Many SPOILERS are contained throughout these posts. You have been warned!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hyrule's Sacred Realm

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past artwork depicting the Golden Land/Sacred Realm/Triforce

The Sacred Realm in the Zelda series has always been very mysterious. It seems to be like an alternate dimension, but it is also described as being located somewhere in Hyrule. What is the Sacred Realm really? Is it just the arbitrary name given to the resting place of the triforce, with no other meaning attached? Or does it serve another purpose?

Here's a brief review of each game's description of the Sacred Realm. Starting with the most recent description of it...

Twilight Princess:

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - screenshot of Link running to the Triforce

When all was chaos, the goddesses descended and gave order and life to the world. They granted power equally to all who dwelt in the light, and then returned to the heavens. The lands where the goddesses descended came to be known as the Sacred Realm. For ages, the people lived at ease, content in mind and body… But soon, word of the Sacred Realm spread through Hyrule, and a great battle ensued…

That doesn't tell us much, it actually kind of confuses things a bit. But let's look at the translation of that text from the Japanese version of Twilight Princess:

The goddesses descended to the world of chaos where there was nothing at all, and created life and order. And after granting power equally to all people, they returned to the heavens. For a long time, the world was at peace, with people's hearts being deeply faithful… But at length, a rivalry ensued over Hyrule, the holy land.

This quote doesn't even mention the Sacred Realm at all, and simply states that Hyrule is what was faught over during the early wars. When you take these two quotes literally, it almost seems like Hyrule IS the Sacred Realm. In a way, I suppose it is.

Ocarina of Time:

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time screenshot of Triforce

The three great goddesses, their labors completed, departed for the heavens. And golden sacred triangles remained at the point where the goddesses left the world. Since then, the sacred triangles have become the basis of our world's providence. And, the resting place of the triangles has become the Sacred Realm.
-Deku Tree

OoT states that the resting place of the triforce has "become" the Sacred Realm, suggesting that it wasn't always called that. In fact, the "Sacred Realm" used to be just a certain place within Hyrule. That place is the point where the goddesses left the triforce. After the sages built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to this place, it became a closed off "realm" known as the Sacred Realm.

There's also this useful piece of information:

The resting place of the sacred triangle, the Sacred Realm, is a mirror that reflects what is in the heart....

It's almost as if the Sacred Realm gives off divine powers just by being near it...

A Link to the Past:

Hyrule, where many Hylian relics have been left, is an area very much tied to myth. One such example is an old saying about the Triforce.

"The golden power lies somewhere descended from the heavens. He who claims it as his own shall have their desires granted by the gods."

The people, seeking the Golden Power, began searching for the Sacred Realm. Many reports began to surface; lying beneath the relics of the desert, inside the graves of the race of people in the high mountains, but no one ever found it.

Longing soon became greed, and it was not uncommon for blood to be spilt for certain information. The more carefree people had to live days of disquiet.

That is, until one day, completely by chance, the entrance to the Sacred Realm was opened by by a certain group of thieves.
-SNES manual (Japanese version)

According to this backstory, the Sacred Realm was hidden somewhere in Hyrule. At that time, nobody could find it until this group of thieves stumbled upon it. If we take the quotes from Twilight Princess, they now match up. Since the Sacred Realm is within Hyrule, and in the time that TP describes, the Sacred Realm was unsealed, the terms "Hyrule" and "Sacred Realm" can be used interchangeably here.

Putting it all together:

Hyrule is the holy land where the goddesses descended onto the world of chaos, and the Sacred Realm is the point where the goddesses departed for the heavens. To me, this description of the Sacred Realm seems to imply that there is something very important and mystical about this physical location where the goddesses left the triforce. This sacred place seems to grant god-like abilities to anyone who merely enters it.

"The triforce grants the wishes in the heart of the one who touches it"
"The Sacred Realm is a mirror that reflects the heart of the one who enters it"

I believe these two statements are related. Both have to do with your proximity to the divine powers that created the world. In the case of the triforce, touching it grants your wishes. In the case of the Sacred Realm, entering it brings you so close to the realm of the gods, that you become close to being a god yourself.

As mentioned before, the Sacred Realm is not a closed, alternate dimension. It was only called the Sacred Realm by the time of OoT. In fact, I would imagine before the Temple of Time was built to as a seal around the Sacred Realm, Hyrule itself was basically the Sacred Realm, and anyone could go into the Temple of Light to worship the sacred light given off by the Triforce. They lived in a temporary paradise up until the first seal was made.

Eventually, people started fighting over the triforce, so the 7 sages sealed away its location in order to keep it from being corrupted by evil. That location then became known as the "Sacred Realm". The sages remained in the SR to borrow power from the gods. Each sage carries with them a medallion, an artifact which grants other people the power of that particular sage, in the same way that the triforce grants the holder the power of the goddesses. The sages are like gods themselves because they reside in the Sacred Realm, the point closest to the realm of the gods, and they left behind medallions in various temples as symbols of their power.

The Sacred Realm is what makes Hyrule the holy land of the gods. Hyrule contains relics that grant the power of the gods to its holders. The Ocarina of Time, the Harp, the Sage Medallions, the Dominion Rod... and of course the Triforce. It also hides within it the Sacred Realm, the place where gods descend/depart and leave behind their powers.

The Sacred Realm is obviously very important to the story of the Legend of Zelda. The very proximity of Hyrule to the Sacred Realm of the gods makes Hyrule into mystical realm where legends are born and destinies are written...


  1. Hi Warpio,
    As someone who also plays and loves the Zelda series, I think that the different realms and other components of the series are really interesting. The Sacred Realm and the Triforce are fascinating inventions and I think it would be interesting what their original purposes were in the Zelda universe.

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