The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - 12 Zombi

Little Baron

With all the new interest in this deck, I pulled a few cards. One was Zombie (12).

On first impressions, this does not look to be one of the more comfortable cards in the deck. A woman stands on a slab amongst a durgy green ocean of slime - probably a swamp. Around her waist is a snake and she reaches up and tilts her head back (reminds me a little of the RWS Magician).

Around her is some kind of mist or spirit. It gently passes through her fingers but she doesn't hold it.

This, in my opinion, does not appear to be a great place. This is not somewhere which I would like to be. The platform on which she stands is small amongst a vast backdrop of nothingness and is surrounded by this deep, dark pool of thick liquid. Unless she manages to gain help from whatever she is summoning, I doubt she will have much other luck. It is generally (or at least, feels) quite an anxious card with feelings of desperation and many limitations for progress.

Voodoo Zombies


In the book, we are told that purpose has fled, nothing moves within the head, nothing moves through stagnant emptiness, footsteps sound leading nowhere. Here the dark will not come and the light will not shine. Actions do not show success of failure. Conclusion is forgotten in numb repetition

Hmm. Nice.

The card is about some kind of sacrifice. I suppose that on occasion, for some reason or another, when sacrificing something or giving something up, we can feel dead, like this zombi. Many people walk the earth with no passion, drive and their steps can be repetitious and dull - a boring existance for them.

But I get the impression that this 'death' has been put on the person from outside, and not something that they have enforced on themselves.

Will read some more into this and get back to the thread. But it does highlight my own life somewhat. While not working and having nothing going on, I can relate to this figure. I feel like I have also become the 'walking dead' - just going about my own repetitious routine without any passion or drive. I think I will mail my agencies, lol.


Little Baron

Have been thinking a lot more about this card. Especially in light of my own situations.

It really could be a perfect daily draw; which I suppose it was, since I pulled it at random.

What am I doing with my life? I am looking for work. Well, I say that I am but I am not doing very much about it. I have three main agencies who are supposed to be looking too, but they have brought up very little. And weeks pass. They turn into months.

This is one card that I can link with traditional tarot. Like the 'Hanged Man', there is a pause. A stepping back. A period that is enforced. Someone has been made to withdraw, unlike the conscious Hermit archetype.

And here, it is not a pleasant withdrawal. It is like a death. As Martinie and Glassman say 'The victim helplessly witnesses their own death and then continues to live that death'. This is kind of how I feel. It is not completely my fault that I am not working. Everyone was made redundant. And now, it seems that there is little about in terms of what I want to do. So I have been forced to withdraw and live this monotonous period.

I should appreciate my time at home. Doing things like this for starters. But sometimes, I feel lost, like the Zombi. Just going about the same old daily business gets repetitious and I find myself dreaming and sleeping, with little grasp of reality. So this card makes sense today.

There is such hopelessness in that swamp. It is like one big dead pool of nothingness - vast and deep. You would hate to fall into it. It is a like a depression. So to avoid it, you stand on the platform, balancing. Grabbing at hope - 'Ti Bon Ange' (small good angel). But in this situation, you can not catch her.

Not a happy card. But I am enjoying getting to know it, since it makes sense and I can really feel it.



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the zombe link takes you to the main page only.

I wonder if Voudon is a shamanistic practice that has been so corrupted over the years for political ambition and manipulation (fear over opponenets), that it now bears (publicly) little resemblence to it's true form.
or is it a spirital practice that by virtue of it's own true nature, is inherently "dark"?

Little Baron

Still not knowing very much about Voodoo, I would guess that it probably has to do with both. I think there may have been sense in giving it a slightly dark edge originally, but that also, that has probably been blown out of proportion somewhat as time has gone on. Chinese whispers and fear are great motivators for this kind of thing. Alissa made some great posts about how Marie Laveau's memory has been altered and in many places, is extremely inaccurate, due to some very well known authors and books.

But at the moment, I am still very ignorant, so bear with me.



Hi LB,

I'm curious - Does the book mention the snake? I know snakes feature alot in Voodoo.

Little Baron

Yes Emily.

It says 'Simbi the snake is wrapped around her waist in promise of possible salvation. The zombi's mouth has also been sewn shut using a snake as the thread, shutting the zombi off from the power of Naming'.

In the glossary, it doesn't mention what naming is.



In my research on the internet, I read that the snake is associated with Damballah, a benevolent father figure, loving and innocent, but he doesn't communicate well. Although Damballah is associated with the snake, the snake is not worshipped as is commonly thought by those who don't know voodoo well.

And I recall also reading the the making of a person into a zombi was done as a punishment. It wasn't a permanent state, but was one of the most severe punishments that could be given. It was accomplished by the use of potent herbs. I'll go see if I can find the exact information again and I'll come back and post it. I don't find it in my written notes. My guess is that the snake is there to accompany the zombi in a benevolent way to get through the zombi state, and that the sewing of the lips shut with a snake is just a symbol of the fact that neither Damballah nor the zombi can communicate with people well.


Here's a short definition:

These folkloric zombies are humans who have had their "Ti Bon Ange" or soul stolen by supernatural means and shamanic medicine, and are forced to work for their "zombie master" as uncomplaining slaves on isolated plantations.

And here's a link to some information. Sometimes you have to search around awhile to find really good information and I was in a hurry, so I can't vouch for how good this is. It's a start. My search in Google was for "Voodoo zombi". If I took more time, I could find better links. The ones you find that are made by practitioners of Voodoo are usually the better ones.

I watched a Discovery channel program once that was examining the zombi phenomenon and their conclusion was that these were people who weren't really dead but had been sent into a deep, deep coma and only seemed dead, which is why later on they seemed to rise from the dead. They were simply coming out of the deep coma, often with residual brain damage and an inability to speak.

From my medical knowledge, I know that a person who suffers brain damage to a certain part of the brain is unable to speak, although they can do other actions. My guess would be that whatever potion is used to render a person a zombi, it has a severe affect specifically on the language center in the brain as well as other areas.

I haven't found that original article I read yet, but I'm sure it said that these effects can be reversed by the one who created the zombi. Don't know that for positive yet till I find the original article, though. But it's possible that's why the book says the snake offers hope of possible salvation.

Little Baron


Thanks for your research and evaluation. What you say is very interesting. I like the practical ideas about how Zombi's might have actually have existed and how they were perceived, as well as looking at how the card could be used for divination purposes. I really feel that I have grabbed hold of this card today and learnt some interesting thoughts and facts about Voodoo.

For divintaion, the book suggests - 'Sacrifice externally motivated and enforced. Questions of will and the questioning of will cause resolve to decay and failure of the spirit and/or body'



This is a quote from a website, the link to which I've added at the end:

A houngan is a Vodun priest, a mambo a priestess and a bokur a Vodun sorcerer believed to be endowed with the power to perform black magic. Powders used by the sorcerers give them power over their victims, with one of those powers being zombification.

In Haiti, zombification is a punishment for severe crimes. Coupe poudre is the powder used by a bokur to induce zombification. The active ingredient of coupe poudre is tetradotoxin (TTX), produced in the liver and ovaries of some species of puffer fish (e.g. Fugu rubripes). TTX is a neurotoxin 500 times more potent than cyanide. It acts by blocking the sodium ion channels which enable nerve and heart cells to produce electrical impulses. In miniscule doses TTX causes a near-death state in which metabolic functions are depressed, so that breathing and pulse rate are undetectable. Total paralysis follows, although the brain and senses remain intact. The victim is thought to be dead and is buried alive.

A few days after being buried, the 'zombie' is disinterred and given another powder containing atropine and scopolamine. These are toxic and hallucinogenic compounds from the plants Datura metel and Datura stramonium (both known as the 'zombie cucumber'). This powder, when administered, puts the victim into a permanent state of delirium and disorientation in which they experience delusions and hallucinations. He or she can then be made to do menial work for those against which the crime was committed.

The puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan. Only small amounts of the fish are edible and preparation is extremely difficult. Only highly trained chefs can remove the organs which produce TTX. Trace amounts of the toxin cause a tingling sensation on the tongue and lips when puffer fish is eaten.

Every year a small number of people eat puffer fish which has not been properly prepared and die by cardiac arrest as a result. There are also cases of people who are buried alive after going into a state of deep suspended coma, hence the Japanese practice of leaving those thought to have been killed by eating puffer fish next to their grave for three days before burial.

However, there are no reported cases of zombification in Japan. The phenomenon of Vodun zombification can be ascribed to the socialization process, in which one acquires personal knowledge of the Vodum religion and the expected effects of the sorcerer's powder.

The link didn't post right, but I added it as a way of giving credit to the place I copied the information from, mostly. It does take you to the article, though.