Baron Samedi

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For other uses, see Baron Samedi (disambiguation).
Baron Samedi
VeveBaronSamedi.svg
Veve for Baron Samedi
Loa of death and fertility
Venerated in Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo, Folk Catholicism
Feast November 2
Attributes Rum, tobacco, cigar, top hat, glasses with missing lens
Patronage Death, tombs, gravestones, cemeteries, dead relatives, obscenities, healing, smoking, drinking, disruption, spirits
Depiction of Baron Samedi.
Cross of Baron Samedi.

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 the head of the Guédé family of loa. His wife is the loa, Maman Brigitte.

Portrayal[edit]

He is usually depicted with a top hat, black tail coat, 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. The former President for Life of Haiti, François Duvalier, modeled his cult of personality on Baron Samedi; he was often seen speaking in a deep nasal tone and wearing dark glasses.[1]

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 the Baron who can accept an individual into the realm of the dead.[2][3]

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 crossroads 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 loas[edit]

Baron Samedi is the leader of the Guédé, loa with particular links to magic, ancestor worship and death.[4] 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.[5]

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 that 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 also ensures 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 his 1966 novel The Comedians by Graham Greene is set in in the Haiti of Papa Doc Duvalier in which Baron Samedi plays a central role. This is also portrayed in the film of the same name (based on Greene's novel) starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, released in 1967.
  • In the James Bond novel Live and Let Die, Mr. Big uses the image of Baron Samedi to instill fear in his followers.[6] In the film, actor Geoffrey Holder played a character named Baron Samedi, who is implied to be the real loa. Baron Samedi is a playable character in the multiplayer lobbies of the Bond video games Goldeneye and Nightfire, though they must be unlocked first by completing the game's campaigns.
  • In a Halloween themed episode of Blue Bloods (TV series), a murder was committed by someone dressed as Baron Samedi.
  • 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.
  • Pro wrestler Charles Wright used the gimmick of "Papa Shango", a voodo priest that was dressed like Baron Samedi.
  • Baron Samedi is one of the Deities in the meeting in Supernatural (U.S. TV series) Season 5'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. Later he creates an army of zombies but is defeated.
  • 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 that 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.
  • In the 2009 Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier, a voodoo witch doctor, is dressed like Baron Samedi.
  • In the video game World of Warcraft, the Troll Loa of the dead is named Bwonsamdi, after one of Baron Samedi's pseudonyms.
  • In the movie Drive Angry, Milton sarcastically asks the Accountant (An employee of Lucifer), "You think you're Loki? You think you're Baron Samedi?" Later in the film he asks similar questions, regarding Anubis and Wotan.
  • In the horror board game series Atmosfear (series), there is a Baron Samedi character portrayed as a zombie. The Nightmare II expansion is hosted by Baron Samedi.
  • In the trading card game "Vampire : The Eternal Struggle", Baron Samedi is an elder playable vampire depicted as an etiquette putrefact corpse.
  • Baron Samedi is mentioned in the Danielle Dax song "Pariah".
  • The song "Lover of the Bayou" performed by The Byrds and written by Jacques Levy & Roger McGuinn contains the line "Baron Samedi is on your tail"
  • On the 1968 album "S.F. Sorrow" by the English band The Pretty Things, Baron Samedi is the inspiration for the character and the song "Baron Saturday".[7]
  • Baron Samedi is a playable character in the video game Arena of Fate.
  • Baron Samedi is one of characters featured in the King Diamond album Voodoo.
  • In the computer game Shadowrun Returns a helpful hacker/decker aids the player. This hacker/decker takes on the persona and moniker of Baron Samedi.
  • Baron Saturday is a zombie in Witches Abroad, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett.
  • A song by the Italian heavy metal band Death SS is called Baron Samedi.
  • Baron Samedi helped inspire the character of Old Georgie, the "fangy devil" that haunts the subconscious thoughts of one of the characters in the Cloud Atlas movie.
  • On his 2015 album, Voodoo, rap artist Twisted Insane has a song named Baron Samedi, in which he closely compares his actions to that of Samedi's.
  • Baron Samedi is a character featured in the Blaxploitation film Sugar Hill.
  • In the MMORPG The Secret World, the Baron Samedi is a character featured in the Samhain 2012 event. By completing all of the Samhain 2012 achievements, the player also unlocks the unique Baron Samedi cosmetic outfit.
  • Baron Samedi appears as a central character in the 1998 Crystal Dynamics game Akuji the Heartless, voiced by Petri Hawkins-Byrd.
  • Purple Haze, a beer selection of the Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana depicts a Baron Samedi like character on its labels described as a "Voodoo Doctor."[8][9]
  • In an episode of The Eric Andre Show aired in September 2016, Eric Andre can be heard remarking, "Wow... Baron Samedi" as Flavor Flav enters the stage; possibly as an observance of Flav's dress and resemblance of the deity.
  • In 2016, some members of the public have suggested that the image of a face that appeared in infrared scans of Hurricane Matthew bore likeness to Baron Samedi as it passed over Haiti.
  • He apears in several episodes of American Horror Story: Coven in 2013 but called by the wrong name - Papa Legba.

References[edit]

  1. ^ thedictatorship.com/biographies/papadoc.htm
  2. ^ Conner, p. 83, "Baron Samedi"
  3. ^ Conner, p. 83, "
  4. ^ Conner, p. 157, "Ghede"
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "Biography for Baron Samedi". IMDB. April 1, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ S.F. Sorrow
  8. ^ Press, ed. (15 February 2016). "Brew-Ha-Ha: Abita Gets A Makeover Beer Review: Purple Haze Lager". NOLA Defender. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  9. ^ Luke G. (ed.). "Weekly Beer Review: Purple Haze Lager". The Blacksheep Online. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 

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; Sparks, Mariya (1998). Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit. UK: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-70423-7. 

External links[edit]