The Truth About This Town
A Q&A on the story's secrets
Source: Silent Hill Official Guidebook Complete Edition
Even after playing it through many times, a few baffling mysteries remain in this game. The truth about what took place in Silent Hill behind what Harry does there is close at hand.
Q: How about an outline of the town of Silent Hill?
A: At first glance, it's a deserted rural town, but...
Silent Hill, the setting for the story, is a rural town located somewhere in northeast America. Its chief industries are tourism and, to a lesser extent, agriculture. It is a small town with a population below 30,000, and its key industry– tourism– is in a state of steady decline. Some of the town's conservative residents oppose modernization and the transformation of the town into a tourist attraction, and although Silent Hill appears at a glance to be an innocuous rural town, this has brought about an unexpected "darkness" of drug distribution here. It is rumored that a religious cult of a considerable scale exists behind the scenes. It also seems to be a place where young people are spirited away, workers from the town's development group die mysteriously, and sinister traditions continue to be handed down from long ago.
Q: What happened to most of the people who lived in Silent Hill?
A: Unknown! Whatever you feel to be frightening is the truth.
From the moment Harry wakes up, the town is already deserted. What specifically happened is not made clear until the end– the only thing that is certain is that this is not an ordinary situation. While it is only natural to wonder about the welfare of the people who originally lived in Silent Hill, one should be able to come up with a few explanations after completing the game: everyone died, or what happens in the nightmare world has no effect on reality, or it was all Harry's dream, etc. Of these, the most likely explanation is that the events took place in the world of Alessa's nightmares.
Silent Hill is a town where nightmares become reality, so I want those who have played the game to take the truth to be whatever each of them feels is the most frightening.
Q: Why is contact between the town and the outside world completely cut off?
A: Unknown! The line between dream and reality is indistinct.
The roads leading outside of town have all collapsed, as if there had been a severe earthquake. If one does not understand what happened in this town, neither will one be able to grasp the answer to this question. One thing that is certain is the fact that in Silent Hill, the border between reality and unreality is indistinct. It may be that the town itself has moved somewhere that is like another dimension, or it may be that this is all happening inside someone's dream. Could it be that the real world awaits beyond the collapsed roads?
Q: Where did the monsters come from?
A: They were born from Alessa's obsessions and compulsions.
Mysterious monsters roam the deserted town, the same creatures that appear in Alessa's nightmares. Related to phenomena in her memories, they are materialized by stress, pressure, an anxious state of mind, and the like. For example, the pterosaur-type monsters found throughout town were brought forth from an illustration in one of Alessa's favorite books, The Lost World. The green caterpillar and moth monsters came from the insect specimens that decorate her room. Her sense of trivial things that looked strange to her as a child became reality, along with the objects of her fears.
Q: Why does the town suddenly become dark?
A: Even in the nightmare world, there is a cycle.
It becomes night (?) on a number of occasions as Harry moves about the town. In the same way, there are also many times when aspects of the town and its buildings change completely. For the sake of convenience, this will be referred to as the "right side" and "reverse side" in this book. These changes occur because there is a cycle in the world of Alessa's nightmares which envelops the town. In the same way that a person normally repeats REM sleep and non-REM sleep in regular cycles while he or she is sleeping, when the nightmare world approaches a deeper darkness (sleep), a phenomenon occurs in which light is almost completely taken away and the world shifts into an even deeper nightmare as the cycle shifts again. As for the "right side" and the "reverse side," in short, it isn't that one is reality and one is a dream; the fact is that neither is reality. Incidentally, the reason the "reverse side" takes on such an ominous aspect is that with her burned body, Alessa's endless nightmares were twisted and amplified by thoughts of the malevolent god. Her hatred and terror became nourishment on which the malevolent deity thrived.
Q: What were Dahlia's intentions?
A: To realize the long-cherished wish of the religious cult to which she belongs.
Dahlia Gillespie appears in and after the middle stage of the game and suggests to Harry his course of action. In the game's final stage, we discover that she is the one who masterminded the whole affair, and that what she was doing was supported by a profoundly grand motive. Although it isn't mentioned in the game, Dahlia assumes the role of a spiritualistic medium in a certain cult that has been established in Silent Hill's underworld. The unique doctrine of this cult is rooted in legends about the god of the land, and is separate from any religious doctrine that exists in reality. Simply put, bringing about the advent of the malevolent god and unleashing limitless destruction– this is the long-cherished wish of the religious organization to which Dahlia belongs, because "all sins will be washed away," "everyone will be freed from all suffering," and they will "take back the true paradise." The technique to impregnate the womb of a human mother with the malevolent god had been carried out many times in order to achieve that end, but it had always failed. Among the mysterious disappearances that took place in town, there are cases in which young girls were abducted by the cult as prospective surrogate mothers (although most of them were simply young people who grew tired of the countryside and left for the city).
Q: What was the cause of the fire that broke out seven years ago?
A: A ritual that Dahlia performed using Alessa.
Dahlia originally thought that Alessa would follow in her own footsteps as a spiritualistic medium for the cult, but realized that the ritual would be far more likely to succeed if she used her as the surrogate mother to bring about the descent of the cult's god. And so seven years ago, Dahlia performed the technique to bring about the descent of the cult's god using Alessa in the cellar of her own house. Although it seems the cult has a place they use for rituals, Dahlia was confident that she would be able to summon the malevolent deity if Alessa was the surrogate mother; therefore, as it was not necessary to choose a location, she impulsively carried out the ritual in her own basement. The ritual process involved a great deal of fire, which consequently escalated into a conflagration. Incidentally, there is information in the game about "six houses that burned down in the business district," but the actual site of the fire can't be located on the business district map. It seems the houses were completely torn down during those seven years.
Q: Did Alessa die in the fire seven years ago?
A: She survived.
In the game, it is reported that Alessa's "charred body was found." Although the records show that she had died, she was secretly taken to Alchemilla Hospital and nursed for seven years in the hospital basement. Kaufmann prepared a substitute body; it's possible he was also the one who performed the "autopsy." The method Dahlia used to bring about the descent of the cult's god had nearly succeeded with Alessa as the surrogate mother, but Alessa quickly let part of her soul escape and the technique was not completely successful. In short, even with the embryonic malevolent god within her, the ritual was in a suspended state. Alessa had suffered burns covering her entire body that were far beyond a fatal level, but she continued to live– that is, she was kept alive– because the malevolent deity protects its mother's body. Additionally, Dahlia continuously inflicted pain upon Alessa in that state for seven years by means of an incantation that compelled the missing part of her soul to respond to her. That part of her soul was Cheryl. If the soul could be unified, the ritual would be complete and the malevolent deity would awaken, so Dahlia caused Alessa to suffer, compelling her to seek help from Cheryl. Incidentally, corpses (?) that appear to be wrapped in robes that cover them from head to toe are seen in places that lead to the "other" world. These figures are wearing the cult's ceremonial robe. Perhaps they were manifested by Alessa's resentment of the cult?
Q: Did Cheryl know that she was Alessa's "other self?"
A: She was completely unaware of it.
Although Cheryl was Alessa's "other self," she was not conscious of it. When she told Harry she wanted to go to Silent Hill, it was because the sensation of Alessa's suffering– "Someone help me"– had reached her. For seven years, Alessa endured her suffering because she had not wanted to destroy whatever small happiness her other self was able to enjoy, but little by little, Dahlia's incantation succeeded and it became more than Alessa could bear. And so based on her perception that "It's like someone (myself?) is calling me...", Cheryl came to Silent Hill with Harry.
Q: When did Cheryl and Alessa unite?
A: During the early stages of the story.
Although the exact moment isn't specified, there's no mistaking that it was during the story's early stages. Cheryl's disappearance into the alleyway during the opening came about because Alessa's nightmare had encroached into Harry's dream; that development is not specifically related to Cheryl's fusion with Alessa. Additionally, the game features both a grown-up form of Alessa as well as a child form. One of these is her appearance at her actual age, while the other is a "phantom" from seven years ago. By merging with Cheryl, Alessa (at her actual age) was reborn from her severe burns, broke the spell that Dahlia and the cult's priests had used to bind her, and took action. After uniting, Alessa had acquired psychic powers such as teleportation– powers that she had always possessed. If she had been living under normal circumstances, these powers would almost never manifest themselves. Alessa naturally possessed a certain amount of spiritual intuition and at that point in time her "sixth sense" was powerful enough that she was having premonitions, but these were more like hunches than supernatural powers. Her mother Dahlia may have performed magic and the like, but this does not mean she had special powers. Could it be that having the malevolent deity dwelling within her body and uniting with Cheryl were what led Alessa to acquire supernatural powers?
Q: What is the Mark of Samael?
A: The truth is that there is no profound significance.
Dahlia uses the phrase "the Mark of Samael" while speaking to Harry. This is a sophism to make Harry worry that terrible things are happening that must be stopped at any cost; it's nonsense that falls under the category of wordplay. Dahlia thought she could use Harry to catch Alessa, so she used incomprehensible terms with feigned sincerity.
Q: What is the Seal of Metatron?
A: It's like a spell of annihilation.
What Alessa was actually creating was the Seal of Metatron. Its name is derived from the name of an angel of release in the Kabbalistic system. Bound by the cult's spell and living in an endless nightmare in agony, Alessa's wish was for a complete death. Since she was unable to die in a normal fashion while under the influence of the power of the malevolent deity, Alessa intended to "annihilate" herself by the power of the Seal of Metatron with the nightmare world at hand. At the moment Cheryl and Alessa united, she gained the power to escape from the cult's spell; at the same time, the technique that brought about the descent of the cult's god succeeded and the malevolent deity resumed its maturation process. This time, Alessa was engaged in a struggle, a race between the malevolent god's maturation and the seal's completion. If the seal were to be completed, Harry, Cybil, Dahlia and the others would all be annihilated along with Alessa. However, as it is questionable whether the Seal of Metatron actually has this sort of power, there is also the possibility that Alessa, using knowledge she acquired when she was very young, freed herself from the effects of the malevolent god's power through autosuggestion and was attempting to realize her own death. Because Dahlia was at least aware of the fact that Alessa had the will to end her own life, she prepared for the worst-case scenario and took steps to prevent this from happening. She used Harry for that very purpose.
Alessa was creating the Seal of Metatron at the school, hospital, antique shop, lighthouse, and amusement park. Draw lines connecting these seals and their placement creates an enormous Mark of Samael throughout the town. The seal may also have been created in other places as well.
Q: Who constructed the "other church" and for what purpose?
A: Dahlia constructed it based on the cult's doctrine.
The "other church" is a reproduction of the one that was originally in Dahlia's home, where she used it for daily worship. In short, Harry was drawn to it because the antique shop is a place that was originally close to the "reverse side." The reason it appears in the final stage of the game is that Alessa retained the memory of having been made to worship at the altar in her house as a young girl.
Q: What sort of partnership did Dahlia and Kaufmann have?
A: One centered around drugs and magic.
Dahlia and Kaufmann were connected by the trade of White Claudia, used to make the drug PTV. In the game, the white powder in the safe at the general store is PTV. The cult has used White Claudia, the raw material for the drug, during its rituals since ancient times. In short, despite the fact that the religious cult to which Dahlia belongs is a secret society, they have come to possess the sort of structure and organizational capability that allows them to manufacture narcotics beyond the reach of police surveillance. White Claudia, which is refined into the extremely powerful drug PTV, is transferred out of the cult and sold chiefly to tourists by Kaufmann. In return, Kaufmann carries out illegal medical dealings, such as phony autopsy reports and diverting pharmaceuticals into illegal channels. And then, ever since the fire seven years ago, magic through the power of the malevolent god and the matter of nursing the burned Alessa became bargaining points. Kaufmann's desire, the scope of which illustrates his worldly self-interests, was the profit yielded by the drug. Kaufmann is a realist by nature who does not believe in things like spells and black magic, but he accepted the responsibility of caring for Alessa so that the White Claudia exchange would continue to take place in his favor. However, being a firsthand witness to the deaths of the mayor and a narcotics officer, both of which were brought about by means of the magic drawn from the embryonic malevolent god's power, it seems he came to the decision that if the magic was something he could use, he would take advantage of it. Incidentally, the "mysterious deaths of a development group" that Lisa mentions during her conversation with Harry is a kind of urban legend, so whether or not that sort of thing actually happened is uncertain.
Q: Who is the guy who ran the general store, Norman Young?
A: A former colleague of Kaufmann's.
Norman Young was once involved in low-level drug trafficking together with Kaufmann, but washed his hands of it completely because the risk was too great. He had nothing to do with the cult, and it seems that he had heard rumors that Kaufmann had recently done things that were disquieting. From details such as the fact that he was asked to transport food to the motel, it can be surmised that he might have been a henchman of sorts for Kaufmann. In any case, Norman Young is not someone who is particularly relevant to the events of Silent Hill.
Q: What can the Flauros do?
A: It has tremendous magical effects.
It is said that powerful magic abilities lie dormant within the Flauros, which was excavated from ancient ruins. Dahlia prepared the Flauros in secret as a trump card that was hers alone. It is unclear whether she saw the current situation on the horizon...
As for the etymology of Flauros, it is one of the 72 spirits of Solomon and the name of someone who possesses faculties as an "antagonist."
Q: What is aglaophotis?
A: The last resort against a malevolent god!?
The religious cult to which Dahlia belongs, as previously mentioned, possesses an original structure that is wholly separate from any religious doctrine that exists in reality, although in some cases its concepts and terms were appropriated from other religious terminology for the sake of convenience. This is because of its "new religion" aspect, which came about as the cult's doctrine was systematized through the process of researching theology and demonology. Aglaophotis is a term from the Kabbalah that means something like "amulet." Dahlia and the others were using it to mean something that impedes the malevolent deity (what they call God). This is because they consider the roots of demons, as they are called in conventional religions, to be not far removed from those of the god of the land in which they believe.
Kaufmann, who was aware of its existence from rumors in the cult, secretly obtained aglaophotis and then divided it up and hid it away as a last resort, just in case (having calculated that someone could have found out he was doing this). Just as he had expected, the aglaophotis that was at the hospital had been thrown onto the floor and smashed completely, but at the end of the game Kaufmann uses the other aglaophotis that he had hidden in the motorcycle (although it would seem to have had no effect). Aglaophotis is extremely rare, and Kaufmann must have had to go to extraordinary lengths to obtain it. These facts indicate that in spite of their cooperative relationship, Kaufmann distrusted Dahlia and the others.
The word "jashin" (malevolent (evil) god) first appears in the Q&A on "why the town suddenly becomes dark," and is used frequently throughout the next few pages. Both the translator for the original Silent Hill as well Jeremy Blaustein, who translated Silent Hill 2, 3, and 4 decided to adopt the capitalization of "God" that is typically reserved for the god that the Christians believe in, and Ushinawareta Kioku, which I think requires us to look at this entity through the eyes of the cult, also uses the word "kami" (God) instead of "jashin." I'd initially wanted to continue translating "koushinjutsu" (where shin = God) as "the technique to bring about God's descent," but it's hard to reconcile with the fact that the god is characterized as evil or malevolent here so I decided to simply change "God" to "the cult's god."
Those who have played the English version of Silent Hill probably don't recall a memo mentioning that "six houses burned down in the business district"– the translator decided to omit the specifics about where the fire occurred and put it simply as "fire broke out in town, six homes destroyed."
Answering the question "what is the Mark of Samael?" with "there is no profound significance" doesn't seem to make a lot of sense grammatically, but I didn't want to say "it has no significance," since it could be read as implying that the Mark is something that exists in and of itself (which of course isn't the case– it's actually the Seal of Metatron). It seems to me that the implication is "the truth is that there is no profound significance (to the name given to the Mark)."
As for what "kaihou no tenshi" (angel of release) in the paragraph about the Seal of Metatron implies, it seems that this has to do with the fact that Metatron is said to have had abilities as a magician and was able to do things like break magic spells. In one legend, Metatron was the only angel powerful enough to break spells that were cast by two evil sorcerers who used their magic to ascend to heaven. According to my proofreader, this is referred to as "kaihou" in Japan.
Depending on the translation of the word "motomoto" (which can mean "originally," "by nature," or "from the start"), the second sentence of the paragraph about the "other church" could also be read, "...the antique shop is a place that is close to the 'reverse side' (otherworld) by nature" or "...the antique shop is a place that was always close to the 'reverse side.'"
The Japanese word used to explain aglaophotis is "mayoke," which can refer to a talisman,
It's worth mentioning that another one of the discrepancies between the English and Japanese versions of the script involves Dahlia's remark about the "Talisman of Metatron." This line was translated as "the Talisman of Metatron was being used," while it's "the Seal of Metatron was being created" in the original script. "Inshou," which means "stamp" or "seal" is the same word used in both the phrase "Talisman of Metatron" and the phrase "Mark of Samael"– one is "Metatron no inshou," and the other is "Samael no inshou."