You better gather ammo and start running for your life because zombie's are on the prowl, but before you decide to blast it's head off have you ever thought "Where exactly did a zombie come from? How on earth did they become so popular?" Luckily, I can explain that for you.
In the folklore of Haitian traditions zombies were mostly as a personal slave to a bokor, who are sorcerers that practice voodoo and other forms of necromancy. The zombie origins and believed to be the roots of Haiti enslaving Africans for their subsequent experience in the New World. It was a custom that the voodoo deity Baron Samedi would gather them from their grave and then bring them to a heavenly afterlife in Africa, specifically Guinea unless they had offended him in some way. In which case they would be forever a slave after death, as a zombie. A zombie could be saved by feeding them salt. A number of scholars have pointed out the significance of the zombie figure as a metaphor for the history of slavery in Haiti. The tradition also states an incorporeal type of zombie, the "zombie astral", which is a part of the human soul. A bokor can capture a zombie astral to enhance his spiritual power. A zombie astral can also be sealed inside a specially decorated bottle by a bokor and sold to a client to bring luck, healing or business success. It is believed that God eventually will reclaim the zombie's soul, so the zombie is a temporary spiritual entity.
The Haitian zombie phenomenon first attracted widespread international attention during the United States occupation of Haiti during 1915–1934, when a number of medical histories were purported, and "zombies" began to emerge.
Zombies also have their ties back in Africa too, The idea of physical zombie-like creatures is present in some South African cultures, where they are called xidachane in Sotho/Tsonga and maduxwane in Venda. In some communities, it is believed that a dead person can be turned into a zombie by a small child. The spell can be broken by a powerful enough sangoma. It is also believed in some areas of South Africa that witches can turn someone into a zombie by killing and possessing the victim's body in order to force it into slave labor.
When you really think about it, zombie's originally didn't start out to be monster's of the undead searching for raw meat as nourishment, but instead, brain dead people working as servants. Pretty crazy right?
Now let's fast forward a little bit as the zombie-pop culture starts to literally pop right out of the ground .The first popular book covering the topics was William Seabrook's The Magic Island . Seabrooke cited Article 246 of the Haitian criminal code which was passed in 1864, asserting that it was an official recognition of zombies.
And that was only the beginning, here's a list of other author's who got bitten from the zombie bug and how they were influenced:
- Mary Shelley was bitten by the idea about zombies in that the resurrection of the dead in Frankenstein
- Ambrose Bierce was bitten with the idea to write a story about avenging the undead in The Death of Halpin Frayser
- Edgar Allan Poe was bitten with the idea to write various Gothic romanticism stories of the undying and death or AKA zombie fiction
- H. P. Lovecraft was bitten with the theme idea to write several novellas about the undead, the most well known stories are Cool Air, In the Vault, and The Outsider. Late in the year of 1921 Lovecraft's Herbert West–Reanimator helped define zombies in pop culture.
- EC Comics was bitten with the the idea of Tales from the Crypt
- George A. Romero was bitten with the idea of the zombie apocalypse and directed the film series Night of the Living Dead and he even wrote a few zombie themed books
- Richard Matheson was bitten with the idea to write the novel I Am Legend although it may be classified as a vampire story but nonetheless has the definitive impact on the zombie genre.
And as the years go by we have even more movies about zombies and to add more fuel to the fire we have video games, anime, songs and TV shows that are surrounded with the idea of these flesh eating monsters. So if I were you, I'd grab a zombie survival guide to protect yourself. Stay safe my friends!