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Baron Samedi is the Voodoo loa of death, sex, and resurrection.  Since those topics represent a substantial and universal chunk of human interests, he is the most instantly recognizable of voodoo spirits. The Baron wears a glossy top hat, a tailcoat, and sunglasses.  He has cotton plugs in his nostrils in the fashion of a Haitian corpse—at least when he is not just wearing a skull as a face.  The Baron’s name comes from his delight in partying on Saturdays and also has a rumored connection to Samhain, the Celtic festival of death and darkness.  In fact, Baron Samedi seems to owe some of his features to the folk beliefs of Irish indentured servants who worked in the fields next to African slaves.

The Baron’s favorite colors are black, white, and purple.  He is extremely fond of cigars, rum, peanuts, and black coffee (particularly the first two).  Baron Samedi is noted for his obscenity and his debauchery.  Frequently represented by phallic symbols he is rumored to attend orgies and seek all manner of congress.  He delights in using a nasal voice to make fun of white people for being uptight—Eek!

The Baron is married to Maman Brigitte, a fair-haired, foul-mouthed white loa who seems to be associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid (Maman Brigitte even has emerald green eyes).  A powerful death/fertility loa in her own right, Maman’s symbols are the black chicken and cemetery crosses.  She is noted for dancing the suggestive but remarkably artistic banda dance and for rubbing red hot chili peppers on her…self. Although she is powerful, beautiful, and insatiable, her husband Baron Samedi still chases after pretty mortals.

Zora Neale Hurston recounts that when you make a request of Baron Samedi, you use a cow’s foot extended in place of your hand. When the Baron is ready to leave, he takes whatever he’s holding along with him.  By substituting the cow foreleg, you don’t loose your arm! [Editor’s note: this seemed like a somewhat trivial scholarly point but we decided to include it as a safety tip for motivated readers]

Baron Samedi’s veve (the voodoo symbol which acts as a beacon to loa) is a cross on top of a catafalque with two standing coffins on either side.

Baron Samedi is the leader of the Guédé loa—a spirit tribe who are masters of death magic.  The lesser Guédé spirits dress like the Baron and share his licentious and rude manner. They help carry the dead to the next realm—sooner than anticipated with the right inducements or the wrong dealings.

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