According to my 10th grade English teacher (and I dare not doubt her), the Holy Bible is the most commonly alluded to piece of literature in the world, and the Zelda series has its fair share of nods to the Word of the Lord. It is no secret that the team behind making the Zelda games at Nintendo uses various religious themes and symbolism as elements that add to the lore of the Zelda Universe. A continuing motif of the “spiritual side of Zelda” is the existence of the Old Gods, Din, Nayru, and Farore, which draws parallels to western religions, such as Christianity and its many sects. If you want to read on, hit the jump for more!
Many of the games in our beloved series contain aspects that demonstrate a belief in higher powers, faith, if you will. While some facets of the Hylian religion (sorry, I don’t have a name for it) are absolutely unique to the franchise, there are some that are undoubtedly borrowed from others. Now, you’ll have to excuse me for my heresy, but for the sake of argument, I am not going to take the “Official Zelda Timeline” into account while writing this, so, please, forgive me. Beginning with Ocarina of Time, the Great Deku Tree graces us with a genesis story of the creation of the world.
Before time began, before spirits and life existed… Three golden goddesses descended upon the chaos that was Hyrule… Din, the goddess of power… Nayru, the goddess of wisdom… Farore, the goddess of courage… Din… With her strong flaming arms, she cultivated the land and created the red earth. Nayru… Poured her wisdom onto the earth and gave the spirit of law to the world. Farore… With her rich soul, produced all life forms who would uphold the law.
The Holy Bible opens with God’s creation of the heavens and the earth over the course of six days. In Genesis 1:1-2:3, it is written that God showed light upon the “formless and empty darkness” that covered the earth, created the seas, and then the land to separate them, and on those lands gave life by bestowing vegetation and living creatures in the water and on the world. Sound familiar yet? Still not finished with His work, God created man, who was born to govern all that He had created. The first few chapters of Genesis parallel the story told in Ocarina of Time, but where does the Holy Trinity come in, you might ask? Well, as is taught in many a Sunday School class, at least in mine, anyway, God is made up of three separate divine beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Now we have a balanced equation. Three equals three on both sides, but how can each goddess be attributed to each Divine Being? You’re just full of great questions! Now, let me explain, one by one, how Din, Nayru, and Farore, can be connected to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, respectively.
Din and the Father
The Father, God, Yahweh: he is a Man of many names, but only one piece to the Holy Triumvirate. Quite often, contrary to His loving nature, God is associated with fire, and as the bearer of destruction and death upon the world as punishment for sin. In Genesis, chapter 19, the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, as God “rained down burning sulfur on [the cities] – from out of the heavens,” as retribution for their blasphemous and evil deeds. However, fire has also been seen as a symbol of salvation and the light of truth. In the book of Exodus, after Moses abandoned his royalty and fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian guard, he became a shepherd in Midian, and God showed Himself to Moses at Horeb, the mountain of God.
Exodus 3:1-15 There, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up… God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses! … I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt… I am sending you to Pharoah to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.
In this chapter, we see that God, in the form of blazing fire, is leading Moses to his true path: the emancipation of the Israelites from Egypt and creating the Promised Land of the Lord’s chosen people. While Din’s role in Link’s path to the truth may not be as prominent as God’s in Moses’, it is still important, nonetheless.
As a child in Ocarina of Time, Link is instructed by the Great Fairy atop Death Mountain to visit a friend outside of Hyrule Castle, who will most assuredly aid him on his quest. The aid that Link receives is none other than Din’s Fire, a spell whose, according to its description, “fireball engulfs everything.” However, even though Din’s fire is described as attack magic, it holds a far more symbolic meaning.
Din’s Fire is not used all too often in Ocarina of Time, but the times where it is necessary are rather important occasions. The most important comes at the entrance of the Shadow Temple, where Link must stand on a pedestal and cast the spell in order to gain access to one of the most sinister places in Hyrule. This sees Din’s Fire act as a key forward, igniting multiple torches simultaneously, giving light to the previously enshrouded area. The Bible talks about light several times, and almost every time as a way to eliminate the darkness.
2 Samuel 22:29 You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 43:3 Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me…
Isiah 60:9 The sun will no longer be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light.
While these are only just a few examples of verses attributing God with light, they can give a symbolic meaning the casting of Din’s Fire to open the door to the Shadow Temple. As the Shadow Temple is quite often associated with death, darkness, and hopelessness, the light of the Lord, Din’s Fire, is Link’s guide, his rock, what he leans on in times of desperation. Just as God is an omnipresent deity, Din’s Fire serves as more than just a way for Link to roast his enemies, but rather symbolizes the connection and protection that Din graced upon Link. And while Din offers Link her strength, her light, her fire, Link is saved by grace, Her Grace, to be exact.
Nayru and the Son
The life of Jesus and his miraculous acts are among the most important facets of Christianity, and what a fitting time to discuss His life! Beginning with the New Testament, we are told the story of Jesus; His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. By now, many of you are probably very familiar with the story of Christmas. An angel of the Lord, Gabriel, comes to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she will carry and birth a baby boy, whom she will name Jesus, and is destined to be the king of the Jews. Throughout His relatively short life, Jesus performed one miraculous act after another, including walking on water, giving sight to the blind, curing leprosy, and turning water into wine. However, above all else, Jesus was an evangelist, preaching the Truth, with a capital “T.” It is a near impossible feat to accurately summarize the teachings of Jesus Christ in The New Testament, as His sermons covered such a broad spectrum. According to Reverend Mark D. Roberts, pastor, author, and blogger at patheos.com, Jesus’ core teachings revolved around two things: repentance of sin and acceptance of the Lord as the one God, and a requited love between all people. The latter, however, is one of the most important connections to the Goddess of Wisdom, Nayru, and The Son, Jesus Christ. The former, on the other hand, serves as the purpose for Christ’s crucifixion.
I draw parallels to Ocarina of Time mostly because it contains some of the most religious allusions in the entire franchise, especially as of late. However, Skyward Sword is going to play an important role in creating a bridge between Nayru and Jesus Christ.
In Ocarina of Time, Nayru is first introduced by the Great Deku Tree in the creation story of Hyrule, having the role of providing the law of the world. Jesus, in the Book of Luke, describes the purpose for His being on the earth.
Luke 4:43 I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.
Here, Jesus acknowledges the fact that He was given unto the earth in order to spread the word of His father, the Lord. However, one may ask, “What, exactly, is the kingdom of God?” It may seem like an easy question to answer, as the simple, though incorrect, response is, “Heaven.” It may sound ludicrous to say that Heaven is not the kingdom of God, but to find the answer, I redirect you to quite possibly the most well known verse in the entire Bible.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Here, we can see that the Lord’s Kingdom is not literally a castle in the sky that God reigns over in complete sovereignty, but rather that the kingdom of God consists of those who love and believe in Him. For example, I am currently alive, and not in Heaven, but am a part of His kingdom as a part of the foundation of His rule. Within this verse in the book of John, we are reintroduced to the love that Jesus shows upon the world, and I find it no coincidence that the gift of Nayru in the Desert Colossus is none other than her love.
After crossing the Desert Wasteland in order to reach the Spirit Temple, Link can find on the eastern side of the Desert Colossus a cracked wall that can be opened with a bomb. Here, our hero is given the spell Nayru’s Love, which grants Link invulnerability for a limited time. While there are many more verses in The Bible that describe Jesus’ love for all, there are a couple of stories that show the love of Christ in such a way that Nayru’s Love acts upon Link. One such story that comes to mind is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, within the book of Daniel.
In the book of Daniel, three men who lived in the Babylonian Empire, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were known for their devotion and love for God. In the book, King Nebuchadnezzar II demanded that all people of his kingdom bow to him as their one and only king, but the three men refused, as they saw God as the one true King. As punishment for their apparent insolence, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be thrown into the furnace to burn, and that the temperature be seven times as hot for these men. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego accepted their fate, and remained faithful to the Lord. As they stepped into the furnace, an angel of Heaven came down and cloaked them in its wings, protecting them from the fires. When the king of Babylon looked inside the furnace, he now saw four men, and ordered that they come out. When the three men and the angel stepped out of the burning furnace unharmed, Nebuchadnezzar accepted that God was the True King. A very literal interpretation of Nayru’s Love, these men were saved by the grace of God, as they were parts of His kingdom. As stated before, however, Ocarina of Time is not the only game in the franchise where Nayru is represented. In Skyward Sword, we can see even more of the life of Jesus through the titular Zelda.
SPOILER WARNING: SKYWARD SWORD SPOILERS BELOW
In the introduction of Skyward Sword the Hylian religion is given another goddess, the goddess Hylia, who led the war against Demise for the Triforce, and who sent the humans above the clouds on an outcrop of the earth, which is known as Skyloft. Here in Skyloft, Link and Zelda are introduced to us as students of the Knight Academy, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Link, who is in training to become a Skyloftian knight, wins the annual Wing Ceremony, and is given the honor of reenacting the role of the Chosen Hero atop the Statue of the Goddess with Zelda, who is representing the Goddess Hylia in this year’s ceremony. After Zelda pushes Link off the top of the statue, the two go for a flight in the clouds together, where Zelda is torn away to the surface by a dark tornado. At this point, Link is tasked with retrieving the Goddess Sword and rescuing Zelda from the surface, and throughout the course of the game, more and more information is given about Zelda’s developing role in the grander scheme of the world. By the time the Master Sword has been tempered by the three flames of the goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore, Zelda informs Link of the danger that lies in the future, and cues the most emotional cut-scene of all time (I almost cried at this one, but had to hold it in because I would be subject to ridicule by an eight year old cousin for crying at a game. I was 18 at the time). Zelda tells that she is the goddess Hylia reborn, and that she shed her divine form for the sake of the salvation of the world, to lock Demise in the Sealed Grounds. She then says that she must seal herself away for thousands of years more in order to maintain Demise’s imprisonment, and encases herself in a crystal until Demise is destroyed. After Link constructs the Song of the Hero and obtains the Triforce, he wishes for Demise to be destroyed, which in turn awakens Zelda from her slumber.
I am connecting Hylia and Zelda to Jesus because of Zelda’s relationship with Nayru as per her being the keeper of the Triforce of Wisdom for most games in the franchise. When Jesus came to earth, He did so as a mortal, no longer being the Prince of Heaven. He breathed the air, He felt pain and human emotions. Jesus came to earth, however, knowing that He was going to be put on the cross, in order to open the doors to paradise.
1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
After Jesus died, The Bible does not explicitly state where He went, but Peter explains that “He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,” which implies that Jesus spent His three days in Hell, continuing to spread the Word to the damned. Jesus, then, was resurrected from death, as death could not hold Him, having finished His work on Earth. Much like Hylia, who offered her divine form for the sake of mankind, gave her life to keep what was good in the world, and reawakened when her work was (supposedly) done.
SPOILERS END HERE
Last, but certainly not least, the third goddess, Farore, and the final piece of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, are one.
The Holy Ghost is probably the most forgotten member of the Holy Trinity, and for just cause. In church, we are always told the stories of God and Jesus, there are paintings of Jesus and his disciples hung on the wall or in stained glass windows, and the Spirit is usually just mentioned as an afterthought, being brushed aside so that the Father and Son can stand in the spotlight. However, the Holy Ghost serves just as important of a role as the other two, representative of life and the key to salvation.
When the Great Deku Tree accounts the creation, Farore’s role is that of producing life and all life forms who would uphold the law of the world. As is in Hyrule, on earth, aside from The Bible, there is the Nicene Creed, which is the profession of faith in Christian religions. It came from the First Council of Nicaea, which, in essence, states the laws of Christianity, including recognition of the Trinity as three equal but one deity, and, most importantly in this section, the Holy Spirit being referred to as “The Giver of Life.” The Holy Bible supports this claim in several books, but two are the most important. The First is the story of Nicodemus in the book of John.
John 3:1-36 Now, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus explains to Nicodemus that the only way into the kingdom of God is to be born again, which Nicodemus clearly does not understand at first. It is, indeed, a confusing concept, as people are technically only born once, and die once. Jesus then offers the answer that one must be born of water and Spirit to be truly born again. Here, one of my favorite verses of The Bible comes into play, which is one that my beloved grandfather, a minister, always writes on my birthday cards and used to have me recite when I was a child.
Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This verse unlocks the mystery to Jesus’ statements to Nicodemus. As a Christian, I believe that a true life does not begin until the acceptance of the Lord into one’s heart. As such, the Holy Spirit, through baptism, symbolic of death through submersion and rebirth through ascension, gives a new life unto whoever accepts that life, which is His gift. While Farore’s impact within the Zelda series may seem small, it is of the highest importance, because without her, just like the Holy Spirit, true life cannot exist.
As a passionate fan of the Zelda series for many years, having conquered almost every game in the franchise, I am proud to make such connections between it and one of the largest religions in the world. While more recent games seem to have strayed away from religion and faith, many of the earlier games (The Legend of Zelda until The Minish Cap, as well as Skyward Sword) seem to have more religious undertones. It is an element that adds to the lore of the series, and gives it an important role in the worlds of art and even literature.
I hope you found this as interesting to read as I did to research and write! Leave comments and criticisms down below, and let us know if you have any interesting theories of your own!