witchcraft

The Creepy Witch’s Market at Mercado Sonora

Head to the back left corner to enter a world of magic potions, Santeria, brujeria, voodoo dolls and Santa Muerte.

When you start seeing skeletons, you’ll know you’ve found the witch’s market

When you start seeing skeletons, you’ll know you’ve found the witch’s market

Ever since Duke and I stumbled upon a witch’s market in a corner of the souk in Marrakech, Morocco, we’ve been addicted.

What’s a witch’s market, you ask? It’s sort of like a farmer’s market — only with a lot less local produce and more skulls and potions. Filled as they are with often disturbing items, witchcraft markets appeal to our warped sensibilities.

Our Uber dropped us off at the sprawling Mercado Sonora in Mexico City in front of a line of yellow awnings. At first we wondered if we would even be able to find the section that contained the witch’s market. Stall after stall stretched out before us, filled with brightly colored, super-sized stuffed animals like those you hope your honey will win for you at a carnival. Some stalls had lights swirling like a discotheque and housed banners and other decorations that screamed, “¡Feliz Cumpliaños!” Women sat under large cutouts of Disney princesses, Mickey Mouse and superheroes. Piñatas hung from the ceiling. Men tried to tempt us with rows of technicolor candies.

The back right corner of the Sonora Market has live animals in cages

The back right corner of the Sonora Market has live animals in cages

As we wandered toward the far right-hand corner of the massive market, we started noticing a disturbing trend: This was where live animals were sold. We witnessed a young boy dump a cardboard box of full of puppies onto the floor and hastily put them into a cage near crates packed with birds, lizards, cats, rabbits and goats.

I stopped to take a picture of a cage full of mangy-looking puppies, but a man wagged his finger at me, saying, “No fotos” in a stern voice.

“I’m not surprised,” Duke mumbled. “He doesn’t want documentation of how inhumane this is.”

It really was quite depressing. So we were relieved when, as we moved to the left, still at the back of the market, we noticed a life-size skeleton wearing a wedding dress, a string of pearls around its neck and a tiara atop its skull.

We knew we were in the right place. We had found the witch’s market.

The Catholic church isn’t fond of Santa Muerte and has called her worship blasphemous

The Catholic church isn’t fond of Santa Muerte and has called her worship blasphemous

Santa Muerte and Santería

The figure we happened upon is Santa Muerte, the goddess of death, a popular figure in Mexico. The stall took up a corner space, more of a small boutique. We looked around, seeing strings of beads, skeletons carved from bone (Duke still regrets not having bought one), candles in glass containers and a stone head with cowry shells for its eyes and mouth. I called Duke over. This last item was just the type of unexpected and slightly disturbing thing that he would love. We of course purchased it, for 100 pesos, or $5.

By the way, at markets in Mexico City, unlike those in Southeast Asia or Morocco, for instance, you’re not expected to bargain. The prices are set, but that’s OK, as you’ll find that most of them are quite reasonable.

The man who ran the stall was friendly, and grabbed a pen and paper when I asked him to write down what the head is called.

“Elegua,” he scribbled. I later found out he’s the god of beginnings and endings in Santería. He’s a bit of a trickster, which explains why I was so drawn to him.

Stalls filled with Catholic icons are side by side with ones selling Santería and brujeria totems

Stalls filled with Catholic icons are side by side with ones selling Santería and brujeria totems

We made our way through the labyrinth of stalls, surprised that they didn’t connect in any sort of logical manner. You would wind through a narrow space and then find yourself at a dead end, having to backtrack. The market was pretty crowded when we were there on a Sunday morning — “These are all the naughty people who should be in church,” I told Duke — and there was still a bit of jostling in the corridors as people stopped to look at goods or tried to pass by. Every now and then, a vendor would appear, carrying a stack of large boxes, and you’d have to press yourself against the wall to let them pass. It wasn’t long before Duke was feeling claustrophobic.

But I wasn’t done exploring this weird and wonderful market.

You can buy a baby Jesus in all sizes and skin colors

You can buy a baby Jesus in all sizes and skin colors

Brujeria Meets Catholicism

What’s strange about brujeria, or Mexican witchcraft, is that it exists alongside Catholic beliefs. Whereas the mere whiff of something witchy prompts Christians in the United States to scream, “Satan,” Mexicans are much more sanguine. In the heart of the witch’s market, you’ll find statues of saints and baby Jesus dolls, Virgins of Guadalupe and crucifixes galore right next to the scythe-wielding Santa Muerte, looking like the Grim Reaper’s soulmate.

Santería and similar religions started amongst descendants of African slaves in the Caribbean

Santería and similar religions started amongst descendants of African slaves in the Caribbean

Mexican Catholics don’t see any problem with mixing the worship of Jesus and the Virgin Mary with magic potions

Mexican Catholics don’t see any problem with mixing the worship of Jesus and the Virgin Mary with magic potions

As we wandered down a narrow corridor, something caught my attention: what was obviously a Barbie doll, entirely covered in red ribbon with a few nails stuck into it. The vendor told me it was a voodoo doll, but an expensive one, he said, apologetically. You see, it cost 100 pesos, or a whopping $5. He showed me a package of smaller, cheaply made dolls, pointing out how much more affordable they were. But I had to have the other one, of course.

You’ll see quite a few of these creepy but artistic dolls hanging in stalls. They’re representations of Santería deities

You’ll see quite a few of these creepy but artistic dolls hanging in stalls. They’re representations of Santería deities

Here’s Lucero Mundo, god of the crossroads and bestower of spiritual power

Here’s Lucero Mundo, god of the crossroads and bestower of spiritual power

At stalls in the witchcraft market, creepy dolls hung on the wall, some with their eyes and mouths sewn shut. One that immediately appealed to me had its face painted half red, half black. Sage smoke from a burning smudge stick filled the dark corridor, making me a little lightheaded. The vendor appeared intimidating — an intense young man with long hair, numerous piercings, tattoos down his arms and triangular studs in his earlobes. But he turned out to be friendly and wrote down the name of the god represented by the red-and-blacked-faced doll: Lucero Mundo, or Star of the World. He’s a deity from Palo, a Santería-like religion that originated in Cuba amongst descendants from the Congo. A god of the crossroads, Lucero witnesses everything, and without his consent, no spiritual power will flow.

Whether you want money or love, there’s a potion you can buy in the witch’s market

Whether you want money or love, there’s a potion you can buy in the witch’s market

Potions and Notions

Brightly colored bottles and boxes promised the solution to any problem. Got a crush? Spray some Ven a Mi (Come to Me). Want a successful small business? Spritz some Llama Cliente (Call Customers).

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to drink these potions, but I wouldn’t put those toxic-looking, neon-colored bottles to my lips no matter how desperate I was.

Head to the back left corner of the Mercado Sonora to find the witch’s market

Head to the back left corner of the Mercado Sonora to find the witch’s market

“I was thinking there’d be more desiccated animals,” Duke sighed. These are the types of things that disappoint us. But then, as if he had conjured it by sheer willpower, we almost walked right into some sort of flayed ball of fur, which looked more like a cross between roadkill and beef jerky. It was hardly recognizable as having once been a small animal. We have a taxidermied squirrel climbing our wall, a dried-out bat in our living room and a desiccated chameleon inside our glass-topped coffee table. But this macabre monstrosity was too much, even for us. –Wally

Nacimientos, or nativity scenes, galore

Nacimientos, or nativity scenes, galore

Mercado Sonora and the Witch’s Market
Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419
Merced Balbuena
15810 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Mexico

Altered Reality: Witchcraft, Lucid Dreaming and Mystery Spots

Supernatural Season 3, Episodes 9-11 cover the Malleus Maleficarum, African dream root, tricksters and hex bags.

Don’t sabbaths look fun?!  Hexen , or  Witches , by Hans Baldrung, 1508

Don’t sabbaths look fun?! Hexen, or Witches, by Hans Baldrung, 1508

S3E9: “Malleus Maleficarum”

Monster: Witch

Where it’s from: All over the world, including the Middle East, Europe and America

Description: While they sometimes are depicted as being hideous, with long, warty noses and greenish skin, witches are just ordinary people. In fact, many, if not most, of those accused of witchcraft during the medieval Inquisition in Europe were simply natural healers, who fell victim to the patriarchy’s refusal to allow women in influential roles.

Be careful what you wish for:  The Witch of Endor  by Martynov

Be careful what you wish for: The Witch of Endor by Martynov

One of the first mentions of a witch is the Witch of Endor, in 1 Samuel in the Bible, believed to have been written between 931 and 721 BCE, according to History. King Saul convinces the witch to call up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel to help him defeat the Philistine army. She’s reluctant to help, as practicing witchcraft at the time was punishable by death. But Saul assures her she’s safe, so she performs her dark arts, and Samuel’s ghost appears.

Things don’t work out too well for Saul, though. Samuel is all doom and gloom, and sure enough, the next day Saul’s sons perish in the battle. Saul, in despair, commits suicide.

The trouble with predicting the future is that sometimes it sucks:  Saul and the Witch of Endor  by Edward Henry Corbould, 1860

The trouble with predicting the future is that sometimes it sucks: Saul and the Witch of Endor by Edward Henry Corbould, 1860

Even though the Witch of Endor isn’t depicted as a villain — in fact, you could argue that she performs God’s work — there’s another Old Testament verse, Exodus 22:18, which decrees, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”  

The name of this episode of Supernatural refers to a medieval treatise, the Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for The Hammer of Witches) by Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer (and possibly Jacob Sprenger). Published in Germany in 1487, it instructed magistrates how to identify, interrogate and convict witches. The writers endorsed executing witches.

This book, which tells you how to identify and exterminate witches, was all the rage in medieval times

This book, which tells you how to identify and exterminate witches, was all the rage in medieval times

The book was a hit — it was the second-bestselling book, behind the Bible, for almost 200 years.

What it does: “I hate witches,” Dean whines. “They’re always spewing their bodily fluids everywhere.”

On Supernatural, a coven is masquerading as a book club. They cast some Arabic-sounding spells, cut their hand, drip blood onto a victim’s toothbrush — and her teeth fall out and she dies.

Witches cast spells to get their way and curse their enemies

Witches cast spells to get their way and curse their enemies



Hex bags are used to curse people. On the show, they’re relics of Old World black magic, containing bird bones, rabbit teeth and something the victim owned. Here are a couple of other versions:

How to Make a Hex Bag

Gather four symbolic items to include in the hex bag.

1. Intent: One ingredient that represents the purpose of the hex bag.

After the bag is created, you can “feed” more of these items to it to strengthen its power.

2. Spirit: Something that belongs to the possessor of the hex bag — and has never belonged to someone else.

3. Life: A plant, herb, seed or natural oil associated with the intended purpose of the bag. You can also use once-living items, like bone, hair, fur, antlers, claws or snake skin.

4. Sacrifice: One item that shows what you’re willing to offer to have the bag do its work.

Source: Sorcery and Shamanism

 

Black Magic Hex Bag

You’ll need:

  • Small black fabric bag

  • Pieces of dragon blood resin

  • Dried rue, basil, wormwood and nettle

  • A pentacle made of metal or wood

Focus on your target as you put the items into the bag.

Ideally, bury the hex bag outside their home, but if this isn’t possible, put it in their locker, desk or somewhere close to them.

Source: Spells of Magic

How to defeat it: Burning the hex bag negates its power.

This shaman might be dreamwalking, but he’s certainly tripping his balls off

This shaman might be dreamwalking, but he’s certainly tripping his balls off

S3E10: “Dream a Little Dream of Me”

Monster: Dreamwalker

Where it’s from: South Africa

Description: Xhosa shamans of the river valleys on the eastern cape of South Africa are said to possess the power to enter other people’s dreams.

Some shamans can take over your dreams

Some shamans can take over your dreams

What it does: The Winchester Brothers’ buddy Bobby is trapped in a dream. Someone’s entering people’s dreams (dreamwalking) and killing them. As the saying goes, if you die in your dream, you die in your sleep. It’s all very A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The horror icon Freddy Krueger killed people in their dreams, and they died in real life

The horror icon Freddy Krueger killed people in their dreams, and they died in real life

How does one dreamwalk? It can be surprisingly easy.

A white flower called undlela zimhlophe, which translates to “white paths,” grows in South Africa. Its blooms only open at night, emitting a mesmerizing aroma. The plant, more commonly known as African dream root (Silene capensis), induces psychedelic, prophetic dreams.

African dream room, which helps you lucid dream, is available for sale. Wally knows what he’s asking for Christmas!

African dream room, which helps you lucid dream, is available for sale. Wally knows what he’s asking for Christmas!

For the Xhosa, dreams are seen as gifts from the ancestors, characterized as drifting white winds or ghosts, in which they impart healing guidance or other knowledge to their descendants, according to World of Lucid Dreaming.

“This dream root is some serious mojo,” Sam says. “You take enough of it, with practice, you can become a regular Freddy Krueger.”

So how do they find this homicidal Sandman? Dean wants to know.

To control someone’s dream, you need to drink part of their body. The boys put in some of Bobby’s hair. Eww.

Bobby’s being tormented by a woman in a white nightgown with holes in her chest — who turns out to be his wife. He had to kill her — she was possessed, rabid. This horrific experience is what got him into hunting.

The villain turns out to be Jeremy, one of the subjects of a medical experiment — he’s basically a god in the dream world.

How to defeat it: Enter the dream and confront the dreamwalker. Remember, he’s dreaming, too. Use his subconscious fears against him.

Mystery spots defy the laws of nature

Mystery spots defy the laws of nature

S3E11: “Mystery Spot”

Monster: Trickster

Where it’s from: Various parts of the world, though the Greek god Hermes and the Norse deity Loki are two of the best known

Description: There’ve been some strange goings-on at the Broward County Mystery Spot.

What it does: These mystery spots are popular roadside attractions in the U.S. They’re said to defy the laws of physics, where gravity doesn’t work, and perspective is skewed.

Next time you’re at the Oregon Vortex, try the popular  Titanic  pose

Next time you’re at the Oregon Vortex, try the popular Titanic pose

Dean’s not having any of it: “Sam, joints like this are only tourist traps, right? I mean, you know, balls rolling uphill, furniture nailed to the ceiling — they’re only dangerous to your wallet.”

But Sam thinks locations that bend space and time are a distinct possibility: “There are spots in the world where holes open up and swallow people.” He mentions the Bermuda Triangle, part of the Atlantic Ocean between Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico, where dozens of ships and airplanes have disappeared, as well as the Oregon Vortex, one of the most famous mystery spots.

Numerous vessels have been lost forever in the Bermuda Triangle

Numerous vessels have been lost forever in the Bermuda Triangle

What it does: Sam’s living his own personal Groundhog Day. Could you imagine a more frightening way to repeatedly start each day than your alarm going off to Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”?

Poor Dean keeps dying: He gets shot by the owner of the Mystery Spot; he’s run down at a crosswalk; then he’s smashed by a falling piano. And that’s just the start. This cycle goes on for over 100 days.

It turns out to be the work of a trickster. A man who recently disappeared didn’t believe in wormholes — so the naughty god thought it’d be fitting to throw him in one.

Mischievous Mercury (the Roman equivalent of Hermes) lulls a watchman to sleep so he can steal a cow:  Mercury and Argos  by Abraham Hondius, late 1600s

Mischievous Mercury (the Roman equivalent of Hermes) lulls a watchman to sleep so he can steal a cow: Mercury and Argos by Abraham Hondius, late 1600s

Bobby says they’ll have to perform a summoning ritual. They’ll just need a gallon of human blood. Sam coldly agrees to kill someone for it — but then stakes Bobby. He knows his hunter buddy would never suggest such a bloodthirsty plan. And sure enough, the trickster god reveals himself.

How to defeat it: Beg. The trickster, in his sick and twisted way, is actually trying to get Sam to accept life without Dean. But Sam doesn’t want to imagine that (awww!), so the trickster lets Sam leave his virtual hell. –Wally

Ghosts, Werewolves and Necromancy

The monsters of Supernatural, Season 2, Episodes 16-18: the Poltergeist curse, how to turn into a werewolf and rituals for summoning spirits.

More than four in 10 Americans believe in ghosts. Do  you ?

More than four in 10 Americans believe in ghosts. Do you?

S2E16: “Roadkill”

Monster: Ghost

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: A ghosts is the spiritual remains of a human who’s dead. They often appear much like the person they once were, though typically stripped of color and substance.

A perhaps surprisingly high number of people believe in ghosts: 42% of Americans, for instance, according to a 2013 Harris poll.

Apparently, there are eight different types of ghosts, as described by Roger Clarke in Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof.

You’re like a walking encyclopedia of weirdness.
— Dean Winchester, to his brother, Sam

This episode deals with the spirit of Jacob Greely, who haunts the road where he was killed on the anniversary of his death.

We learn that spirits are like wounded animals, lost, in pain. They remain because of their remains — or unfinished business, Sam says. Jacob is trapped in a loop, replaying the same tragedy over and over.

What it does: This one speaks through the radio, disappears in cloud of smoke and kills an innocent person in punishment.  

How to defeat it: Salt, again. “In most cultures, salt’s a symbol of purity, so it repels impure and unnatural things,” Sam says. “Same reason you throw it over your shoulder.”

So the boys are off to dig up another corpse and salt and burn it. They need a new hobby.

But there’s another option: Get the ghost to accept its fate and let go.

Fun fact: It’s an old country custom to plant a tree on a grave, Sam exclaims.

“You’re like a walking encyclopedia of weirdness,” Dean replies.

When a woman from Chesterville, Illinois spoke out against the conservative views of the Amish and Mennonite faith, she was accused of witchcraft and found dead. The townsfolk planted a tree over her grave to trap her spirit inside and prevent her from taking revenge, according to Mysterious Heartland.

Her ghost is said to haunt the area.

 

Lycanthropy, the fancy word for turning into a werewolf, happens during the full moon

Lycanthropy, the fancy word for turning into a werewolf, happens during the full moon

S2E17: “Heart”

Monster: Werewolf

Where it’s from: Many parts of the world, particularly Europe

Description: “I’m sorry, man, but what about a human by day, a freak animal killing machine by moonlight don’t you understand? I mean, werewolves are badass,” Dean says.

The ones on Supernatural tend to keep their human form (maybe for budgetary concerns) — just with more hair, longer nails and sharper teeth.

In some cultures, individuals born during a new moon or suffering from epilepsy were considered likely to be werewolves, according to an Imgur post.

That’s a good question. Have you been bitten by a werewolf lately? Eaten wolf brains? Made a deal with the Devil?

That’s a good question. Have you been bitten by a werewolf lately? Eaten wolf brains? Made a deal with the Devil?

There are various means to become a werewolf:

  • Getting bitten by a werewolf

  • Making a pact with the Devil

  • Suffering from a family curse

  • Drinking water from a wolf’s pawprint

  • Eating wolf brains

  • Wearing a wolfskin

What it does: On the week leading up to full moon, the werewolf mauls people to death, removing their heart. Then the werewolf wakes up as a human again, not remembering anything that happened the night before.

“Like a really hot Incredible Hulk?” Dean wants to know.

The connection between lycanthropy and the full moon goes back to the ancient Greeks, according to Werewolves.com:

They noticed the way that the weak gravitational pull of the moon affected the ocean tides and figured that since the human brain contains moisture that the moon could also screw up someone’s mind in the same way, which would cause savage feelings to come forth. The “civilized man” might be gradually transformed by the pull of the moon into a raging, irrational creature — a lunatic. Many of the well-known Greek scholars, such as Aristotle and Hippocrates, agreed with this theory. Then taking in account one of Greece’s moon goddesses, Selene, was often portrayed as a wild and unpredictable woman that would dance unrestrained in the woods, the Greeks felt that they had further proof the moon made people wild and crazed.

Turns out they were on to something. A study performed at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital in Sydney, Australia stated that some of its emergency patients admitted with very violent and dangerous disturbances were similar to werewolf behavior. And a quarter of those happened during a full moon — double the number for the other phases of the moon, according to Leonie Calver, a clinical research nurse in toxicology.

This fellow won’t even remember this in the morning

This fellow won’t even remember this in the morning

How to defeat it: Tie them up — you can’t let them go on an all-you-can-eat buffet, as Dean says.

Lycanthropy might be cured if you can kill the werewolf who bit you. You can sever the bloodline. So posits Daddy Winchester’s theory.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t pan out. So a silver bullet to the heart it is.
 

Necromancy, which comes from the words for “dead divination,” is a fun, if dangerous, pastime

Necromancy, which comes from the words for “dead divination,” is a fun, if dangerous, pastime

S2E18: “Hollywood Babylon”

Monster: Spirits raised from the dead

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: Certain movie productions are said to be cursed or haunted.

As if the movie  Poltergeist  wasn’t scary enough — it’s also said to be cursed, with some of its stars suffering untimely deaths

As if the movie Poltergeist wasn’t scary enough — it’s also said to be cursed, with some of its stars suffering untimely deaths

There are some freak deaths associated with the Poltergeist series, for example, including one of the stars being strangled by her ex and the little girl who played Carol Anne succumbing to a sudden illness.

And there’s a famous shot in Three Men and a Baby in which you can make out an image of a young boy…who supposedly is a ghost. (It did give me the chills when I first saw it.)

Three Men and a Baby …and the ghost of a boy?!

Three Men and a Baby…and the ghost of a boy?!

In this ep, studio executives fake the death of a crewman to drum up publicity.

But then a black and white ghost lures a jerky producer up the scaffolding, puts a noose around his neck and throws him down to his death. It seems connected to a starlet from the ’30s. She was used by a studio exec and hanged herself from the rafters.

Then a ghost from the ’60s of an electrician who died on set caused the same thing to happen to a producer — he was sucked into a giant fan that chopped him up like a blender.

What it does: Turns out a screenwriter named Walter is pissed at the people who ruined his movie. He’s using a necromantic summoning ritual to call forth vengeful spirits.

You can try summoning a spirit to do your bidding — but it’ll attack you if you don’t have the proper protection

You can try summoning a spirit to do your bidding — but it’ll attack you if you don’t have the proper protection

Rituals to Summon the Dead

Here’s how you too can raise the dead to do your bidding, according to Rituals of Magic. (Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?) Perhaps it’s best that the ritual is all rather vague:

First, draw a series of concentric circles of power on the ground, on which you’ve inscribed crosses and other symbols, together with the holy names of God. The circle should be blessed and consecrated — be sure to stand in the center so you’re protected from danger. Then, with your wand in hand, call for the dead to rise, using names of power.

Some sorcerers like to strengthen the connection between the living and the dead by using a portrait of the deceased or offering a piece of bread for the ghost to consume. In this invocation, you call the dead by name — and, if it succeeds, you’ll be rewarded with a screaming ghost full of rage at having been forced against its will to return to the realm of the living. Sometimes the dead materialize as furious beasts threatening to tear you to pieces.

Necromancy is a serious business. The dead don’t want to be disturbed.

 

Here’s another invocation that sounds promising, from Encyclopedia Satanica (gulp):

Perform this ritual at midnight at the grave or crypt of the dead person you’d like to summon.

Burn asafoetida incense and use a “dagger of art” and black candle of summoning.

Ia! Shub-Niggurath!
I invoke thee, spirits of the flame!
I invoke thee, spirits of the air!
I invoke thee, spirits of the earth!
Hysorga! Teamon karazan!

Spirits of the earth,
Give up thy secrets,
Release them from the cold grasp of thy bosom!

I invoke thee, spirits of the earth!
Hysorga! Teamon karazan!

By the unholy name, I thus invoke!
From the grasp
Of the roots that choke.
By the name of the She Goat of the Wood,
Who hast a thousand young!
Ia! Shub-Niggurath!

Ia! Tananan Kr’razorda!
Ia! Orkazonar
Zerlkktrayr
Ia! Shub-Niggurath!

Spirit of [dead person]
The name doth compel thee.
I now do call thee forth from the abyss.

Spirit of [dead person]
The name doth compel thee,
Come now to this place,
Into this circle I call thee.

Spirit of [dead person]
The name doth compel thee.
Come unto me, and show thy self.
For thou shalt answer fully and truthfully
And be compelled to do my bidding.
So it is!

Ia! Tananan Kr’razorda!
Ia! Tananan Kr’razorda!
Ia! Orkazonar
Zerlkktrayr
Ia! Shub-Niggurath!

How to defeat it: You can create a magic talisman to protect yourself. As mentioned, the dead don’t like being anyone’s slave. Be sure you always have the talisman that controls them. Silly Walter breaks his, setting the spirits free — and they can’t wait to pounce on him and pummel him to death. –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 2, Episodes 13-15

Are angels real? Meet Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael and Beelzebub as well as tricksters like Loki, Anansi, Hermes and Reynard the Fox.

Angels, like Raphael, aren’t typically depicted in artwork as badass and intimidating like the Bible describes them

S2E13: “Houses of the Holy”

Monster: Avenging angel

Where it’s from: Israel and other parts of the Middle East

Description: There’s no such thing as angels, Dean argues. But Sam points out that there’s more folklore about angels than anything else they hunt.

“You know what?” Dean responds. “There’s a ton of lore on unicorns, too. In fact, I hear that they ride on silver moonbeams and they shoot rainbows outta their ass!”

“You mean there’s no such things as unicorns?” Sam jokes. These two should take their comedy act on the road.

“There’s some legends you file under bullcrap,” Dean says.

Despite this contention, 72 percent of Americans said they believe in angels, in a 2016 Gallup poll. I don’t know why that high number surprises me: After all, most Americans think a woman who never had sex gave birth to a man who came back from the dead.

The angels known as seraphim actually have six wings

We have a conception of angels as humanlike creatures with large feathered wings sprouting out of their backs. But there are different orders of angels described in the Old Testament, with seraphim, “the Burning Ones,” at the top of the hierarchy. They’re often depicted as red-skinned and wielding flaming swords. Seraphim have six wings: two for flight, two to cover their faces (for even though they fly above the throne of Heaven, they can’t handle looking upon God’s face) and two to cover their feet (so they don’t step on holy ground — though some scholars think this might actually translate to “genitals”), according to whyangels?com.

This illuminated manuscript depicts a six-winged seraphim above the crucifixion of Christ

In another Bible verse, Daniel 10:5-6, the prophet describes an angel in this manner:

I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

This doesn’t look like the cute little cherubs we’re used to!

And we know cherubim, or cherubs, as Cupid-esque chubby toddlers with wings. Turns out they’re actually powerful guardians that also carry flaming swords.

Angels are neither male nor female, though they always appear with men’s bodies and never women’s, according to What Christians Want to Know.

Dean’s not buying Sam’s claim that they’re hunting an angel. “You didn't see any fluffy white wing feathers?” the smartass asks.

Many angels, Raphael included, are God’s means of justice and punishment

What it does: When someone’s visited by the angel in Supernatural, the surroundings shake, and the person is filled with religious ecstasy. They’re then driven to kill because it’s “God’s will.”

That’s actually somewhat in keeping with biblical lore: Angels are God’s agents for “bringing punishment and displaying His holy wrath,” according to What Christians Want to Know.

Take that, Satan! The Archangel Michael defeats the Devil

How to defeat it: In the church, Sam points to a painting of Saint Michael, the slayer of demons. He’s almost always depicted in artwork as stepping on a cringing Devil.

In this episode, Father Gregory died a violent death, and the other priest didn’t get a chance to administer last rites.

Father Gregory’s grave is covered in wormwood, which we learn is a sign of a spirit not at rest. Wormwood is a bitter herb that’s a key ingredient in absinthe, which has been banned because it supposedly causes hallucinations. In witchcraft, it’s used to increase psychic powers and perform exorcisms.

If you want to communicate with spirits, a séance is the way to go

Sam performs a séance ritual based on early Christian rites that involves white candles and a large black candle. It’s in Latin, of course.

In the end, Dean just might be right: This isn’t an angel at all. It turns out to be a vengeful spirit that thinks it’s an angel.

Father Reynolds finally performs last rites and puts the spirit to rest. “I call upon the Archangel Raphael, Master of the Air, to make open the way,” the priest chants. “Let the fire of the Holy Spirit now descend, that this being might be awakened to the world beyond.”

Raphael’s name translates to “God Heals,” from the story in the apocryphal Book of Enoch (the apocrypha are the stories that for some reason didn’t jibe with those who chose what would go into the official Bible.) In Enoch, Raphael heals the Earth after it was defiled by the fallen angels, according to Catholic Online.

So maybe there really aren’t such things as angels. It’s still OK for me to believe in unicorns, though, right?

 

I’ve warned you that demons are usually horrifyingly disgusting

S2E14: “Born Under a Bad Sign”

Monster: Sam?! (Possessed by a demon)

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: Demons are powerful perversions of nature. We’ve covered them before here and here.

Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies, spreads disease and rules Hell

One of the most famous demons in the Judeo-Christian tradition is Beelzebub. He’s usually depicted as a monstrous giant fly, which goes along with his title, Lord of the Flies. Because flies are nasty creatures that hang out on shit and corpses, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Beelzebub spreads disease.

He’s also associated with tempting people with the deadly sin of pride.

In the Gospel of Nicodemus, another apocryphal text, Jesus gave Beelzebub dominion over Hell because the demon freed Adam and other unbaptized saints, allowing them to go up to Heaven. Satan was not pleased.

What it does: Demons like to possess people, manipulating them like puppets. And while the Yellow-Eyed Demon doesn’t seem like much fun, some demons are better to be possessed by than others.

Even ol’ Beelzebub has been known to possess people now and them. Back in 1611, in Aix-en-Provence, France, a Father Louis Gaufridi was accused of making a pact with the Devil, in which a group of Ursuline nuns were possessed by Beelzebub.

The priest was burned at the stake. His executioners used bushes instead of logs because they burn slower and hotter. During the execution, onlookers said they saw flies rising from Father Gaufridi’s body.

How to defeat it: Holy water will burn that mofo. If you can slip it into a beer, all the better!

Watch out for a binding link scar. (The one Sam’s got looks a whole lot like a Q.) To break it, destroy the connection. You could try branding over it with a hot poker — just know it’s gonna hurt!

What’s the secret to fighting off a demonic possession? The answer is surprisingly simple: “If I told them to swing a black cat by its tail over their head at midnight, they would do that,” said Father Vincent Lampert, the designated exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana. “People think they have to do something extraordinary, but it is actually the very ordinary things that build up graces and offer protection. If a Catholic is praying, going to Mass and receiving the sacraments, then the Devil is already on the run,” he told the National Catholic Register.

Loki, the tricker god of Norse mythology as played by Tom Hiddleston, is one of the best villains in the Marvel universe

S2E15: “Tall Tales”

Monster: Trickster

Where it’s from: All over the world

Hermes, the Greek god of travel and thieves, is also a trickster

Description: Religions and folktales all around the globe include a trickster deity. The Norse had Loki, while the Greeks worshiped Hermes. In West Africa, there was the spider Anansi. European folklore includes tales of the mischievous Reynard the Fox. And Native Americans tell stories of the Raven and Coyote.

The African trickster Anansi is the star of a well-known children’s book

“Almost all non-literate mythology has a trickster-hero of some kind,” the famous mythologist Joseph Campbell said in An Open Life. “And there’s a very special property in the trickster: He always breaks in, just as the unconscious does, to trip up the rational situation. He’s both a fool and someone who’s beyond the system. And the trickster represents all those possibilities of life that your mind hasn’t decided it wants to deal with. The mind structures a lifestyle, and the fool or trickster represents another whole range of possibilities. He doesn’t respect the values that you’ve set up for yourself, and smashes them.”

Sounds like they’re essentially rebels, eager to disrupt the social order. No wonder I’ve always had a soft spot for Hermes.

Reynard the Fox is surely up to no good, preaching to these birds

What it does: In this episode, urban legends are coming true. A girl’s ghost seduces a lecherous professor, then sends him out the window and down four stories to his death. A sexed-up ET abducts a hazing-crazed frat boy, who’s anally probed again and again. (“Some alien made you his bitch,” Dean says. But it got worse, the boy adds: It made him slow dance to “Lady in Red.”) A shiny watch down a drain lures a researcher who tests on animals to end up mauled to death by a crocodile in the sewers.

Thing is, it only happens to dicks who you could argue deserve punishment. The trickster is getting his ideas from Weekly World News. These deities thrive on chaos and mischief. And it played the boys like fiddles, fellow hunter Bobby tells them.

Loki, like many tricksters, is able to shapeshift

Tricksters are shapeshifters, sometimes taking human form. They can conjure anything out of thin air.

In a climactic final battle, lingerie-wearing vixens on a round bed with red silk sheets toss Dean around while Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” plays. Meanwhile, Sam and Bobby get attacked by chainsaw-wielding psychopaths like something out of a horror flick.

There goes Reynard the Fox, showing off again

How to defeat it: Try tricking the trickster. Sam and Dean fake a fight and then end up staking the trickster. The reality it has constructed fades away.

But this is only temporary. After all, tricksters, being gods, are immortal. –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 1, Episodes 17-19

Meditation creates a golem-like tulpa from Tibet. A shtriga, a vampire witch from Albania, sucks out the souls of children. And a real-life haunted painting, The Hands Resist Him, leads to mysterious deaths. 

 

Christians, Muslims and Jews pray to God. Wiccans cast spells. Many people practice the power of positive thinking.

Personally, I believe that, for the most part, you get what you put out into the universe. That’s why I try to be as upbeat as possible and why I distance myself from too much negativity.

Is it possible that our thoughts could be so powerful that they become tangible objects? Some Tibetans think so. And if enough people believe that, could it make it actually happen? Will this cycle of belief and creation go on forever?!

Hopefully your brain doesn’t hurt as much as mine. Let’s just dive right into some Supernatural eps.

 

Perhaps these are tulpas, thought forms that have taken on a physical reality

S1E17: “Hell House”

Monster: Tulpa, a malevolent spirit

Where it’s from: Tibet

Description: It’s a thought that takes on a physical form.

What it does: “Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker’s control,” Alexandra David-Néel writes in Magic and Mystery in Tibet, published in 1932. “This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as a child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother’s womb. Sometimes the phantom becomes a rebellious son, and one hears of uncanny struggles that have taken place between magicians and their creatures, the former being severely hurt or even killed by the latter.”

Upon completing its task, instead of returning to the magician who constructed it, a tulpa sometimes pursues its own whims as a “half-conscious, dangerously mischievous puppet,” she writes.

The Tibetan explorer Alexandra David-Néel with her adopted son, Lama Aphur Yongden. David-Néel wrote about her creation of a tulpa that became more and more evil

Incidentally, David-Néel supposedly created a tulpa, in the form of a diminutive Friar Tuck-like monk that started out as jolly. Over time, it became thinner and took on a sinister demeanor. She eventually decided it had to be destroyed.

In this episode of Supernatural, the tulpa is created unintentionally — enough people believe the tales on a blog of a haunted house that they will the ghost into existence.

“The belief is not unlike more popular concepts of today like The Secret — belief in something gives it energy, which in turn helps to manifest it,” argues Psychic Universe. Some people bring about love; others, evil murderous ghosts.  

How to defeat it: Meditation is the place to begin when you have decided to destroy a tulpa, advises Psychic Universe. Sit in a quiet place with soft or dim lighting and go into a meditative state. You need to summon your tulpa to you by calling it in your mind. Depending on how strong it has become and how much of a mind of its own it has developed, this could prove difficult and may take a few attempts. Keep doing it though; remember, no matter how strong it gets, you’re still the creator and you’re still in charge.

Envision your tulpa surrounded by a force field of sorts — a field of white light. This light will protect you from its attempts to stop you. You can envision this light breaking down and reabsorbing the energy of the tulpa, which you can then absorb back into your own spiritual aura. Again, this can take a few sessions, but you’ll see your tulpa readily weakening.

Once you’ve dispersed and reabsorbed the energy, cleanse yourself to transform it into something more positive and get rid of the negative. Avoid thinking of your tulpa any further so you don’t accidentally re-create it; remember to keep your thoughts positive.

David-Néel said it took her six months of hard work to destroy her tulpa.
 

This vampiric witch from Albania, known as a shtriga, especially loves to feast upon the life essences of sleeping children

S1E18: “Something Wicked”

Monster: Shtriga

Where’s it’s from: Albania

Description: The witch in this episode looks like Emperor Palpatine — a dark-hooded figure with a pale, withered face. According to legend, shtrigas appear as old women during the day but have the power to morph into a bee, moth or fly. Some shtriga are also able to turn into owls.

What it does: The shtriga is a vampiric creature — she feeds off of the spiritus vitae (breath of life) or blood, particularly favoring children while they sleep.

How to defeat it: “A shtriga always vomits the blood she has sucked,” writes M. Edith Durham in High Albania and Its Customs in 1908. “You must secretly track a woman you suspect to be a shtriga when she goes out to vomit the blood. You must scrape some of it up on a silver coin and wear it, and then no shtriga can harm you.”

If you have been drained by a shtriga, the only cure is to have her spit into your mouth. Sounds pretty disgusting, but hey, if it works… Not sure how you’ll convince her to do this, though. Maybe French kissing would be enough?

If you happen to have a shtriga in a church, and it happens to be Easter Sunday, make a cross out of pig bones and hang it over the threshold. The shtriga will be unable to leave — and you’ve got one hell of an excuse not to go to church!

Dean and Sam discover that you can only defeat a shtriga if you catch her while she’s having a snack — that is, sucking the lifeforce out of someone. Fire her full of consecrated iron rounds. Just make sure you’ve got good aim.

 


S1E19: “Provenance”

Monster: Haunted painting

Description: This looks like a typical work of art — but suddenly you’ll notice one of the people in the painting have disappeared.

What it does: The spirit leaves the painting and commits murder.

The Hands Resist Him, a haunted painting tied to at least two deaths

It’s not the only haunted painting out there. There’s an infamous one titled The Hands Resist Him, painted by Bill Stoneham in 1974.

The owner of the gallery where the painting was first displayed and the art critic who reviewed the show died within a year of seeing the painting. And one seller on eBay wrote in the product description: “One morning our 4 1/2-year-old daughter claimed that the children in the picture were fighting and coming into the room during the night.”

Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan bought The Hands Resist Him for $1,025. It now sits in storage.

How to defeat it: Pure iron has a long history of bringing about good luck and repelling evil. But in this case it’s not enough to banish the spirit of the haunted painting for good.

The Winchester boys use one of their go-to methods of destroying baddies: “Burn the bones,” as they like to say. Trouble is, that doesn’t work for them this time. That is, until they realize it’s not the father’s spirit committing the murders — it’s that of the little girl.

To kill the spirit, Sam and Dean had to destroy the doll that was made in the girl’s image because it had some of her hair. It was pretty creepy-looking anyway. –Wally

How to Protect Yourself From Jinns and Black Magic

blackmagic

Black magic in Islam is a serious concern — and the holy writings offer numerous ways to negate magic jinn.

 

I’m torn. Sometimes I think there’s a power in belief. That just by acknowledging something’s existence, you’re giving it relevance, even substance.

On the other hand, I know I can’t just force myself to not think about djinns while I’m in their lands. Heck, telling me not to think about something is pretty much guaranteeing it’ll be top of mind the entire time we’re in Fès.

There’s even one to recite, ahem, before you have sex.

So, I ultimately decided to investigate ways to protect yourself from djinns (also called jinns and, to most Westerners, genies).

Not that I think we’re really in any danger — or that these superstitions will actually help prevent something bad from happening.

But heck, after what happened last time, I figure it sure couldn’t hurt.

Pages from the  Iran Islam Temtem-e Hendi Pictorial Book on Talisman, Charm & Mysterious Sciences in Persian (Farsi ): Instructions on What to Do to Put Demons & Genie ( Jinni ) Under Your Control & Info About How to Make Brass Plates to Avoid Black Magic & Use White Magic

Pages from the Iran Islam Temtem-e Hendi Pictorial Book on Talisman, Charm & Mysterious Sciences in Persian (Farsi ): Instructions on What to Do to Put Demons & Genie ( Jinni ) Under Your Control & Info About How to Make Brass Plates to Avoid Black Magic & Use White Magic

 

Spells, Prayers and Protective incantations

A lot of the sites I found during my research focused on prayers to Allah for protection, such as this one:

“I seek refuge in Allah from you. I curse you with the curse of Allah.”

That seems a bit extreme — maybe it’s best to keep that one as backup if things get particularly dire.

This is one you recite upon leaving your house:

“In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah. There is no solution, no way out and no power except by Allah.”

There’s even one to recite, ahem, before you have sex:

“In the name of Allah, O Allah! Keep us away from Shaytaan [Satan] and keep Shaytaan away from what you bestow upon us.”

This assures that if a baby is conceived, Satan will never dare harm it. It also prevents a djinni from “taking part in a man’s sexual intercourse with his wife,” according to IdealMuslimah.

Here’s a nice general-purpose prayer that works all day long. Say this upon rising in the morning, and you’re said to be protected from djinns until you retire in the evening:

“I seek refuge in Allah from Satan the outcast. Allah! There is none worthy of worship but he, the ever-living, the one who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him. To him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the Earth. Who is he that can intercede with him except with his permission? He knows what happens to them in this world, and what will happen to them in the hereafter. And they will never encompass anything of his knowledge except that which he wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the Earth, and he feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And he is the Most High, the Most Great.”

Here it is in Arabic:

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ "اللهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

'A 'oothu billaahi minash-Shaytaanir-rajeem. Allaahu laa 'ilaaha 'illaa Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyoom, laa ta'khuthuhu sinatun wa laa nawm, lahu maa fis-samaawaati wa maa fil-'ardh, man thai-lathee yashfa'u 'indahu 'illaa bi'ithnih, ya'lamu maa bayna 'aydeehim wa maa khalfahum, wa laa yuheetoona bishay'im-min 'ilmihi 'illaa bimaa shaa'a, wasi'a kursiyyuhus samaawaati wal'ardh, wa laa ya'ooduhu hifdhuhumaa, wa Huwal- 'Aliyyul- 'Adheem

This is the one Duke and I ended up reciting every morning before we left the riad. And we didn't have one bad djinni experience! It works!

Here's another, though, to play it safe:

“In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment, thee do we serve and thee do we beseech for help. Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom thou has bestowed favors — not of those upon whom thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray.”

And one more for good measure:

“I seek refuge in the Lord of the Dawn from the evil of what he has created. And from the evil of the utterly dark night when it comes. And from the evil of those who blow on knots. And from the evil of the envious when he envies.”

Wonder what that blowing on knots is all about? It appears to be a term for (and practice of) the secrets arts of sorcery.

The black king of the djinns, Al-Malik al-Aswad, in the late 14th-century  Kitab al-Bulhan  or  Book of Wonders

The black king of the djinns, Al-Malik al-Aswad, in the late 14th-century Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders

 

Other Means of Protection

Finally, I found some types of protection aside from spoken prayers or spells:

dates

The Prophet (peace and blessing upon him) said, “Whoever eats seven pressed dates every morning before eating any food, will not be affected by poison or sihr [witchcraft]!”

Preferably, you’re eating ajwa, a kind of date grown in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

This is from Al-Bukhari, one of the major collections of Sunni Islam: 10/249, the Book of Medicine, Chapter: Treatment of Sorcery With 'Ajwah.)

 

ablution (wudu)

First think about your niyyah (intention) in performing ablution to cleanse yourself of impurities.

Say, “Bismillah,” which means “in the name of Allah.”

Wash your right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times.

Repeat with the left hand.

Rinse your mouth and spit out the water three times and rub the teeth with a miswak, a teeth-cleaning twig.

This site has a more elaborate form of wudu that includes putting water up your nose and washing your feet.

Do this and you’ll be protected by an angel and therefore immune to black magic.

 

potty prepping

Apparently, Satan likes to lurk in bathrooms. So before you go in, you might want to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge in you from the male/female Satans.” The Devil apparently likes to hide in “this filthy place, which is the home of Satanic jinn,” according to Al-Bukhari

 

I'm not saying I'll follow all of this advice…but I do feel that I'm going back onto the djinns' turf better-armed. –Wally