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More than any other topic, each new Zelda release greatly adds to our understanding of Hylian Cosmology, the perceived physical and spiritual properties of the Zelda Universe. The connection between Ganon and the Dark Realm, the intercessions of Hyrule's ever growing body of deities or the nature of time itself are all encompassed by this, the most mind-boggling branch of timeline theory.
The Nature of Time
Is Time Constant?
For the sake of sanity, many suggest that the mechanics of time must remain constant throughout the series. In this, they then fail to understand how Nintendo produces its games. Game story takes a backseat to gameplay, and series consistency takes a backseat to individual game stories. This system results in often-inconsistent Time Mechanics which are quite game-specific. Theorists have adjusted to this, and no longer accept "cross-overs" of specific principles.
The major issue is that of "mutability": Is it possible to change the past? Sometimes it seems as if Zelda Time is mutable, much like Back to the Future or the Marvel comics Universe where in someone who travels to the past ends up changing the future. At other times, it is quite obvious that Zelda Time is immutable, and, as in Harry Potter 3, traveling to the past keeps the future constant. Within each specific method of time travel, both cannot be the case (though it often seems that it would be easier that way) and theorists must work to determine the true nature of time travel.
Number of Timelines
The final scenes of Ocarina of Time are notorious among fans, as well as confusing. The "hows" and "whys" that surrounded Zelda's final actions have been long debated, and years of discussion failed to conclusively determine their most basic implications. It has only eventually been confirmed that The Legend of Zelda series's timestream does not flow peacefully from single beginning to single end, but rather contains a deviation by which a lone past forks into two entirely different futures. An understanding of the basic suggestions and mechanisms of these Parallel Lines is a general part of understanding timeline theory as a whole.
What is a split timeline?
A split timeline is the idea of two completely different "futures" routed in the same "past". In general, in is the idea that history was originally intended to make a direct trip from point A to point B, but an interference somewhere down the line created a new path; point A to point C. The two paths now run parallel.
In the World of The Legend of Zelda, we see the first possible path in Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. This course of history included Link drawing the Master Sword, Ganon taking the Triforce and conquering Hyrule, Link defeating Ganon and sealing him away, Ganon escaping, the Gods flooding the world, etc.
This is not the only path, however. History is set on a new course when Link arrives in the past at the end of Ocarina of Time and rocks the boat. We see this path in Twilight Princess and Majora's Mask. It included the defeat and capture of Ganon by the Hyruleans before he could move to conquer the world, Ganon's subsequent sealing into the Twilight Realm, Link's journey to Termina, Ganon's corruption of Zant and the Twilight Realm, etc.
Again, there is no connection between these two possible courses of events other than the past they share. For all intents and purposes, it may be best to think of them as unconnected parallel worlds.
Individual Methods of Travel
Ocarina of Time Travel
The following can be logically concluded from observation of Ocarina of Time:
- Each object exists within a "personal history", which, through alterations of the past, may be muted. Magic Beans, originally not planted, may become so. The Ocarina of Time, which originally did not travel to Termina, may do so. The Master Sword, which was once held by Link during his seven year coma, can now spend those seven years at rest.
- Grand interaction between these objects, however, creates a larger "Universal History" which is "semi-mutable", maintaining a constant course but allowing for the minor alterations in the "histories" of individual objects. Thus Link's affairs with the Windmill Man are possible in an immutable timeline. Link will be able to learn the Song of Storms before teaching it, and work in the past to create the future, rather than alter it.
- All transport is physical. Link's body moves as a whole between the two time periods as an entire entity.
- When Link journeys to the Future, he simply sleeps for [approximately] seven years. There is very little magic involved here, no changes occur besides those which would naturally happen over such a period.
- When Link journeys to the Past, he is physically reverted to that state he was in when he left. What happens to his inventory when he travels through time is a point of some debate.
Majora's Mask Travel
- Time is utterly Mutable. Link's goal throughout the entirety of this game is to change the future. It may even be the case that, in returning Link to Dawn of the First Day, the Goddess of Time annihilates the future he just lived. It is then as if it had never occurred.
- All Transport is physical. Link's body is literally ripped from the space-time continuum and sent back in time to the Dawn of the First Day. He will appear in the past in the exact state he was in when he played the Song of Time, carrying all his items with him (changes in his ammo and wallet contents are deemed negligible). However, he replaces his past self upon arrival, preventing more than one Link from existing simultaneously.
- When Link journeys to the future, he simply stands in one spot for a number of hours. There is very little magic involved here, no changes occur besides those which would naturally happen over such a period. One could technically say that this is not time travel at all, but, rather, a method of hyper-accelerating time.
- Certain Majora's Mask gameplay mechanics, such as change in the contents of chests and the aforementioned ammo and wallet inconsistencies, seem to work against this nature of time. However, in the majority of these cases, the chests contained an item, such as dungeon items, that can travel through time. Since having two Links in the same time eliminates one of the Links, shouldn't having two of an item in the same time eliminate one? After noticing it's chest empty, perhaps someone or something replaced it, with another treasure.
Oracle of Ages Travel
- Time in Labrynna is fully mutable, one of the finest examples of this is Mermaid's Cave where Link has to constantly travel through time to change the dungeon's outcome in the future. There is one example were it is immutable, however. The 3rd dungeon gets opened up in the past sometime before the 8th dungeon, and a Tokay even refers to this.
- Link's time travel in Oracle of Ages occurs in the way that Labrynna changes, but he doesn't. Link stays the same age all throughout his quest in Labrynna, even though he travels through hundreds of years in Labrynna's history. Therefore, it is unnecessary to replace his former self while time traveling.
Time Related Arguments
Is the Sacred Realm Timeless?
It is very often suggested that the Sacred Realm either exists outside of Hyrule's Timeline or is entirely timeless in itself. It is argued that, if this is the case, Ganon's sealing at the end of Ocarina of Time would somehow extend into the past and alter history, sparing history from him altogether.
There is another school of thought that believes that the Realm's "timelessness" merely extends to its having no plane of "time" as we know it in and of itself. They support this idea by citing the fact that Ganon is often said to have been sealed within the Realm for decades--even centuries--without seeming to noticeably age. This has no real effect on the timeline, but serves as a way to describe Ganon's seemingly timeless state while sealed there.
Dissenters quickly point out that Link ages seven years in the Sacred Realm (supporting that it is temporal) and that seven years passed simultaneously in Hyrule (supporting that there is no difference in their "times"). It is also suggested that the concept of "timelessness" is beyond human imagination, inherently unknowable, and completely irrelevant.
Traditionally, it is a quick yet reoccurring argument. A new theorist will suggest the idea, and will be so steadfastly opposed that he quickly withdraws.
How does Ocarina of Time's last instance of Time Travel operate
- Now it is time for me to make up for my mistakes...
- You must lay the Master Sword to rest and close the Door of Time...
- However, by doing this, the road between times will be closed...
Shortly after speaking this benediction, Zelda whisks Link away with a song. When we next see the Hero of Time, he is again but a child, standing in front of the pedestal of time in a familiar pillar of blue light. What happened in the interim, and what happens next?
While it would be simple and satisfying to decide that Zelda has only continued along a common thread; that she has sent Link through time in a journey that directly mirrors a journey he may make with the Master Sword. Unfortunately, the confirmation of the Double Timeline also proved the untruth of this particular theory.
Apparently, this journey is unique, in some way allowing Link to alter the future of his destination, ensuring that it does not become the world he left.
The Pantheon of the Gods
Like any fantastic setting, Hyrule has its fair share of deities. Though only the three creator goddesses play a continuing role in the series, the collection of quirky (minor) gods continues to grow.
|Creation role||Cultivator of the Earth||Originator of Natural Law||Creator of Life|
|Temple|| Fire Temple (Ocarina of Time)
Fire Temple (Spirit Tracks)
Temple of Seasons
|Water Temple|| Forest Temple|
|Triforce Piece|| Triforce of Power
| Triforce of Wisdom
| Triforce of Courage|
|Magic||Din's Fire||Nayru's Love||Farore's Wind|
|Items|| Goron's Ruby
Pendant of Power
Rod of Seasons
| Zora's Sapphire
Pendant of Wisdom
Harp of Ages
| Kokiri Emerald|
Pendant of Courage
Book of Secrets
|Oracle||Din, Oracle of Seasons||Nayru, Oracle of Ages||Farore, Oracle of Secrets|
|Light Spirit||Bird||Snake|| Monkey|
Goddess of Time
Hoping that this mysterious Deity will protect the young Hero of Time on his Majora's Mask adventures, Zelda demonstrates to Link how the Ocarina of Time may be used to curry the Goddess's favor. Some theorists suggest that this may only be an alternate title for Farore or Nayru. Some theorists believe that there is actually no Goddess of Time, or that all three Golden Goddesses share this role.
These enormous gods who ordered the world of Termina were incapacitated by the servants of Majora's Mask. Link spent most of his three day cycles waking these ancient guardians as only they can prevent the imminent apocalypse.
Zephos and Cyclos
Zephos is a calm and peaceful lord of the winds, his brother Cyclos a ferocious master of gales. These cloud-riding frog-like gods both eventually came to the assistance of the Hero of Winds, greatly increasing the ease with which he could cross the great sea.
The Wind God is the spirit that presumably is involved with the Wind Temple and is the origin of the Wind God's Aria. It is possible that either Zephos or Cyclos could be the "Wind God"; Farore could likewise fill the role as well. Both the Koroks and the Rito are associated with the Wind God's power.
The Earth God is the spirit that presumably is involved with the Earth Temple and is the origin of the Earth God's Lyric. It is possible that the Earth God could be Din. Both the Koroks and the Rito are associated with the Earth God's power.
The four light spirits guard four of the provinces featured in Twilight Princess. Three of them are directly associated with the sealing of the Twili and the safeguarding of the Fused Shadows. It is suggested that day-to-day fortunes are believed to be tied to the favor of the light spirits. Like the Sols (see below), little is known of them other than this. Their names are Eldin, the Bird; Lanayru, the Serpent; Faron, the Monkey; and Ordona, the Goat.
According to Midna, the infusion of the power of the Sols into the Master Sword represents a blessing of her world's guardian deities. Hardly anything is known of these mysterious shadow gods, and they may simply be a twilight myth, or may be another title for the Sols themselves.
The principle antagonist of Phantom Hourglass, Bellum is touted as the 'Phantom Devil'. Nearly invincible and capable of stealing the life force of other beings (both mortals and spirits), he lives up to the title.
This white whale of life-force is the lord of Phantom Hourglass's World of the Ocean King. For much of the game's duration, the Ocean King has been locked within his own temple by Bellum's life-draining power, though his dis-empowered avatar as an old man remains active outside.
Goddess of Spirits
A single line of dialog in Phantom Hourglass references a 'Goddess of Spirits', patron deity to Link's spirit companions. With an offering of Gems, Link can enlists the goddess' aid and empower his fairy-like friends. This is probably a great fairy of some sort.
Hylia is a fourth goddess introduced in Skyward Sword. It is unknown what she is the goddess of, although it's possible she is the long-rumored Goddess of Time. This is supported by the fact that her human avatar is Zelda, who is often connected with time (such as giving Link the Ocarina of Time).