In the first episodes of the later series of the Supernatural TV show, it is shown that Sam and Dean meet after a long time and check each other out by Holy water, Silver Knife, Salt and what not.

It has already been established in the previous seasons that they are un-posses-able because of a tattoo they have on their chest. So, why is there a need to use Holy water and a Silver Knife, and not just show the tattoo to each other?

2 Answers 2


They are not unpossessable because:

any demon can burn the tattoo and possess them.

Hence the holy water and salt. Any shape shifter can take their form along with the tattoo and hence the silver knife. Nobody can stop Leviathans from taking their form along with every minute details in their body hence the Borax Water. Showing just the tattoos is not a foolproof measure and Winchester boys don't take chances.


In this current season, we've seen measures demons can take to possess those with the tattoo.

They have one of the characters get an identical tattoo. However, Crowley finds a way to bribe or corrupt someone to burn the tattoo off for him, and Crowley then possesses the character.

So it's not fool-proof. And while I'm sure some fangirls would love for Dean to undress Sam to make sure it was still there, even CW's not willing to go quite that far.

  • 4
    Also, being precautions would stop a shapeshifter taking their place (again) as I assume it could mimic having a tattoo. Dec 5, 2012 at 17:36
  • @NikolaiDante Agreed. There are probably any number of spell and geases that could accomplish similar. I think all of this amounts to prudent precautions.
    – John O
    Dec 5, 2012 at 17:42
  • This does raise another interesting question: do you think that a shapeshifter could be possessed by a demon and, if so, could it protect itself against such possession by shifting a devil's-trap tattoo onto itself?
    – Liesmith
    Feb 19, 2015 at 20:36
  • @Liesmith I think monsters are not necessarily immune to possession, but there are hints that they are. For instance, Crowley desperately wants to capture a vampire, and neither he nor his minions attempts to possess them... surely that'd be a good way to keep control of one. If they are not immune, shapeshifters probably can do that trick. There are no rules other than that the shape of the sigil is correct... it can be of any material or substance apparently, and need not even be visible (invisible ink has been used before).
    – John O
    Feb 19, 2015 at 22:14

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