The Baron del Cementerio, or Baron of the Cemetery (also know as Baron Samedi), is a Voodoo Lwa who is syncretized with the Catholic Saint Elias. He is the one who allows passage between this world and the next, guards the cemeteries and graveyards, and straddles the line between the realms of the living and the dead. Because of his association with death and loss, he is a very powerful figure when it comes to removing obstacles, chasing away enemies, healing sickness, and returning those who are lost to you.
Traits of the Baron del Cementerio
The Baron is an incredible force for change, particularly when it involves removal -- whether that is the removal of an obstacle or an enemy. He reverses crossed conditions, sends out the spirits of the dead, brings back lost lovers, and gets debts paid. He is the King of the Ghede, spirits of death that dig the graves of the dead, and they may not do anything without his say-so. For this reason, he is prayed to for assistance with serious illnesses. No one may die without the Ghede digging their grave first, and the Ghede may not dig their grave without the Baron del Cementerio's approval.
Graveyards and cemeteries are his Kingdom, and a place of powerful sacred energy. Within them, the first male grave is considered another place of tremendous spiritual power that serves as the Baron of the Cemetery's shrine. This is true regardless of how old the grave's occupant is -- the first male grave can be anything from a grandfather to a baby, as long as it was the first grave dug for a male. Offerings to him are always left either at his shrine, or before the entrance to the cemetery or graveyard itself.
His colors are black and white and his fula is black with a white cross, though some use a white cloth with a black cross.
Offerings to the Baron
Offerings for the Baron del Cementerio are typically hot and spicy foods. These include pepper-infused rum, jalapenos, habaneros, spicy foods, fried plantains, rice and beans, pork rinds, peanuts, seeds, and popcorn. In some traditions and rituals, he is served cassava bread, smoked herring, coconut, roasted sweet potato, filterless cigarettes, strong cold coffee, gin, or an orange sliced in quarters with a white candle set in the center. Some hold that his feast day is the 17th of April (the same as the Spanish martyr Saint Elias) while others consider it the 20th of July (like the Arab Saint Elias exiled from Egypt).
Asking the Baron del Cementerio for Aid
Since the Baron del Cementerio is sycretized with Saint Elias, imagery and tools associated with the Saint are frequently used when seeking the Lwa's aid. Images of Saint Elias are sometimes used to represent the Baron on altars, and San Elias Oil can be used to dress 7-day prayer candles burned to ask for the Baron's assistance. In some religions, the Baron del Cementerio and Saint Elias may even be invoked within the same prayer, especially to return a lost lover or to break the power of a baneful spell. It is said that those who work with the spirits of dead people -- especially rituals that involve sending them out to haunt an enemy -- must always ask the Baron's permission first before "borrowing" one of the souls of the dead from him.
The Baron del Cementerio is the head of the Ghede, but, as ravenous as those spirits may be, he is much more laid-back, relaxed, and willing to help those who approach him properly. His home is the cemetery, his shrine is the oldest male grave, and he has dominion over the spirits of the dead. If you are seeking a way to open a path to the spirit world, correct an injustice, or break down any evil obstacle in your path, turn to the Baron for assistance.
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