The mythology of the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe is still imperfectly described in the novels.
We are made aware of four realms that exist in this reality:
- Earth (the physical realm; where souls reside within flesh bodies to live a single lifetime, before passing onto one of the afterlife realms)
- The Fade (an afterlife realm; the equivalent of 'Heaven', where 'good' souls go to reside for eternity in peace and rest)
- The In-Between (an afterlife realm; the equivalent of 'Purgatory', where souls that have unresolved issues go to reside until those issues are either resolved, or their soul is so eroded from being here so long that they cease to exist all together)
- Dhund (an afterlife realm; the equivalent of 'Hell', where 'bad' souls go to reside for eternity, presumably in misery and torment)
There is also a single reference to "other dimensions" that exist in the cosmos and in time, somewhere else, but these alternate realities are not described in the novel canon.
In the Beginning...
The mythology of how the universe, the earth, and humankind came into creation is not discussed in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, although since it is a crossover series with The Fallen Angels series, and the mythology of that world follows Christian dogma, it is assumed that the universe of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is similarly dictated in terms of its ultimate creation myth.
In the Black Dagger Brotherhood, J.R. Ward describes a 'Father' diety, referred to simply as 'The Creator', who is known to have two children: a female, known as 'The Scribe Virgin' and a male, known as 'The Omega'. The 'Mother' diety of these two children (if there is one) is still unknown, as is the identity / official name of the Father diety. There is speculation that the Father diety is the 'One God' that Lassiter (a fallen angel in the series) serves, as the universe of the Black Dagger Brotherhood crosses that of J.R. Ward's other series, The Fallen Angels series. Currently, however, J.R. Ward has not released conclusive information either way. We await her revealing as to who this mysterious 'Creator' is, as well as who his Mother counterpart (if there is one) may be. The 'Father' diety is further referred to as, "the Book and the Page and the indelible Ink" by the Scribe Virgin in Lover Unbound.
As for the children of the Father diety, J.R. Ward has not yet revealed which of the two (whether The Scribe Virgin or The Omega) are the elder, and whether or not they are twins.
The Scribe Virgin
Mystical force who is counselor to the Vampire king as well as the keeper of the Vampire archives and the dispenser of privileges. She resides in a non-temporal realm called 'The Sanctuary', and has extensive powers.
By leave of 'The Creator', she was granted the ability to perform a single act of creation (birthing life from cosmic spiritual energy), which she expended to bring the Vampires into existence. She also birthed from her loins two flesh-and-blood fraternal twin children, Vishous and Payne.
The Scribe Virgin's role in the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe seems to be that of the feminine life-giver/nurturer. She is an incarnation of light and life, although it is ironic to note that her Vampires cannot let the sun touch their skin or they burn up.
In The Beast, The Scribe Virgin had faded away into non-existence. The purpose for her voluntary demise and the full ramifications of her disappearance in the lives of the Vampires has yet to be revealed in the series, but as for her good-bye, she left that in a note to her only son, Vishous:"There are seasons to all things, and my time has come to its end. I am saddened by much that has transpired between us, and between your sister and myself. Destiny proved to be more powerful than what was in my heart, but such as it shall be.
I shall appoint a successor. The Creator is allowing me that discretion and I shall exercise it when the time comes, which is nigh. This successor shall not be you nor your sister. You must know this is not out of animus, but in recognition for what you both have chosen for your lives.
When I exercised my due to bring the race into existence, this was not the ending I foresaw. It can be difficult, however, even for deities, to differentiate between what they will and what will be.
In another dimension, mayhap we shall meet again.
Tell your sister I send my love unto her.
Know that I bestow it upon you as well.
As Vishous can no longer feel the presence of his mother anywhere, it is assumed Analisse is gone forever.
The Scribe Virgin appears as a diminutive figure completely draped from head to toe in black silk that has a brilliant white light shining out from underneath it.
It is rare for The Scribe Virgin to show her physical form to others. Before a mating ceremony, it is customary for Vampires of the Brotherhood and the King's family to present their hands to The Scribe Virgin, so she may take them in her own hands and feel their energies to determine the status of a presumed mating. During those times, her hands have been described as pale and bathed in white light. Twice she has removed the hood from her head to reveal her face to the Brotherhood and the King, and those around her say she is stunningly beautiful.
Her voice is said to be melodious, akin to the sound of song birds.
The Scribe Virgin created the Vampire race aeons ago, when the human race was still young, when she was gifted the opportunity by the Father diety to bring forth a single act of creation (that is, she created life from the spiritual energy of the universe). Whether she requested this power or was gifted it from the Father diety is unknown, but the ability to create life is an awe-inspiring act that always requires sacrifice within the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe to maintain cosmic balance and order. That The Scribe Virgin received this blessing implies a special connection to the Father diety that The Omega does not have, for reasons unknown.
As the diety mother of the Vampire race, The Scribe Virgin has always had a definite connection to the Vampire's royal lineage, advising its Kings and attending their ascension ceremonies. The Scribe Virgin also attends all proper mating ceremonies where she takes the hands of the couple and announces whether she believes it to be a good pairing or not.
There are supposedly many other ceremonies which involve The Scribe Virgin, including something about apples and harvests, that are alluded to in the series. As the Vampire population diminshes and Vampire society drifts further apart, however, these ceremonies have been left undone and related to the Chronicles.
ASIDE: Only Brian "Butch" O'Neal's creation was different from any other Vampire thus far mentioned in the novels (see below for details).
The Scribe Virgin has also engaged in one other act of creation, this one of the flesh: she took on a corporeal form and physically mated with The Bloodletter, a vicious male Vampire soldier. She allowed her body to become impregnated with his seed in a brutal coupling. From that union was born the only son to The Bloodletter, Vishous, and his twin sister, Payne. Both are half-breed Vampires, but they carry all of the same traits as regular Vampires (blood drinking, aversion to sunlight, mate bonding). Additionally, the siblings have some form of their mother's powers (Vishous can see the glimpses of the future and his right hand contains a powerful form of energy that can incinerate anything physical, or can be used to cleanse the taint of Lessers, and it also allows him to touch his ghostly shellan, Jane; Payne glows all over from head to toe, and any who touch her during such moments heal to the point of even regressing cells to a younger, more healthier life stage).
Malevolent, mystical figure who has targeted the Vampires for extinction out of resentment directed toward The Scribe Virgin. He exists in a non-temporal realm and has extensive powers, though not the power of creation (he can do so with flesh, but not with spiritual energy).
The Omega's role in the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe seems to be the exact opposite of The Scribe Virgin: that of the masculine, the destroyer, the darkness. He is an incarnation of chaos and death, although it is ironic to note that he and his army can walk around in the sunlight without suffering any damage (and this gift is passed to his son -see below- upon the young man's death and reanimation, too).
The Omega appears as a figure completely draped in white cloth with a light-absorbing blackness shining out from under it. In one confrontation with The Scribe Virgin in Lover Revealed, the Omega appears completely unrobed as 'a wormhole in the fabric of reality, no longer an apparition but a smoky black pit.' Rhage jokingly refers to him in the same novel as, 'bus exhaust'.
The Omega prefers the sexual company of males to females, and often engages in repeatedly raping his newly created Lessers and his Fore-Lessers (those of the Lessening Society who are his elevated to the status of 'field general') without care or regard. According to Mr. D, a Fore-Lesser in Lover Avenged and Lover Mine, the experience is a horrific one.
The Lessening Society
The Lessening Society is an army of dead, reanimated humans (and in one case, a half-Vampire) created by The Omega. It is not specified when or how the Society was established. What is known is that The Omega was and is incapable of creating life from the spiritual energy of the cosmos, and this fact rankles him. He is jealous of his sister, The Scribe Virgin, for being given that ability by the Father diety, and countered out of spite by creating the Lessening Society to oppose and to kill off her creations.
The reanimation process is achieved by draining all of the blood from the victim, thus killing them. Then, The Omega cuts open their chest, removes the heart and puts it in a jar for safe keeping, and then pours his own essence into the dead vessel. He then jolts the dead body back into life with a powerful electrical charge generated by The Omega's own body. The chest wound seals over, and the dead individual is reanimated as a walking, talking, thinking corpse that has several assets (which may be considered detriments in some cases as well):
- Lessers cannot die unless:
- They are stabbed through the empty heart area of the body by something made of metal (their tainted essence returns to The Omega when this happens);
- They are completely incinerated until there is nothing left but ash (their tainted essence returns to The Omega when this happens);
- The Omega takes them back into his body by taking the essence he used to animate them back into his body;
- Butch O'Neal (a.k.a. Dhestroyer) inhales their tainted essence into himslf and turns them into ash as a result (when this occurs, the tainted essence of The Omega does not return to The Omega, but is absorbed by Butch, and then later 'cleansed' out of him by Vishous' ability to heal from his 'cursed' hand).
- Lessers physically change in the following ways:
- They are immediately impotent after reanimation and continue to be so until their deaths (the exception being Lash - see below);
- The scent of baby powder grows stronger on them as time passes;
- Their hair changes color to white the longer they are walking around in a reanimated state;
- The oldest living Lessers in the novels seem to either go mad or become suicidal
The Omega shares a bond with his Fore-Lesser which is very diferent from the one the Scribe Virgin shares with the King of Vampires - one built on fear and utility, not on genuine devotion and respect. As The Omega is not a nurturing or caring diety, his Fore-Lesser is regarded merely as a momentary tool for his master's needs and desires (often, they are the victims of The Omega's violent and awful sexual predilictions). Fore-Lessers are usually chosen from among the ranks of Lessers either for their cunning, their political savvy, their brutality, or because immediate need requires a field promotion and they happen to be handy. They are disposable assets to The Omega. They serve him until they are either destroyed by one of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, or The Omega deems their service no longer necessary and takes their essence back into himself, destroying them himself. Consequently, Fore-Lessers typically do not view The Omega with love, but with dread and revulsion (carefully concealed, of course). Consequently, most Fore-Lessers are quite aware of their precarious positions, and live in a state of constant fear of their master.
It is interesting to note that Lessers and Fore-Lessers do not seem to have a prohibition against suicide. However, in Lover Revealed, the Fore-Lesser implies that a Lesser taking their own lives will only end with their essence back inside The Omega - and their Master would then be aware that they had robbed him of his intended use for them. Their punishment would be horrible as a result. From this, we can determine that The Omega somehow manages to steal the 'soul' of those he makes Lessers, and that these individuals can then never reach the Fade, but are doomed to spend eternity in Dhund at the mercy of The Omega.
ASIDE: This interesting plot twist now throws into question the issue of free will when determining where a soul goes in the afterlife in the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe. Is it right to doom a Lesser to Dhund if their indoctrination was done against their will? Where is the balance in that? J.R. Ward has not yet addressed this issue in the series.
Also in Lover Revealed, the Fore-Lesser makes the connection that Butch O'Neal's "Dhestroyer" powers not only kills Lessers, but robs The Omega of taking back a Lesser's essence (because Butch takes that essence into himself, which Vishous cleanses out of him later). Where that essence goes once its 'cleansed' has not yet been revealed in the series (is it sent to the Fade, back to Dhund, or does it simply cease to exist completely?).
Like his sister, The Omega can bring forth life from his own loins when he mates with a female. He decides to do so in response to the Dhestroyer Prophecy, despite having a sexual preference for homosexuality.
Going back in time, The Omega kidnaps a female Vampire (her identity is never revealed), rapes her, and impregnates her with his child. She gives birth to the child, a male, who is taken by The Omega immediately after he is born. The female Vampire dies in the birth, and when the sunlight touches her body, she spontaneously combusts, destroying all evidence of her part in the birth of The Omega's son.
Planning to use his son to infiltrate the enemy from the inside, The Omega places his half-blood son in the home of some glymera (artistocrats) Vampires. The boy is raised to believe he is Lash, son of Ibex.
Other Types of Creation in the Series
Forced Vampire Transition versus Lesser Reanimation
It is interesting to note that Butch O'Neal's tranformation from human to Vampire in Lover Revealed occurred in a way that is eerily similar to how The Omega makes his Lessers: Butch was drained of all of his human blood, and he died. Then, Wrath's blood was injected directly into his heart and his heart was given electro-shock (via paddles) to kickstart it once more. Once he was conscious and his heart began to beat on its own, female Vampires fed Butch the blood sustenance he needed to begin the Vampire transition.
Forced Lesser Reanimation of a Vampire by The Omega
When Lash, The Omega's half-blood son, dies in Lover Enshrined, The Omega reanimates him in a way similar to how he reanimates his Lessers, with just one difference: Lash's heart is not removed from his body. The Omege directly pours his tainted, oily, black essence onto the heart instead. As a result, Lash's heart beats in his chest as if he were not dead, allowing for him to sustain an erection and to be fully capable of sexual fulfillment. However, his body is indestructible in the same way Lessers are (see above). Additionally, the transformation allowed Lash to walk around in full sunlight without any ill effects. When Lash is reanimated, however, his biologic need to drink blood in the way of the Vampire does not go away. Instead, this requirement is altered a bit: Lash is temporarily able to take sustenance from the Lessers (who are all male and tainted by The Omega's black, oily 'blood'). For reasons unknown, however, as time passes, Lash is unable to sustain himself on Lesser blood, and begins drinking the blood of others (a sympath female known as The Princess, then a half-sympath/half-Vampire female named Xhex, and finally a female human prostitute).
Forced Lesser Reanimation of a Female Human by Lash
When Lash attempts to use his powers to change a human female prostitute into the first female Lesser, so he can use her for permanent sustenance, he succeeds using the same ritual his father does on regular Lessers: he bleeds her until she dies, cuts out her heart, fills her chest cavity with his blood, and then wills her with his half-diety powers to reanimate. However, the drain is so great on him that he realizes he's too weak to keep his decomposing body together. He kills the female soon afterwards, and learns that the essence he'd shared with her returns to him, making him stronger again.
Origins of Other Species in the Series
Sympaths and Shadows
J.R. Ward has not yet discussed the origins of the Sympaths (see: The Princess) or the Shadows (see: Trez, iAm) in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but it is clear these two species are distinct and different from humans and Vampires and have been around on the planet for just about as long (if not longer), although there appears to be some interbreeding between Sympaths and Vampires on occasion (see: Rhevenge, Xhex), and it is clear Shadows can mate Vampires as well (see: Trez, Selena the Chosen).
As the Black Dagger Brotherhood series crosses over with The Fallen Angel series by J.R. Ward, which relies heavily on Christian doctrine (specifically a one god model of the universe, with angels and demons jockeying for the control of the souls of the living in some ultimate cosmic struggle for supremacy), there has been some significant mention of angels in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (see: Lassiter), as well as a very small, nearly vague reference to demons (see: Thomas DelVecchio in Lover Unleashed).