Spirits are natural denizens of the Shadow Realm, beings composed of ephemeral matter. As in animistic belief, spirits take a vast variety of forms, embodying the nature of anything from inanimate objects to living things to emotions, concepts and events.
Spirits have a complex relationship to the Material Realm; they may be birthed by strong emotions, the creation of objects or the birth of new life, or perhaps ephemera simply finds a home and identity by connecting with such things. Spirits begin their lives as tiny dormant motes of Essence. Eventually, as their material reflection grows and strengthens, they become powerful enough to awaken (or be awakened by something else). While some spirits may exhibit complex behaviour and high levels of intelligence, they always act according to their natures: wolf spirits hunt, toy spirits play, and flu spirits spread disease.
Regardless of their nature, however, all spirits require Essence, or spiritual energy. They may gather Essence by acting in accordance with their nature, but to grow more powerful, they must consume other spirits. Usually a spirit will consume spirits that somehow strengthen its identity: a wolf spirit may hunt and kill the spirits of prey animals, reinforcing its identity as a predator, or it may consume other less powerful wolf spirits. Sometimes, however, a spirit may consume another with a disparate nature, giving rise to hybrid spirits known to the Uratha as Magath.
While almost anything else may have a spirit reflection in the Shadow, humans and other similar beings (like vampires, werewolves and Prometheans) never do. This may be because they possess souls (or an equivalent). Human beings may leave behind ghosts when they die; such ghosts are distinct from spirits in that they do not naturally exist in the Shadow but in Twilight, and are thought to be mere echoes of a person, rather than a true reflection of their nature.
Spirits intrinsically feel a connection to other similar spirits, forming groups that the Uratha and mages call "choirs". These are broad categories defining spirits with compatible natures, such as Weather spirits, Tree spirits or Vehicle spirits. Powerful spirits may also be accepted into "descants", groups of more specific concepts, like Thunder spirits, Gum Tree spirits or Car spirits. Minor spirits are never considered part of a descant regardless of their natures, since membership in one conveys significant status.
Apart from this organisation, spirits are also intrinsically aware of their Rank, a measure of their power and ability which determines their place within the spiritual hierarchy. Spirits do not generally use names to refer to particular ranks or choirs, instead using descriptive terms or merely recognising another's level of power. Uratha and mages, however, have devised names which they apply to an abstraction of the levels of spiritual power, as follows:
|Rank||Description||Uratha name||Mage name|
|1||Newly self-aware spirit||Lesser Gaffling||Squire or page|
|2||Minor spirit||Greater Gaffling||Knight|
|3||Average spirit||Lesser Jaggling||Baron/Baroness|
|4||Powerful spirit||Greater Jaggling||Count/Countess|
|8|| Ancient or immense entities;|
universal concepts, planets etc.
|10||"Beyond manifest conception"|
Spirits of less than Rank 1 are tiny and exhibit no more intelligence or self-awareness than an insect; they are disregarded by all other spirits. Uratha, being spirit beings themselves, also have Rank, derived from their renown, though the Forsaken find most spirits acknowledge them only grudgingly.
An Awakened Master of the Spirit Arcanum can also instate herself into spirit hierarchy by casting the Spirit Court spell, and carries an effective rank no equal to Gnosis or dots in Spirit. (M:tA 256)
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Spirits do not possess learned skills or normal physical, mental or social attributes; instead, as they grow more powerful, they become simply better at doing whatever their natures require. In addition, they possess supernatural powers known as Numina which allow them to manipulate Essence to produce various effects, from bodily possession to crossing the Gauntlet into the Material World.
Spirits are also able to exert influence over whatever it is they embody. A Wrath spirit would be able to influence anger, making the emotion stronger, changing its target, or even making a calm person angry for no reason. Minor spirits generally have influence only over the single thing which they most embody. More powerful spirits have greater control over these influences, and may gain other influences as well.