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Spirit Animals
by LunarDreamed (lunardreamed)
at September 24th, 2006 (03:04 pm)

I'm curious as to what animals people think would represent Dean and Sam.

This discussion came up in a couple of personal journals, but was never really fleshed out, and I, for one, would like to see the fandom's opinion on this. There isn't any right or wrong answer here, because we all see the characters in different ways, but I think it could be fun to see what we each think makes the characters who they are.

I see Dean as a coyote. I can't exactly take credit for the initial idea, it was tossed out by another author, but never expanded upon and quickly abandoned in favor of the idea of a wolf for Dean. I have to say that I don't like that. It's tempting, yeah, and they are pack oriented which may equal family oriented to some, but Dean is so much more than that and those qualities are what make him a coyote spirit to me.

The coyote's main image is that of the trickster, but I want to start with the fact that they are much more adaptable than the wolf. Ecologically speaking, the wolf is quite fragile, but coyote is a survivor: he'll eat what he can find (fresh kill or scavenging, animal or plant, it's all food to him), he'll live where he is humans or not, he'll find a way to survive there, and if he really can't, he'll move on. They can make their own dens, but often live in the abandoned dens of others, and that made me think of living in a motel room. Anyway, Dean is a survivor, and he'll do it anyway he can, he doesn't feel the urge to live by the rules that Sam does.

Being a trickster involves a creative intelligence that Dean proves he has - making the EMF detector out of an old walkman - thinking on the fly, outside the box. The wolf in mythology, though wise, is a much more somber creature, lacking the "joie de vivre" that Coyote has. While I do believe that Dean wears many masks to hide his pain, he still finds true joy in certain aspects of their life: hustling, a successful hunt, and scamming the authorities. And speaking of scamming the authorities, that tends to be exactly who Coyote is tricking in many of the stories - those gods who have decided the way things should be.

In another case, and I don't remember the exact story, Coyote is a sort of Native American Prometheus, providing mankind with certain things or knowledge that the gods denied them. He does it in his own trickster way, but he is helping people. That's Dean to a T - helping people in a way that defies society's rules.

The life that he lives on the outskirts of normal society is the final way that he resembles the coyote. In mythology, the coyote is an animal credited with the ability to cross the borders between worlds, however, in this case, we are talking about crossing between the human world and the natural world of the wild. Coyotes have adapted well to living on the outskirts of human society, never quite a part of it, still a wild animal, but crossing into those frayed edges where the rules are little less strict. Dean is, ultimately I think, a wild child, raised to a life of borderline crime and the hunt. He took to it really well and he can't truly fit in with normal society the way Sam did. And he doesn't want to. He likes the adrenaline rush of hustling and scamming, fighting and hunting. He likes his nomad existence. Though he wants Sam or Dad by his side, home to him is the open road, flush with cash from his latest hustle, success by the skin of his teeth from his last scam with the authorities, and a challenging hunt on the horizon.

I haven't settled on an animal for Sam. Two suggestions, again not originally mine, I think work well. The first is him as a deer or elk or some horned animal. It's interesting because to me they are prey animals, not hunters, but then, Sam is hunted. And the mythology of the Horned God and the Wild Hunt give them a much more powerful aspect. For Sam, I also think that animals with a lot of mystical history need to be chosen to match his abilities.

The other suggestion was used by lyra_wing in her story Sever, Mirror, and Mend. Here Sam's animal is a Cooper's Hawk. I like the idea of Sam having some kind of bird as his animal form. He's always trying to get away, so flying seems appropriate. Also, in mythology, birds are credited with passing between worlds, crossing the boundaries between air and land, or air and water (for waterfowl), makes them ideal representations of the ability to pass into more spiritual planes. Sam fits that in two ways, crossing through his abilities, and crossing when he tries to reject his family's way for a normal life. He would have to be a bird of prey, because he is very much a hunter. Birds of prey have an innate fierceness that Sam may try to repress, but certainly doesn't lack.

I'd also lean towards an animal that usually mates for life to parallel Sam's love for Jessica.


Posted by: slytherinblack (slytherinblack)
Posted at: September 24th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)

My first reaction for Dean was a dog or perhaps a wolf because of how loyal he is and how protective of his family. Sam I'm not quite sure about, though - he's a harder character for me to think about in general, although it seems to me there's an animal that's known to represent psychic powers. I'm trying to remember what it is. I'll have to think about this more.

Posted by: slytherinblack (slytherinblack)
Posted at: September 24th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)

I was reading through Celtic tree signs for thoughts, and this amused me: The Unicorn - A mythic animal with the body of a white horse, the legs of an antelope and the tail of a lion which sported a single horn upon its forhead, the Unicorn was a symbol of purity, strength and supreme magickal power. This is just because I think Dean would tease him to death about it.

But I really like this:
The Badger - An animal said to possess unyielding courage in the face of danger, the Badger was noted for its tenacity. In the Welsh tale of Pwyll's courting of Rhiannon, a Badger was mentioned as a guide during dreaming. The Badger was symbolic of the fight for individual rights and the defense of personal spiritual ideas.

Badgers are nucking futs, too. My dad says he saw one face down a truck once. But I think the description fits well with Sam.

Posted by: LunarDreamed (lunardreamed)
Posted at: September 25th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)

Dean would be pretty merciless if Sam's were a Unicorn.

I really like the badger idea though. Individual rights, dreaming guides, and of course tenacity. That sounds very Sam. And yeah, I kinda think you'd have to be nuts to face down a pissed off John Winchester.

Posted by: kitsune_red (kitsune_red)
Posted at: September 25th, 2006 05:21 am (UTC)
lucky boy

I like the idea of Sam having some kind of bird as his animal form.

A short strap fastened around the leg of a hawk or other bird used in falconry, to which a leash may be fastened.

Posted by: LunarDreamed (lunardreamed)
Posted at: September 26th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)

Oh wow! That has all kinds of potential.

Posted by: shade_shifter (shade_shifter)
Posted at: November 16th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)

Okay, I hadn't thought of Sam's animal, but that is exactly what I was thinking when I wrote Dean's coyote - the subtle shift from Trickster to Hero and the quicksilver personality as well as the adaptability and survival. And here I thought I was being original. Hee.

Posted by: LunarDreamed (lunardreamed)
Posted at: November 19th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC)

I still think you were being original. I've seen similar conversations all over, and everyone gets stuck on wolf for Dean: pack animal = family oriented. I know Dean's big on family, but, to me, they've stripped Dean of all his qualities except family loyalty and that's not fair to Dean. The wolf simply cannot embody Dean's qualities the way the coyote does. And, besides, it's not as though coyotes just abandon their young or their mates.

I love the way you put it: the subtle shift from Trickster to Hero and the quicksilver personality because that describes Dean so well.

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