A Short History Of Zombies

Zombies are just an imaginary supernatural creature right? They're the stuff of horror movies, either rising from their graves or being bitten by other zombies and causing flesh eating cannabalsitic tendencies.

I mark my career on zombies after writing Cosmic Decay: Contamination, so I've gone out of my way to read, hear and watch as many zombie pop culture projects as possible.

But did you know that the tale of the zombie is based on religious legend? In the same way that vampires can be traced back to Vlad Dracul, and werewolves can be traced back to Native American lore, yes, even zombies have their origins.

The zombie can be traced back to the 8th century and has been primarily used in Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole Voodoo religions to represent a person who has died and was brought back to life without speech capabilities or free will. These zombies were known as nzambi, which in Kongo means "Spirit of the Dead". Voodoo has folklore just like other religions, and the zombie folklore dictates that Voodoo priests studied black magic and posessed the ability to ressurect the deceased through the administration of a powder call coup padre, which is produced mainly out of tetrodoxin - a dangerous poison found in "porcupine fish". The zombie is actually someone who hires the priest themselves to turn them into a zombie, due to being outcast from their family or their community.

Legend states that once the person has taken the coup padre, their heart rates slow to a near stop, and their breathing patterns and body tempreture decreases. With these symptoms appearing as signs of death, the person would then be buried (alive) before the priest would exhume them and use them under his control. 1

In many archeological digs around the areas that voodoo and black magic were common, there have been many graves dug up to reveal decapitated humans or dead bodies that have signs of having their brains removed, or with bite marks in their bones. Many aren't sure why these corpses have been found this way, but suggest a widespread panic from those living in that era.

Witchcraft and Voodoo are known to be the creating force behind the idea of zombies, and the idea of using poisons and toxins to mimic death and create out of mind experiences are all based in truths. Even in as recently at 2016 there was news of a terrifying new drug known as "Zombie", "Flakka" or "Spice" that hit western cultures including Australia. This drug is made of a hallucinogen called alpha-PVP and was said to be the cause of an outbreak of zombie-like behaviour, including the case of a 19 year old frat boy who bit the flesh off a victim's face. 2

Utilising human behaviours and the effects of potent toxicology has been a driving force behind many popular zombie movies and stories today, including 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later so the reality of a zombie like virus taking down the world could be some basis of truth.

But that's the thing about urban legends and mythology based in ancient religions - it can all be taken in a realistic context if you look to much into it.

So what do you reckon? Are zombies real?

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