Shadowhunters, also known as Nephilim, are a race of beings who are humans born with angel blood. They have fought the demons that threaten the world and have created their own culture and civilization within human society over the years, at the same time keeping the Shadow World a secret from the mundane world while protecting both.

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.



According to the legend, the Angel Raziel bestowed the Mortal Instruments to a human, who became the first Shadowhunter.[1]


In 1998, a group of dissidents called the Circle and led by Valentine Morgenstern the Uprising occurred during one signing of the Accords. They intended to steal the Mortal Cup that was put on display that day and kill the attending Downworlders. The day ended in bloodshed, with deaths on both sides.[2]



Main article: Idris

Idris is the hidden homeland of the Shadowhunters.[3]

Government and Politics

The Nephilim follow a strict set of rules set out by the Accords.

Ceremonies and Rituals


Main article: Runes

Shadowhunters were given runes by the Angel Raziel, all contained in 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—at least ones she receives from visions sent to her by Ithuriel.[4][5][6]


Shadowhunters are trained at a very young age and may attend lessons at other Institutes[2] or in Idris. When they complete their training, they receive their first rune, which is performed by a Silent Brother in a ceremony.[6]


Main article: Parabatai

Parabatai is the term for two Shadowhunters who fight alongside each other. These Shadowhunters are partners and are particularly close to one another.

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, such as parabatai tracking.


The color of marriage is gold. A tradition in Shadowhunter weddings is having a suggenes. During the wedding ceremony, which may be officiated by a Silent Brother, the Shadowhunters will mark each other with the Wedded Union rune.[7]


Shadowhunters may be sentenced to imprisonment when caught violating their Law. The City of Bones is one known prison that can hold Nephilim criminals, or those to be questioned.[8]


The traditional color of mourning among the Nephilim is white.

During funerals, if the deceased left behind family or someone close to him/her, the person may stand by the corpse, covered by a white cloth, and will call out the deceased's name(s). The words "For we are but dust and shadows. Ave Atque Vale, hail and farewell" are spoken. After this, those "left behind" may leave the deceased's side and join the others gathered, and a Silent Brother will touch the tip of his stele to the corpse(s). In front of a mourning rune close to the body, the Silent Brother and any other official figure will raise their hands in unison as the souls of the deceased depart their bodies and visibly drift into the air.[4]


The Nephilim's motto is "Facilis descensus Averno," or "Descensus Averno facilis est," which means "The descent into Hell is easy" in Latin.[9] It was taken from Virgil's poem, The Aeneid.


Shadowhunters were once allied with all of the ancient religions because they used to recognize demons, until the religious systems began to ignore the threat of demons as the Shadowhunters protected them. Nonetheless, thee Shadowhunters of that time were able to stash caches of weapons in different places of worship.


Shadowhunters often wear black gear; they wear white for mourning,[4] and gold for weddings.[7]

Known Nephilim surnames


See also