Baron’s Back

A while ago, in my discussion of various dictionairies of spirits, I used one particular entity – Baron – as one of my entities.  Due to him showing up at the trial of Gilles de Rais, in The Book of Oberon, and at a number of other sources outside the usual Waite-inspired list of grimoires, I thought he’d be a good example.

As it turns out, this was more fortuitous than I thought.  Baron has been showing up more in different sources that I’m consulting.  One of the most recent is the account of the interrogation of Pierre, a teacher of the Waldensian sect of heretics, conducted at Oulx, near Turin, in 1492.  Within his account of the synagogues, or the secret meetings, of the sect, he had the following to say:

Asked why the said synagogue is held, he replies that it derives from the fact that they as a custom were in the habit of adoring a certain idol called Bacchus and Baron and also the Sibyl and the fairies and that Baron and the fairies were accustomed to holding congregations during which there was no respect between daughter and father, nor with the godmother, as there is, however, outside the said synagogue.

Now, this bears some comments.  First, the last part regarding the congregations is a fairly common set of accusations against heretics.  Second, what is described does not seem to be a standard part of Waldensian belief, and the piece above it doesn’t seem to be noted anywhere else.  Third, it’s fairly safe to say that the Waldensians hanging out with the pagan Sibyl, a bunch of fairies, and an idol known either as Baron or Bacchus was not the sort of words that inquisitors would seek to put in the mouth of a captive.

Then, what is its significance?  There are a number of possible explanations.  I think it could attest to a certain collection of lore that might have been available orally,  speaking of spiritual entities that might be found in local beliefs but that avoided the official record.  There’s no means to be sure based simply upon one account, but it might be something worth seeking for future scholars.

Audisio, Gabriel. Preachers by Night : The Waldensian Barbes (15th-16th Centuries). 118. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
Tourn, Giorgio. Il barba : una figura valdese del Quattrocento. Torino: Claudiana, 2001.
Published in: on June 3, 2016 at 2:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. The Waldensians ( who are, by most dependable accounts, rather sober proto – protestants ) were customarily the subjects of all sorts of fabulous accusations , such as worshiping cats or flying on broomsticks: they were a test run, of sorts, for the later Great Witch Hunt.
    But this is odd, even by those standards. An old deity mostly seen as being a literary device of inebriation, at the time: the familiar spirit of Bluebeard: a visionary otherwise seen in a fairly positive light, who purportedly foresaw the Incarnation: & are there any other examples of fairies being connected to ( organized ) heresy & witchcraft, other than those of Scotland, & the trial of Vergilius of Salzburg?

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