Crossroad demons: The lore from Supernatural and real-life cultures

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

Supernatural officially introduced crossroad demons for the first time in Supernatural Season 2, Episode 8. Here’s a look at the lore behind the beings.

Going down to the crossroads to make pacts with demons or the devil has been in mythology and lore for centuries. All cultures have some sort of demon pact lore, whether it’s directly with the devil himself or one of his minions. Supernatural worked with the demon lore, creating crossroad demons specifically for making deals that would lead to souls going to Hell to be tortured and turned into demons.

In Supernatural Season 2, Episode 8, crossroad demons were officially introduced. Here’s a look at the lore but also the real-life culture lore of crossroads and demon deals. How much do the two mix together.

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Crossroad demons would grant wishes for a price

Someone could go to a crossroad and sell their soul for a wish. You’d have to hope that it was a good wish and that you made it specific enough for your needs. In the series, George Darrow made a point in saying that he’d asked for the talent but that was it. There was nothing about getting money for his art so he was still broke by the time his contract came up.

Crossroad demons would make deals with almost anyone. Most of the terms would be 10 years, but there were times that the deal term could be shortened. For John Winchester’s deal, he got the chance to say goodbye to his sons. Dean got the offer of a year for Sam’s life. There were times that the crossroad demons wouldn’t deal with the Winchesters at all, such as when Sam tried to make a deal for his own soul in place of his brother’s.

Unless the crossroad demon chooses not to take the soul of their victim, there’s no way to get out of the deal. The Winchesters saved Evan in “Crossroad Blues” only because Dean had trapped the crossroad demon and threatened to exorcise it. Dean made a deal to let the demon go if the demon let Evan go. However, there was no way out for Dean’s deal in “All Hell Breaks Loose.”

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

Most crossroad demons will follow the general rules. The contracts are like business contracts and must be followed. Crowley points out that without the rules, people would never make deals because they’d worry that a demon would negate on their end. However, there have been the odd times that rogue demons have gone against the rules and a time when Dean (intentionally) killed the wrong person.

There have also been cases where deals have been changed later. Some demons have offered their victims the chance to continue living, but they must help to collect souls in repayment.

To seal a deal in Supernatural, the two parties must kiss. Usually, the deal is with a demon that matches the gender a person is interested in to make things easier and more comfortable. There have been instances where the demons have chosen not to seal with a kiss for their own reasons.

Why a deal at the crossroads

There is plenty of mythology surrounding deals at crossroads. Every culture has some sort of lore. The blues guitarists of the 1930s had a belief that many had gone to the crossroads to wait for the devil or a demon to make a pact for talent. One of the most iconic legends is Robert Johnson.

A crossroad is extremely symbolic. In folklore, a crossroad is viewed as a location between the worlds—literally a crossroad between the current world and the next. The idea is that it would be easier for demons to pass into our world to make these deals.

But the idea of brokering deals dates back long before Western folklore was created. Hoodoo lore is full of the idea of deals made at crossroads. Papa Legba is one of the most commonly named demons/devils featured in Hoodoo crossroad deal lore.

Most lore focuses on people making deals for particular talents. In some mythology they make the deal directly with the devil, but Supernatural worked with the demon lore instead. In some more emotional cases, people have traded their souls for others or at least for the lives of loved ones.

In English tradition, crossroads were also the sites of burying some of the dead, mostly criminals and those who killed themselves. The idea was that they would be buried away from the settlements and the crossroads would confuse the dead, preventing them from returning to haunt and also so they would walk the afterlife in turmoil. This could be where the idea of the crossroad demons comes into play. The dead may have become those to make deals with, in order for the dead to hopefully get a soul and move onto the afterlife.

Also in Christian lore, the idea of making a deal with the devil led to the creation of witchcraft. Some of the deals include fame, wealth, youth, beauty, etc. The soul that has made the deal faces eternal damnation, which is exactly what Supernatural used when souls went to Hell. In some lore, those who made deals with the devil also agreed to killing children at the moment of birth. Many midwives were persecuted for the deaths of babies, although we now know the medical implications and issues.

A mark would be left behind when someone made a deal with the devil or a demon. Even verbal agreements would have a mark. Many in the past believed that birth marks, moles and other scarring were marks of the devil.

Next: Hellhounds lore: Are there really black dogs that will drag you to Hell?

Did you know the real lore behind crossroads and making pacts with the devil? Did you realize how much Supernatural based on real Western culture? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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