Who is the Bokor

Bokors are featured in many Haitian tales and are often associated with the creation of ‘zombies’ by the use of a deadening brew or potion usually containing poison extracted from puffer fish. This potion makes the drinker appear to be dead and thus he is often buried; later, the bokor will return for the “corpse” and force it to do his bidding, such as manual labor. The “corpse” is often given deliriant drugs, mainly datura, which puts them in a detached, somewhat dreamlike state. Its state is likened to being mind controlled. The person is alive but in a state where they cannot control what they say or do; at this point, when the person has been “reanimated” from the grave, or at least is moving about working for the bokor, they can be termed “zombies.” However, some legends dispense with this more rational explanation, and have the bokor raise zombies from dead bodies whose souls have departed.

Also, bokors are said to work with zombi/zombie astrals – souls or spirits which are captured in a fetish and made to enhance the Bokor’s power. Bokors normally work with Loas Baron Samedi, Kalfou, Legba and Simbi (snake loa) plus in some cases they are said to work with Grand Bois, the loa of the forest.

Bokors are similar to the “root workers” of voodoo and New Orleans voodoo. Some may be priests of a vodou house. Bokor are usually chosen from birth, those who are believed to bear a great ashe (power). A Bokor can be, by worldy terms, good or evil, though some sources (Judeo-Christian) consider him an evil version of a houngan.

Ghede

Papa Ghede is supposed to be the corpse of the first man who ever died. He is recognized as a short, dark man with a high hat on his head, who likes to smoke cheap cigars and eat apples. Papa Ghede is a psychopomp who waits at the crossroads to take souls into the afterlife. He is considered the good counterpart to Baron Samedi.

Attacked by the jumbie Arawaks (from the novel Obeah)

The man pushed all his weight down and the knife slowly came down to Henry’s face. The attacker’s face was covered with mud and had small cracks from where it had dried from him sweating and being in the heat. Henry moved his back grated against small rocks in the ground beneath him. The man’s whole body was covered with mud and some spots were wet from him sweating. Henry looked into the man’s eyes. It reminded him of the day his uncle died.  The man, his body covered with mud, with eyes like his dead uncle, stared at him. That memory sent a wave of fear through him and he strained as the knife got closer to his face. His heart pounded so hard he thought it would explode. Sweat poured down his face and his head rested on a rock as he scrummed and twisted to get away. His attacker growled like an animal. 

The knife’s tip touched Henry’s face and he felt his skin begin to break as blood ran down the side of his face. He closed his eyes and tried to muster the strength to push back. Just when he felt the knife going deeper into his flesh his attacker was suddenly pulled off of him. He opened his eyes and saw Adofo standing over him, his hand stretched down. He grabbed it and Adofo pulled him up. Henry looked around for a second. The sounds of battle filled the jungle, screams, grunts, yells, and the sound of metal against metal echoed around the trees. He wiped the blood from his face and looked at his finger. The crimson red felt sticky between his fingers. He searched the ground for his machete and found it.

Henry reached down, picked it up and charged at the nearest attacker. He knocked the man to the ground and swung his machete. The man rolled out of the way and the machete hit a rock sending sparks into the dirt. The attacker got to his feet and rushed at Henry. He side stepped and swung the machete, hitting the man in the back of the head with the dull end of the machete. The man stumbled and fell, but before Henry could make sure the man stayed down another attacker jumped on his back. Henry spun around sending the man flying through the air. He landed on a tree trunk with a thud then fell to the ground and lay still. Henry turned to find another attacker, but stopped when he saw Akosua, machete in hand, battling one of the attackers.

 

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Moko Jumbie (From the novel Obeah)

Henry reached down, picked it up and charged at the nearest attacker. He knocked the man to the ground and swung his machete. The man rolled out of the way and the machete hit a rock sending sparks into the dirt. The attacker got to his feet and rushed at Henry. He side stepped and swung the machete, hitting the man in the back of the head with the dull end of the machete. The man stumbled and fell, but before Henry could make sure the man stayed down another attacker jumped on his back. Henry spun around sending the man flying through the air. He landed on a tree trunk with a thud then fell to the ground and lay still. Henry turned to find another attacker, but stopped when he saw Akosua, machete in hand, battling one of the attackers.

The man was a good half a foot taller than her, but Akosua was quicker. The man swung his club, but Akosua ducked under the blow then she kicked him as he tried to raise the club. He stumbled back and growled angrily. Henry started to go over to help her just as the man charged. His mud covered body almost made him invincible against the ground. Akosua sidestepped and as he went by hit him in the back of the head with the handle of the machete. The man stumbled, fell, and then bounced off the ground. He stood up and looked around as if confused. His dead eyes scanned the scene, a surprised look on his face. Someone blew a conch shell and more attackers rushed out of the jungle. Akosua and her warriors fought hard, but they were over powered. The Attackers formed a circle around them. Slowly they began to close the circle, their clubs held above their heads. They were in arm’s length of Akosua and her warriors when the jungle’s floor moved, and trees popped and cracked. The attackers stopped and looked around. Trees were pushed aside and men about twelve feet tall stepped out of the jungle.

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Jumbies in the graveyard (From the novel Obeah)

Henry and his friends managed to make their way close to where the jungle began. Suddenly, the ground moved, like waves on a stormy day, and more Jab Jabs began to crawl out of the ground. One of the Jab Jabs sat waist deep into the ground. From his waist up he was flesh and bone, the rest of him blended with the mud. As he slowly moved to get up, his legs transform from mud to flesh and bone. He looked up at Henry, the young warrior kicked at the Jab Jab’s feet, and chunks of mud flew into the air, and the Jab Jab fell, he sat, half man half mud.  The Jab Jab flopped back to the ground the parts of his body that touched the ground, immediately turned into mud. He began to rise again and Henry kicked at him and his body exploded, and chunks of mud flew into the air, and then landed on the ground next to Henry. The chunks moved a little then dissolved into the ground. Henry got to the jungle just as a red Jab Jab came at him, he turned swinging his machete, the Jab Jab stopped, looked at him as the rest of his body was sucked into the wound.

Henry heard a scream and saw Donkor and some of his warriors being overwhelmed by the Jab Jabs, he ran back towards them swinging his machete. Mud flew everywhere, the drops sounded like large raindrops as they hit the ground. A rad Jab Jab jumped onto Donkor and he stumbled backwards and fell. Henry was surprised at how easily the giant went down. The Jab Jab jumped on him and sat on his chest. Henry ran as fast as he could to get to them. The Jab Jab was pushing down on Donkor, and slowly he sank. The half of him that touched the ground began to turn into mud. Henry got to them and swung his machete, the Jab Jab looked up at him, as if surprised, and then like the other Jab Jab he was sucked into his own body and disappeared. Henry stretched his hand down to Donkor. The giant reached up and Henry’s hand disappeared into his mitts, a mixture of flesh and mud fell off of him as he stood up, moved around on the ground for a second, and then blended with the earth. They heard a scream and turned around to see a Jab Jab standing on top of one of the Bokors. The Jab Jab stomped, and slowly the Bokor’s body sank, turning into mud, and both he and the Jab Jab disappeared into the ground. The surface moved a little as if they were still struggling under the surface, then it was still.

Henry turned around just as a mud Jab Jab came towards them. They swung their machetes at the same time, and the upper half of the Jab Jab fell to the ground and dissolved into the mud.

“Come on, lets get out of this field.” Donkor said. They headed to the jungle swinging their machete. Around them warriors were being dragged underground. They were almost to the jungle when the ground beneath Henry moved, and a Jab Jab grabbed Henry’s feet, and before he reacted, he was knee deep into the ground.

“What the devil,” he yelled. He swung his machete at the ground. The mud churned, like large rodents were running around just under the surface. He looked ahead; Donkor was in a fierce battle with two Jab Jabs. In an instant, he was waist deep into the ground. More hands grabbed his legs, and he clawed at the ground as he slowly descended. Then he was in darkness. His brains felt like an opened sore rubbing against the course material of a poor man’s knickers. He tried to scream, but the taste of mud overpowered him. Then eyes surrounded him, green, yellow, red and  purple. They chanted,

“Byenreni nam lakou an,” Henry tried to kick, but he had no legs. The eyes moved around him turning into a blaze of colours. He had almost lost consciousness when he was jerked out of the ground. Donkor stood next to him. He bent over and a projectile of small pebbles and mud exploded from his mouth.

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