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This article is about the world of the deceased. For the other plane described also as spirit world, see Emerald Dream.
The Shadowlands in Howling Fjord as seen by a dead adventurer.
Agmar's Hammer seen in the world of shadows in H [73] The Power to Destroy quest.

The Shadowlands (see below for other names and denotations) are the realm where the spirits of mortals go when they die.[1] They are a nightmarish realm of decay, a labyrinthine spiritual plane teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living.[2] It is a dimension, referred to as a "place between worlds".[3] It appears as a shadowy version of the real world.

This is the plane player characters are sent to upon reaching zero health.


The Shadowlands represented in World of Warcraft: Chronicle.

The origins of the Shadowlands remain uncertain, but they have existed ever since mortal life first arose in the physical universe. They seem to span all worlds, including Azeroth. They are described as nightmarish realms of decay, labyrinthine spiritual planes teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living. Many believe that mortal souls are drawn into this place at the point of death, where they remain forever after. Still, others hope that their souls will go on to a brighter place, rather than languish for eternity within the cold confines of the Shadowlands.[4]

In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands are accessible upon death, where the player-character can roam, and can only be seen by other spirits.[1] The Spirit of Tony Two-Tusk describes the Shadowlands as all grey and dark, swirling clouds. While Uuna was in the Shadowlands,[5] she described it as dark and she was unable to see anything, though she could hear people interacting with her in the physical world. From within the Shadowlands, she could see the light of the naaru A'dal who was in the physical world, but it was so bright that it scared her. The moonlight at Lake Falathim allowed her to see a friend in the physical world.

When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm if it is not restrained within moments of its arrival.[6] While in the Shadowlands, visions of past events may be seen.[7][8][9]

Sometimes, the spirits roam the Shadowlands without resting. It can be because their resting place wasn't complete, because of a battle in their resting place[10] or because of the corruption of their resting place.[1] To bring eternal peace to the souls, it is needed to destroy the source of corruption[11] or by making a ceremony with items such as  [Tuskarr Ritual Object].[12] A spirit in the Shadowlands can, with enough power over other souls, tear a hole into the living world once they are strong enough. This is how Jin'do returned to Azeroth.[13]

Time may pass differently in the Shadowlands, as Salanar the Horseman (who was last seen in the Shadowlands, during N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows) once said that the years since he last met the Deathlord were only days for him.[14]

During the Day of the Dead, the Shadowlands draw closer to Azeroth.[15]

Icecrown is an anchor that holds Azeroth to the Shadowlands.[16]


World of Warcraft

WoW Icon update.png This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.

In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands can be seen when a character dies. They can be resurrected by a Spirit Healer (or by finding the corpse of their physical body, though this may be just a game mechanic).

The Shadowlands can also be witnessed by other means, such as with some specific  [Reagent Pouch].[17] It can also be seen with some devices[18] and potions[19] while being alive. Many not-dead mortals who visit the Shadowlands do not return.[20]

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King This section concerns content related to Wrath of the Lich King.

The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm

WoW-novel-logo-16x62.png This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.

  • Thrall entered into the world of spirit during a vision quest.[25]


Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.

Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content related to Mists of Pandaria.

Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor This section concerns content related to Warlords of Draenor.


Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

A dark forest in the Shadowlands.

Battle for Azeroth

Battle for Azeroth This section concerns content related to Battle for Azeroth.

  • Centuries ago, Summoner Mepjila cursed the followers of Kimbul to constantly relive their battle with her naga forces as spirits for eternity. Kimbul sends an adventurer into the Shadowlands to slay Mepjila's spirit and free his followers from her curse.[40]
  • Talanji, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin conducted a ritual to delve into the Shadowlands and locate Vol'jin's missing spirit.[41]
  • Vol'jin's spirit and a Horde adventurer traveled through Orgrimmar in the Shadowlands as Vol'jin relived the day of his death and realized it was not the loa who told him to make Sylvanas warchief.[42]

Other names


Beings of death are ancient and powerful, and it is dangerous to meddle in their realm. When Odyn peered into the Shadowlands, he saw some of its inhabitants: souls in torment, the husks of the dead, ghostly wraiths with no face, and others with no form, all made of death itself. This was enough to frighten even him.[53]

  • The ghosts of the dead dwell in the Shadowlands.
  • IconSmall SpiritHealer.gif Spirit Healers are val'kyr who chose, after Odyn's imprisonment, to remain in the Shadowlands and assist the dead in returning to the land of the living.[54]
  • IconSmall Bwonsamdi.gif Bwonsamdi is a loa who watches over deceased trolls.
  • There was a "great spirit [...] billowing up from the ethereal mists, shapeless" that Odyn gave his eye to in payment in order to see into the Shadowlands.[53]

Other afterlives

In some situations, souls may be taken to other places besides the Shadowlands:

Associated quests

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.


The final destination of the spirits of the deceased remains a mystery to the priests and philosophers of Azeroth. However, as spells such as [Resurrection] can reunite a dead body with its spirit, and a majority of living creatures from the tauren to the troll shadow hunters claim they can communicate with and call upon the power of the spirits, a widely held belief is that the spirits of the dead remain on the Material Plane — in an immaterial state that can only be altered or contacted through the use of magic.[59]

RPG notes

  • Shadow hunters deal with the darkest aspects of the Shadowlands. Their connections to powerful voodoo spirits give them the ability to curse and heal at a whim.[60]
  • The Inner and Outer Planes doesn't appear to exist in Warcraft universe, however, they are related to the Shadowlands.[59]
  • The spell called "spiritual projection" or "astral projection" brings the caster to the Twisting Nether instead of the Shadowlands;[61] and the Twisting Nether is also referred as "realm of ghosts".[62] However, both planes don't appear to be related, as Outland is floating on the Twisting Nether,[61] but the Shadowlands can be reached in Outland in The Burning Crusade.

Notes and trivia

  • The  [Headpiece of the Shadow Council] had a deep connection to the Shadowlands.
  • Spirits without a material manifestation are still able to send items from the Shadowlands to the living.[63]
  • Apparently, powerful death knights such as Lady Alistra, Salanar the Horseman, Koltira Deathweaver and the Lich King can teleport others (and probably themselves) to and from the Realm of Shadows.
  • Spirit healers wait within the Shadowlands for those unfortunate adventurers whose spirits will soon join them. These floating figures of death and rebirth return people to life where their spirit stands.[48]
  • In World of Warcraft, some quests require the player to die in order to visit the "Shadowlands" to complete objectives.
  • Though the Shadowlands and the Void are not the same,[64] the [Raise Ally] ability gives players the "Void-Touched" debuff which reads, "The touch of the spirit realm lingers..."
  • The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high-level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high-level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.[65]


This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Realm of Shadows

The Realm of Shadows may be the same World of Shadows as the one that becomes visible when an [Elixir of Shadows] is consumed. It may also have something to do with shadow magic and shades. Death knights, necromancers, and undead as a whole share a strong connection with the Realm of Shadows from many hints that can be seen in-game. In the death knight starting zone, death knights are given the task to enter the Realm of Shadows in order to gain their Deathcharger. Later on, death knights are eventually able to learn the ability [Raise Ally] which pulls their ally's spirit back from the Realm of the Dead and forces it back into their body. Upon doing so, a buff is applied to the player stating that: "A touch of the spirit realm still lingers..." This shows that death knights and necromancers both have a connection to the Realm of the Shadows/Dead to perform necromancy which furthers the idea that they actually are drawing their magical power from it.

Furthermore, upon the Lich King's death he even spoke of "Seeing only darkness before him" while Sylvanas Windrunner said the same in Silverpine Forest after being risen from the dead by the Val'kyr. This may hint that because undead, death knights, and necromancers are connected to the Realm of Shadows when they die (again) they actually become apart of the Realm of Shadows and are forced to wanders in its dark mists for the rest of eternity. If this is so, then it can also be implied that when a death knight is given his/her own personal runeblade, the runeblade is actually used to bind the individual to the Realm of Shadows in mind and body, making it impossible to ever be rid of the death knight curse. In Howling Fjord, players are even able to witness the Lich King himself standing within the Realm of Shadows with two Val'kyr. The idea that necromantic magic and death knight runes drawing power from the Realm of Shadows itself is not yet proven, but it is heavily supported by in-game quests and lore.


  1. ^ a b c d e N [75] See You on the Other Side
  2. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. ??
  3. ^ a b c N [96] A Feast of Shadows
  4. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 12
  5. ^  [Uuna's Doll] pet description
  6. ^  [Soul Coffer]
  7. ^ a b c A [71] The Echo of Ymiron
  8. ^ A [71] Anguish of Nifflevar
  9. ^ a b A [15] A Vision of the Past
  10. ^ N [72] The Honored Ancestors
  11. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  12. ^ N [72] Picking Up the Pieces
  13. ^ N [85H] Break the Godbreaker
  14. ^ N Death knight [103 - 110D] Neltharion's Lair: Braid of the Underking
  15. ^ The Day of the Dead has Arrived: "Can you feel it? The spirit world draws close during the Day of the Dead."
  16. ^ H [120] Jailor of the Damned
  17. ^ a b A [71] Into the World of Spirits
  18. ^ a b  [Spectrecles],  [Evoker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Druidic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stealther's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Shamanistic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stalker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Overlord's Helmet of Second Sight]
  19. ^ N [67] Vision of the Dead
  20. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  21. ^ N [75] Chill Out, Mon
  22. ^ N [77] Seek the Wind Serpent Goddess
  23. ^ a b Quetz'lun's quotes
  24. ^ A [72] The Forgotten Tale
  25. ^ a b The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, chapter 25
  26. ^ N [86] Ritual Artifacts
  27. ^ a b c  [Elixir of Shadow Sight]
  28. ^ N [97] Rites of the Talonpriests
  29. ^ N [97] Terokk's Fall
  30. ^ a b N [96] Ishaal's Orb
  31. ^ a b c N [96] Behind the Veil
  32. ^ N [96] Blades in the Dark
  33. ^ a b N [96] Back from Beyond
  34. ^ H [100] Seeking the Truth
  35. ^ a b Ner'zhul (tactics)#Quotes
  36. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 48
  37. ^ N Death knight [110] Aggregates of Anguish
  38. ^ N Death knight [103 - 110D] Neltharion's Lair: Braid of the Underking
  39. ^ a b Spirit Healer dialogue
  40. ^ H [110 - 120] The Curse of Mepjila
  41. ^ H [120] The Lost Spirit
  42. ^ H [120] Where He Died
  43. ^ N Death knight [101 - 110] Salanar the Horseman and Salanar the Horseman (mission)
  44. ^ N [70] World of Shadows
  45. ^ Day of the Dead
  46. ^ Zarhym (NPC)
  47. ^ H Shaman [60D] The Darkreaver Menace
  48. ^ a b World of Warcraft Official Strategy Guide, pg. 28
  49. ^  [Shao-Tien Spirit Dagger]
  50. ^ Fuel for the Voodoo#Completion
  51. ^ H [110 - 120] The Will of the Loa
  52. ^ King Rastakhan (tactics)
  53. ^ a b The Legend of Odyn
  54. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 57
  55. ^ N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows
  56. ^ H [73] The Power to Destroy
  57. ^ Roughneck Logger#Quotes
  58. ^ Warbringers: Jaina
  59. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 132
  60. ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 45
  61. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 131
  62. ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 152
  63. ^ N [67D] Everything Will Be Alright
  64. ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
  65. ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
  66. ^ Edge of Night
  67. ^ Unholy Attainment: Essence of Shadow
  68. ^ H [98] The Blessing of Samedi
  69. ^ H [98] I Help Ya Kill Dem