Supernatural urban legends: Salting and burning lore explained


Photo Credit: Supernatural/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Hook Man showed the first instance of using salt and fire to get rid of ghosts. Supernatural Season 1, Episode 10 showed the second instance.

Salting and burning the corpses is one of the best ways to get rid of vengeful spirits in Supernatural. It wasn’t until Episode 7 that the Winchesters were finally able to use this trick and the second occasion occurred in Episode 10, “Asylum.” Dean performed the salting and burning on both occasions.

Why is salt and fire important? How do they get rid of the vengeful spirits? Here’s a look at the Supernatural urban legends and the real lore about salt and fire on spirits.

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Salting and burning in Supernatural lore

The idea of using salt against ghosts in Supernatural was created by writers Terri Hughes Burton and Ron Milbauer. They developed the idea from the lore that salt is commonly used to repel evil. If hit with salt, it would make sense that the spirit would disappear.

Of course, fire then destroys remains, but how do the two work together? The process of salting and burning purifies the remains. This helps to purify the spirit, allowing it to move on.

Salting and burning is considered death to spirits. It turns out that Reapers are then able to take the spirit to their afterlife, whether that is Hell, Heaven or somewhere else.

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The real lore behind salting and burning

As mentioned, the lore of using salt and fire in Supernatural is based on truth. One tradition from Scotland is to salt alcohol to keep witches away; Scotland was a country with a deep belief in witches in the Middle Ages. It was also used in butter in Scotland, Germany, and the Netherlands to prevent witches from souring the butter!

However, many folklore views salt as a purifying agent. It helps to keep evil at bay, protecting from ghosts, demons, and many other creatures. It’s not that surprising that salt circles are used throughout Supernatural to keep vengeful spirits away from their victims.

Photo Credit: Supernatural/The CW Image Acquired from CW TV PR

Salt has also been used in folklore to determine if people are possessed by fairies or other supernatural beings. Ireland lore uses salt and the Lord’s Prayer to remove the fairies possessing people, while the Ukraine and Bavaria have salt lore for determining if a child is possessed. The idea is that the salt will force the being to come to the surface and show its evil intent, as the salt purifies the innocent victim.

What about the use of fire, too? This dates back to the Egyptian period. The Egyptians would burn salt on hot coals while travelling across the dessert. The process would help to prevent spirits from possessing the travellers.

Fire also has the ability to destroy. While the salt purifies, the fire will destroy the remains. So the spirit is purified and destroyed at the same time, helping to overcome the evil.

Next: The prophets of Supernatural so far

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