The Star Child is a mysterious entity said to represent the soul of the Emperor of Mankind.
The Emperor is the incarnation of the extinct Shamans who, with their prophetic powers and connection to the warp in its natural and uncorrupted form, had guided ancient mankind. After Horus rebelled and destroyed the Emperor's mortal frame, his body and soul could no longer remain as one; his soul melted into the warp, only a tiny core of the Emperor's humanity remaining whole, which was like a small child in a tiny reed boat adrift in the storm of the warp. Since the Emperor's soul survived, there was a possibility that his whole essence could be reborn once more.
In the same way the Shamans died together to reincarnate as the Emperor, the Emperor's death too could herald a new saviour. That time would lie far in the future, when mankind's desire for a new saviour would strengthen the core of the Emperor's soul and rekindle it to new life.
The soul of the Emperor adrift in the warp is the Star Child. The humans that were left in charge of the Imperium had no real understanding of what had happened to the Emperor. Though the Emperor's body continued to live within the Golden Throne and his mind continued to be a beacon for humanity, his soul is a god waiting to be born.
The Star Child is also suggested as being the compassion which the Emperor cast from himself in order to destroy his most beloved Primarch-son, Horus.
One legend states that once the Emperor dies, his soul will be freed to go into the warp. Here it will neutralize the Chaos Gods, causing the physical universe to fight one last bloody conflict against itself for the control of the galaxy.
The Inquisition (particularly the Ordo Malleus) has always been at war with the Sensei, the "Emperor's Sons." In 997.M41, Inquisitor Fortez reported that he and his colleagues Alexio and Credo determined the Temple of the Star Child on Levilnor IV consisted of unwitting pawns of Tzeentch, so they eliminated it.
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Its canonicity is in question but was once considered canon.
The Star Child background was introduced in the second of the Realm of Chaos books and referred to later in the 3rd Edition Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook. Much controversy arises out of its continued existence. Some point to the fact that the Cult in the Third Edition Rulebook was found in the Inquisition War Trilogy, meaning that the rulebook, which is supposedly saying that the Star Child lore is refuted, is directly referencing a novel where it is clearly stated it exists.
- 1: Inquisition War Trilogy by Ian Watson, [Needs Citation]
- 2: Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition Rulebook, pg. 273
- 3: Eye of Terror, Barrington J. Bayley, Black Library Publishing