to preserve the witch's original remains allowing her to live forever
|“||In those days when magic itself was young, her body was enshrined in an elaborate sarcophagus that shielded not only her rotting remains, but a vital spark of her soul, which, like a cinder carefully tended, is enough to reignite her life force again and again and again.||”|
The Relic of Countess Von Marburg is the skeleton of the witch's original body that allows her to live forever. Ironically, while the relic is the source of the witch's immortality, it is also the source of the witch's vulnerability.
A wizened mummified body wearing a threadbare black dress lying in the coffin, the seat of the vital spark of the witch, constantly kept alight by unknown and depraved witchcraft, that allows her to win death itself. This wretched body is also the place where the consciousness of Countess Von Marburg is trapped between one life and another, as suspended in a limbo until she comes back to life to yet unknown means.
A wooden sarcophagus used as a reliquary for the mortal remains of the ancient witch currently known as Countess Von Marburg, acting as a magic guard for her relic in a very similar way to the box protecting the Malum from dropping into enemy hands. The sarcophagus cover is clear with dark red inlays. At the center of the cover, there is a golden Unicursal Hexagram, acting as a key. The richly inlaid lateral sides of the sarcophagus represent different occult scenarios, but only a few have been shown closely.
The first panel depicts some sort of land of death, with corpses on a battlefield or, most likely, immersed in a lake of Hell-blood required to complete the Grand Rite. It's possibly a representation of Hell. The scenario depicted on this panel highly reminds of the vision John Alden had when he touched the Malum. The middle panel is inlaid with a kind of caduceus, a herald’s staff, associated in Greek mythology with the knowledge god Hermes, the messenger of the gods and able to travel through different planes of existence. The third panel represents a tree with what could be a demon inlaid into the base of its trunk and with a humanoid figure curled among its roots like a fetus in a womb, some of the roots even seeming to feed into its belly as an umbilical cord would. It could represent the rebirth of body and soul. The tree might be the Tree of Life, a motif present in many cultures and mythologies.
Throughout the Salem series
Summoned forth from Hell by Mary Sibley, the ghost of Increase Mather discovered that the invincible power of the Countess is connected to her ship which is always under her care. (Dead Birds) Later, when Mary Sibley went secretly to the ship, she located in the hold a secret passage that opened with an offering of her blood. Once opened, the passage leads to a dark fairy glade which housed the ancient sarcophagus. Inside the coffin, then, Mary discovered the mummified remains of the old witch, but when she tried to remove it from the coffin, her hands started to burn. Not at all intimidated by this terrible hex, Mary grabbed the mortal remains of the Countess to drag them off the ship, but at every step away from the sarcophagus, Mary's body began to dry; Her skin started to break and show the nerves and the raw flesh causing extreme pain to the Essex witch, who nevertheless managed to reach the Woods and threaten the Countess to regain her son back. (Til Death do us Part)
Following the completion of the Grand Rite and hosted the Devil in his mortal remains, Salem witches gathered around their master but when the Countess discovered that the Devil wanted to marry Mary Sibley in Royal Marriage instead of her, she lost her temper. After having attempted to kill Mary, the ancient witch met her death at the hands of the Devil himself, who repeatedly stabbed her. The Countess, then, awaken trapped in the mummified body, which her son Sebastian promptly segregated in the sarcophagus.(The Witching Hour)
After being killed by the Dark Lord, the Countess was trapped in her relic, regularly visited by Sebastian Von Marburg in search of maternal advice. (After the Fall) During these visits, the Countess began to devise a plan of revenge, ordering her son to retrieve the bag containing Mary Sibley's blood so that she could feed on the witch's blood. (The Commonwealth of Hell)
As she fed herself on Mary's blood, her mummified body started to blooming once again, with tendons and flesh fleshing out the skeleton. Following this hint of reinvigoration, the Countess demanded her daughter's presence in front of the sarcophagus, informing her precious Anne about what was going to happen. (Saturday Mourning)
Anne Hale was assigned to bring Mary Sibley to the sarcophagus, where Anne used a knife to cut Mary's tongue in order for the former witch to bleed directly over the Countess's face, establishing a bond that allowed an exchange of souls and bodies; Countess took possession of Mary's body, ready to become the Devil's Bride, while Mary Sibley's spirit was trapped in the relic. However, Anne had different plans and made it possible to swap the bodies again. After killing the Countess in Mary's body, the corpse began to mummify in a handful of minutes, while at Salem's boundary, the relic started to reinvigorate by assuming Mary's appearance in front of a surprised and delighted John Alden. (Black Sunday)
- Increase Mather: "Legends say Countess Palatine Ingrid Von Marburg was already alive when Lucifer fell and she was one of the first to call him lord, to kiss his infernal lips to make herself his bride, and that still she dreams of the return of her lover and works ceaselessly to that end. There is nothing she would not do, no one she would not kill. Men, women, children, even witches to bring the Devil back. Who can say when first she died or how? But in those days when magic itself was young, her body was enshrined in an elaborate sarcophagus that shielded not only her rotting remains, but a vital spark of her soul, which, like a cinder carefully tended, is enough to reignite her life force again and again and again. No manner of execution: drowning, burning, beheading can quench the infernal flame of the witch. They say she's tasted death time and again, always returning to curse the world with her beauty and to continue her efforts to make this world his kingdom and to rule beside him. And she almost succeeded many years ago, when I first met her. She tried to hide from me using her powers of glamour to disguise herself amongst some refugee children. But I found her."
- -- Dead Birds
- Mary Sibley (to John Alden): "I've come from the docks. The Countess has our son on board. But for all her power and knowledge, she does not know you even exist. To keep living century after century, she carries with her the first body she inhabited. Find it, destroy it, and the bitch can be run through with a dull blade."
- --- Til Death Do Us Part
- Countess Von Marburg (to Mary Sibley): "You would not dare harm my Relict. You know what I would do to him and to you. Do not do anything hasty that you will spend eternity regretting, Mary. For he is already lost. I feel the presence of my love inside him."
- --- Til Death Do Us Part
- Any damage done to the mortal remains effects the Countess too (i.e. when Mary rips a tooth from the corpse the Countess also loses a tooth). Strangely, when the remains caught fire, the Countess did not suffer the same injury.
- This page has been named "The Relic" as Countess Von Marburg herself referred to her original body as such in Til Death Do Us Part, although she used the German word for it. Subsequently, the original body was often referred to as "relic."
- The lock of the sarcophagus is an Unicursal Hexagram. The symbol itself is the equivalent of the Egyptian Ankh or the Rosicrucian's Rosy Cross. The Unicursal Hexagram symbol was made famous by occultist Aleister Crowley in his Thelema cult.
- The final episode of the third season is not very clear about the exchange of bodies carried out by Anne Hale. In fact, it is unclear whether the two physical bodies were actually magically exchanged and then Mary returned to her actual body or if the relic has taken on the appearance of Mary, and Mary's real body withered trapping the Countess inside itself.