I Ain’t Got No Santeria: Zombies, Blood Sacrifice and Magic

Santeria Zombie

Double-tap that fucker.

Santeria is a religion that originated in Africa and is now most often practiced in the Caribbean and southern states. It ties many of its beliefs, rituals and symbolism in with Catholicism, but takes it to a whole new, creepy level.

Here are 6 of the creepiest things about Santeria:

1. Zombies – These aren’t your typical walkers, and there’s no #DarkRick around to rip open their heads with a stale tortilla or L’il Asskicker’s rattle. No, these zombies have been claimed to be fucking real.

Originally, the myth began that Voodoo and Santeria practitioners in Haiti would cast a spell on someone or use a magical potion as a punishment, ultimately zombifying their victim. The newly created zombie would then be easy to control and make great slave labor. Several scientists have traveled to Haiti to explore this myth and discovered a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin that could, in the right doses, make someone appear dead enough that the family or friends would bury him or her thinking he or she was actually dead. Given that burial practices in Haiti are still quite simple, using cheap wooden caskets and filling in the grave by hand, the buried person would still be able to get small amounts of oxygen. Enough to remain alive, anyway. A day or so later, the victim may wake up with brain damage from the neurotoxin and lack of oxygen and dig his or her way out, wandering aimlessly in confusion.

Yeah. A goddamned (no holy) zombie.

The myth becomes more elaborate with stories of entire plantations having workforces made up of slave zombies. While the scientists who explored the phenomenon did discover the neurotoxin in Haiti, these plantations have never been found nor has there been a confirmed case of tetrodotoxin-induced zombification.

Here’s a Vice documentary on it:

2. Actual sacrifice – Santeria is no stranger to real, blood sacrifice. Most often the sacrificial rituals of Santeria are performed with a chicken, but other animals are incorporated as well. Last year, in Miami, a floating garbage bag of discarded animal corpses believed to have been used in Santeria sacrifices was found near a beach. It included a headless goat. Obviously, someone was trying the Dexter method of body disposal.

3. The bloody necklace or “elekes”. This is the first of several initiation rituals in which the inductee is presented with a beaded necklace washed in sacrificial blood. That’s right, fuck baptism, here’s some goddamned bling covered in chicken’s blood. Moreover, once the necklace has been received and the individual has been initiated, the necklace is not to be worn while on your period. Long story short: Chicken blood is sacred, and menstrual blood is evil.

4. Paulo – This ritual involves cutting crosses into your chest with a straight razor. A few years ago, cuts were discovered on the chest of a 4 year old girl in Roswell, Georgia. The family explained it as this Paulo ritual in Santeria. Further, a friend of the family said:

Sometimes people use religion as an excuse to abuse kids. Not in this case. This religion is to help people, to help people get better, to protect people.

This explanation appears to have worked as, to my knowledge, no charges have been filed for harming the 4 year old girl.

5. Sewing things into live animals. Last year, again in Miami, a young chicken was found by an animal rescuer, wandering around in bad shape. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that several strange items had been sewn into the bird’s breast while it was still alive: a photograph, human hair, and some drawings. It is believed to have been part of a Santeria ritual.

6. Baby Skulls – Every once in a while, graves of babies are discovered disturbed, and, when investigated, discovered to be missing the skull of the deceased. As it happens most often in areas with large populations of Santeria practitioners, the crime is believed to be committed for rituals in that religion. Human bones, it is known, are used in ceremonies during which the believers are said to be talking to the dead. Another great reason to get cremated I guess.

Have you heard of Santeria? Let me know in the comments and Happy Halloween!

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