Saturday, November 6, 2010

Samedi: Of Children and the Dead

For the most part it is understood, in “orthodox” Haitian Voudon, New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo that the Barons and the Ghede are the keepers of the cemetery. There is a saying that if the Ghede in general and Baron Samedi’s aspect of Baron Cemetere specifically will not dig the grave then a person cannot die. Though it seems contradictory in modern cultures that keep death at arm’s length, it is a perfectly natural thing for a voudoisant to go to a cemetery and ask the Baron for the life of a sick or injured loved one.

Even more odd to certain minds is the connection between the Ghede and children. Women who have trouble conceiving will frequently make offerings to the Baron and sometimes to his wife, Maman Brigitte. There is a fine line here, however, as Maman Brigitte is at times called the protectress of sex workers who come to her for the blessing of avoiding conception. Either way, Maman Brigitte tends to be thought of as a frank and even filthy talking lady who keeps up with her brother Ghede as far as her openness about sexuality.

The Barons are relied upon as lwa who will listen to and aid the childless. For the most part this is due to their place in the undeniable circle of all things: birth leads to adults who will procreate and procreation leads to death. The Ghede will be left forgotten and alone without the birth of new little humans who will one day join them in the cemetery.

By the same token, many who practice voodoo in all it’s permutations make offerings to the Ghede for the recovery of their sick children. Though the Ghede may seem like the hungry dead to unstudied eyes, they are far from it. These souls would far prefer to see a child grow, succeed, marry and have a family of their own than take them young. The cycle continues and life, in the end, goes on. Bon Samedi ~

Header: Baron LaCroix by Andre Pierre via Haitian Art


Timmy! said...

Interesting, Pauline... makes sense though.

Pauline said...

It does if you think about it. We just don't "think about it" much in our culture.