1) Are zombies real?
Zombies have basis in reality. Anthropologist Gino Del Guercio’s article, “The Secrets of Haiti’s Living Dead,” explains that zombies have their roots in voodoo practiced by Haitian peasants. Zombifying a person is a form of punishment.
“In rural areas, secret vodoun societies, much like those found on the west coast of Africa, are as much or more in control of everyday life as the government,” Guercio said. “[Secret voduon societies] trace their origins to the bands of escaped slaves that organized the revolt against the French in the late eighteenth century.”
2) How does zombification work?
Zombification requires pufferfish or blowfish venom, tetrodotoxin. Guercio tells us that ethnobiologist Wade Davis discovered methods of turning people into zombies. Zombification involves use of tetrodotoxin. The poison, in powder form, is rubbed into the skin, according to Guercio. The victim experiences nausea, difficulty breathing, and then paralysis.
“Quickly–sometimes within six hours–[the victim’s] metabolism is lowered to a level almost indistinguishable from death,” Guercio said.
3) Are zombies evil?
Zombies are not evil, and Guercio notes the incorrect Western assumption.
“As a sanction in Haiti,” he said,” the fear is not of zombies, it’s of becoming one [. . .] zombies remain without will, in a trance-like state, a condition vodounists attribute to the power of the priest.”
4) Can a victim survive zombification?
It is not guaranteed that a victim will survive zombification, but it is possible.
“If a victim survives the first few hours of the poisoning, he is likely to recover fully from the ordeal. The subject simply revives spontaneously,” Guercio said.
5) What about zombies today?
Davis notes that zombification is an effective way to maintain social order.
“For rural Haitians, zombification is an even more severe punishment than death, because it deprives the subject of his most valued possessions: his free will and independence,” he said.