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This article contains several information taken from other sources in addition to information from the series proper. This may include the published version of The Shadowhunter's Codex, the family tree, and other extra content or companion books. Some of the content may in fact be wrong, but will be considered canon until proven otherwise.

Runes
VF Angelic Rune
Also Known As: Marks
Source: Book of the Covenant
Gray Book (Shadowhunters)
Type: Tattoos

Runes, also known as Marks, are symbols that grant beings various supernatural abilities, with both angelic and demonic runes known to exist. For Shadowhunters, runes are a complex runic language given to them by the Angel Raziel, which grants them powers beyond those of mundanes. Runes are burned into Shadowhunters' skin using steles, and are their most common tool in their fight against demons.

History

Runes are markings given to the first generation of Shadowhunters by the Angel Raziel to assist them in fighting the demons they were tasked to eradicate. Every rune that is accessible to Shadowhunters is recorded in the Book of the Covenant, and have also been copied into the Gray Book, which is a specially crafted book with each rune placed in its pages. Copies of the book are rare because each book must be specially made, due to the fact that steles, made of the holy metal adamas, burn normal paper.

The first ever recorded Mark was the biblical Mark of Cain, set upon Cain, which protected him from harm, as any harm against him would result in the same harm rebounded upon the assailant sevenfold.

In 2007, a large number of Shadowhunters were forcibly Turned into demonically-aligned Dark Shadowhunters with the Infernal Cup by Sebastian Morgenstern, which resulted in their angelic runes fading from their skin. After being Turned, the Dark Shadowhunters were only able to apply demonic runes.[1]

Information

While runes do cause some uneasiness and a slight stinging pain, most runes do not actually cause harm against a Shadowhunter. However, it has been said that runes hurt some Shadowhunters more than others, such as Mark Blackthorn, who is half-faerie, and who seems to feel more pain and discomfort during the application of runes as a result of his Downworlder blood.

When a young Shadowhunter is set to begin his or her formal training, usually around the age of ten, they receive their first rune. While the Voyance rune is normally the first rune given to young or newly-ascended Shadowhunters, it may be changed in special cases, such as when it was decided that the sickly Adele Starkweather should receive the Strength rune first. The first rune is usually Marked upon them in a formal ceremony done by Silent Brothers.

Uses

While most runes are meant to be used on Shadowhunters' skin, many runes can also be applied on objects, giving a variety of effects and abilities. Many of these runes are placed on their weapons to prevent demons from healing when injured by them; others are used to lock and unlock doors, create fires, and a wide array of other abilities.

Runes are what make the Nephilim different from average humans, as they are the only beings who are able to bear the Angel's marks. When drawn on mundanes, they burn the skin; powerful marks could drive them insane and turn them into Forsaken. Downworlders who are Marked cannot bear the runes and die upon contact; the only exception is the Alliance rune, which was specifically designed to be applied to both Shadowhunters and Downworlders. According to Magnus Bane, angel runes can only be applied on the Nephilim because that's what the runes given to them are for, being part-angel themselves.[2]

Runes are an integral part of a individuals' identity as Nephilim. When one violates the Law severely enough to warrant an expulsion from Shadowhunter society, or when one chooses to leave of his/her own accord, the Shadowhunter is stripped of their Marks, a process that is excruciatingly painful.[3] While this will only typically turn a Shadowhunter into a mundane, the Clave has occasionally made it so that the former Shadowhunter will turn Forsaken to serve as torture or a punishment, though the latter has since been forbidden by their Law.

Though most runes have immense power, there are runes used by the Nephilim that are purely symbolic. The love rune, for example, is merely a symbol of two people's love and cannot create the actual feeling. The same can be said for the mourning rune; it cannot diminish the loss that its wearers feel and only symbolizes the pain of their loved ones' deaths.

Efficiency

The placement of runes adds to their effectiveness. The closer a rune is placed to the heart, the more effective it is. Some runes are placed on hands and arms and legs because they target that particular area. The force that the rune is drawn with is also a factor in how long it lasts; the harder someone presses when drawing the rune makes it last longer.

In addition, Marks made by ones' parabatai upon another are stronger than other Marks, and there are Marks that only parabatai can use, because they draw on the partners' doubled strength. In another special case, Clary Fray, whose additional angel blood gives her the power to create new runes, can also place Marks on herself and others that are typically more powerful than those placed by regular Shadowhunters, although this ability has been known to sap her of energy.

Longevity

Many runes are temporary and fade with time. These runes will almost always leave behind a faint silver scar symbolic of the rune that was once placed there. These runes would need to be drawn again for their effects to be felt again.

Other runes, like the Voyance rune, are permanent. These runes never fade and their effects constantly work on the Shadowhunter on whom they were placed.

Knowledge

While there are other existing runes, the only runes the Shadowhunters are permitted to use are the ones found in the Gray Book. Demonic runes, which are accessible to warlocks and often used in summoning, are forbidden to them by Law and also cannot work alongside the seraphic blood of the Nephilim. There are also other angelic runes that are said to have existed since time immemorial that were not given to the Nephilim for their use. The most well-known of these is the so-called first Mark, Mark of Cain.[4]

Only the most common runes are referred to by their true names, while the others by their informal descriptive names. Their true names are in the language of Heaven; these names being the only words of the language human beings have ever been permitted to know.[4]

There are some very powerful runes only accessible to those who become Silent Brothers and Iron Sisters. These runes are found in the hidden parts of the Gray Book and bestows upon them different magic, which allows them to perform their duties unique to their organization.

While normally, the underlying language of the Marks are incomprehensible to Shadowhunters, making them unable to create new Marks, Clary Fray has the ability to recall old runes that were not documented into the Gray Book. This gift of runes was given to her as a result of the excess angelic blood of Ithuriel running through her veins, due to her father giving her mother tonics with angel blood while Clary was in the womb. Because of her connection to Ithuriel, the angel is able to give her images or visions in her mind of ancient runes not found in the Gray Book. These runes are assumed to have already existed long before Shadowhunters, and are even possibly runes of Heaven, that date back to the time of angels. These Marks include the Fearless, Alliance, and resurrection runes, as well as the Mark of Cain, among others.[5]

Known Runes

While there are literally thousands of marks,[4] below is a list of the runes mentioned throughout the Shadowhunter Chronicles or mentioned/illustrated in other official sources. Some of the runes listed or illustrated below are from The Shadowhunter's Codex, some of which were changed from the original designs by Val Freire; it is currently unknown if some of the runes found in the published Codex are accurate.

Rune Purpose/Effect Featured in Illustration
Alliance Allows Shadowhunters and Downworlders to share each other's abilities, such as the Shadowhunters' fighting skills and a werewolf's strength. *City of Glass
Agility A long-lived rune that equips the marked Nephilim with acuity not just of body, but also of mind. All Nephilim receive this rune early in their training, giving them the ability to process information quickly and to react.[6] *Shadowhunter's Guide
Amissio Slows blood loss and speeds natural blood replacement. *Clockwork Prince
*The Shadowhunter's Codex (real)
Angelic Power/Enkeli All Nephilim receive this mark upon initiation and signifies their angelic bonds.[6] It is also frequently applied to weapons to imbue them with angelic properties as well as wipe them clean of any demonic traces. This also prevents demons stabbed by the weapons from healing.[7] *The Mortal Instruments
*Shadowhunter's Guide
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
VF Angelic Rune
Binding Creates a ring of fire-like handcuffs around someone's wrists and is used on criminals to bind their hands. Other binding runes can prevent one's legs from supporting their weight.
Courage in Combat Provides those who wear it with bravery above and beyond that of a typical demon killer.
Codex Courage Rune
Deflect/Block Fends off incoming blows. Although handy in fierce conflicts and quickly and easily applied, it is often impractical to use in the course of battle. It is most effective when applied on defensive structures. It must constantly be reapplied to be effective.[6] *The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
*Shadowhunter's Guide
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
VF Deflect Rune
Destruction Looks like an unfinished Opening Rune that was used by Clary to destroy Sebastian's apartment.
Dexteritas Gives the Shadowhunter dexterity. *City of Lost Souls
Equilibrium Gives the wearer perfect balance; especially useful in hand-to-hand combat, this rune makes the Shadowhunter more difficult to knock off their feet. It is permanent and usually made upon the limbs.[7]
VF Equilibrium Rune
Fearless Makes the user afraid of nothing. *City of Ashes
VF Fearless Rune
Fortitude This rune provides a warrior with unshakable resolve, will, inner strength;[7] the strength of mind that enables a Nephilim to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.
VF Fortitude Rune
Fortis Gives the Shadowhunter strength.
Friendship/Combine A rune that partners two Shadowhunters together, so they can draw on each other's strength. This is the parabatai rune.
Parabatai Rune
Heightened Speed A mark that fades slowly over time, it enables the wearer to move at great speed when required, in any environment or condition.
VF Speed Rune
Insight/Foresight Supports mental acuity and inspired thought to better understand and interpret a situation or human being deeply. It provides the Nephilim the ability to better understand current and past events, as well as the ability to understand events yet to happen, based on current knowledge. This rune must be applied after each use.
VF Insight Rune
Heal/Painless Various healing and pain-killing runes that can heal grievous, possibly fatal wounds, enabling healing without causing harm or distress. While there are several forms of healing runes, the most basic is the iratze. This is the second rune gifted to the Nephilim by the Angel Raziel and the is also the second most powerful rune in Nephilim lexicography.
VF Iratze
Mark of Cain If someone tries to harm the person who bears the Mark of Cain, they will be harmed by a power seven times stronger than the one used to harm the bearer of the Mark of Cain. However, the Angel Raziel sees this as a mark that should be received from by God himself so he stripped Simon Lewis of the Mark. *City of Glass
*City of Fallen Angels
*City of Lost Souls
Mendelin This rune grants partial and temporary invisibility by casting a glamour over the wearer, allowing them to hide from mundanes and, in some cases, demons.[8] The mendelin rune can also act as a healing rune, strengthening the victim's constitution.[4] *City of Bones
*City of Lost Souls
*Clockwork Princess
Mnemosyne The permanent memory rune that grants the Shadowhunter perfect photographic memory.
Codex Mnemosyne Rune
Necromancy Brings back a deceased Shadowunter when drawn on their body. While it is not permanent and would fade over time, Clary meant to use it to let the deceased speak for a short time. However, the pain of having their soul forcefully pulled back to the world of the living would combine with the pain of their existing injuries, causing them immense pain, rendering them unable to speak. When the rune is destroyed, as Luke did with green acid, the resurrected dies once again. *City of Fallen Angels
Night Vision/Nyx Allows the Shadowhunter to see in the dark.
Opening Marks A rune with several variations that ensure that there are no mundane locks, in theory, is closed to Nephilim.[4]
Loyal To A permanent rune of loyalty first mentioned by Valentine Morgenstern. This binds the Shadowhunter to the person who marked them. *City of Glass
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
Codex Loyal Rune
Precision Gives the Nephilim the ability to perform tasks requiring a high degree of precision. When activated, the rune allows the Nephilim an intense focus, attention to detail, and the capacity to repeat tasks exactly.[6] It also instills in its user extremely refined aim, typically of a weapon.[7]
Quietude Used by the Silent Brothers to silence themselves and placed on the back of the neck. Brother Enoch once used this rune on Jessamine Lovelace, and Valentine placed this upon Clary to silence her while he summoned Raziel. *Clockwork Prince
*City of Glass
Codex Quietude Rune
Recall A single use rune that allows the Nephilim to remember events that are otherwise hidden from their memory. While powerful enough to recall even distant childhood memories, it only allows the marked to recall events they themselves have experienced or witnessed.[6]
Remembrance/Mourning Marks that denote mourning. These marks, according to Tessa Gray, were red. *Clockwork Angel
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
Codex Mourning Rune
Sangliers Blood-replacement rune used to transfer blood when the body needs it, but is extremely dangerous. *Clockwork Princess
Soundless A short-lived rune that allows a Shadowhunter to move about soundlessly as required to avoid detection.
VF Soundless
Speak in Tongues Allows marked Nephilim not only to speak and understand any language, but also allows Nephilim to communicate with one another in a way that demons cannot comprehend.
VF Tongues
Stamina Gives the marked Nephilim the capacity for standing fatigue or resisting disease. The powers granted by this rune are not a set duration, but rather they fade as the Nephilim draws on their power.[6]
VF Stamina Rune
Strength An incredibly short-lived rune that must be reapplied after each use, this mark gives the angelic warrior a short but intense burst of increased physical strength. *Shadowhunter's Guide
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
VF Strength
Thermis Keeps the Shadowhunter warm.
Tracking Marks Allows someone to track a person's whereabouts and, in some cases, see what the person is seeing, if one has a possession of the person being tracked. Often used by the Clave to track down criminals. Isabelle uses it to track Jace in City of Glass.
Vision In the film, Clary drew this on her palm and froze demons in the air. A similar one drawn upside down is seen on Valentine's chest. *The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
*The Shadowhunter's Codex
Codex Vision Rune
Voyance Given to Shadowhunters at a young age, this rune focuses the Sight, giving the wearer extrasensory perception, allowing the Shadowhunter to see past glamour.
VF Voyance Rune
Wedded Union A permanent mark made on the back of the hand of Shadowhunters, binding the pair in matrimony. Once the marks are made, the Nephilim are considered married.
VF Wedding Union Rune

Other runes illustrated in The Shadowhunter's Codex or briefly mentioned in the series:

  • Abundance
  • Acceleration
  • Accuracy
  • Action
  • Agony
  • Amissio
  • Awareness
  • Bind To
  • Bridge
  • Calm Anger
  • Clarity
  • Communication
  • Craft
  • Creation
  • Destined
  • Endurance
  • Enlighten
  • Expectation
  • Fire
  • Fireproof (pyr)
  • Flash
  • Flexibility
  • Fortune
  • Gift
  • Good Luck
  • Guidance
  • Heat
  • Knowledge
  • Manifest
  • Mental Excellence
  • Nourishment
  • Opportunity
  • Persevere
  • Persuade
  • Power
  • Promise
  • Prosperity
  • Protected
  • Sharing
  • Sleep Now
  • Stealth
  • Success
  • Sure Striking
  • Surefooted
  • Swift
  • Talent
  • Technique
  • Transmission
  • True North
  • Trust
  • Understanding
  • Unseen
  • Visible
  • Waterproof
  • Winged

Gallery

Trivia

  • The Angelic Power rune is often used as the logo for the series.
  • Most of the official runes were created by Valerie Freire on deviantArt, who also drew most of the character fanart initially used on this wiki.
  • Although the rune designs were drawn by Val Freire, some of her designs were ultimately changed for the The Shadowhunter's Codex and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones film. For example, the runes "Agility", "Precision", and "Recall" were kept in the film but changed in the Codex. The "Precision" symbol was instead used for "Calm Anger" in the Codex. The "Remembrance" rune was also combined with the "Mourning" rune. The "Visible" rune found on the Codex was used in the film but not explained. Several other seemingly new runes were used in the film, and some other familiar ones were used but left unexplained.

References

Start a Discussion Discussions about Runes

  • Unknown Rune Name

    35 messages
    • Andreth91 wrote:About Mark, I meant his right arm :-) if you look closely, it's the same rune Grace and Jace have... Maybe I shoud ask Cassan...
    • ENLIGHTEN rune can be faintly seen in the WITCHLGHT :)
  • Writer of the Runes

    5 messages
    • I believe it was Metatron, the Scribe of God. God created the words, Metatron created the runes that contain them.
    • 74.195.172.120 wrote: God wrote them, Angels use them, and Raziel gave us the Gray Book which was filled with Runes acceptable for Nephi...

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