Clairvius Narcisse - Haiti Observer Blog

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Zomby, a Pharmacological Phenomenon Clairvius Narcisse

The Haitian belief system of Voodoo is an inherent part of Haiti's cultural ethos. It co-exists alongside the dominant religion of the island, Catholicism, and has even adopted some of its practices. Traditionally, Voodoo has relied on animal sacrifice and percussion-driven dancing to induce deep trance states in order to receive the Lwa.

A peripheral phenomenon of Voodoo is the belief in Zombies, the living dead. To illustrate how a Zombie is created, Clairvius Narcisse is a prime example of how zombies originated as a cultural force in Haiti.

Clairvius Narcisse had been taken for dead around 1960. But unbeknownst to his family, a Voodoo priest had transformed Narcisse into a Zombie with the help of potent drugs. The priest exhumed Narcisse's body and in addition to Tetrodotoxin, which put Narcisse into a death-like state, the priest injected Clairvius Narcisse with Jimson weed, a powerful hallucinogen. This impaired Narcisse's brain function. He became a victim of forced labor until the priest died. Regaining his cognitive abilities, he drifted off, returning to his birth place to recount his agonizing experience.

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