Is 'Sleepy Hollow' Purgatory Accurate? The Show Really, Really Departs From The Religious Concept
Rejoice, Sleepy Hollow fans: Our show is back. Season 2 of the hit series airs Monday night, which completely negates the idea that Mondays suck. For those who have not yet caught up on Season 1, for shame! Do that immediately and then come back to us. But for those who watched the series religiously, you know that Season 1 ended with Ichabod Crane buried underground thanks to Henry Parrish, aka the Horseman of War, and Lieutenant Abbie Mills is stuck in Purgatory after agreeing to take Ichabod's wife Katrina's place in the land. Purgatory, or the world between worlds, in Sleepy Hollow is a creepy gray place filled with trees and forest and not much else though it also contains other souls, both dark and light. And Nicole Beharie told TVLine that Purgatory on Sleepy Hollow is "trippy" and will be a special kind of hell that is very personal to Abbie. But just how similar is Sleepy Hollow's Purgatory to the Purgatory we hear about in religious texts?
Obviously, none of us can actually find out if there is such a thing as Purgatory in real life (you'd kind of have to be dead to do that). And for the purposes of understanding Sleepy Hollow, we don't have to get too far into the discussion about whether or not it exists — it could take us literally eons. I'll all that theorizing to fictional characters in fictional worlds. I can, however, get down with comparing Sleepy Hollow's version to that of other literary and religious definitions.
Purgatory has been mentioned and written about for centuries in religious texts, books, and film and television. Where does Sleepy Hollow's fall? I've rounded up the possibilities:
Purgatory According To The Pope
In Catholic teachings, Purgatory has been described as the in-between world of purification before once reaches Heaven. Basically, people who were good but not sufficiently holy end up in Purgatory when they die. According to religious texts, these people must undergo a final fiery and painful purification to be admitted into Heaven. Catholics believe that no one in Purgatory will ever stay there forever or go to Hell as they are not evil enough to belong in Hell.
Sleepy Hollow's Purgatory is also considered the in-between world between Heaven and Hell. However, Moloch the demon is the one who has the power to choose who goes to Heaven and Hell while they're in Purgatory. That's not exactly how it works in Catholicism — in the Old Testament, Moloch (or Molech) is a false deity, not the guy you have to appeal to to get out of Purgatory. Moloch can also make people stay in the in-between forever, which is what he does to Katrina. Moloch is the sort of warden or detention teacher to Purgatory, which definitely isn't a Catholic idea.
Purgatory In Dante's The Divine Comedy
In the iconic epic poem, poet Dante Alighieri describes Purgatory as an actual, physical place — which is unlike the Catholic teaching. The land is called "Mount Purgatory" and it has nine levels, two levels on top for those who are waiting to be purified and sent to Heaven; and seven more levels below, which house those who have committed the seven deadly sins. These people endure punishments that fit their crimes.
Purgatory's physical locale in Dante's text is nothing like Sleepy Hollow's version, but the idea that there is a physical place for Purgatory is the same.
Purgatory In Pop Culture
The most similar Purgatory to Sleepy Hollow's portrayal of the world is probably from The CW series Supernatural. In both shows, the world is said to be a place where souls are trapped and unable to leave on their own accord and the atmosphere is very similar. Both worlds are grey and woodsy and contain dangerous entities. However, Purgatory in Supernatural is said to be home for only for the dangerous monsters who die and is a prison for the Leviathans while in Sleepy Hollow, all souls can stay in Purgatory as long as Moloch deems them to stay.
Thankfully, Sleepy Hollow's summer purgatory is over and new episodes are about to being, but now we just have to hope and pray that Abbie's time in the world between worlds won't last for too long. Of course, how Ichabod plans on getting her out and saving his wife who has been kidnapped by the Horsemen, is another mystery altogether. God speed, you beautiful colonial man.