The Ghede are not the Guia Espirituales "Gide Lespri" of ones Cuadro Espiritual persay, as the Ghede march to their own drum. They as a division can bring comfort as much as they can bring fear, they can sustain life, as they can feast on death. They can be happy and at the same time stern. They can bring comfort and bring fear, and of all the Mysteries and Divisions; none is as mysterious and as unpredictable as the Ghede.
Of the Gede family also spelled Ghuede, Ghede or Guede ( I will use variations of the spelling through out this blog post ). none is as widely known as el Baron del Cementerio. He is the ancient Lwa and guardian of the Cemetery and graveyards, and is the Lwa who has a foot in both planes of existence, one foot in the realm of the living and one foot in the realm of the dead. He is often known as the rebel and disobedient Lwa, who passes death at a drop of a hat. The Cemetery and graveyards are his playground, his kingdom and his domain here on earth, and as with many places on earth, it is considered a "Punto" of pure magical energy and within its walls egoists an energy that can strike fear, terror, wonder, peace, awe and sorrow within the hearts of humanity. In Spanish it is known as el Camposanto and it is in this place that el Baron del Cementerio reigns as King. It is in these sacred sites and hollowed grounds that our dead, and our ancestors reside, and it is in this area where for many, after death, our humanly remains will reside.
The eldest male tomb of any given Cemetery is also viewed as a Punto of much sacred energy, for it is this tomb that is the sacred shrine of el Baron del Cementerio. It does not matter if the eldest tomb is that of a male infant, child or that of a male adult who lived until ripe old age, it is here where el Baron del Cementerio manifests his energy on earth. It is at the oldest grave and at the entrance to the cemetery where el Baron del Cementerio keeps his watchful eyes on all those who enter and leave. It is at this Punto where practitioners of Haitian Vodou, Dominican 21 Division and the Puerto Rican Sance tradition make and leave their Servicios to el Gran Baron del Cementerio and his Division. He is known as the leader of the Ghede Division, their King, their Ruler, their Priest their Father and their Godfather, their Jefe, for the Ghede can not do anything without first consulting with el Baron del Cementerio.
Offerings to el Baron del Cementerio are always left at either the entrance of the graveyard or before the oldest male tomb. If the tomb has a Cross or a Crucifix this is sacred to el Baron del Cementerios vuelta known as el Baron de la Cruz, and if you are good at remembering dates and know for a fact that the person was buried on a Saturday then Baron del Sabado ( Baron Samedi / Sabalo ) comes into play, if the oldest grave is that of a female, then La Baronesa, La Barona or Mama Buyita are Queens of the sacred grounds. The offerings known as servicios are always placed before the tomb on a punto firmado and three crosses or exes with cascarilla or red brick are drawn upon the tomb and a punto firmado is drawn with corn meal Offerings to the Baron del Cementrio and the Ghede are always spicy and hot; dark rum soaked in hot peppers, jalapeños or habaneros, fried sweet plantains, rice and beans, food with much spice, unfiltered cigarettes, pork rhinds, ice cold strong unsweetened coffee, popcorn, seeds and peanuts. Which are placed within a jiguera and on top of the Punto firmado which is comprised of crosses, a coffin, a shovel, a pick, a top hat and skulls, drawn with the corn meal and are all sacred symbols of the dead and the cemetery. All this is often surrounded by 9 candles of red, purple black and at times yellow, which are placed around the tomb. Servicios are often done on Tuesdays, or Fridays, at 12 noon, or 12 midnight.
( 9 is the number of the dead and purple and red is the color of royalty. )
Each corner or cardinal point of the Cemetery is protected by a Centinela, there is Boco Tebú Tecacho "North", Abúm "South", A Lembó "East" and Cacique, Rey de la "Encabezá "West" and those who become initiated into Sance and 21 Division are instructed on where they are properly located and who these Centinela where in life. But each simple offerings must always be presented to them first, then crossed before you and placed on the Punto firmado before the tomb.
Offerings are placed in potato sacks, or a jicara / jiguera and a pave woven hat are placed on top of the tomb, with a pair of sunglasses that is missing one of the lenses.
The Ghede spirits including el Baron del Cementerio and all his vueltas are never truly satisfied, they are gluttonous spirits who are the first to partake of all animal sacrifices given within Vodou, Palo and Santeria, ( Yes the Gede are part of the Ocha tradition, Orisha such as Oya, Yewa and Iku are Ghede ) and at the very moment of death when the Ghede consume, it is el Gran Baron del Cementerio who stands before them. The Guede have an unquenchable thirst for the essence of death and the Ghede always feed when life is lost through murder, natural causes. accidents, through a freak of nature, or when another Orisha or Lwa in their natural environment needs to feed, it is the Ghede who feast first.
( Roadside Descansos are also sacred to the Ghede Division especially that of el Baron de la Cruz and Mama Buyita. )
Although the Ghede are spirits of death, the Baron del Cementerio who is also the Angel of Death and the Ghede are also known for being great healers and guardians of children and can heal those very things that may bring death or even prolong it. It does not matter the age, financial statues, religious views or race, the Ghede will mount all, at least once in this lifetime, even if its through the physical death if the body..
The Baron del Cementerio has three major vueltas that I have spoken of earlier and each is syncretized with a Catholic Saint, as is the case with most Lwa. ( The Catholic Saint is what we use most to depict our Lwa. ) El Baron del Cementerio is syncretized with Saint Elijah of Mount Carmel, Baron de la Cruz or Papa Ghede as he is also known is syncretized with Saint Gerard de Mayela and Gede Sabalo or Baron del Sabado is syncretized with Saint Expedite, or vise a versa depending on the practitioner.
Although the Ghede manifest their energy when ever they so choose, it is during the night, darkness and sleep when our senses are heightened that we feel their presence the most. It was as it is still today when the great Necromancers unknowingly invoked the Ghede, and for this very reason why el Baron or one of his vueltas is viewed at their patron Lwa. Through the use of blood and invoking the dead is when the Ghede are present, whether the person knows them, or calls them by other names, they are their.
The Ghede are also spirits of great sexual energy, and all intranquil spirits, espiritus atrasados, anima solas and burlones work under them and are below them. They manifest themselves in their human followers as those who enjoy things Gothic, dark, and unfaboding to the eyes of the normal societies standards of what is viewed as the norm. Although the Ghede are tricksters and lively spirits that enjoy sexual encounters, they will at a drop of a hat punish those who disrespect them with depression and suicidal thoughts. They also manifest within humans in those who are interested in the occult and arcane secrets, witchcraft, sorcery and black magic practices and are as quick to answer ones desires as they are quick to punish those who tamper with them in any disrespectful way.
In Haitain Vodou el Gran Baron del Cementerio is known as Barón Cimitière, Baron de la Cruz is Barón Le Croix and el Baron del Sabado is Barón Samedhi, his most ancient name is that of Gede Nimbo and his consort is La Barona, Gran Maman, or Mamman Brigitte and La Baronesa, and together they feast on the essence of death and spawn new children, from the begging of time until the end of time. Although they fathered many children two of their eldest are Ti Gede "Piti Gette" and Gede Zaina. (The Adam and Eve of the Lwa Pantheon.). But this I will get into further along in this post.
Guede Lacua manifests himself as the spirit of that who is the oldest grave in any given graveyard or cemetery. This is especially true if the boveda has a Cross upon it. Often when speaking of the Ghede the first misiterpertation one gets is that they are muertos, which in further study of the Ghede one will learn
that this is far from the truth. Yes the Guede are the Spirits of the Dead, but they are also Lwa, they are Misterios, and like no other Division they are minions of Ghede, multitudes and many. Each country has their names for some Ghede and many Ghede appear in every tradition but with obvious difrent spellings of the name. Gede such as Lacua, Sombi, Senché Cemiché Guedé Alawe, Guedé Carifu, Guedé Lhea, Guedé Martyin, Guedé Dionisio, Guedélia Legcua, Guedelina. Luis Guede Gunguna, Guedelia, Guede Bravo, Gongote, Prim Guede, Buyita and so on and so on.
Guede Lacua a vuelta of Baron de la Cruz; who is both Ghede and Lebane, his number is 3 demonstrating his 3 major vueltas and his color is red and black, which symbolizes from life comes death, which makes way for life. It is for this reason many believe that the Orisha Eleggua is Guede Lacua, I believe its another vuelta in the link that creates the chain as a whole. If I was to synchronized Eleggua with a Misterio it would be Guedesito or Eleguedesito, which both pertain to the Guede and Lebanes Division at the same time. But Eleggua is a Nago Spirit an Orisha and must be respected within his own tradition, Division and in his own right.
Guede Lacua is also closely associated to the Ogun Nation, and where ever a Desacansos memorial is placed, it is because of the mysteries behind the Ogun division and Guede Lacua.
Guede Lacua is a very important Vuelta, an ancient Vuelta of Baron de la Cruz or Baron la Croix, he is the Ghede that stands at the crossroads, waiting to feast. He is symbolized by the Crusifix and the Cross, and the black rooster is his messenger here on earth. He controls over the brain, he can cure or bring illness at the same time. He can give you clarity if the mind but also blind side you. He is the word of reason, but also the word of betrayal. In this aspect he works closely with Guede Sombi who is the Loa of cerebral damage. He symbolizes the essence of life, but at the same time the essence of death. In this aspect Guede Sombi "Zombi" is symbolized by those who suffer cerebral unbalances, such as those in a coma, those with Aleichem's.and those with dementia. On earth Guede Sombi is viewed as a Cimarrón Ghede and is symbolized by a dead tree, and thus he lives in the woods and forests with some of the Lwa of the Ogun and Bwa Nation and feasts at night within the tombs of graveyards and cemeteries. He is the Loa who stands at the outskirts of the cemetery, or manifests in places where an unexpected death occurred, for this reason no one knows when he is to come or go. He is the Ghede who has no place in heaven and no place in hell and so he lives in solitude within the forests between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. Services to Ghede Sombi are done on a dead tree or tree trunk within the graveyard or cemetery and seen as the life that grows or lives within the dead tree or trunk, often aguardiente, tobacco are placed and offerings are bundled up in weaved sack cloth and buried. Ghede Sombi is the spirit of the first person to die of cerebral complications and he is viewed as an ancient old man with wrinkles and scars. He dislikes water, and prefers his aguardiente, old straw hats, and black or brown fulas. Like all Guede, Sombi also enjoys Habaneros, dark rum, spicy food and hot peppers, and like all Guede they are the first to consume any fresh offerings. The act of death and decaying are them, but also the act of other creatures feasting on the offerings. Even flies which gets them nice and plump for Ghede Aracne or Gede Zaina.
Ghede Cemitiel is the Loa who is symbolized as the actual grounds of the Graveyards and Cemeteries while his other vuelta is Guede Senche who is the overseer of the cemetery and the gravedigger. Senche is the godfather of the hollow corpse, as he initiates the body into the sacred rite of burial. The gateway of the cemetery are symbolized as Cemitiel's mouth, opens the doors for consumption, Senche initiates them, and Lacua places the cross and directs the soul to where it needs to go depending on their acts in life.
El Papa Barón as he is often known and his wife Gran Maman Brigitte are the parents of many Lwa and Orisha that govern the Nation of Ghede, some such as Guedelia, Guedelina, Llegua, Filomena Lubana, to name a few, but the youngest and eldest at the same time is the Gede known as Ti Ghede also known as Piti Ghede. In the new world she is synchrenized with Saint Brigette and also goes by the name Brighuede, Brigwueda, Brigeda, la Pequeña Brigite or simply Maman Brigette. Since her mysteries represent the eldest and youngest she is also known as Maman Gede. This Lwa rarely manifests within ceremonies, but when she does, she comes as a coquette young adult that enjoys flowers, in other vueltas she manifests as an orphaned child, scorned by the hardship of life, and can be a bit quarrelsome and soft spoken at the same time. But if she manifests as Maman Brigitte, she comes as the righteous judge of the living and the dead who wears a black laced veil and walks with a cane as she uses herbs, holy water, perfume liquor and potions to heal and protect all those around her from an untimely death.
In other South American traditions she and her other vueltas come as Harlot gypsies, Jezibels and women of the night, that come dancing and are full of seduction, these manifestations often smoke cigarettes, drink anisette liquors, speak in crude tones, laugh and enjoy to dance in the bodies of the Casilla they mount. These female ghede spirits are often the souls of those women who in life were outcasts, such as prostitutes, harlots, alcoholic, drug addicts or abused victims. In what ever manifistation that they come, which is limited to our human views of good and evil, these Ghuedesas come to offer their spiritual help and advice.
In whatever manifistation the Ghedesas come they come to offer help and place things in their natural order. While the Ghede are ofren untamed, and uncantrolable masculine energies of the dead, the Ghedesas egsist through feminine emotions, all they do, and how they act, involves feminine desires and emotions, may it be sorrow, pain, fear, love, lust or grief, and it is only through the Ghedesas that the Ghede can be controled, dominated and tamed. Ti Guede and her sister Guedesas who are on their way to becoming pure mysteries have the abilities by the grace of Buen Dios and watchful eye of el Gran Baron del Cementerio to help those in need, and they always meet the requests of those who come to them with pure intentions.
If your are a Hispanic Espiritista, Santero or Sancista, there is no doubt that on your ipod or in your cd collection you have a music collection by Celina y Reutilio, Los Nanis, and of course the classic cd by the Legendary Cuban Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. Her album Homenaje a Los Santos is a favorite, and songs to the Orisha, Yemaya, Agayu, Chango and Babalu Aye are sung to Mambo and Salsa music from the late 50s and 60s. But amongst the songs to the Yoruba Gods, "which is similar to the case of Celina and Reutilio having a song to the Lwa Papa Candelo amongst the Yoruba Orisha" one also in Celia Cruz' cd comes across a song sung to a Lwa from the Guede Division and sung in Haitian Kreyol, the song goes like this.
Guede Zaina. Guede Zaina, yo fè complo pou yo tchié moin
woy woy, Guede Zaina
Guede Zaina or Gede Zaraignee in Haitian Kryol comes from the French word for spider which is Araignée. So the Guede in the song is a Spider, then the song goes on to say. 'Woy Woy!" Which really has no English translation, but it is an expression of being surprised or caught of guard and in Caribbean Spanish we say "Ai ir Ui" while in English it would be. "Wow!". Then the following line says. "yo fe komplo pou yo touye mwen", which is translated to mean. "They the enemy has comes to kill me.". So the song is translated to say.
Guede Zaina, Wow Wow! Guede Zaina!
Guede Zaina, Wow Wow! Guede Zaina! (Repeted)
Gede Araña, Ui Ui! Gede Araña!
Gede Araña, Ui Ui! Gede Araña!
So in all actuality the song is an invocation to Guede Zaina for protection from those who wish you bodily harm and to free you from your enemies.
In the many branches of Vodou from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, there is a division of Spirits known as Sambi Division. These spirits are viewed as ancient serpent and snake Lwa of wisdom and magic, and amongst this division one finds Dambala, Ayida Guedo, Mama Chimbi, Papa Chimbi, Ochu del Mar, Gran Simbi Glo and countless other Lwa. But snakes and serpents were not the only creatures viewed as divine within Vudu and its many branches. Spiders where also viewed as Spirits, and often messengers of the of death.. This belief of Serpent and Spiders as divine spirits can also be seen in Ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. One close look at the image of Tonantzin "Our Lady of Guadelupe" and one will see that at her feet one will notice her dress turn into a Serpent's head and below her praying hands one will see a bow of six ribbon which symbolized a Spider which was a messenger of the Dead.
In many African cultures it was believed that the first two human souls, one male and the other female traveled to the earth on a golden thread which was symbolic of a Spider's web and then took human form. They lived a long and fruitful life, but when they died, they became the first Ghede, that of Ti Ghede, and Ghede Zaina.
Gede Zaina, Ghede Zaraignee, Guédé Zaranye or Guede Zariyen and also Gwede Aracne represents the spirit of the first human soul who became Guede, not all human souls will become Ghuede. Unlike el Gran Baron del Cementerio who always has one foot in the world of the living and one foot in the world of the dead, meaning he can occupy two places at ones, human souls are unable to do this, so, one of the steps up the Spiritual latter and for those that follow the ancient African ways become Ghede. Of defied ancestors or the venerated dead. Guede Zaina as a spider symbolizes that our legs our feet touches the earth and walks the paths our ancestors walked, and that our head, faces towards the heavens, towards Papa Buen Dios and the elevated Mysteries. It symbolizes,
"Asi come en el Cielo y en la Tierra or As Above, so Below."
This in itself represents that the codependency and interchanging between the living and the dead is needed for advancement and spiritual evolution and growth. This concept is affirmed in Puerto Rican Espiritismo. El Muerto Pario al Santo, or Antes de Santo avia Muerto. Which is translated to mean. The dead gave birth and rise to the Saint, and before there was a Saint there was the dead. This Espiritismo Criollo and Mesa Blanca Espiritismo concept reaffirms the concept that we are a product of our heritage our culture and that our decisions for Spiritual development must start with our dead and our ancestors. The spiritual web is a symbol that all the universe is tied and connected by an invisible thread, both heaven and earth are connected and obtainable by those who search for it. "Seek and it shall be found, ask and it shall be given."
If Guédé Zaranye is so ancient he would be known far and wide, this is true. In Ghana the Spider is called Anansi or Ananse, a trickster, mischievous Spider Spirit, who enjoys music, and like the Ghede, Anansi is a lover and protector of children. Anansi is as many Ghede, a cross between the Ghede Division and the Lebane "Legba" Division. Although Anansi was a trickster, he was a messenger, and was portrayed as very wise and intelligent. Anansi mischievous ways where not confined to Africa, in the Caribbean he became Ghede Zaiyna and many southern African Americans can remember their grandmother's story of the trickster spider. Anansi. For this reason Spiders should never be harmed, they should be respected as messengers of the Ghede. Ghede not only feed of the energy of those alive, but of those demons from hell alike. Demons are often symbolized as Flies, hence the saying Beelzebub is the lord of the Flies, and Ghede are the spider that traps them and feast on their very energy. So the Ghede are great protectors, highly intelligent and mischievous tricksters, and the group of Lwa that are closets to us.
ARE THE GHEDE
The Ghede is a Division of Loa that is well respected not only in Haitian Vodou, but in 21 Divisions and Sance. Many people confuse the Ghede with a Spiritual Guide, because of the very word Gede, Guide being Gide in Kreyol and Guia in Spanish. Also many confuse the Gede with the Division of the Centinela, ones dead or other Spirits in the Comisiones. This is not correct, and I am going to explain this in the view point of a Puerto Rican SanseSancista follower. The Centinela are those Spirits that guard us and spiritually shield us from psychic attack and black magic, the Sances are the Ancestors and embasadors of other Divisions of Misterios or Lwa, while the Comisiones are Spirits that guide us and does not nessesarily mean that in life they practiced Vodou, Santeria or Candomble per say. The Ghede are not our direct ancestors, or neither is it necessary that a Ghede that you honor necessarily had any blood ties with you, the only connection to us they have is Spiritual. Know while both the Centinela, the Sance and many Spirits in the Comisiones can reincarnate or be reborn into life, the Ghede do not. They are above the Centinelas, Los Muertos, las Comisiones, los Embajadores and los Sance but still very close to the realm of the living. If fact they are viewed as Lwa or Mysterios, while the other groups of spirits I mentioned above are not. Example the Sance are messengers of the Mistsrios, but they are not Loases. The Centinela in Puerto Rican Sance are not Lwa, but Spirits that have a mission to protect in order to reincarnate or climb another step in the spiritual latter. To make it more complicated some Centinela can become Ghede but no Ghede will ever become Centinela.
Ghede in life where not evil they are those who in life where mischievous, pranksters, highly sexual and so on. The same can be said about the Centinela, they were not evil but were soldiers, thieves, robbers, who in the after life in order to purge and elevate must protect us from those very things they did in life. Example of a famous Centinela would be Dismas who was crucified next to Jesus on his right side, he was a thief who was forgiven by Jesus and in death became a Centinela to cleanse his soul in order to elevate, while Gestas on his right would be more a Ghede.
The Ghede are a mystery that we as humans can not completely comprehend. They can be both Saint and Demon, both healers and bringers of death.
If the Ghede are to surround any human, they would surround no other more than they do human children, because children in their curious ways, in their tantrums and desires resembles that of the Ghede. Generally speaking human children have a stronger psychic sense than their adult counterparts, and their young bodies are more accessible to death than those of an older individual. The Ghedes are great healers as much as they enjoy the taist of death, something that is definitely not true of the Centinela and the Sanse. But like the Comisiones and the Muertos they enjoy material offerings. Again something that is not necessary for the Centinela. The Ghede are also highly sexual beings, and the act of sexual human pleasures is one thing that keeps them grounded and close to the material plane. The Ghede are Lwa and above those Spirits below them, but still they are below other Divisions such as Lebanes and Ogunes to name a few of the 21 plus Divisions but still they are as powerful and in many cases even more powerful than other Lwa because they still have the strongest connection to the material plane, where ever death is, at that very moment before life is absorbed from the body, Ghede are present. This falls true for every living being and thing on earth, plant, animal and human.
When Ghede are mounted in Haitian Vodou, they come dressed in their Gothic black attire, or top hat with cane, and they prefer their face painted as that of skull to demonstrate that they are both alive and dead at the same time, they like no other Lwa can ocupy two planes at one time, Life and death.
The Ghede above all Divisions are the most feared, misunderstood and most respected of all the Divisions. This is true for both humans and Lwa alike. Often times the Lwa themselves fear and respect the Ghede, and ofren have little if any patience for the Ghedes anticts, and outbursts, and most often wish nothing more than to avoid their, cheerful, brash, obscene and mischievous ways while at the same time demonstrating poise, confidence and gracefulness. The Ghede often enjoy their offerings of Rum spiced with Habanero peppers in which they vigorously rub on their eyes and genetils while wearing sunglasses at night with a missing lense, which often repulses the Metresa Division and the Nago Division, while at the same time entertains the Lebane division.
While every human is born with a Spirit Guide, a Guardian Angel, each and every human being, may they work with them or not, or may they know it or not is born with a Legba, an Ogun and a Ghede, This is why the Ghede are a highly respected Division within Vodou, 21 Divisiones and Sance. No Houngan, Papa Boko, Mama Mambo or Sancista would work their tradition with out one of them in their daily work of consultation and traditional medicines. The Ghede are honored, respected and venerated just as one would their Cuadro Espiritual and Santos.
FEAST DAYS OF THE GUEDE AND OTHER LWA MISTERIOS COMMING NEXT.
SANCISTA BRUJO LUIS