Ever wonder where the writers of Supernatural get their ideas for the series episodes? Well most of the MOTW ideas are from urban legend, folklore, pagan festivals, and even fairy tales. However ideas for the myth arc, according to Kripke & Co, are taken from two main sources, John Milton’s classic poem Paradise Lost (1667), and the last book of the bible The Book of Revelation (c.96 CE). Other books include the ancient Jewish apocalyptic The Book of Enoch (200B.C), and Paradise Regained (1671). So, what are these works and what stories do they tell? Let look at the two major pieces.
John Milton, a Puritan Englishman, wrote Paradise Lost in 1667. He was considered a â€˜man of lettersâ€™ and a polemical writer. Milton is also believed to have been a Calvinist and the question of predestination and freedom was crucial to his intellectual orientation. He lived (1607-1774) during the 17th century which falls into the Early Modern period of Europe. It was characterized by Baroque culture, the French Grand SiÃ¨cle dominated by Louis XIV, and the beginning of modern science and philosophy. Milton was well aware of the works of Copernicus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), and Galileo (The Starry Messenger), and these really influenced his poem. His descriptions of space and planets are very vivid and enjoyable.
This poem is actually two stories, both about a fall from Paradise. In the first story (introduced immediately), Adam and Eve are thrown out of the Garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge. The second story (told in flashbacks) tells the tale of Luciferâ€™s fall, which apparently started when Christ was born to God. God set his son above the angels for them to worship, causing immediate jealousy in Lucifer.
â€œ â€¦ so waked Satan- so called now; his former name
Is heard no more in Heaven. He, of the first,
If not the first Archangel, great in power,
In favour, and pre?minenence, yet fraught
With Envy against the Son of Godâ€¦.â€
The battle lasted three days after which Lucifer is defeated, and cast down to â€œthe Deepâ€, along with a third of the legions of Heaven, and all Luciferâ€™s offspring, even though they had no part in the revolt. Godâ€™s forces were lead by Michael and Gabriel (â€œâ€¦these my sons invincibleâ€¦â€), and while Lucifer used many â€˜machines of Satanâ€™, Michael, and his sword, really chopped Satanâ€™s forces on the second day.
â€œThe battle hung: till Satanâ€¦saw where the sword of Michael smote, and felled
Squadrons at once: with huge two-handed sway
Brandished aloft, the horrid edge came down
Michael eventually slashed Satanâ€™s side nearly cutting him in half. With the additional successes of Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael on other fronts, God then sends his son, Christ, to ride out in a chariot, by himself, and drive Lucifer and his legions into Hell.
It was then that God created humans. Because He lost a third of his worshipers in the revolt, He created Adam and Eve to fill his need for worshipers, placing them on one of the many crystal orbs he had created.
Meanwhile in Hell, Satan rallies his unhappy legions (who are already beginning the change into demonic forms), and holds a counsel to discuss their options. After remembering the decisiveness of Michaelâ€™s sword, they decide against launching another war. And knowing there is no hope of Godâ€™s forgiveness, they decide that being free in Hell is better than serving in Heaven. But, they also canâ€™t tolerate their defeat. So they decide to get revenge, by cause Godâ€™s newest children, humans, to revolt as well. (Hmmmmâ€¦.sounds familiar).
After their decision of revenge, only Satan is brave enough to make the journey to earth. But first he had to get out of Hell, and passed Hell-gates, which he finds shut, locked, and guarded by two creatures that hold the keys. Oddly enough, the two guards God put there just happened to be Satanâ€™s daughter, Sin, and their son, Death. (Yepâ€¦Satan had a son by his daughter while in heaven.) He also he finds a multitude of Hell-hounds, the offspring of Sin and Death.
Of course, Satan talks Sin and Death into opening the gates for him, promising to eventually take them to â€œthe new world of light and blissâ€. It also helped Satan that they were irate at God for casting them out of Heaven when they had no part in the revolt. Sinâ€™s comment:
â€œ Thou wilt bring me soon
To that new world of light and bliss, among
The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign
At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
Thy daughter and thy darling, without end.â€
Satan now transverses the Abyss and sees all the worlds God created. Milton really has a very vivid description of space, as an infinite gulf between Heaven and Hell (â€œthe dark Abyssâ€) which was populated with many crystal orbs, one of which was earth (World).
â€œFar off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide
In circuit, undetermined square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorned
Of living sapphire, once his native seat,
And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendent World, in bigness as a star
Of smallest, magnitude close by the moon.â€
Yepâ€¦Milton, definitely read Copernicus and Galileo!
Unfortunately Satan does not know which planet is earth, so he asked directions from the one in charge of this space, Archangel Uriel, who is just floating around on sunbeams. To get Uriel to spill the beans, Satan assumes the appearance of a meager angel and feigns worship of man. It works, but as Satan departs, Uriel sees Satanâ€™s demon form reappear. He loses sight of him in the gardens and proceeds to the guard at the gates of Paradise, Archangel Gabriel, where he finds Gab passing the time training new warrior angels. He tells him a baddie has escape from hell (not knowing at this point that it is Satan) and is now in the garden. Gabriel says Uriel should have no fear as he will find the evil spirit before morningâ€¦.and he does. Two of his legion find him tempting Eve with a dream, and takes him back to Gab. Therein the usual testosterone contest ensues between the two, wherein Gab catches Satan lying (imagine that), says he has learned nothing from his fall, and tells him to contemplate his current position, of being alone on earth, and Gabâ€™s position of having all of heaven at his disposal. At this point, Satan decides he has a better place he should be. (Wise move! Be interesting to see Gab and Lucifer meeting in Supernatural.)
However that doesnâ€™t stop Satan from returning later and tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Once she has transgressed, Adam agrees to also eat the fruit also, not because he thinks its right, but doesnâ€™t want to be separated from Eve. Because they repent to God for their sin, God only banishes them from paradise, and sends Michael to lead them out of Eden, with his fiery sword waving behind them. Oddly enough, while all the angels appeared to Adam and Eve as celestial beings, Michal assumes the form of a man, with his sword in one hand and his spear in the other.
Now during this whole process God isnâ€™t exactly unaware of whatâ€™s going onâ€¦in fact he was watching the whole thing (can you say Big Brother?). He watches the drama unfold, and lets it all happen becauseâ€¦wellâ€¦heâ€™s not a nice person in this story. He even sends Archangel Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of their upcoming transgression, and warns them to keep worshiping God and tending the garden, naked, for eternal happiness. (I donâ€™t know, but reminds me of the pilot of Star Trek The Cage.) He feels that Adam and Eve should have choice, and be allowed to err if thatâ€™s what they want. As Raphael said to Adam:
â€œSon of Heaven and Earth,
Attend! That thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution given thee; be advised
Good made thee perfect, not immutable;
And good he made thee; but to persevere
He left it in thy power â€“ ordained thy will
By nature free, not over-ruled by fateâ€¦..â€
However, God also asks for volunteers to redeem his creations, with all their faultsâ€¦.after a few thousand years of course, and with Satan and his minion on earth the whole time. Of course none of the Heavenly Host speaks up, so, Christ volunteers. And God thinks thatâ€™s a splendid idea.
In the meantime, Satan arrives back in Hell, meeting Sin and Death on the way, expecting to be received with praise and adoration for his triumphant task, but instead, arrives to jeers and hisses, as all have been turned into serpents because of Satanâ€™s deed. (And, given the descriptions of the demonic forms they had turned into, especially Sinâ€™s and Deathâ€™s, being a serpent is a definite improvement!)