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The Shadowhunters
Also Known As: Nephilim
Children of the Nephilim
Founder: Jonathan Shadowhunter
Creator: Angel Raziel
Status: Extant
Base: Idris
Residence: Worldwide
Species: Half-Human
Occupation: Demon Hunters
Enforcers of the Accords
Goal/s: Extermination of Demons
Motto: Descensus Averno facilis est,
"The descent into Hell is easy"
Allies: Angels
Enemies: Demons
Rogue Downworlders and Shadowhunters
Dark Shadowhunters

Shadowhunters, also known as Nephilim, are a secretive race of beings who are humans born with angelic blood. They are the appointed warriors on Earth of the Angel Raziel. They are appointed specifically to control and preside over the Shadow World, as well as over the demons and Downworlders who inhabit it. They have fought the demonic forces valiantly for well over the span of 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 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.[1]


Codex Raziel
The Angel Raziel and Jonathan Shadowhunter.
XtzieeAdded by Xtziee
Raziel codex
Raziel with the Mortal Instruments.
Redwall64Added by Redwall64
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.

Hodge Starkweather, City of Bones

One thousand years ago, the precise date unknown, the Earth was invaded by hordes of demons. A crusader, 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.[1] 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.

Victorian era

In 1868, the Shadowhunters sign the first of the Accords. This is the first step in the peace negotiations with the Downworlders populace.

In 1878, the Shadowhunters of the London Institute face the Magister. He and his clockwork army attacked the Nephilim. Tessa Gray, with the ability to Change into other people, dead or alive, as well as hear and see their thoughts and memories, is sought by the Magister. Her ability also allowed her to be used as a volume for communication with the spirits of the dead.

20th Century

The Uprising occurs in 1991. Valentine Morgenstern and the Circle plan to slaughter the unarmed Downworlders. This event is stopped by the Downworlders and some of the other Shadowhunters, informed by Valentine's wife, Jocelyn Fairchild-Morgenstern, and former best friend, Lucian Graymark, both of whom discovered the error of his ways.

21st Century

In 2007, the Accords were signed again and Valentine plans to wipe out the current Shadowhunter race and make a new one by calling upon the angel Raziel again. A demon army he had summoned from their dimensions nearly slaughters all Shadowhunters and Downworlders, a great battle taking place. Valentine is defeated, nonetheless, after being killed by the angel Raziel.

After the defeat of Valentine, his son, Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern, with the help of Lilith, started a war to raise Hell. He and his army of Dark Shadowhunters plot to attack the Clave.

If the Mortal Cup is reversed, it will be transformed into a demonic version known as the Infernal Cup. Using the Infernal Cup can turn Shadowhunters into Dark Shadowhunters. All that is required, as demonstrated by Sebastian and Amatis, is demon blood and the Infernal Cup. When a Shadowhunter consumes it, that person will become corrupted.



Main article: Idris

Idris is the homeland of the Shadowhunters and is protected by 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 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

The Nephilim follow a strict set of rules set out in the Shadowhunter's Codex. There are many rules and guidelines that must be followed.

The Clave

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 year 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 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.

The Covenant

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.

The Accords

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.


The goal of the Nephilim is to 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.


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.


Newborn Shadowhunters have spells cast on them to protect their minds from demonic influences. These rituals protect the Shadowhunters from demon visions for example. The rituals are performed by a Silent Brother and an Iron Sister.


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.


Codex Training

Shadowhunters may be trained at a very young age, by their parents or other mentors and guardians. Some Shadowhunters may train at an academy in Alicante, or at Institutes in other parts of the world.

Upon completion of their training, it is customary and traditionally expected that Shadowhunters travel to other Institutes to learn about other Nephilim cultures.

Ceremonies and Rituals


There is a variety of weapons and gear used by Shadowhunters. Most of these weapons are made with materials capable of killing demons, some using adamas forged by the Iron Sisters.

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, Jace also uses a sword, Alec alternatively uses a bow and arrow and a featherstaff, and Isabelle uses a whip in battle. Valentine used a kindjal, a Circassian dagger, in his first encounter with both Clary and Jace. Hodge Starkweather's, and Luke's weapon of choice were chakrams. Maryse Lightwood used a naginata.

The Sensor, invented by Henry Branwell, is a weapon that allows Shadowhunters to detect demonic energies. They can be fooled by Greater Demons, as Abbadon was able to keep his ethereal form just outside a portal before he attacked Jace and the others.

Shadowhunters are known to hide caches of weapons in different places of worship for their use in case of emergencies, since some forms of demons can only be killed and fought through a certain method of a belief systems. As long as Shadowhunters cleave to no single religion, all religions will assist in their battle. The weapons are usually hidden by a church's altar, with the Nephilim rune drawn over its hiding place.

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, according to Will Herondale.

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, etc.


Shadowhunters were given runes by the Angel Raziel, all contained in the Book of the Covenant and copied into the Gray Book. Then runes, or Marks, are applied on the Shadowhunters' skin and gives different effects and abilities.

In The Mortal Instruments, Clary Fray finds herself able to create new runes.


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.


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 by the Clave, though the Shadowhunter can choose to become a mundane to marry one, though they must leave the Clave and are 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 their children.

Since Nephilim blood is dominant, if a Shadowhunter has children with any species, their children will still be Nephilim.


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 their own Shadowhunter last name and may pick from one of the old Nephilim names.

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 after.


Shadowhunters often die young. The fight against demons kills off many of them. Therefore, when a Shadowhunter dies in battle, the words Ave Atque Vale, which means "hail and farewell" in Latin, and their name are spoken. Those who die honorable deaths are burned to ashes, some of which are used to make the marble arches in the Silent City, and laid in the tombs of the Silent City; those who died of other means, such as suicide, are not accepted in the City and are instead buried in other places, including Idris. The color of funerals is white, contrary to the mundanes' typical black, which is their color of fighting. They also bear red runes for mourning.

Shadowhunters who die are either entombed in the cemetery in Idris, or in the ossuarium in the Silent City. Since most Shadowhunter families are old, most have family tombs and mausoleums, possibly in both necropolises.


Parabatai is the term for two Shadowhunters who fight alongside each other. These Shadowhunters are partners and are particularly close to each other. Shadowhunters must choose their parabatai before they turn 18.

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. 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.


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.


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.

Known Nephilim families

Traditionally, Most Shadowhunter family names are compound, reflecting something about the family, or the first of the family who chose the name.


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