Baron Samedi

Date of Discovery

It is speculated that Baron Samedi came into being when African tribes were forced into slavery and were relocated to Haiti during the 1700s.

Name

Most famously known as Baron Samedi, where Samedi is French for “Saturday.” He is also known as Baron Saturday, Baron Samdi, Bawon Samedi, Sameid, and Bawon Sanmdi. Among his numerous other incarnations, he is known as Baron Cimetière, Baron La Croix, and Baron Kriminel.

Physical Description

Baron Samedi appears as an African man with a skull in place of his face and he speaks with a deep nasal tone. His attire is identical to what a Haitian male would traditionally be dressed in upon being buried–this means he dons a black top hat and tuxedo, wears dark glasses and even has cotton nose plugs.

Origin

Baron Samedi originated as a part of the Voodoo religion that originated in the West Indies country of Haiti, during the French Colonial Period. The people from the tribal religions of West Africa were forced into slavery and brought to Haiti in the seventeenth century, and the loa of the voodoo religion is considered a huge part of the practice to this day.

Mythology and Lore

One of the main loa within the voodoo religion, Baron Samedi is considered the “Master of the dead,” one who guards the cemeteries and the veil between the living and the dead. Baron Samedi is the spirit who controls the gates to the underworld within the voodoo religion, he has complete control over who passes into or out of the afterlife. As the head of the Guede family of loa, he has the strongest links to magic, ancestor worship, as well as death–the rest of the Guede family consists mostly of lesser loa, who dress similarly to Baron Samedi. Like Baron Samedi, they tend to have rude or cruel attitudes but lack the charm that he possesses.

Even though his appearance is so iconic both within the voodoo community and without, he spends most of his time in the invisible realm, lingering at the crossroads of life and death. When he is on the earthly plane, he is famous for being a rum-drinking, cigar-smoking, outrageous and uncouth personality. Despite his marriage to Maman Brigitte, he is said to be a suave womanizer of mortal women, which is aided by his unnaturally suave demeanor. When a person dies, he is said to meet them at their grave, when their soul departs, then usher them to the underworld; he is the only loa wit the ability to allow a person to pass to the afterlife. Baron Samedi is an entrepreneur of sorts since he is the only loa that can ensure a deceased person remains in their grave, he demands payment in order to keep a person from coming back as a zombie.

In his less morbid capacities, he is also considered a giver of life as he possesses the ability to cure any mortal of diseases or life-threatening injuries but only does so if he believes it will benefit himself. At the same time, he will also keep a person from dying from a curse or hex at the behest of another individual, if he does not agree to dig their grave.

What mythology and lore are associated with this demon/deity? Are there any mythological horror-related tales or articles about this demon/deity? Provide a general description of any tales that are told about this creature, if able, use this section to interlink back to associated articles or original stories on PBH.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

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Lifestyle

Buyer Beware: Perils of Owning Haunted Artifacts

Ghost silhouette through the door
Photography by Nathan Wright

It’s interesting the types of things that are available to buy online, a quick search on eBay will reveal a number of haunted and possessed objects just waiting for the right buyer. Whether you’re an amateur paranormal investigator, or you collect these kinds of things for a living, there are always a plethora of haunted items up for sale. While it’s entirely possible these things aren’t actually haunted, it’s just as likely that they’re being sold because the current owner didn’t realize what they were getting into. The most dangerous aspect of objects that are possessed by spirits is the idea of coming into ownership without knowing about the spirit that the object hosts. There are many instances of new homeowners finding hidden rooms in old homes that contain creepy dolls that were locked away and walled off in an attempt to keep an unhappy spirit at bay.

5 Reasons to Avoid Owning Haunted Artifacts

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“The Hands Resist Him” by Bill Stoneham (1972)

Dolls, paintings, boxes, and really anything else you can imagine has the ability to become a vessel for the dead. Spirits are in death as they were in life, their personality is translated into their afterlife–were they innocent and pure, or were they full of grief, anger, or hatred? These are the kinds of things that must be taken into account when you contemplate becoming the new owner of a spirit vessel. It doesn’t truly matter if you believe in the paranormal or not, tempting fate and pursuing ownership of haunted artifacts probably isn’t the best idea—and here’s why:

1.    They aren’t toys

It may seem like a fun thing to acquire, especially around times like Halloween, but in all sincerity, they are not toys. These artifacts are vessels for people who have died and they may not be happy about the circumstances under which they died.

2.    It could result in an unhappy spirit

If you don’t really know what you’re doing when taking ownership of a haunted artifact, then you’re already in over your head. Understanding spirits and how to appease them is imperative to peacefully coexist with them. Living with spirits is difficult, even for mediums and psychics that deal with them on a regular basis—it’s exhausting and will interfere with the way you live your life, so unless you want a permanent house guest that you can’t explain to company, don’t invite it into your life.

3.    Spirits can cause behavioral changes

This is kind of a huge one, having a resident spirit in your home can cause major behavioral changes. This includes, but is not limited to depression, anxiety, mood swings, strange thoughts, anger, as well as violent and self-destructive behavior.

4.    It could already be an angry spirit

If you can’t handle an unhappy spirit, you don’t even want to know what you would be getting into with an angry spirit—let’s just say that people bury, sell, or otherwise rid themselves of these objects any way they can for a reason. If you would really like to know the type of activity an angry spirit can bring, just watch a horror movie based around malevolent ghosts and you’ll get a fairly vivid image.

5.    They might be cursed

Bear with me here—you may not believe in ghosts let alone curses, but even those who don’t believe are likely to feel quite unsettled or disturbed after handling a purportedly cursed object. Whether the angry or otherwise malevolent spirit was cursed to be confined within, or it was used during a ritualistic curse, there is a lot of negative energy attached to cursed objects. Typically speaking, objects that are used during ritualistic cursing or, “black magic,” are disposed of, so while it’s not likely, it’s still best not to tempt fate.

An open dybbuk box
Photography by Marika Martinelli

It’s important to understand that most of these kinds of auction listings begin with the phrase, “buyer beware.” While there may be a few fake listings, this phrase isn’t just a catchy way to draw attention to the listing—it really means it, that’s why there are usually strict no-return policies on them—they do not want these artifacts to find their way back to them.

Much like the dybbuk box that starred as the main terror of The Possession (2012), they aren’t objects of fascination, they are to be avoided by those who would rather live a peaceful existence.