In her novel Angels on Fire, Nancy Collins referred to Heaven as the “Clockwork” and Angels as the individuals that maintained the gears of the universe. But Clocks don’t run with out energy, whether it is a coiled spring or electric power, something needs to turn the gears, and I think that in Season 6 we are going to learn that the energy that turns the gears of the Supernatural Universe is human souls.
In Supernatural, we have seen time and time again human life as the power source for mystical activity, but what if life is incidental and death is used only as a method of accessing the real power, the human soul? We know from Crowley, “The Devil You Know” and “Two Minutes to Midnight” that he requires a Soul to power his search to find Death, Crowley’s claim is supported by Balthazar in “The Third Man”, here an Angel is acting like a Demon laying claims to human souls because of the power they hold. So, what power does a human soul hold? What can raise the dead, grant, talent and skill? My theory is that the soul holds a small amount of the pure power of creation. From Castiel we know that Angels well at least Archangels exist in Heaven as a “multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent” or which is just another way of saying the pure power of creation or Grace. This suggests that Anna’s explanation in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Heaven & Hell”, was only partially accurate, Anna true form is pure Grace, she could bleed away a large portion but some still had to remain for her to exist. She probably also kept enough of it to cause a barren woman to conceive. Taking this a step further implies that a human soul in the Supernatural Universe is grace, creation given personality and bound within human form.
So how do Demons, Gods and Angels access that power? I think that there are several ways, probably the easiest and least elegant is as I mentioned earlier is sacrifice of a life. We see the first hints of this possibility in “Home”, “Faith” and “Scarecrow” I must admit the first time I saw these episodes I just enjoyed the action as an extension of typical horror genre archetypes, but now looking back at these episodes through the filter of Season 6, even if it is Ret-con, it is delicious to see how well the pieces all work together to support the over all theory. In “Home” we see Mary as a ghost, her tragic death has caused her to linger, no one would have pr known she was there until the appearance of a poltergeist caused her to manifest as a protective spirit, an extension of the hunter that she once was. In the end of the episode, she sacrifices herself, burning out the remenant of her soul that allowed her to remain as a ghost to defeat the poltergeist and protect her sons. A theory that is giving that is given credence in Seasons 5’s “Dark Side of the Moon” as neither she nor John can be found in heaven even though we know John escaped hell, but more about John later. In “Faith” the preacher’s wife is using a Reaper to save deserving lives, but the Reaper can’t just reverse death, he needs the power to do so and as a Reaper he can see and touch a soul only when someone dies or is in a near death state, he essentially accesses the power of the soul by exercising his ability to bring death. Finally, in “Scarecrow” we are getting a more traditional interpretation of soul as a power source, this time through the sacrifice of human life to the Vanir a ritual that must be done yearly so that the Vanir may insure healthy harvest and prosperous town. These are the first three examples but they are supported through out the next 5 seasons as John like Mary uses up the remains of his fading soult to tackle Azazel and save Dean, then fades out forever as the last of his grace dissipates in a few pale sparkles, in Season 3, “A Supernatural Christmas” introduces us to the pagan Yuletide divinities, longing for the sacrifices of the past, a theme repeated in Season 5’s “Fallen Idols” and “Hammer of the Gods”. Season 4 has “Criss Angel is a Douche Bag” is an episode where sacrifice is used in return for the power to avert death, we don’t know exactly how the spell works, but to be consistent with the Supernatural Universe I suspect it forces a Reaper to act on behalf of the caster. And while we are speaking of Reapers, in "Death Takes a Holiday" people who don't have their souls collected still live and Sam and Dean take a littlle Astral trip where they learn to channel the power of their soul, something that should have come naturally to Dean since he already had practice having "full on Swayze'd that mother" back in "In My Time of Dying"
The second way to pull power from the soul is the method most Cross Road’s Demons and now Balthazar use, call it a lien against the soul. The more liens the more power available to pull upon. Part of the reason that there is a time limit on the claiming of the soul may be a pure sales tactic, maybe 10 years is the point which seems so far away that most people entering into the deal think its enough until the time is up and only the really desperate are willing to make a worse deal. Another possible reason, which actually works better with Balthazar, and history’s non-violent Gods, is that the soul seems to be a somewhat renewable resource when it is encapsulated in fles. When it is dedicated and bound to you either through a contract or a religious commitment, the Demon, Angel, Deity can call on the soul's power at will and as long as they did not overdraw upon their contractees/worshippers they have a continual resource at hand. Some of the evidence supporting this theory comes from “The Third Man” where Castiel can read who holds a marker on Aaron’s soul, and from ”Weekend at Bobby’s”, where Crowely’s contract is inscribed into Bobby’s very flesh. Other indications are the fact that in the “Cross Road Blues”, “Time is on My Side” and “No Rest for the Wicked” no matter where the contractee tries to hide, its like they are fitted with a Demonic Lojack. Demons drawing power from souls would fit nicely with Lilith, “the new power rising in the west”, holding all the contracts and how with her passing and Lucifer’s second fall why Crowley, “King of the Crossroads” is now King of Hell. Which still raises the question why collect the soul after 10 year if it is a renewable resource. My theory on that is that Demons do not practice conservation that they draw and draw on the soul until finally the body can’t keep up and changes either physical or more likely mental start occurring that no longer can be hidden. Another option is that if the body is overdrawn, no additional power can be called on with out having the soul freed from the flesh, which brings me to the third way to gain power from the soul.
This is actually where I started when the idea came to me for this Meta, as much as I loved “Weekend at Bobby’s” the whole Ret-Con of how burning the Demon’s bones destroyed the demon drove me wild. No matter what theory I cooked up I could not squeeze that square peg of a fact into the round hole that was the Supenatural’s Mythology, that is until I considered what happened in Hell, and in Heaven for that matter , and what might actually be going on. In many faiths and mythologies there are stories of Humans transcending, finding that spiritual path or in the case of heroes, physical path to becoming more, something greater than they were to begin with. If we translate that into the Supernatural Universe then the soul’s power its grace can also grow. Angel’s on the other hand are static, unless God gives them an upgrade, the grace they have is the grace they had when they were created, nothing more or less. Where as with Demon’s their grace has been all but burned from them, and only the faintest ashes remain. Ruby tells Dean in “Malleus Maleficarum”, “There’s a real fire in the pit”, and from Dean’s own mouth in Heaven and Hell that every day they would tear him apart and put him back together. What if all this damage to the soul is a way to squeeze out every last essence of grace possible from a soul for use by Demonic Agents on earth or higher level Demons ? I suspect this is how and why Lucifer created Lilith. Other uses for the stolen grace maybe to feed Lucifer in the pit or perhaps this stolen grace is how higher level Demons keep themselves together once their bones decay to dust. The resulting essence once almost all the grace has burned away is the black smoke we have seen through out the series. We can then take the theory a step further and suggest that Sam or Lucifer drinking demon blood is drinking the last traces of the soul’s grace thus giving him the power boost and that is why Crowley and most demons are afraid of having their blood consumed by someone who can access that power because it destroys them. Come to think of it, this also explains what Famine was doing. If this is the case, then burning a demons bones destroys the last bit of fragile connection they have left to what they once were, where as many ghosts or newly dead still have all or most of their soul’s grace left.
If we look at the other end of the spectrum, in Heaven soul’s are constantly reliving their happiest memories. These feelings of happiness the positive energy they produce maybe how Heaven harvests the energy of the soul with out destroying it, a continually renewing resource. But because Heaven needs positive energy souls can not interact with each other, since no matter how much you love a person there will be times of discord and bad feelings and these do not add to the energy bottom line. The truth of the apocalypse is both sides are vying for the energy left in human souls, Heaven wants to tuck us away as a permanent battery ala Matrix, where Hell wants to just burn us up no conservation required.. This makes Hell the internal combustion engine and demons the car exhaust, while Heaven has an electric engine driven by the batteries that are human souls..
I like this theory, it actually makes me content about the one big problem I had with “Weekend at Bobby’s” answers a few but not all the objections I had with “Hammer of the Gods”, even works well with Gabriel, the only thing it does not do is explain Jesse from “The Children are Our Future”. Jesse is still a very square peg in a round whole. If anyone has a way to get him to fit this theory I would love to hear it, because I have yet to make him fit any theory.