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Veve for Baron Samedi
|Venerated in||Haitian Vodou, Folk Catholicism|
|Attributes||Rum, tobacco, cigar, top hat, glasses with missing lens|
|Patronage||Death, gravestones, cemeteries, dead relatives, obscenities, healing, smoking, drinking|
Baron Samedi (French: Baron Saturday, also written Baron Samdi, Bawon Samedi, or Bawon Sanmdi) is one of the Loa of Haitian Vodou. Samedi is a Loa of the dead, along with Baron's numerous other incarnations Baron Cimetière, Baron La Croix, and Baron Kriminel. He is syncretized with Saint Martin de Porres.
He is usually depicted with a top hat, black tuxedo (dinner-jacket), dark glasses, and cotton plugs in the nostrils, as if to resemble a corpse dressed and prepared for burial in the Haitian style. He has a white, frequently skull-like face (or actually has a skull for a face), and speaks in a nasal voice.
He is noted for disruption, obscenity, debauchery, and having a particular fondness for tobacco and rum infused with hot peppers. Additionally, he is the Loa of resurrection, and in the latter capacity he is often called upon for healing by those near or approaching death, as it is only Baron who can accept an individual into the realm of the dead.
Baron Samedi spends most of his time in the invisible realm of vodou spirits. He is notorious for his outrageous behavior, swearing continuously and making filthy jokes to the other spirits. He is married to another powerful spirit known as Maman Brigitte, but often chases after mortal women. He loves smoking and drinking and is rarely seen without a cigar in his mouth or a glass of rum in his bony fingers. Baron Samedi can usually be found at the crossroad between the worlds of the living and the dead. When someone dies, he digs their grave and greets their soul after they have been buried, leading them to the underworld.
Connection to other Loa
Baron Samedi is the leader of the Guédé, Loa with particular links to magic, ancestor worship and death. These lesser spirits, all dressed like the Baron, are all as rude and crude, but not nearly as charming as their master. They help carry the dead to the underworld.
As well as being master of the dead, Baron Samedi is also a giver of life. He can cure any mortal of any disease or wound, if he thinks it is worthwhile. His powers are especially great when it comes to vodou curses and black magic. Even if somebody has been afflicted by a hex which brings them to the verge of death, they will not die if the Baron refuses to dig their grave. So long as this mighty spirit keeps them out of the ground, they are safe.
He does also ensure that all corpses rot in the ground to stop any soul from being brought back as a brainless zombie. What he demands in return depends on his mood. Sometimes he is content with his followers wearing black, white or purple clothes or using sacred objects; he may simply ask for a small gift of cigars, rum, black coffee, grilled peanuts or bread. But sometimes the Baron requires a vodou ceremony to help him cross over into this world.
In popular culture
- In the James Bond novel Live and Let Die, Mr. Big uses the image of Baron Samedi to instill fear in his followers. In the film, actor Geoffrey Holder played a character named Baron Samedi, which is loosely based on the voodoo.
- In the William Gibson novel Count Zero, artificially intelligent constructs communicate with humans under assumed identities of loa. The most prominent of these refers to itself as Baron Samedi as it endeavors to kill the main antagonist of the novel, Josef Virek.
- Baron Samedi is one of the Deities in the meeting in Supernatural (U.S. TV series) Season Five's "Hammer of the gods".
- In Heroes (TV series), an evolved human takes on the name of Baron Samedi to portray as a God.
- In Grimm (TV series), a voodoo priest uses the name Baron Samedi, though this may just be an affectation.
- In The Mighty Boosh British TV series, The character "The spirit of jazz" is heavily based on Baron Samedi, but is never outright mentioned to be him. In this case he appears as more of a parody figure.
- The Band 10cc released Sheet Music (album) in 1974 which featured the track Baron Samedi.
- In the video game Saints Row 2, one of the gangs of the game's city is known as the Sons of Samedi, who are heavily implied to be practitioners of vodou.
- Conner, p. 83, "Baron Samedi"
- Conner, p. 83, "
- Conner, p. 157, "Ghede"
- Creole religions of the Carbbean, Margarite Fernández Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert. New York: NYU Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0-8147-2720-1. Pg. 113 - 114
- Voodoo: Search for the Spirit. Laennec Hurbon. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1995. "Ghede"
- A Dictionary of World Mythology. Arthur Cotterell. Oxford University Press, 1997. "Vodou".
- The Voodoo Gods. Maya Deren. Granada Publishing Limited 1975.
- Conner, Randy P.; Sparks, David Hatfield and Sparks, Mariya (1998). Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit. UK: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-70423-7.