Haitian Vodou is a belief system that has different spirits for every aspect of life, such as family, the weather, prosperity, etc. Naturally, there is also a spirit or loa in Haitian Vodou who is associated with death. He is known as Baron Samedi. Although an authoritative figure, he is often seen as being dangerous and mysterious because of the work that he is associated with. However, he is not a scary spirit despite being the loa of the dead. Certain aspects of his personality make him like an easy-going and fun-loving loa, and indeed, he loves to have fun and fool around.
Baron Samedi: Appearance
Baron Samedi is thought to resemble a skeleton, wearing a top hat, black tuxedo and dark glasses. He has cotton plugs in his nostrils and so speaks in a nasal voice. The way he dresses makes him appear like he is a corpse ready for burial in the Haitian style. He is also thought to carry a cane with a skeleton figure attached at the top. He is quite classy in his dressing sense and appears charming, which helps him chase after mortal women.
What He Does
Baron Samedi is the loa of death and resurrection. He buries a person after they have died and takes their soul to the underworld. If he so wishes, he can also stall the death of the person by refusing to dig their grave, and so people pray to this spirit to keep them out of the ground. Semedi makes sure that those who are buried rot in the ground, so that they do not return as the ‘living dead’, also known as zombies. He expects payment or gifts in return of this favor. He is also the giver of life. He has the powers to cure any disease if he wishes to do so. Other than being associated with life and death, Baron Semedi is also the spirit related to sex.
Baron Samedi is not as gentle as most other Haitian spirits. He is known notoriously for his behavior; he likes to get into arguments and sometimes acts outrageously. He also swears and makes jokes about other spirits. He is the leader of the spirits related to things like magic and death, and the lesser spirits in this realm are rude and obnoxious like him, but not as charming. Although married, Samedi likes to flirt with mortal women. He enjoys smoking and drinking, his favorite drink being rum, which he is often seen holding a glass of in his bony fingers. He is usually found at the crossroads between the worlds of the living and the dead. He spends much of his time in the invisible world of the Vodou spirits.
Baron Samedi is not a strict spirit. He likes to be wild and enjoys going to parties to have a good time. He is known to be stylish and despite his crude behavior, he can be a gentleman when he wants. It is believed that his carefree lifestyle is associated with the fact that he has lived and died, and thus has nothing left to fear.
How to please Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi is very fond of tobacco and rum and can be easily pleased by these things. He also likes it when his worshipers wear the colors black, white or purple. He also accepts offerings of black coffee, grilled peanuts, and bread. At times, he demands a proper Haitian ceremony in his honor.
Baron Samedi’s wife, Maman Brigitte, is the lady of the cemetery and protects the gravestones. She shares similar characteristics as her husband as she is also known to be quite suave and rude. However, she is a little more serious than he is and urges him to take his work more seriously, while he encourages her to let loose and have fun once in a while.
This Article is part of Vodou Loa Series. Check out these other articles of Vodou Gods –
- Maman Brigitte: The Vodou Loa of Death
- Ayizan: The First Priestess of Haitian Vodou
- Baron Samedi: The Loa of Death
- Papa Legba: The Door Between Two Worlds
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