SDM header

An American Vodou House

Sosyete du Marche, Inc’s Library

The Baron: Father of the Dead

Baron_veve_smThe Baron is seen as the ultimate father of the Gede nation in  Haitian Vodou. The Gedes are large, unruly class of spirits who are the  often unknown, unreclaimed, and usually uncared for dead. It takes a big energy to control all those spirits and that job falls to The Baron.  Although he has several names and avatars like Baron Simitye (cemetery)  or Baron Samedi, he is in fact, simply The Baron. The cemetery is where  the dead reside, as heard in this song:

Simitye-a, o ple moun-yo.
Baron mande-o tout moun ki la yo, si se Bondje'k mete-o?

The Cemetery, oh it is full of people
Baron asks if all those people are there by God's will?

The cemetery is a magical place. Being the crossroads of  both the living and the dead, it is a deep well of immense power,  danger, and magic.  Here lie the ancestors, with all their knowledge and all the power of the dead at their finger tips. Here is where we come  to gather this knowledge, because it so ready and available. Here is  the domain of the Baron.

Traditionally, the grave of the first male buried in a  cemetery is considered to be the location of the Baron's grave. Why?  Well, as the oldest grave, the occupant has had access to each and every person buried in the grave yard. If we think of the cemetery as a  large community of souls, then this first person is the gate keeper, the sign post and the most respected.  Not just for his age, but because  he's been there the longest! He's seen it all, and as such, knows  everything. baron_saint

In Haitian Vodou, the Baron is often called the Father of  the Gedes. How many times have you passed an old cemetery, with the  grass over grown, weeds sprouting and no flowers in site? Those dead are long forgotten, left to fend for themselves.  But the Baron is still  there, waiting, watching, gathering information and time. The forgotten dead are called Gede, and they answer only to the oldest occupant of the graveyard, the Baron.

I find it funny that people today assume the Baron's personality, the black clothing, the dark brooding attitude.  It's as if being a gothic groupie some how makes the assumption of the  Baron's form more palatable. The Baron is beyond caring, beyond our  simple rules and reasons.  He is like Father Time - timeless, ageless.   Married to Maman Brigit, together they rule over the dead, making way for their multitude of children to have egress into this world.

Baron is syncretized with St. Martin de Porres, the  Catholic saint shown with the sick and dying in the background.  He  likes fiery rum, laced with hot peppers, unfiltered cigarettes and  ancestral foods like strong cold coffee, white bread, popcorn and  peanuts.  His veve is comprised of the cross, the coffin and the spade,  all symbols of the dead and of graveyards.  Listen for him in the still  of the night, as steel shovels hit hard packed earth. 


 

Sosyete du Marche, Inc. is a Federally recognized 501c3 church, operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Your donations are tax deductible, and go towards supporting Sosyete du Marche, its mission to provide a safe haven for all worshippers, and to help those who need it most. To date, we have led medical missions to the Caribbean, supported Native Americans after Katrina and currently support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.