A Tribute to Baron Samedi
Crashing down to earth
The spirits have a way of getting what they want. A rather mean, rub your fur the wrong way, deny you what you want sort of ways at times. Let's take the example of a feline all set for Haitian Vodoun, who from her earliest training was set in the direction of New Orleans. Which if you know anything about Haitian Vodoun is the worst insult you can get. Worse than a tail twitch in your direction.
Will our feline semi-divine learn to listen? I doubt it, but let's enjoy the freefall so long as it isn't happening to ourselves. All due love and respect to all paths here, but you'll get the view the cat was taught soon enough.
As always, all writing and photography are my original content. Is the story true? Who ever heard of a talking cat? A talking cat who has a skeleton for a constant companion? If it were true, I'd feel sorry for the cat, wouldn't you?
Well if it were true, the cat would be dedicating the lens to him. Note: I love New Orleans and New Orleans Voodoo. No disrespect is meant by showing how the cat was trained. This is just a ficitonal story after all...
For years as a kitten, the feline had worked this and that. Natural things that came like working with herbs, roots, dirt. Stones, nature. Strange things that happened even before magic as a real breathing religion would come into her life. From the outset she disliked and distrusted most other cats as she learned early they didn't see toms and queens that she saw, didn't hear the voices she did.
She was happy though, not at all consumed with the rage that would come later. Even if she did get hit for asking about which saint was a skeleton. Searched for him for years, though she'd never find him in any book on the saints. Especially not one dressed in a black suit with the perpetual top hat.
Still this dead thing was her friend, even if he did bring an unusual amount of black cats into her yard. Black cats no other cat could see of course. A worried meow to her mother would bring a reassuring purr. They were there, no harm done. After all, all cats regardless of color were her brothers and sisters. Which the kitt didn't mind, and whole heartedly believed in. But if her daddy ever found out about, he'd push her right into the burn pile. White cats had to beware of black cats and that was all there was to it.
But these black cats didn't seem all that different to her. Although they were certainly cooler than any of the local cats. But they welcomed her into their roving tribe. Called her family, delighted she could see and hear them.
It was the burn pile they would gather, around that volcanic spectacle, there they'd tell her things. Like how rubbing the ashes on, when cooled was a connection to them. Seemed strange. Why dirty your fur? But if it made them happy maybe ashy or sooty paws weren't too bad. Seemed strange too that one tall lanky cat took a shine to her. Told her he was the fire and the rocks in the fire. He was the twisted metal, the broken glass, the everything she saw. He was the water too that put out the fire.
She kitten of fire better remember that she was his. The worried the young cat a tad. This cat sure wasn't her sire. Especially not with the sharp pointed teeth and leopard eyes he could show. He seemed to have a meaness underneath. Well not meanness, but you could tell he'd kill another tom if he invaded his territory. That scared her. Maybe he was a tom, like her sire it was better to hide from at times. Eventually she found a way to block out seeing these spirits, though it was like cutting off part of herself. She would forget then one hundred percent and know peace for a while.
Poor Little Kitten
That dead saint just kept dogging her trail. No matter how much trouble seeing him got her in, there he was. How the kitten hated the skeleton! When he dressed up in skin it was even worse. Never did fit him right. He liked being scary. He liked the little kitten, seemed to enjoy scaring her too even if he did say he was her friend. Even to this day, wherever the cat goes, there he is.
Kitten of the Goddess
The feline would enter magic and full blown Wicca. She would also, for some reason, be called to conjure books, though she looked on it as nothing more that an aside. Something interesting, but not a real magical field. She also didn't like the voices that called every time she picked up a book or conjure bag.
The Goddess, magic was where she felt calmed and soothed. It made her purr with pure joy. Though restless as something wasn't complete. Well because these stupid voices kept calling her during ritual. She had lost something from when she was a child. She tried the magic of kittenhood, but if the voices whispered before, they howled then, demanding her attention.
The skeleton had appeared again. The cat was delighted, at first. For he simply would not go away. She would try to shut him out, yet there he was. He stalked her dreams, did not relent. For someone who said he liked her he had a strange way of showing it. Perhaps the cat should not have given him a small altar, but she had hoped it would shut him up.
He brought more of his kind. Brothers and children that looked like him. She didn't want these ratty alley cats around her. They were too laid back, not driven not serious. They were, she thought with a sneer, nowhere near ceremonial magic. The owners of the voices, began to retaliate. Began to interfere in her dreams and her workings. Still the kitt, now nearly a queen, shoved back. Locking them away forever.
For piddy's bestest fwierd evahs! Awww, doesn't piddy make you want to throw up? But piddys loves her skeleton even if he does ruin her social life.
Years pass, and the skeletal saint of her past catches up with her. He's never truly been gone. More worrysome than Coyote, with how he grins at her. Now he says to her, is the time for her to follow him. He want her to take up conjure, to study New Orleans. He mentions the word Voodoo. Voodoo? That claptrap sideshow they put on for tourists? Colored water and sand and dolls? She hisses and claws at him. She will go where this inferior beast can't follow. She will learn Haitian Vodoun. Then we will see if these ragtag spirits bother her.
So she learns, she reads, she interacts. She does countless rituals, trying to ignore her horror. For even with a bonafide Haitian Mambo and Haitian training it is the same spirits that show up. These same self-assured, smug, ferals. Some new ones look like moggies. Where is the beauty and regality that is Haitian Vodoun? Where are the pedigreed felines she long to be with? She doesn't want these, these...things before her.
Her Mambo, Haitian to the core, tells the cat to find a real Haitian house and get initiated. The spirits answer they have initiated her themselves. Heresy! If she believes that, she can go to New Orleans with all the filth practiced by rat-munching alley cats that calls itself Voodoo. She is also told as she is drummed out, that only freaks from there hear and see spirits. Maybe, the Mambo says nastily, her kin are from there.
Based on an RPG
This is an actor playing the RPG character of Baron Samedi. But he's got the moxie, arrogance, and charm, erm, yeah charm, of the real thing. Though his voice is uaually higher. And whinier. And agravatting.
In The Wilderness
The bewildered cat searches for a long time, trying to rid herself of these non-Haitian spirits, who behave in a manner most unbecoming to any spirit in the first place. They are as close as her fur. Ever present, ever talking. They chat her up. They rub heads in friendly greeting, brush flanks to hers. Play with us, they purr. Cavort, being in joy, not mourning. What does she need a house for when she sees and hears them anyhow?
But the cat does not hear their wisdom. In her search, other Haitian mambos and hougans reinforce the message that people who use the word Voodoo are not real practitioners, and they are all garbage that degrade the religion. So she tries very hard to curb her natural tendencies. But her heart betrays her, and her paws relate a story about warmth and love, and seeing her spirits. That, she is told, bluntly, is New Orleans. Go to New Orleans they tell her. Whatever passes as spirits there, that's what you have. You are nothing but a rat eating, puddle drinking, garbage loving alley cat. They hiss at her. Her very alley smell offends them.
And although her spirits tell her she should be happy, that she doesn't need stuck up pedigree cats and isn't one herself, she'd like to banish every single one of them. From this the rage grows. She will study New Orleans all right. She will find felines. And she will prove she is better than these provincial spirits. These, uneducated, non-Hatian things that cling to her. She is so not an alley cat and she will prove it!
Her head, knowing full well of her plans has been after her for years. Oh they met all right years ago, he is the one who initiated her. But she despises him. He works for a living. A ratter. She is going to be Haitian Vodoun and he will see. She will be rid of him. She will find a fine tom or queen that dwells in a palace.
So being spurned he takes her memory of him and sets her on a course of self destruction. If she insists on a head reading, he will let her go to hell and back to get it. The symptoms become worse and worse, until she can barely function as a cat. He fur falls out, her claws break and become useless. Her eyes dull. She can no longer hunt. The final blow comes when she looses her magic. At last defeated, she gives in and gets a reading.
The skeleton carried her there. She gave a weak mew, tears streaming down her muzzle into her fur. It will be the same as ever. Seeing the skeleton surely the Mambo will refuse to help her. Weakly the cat tried to push the skeletal arms that supported her away. The soft raspy voice soothed her. The Mambo knew and liked him. He had raised her, the same as he raised the frightened kitten into a cat.
So she got the reading. Even if he had to hold her to prove he wouldn't abandon her there. A reading. From a New Orleans mambo, no less. And it is him, he is who he said he is. Her met tete is the frightening cat from long ago. The warrior, working tom. Life couldn't get much worse, could it? Oh but it does. Because he'd much rather she relax and do things his way. No house, not even so many rituals. Though she must show him all due ritual respect weekly.
No he purrs to her, she is going to New Orleans, in a metaphysical sense. She tells him she'd rather die and he puts in he can arrange that. All she's ever experienced of there is so relaxed, so non-regimental. There are cats who call themselves pratictioners with no house, and they are proud of it. Proud to be moggies.
Don't they know it is a shame not to have a house? That the spirits can't teach you or initiate you into anything? That New Orleans Voodoo is the watered down, sideshow, quasi-magical, thing you get in America? They seem proud of it. How naïve can you get? To be proud of doing things, that from the Haitian standpoint, would get you eaten by the lwa?
All American practitioners are one day going to be eaten anyhow, she's been taught that much. Whatever they have it isn't spirits, and the real lwa, will one day, eat them all. She has also been told, since she is headed there that she doesn't have spirits either. So it figures somebody from New Orleans was able to give her a reading.
At least these things, non-pedigreed mogs, seem to run about in New Orleans and torment them as much as they torment her. Even though her spirits insist they are just as good and are after all, they same spirits regardless of house, she looks at them in absolute horror. This casualness, this level of comfort cannot be Vodoun. No it is Voodoo.
Vodoun after all as she was taught, is about regimental respect, fear, and obedience of the spirits. There might be love, but it must be understood the spirits will one day eat you if unhappy. But these spirits she has have never acted like that. She has spirits that act loving. That act kind, and relaxed. What a shame for her to bear. Enough to make your whiskers droop.
They prefer magical skills. They like the Tarot, and the crystal balls. She counters this is European magic. Proof she is Wiccian and they are, if anything the fantasy of a disturbed mind. Perhaps Loki is angry and has given her an illusion. Or Pan is displeased.
The skeletal cat laughs and clatters his paws together. Oh queen, who do you think gave you magical abilities in the first place? He inclines his head to a spirit clad in orange. She is Santeria, not even....
There are times of sweet peace. If she avoids all feline contact, save one sweet friend who has the same spirits herself. She calms for a time, even submits. But she can never relax. For she is sure that, as she has been told the REAL spirits, are on the prowl, letting her go so far before they eat her.
That her spirits will not let her go to avoid these spirits stresses her. It doesn't help when they assure her they are the real spirits, and are not so inclined to paranoia and violence as she has been told. It doesn't help that the drag her to New Orleans in dreams and the astral realm. That isn't funny. It isn't helping.
But it isn't long before she longs to complete the Haitian quest, even though her spirits repeatedly block all effort at contact or finding a house. She can't imagine being anything other than in a Haitian house, does not see why they don't want this grand thing. Haitian is not only the best, it is the only thing. Everything else is lesser, devauled, cheaper.
She tries very hard to avoid the skeleton. He seems to be the source of all this trouble. He is the one everyone she meets has a problem with. If only he'd go away. She doesn't even care about all he did for her. All the time he sheltered her. If it wasn't for his strange fire powers nobody believes in, she thought, I could do what I want to do. Why'd I get the freak of the family? Even though he has been her best and truest friend she avoids him. Does not want to be seen with him, ever again. In other words, the cat is being a royal putz.
Well, you are fun
OK brief peace for now... though none of you are dignified lwa.
Eventually there comes a time when not even she can fight anymore. Though she gives it her best shot. She can't leave, they won't let her. Nor will they leave. She stares at them, feeling both hatred and love. Love because they are hers and she is theirs. Hatred because it is not in a house, it is not Haitian. She wasn't good enough. Didn't deserve the best from them.
Why? She asks at long last? Why wasn't I good enough? Just what did I ever do to you that I am not good enough? They look at her in surprise and pity. Of course she is good enough. Why would they be here if she wasn't? But to think that they or she are anything less because it isn't Haitian is wrong.
She sighs, feels the rage lessen slightly. They soothe her with promises of a far more relaxed atmosphere, one where she doesn't have to wait for the dreaded spirits who are going to eat her. Because they assure her, they always have been, and ever shall be the spirits that she sought. That it isn't what she wanted does not make it less so.
They croon to her of a world of self-empowerment, one where being American isn't a handicap. One where the everyday culture is welcomed in and is part of the religion. One place, where magic and religion are a seamless whole. Where what she does is Vodoun, well, Voodoo. No house required. She can call her own house a house for all they care. These relaxed and mellow spirits.
She growls slightly, but they wheedle her into ordering some books. And even though they bulk of what she does is in the books, in the people she has talked to, she is still slightly restless. They bathe her, give her tools. Soothe and gentle her down, relax her. She growls from time to time. It has been a hard fall due to her nature.
From the proud and lofty heights of Haitian Vodoun all the way down to Voodoo. And the lost of a house stings. But she growls, head on paws, having given up the fight as she at least respects bigger and stronger than her.
To be without a reglamen, to be without all the pomp and circumstance. She is relaxed, would never like hours long ceremonies. But still. Having found where one belongs and that one is of alley cat rather than high pedigree is always a shock.
The skeleton is there, somber now. He knows very well she blames him for everything. Though he feels unloved and unwanted, he is loyal to his friend. He stands by her and cares for her when no one else will. She knows she has broken her best friend's heart, and that sometimes it is too late to fix things.
But being the noble skeleton he is, he takes everything onto himself and hold no grudges against his friend. I''ve changed my mind, it is the skeleton I feel sorry for. Though he of course would not put up with that for an instant.
So Hard to Stay Angry
Just to be sure, she stares into the mirror of the soul. Such a shiny surface. The perfect reflection of the head, of the essence of the self. She sees a white cat, but a white alley cat. She screams in terror. Claws the glass. No, no, non! Si vous plait, non! Amazing the manners an alley cat can muster.
Defeated, she sags against the glass. Hopes destroyed. Only and only ever an alley. A common cat. Not even a house cat. Not even, she snorts bitterly from the streets of New Orleans. Not even that. An alley cat with nothing.
In the end it isn't so bad. These goofy friendly cats are her feline tribe. Even if the skeleton acts like he is on catip all the time, the opposite of what she has been taught. She gets used to these spirit cats being around, even sleeping near her. Though she doubts they need sleep.
Being awakened by a sudden pounce of excitement is OK too. Now that she is home, that she does what she does, and no longer even cares if it is even good enough to be Voodoo, they purr mightily.
Sometimes she sees the skeleton in dreams, but not often. It seems he drifts further away every day. But just as suddenly he is back. Seeming to have forgiven her all the claws, hisses and bites he has endured. The cat purrs and curls into her friend, content to stay by him at last. Now she doesn't care what anybody else thinks. He has been more loyal, more noble than she deserves.
No offense meant towards New Orleans. Our kitten just didn't like landing with a thump. Maybe had she listened in the first place she wouldn't have had to suffer to get there. Or less than there, or wherever. But this is just a story after all.
You were going to buy ome sooner or later.
Who Is The Skeleton?
Take your pick. Some people tell the bewildered cat he is Baron Samedi, lwa of graveyards, death, and whatever else he puts his mind to. But he can act wild at times, so some insist he is a ghede one of the Baron's many children. One person suggested he is Ghede himself, the Baron's brother and almost as good.
The trouble is, he is never one thing for long. He can be somber and not speak. He can be angry to the point of abandoning the cat for disrespect. He can also be foul-mouthed and overtly sexual. He certainly likes Gnostic Vodoun, never a good sign.
But as the dead never lie, not when the real Baron could certainly turn up and turn them inside out, she trusts him. He was more creepy, almost scary when she was a child. He even once showed her himself dressed in a stunning suit or tux, cape, and silken to hat. He clearly said he was a Baron, or even better nobility. He appeared quite rich and rode in a coach.
Jet black it was. She assumed he was from Europe, but they certainly had coaches in New Orleans. After all she saw dead people all the time. What was one more eccentric? He certainly does have fire powers, given the intermarriage of spirits it is possible. Plus as some see them as elementals, well he has to control something. Yes there are la flambos in New Orleans for both Barons and Ghedes. Though sweetness doesn't seem to be in their nature.
He repels any unwanted dead and guards her jealously. He likes Ouija boards, anything connected with the dead. Except for Anubis whom he insists is inferior in every way to him. He can be pompous, arrogant, greedy, and has a tendency to want more that his fair share of her attention.
But both he and the cat adore one another. It has often been said they act like a married couple. Loving and tender one moment, then bellowing in rage the next. Who or what he is will never truly be known until the other side. But as he has never lied about anything else she takes him at his word. For as often is said of the Baron, don't ask him a question you don't want the answer to.
Baron or Not?
Given the dead don't lie, what do you think?
Is the skeleton Baron Samedi or someone else?
The skeleton was by far the main character for the cat for many years. Maybe that's why she never fit in as respect for social order and getting things done in a hurry aren't his strong suits. He did protect the young cat though, sheltering her in his graveyard until she was strong enough to face her met tete reading..