In 2005, the CW television network debuted a paranormal series that followed the adventures of two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, who travel the country fighting the forces of darkness. The popular show pulls from the diverse paranormal myths, beliefs and legends of the world, altering them to suit its own internal mythos.
Nathan Robert Brown’s latest book, The Mythology of Supernatural: The Signs and Symbols Behind the Popular TV Show explores the religious and folkloric roots that most likely inspired the creatures and villains of the TV show.
Using Supernatural as a framework, Mr. Brown’s book provides a primer on demons, angels, and the tools used to summon and smite them. Mr. Brown’s easygoing narrative style makes the sometimes complex twists, turns, and relationships of myths and legends accessible.
Although written for the fans of Supernatural, much of the information in the book would be of interest to those who are interested in the history of mythological stories and folkloric legends in general. One chapter, in fact, delves into the origins of Lilith, which most likely had roots in a Mesopotamian goddess and over time was absorbed and modified by religions her followers came into contact with, finally ending up a part of Judeo-Christian lore.
The archetypal nature of the relationship between Sam and Dean, as well as their relationship with their nearly nonexistent father John Winchester and their surrogate father figure Bobby Singer, are in part responsible for the show’s popularity. Another chapter in The Mythology of Supernatural explores these archetypes, sharing several myths that these relationships emulate.
Each chapter features quotes from the television show, a brief reference to the topic as illustrated in the show, and finally an analysis of the myths, legends, and lore that the topic was drawn from.
Since this book is not authorized or endorsed by anyone associated with Supernatural, much of what Mr. Brown shares is speculative; however, his research is sound and reads like it is probably on the mark. Also, most of the book is concerned with the genesis of creatures and tools used in the most recent season or two, when angelic forces joined the mix, eventually leading to the now thwarted apocalypse.
The book was written before the most recent sixth season, and so it’s a little out of date. Yet since the book is not a guide to the series, but more a guide to the concepts behind the series, The Mythology of Supernatural remains an intelligent, interesting, and entertaining read.