Obscure Deities: Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi is one of the Loa (Spirits of the Underworld) of Haitian Vodou; the Loa of the dead, sex and resurrection. He is usually fashionably dressed in a shiny top hat, black tuxedo with tails, and dark glasses, kind of like an undertaker. He has a white, skull-like face and a thin, bony figure. Baron Samedi has made appearances in the James Bond novel and 1973 film, Live and Let Die and shows striking similarities to the villain, Doctor Facilier (The Shadow Man) in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog .
Baron Samedi spends most of his time in the Underworld, where he is well known for his rowdy, drunken musings, particularly of Saturday nights, hence his nickname, Baron Saturday. He has a fowl mouth, always telling dirty jokes to the other spirits and hitting on any female Loa that may come his way. Baron Samedi is married to Maman Brigitte, another Loa of death, but he is known to chase after mortal women while she’s not looking. He has a certain fondness for tobacco and liquor, and is rarely depicted without a cigar in his mouth and a glass of rum resting in his bony hand.
Baron Samedi hangs out at the crossroads between the world of the living and the world of the dead. His job is fairly simple. He and his band of equally rowdy Loa of death, scour and protect the cemetaries of the world. When someone dies, they dig the grave of the newly deceased, greet their soul and lead them to the Underworld, probably partying it up with each one! Baron Samedi also possesses the power to cure mortals of any disease or wound, and to save people from the verge of death. A human will not die if Baron Samedi refuses to dig their grave. Of course he does not perform his services for free, depending on his mood, he may request anything from the use of a sacred object or special clothing, to small gifts of tobacco and rum, or black coffee. (He needs something to get rid of that hangover!) He sometimes requires a full Vodou ceremony to help him cross over into the world of the living to perform his ‘miracles’ .
What do you think happens to us when we die? Will we be greeted by Baron Samedi, or Hades, or Satan? Will we all go to heaven? Do we come back to Earth to live life after life until we reach perfection, or the world ends? Share your theories on the afterlife in the comments!
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