A Shinki is made from a loose spirit (
Loose spirits can be partially or fully corrupted by ayakashi. If a human commits suicide, their loose spirit will be completely possessed by ayakashi since their soul has already given in to evil. Therefore, these souls can never become shinki. However, if a loose spirit is attacked by an ayakashi and only partially corrupted, they can potentially still become a shinki, although their vessel form will be partially or entirely unusable (e.g. dull, torn, broken, etc).
It is unspecified whether shinki have a natural lifespan. However, it is shown that they can live for over 1,200 years. They can also be killed by other beings of the Far Shore, such as ayakashi, gods, or other shinki. When a shinki dies, their name disappears, and the owner god will sense it.
Creation of a Shinki
When a god sees a loose spirit and wants to take them as their shinki, the god must give them two names: one for the human form, and another for the vessel form. The kanji character of the vessel name will then be imprinted on the soul’s body, marking the ownership for the said spirit. This imprint seals away the God's Greatest Secret, which includes details of the shinki's past life, including name and cause of death. When the creation process is completed, the god immediately becomes aware of the details of the shinki's life.
It should be noted that many of the Kanji used to name a shinki to use the older form or an alternate form of the supposed characters, or uses the on'yomi version of the character. Therefore, watchers and readers may notice that some of the Kanji imprinted on the shinki’s body look different than the actual character.
The first pronunciation is used in the shinki's human name, and it is based on the native (kun'yomi) reading for the Kanji character. Using this name changes the shinki into their human form. Usually, another Kanji character of the god’s choice is added to the first name to become the shinki’s name as a person. This Kanji character serves as a shinki's "family/clan name", and a god can have one or more family names as desired. For example, Yato’s is "ne" (
The second pronunciation is the vessel name, and it is based on the Sino-Japanese (on'yomi) reading for the said character. Using the second name changes the shinki into their vessel form. Usually, the character "ki" (
A shinki’s vessel can take the form of objects, including weapons and clothing, or animals, including mythical creatures. It is also possible for a shinki to maintain their human appearance in their vessel form, although this seems to be exceedingly rare. It is said that if a vessel takes an anachronistic form (not of the era they were named), it means that the god and shinki are particularly compatible.
A Shinki's Past Life
The God's Greatest Secret (
Responsibilities of a Shinki to Their God
A shinki is meant to obey their master at all times and control their emotions. It is considered disrespectful to their master for a shinki to bow to a different god or to draw a borderline against their god.
Most importantly, a shinki controls themselves from falling into temptations that lead to committing sins. This is because the name bestowed onto them is actually connected to the god’s life. Therefore any kind of disturbance - intense emotions, sins committed, death - will be sensed by the god in the form of stabbing pain through the back of their neck. If it continues, it will eventually become blight.
Hiyori assumes that this pain goes in both directions, but this is not the case– the pain only transfers from the shinki to the god. Since shinki were previously humans, they understand the concepts of good and evil. On the other hand, gods cannot do "wrong" since good and evil are human constructs. Therefore, a shinki's sins transfer pain and blight as a way of teaching their god right and wrong. Notably, since concepts of right and wrong vary between individuals, the definition of a blight-causing sin also varies. For example, Kugaha commits many acts of manipulation and violence but does not blight his masters since he believed that his actions were righteous. And, although Yukine blights Yato whenever he has base thoughts, Takemikazuchi reasons that this happens only because Yukine was wrongly taught to believe that his urges are sinful.
When a shinki blights their god, appropriate action is taken against them. Usually, an Ablution ritual is performed for the shinki, forcing them confess all of their sins. Depending on the severity of the offense, the shinki may be excommunicated after having their name released, or in severe cases, killed by their god. However, gods seem to vary greatly in how they approach this. For example, Yato, Bishamonten, and Kofuku have endured extensive blight instead of releasing or killing their shinki, but Tenjin has revoked a name after being blighted only once.
Releasing a Shinki's Name
When a shinki wants to quit their job and serve a new master, it is common practice for the god to release the name given to them. To do so, the god must write the kanji character of the shinki's name, then say their vessel name, followed by "I release you." The name imprinted on the shinki will then disappear, reverting them to a loose spirit. Once released, a shinki cannot be given a second name by the same god. The abilities obtained as the god’s shinki will disappear, and they also lose the ability to draw borderlines.
"You wanna dig out my tush-crystal, Yukine?!"
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It is demonstrated that strays have a particular advantage against other shinki. In order to use a spell on a stray, the caster must recite all of their names before reciting the invocation– otherwise, the spell fails. Strays can also change vessel forms directly should their name be called, traveling from the hands of one god to another. Killing a stray may also end up backfiring, as all the gods linked to a killed stray will simultaneously be notified by the great pain of losing a shinki.
The following is a list of currently known strays:
- The Stray was named by Father, Yato, Ebisu, and Takemikazuchi among other unspecified gods.
- Kugaha was named by Bishamonten, Father, and Tenjin.
- Kunimi, Takami, and many other un-introduced Mi-clan shinki were named by Ebisu and other unnamed gods.
- Kazuma was named by Bishamonten and Yato.
- Yukine was named by Yato and Father.
A Blessed Vessel (
So far, there are three known blessed vessels in Noragami:
- Kazuma evolved from a black nail earring into a sakura-shaped earring. He achieved this by offering to become a stray in exchange for having Yato save Bishamonten's life.
- Yukine evolved from a single blade into dual blades with ragged bandages as the hilt, one shorter than the other. He achieved this by protecting Yato from Bishamon's attack.
- Nana, known infamously as "the Burier" (はふる
者, Hafuru-mono), was previously a blessed vessel of Arahabaki. Her vessel form at the time is currently unknown, but it is said that she revived after being struck down by Heaven.