There have been many fantastical creatures to which fans of Once Upon a Time have been treated including ogres, wraiths, and dragons, to name a few. The most recent monsters to visit the Enchanted Forest have been zombies, presented with the now classic Once Upon a Time twist. The history of these creatures encompasses an extensive lore originating from the earliest civilizations in all continents. However, zombies, explicitly as they are named and most well known in the Twenty-First Century, have traced their roots directly from Voodoo traditions in Haiti. It is these upon which the writers of Once Upon a Time drew for their incarnation and lead to the reason why these creatures are not merely a random choice, but rather most appropriately featured in the Season Two story arc.
The word “zombie” is defined by Brad Steiger as “a reanimated corpse . . . brought to life to serve as slave labor.” The belief that such beings exist was brought from Africa to the Caribbean and Southern states by the slaves who practiced Voodoo. “Voodoo holds that a supernatural power or essence may enter into and reanimate a dead body (Steiger 5-6).” The more ancient incarnations of this creature were chronicled in the History Channel documentary Zombies: A Living History which includes the Chinese Jiang Shi, a corpse brought back to life (Abramowitz). This undead predator hops about and pounces on humans, feeding on their life-essence. Human victims of the Jiang Shi will resurrect and become the very creatures which brought about their deaths (Radford). Also listed by the documentary is the Arabic Ghoul, a demon that eats human victims, the Draugr of Scandinavia that swallows its victims whole, and the Revenant of England which terrorizes family members and shares many characteristics with a vampire. An ancient source mentioned in Zombies is The Epic of Gilgamesh in which Ishtar wishes for the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh. He declares in Tablet VI:
"If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!”
Explore the Arthurian legend surrounding Lancelot, take a trip into the woods to discover the mythology behind Red Riding Hood or learn more about a modern day hero called Snow White. Origins provides unique insights and perspectives from talented writers into the characters we know and love, going far beyond the boundaries of Storybrooke.