Sep 8 2011

Baron Kriminel

Baron Kriminel is a much feared Loa in Haitian Voodoo, Voodun or Voudoo. He is envisioned as a murderer who has been condemned to death, and is invoked to pronounce swift judgment.

When a person becomes possessed by Baron Kriminel they shout obscenities, spit and try to stab surrounding people.

If, during possession, Baron Kriminel is presented with food he does not like, he will try to bite chunks out of the arms of the possessed person.

He sometimes calls for sacrifices of black chickens to be doused in petrol or oil and set alight. The shrieking of the chickens when being burned alive is said to appeal to the cruel nature of Baron Kriminel and appease him.

His colours include black, purple, white and deep blood red.

Baron Kriminel will often grant requests in lieu of later payment, he is said to return on Fete Ghede, or the Voodoo Day of the Dead, to claim his payment in full.

May 20 2011

Baron Samedi

The veve of Baron Samedi

The veve of Baron Samedi

In Haitian Voodoo, Voodun or Voudoo, Baron Samedi is one of the five leaders of the Ghede nanchon, along with Maman BrigitteBaron Kriminel, Baron Cimitiere and Baron La Croix. He is usually depicted with a top hat, black tuxedo, dark glasses, and cotton plugs in the nostrils, as if to resemble a corpse dressed and prepared for burial in the Haitian style.

He has a white, frequently skull-like face (or actually has a skull for a face) and speaks in a nasal voice.

He is a sexual Loa, frequently represented by phallic symbols and – like other Loa of the Ghede nanchon  – is noted for disruption, obscenity, debauchery, and having a particular fondness for tobacco and rum.

Additionally, he is the Loa of sex and resurrection, and in the latter capacity he is often called upon for healing by those near or approaching death, as it is only Baron who can accept an individual into the realm of the dead.

Baron Samedi spends most of his time in the invisible realm of voodoo spirits. He is notorious for his outrageous behavior, swearing continuously and making filthy jokes to the other spirits. He is married to another powerful spirit known as Maman Brigitte, but often chases after mortal women. He loves smoking and drinking and is rarely seen without a cigar in his mouth or a glass of rum in his bony fingers.

Baron Samedi can usually be found at the crossroad between the worlds of the living and the dead. When someone dies he digs their grave and greets their soul after they have been buried, leading them to the underworld.

As well as being master of the dead, Baron Samedi is also a giver of life. He can cure any mortal of any disease or wound, if he thinks it is worthwhile. His powers are especially great when it comes to voodoo curses and black magic. Even if somebody has been afflicted by a hex which brings them to the verge of death, they will not die if the Baron refuses to dig their grave. So long as this mighty spirit keeps them out of the ground they are safe.

He also ensures all corpses rot in the ground to stop any soul being brought back as a brainless zombie. What he demands in return depends on his mood. Sometimes he is content with his followers wearing black, white or purple clothes or using sacred objects; he may simply ask for a small gift of cigars, rum, black coffee, grilled peanuts or bread. But sometimes the Baron requires a voodoo ceremony to help him cross over into this world.

Baron Samedi is one of the leaders of the Ghede, a nanchon of Loa with particular links to magic, ancestor worship and death. These lesser spirits, all dressed like the Baron, are all as rude and crude as their masters. They help carry the dead to the underworld.

May 20 2011


The Veve of Ayizan

The Veve of Ayizan

Ayizan – also refered to as Grande Ai-Zan, Aizan or Ayizan Velekete – is the primal or archetypal Mambo.

She is the wife of Loko Atisou, with whom she shares the guardianship of religious traditions, healing powers, and the reverence due to parents and to ancestors. Ayizan is also the loa of the marketplace, and of commerce, bringing benefits to merchants and traders.

She is closely associated with priestly knowledge and mysteries, particularly those around the canzo or initiation of a hounsi. With her husband, Loko, she presides over the canzo ceremony in which the asson is presented to the initiated Mambo or Houngan.

Ayizan’s symbol – the royal palm tree – is a traditional west African symbol of freedom and of the overlap between the physical and spirit worlds. She is associated with the Catholic Saint Claire, and, in strong contrast to other Loa, such as Maman Brigitte and Baron Samedi, drinks no alcohol.

The colours of Ayizan are yellow, gold and white.