‘Supernatural’ urban legends: ‘A Woman in White’ explained


circa 1865: A man clinging to a tree in the face of an apparition in a forest. London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series – 72 (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

An in-depth look at the very monster that the Winchester brothers faced in ‘Supernatural’ Season 1, Episode 1

In the very first episode of Supernatural Sam and Dean encountered what is called “A Woman in White” (or “A Weeping Woman”). The two brothers managed to defeat the vengeful spirit, but it was a pretty close call. Poor Baby took the brunt of the defeat, after being driven into the spirit’s house by Sam Winchester.

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But what exactly is a Woman in White and how does it relate to real life?

‘A Woman in White’

In the show a “Woman in White” is a spirit or ghost of a woman who has suffered a violent death. Before that death, she had drowned her own children due to temporary insanity after learning her husband had been unfaithful. Upon realizing what she had done to her children she took her own life, linking back to the violent death.

Various forms of the legend exist all across the world such as Hawaii, Mexico, and the US. There are various names, such as the “Weeping Woman.”

The women appear as beautiful young women in white dresses. Their true forms are that of a corpse, but they need to lure adulterous and unfaithful men by their looks. The men they lure are killed mysteriously, and their bodies never found. In Supernatural, the victims’ cars were found abandoned.

The truth of the ‘Supernatural’ urban legend

There are legends of these women in white in the real world. The idea for Supernatural likely came from Mexico’s folklore of “La Llorona.”

The tale tells of a woman who drowned her children in a river in an act of revenge on her husband, who had left her for a much younger woman. When she truly realizes what she has done and that her children are dead, she drowns herself in the river as well.

Upon reaching the beyond she is confronted about where her children are. When she is unable to answer she is not allowed to pass until she has located them. She is left to wander the Earth in between worlds searching for her children. While doing so she constantly weeps, hence the alternate term “A Weeping Woman.”

This tale would be used on children in order to prevent them from wandering out at night, as she would kidnap them thinking they were her own. Reports of those who have seen her have told tales of her being by the river and that anyone who actually hears her weep has actually been marked for death.

The urban legend of “A Woman in White” is very well known and the show did a wonderful job in portraying this without changing too many details.

Other shows have done variations of the tale, but not quite exact. Are You Afraid of the Dark used the American urban legend of the girl believing she had been stood up by her prom date, only to be killed accidentally by her prom date. Grimm Season 2 and Sleepy Hollow Season 1 featured versions of Mexico’s La Llorona.

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What do you think of ‘A Woman in White’? Had you heard of the tale before watching Supernatural? Share in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Supernatural Season 13 premieres on Oct. 12 at 8/7c on The CW.