It’s Wednesday, we’re half way through the week (yay) which means it must be time for some more zombie facts.
Since I have a voodoo priestess in my own novel, I ended up doing a lot of research into the religion, the rites and beliefs, especially concentrating on the original Vodou, which originated in the Caribbean and was brought to Europe with the West African slaves. Vodouisants believe in a single supreme God called Bondye, but since he is supreme and therefore beyond the reach of mere mortals, they pray to lesser entities called loa, who can intercede. These loa or spirits are all associated with different areas, and they are considered to be distinct beings with their own personalities, likes and dislikes. The vodou practitioners will try to serve them by special rituals, songs and dances, as well as providing personalised gifts and items for each loa.
One of the most famous loa is Baron Samedi, the loa of the dead. He is usually shown with a top hat, sunglasses and frequently smoking a cigar, with a glass of rum in hand. The Baron is considered somewhat notorious (which is quite impressive for a spirit being!) with his outrageous behaviour, swearing, drinking, smoking and womanising – despite being married to another loa, Maman Brigitte. The Baron is usually found in the invisible world of the vodou spirits, at the crossroads of the living and the dead. He is the one who meets a persons soul after they die and leads them to the underworld. Since he is the only one who can accept a soul into the realm of the dead, he is also considered the loa of resurrection and is called upon for healing and help by those who are ill or close to death.
Baron Samedi’s powers are especially strong when it comes to breaking curses or stopping black magic. He can also ensure that corpses stay in the ground and can’t be brought back as a zombie. He will generally ask for something in return though, and like all the loa he can be capricious and the price can depend on his mood. It could be a simple gift, such as food, cigars or drink, a small gesture of respect like wearing certain clothes or bringing a sacred object. On the other hand he could ask for a complex vodou ceremony for him to cross into this world.
Baron Samedi has been an enduring figure and influence throughout literature, film and even music right up the present day – in films as diverse as James Bond Live and Let Die and Disney’s Princess and the Frog, in tv shows such as Supernatural, Mighty Boosch and Heroes, and even in video games like World of Warcraft and Saints Row.
Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s facts. Take care x