Parabatai is a pair of Nephilim warriors who fight together and are closer than siblings, regardless of their gender. They are partners who would lay down their life for the other. Being ones' parabatai is not merely a matter of promising to guard each other. The pair must stand before the Council and swear an oath to lay down their lives for each other.
Not all Shadowhunters are required to have parabatai; it is actually less common to have them. A Shadowhunter has only eighteen years to find and choose a parabatai; once older than that, the ritual is no longer open to the Shadowhunter.
Shadowhunters are also forbidden from falling in love with their parabatai. Most Shadowhunters don't know the reason, but it apparently stems from a dark Clave secret. This is because the pairs must maintain the dignity of their warrior bond. The Shadowhunter-troubadours' in the late Middle Ages made several songs depicting the forbidden love of parabatai pairs and the tragedies, both of heartache and magical disaster, that befell them when they become romantically linked.
|“||And it came to pass... that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.||”|
It is an ideal of warrior comradeship that goes back a long time. The idea of parabatai bonds came from an old tale, particularly the biblical tale of David and Jonathan, warriors who loved each other dearly and whose souls were knit together by Heaven after forming a covenant. Out of that story, Jonathan Shadowhunter and his companion David, who were coincidental namesakes of the biblical ones, took the idea of parabatai, and encoded the ceremony into the Law.
Parabatai share each other's powers and can feel a strong connection between them. They also share a part of their strength with each other.
Parabatai bonds can be severed by several circumstances: if one dies, if one becomes a Silent Brother or an Iron Sister, if one becomes a Downworlder, if one leaves his life as a Shadowhunter to be with a mundane, and if one is exiled. It is stated that when this happens, they will feel the connection break.
In City of Lost Souls, it is revealed there is a darker form of the parabatai bond. However, one member will be superior to the other, and he will be able to impress upon the other member his thoughts and feelings. When one is injured, the other is as well, and when one dies, they both die. Since this robs one member of the bond of their free will, it is considered the demonic equivalent of the parabatai bond.
The Parabatai Oath Edit
The words of the Parabatai Oath must be said in a ceremony, where each person draws the parabatai rune on their partner.
Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—for whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.
Known Parabatai Edit
- Jonathan Shadowhunter and David (split by the Silent Brotherhood of David)
- Silas Pangborn and Eloisa Ravenscar (split by Silas' death)
- Jem Carstairs and Will Herondale (split by Jem's Silent Brotherhood and Will's death)
- James Herondale and Matthew Fairchild
- Cordelia Carstairs and Lucie Herondale
- Michael Wayland and Robert Lightwood (split by exile and Michael's death)
- Valentine Morgenstern and Luke Garroway (split by Downworld transformation)
- Jace Lightwood and Alec Lightwood
- Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs
The term parabatai comes from heniochoi kai parabatai, which just means "charioteers and side-men" in Ancient Greek. The side-man cannot leave the charioteer; the side-man fights from the chariot to protect the other, while the charioteer drives; the one is useless without the other.