Supernatural

The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory perception.

Historically, supernatural entities have been invoked to explain phenomena as diverse as lightning, seasons and the human senses. Naturalists maintain that nothing beyond the physical world exists and hence maintain skeptical attitudes towards supernatural concepts.[1]

The supernatural is featured in paranormal, occult and religious contexts,[2] but can also feature as an explanation in more secular contexts.[1]

Saint Pierre tentant de marcher sur les eaux by François Boucher
Saint Peter Attempting to Walk on Water (1766), painting by François Boucher

Etymology

Occurring as both an adjective and a noun, descendants of the modern English compound supernatural enters the language from two sources: via Middle French (supernaturel) and directly from the Middle French's term's ancestor, post-Classical Latin (supernaturalis). Post-classical Latin supernaturalis first occurs in the 6th century, composed of the Latin prefix super- and nātūrālis (see nature). The earliest known appearance of the word in the English language occurs in a Middle English translation of Catherine of Siena's Dialogue (orcherd of Syon, around 1425; Þei haue not þanne þe supernaturel lyȝt ne þe liȝt of kunnynge, bycause þei vndirstoden it not).[3]

The semantic value of the term has shifted over the history of its use. Originally the term referred exclusively to Christian understandings of the world. For example, as an adjective, the term can mean 'belonging to a realm or system that transcends nature, as that of divine, magical, or ghostly beings; attributed to or thought to reveal some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature; occult, paranormal' or 'more than what is natural or ordinary; unnaturally or extraordinarily great; abnormal, extraordinary'. Obsolete uses include 'of, relating to, or dealing with metaphysics'. As a noun, the term can mean 'a supernatural being', with a particularly strong history of employment in relation to entities from the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[3]

Epistemology and metaphysics

The metaphysical considerations of the existence of the supernatural can be difficult to approach as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural, will ultimately have to be inverted or rejected.

One complicating factor is that there is disagreement about the definition of "natural" and the limits of naturalism. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism.

For sometimes we use the word nature for that Author of nature whom the schoolmen, harshly enough, call natura naturans, as when it is said that nature hath made man partly corporeal and partly immaterial. Sometimes we mean by the nature of a thing the essence, or that which the schoolmen scruple not to call the quiddity of a thing, namely, the attribute or attributes on whose score it is what it is, whether the thing be corporeal or not, as when we attempt to define the nature of an angle, or of a triangle, or of a fluid body, as such. Sometimes we take nature for an internal principle of motion, as when we say that a stone let fall in the air is by nature carried towards the centre of the earth, and, on the contrary, that fire or flame does naturally move upwards toward firmament. Sometimes we understand by nature the established course of things, as when we say that nature makes the night succeed the day, nature hath made respiration necessary to the life of men. Sometimes we take nature for an aggregate of powers belonging to a body, especially a living one, as when physicians say that nature is strong or weak or spent, or that in such or such diseases nature left to herself will do the cure. Sometimes we take nature for the universe, or system of the corporeal works of God, as when it is said of a phoenix, or a chimera, that there is no such thing in nature, i.e. in the world. And sometimes too, and that most commonly, we would express by nature a semi-deity or other strange kind of being, such as this discourse examines the notion of.

And besides these more absolute acceptions, if I may so call them, of the word nature, it has divers others (more relative), as nature is wont to be set or in opposition or contradistinction to other things, as when we say of a stone when it falls downwards that it does it by a natural motion, but that if it be thrown upwards its motion that way is violent. So chemists distinguish vitriol into natural and fictitious, or made by art, i.e. by the intervention of human power or skill; so it is said that water, kept suspended in a sucking pump, is not in its natural place, as that is which is stagnant in the well. We say also that wicked men are still in the state of nature, but the regenerate in a state of grace; that cures wrought by medicines are natural operations; but the miraculous ones wrought by Christ and his apostles were supernatural.[4]

— Robert Boyle, A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature

The term "supernatural" is often used interchangeably with paranormal or preternatural — the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed what is possible within the boundaries of the laws of physics.[5] Epistemologically, the relationship between the supernatural and the natural is indistinct in terms of natural phenomena that, ex hypothesi, violate the laws of nature, in so far as such laws are realistically accountable.

Parapsychologists use the term psi to refer to an assumed unitary force underlying the phenomena they study. Psi is defined in the Journal of Parapsychology as "personal factors or processes in nature which transcend accepted laws" (1948: 311) and "which are non-physical in nature" (1962:310), and it is used to cover both extrasensory perception (ESP), an "awareness of or response to an external event or influence not apprehended by sensory means" (1962:309) or inferred from sensory knowledge, and psychokinesis (PK), "the direct influence exerted on a physical system by a subject without any known intermediate energy or instrumentation" (1945:305).[6]

— Michael Winkelman, Current Anthropology

Many supporters of supernatural explanations believe that past, present, and future complexities and mysteries of the universe cannot be explained solely by naturalistic means and argue that it is reasonable to assume that a non-natural entity or entities resolve the unexplained.

Views on the "supernatural" vary, for example it may be seen as:

  • indistinct from nature. From this perspective, some events occur according to the laws of nature, and others occur according to a separate set of principles external to known nature. For example, in Scholasticism, it was believed that God was capable of performing any miracle so long as it didn't lead to a logical contradiction. Some religions posit immanent deities, however, and do not have a tradition analogous to the supernatural; some believe that everything anyone experiences occurs by the will (occasionalism), in the mind (neoplatonism), or as a part (nondualism) of a more fundamental divine reality (platonism).
  • incorrect human attribution. In this view all events have natural and only natural causes. They believe that human beings ascribe supernatural attributes to purely natural events, such as lightning, rainbows, floods, and the origin of life.[7][8]

History of the concept

Dialogues from Neoplatonic philosophy in the third century AD contributed the development of the concept the supernatural via Christian theology in later centuries.[9] The term nature had existed since antiquity with Latin authors like Augustine using the word and its cognates at least 600 times in City of God. In the medieval period, "nature" had ten different meanings and "natural" had eleven different meanings.[10] Peter Lombard, a medieval scholastic in the 12th century, asked about causes that are beyond nature, in that how there could be causes that were God's alone. He used the term praeter naturam in his writings.[10] In the scholastic period, Thomas Aquinas classified miracles into three categories: "above nature", "beyond nature", and "against nature". In doing so, he sharpened the distinction between nature and miracles more than the early Church Fathers had done.[10] As a result, he had created a dichotomy of sorts of the natural and supernatural.[11] Though the phrase supra naturam was used since the 4th century AD, it was in the 1200s that Thomas Aquinas used the term "supernaturalis", however, this term had to wait until the end of the medieval period for it become more popularly used.[10] The discussions on "nature" from the scholastic period were diverse and unsettled with some postulating that even miracles are natural and that natural magic was a natural part of the world.[10]

Religion

Deity

A deity (/ˈdiːəti/ (listen) or /ˈdeɪ.əti/ (listen))[12] is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred.[13] The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity as "a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything revered as divine.[14] C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life."[15] A male deity is a god, while a female deity is a goddess.

Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God),[16][17] polytheistic religions accept multiple deities.[18] Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as equivalent aspects of the same divine principle;[19][20] and nontheistic religions deny any supreme eternal creator deity but accept a pantheon of deities which live, die, and are reborn just like any other being.[21]:35-37[22]:357-358

Various cultures have conceptualized a deity differently than a monotheistic God.[23][24] A deity need not be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent or eternal,[23][24][25] The monotheistic God, however, does have these attributes.[26][27][28] Monotheistic religions typically refer to God in masculine terms,[29][30]:96 while other religions refer to their deities in a variety of ways – masculine, feminine, androgynous and gender neutral.[31][32][33]

Historically, many ancient cultures – such as Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Nordic and Asian culture – personified natural phenomena, variously as either their conscious causes or simply their effects, respectively.[34][35][36] Some Avestan and Vedic deities were viewed as ethical concepts.[34][35] In Indian religions, deities have been envisioned as manifesting within the temple of every living being's body, as sensory organs and mind.[37][38][39] Deities have also been envisioned as a form of existence (Saṃsāra) after rebirth, for human beings who gain merit through an ethical life, where they become guardian deities and live blissfully in heaven, but are also subject to death when their merit runs out.[21]:35-38[22]:356-359

Angel

Guido Reni 031
The Archangel Michael wears a late Roman military cloak and cuirass in this 17th-century depiction by Guido Reni
Bernhard Plockhorst - Schutzengel
Schutzengel (English: "Guardian Angel") by Bernhard Plockhorst depicts a guardian angel watching over two children.
Stift Seitenstetten Marmorsaal Deckenfresko 01
The Harmony between Religion and Science, a ceiling fresco of the Marble Hall at Seitenstetten Abbey (Lower Austria) by Paul Troger, 1735
An allegory of poetry
An allegory of poetry by François Boucher

An angel is generally a supernatural being found in various religions and mythologies. In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God or Heaven and Earth.[40][41] Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God's tasks.[42] Within Abrahamic religions, angels are often organized into hierarchies, although such rankings may vary between sects in each religion, and are given specific names or titles, such as Gabriel or "Destroying angel". The term "angel" has also been expanded to various notions of spirits or figures found in other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as "angelology".

In fine art, angels are usually depicted as having the shape of human beings of extraordinary beauty;[43][44] they are often identified using the symbols of bird wings,[45] halos,[46] and light.

Prophecy

Prophecy involves a process in which one or more messages are allegedly communicated by a god to a prophet. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of divine will concerning the prophet's social world and events to come (compare divine knowledge). Prophecy is not limited to any one culture. It is a common property to all known ancient societies around the world, some more than others. Many systems and rules about prophecy have been proposed over several millennia.

Revelation

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

Some religions have religious texts which they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired. For instance, Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the Torah was received from Yahweh on biblical Mount Sinai.[47][48] Most Christians believe that both the Old Testament and the New Testament were inspired by God. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed by God to Muhammad word by word through the angel Gabriel (Jibril).[49][50] In Hinduism, some Vedas are considered apauruṣeya, "not human compositions", and are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti, "what is heard". The 15,000 handwritten pages produced by the mystic Maria Valtorta were represented as direct dictations from Jesus, while she attributed The Book of Azariah to her guardian angel.[51] Aleister Crowley stated that The Book of the Law had been revealed to him through a higher being that called itself Aiwass.

A revelation communicated by a supernatural entity reported as being present during the event is called a vision. Direct conversations between the recipient and the supernatural entity,[52] or physical marks such as stigmata, have been reported. In rare cases, such as that of Saint Juan Diego, physical artifacts accompany the revelation.[53] The Roman Catholic concept of interior locution includes just an inner voice heard by the recipient.

In the Abrahamic religions, the term is used to refer to the process by which God reveals knowledge of himself, his will, and his divine providence to the world of human beings.[54] In secondary usage, revelation refers to the resulting human knowledge about God, prophecy, and other divine things. Revelation from a supernatural source plays a less important role in some other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

Reincarnation

Gati or existences
In Jainism, a soul travels to any one of the four states of existence after death depending on its karmas.

Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence.[55][56] It is a central tenet of all major Indian religions, namely Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.[56][57][58] The idea of reincarnation is found in many ancient cultures,[59] and a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato.[60] It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is found as well in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia, Siberia, and South America.[61]

Although the majority of denominations within Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Cathars, Alawites, the Druze,[62] and the Rosicrucians.[63] The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research.[64] Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore teaches reincarnation.

In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation,[65] and many contemporary works mention it.

Karma

Karma (/ˈkɑːrmə/; Sanskrit: कर्म, translit. karma, IPA: [ˈkɐɽmɐ] (listen); Pali: kamma) means action, work or deed;[66] it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).[67] Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.[68][69]

With origins in ancient India's Vedic civilization, the philosophy of karma is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Indian religions (particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism[70]) as well as Taoism.[71] In these schools, karma in the present affects one's future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives - one's saṃsāra.[72][73]

Christian theology

San Giuseppe di Copertino 18th century engraving
The patron saint of air travelers, aviators, astronauts, people with a mental handicap, test takers, and poor students is Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who is said to have been gifted with supernatural flight.[74]

In Catholic theology, the supernatural order is, according to New Advent, defined as "the ensemble of effects exceeding the powers of the created universe and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the rational creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny."[75] The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines it as "the sum total of heavenly destiny and all the divinely established means of reaching that destiny, which surpass the mere powers and capacities of human nature."[76]

Process theology

Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and further developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000).

It is not possible, in process metaphysics, to conceive divine activity as a "supernatural" intervention into the "natural" order of events. Process theists usually regard the distinction between the supernatural and the natural as a by-product of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. In process thought, there is no such thing as a realm of the natural in contrast to that which is supernatural. On the other hand, if "the natural" is defined more neutrally as "what is in the nature of things," then process metaphysics characterizes the natural as the creative activity of actual entities. In Whitehead's words, "It lies in the nature of things that the many enter into complex unity" (Whitehead 1978, 21). It is tempting to emphasize process theism's denial of the supernatural and thereby highlight that the processed God cannot do in comparison what the traditional God could do (that is, to bring something from nothing). In fairness, however, equal stress should be placed on process theism's denial of the natural (as traditionally conceived) so that one may highlight what the creatures cannot do, in traditional theism, in comparison to what they can do in process metaphysics (that is, to be part creators of the world with God).[77]

— Donald Viney, "Process Theism" in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Spirit

Theodor von Holst Bertalda Assailed Spirits
Theodor von Holst, Bertalda, Assailed by Spirits, c. 1830

A spirit is a supernatural being, often but not exclusively a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel.[78] The concepts of a person's spirit and soul, often also overlap, as both are either contrasted with or given ontological priority over the body and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions,[79] and "spirit" can also have the sense of "ghost", i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.

Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer to the consciousness or personality.

Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.[80]

Demon

PazuzuDemonAssyria1stMil 2
Bronze statuette of the Assyro-Babylonian demon king Pazuzu, circa 800 BC –- circa 700 BC, Louvre

A demon (from Koine Greek δαιμόνιον daimónion) is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity, below the heavenly planes[81] which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology,[82] a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.

Magic

Magic or sorcery is the use of rituals, symbols, actions, gestures, or language with the aim of utilizing supernatural forces.[83][84]:6–7[85][86]:24 Belief in and practice of magic has been present since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important spiritual, religious, and medicinal role in many cultures today. The term magic has a variety of meanings, and there is no widely agreed upon definition of what it is.

Scholars of religion have defined magic in different ways. One approach, associated with the anthropologists Edward Tylor and James G. Frazer, suggests that magic and science are opposites. An alternative approach, associated with the sociologists Marcel Mauss and Emile Durkheim, argues that magic takes place in private, while religion is a communal and organised activity. Many scholars of religion have rejected the utility of the term magic and it has become increasingly unpopular within scholarship since the 1990s.

The term magic comes from the Old Persian magu, a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known. During the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, this term was adopted into Ancient Greek, where it was used with negative connotations, to apply to religious rites that were regarded as fraudulent, unconventional, and dangerous. This meaning of the term was then adopted by Latin in the first century BCE. The concept was then incorporated into Christian theology during the first century CE, where magic was associated with demons and thus defined against religion. This concept was pervasive throughout the Middle Ages, although in the early modern period Italian humanists reinterpreted the term in a positive sense to establish the idea of natural magic. Both negative and positive understandings of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former largely influencing early academic usages of the word.

Throughout history, there have been examples of individuals who practiced magic and referred to themselves as magicians. This trend has proliferated in the modern period, with a growing number of magicians appearing within the esoteric milieu. British esotericist Aleister Crowley described magic as the art of effecting change in accordance with will.

Divination

Divination (from Latin divinare "to foresee, to be inspired by a god",[87] related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.[88] Used in various forms throughout history, diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency.[89]

Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and often contains a more social character, usually in a religious context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture and religion.

Divination is dismissed by the scientific community and skeptics as being superstition.[90][91] In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty essay to the career of a charlatan, "Alexander the false prophet", trained by "one of those who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love-affairs, visitations for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, and successions to estates",[92] even though most Romans believed in prophetic dreams and charms.

Witchcraft

Baldung Hexen 1508 kol
Witches by Hans Baldung. Woodcut, 1508

Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups. Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision,[93] and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious divinatory or medicinal role,[94] and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.[93]

Miracle

A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws.[95] Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader.

Informally, the word "miracle" is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other such miracles might be: survival of an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or 'beating the odds'. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles.[96]

A true miracle would, by definition, be a non-natural phenomenon, leading many rational and scientific thinkers to dismiss them as physically impossible (that is, requiring violation of established laws of physics within their domain of validity) or impossible to confirm by their nature (because all possible physical mechanisms can never be ruled out). The former position is expressed for instance by Thomas Jefferson and the latter by David Hume. Theologians typically say that, with divine providence, God regularly works through nature yet, as a creator, is free to work without, above, or against it as well. The possibility and probability of miracles are then equal to the possibility and probability of the existence of God.[97]

Skepticism

Skepticism (American English) or scepticism (British English; see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief.[98][99] It is often directed at domains such as the supernatural, morality (moral skepticism), religion (skepticism about the existence of God), or knowledge (skepticism about the possibility of knowledge, or of certainty).[100] Formally, skepticism as a topic occurs in the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it can be applied to any topic such as politics, religion, and pseudoscience.

One reason why skeptics assert that supernatural forces cannot exist is that anything can be described as "supernatural" and can be demonstrated to be a part of the natural world would have to be classified as be "natural." Although some believers in the supernatural insist that such forces cannot be demonstrated under scientific conditions, skeptics assert that the scientific method is the best tool humans have devised for knowing what is and isn't knowable. If the supernatural is inherently unknowable, then there is no reason to accept its reality.[101]

In fiction and popular culture

Supernatural entities and powers are common in various works of fantasy. Examples include the TV show Supernatural, the magic of the Harry Potter series, and the Force of Star Wars.

Other depictions are taken from religious texts, such as the Book of Exodus.

See also

References

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Further reading

Dark fantasy

Dark fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literary, artistic, and cinematic works that incorporate darker and frightening themes of fantasy. It also often combines fantasy with elements of horror or has a gloomy, dark (or grimdark) atmosphere, or a sense of horror and dread.A strict definition for dark fantasy is difficult to pin down. Gertrude Barrows Bennett has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy". Both Charles L. Grant and Karl Edward Wagner are credited with having coined the term "dark fantasy"—although both authors were describing different styles of fiction. Brian Stableford argues "dark fantasy" can be usefully defined as subgenre of stories that attempt to "incorporate elements of horror fiction" into the standard formulae of fantasy stories. Stableford also suggests that supernatural horror set primarily in the real world is a form of "contemporary fantasy", whereas supernatural horror set partly or wholly in "secondary worlds" should be described as "dark fantasy".Additionally, other authors, critics, and publishers have adopted dark fantasy to describe various other works. However, these stories rarely share universal similarities beyond supernatural occurrences and a dark, often brooding, tone. As a result, dark fantasy cannot be solidly connected to a defining set of tropes. The term itself may refer collectively to tales that are either horror-based or fantasy-based.

Some writers also use "dark fantasy" (or "Gothic fantasy") as an alternative description to "horror", because they feel the latter term is too lurid or vivid.

Divine grace

Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.

Horror fiction

Horror is a genre of speculative fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.

Jared Padalecki

Jared Tristan Padalecki (born July 19, 1982) is an American actor. He is best known for playing the role of Sam Winchester in the TV series Supernatural. He grew up in Texas and rose to fame in the early 2000s after appearing on the television series Gilmore Girls as well as the films New York Minute and House of Wax.

Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ross Ackles (born March 1, 1978) is an American actor and director. He has appeared on television as Dean Winchester in The CW horror fantasy series Supernatural, Eric Brady in Days of Our Lives, which earned him several Daytime Emmy Award nominations, Alec/X5-494 in Dark Angel and Jason Teague in Smallville. He also starred as the lead in the box office success My Bloody Valentine 3D and voiced Jason Todd in the popular animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Jinn

Jinn (Arabic: الجن‎, al-jinn), also Romanized as djinn or Anglicized as genies (with the more broad meaning of spirits or demons, depending on source), are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. Jinn are not a strictly Islamic concept; rather, they may represent pagan beliefs integrated into Islam. Since jinn are not inevitably evil (nor good), Islam was able to adapt spirits from other religions during its expansion.Besides the jinn, Islam acknowledges the existence of demons (Shayāṭīn). The lines between demons and jinn are blurred, since malevolent jinn are also called shayāṭīn. However both Islam and non-Islamic scholarship generally distinguishes between angels, jinn and demons (shayāṭīn) as three different types of spiritual entities in Islamic traditions. The jinn are distinguished from demons, by that they can be both evil or good, while genuine demons are necessarily evil. Some academic scholars assert, demons are related to monotheistic- and jinn to a polytheistic traditions.In an Islamic context, the term jinn is used for both a collective designation for any supernatural creature and also to refer to a specific type of supernatural creature.

Lauren Cohan

Lauren Cohan (born January 7, 1982) is an American actress and model who has dual citizenship in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is known for her role as Maggie Greene in the horror television series The Walking Dead (2011–2018). Her other notable TV roles are as Bela Talbot in the fantasy-horror series Supernatural (2007–2008), Rose in the supernatural series The Vampire Diaries (2010–2012) and Vivian McArthur Volkoff in the action comedy series Chuck (2011). Her film appearances include the comedy Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj (2006), the psychological thriller horror The Boy (2016), the superhero film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and the biographical drama All Eyez on Me (2017).

Legendary creature

A legendary, mythical, and mythological creature, also traditionally called a fabulous beast and fabulous creature, is a fictitious, imaginary, and supernatural animal, often a hybrid, sometimes part human, whose existence has not or cannot be proved and that is described in folklore or fiction but also in historical accounts before history became a science.

In the classical era, monstrous creatures such as the cyclops and the Minotaur appear in heroic tales for the protagonist to destroy. Other creatures, such as the unicorn, were claimed in accounts of natural history by various scholars of antiquity. Some legendary creatures have their origin in traditional mythology and were believed to be real creatures, for example dragons, griffins, and unicorns. Others were based on real encounters, originating in garbled accounts of travelers' tales, such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which supposedly grew tethered to the earth.

List of Supernatural characters

Supernatural is an American television drama series created by writer and producer Eric Kripke, and was initially broadcast by The WB. After its first season, The WB and UPN merged to form The CW, which is the current broadcaster for the show in the United States.

The show features two main characters, Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, brothers who travel across the country in a black 1967 Chevrolet Impala to hunt demons, supernatural creatures, and other paranormal entities, many of them based on folklore, myths, and American urban legends. In addition, Supernatural chronicles the relationship between the brothers and their father, John Winchester, as they seek to avenge and understand the murder of their mother at the hands of the demon Azazel.

Supernatural has featured many other recurring guests that take part in story arcs that span a portion of a season. Occasionally, the recurring guest storylines will span multiple seasons. After the death of their father in the second season, the hunter Bobby Singer becomes a father figure to Sam and Dean. As the series progresses, recurring guests appear at various times to help move the overall storyline of the show such as the demon Crowley or the angel Castiel. The series also features recurring appearances from other demons, angels, and hunters.

List of Supernatural episodes

Supernatural is an American supernatural drama television series, created by Eric Kripke, that follows brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) as they travel throughout the United States hunting supernatural creatures. The series borrows heavily from folklore and urban legends, and explores mythology and Christian theology, and their main adversaries throughout the series are demons.

The series premiered on September 13, 2005 on The WB. The first season was broadcast on The WB, and following The WB's merger with UPN in September 2006, Supernatural continued to be aired on the new network, The CW. The first thirteen seasons are available on DVD in Regions 1, 2, and 4 and are also available on Blu-ray.

On April 2, 2018, The CW renewed the series for a fourteenth season, which premiered on October 11, 2018, and will contain 20 episodes. On January 31, 2019, The CW renewed the series for a fifteenth season. As of March 14, 2019, 302 episodes of Supernatural have aired.

Spirit

A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. The concepts of a person's spirit and soul, often also overlap, as both are either contrasted with or given ontological priority over the body and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and "spirit" can also have the sense of "ghost", i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.

Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer to the consciousness or personality.

Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.

Succubus

A succubus is a demon in female form, or supernatural entity in folklore (traced back to medieval legend), that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or mental state, or even death.

In modern representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress; whereas, in the past, succubi were generally depicted as frightening and demonic.

Supernatural (U.S. TV series)

Supernatural is an American dark fantasy television series created by Eric Kripke. It was first broadcast on September 13, 2005, on The WB, and subsequently became part of successor The CW's lineup. Starring Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, the series follows the two brothers as they hunt demons, ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural beings. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television, in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision. Along with Kripke, executive producers have been McG, Robert Singer, Phil Sgriccia, Sera Gamble, Jeremy Carver, John Shiban, Ben Edlund and Adam Glass. Former executive producer and director Kim Manners died of lung cancer during production of the fourth season.The series is filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia and surrounding areas and was in development for nearly ten years, as creator Kripke spent several years unsuccessfully pitching it. The pilot was viewed by an estimated 5.69 million viewers, and the ratings of the first four episodes prompted The WB to pick up the series for a full season. Originally, Kripke planned the series for three seasons but later expanded it to five. The fifth season concluded the series' main storyline, and Kripke departed the series as showrunner. The series has continued on for several more seasons with new showrunners, including Sera Gamble, Jeremy Carver, Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb. With its eleventh season, Supernatural became the longest-running American live-action fantasy TV series. On April 2, 2018, The CW renewed the series for a fourteenth season, which premiered on October 11, 2018, and will consist of 20 episodes. On January 31, 2019, The CW renewed the series for a fifteenth season.

Supernatural fiction

Supernatural fiction or supernaturalist fiction is a genre of speculative fiction exploiting or requiring as plot devices or themes some contradictions of the commonplace natural world and materialist assumptions about it.

The Order (TV series)

The Order is a horror drama web television series created by Dennis Heaton and written by Heaton, Shelley Eriksen, Rachel Langer, Jennica Harper, Penny Gummerson and Jason Filiatrault. The series premiered on Netflix on March 7, 2019. The series stars Jake Manley, Sarah Grey, Matt Frewer, Sam Trammell and Max Martini.

The Originals (TV series)

The Originals is an American television series that began airing on The CW on October 3, 2013. Created as a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, the series follows vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson as he and his family become embroiled in the supernatural politics of New Orleans.On May 10, 2017, The CW renewed the series for a fifth season. On July 20, 2017, it was announced by series creator Julie Plec ahead of Comic Con that the series' fifth season would be its last. The final season debuted on April 18, 2018.

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural teen drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the popular book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. The series premiered on The CW on September 10, 2009, and concluded on March 10, 2017, airing 171 episodes over eight seasons.

The pilot episode attracted the largest audience for The CW of any series premiere since the network began in 2006; the first season averaged 3.60 million viewers. It was the most-watched series on the network before being supplanted by Arrow. The show has received numerous award nominations, winning four People's Choice Award and many Teen Choice Awards.

On April 26, 2013, The CW officially announced that the spin-off The Originals, which focuses on the Original family of vampires, had been ordered to series, and the show began airing during the 2013–14 American television season.On April 6, 2015, lead actress Nina Dobrev confirmed via Instagram that she and co-star Michael Trevino (who plays Tyler Lockwood) would be leaving the show after its sixth season. Dobrev returned to record a voiceover for the seventh-season finale. Trevino appeared as a guest star in season seven and returned for season 8. On March 11, 2016, The CW renewed the series for an eighth season, but on July 23, 2016, announced that the eighth season, which would have 16 episodes, would be the show's last. The final season began airing on October 21, 2016, and ended March 10, 2017.

Witching hour (supernatural)

In folklore, the witching hour or devil's hour is a time of night associated with supernatural events. Creatures such as witches, demons and ghosts are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful. Black magic is thought to be most effective at this time. In the Western Christian tradition, the hour between 3 and 4 a.m. was considered a period of peak supernatural activity, due to the absence of prayers in the canonical hours during this period. Women caught outside without sufficient reason during this time were sometimes executed on suspicion of witchcraft. The phrase "witching hour" was first recorded in 1835.Psychological literature suggests that apparitional experiences and sensed presences are most common between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m., corresponding with a 3 a.m. peak in the amount of melatonin in the body.More recently, the hours between midnight and 2 a.m. have been considered the witching hour.The term may be used colloquially to refer to any period of bad luck, or in which something bad is seen as having a greater likelihood of occurring.

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