The Hyrulian Pantheon: Conclusion

The WolfessOctober 3rd, 2012 by The Wolfess

Great societies throughout history have told legends and myths about deities and other divine characters almost as long as humanity has existed. Over time these stories evolve into set religious beliefs shared by people who already share a culture. Sometimes these beliefs develop pantheons of gods with multiple tiers and intricate workings. The people of Hyrule are no different, and the release of Skyward Sword gives us just the information we need in order to understand what their pantheon was like.

 
The first thing we talked about was properties of Greek and Norse mythology, terminology, as well as traditional archetypes. We discussed the Wind Waker as a traditional flood myth, as well as the Hyrulian creation myth and origin of death myth. We talked about Nayru as the archetypal Sky God and Farore as the archetypal Earth Mother.

 
We have talked about how Hyrulians think about their world and its physical layout. Their world runs sideways rather than up and down, and only a few of its levels move up or down physically. We determined that their world looks like this:

 
We then went on to talk about the major gods of the Hyrulian Pantheon, or should I say major goddesses. We talked about Din, the goddess of Power, Fire, and Government. Nayru, we established as the sky goddess of Wisdom, Water, and Law. Lastly, we established Farore as the earth goddess of Courage, Nature, and Fertility (life).

 
The minor gods of the Hyrulian Pantheon were a little more difficult to place. We discussed Fierce Deity, God of the Moon and Battle, as well as the hero-god of Hyrulian mythology. Majora was the goddess of the Sun and the trickster figure of Hyrulian mythology. We also discussed Majora’s Mask as a traditional hidden sun myth explaining the celestial phenomena of solar eclipses. Other deities we discussed include the goddess of sand, the goddess of time, and the goddess of spirits, the goddess of fortune, the goddess of wind, and the mountain god.

 
Under Demi-Gods we had the Great Fairy Queen, the Wind Fish/SunFish/Levias, Cyclos and Zephos, Golden Chief Cylos, and the Spirits of Good from Spirit Tracks.

 
Then came the area where the Hyrulian Pantheon really shines: guardians. We talked about the Deku Tree and his many forms, Jabu Jabu/Jabun, Kaepora Gaebora, and Valoo. We talked about the four light spirits, Ordona, Eldin, Faron, and Lanaryu, as well as the three dragons by the same name. Of course we couldn’t leave out Termina’s Four Giants and Giant Turtle, nor the Sheikah and the nameless guardians of the Silent Realm. The Lokomo and the Great Faries also were discussed here.

 
The lowest tier of the Hyrulian Pantheon is the simple spirits of the land. We talked about the Kokiri and their various forms, normal fairies and red fairies, as well as a few specific fairies. The three fairy spirits, Celia, Leaf, and Neri from Phantom Hourglass were discussed as well as the four season spirits from Oracle of Seasons. We then talked about Skull Kids, Stalfos and Stalchildren, as well as Poes.

 
After going through the five tiers of Hyrulian Mythology, we looked at the evil gods and where they would fit in those tiers. Ganondorf, also called Ganon, we placed as a Minor God and the God of Greed. Malladus we placed as a Demi-God, and Bellum as the Demi-God of Gluttony, Destruction, and Strife. We then touched on some semi-canonical Gods. These were Baron, the God of War, from Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosey Rupeeland and The Baga Tree from the Ocarina of Time mangas.

 
The discussion on Demise at the end of that chapter was very revealing. We discovered that he is a major god, but less powerful than the golden goddesses. He is the God of Hate, and the source of all evil in Hyrule. We talked about his motivation, and his end goals, then tackled his role in starting the Cycle.

 
The last goddess we discussed was Hylia herself, and we tackled the inconsistencies that the myths about her present. We discussed the creation of the master sword, whether or not the Triforce was a purposeful creation or an accident, Hylia’s divinity and relationship to the three goddess, as well as her powers. She is a major goddess, above Demise but below the three goddesses. We determined that she is the real Goddess of Time and her actions partly caused the Cycle.

 
Throughout this series we have referred to the Cycle but have not directly discussed what it is. To close, I want to present the last important myth of Hyrulian Mythology: the Cycle of the Hero, the Goddess, and the Demon King.

 
In all cultural mythologies there are those characters who are of the human race, purely human, but seem to be superhuman. The Norse had Beowulf, the man who went up against the monster Grendle only to discover that Grendle was the child of a much greater evil.

Artist rendition of Beowulf and Grendle

 
The Greeks had Achilles of The Iliad and Odysseus, the commander during the Iliad who thought up the Trojan Horse and then was lost at sea on his way home, a story told in The Odyssey. Their stories are intricate and great, and if you have any interest in classical mythological heroes I would suggest reading theirs.

Achilles (left) and Odysseus (right)

 
All of these heroes had divine help and favor, but at the end of the day they were human, like everyone else. These were the champions the people cheered at the end of the day. These were the stories they told around campfires, and the examples they wanted their children to follow. Hyrulians also have a great myth full of divinely favored characters. They call it the Legend of Zelda, and Skyward Sword revealed to us the basic shape of this legend.

 
At the beginning of time there was hate which manifested itself in the form of Demise. Demise the Demon King and God of Hate ravaged the land in search of the Triforce, the holy relic left by the golden goddesses when they left the world. In order to protect the world and the Triforce, the goddess Hylia crafted the Goddess Sword for her chosen hero and gave up her divine form, manifesting herself in the body of a mortal girl named Zelda. The chosen hero, a normal Hylian boy named Link, goes through many trials to temper himself and his sword to be worthy enough to obtain the Triforce, defeat Demise, and rescue Zelda.

Link holds the Master Sword aloft after defeating Demise

 
Link does exactly this, but in the process Demise casts a curse: an incarnation of his hate will always follow those who share the blood of the goddess and the spirit of the hero. In this way the Cycle began, and every story is about the eternal struggle of the woman with the blood of the goddess, which is passed down through the Hyrulian royal family, and the spirit of the hero, who is always a common man like everyone else, of no important bloodline or stature. The goddess and the hero are always fighting against some incarnation of Demise’s hate, and, with the help of the three golden goddesses’ favor, they always win.

The Hero and the Princess (Goddess Reborn)

 
A legend like this in Hyrule would be very useful. For one, it gives the royal family divine right. Everyone who rules can claim that they have the blood of the goddess, and therefore are fit to rule the country. As time goes on and the bloodline gets spread out and diluted, others who claim to be connected to the royal bloodline through their uncle’s second-cousin’s mother can ascend to the throne and keep the line fresh, as long as the blood of the goddess is present within them.

In order to be the rightful ruler, King Daphnes must claim the goddess’s blood

 
Such antics were commonplace in medieval European nations, where rulers claimed to be appointed to their throne by divine right, claiming that God made them king. There were many, many disputes over bloodline over the years as everyone tried to claim that they were next in line for the throne through bloodlines. Look at the arguments that put Queen Elizabeth I on the throne, and what she had to do to keep that throne.

The Hero (LttP)

 
The figure of the hero is a perfect everyman hero. Parents can tell their children and grandchildren stories of the hero to teach them courage and duty, and to show them that no matter their station or circumstances, they can do great things. Cultural heroes like this are some of the greatest figures in literature.

 
Lastly, the figures of Demise and his many various incarnations are a perfect way of teaching kids what behaviors are not valued in their culture. Hyrulians do not value greed and self-advancement to the detriment of others. The Greeks kind of did. Hyrulians do not believe that power is the key to life, whereas the Norse kind of did. What the Cycle teaches Hyrulians to value are courage, wisdom, and balance. To believe that the goddesses are watching over them and have a plan for the world, but that they can forge their own destiny through their choices.

 
This lesson is good for everyone to hear. It reminds us to stay in school and become wise, to never give up or get discouraged as we chase our destiny and face trials, and to always care for others more than ourselves. We may not believe in the goddesses, or in any of this theoretical stuff, but at least we can believe in the message of the Legend of Zelda as we look forward to more stories about Link, Zelda, Demise, and the cycle that binds them together.

Link and Zelda (LttP)

 

Author: The Wolfess

Jennie Marie, also called The Wolfess, is getting her Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of a three-book Zelda fan fiction, The Doppelganger Trilogy and does freelance articles for Zelda websites. The Wolfess has written such articles as Zelda Wii Needs An Anti-Hero, Skyward Sword’s Art Style: Straddling the Line or Walking a New Path, and a ten-part series on The Hyrulian Pantheon currently running at ZeldaDungeon.net.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/april.engelmann April Engelmann

    good article

  • Zelda-May

    These articles were really great, awesome job Wolfess! I just love these intriguing articles that really show the depth and the culture of the Legend of Zelda!

  • Amnis

    Actually in the greek mythology the term “hero” is used to refer to those who are demi-gods (like Hercules), so most of them aren’t just simple humans….

    • You-Know-Who

      Yes, but Odysseus and Achilles weren’t demigods.

      • Correction

        I’m pretty sure Achilles was actually the son of a minor river goddess, Thetis. Although minor, that’d still make him a demi-god.

        • Correction

          I looked it up, and I apparently remembered correctly about Achilles’ mother. Definately a demi-god.

          Surprisingly, even Odysseus has some god in him too, though further back in his lineage, a-la great, and grand parents. I’m not sure if I’d personally call him a demi-god with it that far back in his family tree (and thus dilluted some); but a compelling argument could be made all the same. Neat.

          • You-Know-Who

            Thetis was a nymph, not a goddess. I do agree though that Achilles isn’t that “mortal” as mortals would be, since he was dipped in that river in hell and gained almost invincibility. Odysseus, on the other hand, was completely mortal. If he had blood of the Gods on him it wasn’t doing anything for him.

          • Correction

            Thetis was referred to as a nymph and a goddess interchangeably in stories. While a nymph is more of a nature spirit than say, Athena or Hera, they are still regarded as deities and minor gods. She was also the daughter of a sea god, and was a river goddess herself. That’d make Achilles a demi-god, no matter which way the hair is split. Interestingly, the whole ‘dipped in the river styx’ deal is actually a later addition to his story, and much more recent than the Iliad I believe part way through the Iliad Achilles is even scraped on the arm in a fight, and bleeds a little. I can’t remember when the stories of his mother trying to burn the mortality from a young Achilles emerged, though. That one was always more interesting to me than the dipping by the ankle ordeal.

            Odysseus technically (as technical as one can get with fictional characters) wasn’t completely mortal either. I personally hesitate to classify him as a demigod, as that’s a designation for characters Half god, rather than his approximate 12.5-25% god. Supposedly his legendary cunning is attested to his decent from Hermes, who was at times an expert trickster, the patron deity of thieves and wit (among a bunch of other things), and generally regarded as one sneaky cookie.

  • Amber Evans

    This totally reminds me of what I just learned in my art history class.
    We were talking about the Minoan’s, specifically from the Palance Complex of Knossos (1900-1375 BCE), and the different artifacts found there. One specifically was the Snake Goddess, whose form is that of a woman, but her position is unknown. She carries two snakes in hands and has a cat sitting on top of her head (there are many of these sculptures and they all vary), but it was her appearance that struck me. Not b/c her clothing completely reminded me of Zelda from Oot, but b/c of the Triforce pattern on her skirt.
    Scholars don’t know if she was actually considered a Goddess or just a woman doing “the snake dance” (referencing to other designs found in the palace, looking similar to this woman). But she is obviously considered “powerful” (I use this term lightly), b/c of her ability to control snakes (which are dangerous creatures ***Remember Christianity was not yet around, so the Snake stereotype was not formed***) and being able to control CATS.
    Yes, CATS.
    Have you ever tried to get a cat on top of your head?
    If you know cats, then you know what I mean, and I am not talking about extensively trained cats either (although is could entirely be a possible scenerio, but unlikely).
    But anyway, the Minoans were a pretty advanced culture for their time, I mean, they were sort of the first people to create modern day plumping with pumps and pipes.
    But my point is that I believe the Minoans could have had a similiar “legend”, or it could be possible the creators of Zelda pulled references from this culture.
    I mean, I don’t know the creators and how they create it, but this just struck me as being eeriely similar.
    This article just got me thinking….
    What if?

    • myperuba

      hey i just did the same thing in my history of art class last week! my professor is like indiana jones…it’s pretty awesome

  • Debora

    Levias and the Windfish are the same..

    • Guest

      You should read the article they’re in. That possibility is touched on.

  • Darkgreyfire

    Great article. Makes you appreciate the depth of the world that the makers of zelda have created after 25+ years. The zelda series has been one big story of an amazing world, slowly revealed with each new game.

  • pickleslkw

    Good article, I always enjoy reading these!

  • BlackRaven6695

    That picture of the statue of the Goddesses from Twilight Princess. That statue is the only evidence in the entire series that regular people in Hyrule believe in, or even know about, the Goddesses. The only characters who have indicated that they have any knowledge of the Goddesses are supernatural beings such as the Great Deku Tree.

    • Guest

      Except for the entirety of Skyward Sword. Just sayin’.

      • BlackRaven6695

        When do any regular people mention Din, Nayru or Farore in Skyward Sword? The songs are named after them but they were provided to you by a singing statue and a dancing humanoid supercomputer.

  • Mseevers95

    I’m trying a story where it turns out Ganon and Link are half brothers. Ganon’s Father, Gorotdorf, was the previous King and his Mother, Kasima, was the Queen.

    His mother was banished after she tried to take Ganon to Hyrule so he wouldn’t have to go through the violent ritual of coronation.

    She stayed in Hyrule and eventually married a Paladin named Roland who was distantly related to the king. Eventually she becomes pregnant, but she knows that the child isn’t really hers, a Gerudo woman becomes sterile after giving birth to a son. The child’s mother is actually Farore. When Ganon finds out his mother is still alive after all this time he sends an army into Hyrule as a distraction while he goes to murder her.

    She and her Husband flee across Hyrule Field and the Paladin is murdered by Ganon. Ganon mortally wounds his mother just before she enters the forest. The Deku Tree senses the divine nature of her child and puts up a barrier to stop any outside forces getting in for the next ten years.

    She gives birth in front of the Deku tree and names him Link, because he is the final link in the chain that bound her old life with her new life.

    • You-Know-Who

      O.O …… huh, what?

  • You-Know-Who

    Great job, Wolfess! You did great (as always).

    I recently learned of Odysseus and his adventures, and how he is the human that Greeks respected and looked up to: civilized, brave, hard-worker. When he encounters the Cyclops, its completely opposite: lazy, uncivilized, cannibals.

    Some time ago, in the forums, I made a statement expanding on your Majora-Sun-Goddess and FierceDeity-Moon-God and a possible connection to HMS. Read it here:
    http://zeldadungeon.net/forum/f31/2-crazy-happy-mask-salesman-theories-35272.html

  • Parker

    This is a fantastic article, they’ve all been really great reads. Just wanted to point out one minor inconsistency. It’s really nitpicky, and maybe not super relevant, so I apologize for that up front.

    “…and the spirit of the hero, who is always a common man like everyone else, of no important bloodline or stature.”

    In ALttP, it is mentioned that he is the descendant of the Knights of Hyrule, and that only one of their blood would be able to stop Ganon. Then again, maybe it only applies to that game, it does have quite a few story inconsistencies with the rest of the series. I mean, this was back when there were only two pieces of the Triforce, right?

    • Ike

      ALttP was released after they had introduced the Triforce of Courage, which originated in Zelda 2.

  • flamedraco :)

    A very good article :)

  • ????

    odysseus reminds me of the book the odyssey

    • You-Know-Who

      The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus, dumb-ass.

  • Blakenator

    That was an amazing article to close your series, Wolfess. I’m crying just a little because it’s over now. :( I had a lot of fun reading all of them!

  • Rutarete

    A great conclusion to a wonderful series.

  • Kablamogroup

    Loved them to the end. I may go back and re-read them someday.

  • MetalMaster

    really awsome piece of art!

  • Super Smash Sis

    It’s “Ciela,” not “Celia.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jake.davies.965 Jake Davies

    This was just pure awesomeness, thank you Wolfess for these wonderful articles and for all the work you put into them. Before this I did not realize the significance and relevance of the intricate story those people at Nintendo intentionally, or unintentionally put in. It brings me to a greater respect of the video games, the title of “game” I use loosely. These articles, I hope, will bring The Legend of Zelda to a new light for all those who have played it.

  • JeredenDonnar

    These have all been such wonderful articles, SUCH interesting reads! I loved them! But…. I know you’ve placed Majora as the sun goddes, but wouldn’t she still count as an evil god? I mean, every god in ancient times had thirty meanings. Its a minor, minute question, don’t get put-off by it, its just a question. I will miss these articles soooo much and hope they stand after Hyrule Historia. :)

    • JeredenDonnar

      oh, and the diagram kinda confuses me. What does that actually represent? i think I forogt about that portion.

  • Neutopia

    Thank you for all the great reading over the past couple of months, I definitely learned a lot. :D

  • Good Job

  • Zelda is the Bomb!!!

    I bet Farore was a nicer Mother Earth than Gaea from Greek mythology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001973829708 Aaron Warren

    “…and the spirit of the hero, who is always a common man like everyone else, of no important bloodline or stature.”

    I’m pretty sure he’s descended from royal knights in OoT/MM and LttP. But I guess that doesn’t have to mean actual “royal” blood.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thatmetaldood Colton Taresh

      It’s never really hinted at that Link is of royal blood, definitely Hylian for sure, and not all Hylians are descended from royalty.

  • http://twitter.com/FukkAH_Twittur FukkAh_Twittur

    Great Rendition…Miyamoto and crew would be proud.