Death omens: What are they in Supernatural and real lore?

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 /

Death omens were introduced in Supernatural Season 2, Episode 7. It was the first time a spirit was used as a warning sign, but how much did the series get the omens right?

In “Usual Suspects,” Supernatural introduced death omens. In the episode, the ghost of Claire Becker appeared as a warning that victims were going to die. While technically Isaiah Merchant could have been considered a death omen, his spirit never appeared in person. He manipulated a portrait. Season 2, Episode 7 was the first time a physical manifestation took place to warn victims.

It’s time to look at the lore behind death omens and how Supernatural used them for the series.

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Supernatural death omens are warnings

Death omens in the series appear as spirits. While they look threatening, they’re not there to attack. Instead, they want people to find out where their bodies are and who killed them. Claire would appear to those who her murderer was coming to kill or those close to her murderer. The latter is why she appeared to Diana Ballard.

Unfortunately, because of the seemingly threatening nature of the spirits, the Winchesters have often gotten the cases wrong. In some cases, the removal of the omens has caused more problems but has also been the only way the Winchesters have realized the bigger issue.

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Death omens in real lore

Almost every culture has a lore about death omens. They can be creatures, spirits, and even plants. In Scottish lore, a black bird (usually a crow) near a house is a bad omen and was at one time believed to bring death to the home. People were encouraged to get rid of the bird to send death away.

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 /

Dogs, cats, owls and even rabbits can be considered death omens. Many of these death omens are specific, such as a white rabbit crossing paths, a mouse running over the foot, and even a bat flying into a home. The Roman Emperor Antonius had an owl land on his floor before his death, while some cultures believe that a black cat crossing a funeral procession means someone in that family will die in three days.

Some of the lore around spirits and death omens have linked to previous Supernatural episodes. For example, in English and German lore, seeing a Woman in White means that someone in your family will die soon. In Scottish culture, seeing a dark grey man is a sign of death. The dark grey man could be linked to the first view of reapers in Supernatural.

Most cultures that involve spirits as death omens are linked to the spirits of living people. Seeing the spirit of a friend is a bad omen for that friend. It means death is coming for them or they could already be dead. This isn’t something the series has really touched on, focusing instead of the spirits of others to give warnings.

In fact, the lore says that if a friend’s face is visible in the spirit, that friend has died. If the face isn’t visible, the death is going to happen. This lore is throughout Europe and in New Zealand. In Scottish lore, the vision of spirits will depend on the time of day. In the morning, it means the friend will have a long and happy life. It’s a death omen if the spirit is seen in the evening.

Ghosts trying to send messages on is also in various culture lore. The ghosts’ unfinished business is their murderers going unpunished. This often leads to vengeful spirits, which is something Supernatural has touched on multiple times.

Next: Zombie lore in Supernatural and reality

Did you know all about death omens lore in real life and in the show? What death omens were you told as a child? Share in the comments below.

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