Shadowhunter's Codex (Page 18)

Shadowhunter’s Codex(18)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Shadowhunters (other than Silent Brothers) do not typically do scholarly work when young. What mundanes would think of as “higher education” is the kind of learning that we do in our older years, when we are no longer able to fight effectively or safely and we turn our minds to intensive, focused research and study.


Male and female Shadowhunter children receive identical training today, and are expected to reach the same standard of achievement in their educations. It has always been true that the Nephilim have included both men and women, but it is only recently that all women have been given full training as warriors. There have always been women warriors among us, but prior to 150 years ago or so, they were quite rare. Women were mostly, prior to that, keepers of Institutes, teachers, healers, and the like. Although the Laws officially preventing most women from becoming full Shadowhunter fighters were revoked in the mid-nineteenth century, it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that Clave women were given combat training as a matter of course from childhood, as Clave men always had been.

The women warriors of Nephilim past took Boadicea, the great warrior who led her people in revolt against imperial Rome, as their patron and model, and that tradition has continued to this day. Wooooo ladies rule


Most Shadowhunters get their first Marks at twelve years of age. Since you, the reader, are likely to have entered the Nephilim from the mundane world, rather than being born into a Nephilim family, you may well be significantly older. This carries with it some inherent risks. It is usually considered ideal to get your first Marks when you are no younger than twelve, and no older than twenty, though there are exceptions. The older the person receiving the Mark, the greater the chance of a bad reaction.

Some things to keep in mind when receiving your first Mark:

• If there is going to be a problem, it is not going to happen immediately. If you react poorly to the influx of angelic power, Shadowhunters will be standing by ready to cut the skin, which will disrupt the Mark and stop the effect short. You’ll then receive full medical and magical attention.

• The act of inscribing Marks on skin creates a sensation that most describe as like an “icy burn.” This sensation will fade with time as your body grows accustomed to being Marked. The inscription of Marks also creates a scent in the air of something faintly burned. This scent will not fade with time. Do not be alarmed.

• Sometimes the newly Marked go into shock. The good news is, if this happens to you, you are unlikely to notice, because you will be in shock. Shadowhunters are trained to recognize shock along with other bad reactions to Marks and will treat you accordingly.

• In the next few days, especially if you are at high risk for side effects, you may experience such symptoms as screaming nightmares, night terrors, fear-driven bed-wetting, stark perceptions of the bottomless abyss of existence, restless arm syndrome, apocalyptic visions, acute illusory stigmata, and/or the ability to temporarily speak with animals. These reactions are normal and only temporary. “acute illusory stigmata?” Barely ever happens. I think.

• If you are not absolutely sure that you are not a warlock, we implore you to be tested before being Marked. Families with the vagaries of faerie blood, or even with known werewolves in the lineage, should be fine, since the Nephilim power will overwhelm these.

So this is more a “do as the Codex says, not as Jace does” situation, I guess. Since he just Marks any girl he likes, apparently.

When she is dying, yes!


Congratulations! You have survived your first Mark. We can promise that each successive Mark is easier than the previous. Your eagerness to learn by returning to the Codex is commendable, but before you return to your studies, you should make sure that the Shadowhunter inscribing you confirms you are capable of work. You may find a need to sleep extensively; this too is normal.

The Codex sure does congratulate you a lot.

Congratulations! Don’t second-guess this decision!


Unless you are among those rare mundanes born with the Sight (see the Grimoire for details), you will need to learn to see through glamours. You may have started this process already. Usually, new adult Shadowhunters first receive a Voyance Mark, and several other temporary Marks that enhance magical vision. (We do not keep these Marks, because in the long term they impair normal vision.) You will then be shown glamours of various kinds and will be trained in seeing through them.

* * *


Most Shadowhunters have the Sight from birth, and those who do not mostly gain it in the first two or three years of life. Some, however, are born “blind” and must be trained to see. Usually it is sufficient to deliberately show children glamours and their revealed true shapes; this produces full Sight in almost all Shadowhunter children by the time they are beginning their training in earnest, at five or six years of age. It is only as humans grow older that we need the assistance of Marks to initially develop the skill. How could I possibly have already known this, Codex?

* * *

Did you know?

Before it was made illegal, it was traditional in some parts of the world to “jump-start” a Nephilim child’s Sight by inscribing a deliberately weak Voyance Mark on the child, at a much younger age than we would today consider safe. (In some cultures the Mark was inscribed and then the skin under it was purposefully wounded to disrupt its effectiveness.) When the Marking was successful, some haphazard level of Sight occurred at times for the child, and at least sometimes this successfully caused the child to have the Sight permanently even after the Mark was removed. Unfortunately, this process also occasionally caused children to die of shock, from the simultaneous effect of a too-early Mark and the abrupt appearance of Sight. The practice is still done in a few places, but thankfully it has mostly disappeared in the modern age.


If you are already married, your spouse is very likely also becoming a Shadowhunter alongside you. If you are not married, when you someday do marry, you will do so as a Shadowhunter. Marriage is considered one of the sacred tasks of the Nephilim, both because the union strengthens the community and because it brings about more Nephilim.

Many hundreds of years ago aristocratic Shadowhunter families typically arranged marriages for their children in order to strengthen and mix family lines; in the modern age this practice is mostly extinct, and Shadowhunters choose their partners based on their own feelings of love and affection, as most mundane cultures today do.

Shadowhunters have always exchanged trinkets and tokens to mark marriages, to signify love and connection between the bride and the groom, mostly borrowing these customs from their cultures of origin or their current cultures. Among Nephilim, marriage is consecrated officially by the exchange of Marks. On each participant a Mark is placed on the arm, and another over the heart. This tradition is believed to come from the Hebrew Bible, whose Song of Solomon reads:

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave.


Shadowhunters are permitted to marry other Shadowhunters and, in most cases, Downworlders. (Since the Clave’s primary concern is the ability to birth more Shadowhunters, it is somewhat frowned upon to marry a warlock or a vampire, since they will have no children, but it is allowed.) Shadowhunters are not permitted to marry mundanes. They are, however, allowed to petition the Clave and ask that the mundane they wish to marry be allowed to become a Shadowhunter, in a process known as Ascension. (You may even be reading this Codex because you are yourself an Ascender!)

The Shadowhunter who wishes to marry a mundane applies for Ascension on behalf of his partner. For three months the Clave considers the petition, examining the history of the Shadowhunter who has applied, and his family, in addition to the background and nature of the possible Ascender. Of necessity this is all done without the knowledge of the Ascender; prior to the Clave’s decision in the affirmative, it remains illegal to tell the mundane applicant any details of the ways of the Nephilim. Once the Clave has granted the petition, the Ascender is told about her situation, and she embarks on three months’ study of Shadowhunter Law and culture. At the end of these three months, the Ascender is given to drink from the Mortal Cup and made a Nephilim; provided she survives this process, she is rendered a full Shadowhunter, with all the protections and rights of the Law that any Shadowhunter would have. “provided she survives”?!

* * *


Though it is very rare, Shadowhunters in the position of adopting a mundane child may petition the Clave for the Ascension of that child. In almost all cases this Ascension is granted, especially inasmuch as the child is entering an existing Shadowhunter family and will take an existing Shadowhunter family name. The three-month waiting period still applies, but after Ascension the child is typically brought up and educated in the way of any other young Shadowhunter.

What about same-sex marriage?

Okay, I went and asked Jace about same-sex marriage, and he made it a little project for me to research in the Library, because he is cruel and heartless. Actually, I think he didn’t know the answer and was covering it up.

* * *


In the earliest days of the Nephilim, our highest priority was recruitment. Marrying mundanes was not only legal, it was encouraged. Shadowhunters were taught to view their search for a spouse as a kind of recruitment, and Shadowhunter families boasted about the quality of mundanes they had brought into the Nephilim by their children’s marriages.

The practice grew much less common as the population of Shadowhunters became fairly stable and recruitment became a lower priority. In the 1400s the Council officially revoked Institute heads’ ability to create new Shadowhunters without Clave approval. The Clave representatives in Idris had no mechanism for evaluating a possible marriage, and began refusing almost all requests for intermarriages with mundanes. In 1599 the Council outlawed all Shadowhunter-mundane intermarriages of any kind.

One would expect outrage from Shadowhunter families, but in fact the new Law appeared during the height of the Schism and the Hunts (see Appendix A). These events made the Shadowhunters a much more isolated, militaristic, and monastic organization for a time. Nephilim stopped living among mundanes, as they had done in European villages for hundreds of years, and reorganized their Institutes as barracks. Even after the end of the Schism, this isolationism remained for many generations. To some extent the principles of isolation established in the Schism still guide the relationship of the Nephilim with mundanes today.

The fact of the modern world, however, is that Nephilim, especially in large cities and other populous areas, cannot help but encounter mundanes in their day-to-day lives, and no one today would consider it reasonable to forbid Shadowhunters to interact with mundanes at all. Thus in 1804 the Law prohibiting intermarriage was revoked and the method of Ascension developed. Ascension has always been, and remains, rare, but it is a crucial tool for keeping Shadowhunter populations thriving, happy, and dynamic.

This sidebar is very long and is full of dates. It can be safely ignored. Your service as a Shadowhunter will never depend on knowing how intermarriage worked five hundred years ago. I promise.

Answer: Same-sex marriage recognized in Idris, legal for Shadowhunters in countries where it is allowed. There has never been an Ascension of same-sex partners, but Ascension very rare now so could happen in future anytime.


There are many seasons of a Shadowhunter’s life, and many turns that life may take, but the core occupation of the Shadowhunter is, so to speak, the hunting of shadows. We are warriors, holy soldiers in a ceaseless battle, and while our adult lives include the same joys and sorrows as any mundane’s, the defining characteristic of our lives is that of fighting, of seeking demons invading our world and sending them, broken, back to theirs. It is the greatest honor for a Nephilim to die in combat with demons. Thus we say: Do not shirk from battle. Have faith, seek courage. A Shadowhunter who does not fight is not a complete Shadowhunter. (Unless that Shadowhunter is a Silent Brother or Iron Sister, of course.)

It is true, however, that many Shadowhunters put aside their weapons as they grow older, and seek a quieter life of study or research. But we do not do this until we have lived a full warrior’s life and are ready to put it aside with a feeling of completion.

* * *

Did You Know?

It is considered bad luck to say “good-bye” or “good luck” to a Shadowhunter who is going off to battle. One must behave with confidence, as though victory is assured and return is certain, not a matter of chance. I actually did know that!

Even I knew that. Come on, Codex. Everyone knows that.

Why do I keep letting you write in this thing?

* * *


Rarely, a Shadowhunter will choose to leave the Clave and enter the mundane world. There may be many reasons for this, but the Nephilim do not often look kindly on those who choose this path, whatever their reason. We are too few as it is, and we are meant to regard our status as Nephilim as a gift from Heaven and a divine calling, not as an accident of birth or a career path to be chosen or declined.

As such the Law is clear on the responsibilities of those who leave the Clave:

• They must sever all contact with Shadowhunters, even those of their own family who remain in the Clave. They must never so much as speak to Nephilim or be spoken to by them.

• In renouncing the Clave they also renounce the Clave’s obligation to offer them assistance in case of danger. They are not even afforded the protections given by Law to mundanes.

• Their children, even future children, remain Shadowhunters by blood and may be claimed by the Clave. Shadowhunter blood breeds true, and the children of Shadowhunters will be Shadowhunters, even if their parents have left, even if their Marks have been stripped.