Zombie History, Part I

Vodou ceremony, Jacmel, Haiti

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.

Homework ;)

What do you think about Haitian zombies?  In your opinion, do they have anything to do with “modern day” zombies?

Leave a comment and click the Like or any other sharing button to get this information out there!

Thanks, and stay tuned for Part 2!

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  1. Zoly says

    Thanks for sharing this! I knew a bit about zombies and voodoo but most of it from movies and they tend to exagerate a lot.
    I love the fact that many ancient cultures have such amazing knowledge about plants and natural medicine, I bet that adquiring that knowledge has to be extremely hard this days, specially for people from the west. I believe that zombies are real, in one way or another the body can come to life even after the soul has left.

    • says

      I agree! I “want to believe” as Agent Mulder says. You all know I’m eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. So here’s my message to those in Science/Government/Military: Don’t let us down by NOT screwing up! Also, Zoly, thanks for your nice email.

  2. Zombie hunter says

    Very interesting info my friend, also I read the first chapter of your novel and I´m lovin it! I hope you keep publishing because I already think that trends killed vampires, witches and warewolves, zombies are my last hope and you are bringing what I love, cheers!

    • says

      Hey, I really appreciate your comment and your encouragement! My zombie love story (and really, there’s nothing like it out there) comes out Summer 2012. They’ll be contests to win free copies, so come back and check end of June/early July.

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