Serpent and the Rainbow

Brian D Williams (
Thu, 17 Dec 1998 07:50:31 -0800 (PST)

From: Spike Jones <>

>is anyone familiar with the story called the serpent and the
>rainbow? its about a harvard ethnobotanist by the name of wade
>davis who goes to haiti to investigate zombies. according to his
>account, he discovered there a universal belief in zombies, and
>even had one pointed out to him, a zombie who lived in the local
>cemetery. turns out the local witchdoctor figured out a way to
>distill a poison that produces deathlike symptoms. the family
>assumes the victim is dead, and buries him. the witchdoctor comes
>that night, digs him up and administers the antidote, thereby
>reviving him. both the victim and everyone else then believes the
>witchdoctor brought him back from the dead. i dont know how much
>of the book is fiction and how much non... spike

Don't confuse the so-so movie with the ethno-biographical book. It's a classic case of truth being stranger than fiction.

Zombification, the Hattian answer to the death penalty.

The interesting thing is that this is usually a cultural decision, you have to be a pretty rotten person to earn this fate. The person is even pronounced dead by western physicians, so complete is the paralysis, and they are conscious the whole time. Usually after dark they are dug up by the Oungaun and his henchmen. They are fed a plant/drug mixture and usually sent somewhere remote as basically slave labor. The process produces a permanent psychic break.

Voodoo, a religion with teeth......

The trick of course is cultural belief, and the toxin (tetrodotoxin) of the pufferfish.

Member, Extropian Institute

"Some say there is such a powder...."