Runes are symbols that grant beings various supernatural abilities. 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.
Runes are angelic symbols given to the Nephilim by Raziel. The runes have since been compiled in the Gray Book and taught to Shadowhunters since their youth. When a young Shadowhunter completes his or her training, around the age of ten, they receive their first rune in a formal ceremony done by Silent Brothers.
The application of runes cause some uneasiness and a slight stinging pain.
Runes are applied on Shadowhunters' skin and on physical objects such as weapons and gear, giving a variety of effects and abilities.
Though most runes have immense power, there are runes used by the Nephilim that are purely symbolic. The mourning rune, for example, cannot diminish the loss that its wearers feel; it is merely a symbol worn or displayed at funerals or during the grieving period to honor the lost, symbolizing the pain of their loved ones' deaths.
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. An example is the parabatai tracking rune, which has more power than ordinary tracking runes.
It is also possible to track a Shadowhunter through his/her runes.
When drawn on the skin, fresh runes appear black. Some runes on objects are drawn in different colors, such as red, silver, and gold, among others. Many runes are temporary and fade with time. These runes will almost always leave behind a faint white or silver scar. Runes that still have a trace of the mark on the skin can simply be reactivated with a stele, while those that have nor been used for a time would need to be redrawn.
Other runes, like the runes for weddings and parabatai rituals are typically permanent, aside from extenuating circumstances like death or forceful removal. The parabatai runes fade when the bond is broken or cut.
While there are other existing runes, the only runes the Shadowhunters are permitted to use are the ones found in the Gray Book.
Meanwhile, there are also ancient angelic runes that were not given to the Nephilim for their use. Clary Fairchild is a very special case; because of her blood connection to Ithuriel, she was given the ability to "create" new runes, or at least recall old runes—those not documented into the Gray Book—given to her by Ithuriel through visions, sometimes spontaneously in times of need or when she calls on them by thinking of something.
- For now, see the whole collection on the main wiki: here
While there may literally be thousands of runes, below is a list of the known runes:
- The original runes were designed by Valerie Freire for the series, while new runes were also created for the show by the series' art department.