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24 June 2010 @ 12:55 am
[fanmix] The Way Down [Supernatural, Ruby and her religion]  
For Tuesday, whom I understand has been feeling rather under the weather. It's not your Sweet Charity fic, but it is Ruby! Religious Ruby, at that, and actually the converse to an earlier Castiel fanmix.

Oh God this is so tl;dr.

CASEY: Some demons lie. But some are true believers.
DEAN: Believers in what?
CASEY: You think humans have an exclusive on a higher power?
DEAN: You have a god?
CASEY: Sure. His name's Lucifer.

RUBY: I know it's hard to see it now... but this is a miracle. So long coming.

We first see the concept of demon religion in the third-season episode Sin City, when Dean meets the demon Casey, who is, as she puts it, a "true believer". Not much is said of it, and then we get Ruby, a seemingly benevolent demon who goads Sam into drinking demon blood in order to develop his Antichrist powers - which, in all fairness, didn't take much convincing on Ruby's part. Until the fourth-season finale we don't get an explanation for why she is helping Hunters - her natural enemies - out, though it's implied that Ruby may or may not be in love with Sam.

However, in the events of Lucifer Rising, we learn that Ruby is also a "true believer", and has manipulated the brothers and the situation in order to set her god free. In order to do so, she clawed herself up from hell; killed her fellow demons; brought to light the only human-wielded weapon that could kill them (and herself); was beaten up; was thrown back into hell and tortured for an indeterminate amount of time - the equivalent of a few above-ground weeks, at least - until Lilith trusted her enough to send her back above-ground; killed her kin again; ceded to humans; ceded to angels; was tortured again; hid her intentions and faith so thoroughly that the other demons thought she was a traitor to everything she was; and risked her life over and over again, nearly dying at the hands of demons, angels, and both Winchesters.

That is some impressive devotion. There are saints that put themselves through less than that.

It also makes for a quite fascinating character and raises some very interesting questions - just what is demon religion? How does it make sense of the world? Does it have guidelines, things that pious demons are supposed to do? A priesthood? How do you worship something in a world ruled by practical magic? - that I would have loved if they explored further, but, predictably enough, were never answered by Kripke et al. The closest we get is Ruby's self-congratulatory speech after Lilith's death - which seems less like boasting and more like a spontaneous outburst of joy and secrets kept too long. In it, she calls Lucifer's rising a "miracle" - which could either be a) the closest English word to what a demon would call it in their own language (do they have a language?), the closest way to get Sam to understand her, or b) that again, there's more to this demon faith than entrails and sulfur - and implies that this was her goal all along.

Based on this, it's probably fair to say that almost every decision she made throughout the series was calculated to bring her god freedom and herself closer to him - and maybe there were unseen complications, like her affection (love?) for Sam, but the principal remains the same. Everything is driven by it. In many ways, the story of Ruby is the story of her faith - a perversely religious saga comparable to any of the stories of the opposition (i.e. the Christian God/YHWH).

In short, it's a side of Ruby that doesn't often get play. (Of course, I'd settle for play of any side that's not "evil bitch getting in-between the Winchesters!!!!1!") So I made a fanmix about it.

{ Also, a note probably worth putting down: I'm not advocating Satan worship, or trying for blasphemy, or insulting Christianity or people of faith. All of this is theoretical, within the context of a television show about two good-looking brothers driving around America and having homoerotic adventures with the Judeo-Christian pantheon. In short, fiction. So please don't flame. }

*And when I say "key", I mean "seal". Erk. One-in-the-morning memory issues.

Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded,
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows that the war is over,
everybody knows the good guys lost.
Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich:
that's how it goes.

Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama: Well, Well, Well

Dig a hole in the ground, straight down to Hell
'till there ain't no more water in the well, well, well.
When you're down on your knees with nothing left to sell,
try diggin' a little deeper in the well, well, well.

Ruby sells her soul.

PJ Harvey and John Parish: Black-Hearted Love

Who would suspect me of this rapture?

The Dead Weather: I Can't Hear You

I'm gonna teach you,
you're never gonna leave.
I'm gonna take you by the hand,
gonna walk you to my house.

Crosby and Nash: Puppeteer

Means justify the end.
There's nothing below you
when the world falls away.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Beat the Devil's Tattoo

There is no peace here; war is never cheap here.
Love will never meet here. It just gets sold for parts.
You cannot fight it; all the world denies it.
Open up your eyelids. Let your demons run.

I thread the needle through.
You beat the devil's tattoo.

The Mountain Goats: Psalms 40:2

In the burning fuselage of my days,
let my mouth be ever fresh with praise.

The Black Keys: Black Mud


Emily Jane White: The Demon

I'll take a corset of your words.
Tie them up high, and bind them.
(If there was a demon, would you hold her,
and be a nurse by her side?)

Sufjan Stevens: In the Devil's Territory

I'm not afraid to die to see you.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Devil's Waitin'

Falling fast but we've no cares:
we know our lord's gonna meet us there.

Tori Amos: Way Down

Gonna meet a great big star!
Gonna drive his great big car!
Gonna have it all here on the way down.
The way down.
The way down.
(She knows; let's go -)
The way down.
The way down.
The way down,
she knows.

Mood: sicksick
Music: Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - Well, Well, Well
the prettiest girl in the bingo hall: for Jesusairspaniel on June 24th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
This is really interesting to me, apart from being an excellent collection of music.

While I'm not convinced that the demons have "religion" per se, as that seems awfully formal and codified for what we've seen of them in the show, there is absolutely an all-consuming faith that some of them, notably Ruby, display. A single-minded devotion that is so intense and so genuine, that it's difficult to fathom, even for those who may themselves be religious or spiritual. I'm glad to see someone other than me is thinking about this.

ETA: How great is that Ben Harper/Blind Boys album? Goddamn I listen to that thing for DAYS on end. Perfect.

And I'm totally in the middle of writing a fic centered around Ruby that isn't all OMG bitch breakin' up my broyay. ^_~ So that'll be done in a week or two.

Edited at 2010-06-24 01:17 pm (UTC)
never underestimate a Celt: who are you carrying those bricks for?vanitashaze on June 24th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
I agree with you in that there doesn't seem to be any canon evidence of a "religion", per se; however, I don't think they ever specifically said that they didn't have one, either, which makes it interesting to play around with the possibilities. vinylroad's Prayer of St. Francis is one fic that does this, and pretty well. I don't agree with all her points, especially Ruby being "called" by the priesthood - but the idea of a demon priesthood (a certain class/type of demon devoted to the faith) is fascinating. After all, though demons are agents of chaos, they do actually have some structure. As shown by Azazel, they have hierarchies, and the crossroads demons (as well as Alistair and the "disaster demon" of one of the earliest episodes) show that some, if not all, follow very specific roles and perform very specific duties. Also, demons use magic - not just Ruby does this, but Meg, too - which has a great deal of its root in imposing an order onto the chaotic, random world. Coupled with the fact that all of the demons were once humans (religion/belief systems being close to a human universal), and I'd say it wouldn't be too far a leap to a religious order, though it would probably be less a religion as Westerners - and maybe humans in general - would understand it. Closer to a mystic order, perhaps.

Then, of course, is the fact that there don't seem to be many "true believers" around, just as there didn't use to be a lot of demons walking aboveground. So it's possible that Ruby is a leftover of a bygone age, where demons' efforts were more concentrated to the salvation of Lucifer. (Which, if you think about it, is somewhat of a weird concept. I mean, imagine a religion that posits that your Creator has been locked in a hole somewhere. It's a strange blend of power and powerlessness.)

VERY VERY GREAT. I too have been listening to it on repeat, and I'm very thankful to that Firefly vid for bringing them to my attention.

I look forward to your non-broyay-breakin'-bitch Ruby!
the prettiest girl in the bingo hall: excitingairspaniel on June 24th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Man, I've been a fan of the Blind Boys of Alabame for a while, and when my boyfriend gave me that album a few months back, I nearly died. There was a Firefly vid?

...link pls?

And I see what you're saying, and I think mystic order is closer to what I was thinking. As for the hierarchy and structure, I've always thought of Hell as a bureaucracy, with most demons the lowly peons and IT guys and so forth, with a dozen middle managers hanging over their heads, and a dozen managers over those managers, and so on in that fashion through some kind of infernal corporation, with Lucifer himself the estranged chairman of the board or something like that.

...It just now occurs to me that that is a strange way of looking at it. 0_o My vision of Hell is apparently a lot less Dante and a lot more Office Space.

But the use of magic and rites definitely indicates a much more arcane system of communication and worship. It's really interesting to think about. Thanks for the heads up on the fic. I haven't poked around in fandom too much, so it's always good to know where the interesting stuff is. ^_^