Eighteen years ago on October 26th, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released for the Nintendo 64 console in North America. It is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest video games ever made. This anniversary affords us an opportunity, but not one to indulge in reminiscences about level design, graphics, etc. Rather, we can use it to look more deeply than all that - at the esoteric lore undergirding the exoteric game structure. This particular game offers such a clear example of the occult foundation of much of popular culture today, even that produced by ‘family-friendly’ Nintendo, which goes by unnoticed and is thus passively absorbed into the souls of so many of its consumers, that we thought it good to delve into it.
The Four Labyrinths and the Four Stages of Alchemy
The overall structure of the game is very much akin to the process of alchemy, which is described by Nigel Hamilton thusly:
Alchemy is best known for its belief that lead can be transmuted into gold. However, the transmutation of non-precious metals into gold is simply a metaphor for the soul being freed from a "dead, leaden state of mind," to that of realising its own light nature and that is derived from pure Spirit (‘The Alchemical Process of Transformation’, ).
Link, the hero of the game, undergoes just such a transmutation of soul. The refining apparatus is the repeating three-day cycle he becomes trapped within, during which he must figure out how to save himself and the world from an impending catastrophe.
The goal given to the player in Majora’s Mask is to awaken four giants who will stop the moon from crashing into the world. Each giant rests within a labyrinth in one of the four main areas of the game. An examination of these areas reveals the correspondence of each one with one of the stages of alchemy. Thus, as Link advances through each area, his level of spiritual purification increases accordingly.
Stage 1, Blackening
Hamilton says of the first stage,
In the first stage the fire is "slow and mild" as of the flesh or "embryo," gradually helping to bring about the first stage of the work, culminating in the earthly nigredo or "blackening." This stage involves a purification of the earthly nature in us.
Throughout the first stage, the encounter with the earth nature necessitates a freeing of the sense of self from its identification with the elements earth and water.
This state of things, dark, watery, earthy, is precisely what we find in the first area of Majora’s Mask: the Southern Swamp and Woodfall.
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The rest is at
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!