romania

Vampires, Pagan Gods and a Ghost Ship

Belsnickel, the magical uses of meadowsweet and the Hand of Glory play a part in the monsters of Supernatural, Season 3, Episodes 6-8.

A fiery sunrise could mean a stormy day at sea

A fiery sunrise could mean a stormy day at sea

S3E6: “Red Sky at Morning”

Monster: Ghost ship

Where it’s from: All around the world, particularly England and the United States

Ghost ships have been sighted for centuries

Ghost ships have been sighted for centuries

Description: This particular spectral ship is a three-masted clipper. There have been reports of ghost ships for centuries, including:

The S.S. Violet, a paddle steamer, ran aground crossing the English Channel in a snowstorm. She was sighted by a lookout at Goodwin Sands at the start of World War II. A lifeboat went out to investigate — but no ship was found.

The  Griffon ’s maiden voyage was also her last. This ghost ship now haunts northern Lake Michigan

The Griffon’s maiden voyage was also her last. This ghost ship now haunts northern Lake Michigan

The Griffon, one of the first major vessels to sail the Great Lakes, which is said to haunt Lake Michigan. Her maiden voyage in 1679 was also her last. She went down during a storm…but has been seen on the northern part of the lake ever since.



The title of the ep comes from a nautical saying:

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.

That is to say, that a red sunrise could mean a storm is coming.

What it does: The ghost ship of the Espírito Santo, a three-masted clipper (and an apparent invention of the show), appears every 37 years. Don’t look! If you happen to be one of the poor saps who sees the ship, you’ll end up drowning, like the woman in the shower and the man in the bathtub. The ghost ship will find a way to drown you — even if you’re just sitting in your car.

The Winchester Bros. start detecting a pattern: The ghost ship is targeting those who have spilled their family’s blood.

How to defeat it: There’s a gruesome but super helpful charm known as a Hand of Glory.

(Insert Dean joke here: “A Hand of Glory? I think I got one of those at the end of my Thai massage last week.”)

This desiccated body part is said to be a genuine Hand of Glory

This desiccated body part is said to be a genuine Hand of Glory

The Hand of Glory has magical properties that make it ideal for thieves: It can open any lock and sometimes makes the holder invisible.

The Hand of Glory

A Hand of Glory is actually the hand (usually the right) of a hanged man who’s still swinging from the gallows — preferably during a lunar eclipse, but any ol’ night will work as well. You pickle it for 15 days, then dry it in the sun. It’s said to have magical properties that make it ideal for thieves: The Hand of Glory can open any lock and allows intruders to enter buildings undetected, sometimes making the holder invisible. The fingers burn as candles that never go out or hold a candle made from the fat of the hanged man in their grip. Once lit, it puts people to sleep or renders them motionless. In some tellings, the thief can only light a finger for each person asleep in the house; those that don’t light reveal that someone inside is awake. The lit fingers ensure that those sleeping won’t be able to be awakened.

Honestly, where can I get one of these for myself?

A Hand of Glory is a great magical item — especially if you’re a thief

A Hand of Glory is a great magical item — especially if you’re a thief

To break the curse of the spectral ship, the fellas summon the ghost of the brother who killed the captain of the Espírito Santo. The two ghosts destroy each other in a watery sploosh.

On  Supernatural , vampirism is a blood-borne virus

On Supernatural, vampirism is a blood-borne virus

S3E7: “Fresh Blood”

Monster: Vampire

Where it’s from: Romania

Description: A girl named Lucy gets dosed with vampire blood at a club and turns into a vamp. In the Supernatural universe, vampirism is a virus; if you ingest a vampire’s blood, you become one.

Bright light hurts their eyes — though they do have infrared vision. And they can hear heartbeats from a block away.

What it does: The vampire has a type. He’s turning pretty blondes. He feels misunderstood, that he’s a victim. He even cries when his “daughters” get killed, fearful of facing eternity alone.



A fellow hunter, Gordon, thinks our boy Sam is the Antichrist. So it’s particularly satisfying that a legendary vampire hunter like him gets turned into one of the monsters he so despises. Serves him right, the jerk.

The Winchesters were going to kill Gordon back when he was a human, so it makes it easier on their consciences to off him now that he’s a vampire.

How to defeat it: A shot of dead man’s blood knocks a vampire out.

To kill them, try decapitation or a silver bullet. (Though the novelist Anne Rice, an expert on vampires, told Marketplace, “Vampires are not particularly affected by silver bullets. Traditionally what kills vampires is a wooden stake through the heart.”

 

S3E8: “A Very Supernatural Christmas”

Monster: Pagan gods

Where it’s from: Britain

Description: At first Sam thinks they’re dealing with an evil Santa: “There’s some version of the anti-Claus in every culture. You’ve got Belsnickel, Krampus, Black Peter. Whatever you want to call it, there’s all sorts of lore.”

He continues, “Santa's brother went rogue, and now he shows up around Christmas time. But instead of bringing presents, he punishes the wicked.”

I doubt there’s a demonic counterpart to Santa in every culture, but Sammy’s right that there are quite a few.



A dark take on Santa Claus, Belsnickel rewards good children but comes up with bizarre punishments for those on the naughty list

A dark take on Santa Claus, Belsnickel rewards good children but comes up with bizarre punishments for those on the naughty list

Belsnickel, a Sinister Santa From Germany

Santa’s psychotic helper from Germany whips a bad little boy

Santa’s psychotic helper from Germany whips a bad little boy

This Christmas crazy wears a mask and often a wig, dresses in dark furs, lurks outside your house, and knocks on your door or window to announce his presence. He’s been known to give nuts, candy and small gifts to good children — but those who’ve been naughty get whipped and dragged into the woods. Belsnickel makes them pay for their bad behavior by dancing, doing tricks, singing or reciting poems for him.

It’s Sam that makes the connection to paganism.

Sam: Pretty much every Christmas tradition is pagan.

Dean: Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

Sam: No, Jesus’ birthday was probably in the fall. It was actually the Winter Solstice festival that was co-opted by the church and renamed Christmas. But I mean, the Yule log, the tree, even Santa’s red suit — that’s all remnants of pagan worship.

Dean: How do you know that? What are you gonna tell me next? Easter Bunny’s Jewish?

The Winchester boys come across wreaths made of meadowsweet. Sam explains it as a powerful pagan herb that’s basically chum for their gods. “Gods were drawn to it and they’d stop by and snack on whatever was the nearest human,” he explains.

Use meadowsweet in spells for love and positivity — or to lure human-devouring pagan gods

Use meadowsweet in spells for love and positivity — or to lure human-devouring pagan gods

Meadowsweet, though, once used to sweeten mead, is actually used in spells for love or creating a positive environment.

Hold Nickar, the Celtic god of the Winter Solstice

Hold Nickar, the Celtic god of the Winter Solstice

Sam concludes they’re looking for Hold Nickar, the pagan god of the Winter Solstice, who grants clement weather. Ancient pagans (and Wiccans today) worship the Goddess, who takes the form of the Great Mother. She gives birth to the Sun King on Yule, symbolizing a beam of light in the dark of winter, promising renewed life and the return of the sun’s warmth and sustaining energy.

What it does: The Hardy Boys are the pagan gods’ newest tributes. The couple are sticklers for details and are gathering the ingredients they need for their ritual. That includes collecting blood from the Winchesters and prying off one of Sam’s fingernails. After this horrific exercise, we can only hope they’re done. But no: “Sweet Peter on a popsicle, I forgot the tooth!” the god exclaims, heading toward Dean’s mouth.

How to defeat it: Guess these gods aren’t so immortal: Wood stakes kill them…for now, that is. –Wally

Belsnickel wears a mask and wig, dresses in dark furs, and drags naughty kids into the woods, where he whips them.

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 1, Episodes 20-22

Many of the legends about vampires aren’t true. Learn how to make holy water and the exorcism prayer to fight even the most powerful demons. Plus: the Devil’s Trap!

The rite of exorcism and the secret to making holy water will come in handy to defeat vampires and demons!

Dracula bores me. I’ve tried reading it twice and gave up pretty quickly.

But Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That’s another story. My friends and I were so obsessed with it, we’d have viewing parties every week, gathering at one of our homes, ordering pizza and drinking beer and watching one of the best shows on TV.

Before Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was fighting all sorts of evil — and doing so while dressed fabulously and making clever quips

Most vampire lore is crap.
— John Winchester

Vampires finally make an appearance on Supernatural, and it’s a moment of comedic gold that Dean and Sam, after all the crazy shit they’ve seen, still think vampires are a myth. Turns out they were wrong. Dead wrong.

 

S1E20: “Dead Man’s Blood”

Much of what we know about vampires turns out to be wrong

Monster: Vampire

Where it’s from: Legends of vampire-like creatures date back to the ancient civilizations of Persia, Greece, Egypt, China and Japan. But the vampire we’re familiar with today comes from Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe.

If you’re interested in finding a vamp, the Romanians have an interesting method, according to LiveScience: Take a 7-year-old boy, dress him in white and put him on a white horse. Let them wander a graveyard at midday — whatever grave the horse stops at houses a vampire!

Description: Babies born with a third nipple in Romania were thought to be vampires.

Much of our modern-day depictions of vampires were solidified by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Bela Lugasi’s take on the famously charming bloodsucker.

We can thank Bram Stoker and Bela Lugasi for our modern-day versions of vampire lore

They’re undead humans, with pale skin (caused by an aversion to sunlight, one would imagine) and sharp fangs (so they don’t need a straw to consume their favorite beverage). Unlike zombies, which are more savage and don’t seem to retain any of their humanity, vampires keep much of the personality of the person they once were. They tend to be pretty intelligent and can pass as living humans.

What it does: Some vampires are said to be able to turn into bats or wolves or smoke. In some legends, vampires cannot come into your house without being invited. Some are said not to reveal reflections in mirrors. They’re supposed to have supernatural strength. They don’t age and can be immortal. Some have hypnotic mind control they can exert over humans.

Some legends say that vampires have the ability to turn into a bat at will

But the one thing that pretty much every tale agrees upon: Vampires vant to sock your blood.

On the show, the vampires take their victims back to their nest, where they bleed them for days.

How to defeat it: “Most vampire lore is crap,” Daddy Winchester tells his sons.

So take this advice with a grain of the salt Dean and Sam are so fond of.

Supporting this take is Thought Catalog, which reports that the idea of a vampire being harmed by sunlight is a fairly recent literary invention.

The jury’s still out on crosses and holy water as well.

Europeans would stab certain corpses through the chest at burial to prevent them from returning from the dead. This led to the belief that a stake through the heart would dispatch a vampire.

Decapitation also seems to work well. Play it safe and stuff the mouth full of garlic for good measure.

If you’re being chased by a vamp and happen to have a bag of salt handy (and after watching Supernatural, who doesn’t?), LiveScience reveals this neat trick: You need only spill the salt on the ground behind you, and the vampire is obligated to stop and count each and every grain before continuing the pursuit.

According to Supernatural, dead man’s blood is like poison to vampires, though it wears off after a while.

In addition, you can hide your scent from vamps with this trick: Burn trillium, saffron and skunk cabbage. Rub the ashes on your clothes, and the suckers won’t smell you coming.
 

S1E21: “Salvation”

Not all demons are horrific distortions of nature — some take the form of a beautiful woman

Monster: Demons, including murderous Meg and the Big Baddie, the main villain of Season 1

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: Most demons are grotesque, but there are a few that are actually hot like Meg. Upon closer inspection, though, you’ll usually note some sort of perversion of nature — they might have hawk claws, for instance, or maybe a serpent’s tail.

What it does: The demon that killed the boys’ mom and Sam’s girlfriend has strong telekinetic powers and can make bodies fly through the air with its mind. It also has a penchant for burning women on bedroom ceilings and torching houses on the night a child turns six months old. We all have our fetishes.

How to defeat it: You know the demon is coming if there’s been a pattern of electrical storms and cattle deaths. It’ll soon be upon you when there are electrical disturbances like lights flickering and you smell traces of sulfur.

If you’re fighting a minor demon, hallowed ground could protect you. But as this Big Bad says, “Maybe that works in the minor leagues, but not with me.”

Try creating a huge batch of holy water by dropping a rosary into a vat of water and say this prayer in Latin:

Prayer to Make Holy Water

Deus, qui ad salutem humani generis maxima quæque sacramenta in aquarum substantia condidisti: adesto propitius invocationibus nostris, et elemento huic, multimodis purificationibus præparato, virtutem tuæ benedictionis infunde; ut creatura tua, mysteriis tuis serviens, ad abigendos dæmones morbosque pellendos divinæ gratiæ sumat effectum; ut quidquid in domibus vel in locis fidelium hæc unda resperserit careat omni immunditia, liberetur a noxa. Non illic resideat spiritus pestilens, non aura corrumpens: discedant omnes insidiæ latentis inimici; et si quid est quod aut incolumitati habitantium invidet aut quieti, aspersione hujus aquæ effugiat: ut salubritas, per invocationem sancti tui nominis expetita, ab omnibus sit impugnationibus defensa. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

If you happen to have that magic Colt gun, aim well — and aim quickly. That sucker can dematerialize before being shot.


S1E22: "Devil's Trap"

You, too, can trap demons in elaborate magic summoning circles like King Solomon supposedly did

Monster: Demon

How to defeat it: Peruse The Lesser Key of Solomon, a 17th century grimoire filled with sigils to call forth and control demons.

The Key of Solomon’s magic circle and triangle from the manuscript of Sir Hans Sloane, a famous collector who bequeathed his books to the British Museum

The Devil’s Trap is a great way to trap powerful demons

The Devil’s Trap, as Dean says, is “like a satanic roach motel.” Draw it on the ground, lure in a demon — and it will be unable to leave it.

Make sure not to smudge it, though. “A devil’s trap loses its power if its lines are erased or partially erased,” according to Reference. “The circle must remain intact in order to keep the demon trapped inside.”

In this episode, we learn that Meg is actually an innocent girl possessed by a demon. (Demons are obsessed with possessing people, remember?)

The fellas decide to perform an exorcism, even though her body sustained fatal injuries from a previous fall, and the only thing keeping her alive is the demon’s spirit.

Here’s what you need to say if you want to try your own exorcism, from The Hunting. By the way, it seems like it’d be a good idea to learn Latin if you plan on being a hunter like the Winchesters.

Practice your Latin — you’ll need it for exorcisms and making holy water

The Rite of Exorcism

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica
Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te,
Cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare
Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis,
Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei, contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili Nomini quem inferi tremunt
Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine.
Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica
Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te … cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare
Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus,
Audi nos.

If someone looks like this, there’s a pretty good chance they’re possessed by a demon

And here it is in English:

We exorcise you, every impure spirit, every satanic power, every incursion of the infernal adversary, every legion, every congregation and diabolical sect.
Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you.
Cease to deceive human creatures and give to them the poison of eternal damnation.
Begone, Satan, inventor and master of all deceit, enemy of man’s salvation.
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, tremble and flee when we invoke the holy and terrible name which causes hell to tremble.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Lord.
We exorcise you, every impure spirit, every satanic power, every incursion of the infernal adversary, every legion, every congregation and diabolical sect.
Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you … Cease to deceive human creatures and give to them the poison of eternal damnation.
That Thy church may serve Thee in secure liberty secure, we ask Thee,
Hear us.

You’re all set to take on even the most powerful demon. Just watch out for projectile vomiting of pea soup! –Wally

Babies born with a third nipple in Romania were thought to be vampires.