Many years ago I remember reading information about how, when an initiate was turned into a space marine, part of the process involved wiping his memories of his past life. This was completed alongside the training regime that sees information implanted into the space marine's mind. It was part of a rebirth process with the initiate becoming a new individual.

In the Horus heresy books this is clearly not the case for Space Marines, as many remember their past experiences.

Is this mind wiping restricted to particular chapters, is it a largely post heresy thing, or have Games Workshop changed how the process works in their own fluff over the years?

  • I do not think there are any memory wipes that happen to aspirants, but I could be wrong. I know they are hooked up to 'knowledge machines' that basically download information into their minds (I envision it done battlefield earth style) that teaches them all the necessary information they need to know as Astartes (chapter tactics, what an Orc looks like, all the litanies that bolster their abilities/defenses, etc.), but I feel like doing a mind wipe to anyone could destroy those aspects that make a potential recruit viable...
    – Odin1806
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


Grey Knights

The most secret of the chapters completely wipes the minds of the inititates to purge all the possible corruption

What is your name?
He sighed, slinking back to the thin blanket he considered his bed. In the sightless dark, he wrapped the rag around his shoulders, and returned to shivering.
‘I don’t know.’
What year is it?
‘I don’t know.
[...] What is your name?
‘I don’t know.’ The pain receded, but didn’t dissipate completely. He was still locked into a madman’s smile as he drew another breath.
‘I don’t know.’
He leaned back against the wall, the laughter finally fading. ‘My name is whatever you want it to be.
My name is whatever it needs to be, to get me the hell out of here.’ In an instant, the pain vanished. The voices went with it, leaving him cold, blind, and unsure if he’d passed some kind of test, or failed it.
Your name is Twenty-six. The voice was gentler now, though still grindingly masculine. He froze, statue-still in the blackness, suddenly trembling. You have accepted that you must bear a new name. That is the first step. Your name is Twenty-six. [...]

‘These symbols, what are they?’
Wards. Again, none of the figures moved. Hexagrammic wards. We had to be sure you were free from taint. We also had to be certain you recalled nothing of your former life.
The second voice cut in.
You have remained here for the mandated ninety-nine nights, as we scryed into your soul. The ritual is complete, a third voice spoke at last. We are satisfied with your purity.

The novel "The Emperor's Gift" describes the process of turning a boy into a Grey Knight adept - it involves complete wiping of the personality and history, leaving behind an empty slate that can be written over with the loyality to the Emperor and the Chapter. While it takes a terrifying toll on the candidates it is also the source of the pride: never, ever a single Grey Knight betrayed and joined the Chaos.

  • You are totally right; I forgot about the Grey Skins...
    – Odin1806
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 3:17

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