Are angels real? Meet Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael and Beelzebub as well as tricksters like Loki, Anansi, Hermes and Reynard the Fox.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
S2E15: “Tall Tales”
Where it’s from: All over the world
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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