Soul eaters appeared as humanoids with a long black cloak, a somewhat distorted face, and black, empty eyes. A soul eater lived in a pocket-dimension, called its "nest," that existed outside of space and time, into which it could drag human souls from the physical world. A soul trapped in the nest had no way to escape, even after the death of the victim's body. According to Bobby, a trapped soul would also begin to wither away, but according to Death, a soul couldn't be destroyed, and prolonged entrapment with the soul eater would simply cause the soul to appear sicker and cadaveric. Bobby also stated that as soon as a soul eater finished with one house, it would close its nest there and make a new one in another house, taking its previous victims with it as an "emergency food stock" for lean times.
According to conventional lore, soul eaters couldn't be killed. A Celtic sigil could trap one, but they were otherwise thought to be invulnerable to harm. However, the Men of Letters found a sigil that could kill a soul eater if it was painted in both the soul eater's nest and the house the soul eater inhabited.
A soul eater could mimic some of the characteristics of a ghost, such as causing cold spots, emitting EMF, and causing lights to flicker. On at least three occasions, hunters assumed they were dealing with ghosts when they were actually hunting a soul eater.
If a soul eater was trapped, its victims were trapped with it. Killing a soul eater, however, would free the souls of its victims, allowing the dead to move on and the still-living to return to their bodies.
Since a soul eater's nest exists outside of time and space, its possible for people from different time periods to interact within the nest.
Years previous to his soul eater case with Rufus Turner, a hunter named Harvey called upon Bobby Singer for help with a house at 207 Oak Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which Harvey thought contained multiple poltergeists, not knowing it was actually a soul eater. When Bobby arrived, he found Harvey in a coma on the floor, and he had apparently been that way for days. While under attack by the soul eater, Bobby desperately tried a Celtic sigil for trapping monsters on the creature. The sigil worked, trapping the soul eater and sealing and its nest. For years afterward, Bobby remained unaware of what it was he had faced.
In 2008 or 2009, Rufus Turner ended up catching a case with another soul eater and called upon Bobby for backup. The two men originally believed they were dealing with a ghost, but eventually determined it was actually a soul eater. After realizing he had faced a soul eater before, Bobby decided to use the same monster-trapping sigil since lore stated a soul eater couldn't be killed. While attempting to trap the soul eater, it dragged Bobby's soul into its nest and possessed his body, using it to attack Rufus, who was able to finish the sigil and trap the soul eater. Before leaving the nest, Bobby had a brief encounter with the soul of Dean Winchester from 2016.
In 2016, a woman renovating the house where Rufus and Bobby had faced the soul eater inadvertently broke the sigil and set the soul eater loose once more. Sam and Dean Winchester investigated the case and discovered the connection to Bobby and Rufus' old case. The two discovered that while conventional lore stated soul eaters couldn't be killed, the Men of Letters had discovered a sigil that could kill a soul eater when painted inside the house the soul eater was located and inside the soul eater's nest. Dean allowed the soul eater to take him to its nest so he could paint the sigil there, while Sam painted one inside the real house. After Dean finished his sigil, the soul eater possessed him and attacked Sam, but Sam subdued it and finished the sigil, killing the soul eater and setting free all of the souls it had trapped. Those still living returned to their bodies, while those who had died moved on.
After learning how to kill the soul eater, the Winchesters decided to find the house Bobby had first trapped a soul eater in so they could kill it and release its victims.
Powers and Abilities
- Reality Warping - Soul eaters possessed the ability to create their own dimension called a "nest," which was a plane between the physical world and another that existed outside of time and space; the nest was the soul eater's natural habitat, and they used it to hunt their prey. A soul eater's nest took on the appearance of the home it inhabited, though it appeared far darker and twisted to mess with their victims and make them vulnerable.
- Soul Extracting - A soul eater could remove a human's soul from their body and drag it into their nest, which left the person's body in a coma until they died.
- Super Strength - A soul eater could beat down, drag, and push fully grown humans with little difficulty.
- Possession - Soul eaters could leave their nest and possess the body of a soul they have trapped.
- Invulnerability - As an undead being that existed between this world and another, soul eaters were nearly invulnerable. The only known methods to beat a soul eater were a sigil that could trap them and, as the Men of Letters later discovered, a sigil that could kill them.
- Electromagnetic Interference - Their presence caused lights to flicker.
- Thermokinesis - They could alter the surrounding temperature of a location.
- EVP - They could create many audible phenomena, such as footsteps or creaking wood, which they used to lure their targets.
- Super Stamina - It appears they have a large amount of stamina. Considering the amount of power they used to create their nest. They also have the ability to indefinitely go without sustenance of human souls even for many years when they are sealed.
- Telekinesis - They could move objects without touching them.
- Invisibility - A soul eater was naturally imperceptible unless in its pocket dimension. While in the physical world, only a soul eater's hands were visible.
- Teleportation - Soul eaters displayed the ability to move from place to place at will, mainly to travel between their nest and the physical world
- Time Displacement - Inside the Soul eaters nest it appear’s all souls taken by the Same nest occupy the same dimension in space and time as seen when dean see’s Bobby while he was in the nest.
- Celtic Monster Trapping Sigil - An emergency sigil to trap monsters; could trap a soul eater within its nest as long as the sigil remained intact in the house.
- Soul Eater Killing Sigil - These sigils caused a soul eater to turn to dust after they were drawn with blood in the soul eater's nest and in the house it inhabited, setting all of its victims' souls free.
Known Soul Eaters
- It appears a soul eater does more to a person than steal their soul, as their body cannot function afterward. Bobby stated that a victim's body withers and dies without the soul inside it, instead of continuing to function as Sam did after he lost his soul.
- While possessed by a soul eater, a human's eyes resembled those of the White-eyed Demons.
- The soul eater is similar to SCP-106, an elderly humanoid, in that they both can create their own pocket dimensions, and is thought to be invulnerable.
A soul eater is a folklore figure in the traditional belief systems of some African peoples, notably the Hausa people of Nigeria and Niger. Belief in soul eaters is related to traditional folk beliefs in witchcraft, zombies, and related phenomena.
The soul eater is supposedly able to consume an individual's spirit, causing a wasting disease that can be fatal; "the soul eater is a classical form of the cannibalistic witch." In Hausa belief, the desire and capacity for the practice, termed maita, is rooted in special stones kept in a person's stomach. The trait allegedly can be inherited from one's parents or can be acquired from an existing practitioner. The soul eater can take the form of a dog or other animal in pursuit of his or her practice — a belief that connects with the beliefs in werewolves, werecats, selkies, and other were-creatures and human/animal beings found in world folklore.
Another belief about soul eaters is that they are men who were cursed by witches and have to eat the souls of humans to live their lives. After the soul eater devours a victim's soul, the victim disappears as dust. The belief survived into African-American folklore in the United States and the Caribbean region.
Related beliefs can be found in other traditional African cultures, like the Fulbe and the Serer, and in cultures outside of Africa too — such as in the tribes of the Mount Hagen area of Papua New Guinea. The hix or ix of the Maya and related peoples is a comparable figure; the Pipil term "teyollocuani" translates literally as "soul eater." Some traditional religions, from that of the ancient Egyptians to the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez, contain figures whose names have been translated into English as "soul eater." These mythological figures, however, are spiritual and not human beings, and so are distinctly different from Hausa and comparable beliefs.
In contemporary arts nowadays, the traditional belief in soul-eaters has been adopted by a range of modern horror fiction and fantasy writers, contemporary songwriters, and anime and video game creators for their own uses.