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 often syncretized with Saint Martin de Porres.

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 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 plays a character named 'Baron Samedi', which is loosely based on the vodou.

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]