In Haitian Vodou, the Guédé (also spelled Gede or Ghede, pronounced [ɡede] in Haitian Creole) are the family of spirits that embody the powers of death and fertility. Guédé spirits include Ghede Masaka, Guédé Nibo, Guédé Plumaj, Guédé Ti Malis, and Guédé Zaranye. All are known for the drum rhythm and dance called the "banda". In possession, they will drink or rub themselves with a mixture of raw rum or clairin and twenty-one habanero or goat peppers.
Papa Ghede is supposed to be the corpse of the first man who ever died. He is recognized as a short, dark man with a high hat on his head, a cigar in his mouth, and an apple in his left hand. Papa Ghede is a psychopomp who waits at the crossroads to take souls into the afterlife. He is considered the good counterpart to Baron Samedi. If a child is dying, Papa Ghede is prayed to. It is believed that he will not take a life before its time, and that he will protect the little ones. Papa Ghede has a very crass sense of humor, a divine ability to read others' minds, and the ability to know everything that happens in the worlds of the living and the dead.
Brave Ghede is the guardian of the graveyard. He keeps the dead souls in and the living souls out.
Ghede Bábáco is supposedly Papa Ghede's less known brother and is also a psychopomp. His role is somewhat similar to that of Papa Ghede, but he doesn't have the special abilities of his brother.
Ghede Nibo is a psychopomp, an intermediary between the living and the dead. He gives voice to the dead spirits that have not been reclaimed from "below the waters".
Ghede Masaka assists Ghede Nibo. He is an androgynous or transgendered male gravedigger and spirit of the dead, recognized by his black shirt, white jacket, and white headscarf. Ghede Masaka carries a bag containing poisonous leaves and an umbilical cord. Ghede Masaka is sometimes depicted as the companion of Ghede Oussou. Both are bisexual.
Ghede Oussou wears a black or mauve jacket marked on the back with a white cross and a black or mauve headscarf. His name means "tipsy" due to his love of white rum. Ghede Oussou is sometimes also linked with the female Ghede L'Oraille.
The Guédé Barons
The Guédé is closely associated with the loa Baron, whose aspects are Baron Samedi (Baron Saturday), Baron La Croix (Baron Cross), and Baron Cimetière (Baron Cemetery). Depending on the tradition followed, Baron is:
In any of these configurations, Baron, Maman Brigitte, and the Guédé rule death, the cemetery and the grave.
- Voodoo: Search for the Spirit. Laennec Hurbon. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1995.
- "Ghede" A Dictionary of World Mythology. Arthur Cotterell. Oxford University Press, 1997.
Full article ▸