In 1810 the word zombi was adopted into the Oxford English dictionary after being used by Robert Southey in his book The History of Brazil to explain the Haitian voodoo priest’s position within that culture. It is interesting to note that Southey also wrote a children’s tale, The Three Little Bears, introducing the world to Goldilocks. Southey believed the word zombi meant devil, but it was really an explanation of a utopian society who elected a priest or strong spiritual force who was called The Zombi.
These Haitian priests desired to enslave the population of uneducated agrarian workers and used a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. If the doses were just a fraction too high, the innocent would die without the ability to be resurrected into slavery; too low of a dose would have no effect whatsoever.
The voodoo priest blew the powder upon the unsuspecting person’s skin after creating small surface breaks. Once the neurotoxin entered the bloodstream, the effect of a simulated death was convincing enough to the family to allow the voodoo priest to bury the person. The real effects of tetrodotoxin brought the unfortunate victims to paralysis which could remain for several days with the person sometimes actually being conscious during this terrible period.
This master would then bring the person out of the grave and after some physical recovery, convince the person that his life and soul were forfeited to the will of the priest. This victim would then work the land or tend to the priest’s needs for the rest of his natural life. It was suspected that the drug brought about a deep myth that was promulgated by the ruling powers to control the uneducated to continue to live in servitude.