Animator's are humans with an inborn power to raise or inter zombies.
Typically, an animator engages in a ritual involving drawing a circle and sacrificing an animal, usually a chicken or goat. However, in some cases, no ritual is required, and before animators learn to control their powers, some often raised and summoned zombies inadvertently. Animator powers are significantly more effective at night.
The longer time a person has been dead, the more powerful an animator must be in order to raise the zombie, and the greater of a sacrifice is required to do so. No animator can raise a body until its soul has passed, which usually occurs in about three days. Anita believes that if someone were able to do so, they would achieve a true resurrection, bringing the person back to life.
Some animators have the ability to sense the dead; they can "feel" whether the graves are full or empty, and can sense ghosts or human souls.
Some animators are vaundun priests. These animators are trained in the rituals of vaundun and can use their abilities in more sophisticated ways, including the creation of magical talismans called gris-gris.
The most powerful animators, including Anita, are referred to as necromancers. Necromancers have power not only to affect zombies, but have power over all of the dead, including vampires. Anita's grandmother, herself a vaundun priestess, believed that training a necromancer in vaundun led to evil, and therefore encouraged Anita to become Catholic.
Animating had been a licensed business for about 5 years before tLaC , three years before vampires became legal.
The following are the three predominant companies in the 'business':
- Animators, Inc. - Based in St. Louis, with 5 animators and a business manager. For raising of corpses over 100 years, there is a minimum charge of $20,000, plus expenses.
- The Resurrection Company - Based in California
- Élan Vital - Based in New Orleans, also known as Essential Spark
Raising rituals, single animator
The corpse to be raised has to be dead for a minimum of three nights (including the night of the death) before it can be raised as a zombie. This allows the mortal soul to depart. If the soul remains attached to the body, it cannot be raised. Sometimes the soul leaves quickly, other times it lingers.
- Most animator's do a preliminary survey of the burial site/body to evaluate the situation.
- A circle of power is then 'drawn' around the body. This is usually done with blood, typically that of a chicken. This is done to enforce the animators control over the zombie and also to prevent outside forces from influencing or affecting the process.
- Once the circle is complete, the animator performs some training based steps and calls out to the person to be raised by name and reaches out with their power and wills them to respond.
- Their power infuses the remains and they reanimate. The 'look' of the resulting zombie depends on how long the corpse was dead, the skill of the animator, and the power that they have used. Some can appear almost life-like. The zombie is tied metaphysically to the animator and must obey the instructions that it is given.
- Freshly raised, a zombie has no memory, it must be fed blood to allow knowledge of its former life to return. Once this is done, the zombie can answer questions.
- When the zombie has served its purpose, it is returned to its original site and told to rest.
If a person is included in the blood circle and is stands behind the tombstone, that person can also command the zombie that is raised.
Signs that a raising ritual has occurred, include the presence of blood and salt sprinkled around a grave and possibly an animal corpse.
Raising ritual, two or more animator's
Sometimes, when one animator does not have enough power to raise a particular corpse, - so long as there is an animator who is also capable of acting as a focus - two or more can come together and join their strengths and talents to accomplish the deed.
- The animators make mirroring cuts with the same blade.
- They kneel opposite each other and press their wounds together.
- One or both says "We give our blood to the earth. Life for death, death for life. Raise the dead to drink our blood. Let us feed them as they obey us."
- They then perform the raising ritual together.
- They stand and make their sacrifice
- They then walk the blood circle of power together
- They dab blood of the sacrifice on each other's foreheads, cheeks and heart
- They repaint over the blood marks with the ointment
- They smear the blood and ointment on the headstone
- One stays by the gravestone and the other goes to the foot of the grave
- They chant their call, which can be something like: "Hear us, (corpse name). We call you from your grave. By blood, magic and steel, we call you. Arise, (corpse name), come to us, come to us. (corpse name X2) come to us. Waken, (corpse name), arise and come to us."
- One of them will then feeds the risen zombie blood - it has to be fresh, live blood that seals the ritual
- When they are finished with the zombie they use salt and ritual words to return the zombie to its grave and rest
Zombie raising equipment
Standard raising kit
- A sacrifice (usually a chicken, sometimes a goat, or even the animators own blood)
- A ceremonial knife (any type, from hunting knife to machete - but not one used in just day-to-day life)
- Ointment, each raiser has their own formula that they like, but most have similar ingredients
The ointment used is a blend of herbs and graveyard mold. To look at, it is a pale, off-white in colour with flecks of greenish light. It has a waxy and thick feel on the skin, but is quickly absorbed. The mixture usually includes varying amounts of:
- Rosemary: for memory
- Cinnamon: for preservation
- Cloves: also for preservation
- Sage: for wisdom
- Thyme: to bind it all together