Bokors in the religion of Vodou are sorcerers or houngan (priests) or mambo (priestesses) for hire who are said to 'serve the loa with both hands', meaning that they practice both dark magic and light magic. Their black magic includes the creation of zombies and the creation of 'ouangas', talismans that house spirits.
The name Bokor can also refer to the leader of the Makaya division of Vodou (which originated in the Congo region) and Bokor also refers to the highest initiation rank in Dominican Vudú.
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, Kalfu, 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 Vodou 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.
- Clairvius Narcisse, a Haitian alleged to have been kept in a zombie-like state by a bokor
- Zombies (from 'Encyclopedia of Death and Dying' website, with added references there. Accessed 2008-06-15.)
- Report on Voodoo, from Self-Ascription Without Qualia: A Case-Study (PDF) - Chalmers, David J.; Department of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz
- [dead link](From American Chemical Society. Accessed 2001-02-05.)