Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Timeless Hero: Part 1- The Golden Goddesses

The Legend of Zelda first debuted in Japan on February 21, 1986 and after 22 years and over a dozen games later the franchise is still alive and well along with our timeless (and time traveling) hero, Link. The Legend of Zelda has captured the imagination of generations of gamers with its captivating storyline, mind twisting dungeons, and hours of battling the forces of evil as Link transforms from a humble boy into a timeless hero chosen by the gods. But why did they choose Link? What does the future hold for this warrior-prophet? And what does Link represent not only to the people of Hyrule but to us? In this series I will analyze the religious and spiritual elements of The Legend of Zelda.

[Note: I am not a professional religious scholar but these are just my views on some of the symbolism I've noticed in the game series. I've focused on the plots in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. I apologize if I've left anything out. Enjoy!]

Part 1- The Golden Goddesses

The Legend of Zelda owes part of its success to the richness of its in game mythology and legends. A pantheon of gods, magical creatures, relics, and heroes all make an integral contribution to the world of Hyrule. But every story has a beginning and this story begins with the creation of Hyrule. It is said that the three Golden Goddesses (Din, Farore, and Nayru) had come "before time began, before spirits and life existed" to create order out of the chaos that was Hyrule.

Din, the Goddess of Power, cultivated and shaped the earth with arms of fire. She molded and laid the foundation of the world. The elements of Earth and Fire are under her domain. Those that hold power and strength as their virtue pray to Din. She is worshiped as the Sand Goddess by the Gerudos, the desert dwelling, amazonian tribe that bears a single male every 100 years. As the goddess of Earth, Din may also be worshiped by the Gorons, a mountain-dwelling, rock-consuming tribe that uphold virtues of brotherhood, power, and physical strength.

Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom, established the Laws of Nature, Science, and Wizardry with her divine Wisdom. She is associated with the element of Water and is worshiped as the Goddess of the Seas. The Zoras, a piscine humanoid race, personify Naryu's essence the best of all the races and may even worship Nayru at their underwater temples. Since she is the creator of the laws of time and space she is also called the Goddess of Time in Majora's Mask.

Farore, the Goddess of Courage, created all the lifeforms of Hyrule to uphold Nayru's Laws. She is associated with the element of Wind and is worshiped as the Goddess of Wind as mentioned in The Wind Waker. The Kokiri, a tribe of ageless young children ( similar to Peter Pan's Lost Boys) and the Deku, a plant-like race, are both associated and probably consider Farore as their patron goddess at the Forest and Wind Temples.

Even though the different tribes and races of Hyrule appear to be monolatrists the goddesses are still respected, recognized, and loved by the symbol they left behind when they created their world, the Triforce. I would like to note that elements of Shinto, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeism, and a wide variety of other religions can be found throughout the series. I do not believe the creators intended in inserting anything religious into the games, but they had created a mythology that bears resemblance to the mythologies in the real world thus touching upon certain spiritual truths. There are dozens of actual religious symbols that have appeared in the game series that I will touch on later. Even though the average gamer does not notice the subtle symbolism found within the game the basic themes of Good vs. Evil, Love, and Justice jump out of the screen.

The Creation of Hyrule

The Triforce binds the inhabitants of Hyrule as a symbol of love, compassion, and justice. The symbol is used as part of the royal family crest and is seen throughout Hyrule on monuments, temples, and tombs. One could even argue that the three goddesses are co-equal in a godhead similar to Christianity's theology of the Trinity. They are three distinct yet complementary beings that when together represent the highest level of perfection. The Triforce merely echoes this concept only when it remains in one piece.
If that perfection is ever broken then the prophecies state that someone worthy of restoring it to its original splendor will appear. Only someone who is pure of heart and embodies the attributes of the Goddesses can restore that perfection and bring peace and prosperity back to Hyrule.

But what exactly is the Triforce? Where can one find this holy relic? What is its purpose? In the next part of my series on the religious and spiritual elements of The Legend of Zelda I will be focusing on the mysterious and much sought after relic of the gods, the Triforce.

Part 1-The Golden Goddesses
Part 2-The Triforce
Part 3-The Warrior Prophet
Part 4-He Who Split Time
Part 5-The Temples of Hyrule
Part 6-A Link to the Future

Or Click here to read them all back to back

No comments:

Post a Comment