If you watch “Supernatural” then you know that Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) and Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) aren’t the only stars of the show. There are some non-human stars on “Supernatural”. You know what they are: The 1967 Chevy Impala, the colt, the Ruby-dagger, the anti-possession symbol, Sam’s laptop, Dean’s leather jacket and Castiel’s trench coat.
There is one non-human item that “Supernatural” fans seem to have a very fiery passion for and that is, what’s lovingly been nick-named the “Samulet”. From the early days of the series Dean Winchester was nearly always seen wearing a small bronze coloured amulet around his neck on a leather cord. It’s got an Egyptian feel to it, with a large-eyed figure with horns. There’s a tight spiral design on the being’s forehead (representative of the Golden Mean or the rule of thirds). While it defies accurate categorization in terms of belief-system, there’s no doubt that it’s designed to resemble a symbol of protection or magic.
The first real focus on the amulet on-screen was in a flashback. During episode 8 of season 3, “A Very Supernatural Christmas”, there were a number of flashbacks to when Sam and Dean Winchester were young. While John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is away on a hunting trip he has left his boys to fend for themselves in a shabby motel room. He’s told his sons he will be back to spend Christmas with them but Sam is doubtful.
In an emotional discussion between the brothers many issues are brought up: their mother, monsters and the veracity of Santa Claus. Dean opts for telling his little brother the truth. Even though the cruel reality of the world shocks young Sam, it renews his trust in his big brother. Young Sam got the amulet from Bobby as a gift for John: it was destined to be Dean’s. Sam gives Dean the amulet and says, “Dad lied to me. I want you to have it.”
The amulet has been Dean’s constant companion since it was given to him. There have been various times when the amulet has been absent or visible at the wrong times but most of that can be explained.
In Hell? When Dean Winchester is chained up and suffering in Hell the amulet is clearly visible against his t-shirt. Is the amulet there? Or is Hell an environment conjured up for Dean’s tortured soul? Either way, when Dean crawls out of his grave in “Lazarus Rising” he doesn’t have possession of the amulet. Sam has been wearing the amulet for the four months Dean was gone and returns it to his brother almost immediately upon seeing him.
Alternate Timelines? While hunting a Djinn in “What Is and What Should Never Be” (2.20), Dean is captured and kept in a dream-like state in which he lives out a life of “what if…” In this dream world Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) is still alive, John Winchester died an “ordinary” death and Dean is wearing a different medallion. That makes sense. If Dean had grown up living a life that never involved hunting then he wouldn’t have needed a protection amulet.
In episode 4 of season 5, Zachariah (Kurt Fuller) sends Dean to 2014 so he can see first-hand the results of saying “No” to the archangel Michael. In the bleak future Sam is possessed by Lucifer and is destroying everything. The Dean of 2014 is not wearing the amulet, perhaps having long ago given up on Sam ever being saved.
When Sam and Dean were on the outs? At the end of Season 4 Sam thinks he’s making the right choice by working with Ruby (Genevieve Padalecki) and he and Dean have a violent fight. Dean tells Sam that if he leaves he can stay gone. Even after that angry encounter Dean is still seen wearing the amulet in the days following.
In season 5, episode 2 “Good God, Y’all” the amulet had a starring role. While the Winchesters are visiting Bobby (Jim Beaver) in the hospital Castiel (Misha Collins) drops in. The angel tells them he’s come for an amulet that is “Very rare. Very powerful. It burns hot in God’s presence. It’ll help me find him [God].” The amulet Castiel needs is, in fact, Dean’s amulet. Initially reluctant Dean finally hands over the amulet with the warning, “Don’t lose it.”
Castiel doesn’t lose the amulet but it proves to be a false hope. It doesn’t help Castiel find God and he returns it to Dean in “Dark Side of the Moon” (5.16). Dean is clearly feeling hopeless and doesn’t believe the world can be saved. He pauses on his way out of a motel room and drops the amulet into a trash can. Sam watches on sadly but the scene ends before we see what he does.
Many fans think that Sam would never have let the motel room without first retrieving the amulet from the trash. It could have happened. When filming a show like “Supernatural” it seems wise to end such a pivotal scene with some questions unanswered. But if Sam had the amulet – would the unsentimental, emotionless Soul-less Sam of Season 6 have held on to it? This is just one of many questions that viewers have regarding the amulet.
Throughout the series there has been a theme of “protection”. The hunters protect unsuspecting humans, Dean protects Sam, symbols and charms ward off demons and other big nasties. For many people the aptly named “Samulet” represents the relationship between the brothers and the way they have each other’s backs. Family is an ongoing theme for the Winchesters and Dean often says how important it is.
The amulet was like a symbol of the bond between Sam Winchester and his older brother. If it’s gone does that mean that their relationship has changed? Sam is certainly less reliant on Dean that he once was and season 7 left many viewers with a feeling that Dean was beginning to unravel due to the constant pressure and loss he has faced.
There is one hopeful piece of news. The new “Supernatural” show runner Jeremy Carver wrote “A Very Supernatural Christmas”. Food for thought.
Speculation & Questions
It’s been suggested that the amulet could be a “key to Purgatory”; maybe Sam will bust it out if he’d been hiding it all this time.
It was originally intended for John Winchester. Bobby knew what John was hunting demons when he gave the amulet to Young Sam. Does the amulet have something to do with Demons?
Was the loss of the amulet the beginning of Dean losing everything? Writers stated that Season 7 would be “stripped down”. The Winchesters lost most of their support system and friends, their advisors, their hide-outs, Sam’s laptop, the car and even their identities. Was the loss of the amulet an early precursor to all the death and destruction that was to come? Only the writers of “Supernatural” can answer most of these questions.
What do TPTB say about the amulet?
– “The amulet never really had a definitive purpose starting out. In choosing Dean’s look, in the very beginning, Eric Kripke and myself agreed that Dean would have accouterments about him; things that he’d picked up along the way – medallions or trinkets to ward off ghosts or keep his soul intact and all that stuff. The writers built the story that the amulet came from Sam at an early age, which I thought was cool, because it gave it some purpose.” – Jensen Ackles, Superwiki
– “The thing was heavy…it’s a solid piece of brass. I would forget to change it out with the rubberized one every now and again when I was doing stunts and I’ve lost chips of my teeth from the horns hitting my mouth. After four seasons of wearing it around my neck I was glad to get rid of it.” – Jensen Ackles, Official Season 5 Companion, Via Superwiki
– “I can say that you won’t be seeing the amulet any time soon, but I can’t necessarily say you’ll never see it again.” – Sera Gamble, Zap2It
–Drawing of amulet by Merisha – originally posted here
–TV Line Article – Supernatural Wikia & original article
–Jensen Quote: Season Five Official Companions via Supernatural Wiki
-Knight, Nicholas, “Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 5”, Titan Books, 2010