By now it is clear that people are familiar with the Hollywood concept of zombies. However, the myth of the walking undead has existed for centuries in numerous cultures. Further, in the recent past, America had its own zombie epidemic, to the point that first responders engaged in mock drills should the epidemic become catastrophic. But what exactly is a zombie and how are they created? Hollywood and pop culture have given a plethora of possible scenarios from tainted food to nuclear exposure. Additionally, the most commonly accepted method of striking down the undead is a clear head wound either from a gun or sharp object.
According to History Magazine, the oldest evidence of the belief in zombies has been identified in Greece by archaeologists. Here, graves have been unearthed with the occupant being pinned down by rocks or other heavy objects. Scholars point to a fear of the reanimation of the dead. However, it can not be ignored that such practice is not reserved for only zombies, but also vampires and ghouls. Within the context of zombification, one would view a zombie as a reanimated corpse. With this in mind there is a much earlier and lesser-known reference for the dead rising from their graves. This can be found in the biblical book of Matthew.
Saints Rising From the Grave
Matthew chapter 27 recounts the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. The story is recounted every Easter Sunday in church; however, one piece of this story is omitted.
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27: 50-54
Biblical scholars who believe that this event is 100% factual point to these zombies as being filled with the life-giving energy of Jesus and that it was a joyful event. They walked among the people of the town until the third day when Jesus was resurrected at which point they returned to their graves.
Voodoo, a Haitian religion brought to the island from Africa, represents a blending of its traditional African roots and Roman Catholicism. The word Voodoo means spirit or deity in the language of the African Kingdom of Dahomey, with its fundamental principle being everything is spirit. Within the Voodoo tradition, a zombie is regarded as a deceased person who is revived after burial to do the bidding of the person who revived them. Despite this, modern scholars believe that the zombie is not dead, but under the influence of powerful drugs. In Haitian folklore, a zombie is essentially a body without a soul. In order to keep one in such a state requires a lengthy method of mixing the perfect concoctions, potions, and powders together for administration. Unlike the zombies of Hollywood, Haitian zombies do not seek out human flesh nor are they rotting corpses. The bokor, or sorcerer, who reanimated the corpse, possesses the soul of the deceased and holds it captive as the soulless body is given menial tasks of servitude.
Zombies in America
After a series of seeming zombie attack in America in the early 2000’s the US Department of Defense created a defense strategy in 2011 in the event of a zombie apocalypse. In 2009 and 2010 training exercises were held recreating a zombie attack. Further, the CDC also released a zombie preparedness plan, which has subsequently been “retired”.
Beginning in 2002, reports of cannibalism began to surface in America. Big Lurch was imprisoned after murdering his girlfriend and consuming her organs. One could argue that this attack was drug induced or point to famed serial killer Jeffery Dahmer as this being simply an instance of insanity or mental illness. However, the early years of the 2000’s had several such incidents with the most famous being in Miami 2012. Rudy Eugene stripped naked and attacked Ronald Popp. Eugene, with an appetite for flesh, attacked Mr. Poppo severely disfiguring him. Further, the local police had a greatly difficult time dislodging Mr. Eugene as his strength was magnified. The assault was blamed on the ingestion of a drug called bath salts, yet no such drug was discovered in his toxicology report. At this same time in Maryland, 21-year-old Alexander Kinyua murdered his roommate and ate his heart and brain.
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Perhaps in response to the current threat of COVID 19, the CDC has removed their zombie preparedness guide. However, it is available in archives for download at https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/6023. Further, it is now listed as a work of fiction. CONPLAN 8888 also known as Counter-Zombie Dominance is available to download and read online. Again, it is now listed as a work of fiction. Despite assertions that these brochures are fictitious works, it seems to be a waste of time and resources for such government organizations to formulate such elaborate plans and guides for “fun”. Neither listing was originally proclaimed fictional. Once upon a time, each acknowledged that while such a plan may seem silly, the threat was real.
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