Zombies are mindless but still living creatures, formerly human beings, said to be victims of vodun magic—that is, magic of the vodun religion (also called voodoo, voudoun, or vodoun)—which combines elements of African paganism with Christianity. Practitioners of vodun, who worship hundreds of uniquely vodun gods and goddesses derived from those of West African religions, believe that vodun priests (usually called witch doctors) use magic both to help and to harm people, as well as to predict the future, and are able to cast a spell on someone that will turn him or her into a slave who does only the priest’s bidding.
Researchers who have studied these zombies have found that they are not the victims of magic but of a toxin that can cause brain damage. In other words, the vodun priest has somehow introduced a poison into the victim’s system, thereby causing brain damage. In popular movies, however, zombies are dead people whose bodies have been reanimated by some mysterious force or disease, though their minds and souls are no longer inside. This view of zombies, which was created by Hollywood, is now the prevailing one among most Americans.
- magic and spells
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning