Baron Samedi

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Baron Samedi
VeveBaronSamedi.svg
Veve for Baron Samedi
Honored in Haitian Vodou, Folk Catholicism
Attributes Rum, obscenities, tobacco
Patronage gravestones, cemeteries
Depiction of Baron Samedi.
Cross of Baron Samedi.

Baron Samedi (Baron Saturday, also 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 the head of the Guédé family of Loa, or an aspect of them, or possibly their spiritual father. "Samedi" means "Saturday" in French. His wife is the Loa Maman Brigitte.

Portrayal[edit]

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. 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.[1][2]

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[edit]

Baron Samedi is the leader of the Guédé, Loa with particular links to magic, ancestor worship and death.[3] 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.[4]

Worship[edit]

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[edit]

In Terry Pratchett's fantasy-satire Discworld series, a zombie named Baron Saturday appears in the novel Witches Abroad as the servant and late lover of the swamp-dwelling voodoo-witch Mrs. Gogol. It transpires that he is the murdered Duke of Genua and the father of the Cinderella-inspired Emberella.

Baron samedi features as the host or "gatekeeper" in "Nightmare 2" an interactive video board game. He is also a playable character in "Atmosphere" another sequel in the "Nightmare" series.

In Rem Oscuro's book I am the Dark, Baron Samedi is a main character, existing in the realm of the Ghede, receiving the dead and interacting with the vampires.

In the James Bond novel Live and Let Die, the villain Mr. Big portrays himself as the zombie of Baron Samedi as a means of intimidating and controlling his followers. In the film version, one of his henchman dresses as Baron Samedi to fulfill this role. The character from the film would make later appearances in the franchise's video games.

On 10cc's 1974 album Sheet Music, the song "Baron Samedi" describes the Baron's power over both life and death.

In Disney's The Princess and the Frog, the main villain named Dr. Facilier is said to be based on Baron Samedi.

Baron Samedi is also depicted in two episodes of the TV series Grimm, entitled "The Waking Dead" and "The Ungrateful Dead". The Baron is depicted wearing a top hat and a dinner jacket, usually smoking a cigar and speaking with a deep, nasal, Louisiana accent. In the episodes, the Baron is—when not appearing in human form—a puffer fish-like creature who spits a green mucus into the face of his victims, turning them into "zombies".

Baron Samedi is shown in an episode of Supernatural, "Hammer Of The Gods", where he appears as part of a collective of pagan gods wishing to discuss terms about enduring the biblical apocalypse.

A figure resembling Baron Samedi—possibly an intentional pastiche—called "The Spirit of Jazz" and the "Infected Jazz Cell" appears on two occasions in the British absurdist comedy series The Mighty Boosh. The character is played by series co-creator Noel Fielding.

Erzulie, Damballa, Papa Legba, and Baron Samedi all appear in the WildCats original comic series, assisting the Voodoo character against Mait' Carrefour.

In the MMORPG The Secret World, Baron Samedi appears during the Samhain event in 3 different forms. He appears as Incognito (a cat-man creature) in various parts of Kingsmouth. He then appears as Irusan, the king of cats, in The Cat God dungeon instance. Finally, after being defeated in his Irusan form, he will appear in his typical form, give a speech to the players, and disappear.

In sandbox video game Saints Row 2, one of the rival gangs who appears is named the Sons of Samedi, drawing their name from the Baron to fit their voodoo aesthetic.

In the independently made game Shadowrun Returns, Baron Samedi appears as a mysterious technomancer, interacting with the player only through cyber space.

In the RPG video game Dungeons of Dredmor, there is a recurring enemy known as Samedi and another named The Baron, both of whom are depicted as having Baron Samedi's likeness.

In the strategy video game Sid Meier's Civilization V, players have made their own mods to include Baron Samedi.

In the role playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, Baron Samedi is the progenitor of the samedi bloodline, a possible branch of the Cappadocian clan. In Vampire: The Requiem, Baron Cimitiere is one of the 3 vampire Regents of New Orleans, the official setting for the role playing game. He is a practitioner of Vodoo and follower of the Circle of the Crone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conner, p. 83, "Baron Samedi"
  2. ^ Conner, p. 83, "
  3. ^ Conner, p. 157, "Ghede"
  4. ^ 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

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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. 

External links[edit]