We have a winner in the "first to write an amulet article" among the creative minds on this site! The Sera Gamble interview sparked the debate, so Jasminka was inspired to do her take on the whole thing. As usual, it's a very thoughtful look. Enjoy!
Once Upon a Time There Was an Amuletâ€¦
A Christmas gift. A memento for a brother rotting in hell. A powerful object that â€˜burns hot in Godâ€™s presenceâ€™. An item fans care intensely about, a fact I learned just recently, following the discussion on this site, and it came as a surprise. I had never expected the mentioning or the seeming neglect of this amulet to be such a hot topic. Well, letâ€™s have a lookâ€¦
Dean has worn that amulet ever since weâ€™ve known him. It was always there, just as the other â€˜jewelleryâ€™ he wears â€“ thereâ€™s a ring, a bracelet with skull-like pieces, a leather band, a menâ€™s man-watch. Iâ€™ve noticed all those things, thinking they might be â€“ in part â€“ trophies of some kind, pieces Dean had gathered during his life as a hunter, and warriors of all cultures have always liked to adorn themselves with items to enhance their strength and confidence when going into battle.
This amulet in particular did strike me as an exceptional artefact from my first encounter with it â€“ judging from its looks and design it could be of Central American or Ancient Persian, Mesopotamian origin (to my knowledge it has never been explained where it came from), probably very old, perhaps made of gold, bright colour already aged.
Symbols with horns have been in use to ward off demons and evil spirits from the very beginning of occult practice. Supposedly people in Sicily still use a hand-gesture to protect themselves which resembles horns, accompanied by a ritual and a spoken formula. So â€“ the appearance and age of Deanâ€™s amulet had me think that this might have been a means of protection of some kind, until we were informed that it possessed a more sentimental value, also.
It had been a gift intended for John. â€˜Uncle Bobbyâ€™ gave it to little Sammy to give it to his dad for Christmas. Sam wrapped it with care, some comic from a newspaper serving as gift wrap (the kind he used in the same episode when wrapping the gift for adultDean), as it was â€˜real specialâ€™. Sammy missed his dad, perhaps even more than Dean did, as no one really told him where dad was going, what he was doing. It might well be that Sam was hoping to impress his father with a special gift that would persuade him to not leave them alone so often.
Dean was doing his best to keep Sammyâ€™s spirits up, but his younger brother suffered nonetheless. It was Christmas time, and they were alone. Lonely. But surely those experiences when being left alone by John forged a strong bond between the Winchester boys. Dean even stole â€˜chick presentsâ€™ to give his brother the impression that dad had thought of him when John hadnâ€™t shown up as promised â€“ thereby trying to protect both (an attitude deeply rooted in his character) â€“ Sam shouldnâ€™t think that dad had forgotten about them or that something else apparently was of more importance. Dean was trying to keep his brotherâ€™s sadness within reasonable bounds, again shouldering the heavy package he had been carrying from the day they lost their mother.
But, Sam was disappointed of course. Shortly before that he had read his fatherâ€™s journal, in secret, probably one of his first openly rebellious acts we know of. He had learned how his mother died, what his father did when not with them, and that monsters were real. A lot to take in for any kid. And all that fuelled his disappointment and sadness. The only constant in Samâ€™s young life was Dean.
So, after John didnâ€™t show up for Christmas, it was only natural that Sam gave the amulet to Dean. I donâ€™t think that he did it only out of disillusionment or anger â€“ probably Sam had decided that Dean deserved it more. It was a thank you, an unspoken I-love-you, a tender I-trust-you. From what we know, Dean has worn it ever since. It became so much a part of his body that he couldnâ€™t conceive of himself without it. The moment he took it off to lend it to Castiel he felt naked.
While Dean was dead and in hell, Sam wore the amulet, the only thing left of his brother he could touch. I guess everyone who has ever lost someone dear has experienced the need for a keepsake of that person, something you can hold or wear or smell, and its importance corresponds with the pain that loss installed in you.
As devastated as Sam was after Deanâ€™s death, he might have felt the urge to at least keep that amulet close to him, a souvenir. And a warriorâ€™s reminder of his purpose â€“ to hunt down Lilith and avenge his brother. The moment Dean was back, however miraculously, Sam returned it to him, thereby physically getting rid of some of that agony he had been going through for months. His brother was, again, alive and â€“ although Sam didnâ€™t know it yet â€“ more than ever in need of protection, as Dean came back wounded and confused.
That was the last time that amulet was brought to the viewersâ€™ attention, as it had returned to its place (Deanâ€™s neck) where it remained throughout the fourth season. Much later, in the beginning of season five Castiel asked to borrow the amulet, revealing another purpose of the mysterious item â€“ to use it as God-EMF, as Sam so aptly put it, for strategic reasons (and raising a roar of protest among some fans of the show, as they regarded Castielâ€™s move to be almost blasphemic). The world was going to end, Lucifer had risen, Castiel, now a renegade and unsure who to trust, came up with the idea of finding the best ally they could possibly wish for â€“ God. The big boss Himself.
He refused to believe that â€˜God has left the buildingâ€™ and was convinced that it was Him who resurrected Castiel and put the Winchester brothers on that plane. So, from a tactical point of view he was doing the right thing â€“ trying to get hold of the most important asset they could need. When going to war, preparation is everything. As Sun Tsu once stated - wars are won in the temples long before they even begin.
Dean gave it to Cas, reluctantly, with the caveat not to lose it, bearing in mind that this was necessary. At that point in the storyline the relationship of the brothers was severely damaged, poisoned by feelings of guilt, disappointment and mistrust. The sentimental meaning that amulet might have held for Dean stepped back like an unwanted visitor. By loaning it to Castiel he probably loosened his bond with Sam for the time being, which was happening anyway, and this gesture only served as a symptom of their relationshipâ€™s dynamics.
Several metaphysical question arise, though â€“ Bobby gave it to Sam many years back to give it to John: now, a hunter as skilled and well-read as the brothersâ€™ closest friend didnâ€™t know about the amuletâ€™s secret powers? Did John realize (when he was raising his kids and getting to know more and more about the paranormal)l that his sons were destined to be important pieces in a cosmic game of chess and did he talk to Bobby about it? John knew (wherefrom we donâ€™t know yet) that Sam was in danger of going Dark Side. Was John also aware of his elder sonâ€™s role? Did Bobby intend to provide John with a celestial detector to find God in case it all went south? Queries that may be answered in the episodes to come.
We know that the amulet is both â€“ an item of personal value to the brothers and a strategic tool in the apocalypse which might help them to change the course of the upcoming fight, provided God will be ready to have a say in it. Eventually, it all boils down to this: if we possessed such a thing capable of playing a crucial role in a period of time when billions of lives were at stake â€“ would we really be that arrogant to cling to the object for sentimental reasons? Would we be able to look in the mirror, if we did that?
We have accompanied the Winchester brothers for more than four years now. They have been ready to sacrifice themselves more than once for much lesser reasons. They are not the kind of men who would abandon others for the sake of keeping an artefact, however important to them.
I, for one, am very curious how that amulet will be put to use within the show. God will make an appearance, we have been told, and Deanâ€™s amulet will undoubtedly be of importance there. Many loose ends have already been connected in the course of the storyline, and Iâ€™m certain that the creative minds will find ways to amaze us once again.