Necromancy in Supernatural and the real world

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

Supernatural Season 2 introduced the idea of necromancy and zombies, but did the lore relate to the real world?

In Supernatural Season 2, Episode 4 a girl was brought back from the dead. It was the first time necromancy was used on the show, but certainly wouldn’t be the last. The Winchesters went to deal with the problem, believing they were initially dealing with the vengeful or violent spirit.

While the case brought back the dead, it also brought out Dean’s feelings. He finally admitted to the way he felt about John’s death and the fact that he was sure he was supposed to die. “What’s dead should stay dead” was uttered and became one of the most iconic lines of the series.

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But just how much of the necromancy lore was connected to real lore? Here’s a look at the two.

Supernatural necromancy lore

For “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” the show focused on the Ancient Greek ritual, an extremely dark art version of necromancy. The dead would be brought back in a zombie form. While they would contain many of their same memories from being alive, they also would have superhuman abilities.

Angela Mason was brought back full of revenge. She killed her cheating boyfriend and roommate, as well as the person who brought her back because she knew he would try to kill her again.

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The ritual to bring Angela back wasn’t shown or fully explained, but the use of a special sigil carved into the coffin was used.

A stake was used to kill the zombie, with the Winchesters noting that this may have been how vampire lore of a stake to the heart was developed.

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

Real necromancy lore

All cultures have some sort of lore surrounding necromancy, but all is likely evolved from shamanism. This lore involves the bringing of ghosts and spirits to life to learn something and talk to the deceased. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and more all had lore that developed from the initial shaman lore, although some would go further to bring back people back to life and not just bring their spirits.

In some cultures, a necromancer would wear the deceased’s clothes, consume food symbolizing lifelessness and could even mutilate corpses. For the most part, only the recently deceased would be brought back, as more than 12 months would only allow the spirit to return.

Christianity frowned upon necromancy. In fact, some teachings went as far to say that bringing people back from the dead wasn’t possible, and that demons were brought to the land of the living instead. This may be where some of the necromancy lore in Supernatural derives from.

Over the years, necromancy has changed in view. Now, it’s viewed as the manipulation of the dead, and can be done through spiritualism, channelling and even séances. This links back to some of the original views that it was possible to bring back the ghosts and spirits to commune and learn. Of course, the view of bringing back people as zombies is used in popular cultures, but that’s a different type of lore for another day.

In short, Supernatural adopted the various views of necromancy. The show stuck to the Ancient Greek practices and rituals, with the use of bringing a recently deceased person back from the dead.

Next: What is a rakshasa from Supernatural?

Did you know the real necromancy lore? Did you realize the show focused on realism in the earlier years? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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