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Sue Ann controlling a reaper.

Binding reapers is a very complex ritual that has very powerful and very dark roots in magic. The ritual requires several steps and objects but once completed, the person performing the ritual has full control of the reaper, including its abilities, although forcing the reaper to perform death transference required an additional set of ritual altogether.

The ritual is very dangerous and delicate. A misstep or disruption could destroy the bind and set the reaper free. Additionally, as most reapers are neutral and follow the natural order, forcing them to kill a person who is not yet meant to die, coupled with transferring that person's life to another who is supposed to die, would incite their anger. Sam Winchester described the ritual as 'putting a dog leash on a great white". One practitioner of the ritual was killed by the very reaper she bound after the Coptic cross, the main instrument of the ritual, was destroyed. Much of the information in binding reapers were recorded in an ancient booklet written by a dark priest. That booklet was in the possession of Sue Ann prior to her death but was last seen with Sam and Dean.

More powerful beings, like demons, could bind reapers without the use of any ritual.


A dark altar dedicated to binding the reaper.

A spell must be performed to bind the reaper. The binding ritual also requires a black altar with bones, human blood, several crosses, with at least one Coptic cross. The Coptic cross must be ubiquitous—the altar has to have one, the performer of the ritual also has to have one around himself or herself to keep the reaper under control.

Forcing Death Transference[]

The Coptic cross is a key instrument in binding a reaper.

For the reaper to perform death transference, the person or being controlling the reaper had to mark a photograph of the target. The photograph is then placed in the middle of the altar. The person controlling the reaper must then recite a prayer while holding onto a Coptic cross. Disruption of this ritual by destroying the cross would set the reaper free.


This required trapping the reaper in a set of sigils, not unlike trapping a demon in a devil's trap. However, the sigils not only prevented a reaper's abilities or movement—it also induces a comatose state to the reaper inside. The sigils could hold at least two reapers. This form of incapacitation has been performed by Alastair.

Crowley, as King of Hell, negated a reaper from escaping him without any recognizable ritual.

After capturing Maurice, Sam and Dean apparently bind him as he is unable to escape, but how is not shown.

Titaniccanonnoncanon.png The Titanic. Yes, well, uh, it was meant to sink, and I saved it.
This article or section is about a canonical subject but contains information from sources (novels, animated series or comics) that are either not canon or are dubiously canon.

Another way to trap a reaper was mentioned in the novel, Carved In Flesh. Lapis Occultus or more famously (mistakenly) known as The Philosopher's Stone was regarded to be an excellent prison for a reaper. The stone could trap a Reaper's spirit in it. It involved just thrusting the stone into the reaper. The stone was to be buried deep within its ethereal substance. Apparently the procedure is very painful for a reaper who can't perceive pain at all. It was not the pain of the flesh but of the soul. Once trapped, the reaper would be unable to use his powers unless the stone was smashed.

Trapping a reaper and using its power was one of the steps to summon Hell onto Earth.