Shadowhunters, also known as Nephilim, are a secretive race of beings who are humans born with angel blood. They have fought demons and lived alongside Downworlders in the Shadow World for well over a thousand years, creating their own culture and civilization within human society. Their mandate is to keep the peace in the Shadow World and keep it hidden from the mundane world while protecting the inhabitants of both worlds.
Despite their ancestry, Shadowhunters are mortal and therefore vulnerable to old age and death; however, their angelic blood endows them with special abilities that allow them to achieve feats beyond what's humanly possible through the application of angelic runes.
|“||We are sometimes called the Nephilim. In the Bible they were the offspring of humans and angels.||”|
–Hodge Starkweather, City of Bones
In the Bible, the Nephilim were the offspring of humans and angels, although it is unknown if they really existed or not. In the Shadowhunter's Codex, the Angel Raziel is said to have named Jonathan and his new breed after the Nephilim of the Bible, even making references as such, though this too is unknown as no official records exists of what exactly happened that day.
|“||The legend of the origin of Shadowhunters is that they were created more than a thousand years ago, when humans were being overrun by demon invasions from the other worlds. A warlock summoned the Angel Raziel, who mixed some of his own blood with the blood of men in a cup, and gave it to those men to drink. Those who drank the Angel's blood became Shadowhunters, as did their children and their children's children.||”|
A thousand years ago, shortly after 1000 AD, the Earth was invaded by hordes of demons. During the times when the Crusades first began, particularly believed to be some time in the winter months, a crusader named Jonathan called on Raziel, though it was believed by many that it was a warlock who truly summoned the Angel. Jonathan begged Raziel to help save humanity. Seeing the honesty and nobility of his wish, the angel obliged and mixed his blood with that of Jonathan in the Mortal Cup, a mixture he let Jonathan drink. Raziel then gave Jonathan the other two Mortal Instruments, the Gray Book, and the fitting name of Shadowhunter as a symbol of his transformation.
Soon, more men and women drank from the cup and became Nephilim warriors themselves. They soon became known as Shadowhunters, after Jonathan, the first of their kind. Their children, and their children's children, inherited their parents' angelic blood and became Nephilim themselves.
For some reason, undisclosed at this point, 1234 is a significant date among Shadowhunters: along with the Nephilim motto, the date is inscribed on the base of the statue by the entrance to the Silent City in New York. The 11th and 13th centuries are also cited by the Shadowhunter's Codex as the beginning and peak, respectively, of the promotion of the race of the Nephilim, when new members were being sought for and recruited after the death of the first Shadowhunters, and the two points in time pointed out as when the first edition of the Codex was written, the first being the time given in the presumption that the Codex was written by Jonathan Shadowhunter, and the second estimated based on modern research and dating techniques.
In 1878, the Shadowhunters of the London Institute faced the Magister and his clockwork army, whose intent was to create a formidable new race of half-Nephilim, half-demon beings, with the first of their kind, Tessa Gray, capable of several unknowable abilities—one of which was the power to Change when the demon parent is an Eidolon. His plan was foiled, however, with the combined efforts of the few members of the London Enclave and the warlock Magnus Bane.
There had been a time when some, if not most, of Nephilim women were not fighters; they were usually relegated to domestic duties such as cooking and fostering the current and future generations of young Shadowhunters at home. While there have been women fighters over the years, and it is recognized that there have always been women in the Clave—mastering the runes, creating weaponry, teaching the Killing Arts—but only a few were warriors, ones with exceptional abilities who had to fight to be trained. It was a generation in the late 1900s, which included Maryse Lightwood and Jocelyn Fray, that was the first where all women were trained to become Shadowhunter warriors along with the men.
In 1991, a great tragedy called the Uprising occurred during the signing of the Ninth Accords. A group of dissidents called the Circle and led by Valentine Morgenstern considered the Clave and Covenant outdated and in need of reform. They advocated and upheld their belief that they must increase their numbers by turning more mundanes with the Mortal Cup, and that they must once again be united and up in arms primarily against Downworlders.
During the signing, they planned to slaughter the attending unarmed Downworlders, as well as the Shadowhunters who would resist and defend the Downworlders. While they were stopped and countered by Downworlder reinforcements, all of whom were informed and prepared by Valentine's wife, Jocelyn, and former parabatai, Luke, there were still several casualties. Despite the Circle's efforts, the Accords was signed nonetheless.
In 2007, Valentine returned and planned to wipe out the current Shadowhunter race, at least those who would resist his proposal for change, and finally refresh their numbers by calling upon the angel Raziel once again. He summoned a demon army and set them on Alicante, and a great battle, referred to as the Mortal War, took place, once again ending in death on both sides. Valentine was ultimately defeated, brought down by Raziel himself.
After his death, however, his son, Sebastian Morgenstern, took up after him, albeit going down a different path. With the help of Lilith, Sebastian plotted to start a war to raise Hell and rule the human world with his army of Endarkened Shadowhunters, corrupted with Lilith's blood and the Infernal Cup. Sebastian Turned a large number of unwilling Nephilim, and killed even more during the invasion of Idris that became referred to as the Dark War. While Sebastian was ultimately defeated, it was too late as a large majority of the Shadowhunters gathered at Alicante had already been slaughtered. To salvage their population and ranks, the Clave decided to reopen the Academy and recruit more mundanes for Ascension.
Also, for the betrayal of the Fair Folk during the war, the Shadowhunters forced a treaty with the Seelie Court that the faeries pay reparations for damages dealt to the Nephilim and the Praetor Lupus, and that there no longer be fey warriors or armies, that any of them seen bearing weapons, without consent from the Clave, can and will be lawfully killed. The terms drew the ire of their kind, and fierce criticism and condemnation from the Council warlock representative Magnus Bane; nonetheless, the faeries begrudgingly accepted. Their agreement came to be known as the Cold Peace. The Scholomance was also reopened for this reason.
- Main article: Idris
Idris is the homeland of the Shadowhunters and is protected by the demon towers, forcing demons out and protecting the city, the only way to bring them down is to wipe demon blood on them from the inside—an almost impossible feat.
Idris is in Central Europe. It is a small country between Germany and France, with protective spells and wardings all around, all over the borders, preventing mundanes from entering. When they attempt to cross the border into Idris, they are simply transported into the next border without noticing.
Idris is mostly forest, littered with vampire nests and werewolf packs. There are mountains that can only be crossed in high summer without freezing to death. There is a small system of towns throughout Idris. These towns are not very big and are all sort of oriented around the one city, Alicante, which is also known as the Glass City.
- Main article: Alicante
Alicante is the only city and the capital of Idris. It is often called the Glass City because of the presence of the Demon Towers that guard the city against demon attacks, reflecting light and looking like glass. The entire city itself is lit and powered by witchlight. The houses throughout the city are built from all eras. The Gard, the meeting place for the Clave, sits atop a hill at the edge of the city. All around are residences of several Shadowhunter families and the Council. There are stores throughout the entire city that display and sell a wide array of objects from weapons to clothes.
Government and Politics
- Madame Dorothea: "You would call them that. You're familiar with the motto of the Covenant?"
- Jace Herondale: "Sed lex dura lex. The Law is hard, but it is the Law."
- ―, City of Bones
The Nephilim follow a strict set of rules set out in Codex and the Covenant. There are many rules and guidelines that must be followed.
- Main article: The Clave
The Clave is the general organization of all Nephilim, headed by the Council, the governing body of the Clave, the Consul being the highest appointed official. The Clave keeps and interprets the Law, and decides on important matters that affect the Nephilim. Members of the Clave all have rights to contribute to any Clave issue under discussion.
When Shadowhunters reach adulthood at the age of eighteen, they must decide whether to declare their allegiance to the Clave and become full Clave members, or to leave their life behind for some reason. Members of the Clave are then divided into smaller groups in different countries and cities of the world: Enclaves in most of the world, and Conclaves in the Americas and Australia. Institutes serve as their seats of power, and every active Shadowhunter answer to them. While these regional groups coordinate their own local decision making and organizational structures as they see fit, the Clave may still interfere in some cases.
The same is the case for young Shadowhunters whose parents have left the Clave: every six years until the child is eighteen, the Clave will ask the child if they would like to join the Clave and become a Shadowhunter. If the child answers no every time, three times in total, until they are eighteen, they are free. At any point during the eighteen years, the child can go to any Institute and ask for training.
- Main article: The Covenant
The Covenant is the Law upheld by the Clave. It provides the rules of conduct for Shadowhunters and Downworlders. The Covenant protects the rights of Shadowhunters to enforce civilized relations among the Clave, Downworld, and the mundane world, and also protects the rights of Downworlders so that they may not be maltreated by Shadowhunters. It is also the Covenant that guarantees that the Shadow World remains shadowed from the mundane world. The Covenant also elaborates on the legal system of the Shadowhunters.
- Main article: The Accords
The Accords acts as amendments to the Covenant agreed to be taken as the law of the land by all of the Shadow World, a treaty that ordains how Shadowhunters and Downworlders interact with mundanes and one another, as well as each group's rights, responsibilities, and restrictions. With the Accords, groups of Downworlders also in peace with the Accords agree to the same oath to never reveal the truth of the Shadow World to mundanes. The Accords are revised and signed every fifteen years by representatives of these groups.
While Shadowhunters living in Idris do not fall under any of the mundane authority surrounding them, they are still technically humans and citizens of the countries in other parts of the world outside of Idris and are subject to their laws. Aside from that, they do have alliances with different governments in the world. In London, monarchies through the ages have tithed to the Shadowhunters in secret to keep their kingdoms safe. In USA, the Department of War and the Department of Justice have both affiliated with Shadowhunters.
The goal of the Nephilim is to fight, and someday end, the plague of demons on Earth. They are dispatched to every place on Earth to fight against demon hordes. The fight even continues after death. Their bones and ashes are used, as the bones of demon hunters are powerful protection, to fortify important buildings and to supply power to the Silent Brothers.
Aside from this, the Shadowhunters have also placed the responsibility of upholding the peace and secrecy of the Shadow World, as well as the protection of the mundanes and the world in general from the supernatural, upon themselves.
As with all populations, the Nephilim have developed their own culture and traditions. They have traditions and habits that, though not official laws, are expected of them.
Most Shadowhunters spend their younger years as warriors. An exception would be when Shadowhunters join one of their two monastic orders: the Silent Brothers and the Iron Sisters. The Brothers serve as the keepers of their lore and knowledge; they serve as their librarians, researchers, and occasional medics. They reside in the Silent City. The Sisters design and forge their weapons; they are the keepers of adamas, the holy metal given to them by Raziel. They reside in the Adamant Citadel.
The Nephilim do not conform to any mundane religion as they have allied themselves with every mundane belief system. Also, individual Shadowhunters are allowed to believe what they choose. Some Shadowhunters see their own lifestyle and beliefs as a separate religion. Mainly, they have their own beliefs about angels, demons, Heaven, and Hell, and they worship the Angel Raziel as their creator. Still, the Nephilim acknowledge the truths in mundane religions, mythologies, tales, and legends, and often integrate this into their real world knowledge.
Every mundane religion are also partly aware of the ongoing battle against demons, having been affected by the Incursion themselves. However, since mundanes would not be capable of fighting demons, they merely incorporated their existence and the battle against them methodically into belief systems as different evil entities. Their leaders instead opted to help by assisting the Nephilim, who are equipped to battle the demons, in their mission, as long as Shadowhunters do not cleave to a single religion.
Contacts and relations were established between the Nephilim and the more mystical orders of the world's major religions, with a small group of chosen leaders acting as the representatives of each religion, signing secret treaties that promises the continued provision of havens and weapons for Shadowhunters in exchange for protection. Their end of the bargain is upheld by allowing the Nephilim access to their different religious communities, holy buildings, or places of worship as havens, or for their numerous hidden caches or reserves of holy tools and equipment for Shadowhunter use, the oldest of which is said to be in the Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio in Milan, dating to over five hundred years ago.
While most Shadowhunters typically do not participate in or observe mundane religious or cultural traditional celebrations or holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, some have accepted it as a custom, though without the religious significance it has for mundanes.
Typically, children of Shadowhunters, whether biological or adopted, can choose to train to be Shadowhunters when they're about ten. They can also refuse, and in a Shadowhunter family, that once meant the child was sent away, but the rules have since changed. Ascension would then be open to the non-Shadowhunter, adopted child.
Upon completion of their training, it is customary and traditionally expected that Shadowhunters travel to other Institutes to learn about other Nephilim cultures.
Most used are the seraph blades, the primary weapons of the Nephilim, made of adamas and calls upon the power of an Angel's name to access the blade's power. In addition to seraph blades, some Shadowhunters choose to have a weapon of specialty, such as swords, bows and arrows, and many more.
The Nephilim also have devices, such as the Sensor and Portal, that make their tasks easier. Each species is weak to a certain element. Blessed iron is effective against fairies, silver powder and bullets against lycanthropes, holy water and other religious symbols against vampires, and demons are generally susceptible to damage from angelic weapons etc.
Ceremonies and Rituals
Newborn Shadowhunters have spells cast on them to protect their minds from demonic influences. These rituals protect the Shadowhunters from demon visions and possessions directed towards them. Technically, the ritual is mainly only necessary for those who are in danger of being targeted, so people with Shadowhunter blood but who are un-Marked and raised among mundanes, with no one knowing what they are, will remain unaffected, or minimally so, by the lack of the spell. The rituals are performed by a Silent Brother and an Iron Sister.
Since Nephilim blood is mostly dominant, if a Shadowhunter has children with any species, their children will still be Nephilim. A special case is when one parent is a faerie, wherein some of their kind's characteristics or attributes may manifest in the child, and a demon, such as Tessa Gray, though this is very rare as the child of Shadowhunters and demons are usually stillborn. When the half-breeds continue to have children, the trace of the other species will either slowly diminish through the generation or disappear entirely.
- Main article: Runes
Shadowhunters were given runes by the Angel Raziel, all contained in the Book of the Covenant and copied into the Gray Book. These runes, or Marks, are applied on the Shadowhunters' skin and gives different effects and abilities. Clary Fray, a Shadowhunter with an exceptional amount of angel blood, finds herself able to "create" new runes, or recall ones, not given to them by Raziel.
When a young Shadowhunter is set to begin his or her formal training, usually around the age of ten, they receive their first rune, typically the Voyance rune, in a formal ceremony done by Silent Brothers. In some cases, like when the child of former Nephilim choose to join their ranks at a later age, they receive these runes years later; another special case is the reception of a different Mark than what is usually given first when the child is weak or sickly.
- Main article: Parabatai
Parabatai is the term for two Shadowhunters who fight alongside each other. These Shadowhunters are partners and are particularly close to each other. Shadowhunters have the option to choose their parabatai before they turn 18, after which the option will the longer be available to them; in fact, having parabatais is quite uncommon among the Nephilim.
The runes drawn by one's parabatai are stronger than those used by another. Also, there are some runes that can only be used by parabatai for it draws on the parabatai's double strength. It is forbidden for two parabatai to fall in love with each other. If this happens, they will be separated. Most Shadowhunters don't have a parabatai, so they are not very common. In a Shadowhunters life, they can only have one parabatai, even if their partner dies.
|“||The ritual is taken from the Song of Solomon. 'Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.'||”|
The color of marriage is gold. Shadowhunter women generally wear gold dresses and black ceremonial gear marked with gold runes for men. Marriages are often done in The Accords Hall in Alicante. Upon marriage, the family ring given to the woman upon proposal and engagement is returned. The Shadowhunters then mark each other with permanent runes of love and commitment over their heart and arm, signifying their love and devotion for one another.
Same-sex marriage is also recognized in Idris when it is done in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
Relationships with mundanes, and any other species other than fellow Nephilim, are generally looked down upon by the Clave. In fact, marriage to mundanes are forbidden. However, Shadowhunters can be with Downworlders; they simply cannot be wed in a Shadowhunter ceremony because the Downworlders cannot bear the rune that is a part of this ceremony. Other forms of marriage to Downworlders are allowed, such as church weddings, handfasting, faerie ceremonies, among others, though some of these are not generally recognized by other Shadowhunters.
To be able to marry a mundane, a Shadowhunter will have to leave the Clave and become a mundane, stripped of their Marks. There are three rules for those who leave the Clave. First, the Shadowhunter must sever contact with any and all Shadowhunters they have ever known, even their own family. Second, they cannot call upon the Clave for help. And third, the Clave can still lay claim to their children, wherein they can their children will be made aware of their lineage and will be offered to become Shadowhunters every six years until they are eighteen.
However, this can be avoided if the prospective mundane lover Ascends to become a Shadowhunter.
During the early days of the Nephilim, when recruitment and the strengthening of their numbers were priority, marrying mundanes was encouraged. However, after population of Shadowhunters became stable, the Clave of the 1400s revoked Institute heads' ability to create new Shadowhunters without approval; since no system for evaluating was provided, most requests after this were refused. The marriage to mundanes were completely outlawed by the Council in 1599, at the height of the Schism and the Hunts, during which the Nephilim became more isolated from the mundanes. This isolation remained and continued, and even shaped the relationship of the Nephilim with mundanes, even generations after. In 1804, the Law prohibiting intermarriage was revoked; however, while the marriage is still forbidden, the method of Ascension was at least developed.
- Main article: Ascension
Ascension is the process through which mundanes become Shadowhunters by drinking from the Mortal Cup. The option is open to lovers and adopted children of Shadowhunters, and, in some rare cases, other Sighted mundanes interested or selected to become a Shadowhunter. Though rare, the Cup has been used to create more Shadowhunters through the years, when their ranks and populations were depleted. Mundanes who Ascend to become a Shadowhunter may then choose and submit their own Shadowhunter last name for approval, or just pick from one of the old defunct Nephilim names (names which have no longer had living or active holders for some years).
However, drinking from the Mortal Cup was dangerous and did not always work. It takes special strength and resilience and they must be extensively tested, so most never survive the transition. Adults, particularly the "untrained and unworthy," could either be unaffected by the process entirely or killed outright, and it mostly works on children; at one point, the Council had considered lowering the age of agreement to Ascension to twelve or fourteen.
Because of the risks, one must be petitioned and appealed to the Clave, and they are required to evaluate and consider for at least three months before approval, during which the mundane should be studying to learn about Shadowhunter culture.
When the Cup was lost and believed to be destroyed in the late 20th Century, the Nephilim believed that Ascension will never happen again, until it was found and retrieved almost two decades later. After the Dark War of 2007, the Clave became desperate for new Shadowhunters after their numbers were depleted, and they reopened the Academy for new recruits, which include mundanes Turned into, or being trained to become, new Shadowhunters through Ascension.
When proven guilty of a violation of their important laws, Shadowhunters may be stripped of their Marks. This is mostly done when a Shadowhunter chooses to leave the Clave to marry a mundane, and become one in the process. Another act of treason to receive this punishment is by consorting with demons; this grave act may even be accompanied by the forceful transformation of the violator into a Forsaken mundane, as well as the removal of the family's Marks and the removal of their family name and records from Nephilim history.
Shadowhunters often die young as their fight against demons kill off many of them in battle. The traditional color of mourning among the Nephilim is white, contrary to the mundanes' typical black, which is their color of fighting, for their clothes, and red for runes.
To honor a Shadowhunter's death, most of them are burned, and their remains are later interred. Those who die in Idris are traditionally entombed in its necropolis outside Alicante's walls, where most old Shadowhunter families have not only grave plots but large family tombs and mausoleums. Those who die outside Idris are entombed in the ossuarium that makes up a level of the Silent City, though still smaller than the cemetery in Idris, wherein the desiccated bodies are burned and turned to ashes used to make and reinforce its marble arches. The Silent Brothers have responsibility over the dead in both locations. However, those whose deaths are not considered honorable, such as suicides, criminals, and monsters, are instead buried, whole and unburned, in other places, such as at the crossroads in Idris outside the Brocelind Forest.
During funerals, or when a Shadowhunter dies with another present, their name and the words Ave Atque Vale, taken from a poem by Catullus, which means "hail and farewell" in Latin, are spoken.
Before being set on the funeral pyre, the Shadowhunter's body is presented so that words of mourning can be spoken and those left behind can pay their last respects. The eyes of the dead Shadowhunter are bound with white silk, and he is laid to rest with his arms crossed over his chest, a seraph blade clutched in the right hand and resting over his heart. Funeral rites vary depending on the part of the world the Shadowhunter is from but traditionally conclude with a sentence from The Odes of Horace: Pulvis et umbra sumus.—"We are dust and shadows."
Some Shadowhunters leave behind legacies that become marked and included in Shadowhunter history. Historical figures such as Jonathan Shadowhunter and the Angel Raziel are among the very well-known figures throughout their history.
Of course, over the course of centuries, events occur that shape the future of the Nephilim. Tapestries, illustrating passages from history, and monuments may be made in their honor or memory. Apparently, grand deeds, such as victory in a war, may warrant the creation of such tributes.
An example is the 2007 wars, the Mortal War and the Dark War. A tapestry was made for the events behind the Mortal War, depicting the image of Valentine summoning Raziel, and Clary Fray, who foiled his plans, on the sidelines. At the crossroads near Brocelind Forest, where criminals and suicides are typically buried, a necropolis was built for the Endarkened, as their final resting place, a sort of monument or reminder of the Shadowhunters' victory against Sebastian's plans, as well as a shrine for those who had once been Shadowhunters.
Other memorable parts of Nephilim history for which tapestries were made for include the signing of the First Accords, the Battle of Shanghai, and the Council of Buenos Aires.
The Nephilim's motto is "Facilis descensus Averno," or "Descensus Averno facilis est," which means "The descent into Hell is easy" in Latin. It was taken from Virgil's poem, The Aeneid.
|“|| Black for hunting through the night|
For death and mourning, the color’s white.
Gold for a bride in her wedding gown,
And red to call enchantment down.
White silk when our bodies burn,
Blue banners when the lost return.
Flame for the birth of a Nephilim,
And to wash away our sins.
Gray for knowledge best untold,
Bone for those who don't grow old.
Saffron lights the victory march,
Green will mend our broken hearts.
Silver for the demon towers,
And bronze to summon wicked powers.
–Shadowhunter children's rhyme, City of Heavenly Fire
Colors mean different things to Shadowhunters than they do to mundanes. Black is the color of their gear; white is for mourning; gold for weddings and red is ceremonial. According to Raphael Santiago, the demon towers also light up different colors depending on certain messages: gold for celebrations, red signifies magic, which can also be interpreted as danger, and blue as the color of the Accords. Red Marks are also used for mourning, and was the color used by the Endarkened.
Known Nephilim families
Traditionally, most Shadowhunter family names (particularly the English ones) are compound, reflecting something about the family, or the first of the family who chose the name, but this is not always the case. Listed below are the known Shadowhunter family names:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 The Shadowhunter's Codex
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 City of Heavenly Fire
- ↑ Nothing but Shadows
- ↑ The Infernal Devices
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 City of Bones
- ↑ City of Glass
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 City of Lost Souls
- ↑ Lady Midnight
- ↑ Clockwork Prince
- ↑ Cristina Rosales and religion, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ↑ Adopted child, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ↑ Rituals, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr.
- ↑ Various questions answered, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ↑ The Mortal Instruments (book series)
- ↑ Weddings, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ↑ Fae weddings, Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- ↑ Clockwork Princess
- ↑ City of Heavenly Fire questions, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ↑ Clockwork Angel
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Lord of Shadows
- ↑ "My editor chose it," Cassandra Clare on Twitter