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Maman Brigitte, Vodou death spirit

Updated: Jan 30

The Mythology

Maman Brigitte is a Vodou death spirit, brought to Haiti and Louisiana by Irish indentured servants. She and her husband Baron Samedi guard cemeteries and protect graves marked with crosses. They are irreverent tricksters, mocking authority and carousing, dancing, swearing and drinking hot pepper-infused rum.

She is a prominent figure in Haitian Vodou, representing the spirit of death and the afterlife. Often depicted as a powerful and assertive woman, Maman Brigitte is considered an Iwa, a spirit or deity in Vodou, associated with the Ghede family of spirits that govern the realm of the dead. She is syncretized with the Catholic Saint Brigid, blending indigenous African and European influences.

Maman Brigitte is also a compassionate and protective spirit who guides and cares for the souls of the deceased. She is particularly revered during ceremonies dedicated to honoring the ancestors, as the Ghede spirits have the ability to communicate with the living. Maman Brigitte serves as a guardian of the spirit world and a mediator between the realms of life and death.

She's very on brand for a "badass goddess," and I love the fact that she's an Americanized Celtic goddess, twisted and reimagined as a sexy Southern death spirit with a badass, top hat wearing Vodou priest for a husband. You might also recognize Maman Brigitte from the AMC series "American Gods."

Bringing Maman Brigitte to life

My model for Maman Brigitte, like so many others, came out of the now sadly defunct monthly gathering of artists known as Dr. Sketchys, in which burlesque dancers from Vancouver and beyond posed for three hours in various stages of elaborate costume and undressed over the course of the evening, often with a striptease performance at intermission. It was an amazing way to build a portfolio of Badass Goddesses.

This particular goddess is based on a drawing I did of Melody Mangler, who is not only an amazing performer but a skilled choreographer, canny businesswoman and mentor to a whole new crop of burlesque dancers (myself included!). Follow her on Instagram (melodymangler) and, if you're in Vancouver, I highly recommend you check out her Dreadful Delights, a twice-yearly cabaret that takes place at Wise Hall. There are steamy burlesque performances, magicians, opera singers, pianists, ballet dancers and much more, all in amazing costumes based around the seasonal themes of Rites of Spring and Halloween.

Check out my RedBubble store to order Maman Brigitte prints, posters and many other products, as well as my other Badass Goddesses!

Listen to our Starzology podcast episode on Imbolc, the Celtic festival honoring the goddess Brigid, where Alison Price and I discuss Maman Brigitte and other mythic traditions.

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