychoactive drug, but she was unable to locate individuals willing to offer much information. She wrote:
“What is more, if science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony.”
So which is it? The folklore or the “medical secrets” that make people into zombies? We cannot simply dismiss this phenomenon as not existing. Is there a way that medicine can create the zombies that we fear today?
Zombie History and Studies
Several decades later, Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). In our next post, we’ll delve into Dr. Davis’ work in more detail.
What do you think about Haitian zombies? In your opinion, do they have anything to do with “modern day” zombies?
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Thanks, and stay tuned for Part 2!