Even to fans of the series, Goddess Hylia may not be a name you’re too familiar with. This isn’t a character as recognizable as Link, Zelda, Impa, and other series mainstays. Nevertheless, she is one of the most important characters in the franchise’s history.
In this article, you’ll learn who and what Hylia is, why she’s important, and how she plays into the wider story surrounding both Skyward Sword and the rest of the series. When I first played Skyward Sword, I wasn’t even aware that the game represented the beginning of the timeline; had I understood Hylia’s sacrifice, I would’ve gotten much more out of it.
Defining who and what she is can be difficult, though, so we’ll start from the beginning and work our way through to give you the full rundown of this pivotal character and their history.
Bottom Line Up Front
This article is segmented in a way that you don’t necessarily have to read every section. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a full deep dive or just some fun trivia for a character you already know about.
You can also use the guide as a companion when playing Skyward Sword, and I’ve included a Key artifacts section to help you make sense of the many items and locations associated with the character. If you’re in a rush, here’s a brief rundown:
- Goddess Hylia is a divine entity in charge of protecting Hyrule and Triforce.
- Her story involves a seminal battle with Deamon King Demise (a precursor to Ganon). With the help of her chosen hero and a selection of brave citizens, she triumphed over a mighty evil to save her people.
- Demise could not be sealed away forever, and so the Goddess set in motion a plan to reincarnate as a mortal and to guide a newly chosen hero to his destiny. Her mortal form is Zelda, and the would-be hero is Link.
Please bear in mind that there will be spoilers for the events of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in The Story of Goddess Hylia section below.
Who is Goddess Hylia?
Hylia is one of the many divine Goddesses present in The Legend of Zelda universe. The Golden Godesses (the creators of the universe) entrusted her with the protection of the Triforce: the ultimate power source, which began the prosperous years of her reign during The Era of Goddess Hylia.
As we will find out, this utopic period did not last. The Goddess would become embroiled in a war to protect her people against unspeakable evil.
Throughout the series’ history, Hylia has taken two separate forms: firstly a divine entity and secondarily as Princess Zelda. As such, the first thing you need to understand to get a grasp on this character is the way the Zelda timeline works.
You can read all about that in our article Legend of Zelda Universe Guide and History, but essentially, the franchise can get complicated due to the implementation of time travel. Because of this, there are different versions or incarnations of the main characters, but the definitive starting point begins with Goddess Hylia’s story.
The Story of Goddess Hylia
Hylia’s history is rooted in the main story of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which also represents the origin story of the whole franchise.
The Ancient Battle
When Demise – the precursor to Ganon – emerged from the depths of the world in attempts to steal the Triforce and spread his evil throughout Hyrule. He was joined by a vast army from the underworld who violently ravished the land, leaving only a small area of land left un-pillaged with a dwindling population of Hlians.
Hylia had only one choice to protect her people and the Triforce: an escape to the Sky. She transported the remaining Hylians, the land in which they stood, and the Triforce up above, sealing the earth below with a cloud barrier to block off the land below.
This new city in the clouds would be named Skyloft, and Hylia sealed away the Triforce in an ornate protective enclosure named the Skykeep. With her people and the Triforce safe for the time being, she would face her ultimate challenge to repel Deamon King Demise and his forces.
The conflict came to be known as The Ancient Battle: an unprecedentedly fierce fight between Goddess Hylia, her chosen hero, a fighting force of brave Hylians, and Demise and his relentless army. Despite many losses, the Goddess would ultimately reign victorious, sealing Demise away into a location later renamed Hylia’s Realm.
After the Battle
While Goddess Hylia was indeed victorious, it was not without cost. She suffered serious injuries in the fight and became significantly weakened. She also knew that Demise would not be sealed away indefinity given his immense power, and now a shadow of her former self, Hylia would not be able to sustain a subsequent fight with him when he broke free.
She planned carefully for the future, creating a spirit named Fi who would reside in the Goddess Sword — the blade her chosen hero used against the Demon King. When Demise inevitably rose again, Fi would aid in finding a worthy hero to match him.
She would also immortalize herself to come back as a living human who would be able to assist this hero, storing her memories in two statues that would be accessible to her reincarnated form. The memories would serve as instructions for the future.
This mortal form would enable her to wield the ultimate power of the Triforce, which, as a divine being, was currently inaccessible to her.
She left messages for the would-be hero, too, which would explain her reasoning for his summoning, and created a series of trials for him in an ethereal place called the Silent Realm. These challenges would test his resolve as they relate to the ultimate attributes: Power, Courage, and Wisdom.
Alongside laying the foundations for those who would protect the world in the future, Hylia also directed three dragons, one to protect each of the three key provinces, as well as appointing the Great Spirit Levias as the warden of the sky.
Each of these entities was given a portion of The Song of The Hero which, when the hero plays together as one piece of music, would reveal his final trial and the ultimate test of his abilities to prepare him.
It is not explicitly stated how Hylia died, but it is widely accepted that she voluntarily passed on as she could no longer adequately fulfill her duty. She may also have passed away due to the wounds inflicted by Demon King Demise.
While this was the end of Goddess Hylia in her divine form, it was only the beginning of her legacy.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword — the sixteenth entry in the series — represents Goddess Hylia’s key appearance in the franchise. The story above represents the back story of this game, with Princess Zelda representing her reincarnated form, and Link the hero capable of wielding the Goddess Sword and defeating Demise.
To divulge the entirety of Skyward Sword’s story would be beyond the scope of this article, but again, you can find an overview of the game in the aforementioned universe history guide here on the site. For now, let’s look at how Hylia influences the game’s events.
One of the most important elements to consider is the Goddess sword, namely, the spirit which resides within. Fi is part of a representation of Hylia’s lessons for the would-be hero, appearing as Skyward Sword’s omnipresent guide similar to what Navi does in Ocarina of Time. Fi is first seen guiding Link to the Statue of the Goddess after visiting him in his sleep, where she explains in detail his ultimate role.
Of course, where Goddess Hylia’s timeline is concerned, Zelda takes center stage over Link. Thousands of years after the events of The Ancient Battle, Hylia’s triumph over evil became legend. Skyloft continued to prosper, with the once great Goddess revered as a protector that continued to watch over her citizens from beyond. Skyloft’s people were unaware, however, that a reincarnated Goddess Hylia walked amongst them.
This iteration of Zelda is quite different from virtually all prior versions as she is not Princess Zelda at the start of the game — just another denizen of Skyloft. She is completely unaware of her importance in the events to come, as is Link, who is her well-established friend at the start of the game.
Zelda learns of her true purpose on the 25th Anniversary of the Wing Ceremony — an annual event whereby residents re-enact the roles of Hylia and the chosen hero. Whilst flying with Link on the back of a dragon, a tornado engulfs the pair and sends Zelda to the surface. It transpires that the tornado was caused by Ghirahim, who had attempted to capture Zelda in attempts to revive Demise.
Thankfully, she is rescued by Impa: a prominent member of the ancient Sheikah tribe. This tribe fought side-by-side with Goddess Hylia during the Ancient Battle. Impa was sent to help Zelda as prophecized centuries earlier, and with her help and the use of The Goddess Harp, she can regain the memories from her past life as Hylia. Zelda goes to the Goddess shrines to pray, awakening her true purpose little by little.
As predicted, Demise returns during the events of Skyward Sword. Both Link and Zelda must gain the strength required to seal him away for good.
Key Artifacts and Places
As you’ve no doubt realized, there are several different special items and places relating to Goddess Hylia. Use this section as a guide you can quickly refer back to if you get confused about something in the game.
The Silent Realm
The Silent Realm is a magical area adjunct to Skyloft and is part of Link’s great test to prove himself a worthy hero. The area is bathed in perpetual twilight and contains a series of trials Link must overcome. No traditional weapons can be used within this place.
To gain access to The Silent Realm, Link must stab the trial gate located in each of the game’s four main areas. The player will then be required to collect a set amount of Golden Tears named after the Goddesses: if Link is successful, he will be awarded a gift for each trial he completes.
The Goddess Sword
This is the weapon Hylia crafted for her chosen hero. She also created a spirit named Fi who would reside within the sword and guide the would-be hero to his destiny. The sword went through many iterations until it finally became the Master Sword: Link’s most recognizable weapon throughout The Legend of Zelda franchise.
The Goddess Harp
The Goddess Harp is the central musical instrument in Skyward Sword and is believed to have belonged to Hylia herself.
Both Zelda and Link use the harp in-game to reveal Hylia’s ultimate plan. Zelda plays the harp when she connects with her past when visiting The Goddess Statue as well as at the opening ceremony; Link uses the harp to play The Song of the Hero to gain access to The Silent Realm, and the Ballad of the Goddess to enter through The Gates of Time.
The Sky Keep is the final dungeon in the game and a highly important location overall. Located under the Goddess Statue, this is where Hylia placed the Triforce. Interestingly, it is the only dungeon in the series not to contain a boss battle.
Isle of Songs
The Isle of Songs is an area Link must travel to so he can enhance the power of his Sword. This is where he learns the music required to gain entry to The Silent Realm: Farore’s Courage, Din’s Power, and Nayru’s Wisdom. The area itself is located within the Thunderhead, which is a huge storm cloud shrouding the area completely. This makes it ordinarily inaccessible, and as such, Link must play the Ballad of the Goddess to gain entry.
Some Extra Information
I wanted to keep the main sections above as succinct as possible as there’s a lot of confusing lore in this story. This section is to cover a couple of extra points I thought you might be interested in.
The Era of Myth
While Goddess Hylia’s story naturally begins with the Era of Hylia, there is some crossover with the Era of Myth. This era came before Hylia’s but does include Hylia’s story.
The era covers stories, myths, and legends of events that happened so long ago they cannot be verified as actually having happened or not. There’s not a lot in way of an official description of this era from Nintendo — only brief extracts from the Zelda Encyclopedia. As such, what is and is not included within the era is not fully disclosed.
Interestingly, Hylia’s story is considered both part of this era and its own separate time. Despite the Era of Myth covering stories that cannot be confirmed to have happened, Goddess Hylia’s involvement in the series is very clear.
The Zelda Manga
While not canonically recognized (part of the official Zelda timeline), Goddess Hylia does feature heavily in the Zelda Manga, namely in the issue named Hylia’s Chosen Hero. The story follows the precursor to Link (who is also called Link) who was Hylia’s right-hand combatant during the Ancient Battle.
In Skyward, the original hero’s identity is mostly shrouded in mystery with only a minor mention of him at the start of the game. In both the game and the manga he presents as the earliest incarnation of Link, but in the graphic novel, we get an in-depth account of his backstory.
The story also divulges his relationship with Goddess Hylia, making this the only in-depth backstory to her beyond the myths and legends of the game. I highly recommend Akira Himekawa’s work if you’re interested in this character.
Did You Know?
To round off, here are some cool facts and trivia I found for this character:
- Goddess Hylia is only referenced properly in two games: Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild
- While not explicitly stated, it is possible that Zelda’s connection with Hylia could explain the extraordinary powers the Royal Family possesses, as well as their role as protectors of the Triforce across the series.
- Hylia’s standing and her connection to the Royal Family in the series closely resemble Japanese tradition. In Japan, the Imperial Family is considered to have descended from the mythical Goddess Amaterasu.
- While reincarnated as Princess Zelda, Hylia’s only visually depicted presence in the franchise is as statues and abstract artwork. She is depicted in the Zelda Manga, but these are considered non-canon.
- The central Hylia statue is similar in setting and position to the real-world statue of Christ the Redeemer: the Art Deco depiction of Jesus at the center of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Question: Who or what came before Goddess Hylia?
Answer: While Goddess Hylia’s story is somewhat of an origin story to the franchise, it isn’t where things properly began so far as the creation of the universe. That period covers the time of the Golden Goddesses: Din, Nayru, and Farore, who are omnipotent beings that created the Triforce, Hyrule, and all other lands across the series’ extended universe. Given its ethereal nature, no games in the franchise have been set within this period.
Question: Will Goddess Hylia be a part of the upcoming title The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?
Answer: If we’re talking about her divine form, Goddess Hylia always presents as an ethereal form, and we haven’t seen a representation of that form in the game — even in Skyward Sword. Of course, we see her being immortalized within Princess Zelda, but given the fact that her origin story has been told, it’s unlikely that we’ll see her appear as a character in the upcoming game. For this to happen, we’d have to have a new entry in the series that was set before Skyward Sword. While this isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, I find it hard to imagine Nintendo creating a mainline Zelda title that didn’t include our titular heroes.
We have seen spin-off titles tackle off-beat themes, however, and Nintendo does seem more open to switching up the formula these days — so you never know!
Question: I’ve heard the Hyrule Historia contains a lot of useful information regarding the history of the Zelda world and timeline. Is this worth picking up for extra context?
Answer: While most information can be found on the internet these days, I highly recommend picking up the Hyrule Historia if you want to learn more about this fascinating world. The history of Hyrule and the Zelda timeline is presented in an easy-to-read fashion, which a lot of online wikis and texts miss. It’s also beautifully presented and a joy to read.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this seminal character in The Legend of Zelda franchise. Hopefully, it provided you with some much-needed context regarding not only the Goddess herself but for the establishment of the series universe.
If you have any burning questions not covered here, I recommend you check out our other article Legend of Zelda Universe and History for some extra context. Beyond that, have a look at the Zelda sub-Reddit to discuss these topics with the rest of the community. As always, I also recommend getting The Hyrule Historia and its companion manuscripts The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopaedia and Art and Artefacts if you want to delve into the lore further. Have fun!