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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Last Night's Supernatural

I am...confused.

Supernatural, like most dark fantasy/horror media, inhabits a basically Christian universe - very Catholic, from what I can see. I don't think other types of Christianity use holy water. That's why crosses and holy water and Christian exorcism words work on the demons.

Dean uses these things all the time. Dean knew that the water Bobby threw on him was holy water. He *knows* holy water is effective on demons. He knows this empirically.

How can he know that holy water exists and not believe in holiness itself? How can he know that there is darkness and not believe there is light - where does he think the tools to fight it come from? How does he think holy water happens? (How DOES holy water happen, btw? Is it just tap water blessed by a priest or are there rules about it?)

If there are demons, there must be angels - especially since Christian mythos has it that demons *were* angels who rebelled. Okay, Dean isn't a supergenius, but he's not stupid and he does employ logic on occasion. If there wasn't a heaven, his arsenal wouldn't work.


I think your cut-tag is broken, fyi.


Holy water is water that is blessed by a priest or member of the clergy. But it can also be blessed by a deacon or any believing member of any faith. However, it isn't just plain water. The water must also contain salt.

And I have always found it bizarre that Dean can believe in demons and Hell, but not angels and heaven. That makes no sense to me.

I think Vatican II abolished the salt requirement.

Didn't there used to be also some kind of consecrated special oil in it? Somehow it always seemed to me that Catholicism was much cooler before Vatican II. *g*

(But then even after their reforms they still seemed cooler to me as a kid than the in comparison rather drab Lutheran stuff I was familiar with, not to mention that I've always envied the Catholic regions because they have more public holidays than we get in protestant areas. *grumble grumble*)

You're correct that salt is no longer a requirement for Catholics. But many still use it because in addition to the salt having a symbolic meaning it also has a practical one since it keeps that green slime from growing in the water.

But for people who want to make their own holy water for purification reasons, most 'recipes' still include salt.

Thank you. I had wondered.

Hmm. I've wondered about that, and for me, it returns to the concept of faith, which Dean doesn't seem to have. He trusts in concrete things that work; he doesn't need to understand physics to know a bullet kills, so he wouldn't necessarily feel the need to understand why holy water works. Dean never struck me as being able to take a leap of faith; he trusts himself, his father, and Sam, all proven things that *work*.

Demons he's seen, killed, touched--that's something he can prove. Magic he can prove, and holy water might be, in his mind, just another form of magic.

(Speaking of this, in the show, John Winchester blessed like an entire building's worth of water with a prayer and dropping a cross in; strictly speaking, I'm not sure that's supposed to work without the will of God in the form of a priest, so Dean could very well see holy water and other bits associated with Christianity as simply another form of magic, not as a part of elemental good. Again, practical--a prayer (spell) to God (higher being of some kind) instead of the actual battle between Dark and Light.)

It's odd, but it's also consistent with his father's very, very practical education instead of a spiritual one.

There's also the fact that comes up that we don't see beings of absolute good, only evil. So never having seen or experienced that, it makes sense that he wouldn't believe, considering on earth, he and the other hunters are as close as you can get to a protective 'good'.

Technically, in an emergency, anyone of faith can bless water to make it holy water, just as in an emergency, anyone can baptize. Now, the question of whether John qualifies as being "of faith" is a whoooole other can of worms.

Or whether John passed that on as other than theory if he was; Dean seems to fall closer himself to a belief in a universe of multiple higher and lower powers, not necessarily a monotheistic one. Actually, Dean (to me) falls closer to the BtVS school of thought on evil and good and everything between.

The Buffy universe has always looked fairly Christian to me, too.

Yeah, that makes sense to me. To Dean, it's all magic. In fact, considering that his education had to be spotty at best, and he's not the sort to supplement it with anything he doesn't need to know to survive or maintain his car, Dean might well think *everything* is magic in that he doesn't know or care how it works.

In a way, though, it's a kind of faith - a faith in his father. If Dad says it'll work, it'll work. He may have transferred that part of that faith to Sam, too. But, that won't explain things unseen.

Not sure how accurate http://www.answers.com/topic/holy-water-2 is but it has an interesting section on The ritual of preparing holy water.

In the previews for the episode they had done stuff with a number of languagues including hebrew, out of curiosity did the do anything related to Jews/Judaism in the episode?

(Quoting from the page you linked)

Once blessed, more ordinary water can be added to the supply of holy water, and the entire quantity of water remains blessed provided that the amount added is less than the amount of water that was there.

The ritual of preparing holy water is itself in form an exorcism; the priest first exorcises the salt, and then the water itself; the traditional Latin formula for exorcising and blessing the water is:

Holy water is homeopathic? Who knew?!

Doesn't strike me as odd.

Kiddush wine is homeopathic - one cup of wine, refilled before it's emptied - can be passed around to any number of people in any number of shot cups.

I looked, but there were a lot of symbols there on that wall. I think there might have been a Mogen David, but I didn't see any Hebrew.

Honestly, that was something that made very little sense to me in "Houses of the Holy," and we went 'round and 'round and 'round about it.

It's a very sad worldview indeed.

It's pretty much just the protestants who don't do holy water, but the older cristian traditions: Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic do use it. Depending on the rite, salt and/or other herbs may be added.

As for Dean's skepticism and shock, I think it could come from believing that the use of latin and/or old christian rites are just "the rules" -- that this was stuff that predated the christian church that they incorporated.

That the religion didn't have much to do with it -- that it had to be the ritual.

And I don't think he ever gave much thought to it beyond "it works".

Salt works and it's not necessarily tied to any one faith.

Yeah, I can see that. As seperis said - it's all magic to him.

As an Atheist I can understand it. It's the basic philosophical question - is 'good' inherently 'good' or is it only 'good' because god tell us it is? Simplistic example - Thou shalt not murder. Why? Because it is one of the Ten Commandments. Or because from experience we know that murder takes a life and destroys the people that life touched.

Dean has blessed water himself and made it Holy Water, but clearly Dean does not see himself as a Holy Man. He is guilty of glutton and lust, he uses the Lord's name in vain, he steals - about the only Commandment he hasn't broken is Honor Thy father.

Dean believes in a pragmatic way that Holy Water and other 'Catholic' rituals work because he's seen it. The same way he believes in Smith and Wesson. He hasn't seen a lot of god's grace. I'm pretty sure in time he'll start believing once the angel gives him more evidence to base that belief on. Now, is that real faith? I don't know. I don't have faith. I haven't seen much to indicate Dean has faith either. That will be an interesting point to follow this season.

You also made a point I've been thinking about for the entire series. Why Christian mythos? If my life depended on tradition and ritual I'd be checking out every denomination and culture. Most of them are a lot older than Christianity and all of them have 'supernatural' lore.

How can one bless something and make it holy if one doesn't believe? That...breaks my brain big time. To me, that's sanctifying something (through words or use) to Gd. If you don't believe in Gd, then the act is meaningless.

It's Christian mythos because pretty much all horror *is*, from what I've seen. It's also the one most familiar to the audience.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I'm a bit confused. I wasn't talking about the holiness or the sanctity of the person doing the sanctification - I'm aware that even a non-Catholic can baptize a child.

But - that leads to a question. Can a non-Christian baptize a child? Say, a new mother is dying and the only person around is Jewish. If the mother begs her to baptize the child, and she accedes, would that be valid? (I mean, I could very much see comforting a dying woman, but I know it would be, for me, getting the child's forehead wet.)

Because if that's true (and if so, that breaks my brain big time), then, yes, I can see how a non-believer could make holy water.

We've seen the boys make holy water.

This says a lot more about Dean's self-image than anything, really. If it's something he can do, it can't possibly have anything to do with real holiness, with real sanctity. With real Good.

Dean believes what he can see, and he's seen a lot more evil than good.