The Final Fantasy series has drawn inspiration from various real-world religions and mythologies, and incorporated elements of them into the fiction that makes up the series.
In the seriesEdit
The recurring summoned monster, Leviathan, is based on the biblical sea monster Livyatan (לִוְיָתָן). Though the word means "whale" in modern Hebrew, it has been interpreted to be a fearsome sea monster from various biblical passages, and is mentioned multiple times in the Tanakh. In Christianity, the Leviathan was portrayed as a demonic avatar of Satan, described by Thomas Aquinas as a "demon of envy".
The Behemoth is a biblical land beast mentioned in the Book of Job. Though in modern Hebrew it lacks the visceral connotation of the English, Behemot means "beasts" and has been interpreted accordingly as a vicious and dangerous creature.
Odin is based on a Nordic god of the same name, and is often depicted with a horse. Several other summons and monsters from the series are based on gods and goddesses—Shiva, for instance, may be based on the god Shiva of the Hinduism religion, although the god is considered male.
Some items, weapons and equipment in most Final Fantasy games are references to Greek and Roman mythology, like Zeus' Wrath, Hades equipment, Hermes Sandals, Minerva Bustier, Artemis Bow and Arrow and Perseus Bow.
The word Eidolon, the localized name of summoned monsters in some games, is a Greek term used throughout the Bible for false gods or idols, explained to be either nothing at all, or demons.
In the original Japanese Famicom version, many of the towns contained churches, know as "Clinics" in the North American NES version due to Nintendo of America's policy on religious references. The churches have a cross on the steeples, and are run by priests that wear outfits similar to the Pope. Other religious references in the Japanese version are the addition of Star of David replaced with different imagery in the crystal rooms of the Four Fiends, as well as crosses that lead up to Bahamut. The game's main antagonist, Chaos, is based on the Devil/Satan from Abrahamic religions.
Final Fantasy II alludes to the Abrahamic religions, as towards the end the party travels into Pandaemonium, the palace of Hell depicted in Paradise Lost. In Pandaemonium, the party encounters several demons from demonology, like Beelzebub and Astaroth. In Soul of Rebirth, the party travels to Araboth, the highest heaven which contains the throne of God. While not in the game itself, the novelization Final Fantasy II Muma no Meikyū indicates the Emperor had sold his soul to Satan for his magical powers.
The Tower of Babil refers to the biblical Tower of Babel (מגדל בבל Migdal Bavel) built by a united humanity with the intention of reaching the heavens. The Tower of Babil houses the Giant of Babil, a great power from the moon, and both God from the Genesis story and the Giant of Babil had the intention of "confounding" humanity.
Kain Highwind's name is from the Genesis story of Cain and Abel (קין והבל, Kayin v'Hevel), in which Cain, in his jealousy of his brother, betrayed him by slaying him. This is reflected in Kain repeatedly betraying his adoptive brother, Cecil Harvey (coincidentally to Cecil's real brother, Golbez). Kain's ultimate weapon is Abel's Lance, a biblical allusion to the story of Cain and Abel.
The concept of yin and yang may be represented by Palom (a black mage) and Porom (a white mage). The concept of yin yang says the two depend on one another, perhaps shown in the twins' ability, Twincast.
In western culture, white and black traditionally symbolize the dichotomy of good and evil, as seen in the elements of Holy and Dark, and Cecil's progression from a Dark Knight—wearing black armor and wielding Dark elemental weapons—to a whiteclad Paladin with White Magic abilities.
When the SNES version was released outside of Japan, several changes were made, such as the Tower of Prayers being named Tower of Wishes, and the removal of Rosa's Pray ability. The Holy spell was renamed to "White". A new save point graphic was made for the Sylph Cave and Land of Summons' save points that were changed from a Star of David to a tile with an "S" marked on it.
The Star of David also appears for the Dispel graphic in the Super Nintendo version; in subsequent versions, it was modified to an octagram.
Kefka's final battle with the Returners mirrors the Divine Comedy, which entails Dante's journey from Hell, to Purgatory, to Heaven, and eventually meeting God face-to-face where He tells him the meaning of life.
The first tier of the Statue of the Gods consists of Long Arm, Short Arm and Visage, which is based on Dante's journey in Hell. Visage represents Satan in the center of Hell, as Satan was depicted as a demon entrapped up to the waist in ice, which may explain Visage's weakness.
The second tier represents Purgatory in Divine Comedy, where souls suffer if they had committed any of the Seven Deadly Sins until they are spiritually purified.
The third tier represents Paradise or Heaven. The Rest and Lady portions of the final battle with Kefka are based on the Pieta statue, depicting Mary holding Jesus shortly after he died on the cross. It is further alluded to in the Japanese version, where Lady's name is Maria.
At the end of the journey, Dante meets God in the Empyrean, which the background for the final battle against Kefka represents. Kefka's final form resembles the devil with a pair of angel wings and a halo.
The original name for what is later referred to as Heartless Angel, Fallen One, alludes to a name of one of the fallen angels, Lucifer, better known as Satan or the devil.
When trying to convince Terra to support the Returners' cause, Banon speaks of a box someone opened that unleashed the evils of the world, but contained within it a single ray of light, hope, and asks her to be their hope. This alludes to the Pandora's box of Greek mythology where Pandora was given a beautiful container and told to not open it, but was compelled by curiosity. When she opened it, all evil contained escaped into the world, but at the bottom of the box remained a Spirit of Hope named Elpis.
Final Fantasy VII draws from the Lurian Kabalā (Jewish Mysticism), a medieval Jewish variant of Gnosticism. Gnosticism originated as a Roman-era fusion of Christianity and Ancient Greek philosophy, and its adherents were said to have knowledge of the "true" nature of the world.
Like the Cetra, the Gnostics were persecuted until their beliefs died out, though traces remain in the Kabbalah, Sufi Islam, and Jungian psychology (which also relates to Cloud's journey into the Lifestream to confront the buried shadow aspects of his mind). Hojo's Reunion Theory, where entities infused with Jenova's cells will reunite with Jenova/Sephiroth at the North Crater, stems from Gnosticism, namely the concept of each human having a fragment of God.
Both belief systems, Gnosticism and its Kabbalist branch, proclaim that all humans have inside their bodies a spark of divine light from the Absolute, which returns there upon death. This Absolute is an infinite wellspring of spiritual energy, knowledge, and goodness, mirroring the function of the Lifestream. The Kabbalah states the Absolute is the Judeo-Christian God, whereas early Gnostics believed him to be an incompetent or malicious false god known as the demiurge ("artisan" in Ancient Greek) who merely believed himself the uncreated deity because he was shielded from the Absolute by his "mother", an emanation from the Absolute (known as an Aeon) who fell from the skies. This demiurge, trapped in the material world, cannot create anything good, and instead corrupts the sparks of light, just like Jenova's corruption of the Lifestream and of human beings.
The name Jenova has Hebrew and Latin components. One is taken from the ineffable Hebrew name of God, יהוה (yud-hei-vav-hei), often romanized into Yahweh or Jehovah, although the original pronunciation is no longer known. This is combined with the Latin word nova, meaning "new". Thus Jenova is, in a sense, a "new god", like the demiurge when created by his mother.
As Jenova is Sephiroth's "mother" yet is also implied to be virtually one and the same, their relationship is similar to the mainstream Christian view of Jesus Christ's relationship with Jehovah, as he is considered both the Son of God and Son of Man. Depending on how one counts the Remnants' and Sephiroth's will, this also alludes to the Holy Trinity, the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" in Christian dogma.
Sephiroth factors in through Kabbalism. His name is Hebrew in origin (ספירות Sfirót) and means "counting", or "enumeration". This aspect can be compared to the Sephiroth Clones, who are each given a number. The ten aspects of God and creation known as Sephirot (same as the Gnostic Aeons) are often arranged in a unique pattern known as the Tree of Life. These aspects are "Crown, Wisdom, Understanding, Benevolence, Strength, Beauty (known in Hebrew as "Tifaret"), Eternity, Splendor, Foundation (Vessel) and Royalty (Kinghood)," though some lists differ slightly.
Sephiroth summons Meteor to create a wound to the Planet, thereby condensing the Lifestream at the impact site to allow him to ascend to Godhood. It is said in the Zohar that "If one tried to pour all of infinity into a vessel, the vessel would break." It would fissure, and the universe would rupture into a flowing, yet familiar pattern (the Tree of Life). This principle would also apply to Ultimecia's desire to unite all of existence and reform it to her liking in Final Fantasy VIII.
In Sephiroth's rebellion he tries to capture the Promised Land, a heavenly place of myth, for himself. The Promised Land is based on the Biblical tale of Moses where he was ordered by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery to a land which God promised that they'd find. Due to their disbelief they never found it, and traversed the middle-east for forty years.
His final form, Safer∙Sephiroth, may be based on Biblical descriptions of a Seraph. In Isaiah 6, the Seraphim are described as Celestial, six-winged beings that circle the throne of God. However, the origin of the name Safer∙Sephiroth is Hebrew; the boss's name as written in Japanese is (セーファ・セフィロス, Sēfa Sefirosu?); "safer" can also be transliterated as "sefer", "sapher", and "sepher". "Sepher" (סֶפֶר) is Hebrew for "book"; thus, Safer Sephiroth (Sefer Sfirot) translates to "Book of Numerations". Thus it may also refer to the 10 Kabbalistic Sefirot, the ten aspects of creation according to Jewish Mysticism.
Sephirot are the ten attributes through which God appears, and Aeris may be tied to one such attribute, chesed, meaning kindness or love. It is a virtue which contributes to a concept translated as the healing of the world and the concept suggests man's responsibility to repair and transform the world. The Talmud says "the Torah begins with chesed and ends with chesed," and Aeris is the first and last character seen in the main events of Final Fantasy VII (excepting the epilogue). Those who embody chesed go "above and beyond that which is normally required," and chesed is the first of the sephirot of the attribute of action; in other words the initiation of action. This is similar to how Aeris ventures off alone to summon Holy. The gematria (a numerological system for assigning numbers to words) of chesed is 72; Aeris's birthday is the 7th of February.
In similar vein, Barret may be tied to gevurah, associated with judgment and strength. From the Bahir, "This is the left hand of God." The right hand of God being chesed. Cloud, Barret and Aeris were the first player characters designed for the game, with Aeris and Barret possibly representing chesed and gevurah. The metaphor may be embodied in Barret, who has lost his right hand, but retains his left.
Aeris grows flowers in an abandoned church in the Midgar Slums reminiscent in structure to a Catholic or Lutheran church. The flowers grow from a hole where the pulpit would have stood. Aeris is part of a race able to talk to the Planet. A similar concept of a "chosen people" being able to speak to God is present in Judaism and Christianity, and the Pope is supposedly chosen to deliver God's will to the world. Sephiroth holds a similar, though much darker, belief about himself being the chosen one, chosen to rule the Planet. The connection is strengthened when Aeris prays at an altar to get the Planet to cast Holy. After her death, she travels through the Lifestream, easing the passage of departed souls, and working against Sephiroth. As such, she can be likened to Jesus Christ, a saint, and/or a guardian angel, although angels traditionally are not born of the souls of the departed.
Tifa's bar, 7th Heaven, is named for a concept in both Jewish and Gnostic belief, whereby the Throne of God is located above the seventh circle of heaven. Tifa herself is possibly named after a concept from the Judeo-Gnostic Kabbalah, the "Tiferet", the emanation of God concerned with beauty and strength.
The Jenova-mutated form of Hojo, Helletic Hojo, is a misromanization of "Heretic Hojo", referring to Heresy, a concept in various religions where people interpret beliefs in a religion that goes against the norm of the religion.
Final Fantasy VII holds many references to Norse mythology, particularly in names. Midgar comes from Midgård, the Realm of Mankind, and is depicted as the most advanced city in the world in terms of technology and man-made devices. Nibelheim comes from Niflheim, the realm of mist and darkness, where Hel, also called Helheim, is located. Helheim, a Norse underworld, is ruled by the goddess Hel, who was the sibling of Fenrir. Fenrir is a hell hound known for his great strength, and during Ragnarok, the event that would herald the end of the world, he would rise up and kill Odin, the king of the gods. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Cloud is associated with Fenrir, a wolf, which is also the name of his motorcycle. Cloud is notable for his strength, was born and raised in Nibelheim, and the one to strike down Sephiroth who wanted to become a god after absorbing Jenova's cells and the knowledge of the Lifestream. This event draws parallels with Ragnarok, as the Meteor was about to destroy the Planet had Cloud and his friends not intervened to stop Sephiroth. However, in the myth, Fenrir is killed as retribution by Odin's son Vidar.
The Lifestream is similar to Abrahamic descriptions of Heaven, as it houses the secret to eternal life. The Lifestream is constantly flowing and changing, but never disappearing. By joining it, people are returned to a state of innocence, where all that remains are God and His garden. The Lifestream is also similar to Japan's indigenous religion, Shinto, which purports that all things have souls. In Final Fantasy VII, all living things have souls, which contribute to the overall soul of the Planet after they depart and "Return to the Lifestream". The Planet breeds new life from this soul in a process similar to reincarnation, although in Hinduism, the individual soul joins the overall soul only upon reaching enlightenment.
The monster Skeeskee, which has a somewhat hellish appearance, grants 222 EXP upon defeat and always appears in groups of three, for a total of 666 EXP. In the New Testament, 666 was described as "the number of a man" associated with the beast, and in popular culture is known as a symbol for the Antichrist or the Devil.
Angeal Hewley sprouts two white feathered wings like those of angels as they are often depicted. His first name is a respelling of the word "angel". Angeal having two white wings is done in contrast to Genesis Rhapsodos. Having two white wings makes him more akin to a heavenly angel, while Genesis has one black wing, representing fallen angels.
Genesis is named after the Biblical account of creation and has a black wing much like Sephiroth. He is often seen offering a Banora White apple to people he wishes to join him, a reference to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden where the possessed serpent tempted them to eat a fruit containing knowledge of Good and Evil. Similarly, Genesis was the first to learn about the "sin" of the Jenova Project, but unlike Sephiroth, he achieves salvation, as well as spiritual and physical healing, from the Gift of the Goddess.
Angeal Penance uses attacks named after the Seven Deadly Sins, a part of Christian ethics and the Catholic culture: Defense of Lust, End of Gluttony, Charge of Greed, Rage of Sloth, Unleashed Wrath, Thunder of Envy and Wings of Pride. Penance is the repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Minerva's presence as the personification of the Lifestream reflects the role of Sophia in Gnostic belief, an Aeon made from the pure energy of the divine realm of light known as the Absolute, who was fragmented and trapped inside the bodies of human beings. The name Minerva is the Roman name of Athena, the wise Greek goddess of war strategy and crafts, a play on the name Sophia meaning "wisdom" in Greek.
The title refers to the Christian belief in the advent, or second coming of Jesus Christ to restore life and take the pious to the Kingdom of Heaven. The plot focuses on the inevitable rebirth of Sephiroth and the collection of those infused with Jenova cells into the Lifestream so he may take control of the Planet.
Cloud seeks forgiveness regarding Aerith's and Zack's deaths and cure his Geostigma. This mirrors the Christian belief that for one to be forgiven of sins, they must present themselves before God/Jesus and ask for forgiveness, the ultimate reward being "Eternal Life". That "Eternal Life" aspect is Cloud being cured of the fatal disease and being forgiven. At the end Aerith cures everyone's stigma via the Great Gospel. This is taken from the Christian premonition that when Satan has risen to power and the world is at its worst (Sephiroth has returned and the world is suffering from the stigma), Jesus will present himself and heal those who believe in him of their sins.
The additions of "stagnant Mako", which make up Chaos, and "negative Lifestream", controlled by Sephiroth, imply a sort of Hell or karma to the story's reincarnation system. It most closely resembles Hell in Hoshi wo Meguru Otome, where souls who don't move on are said to be suffering, in this case of their own grief and regrets. Wailing emanates from the stagnant Mako. Thus, Sephiroth's "negative Lifestream" alludes to Abrahamic descriptions of Hell, as it reflects the belief of an evil being, such as Satan, who corrupts humans and reaps their souls when they die.
Sephiroth sprouts a single black wing during his battle with Cloud, which was retained from his Safer∙Sephiroth form. It is meant to symbolize him as a fallen angel, specifically Lucifer, as fallen angels are often depicted with black wings in art. This is conducive with his Hades-like role in the film.
The scene where Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo infect the children with black water containing negative Lifestream is similar to a Christian baptism, though darker, and possibly Satanic. Cloud curing Denzel's Geostigma through the pool of water in Aerith's church is also similar to a Christian baptism in the name of Jesus. This defies Kadaj's "negative" baptism, which simply took control over the children, but did not cure them. This relates to faith in Christian doctrine, showing that its practices are only beneficial when performed correctly and for the right reasons.
Vincent Valentine's primary weapon in both Advent Children: Final Fantasy VII and Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, the three-barreled Cerberus handgun, refers to the three-headed guard dog of Hades in Greek mythology. His other weapons, Hydra and Griffin, also refer to creatures of Greek mythology.
Weiss's subtitle, the Immaculate, as well as his being born untainted by the negative Lifestream, alludes to a concept in the Catholic church of one born free of Original Sin, believed to be the Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Jesus Christ.
Omega Weapon's attack Megiddo Flame may refer to the final battle at the end of time in Abrahamic religions, Armageddon. The word itself is based on the mountain of Megiddo in modern-day Israel, where the battle is alleged to take place.
Rinoa's Limit Break, Angel Wing, has her sprout white feathered wings like those of angels as depicted in most works. Angels and angel wings are Rinoa's motif, with her having the wings printed on the back of her duster, her dog's name is Angelo, her ultimate weapon is made of interlocking white feathery wings, and she is associated with a single white feather, which she uses to seek out Squall who is trapped outside of time. As a sorceress she is a mirror opposite of Ultimecia in many ways, and the latter's design may thus allude to that of a fallen angel.
Fujin alludes to a Japanese wind god. This is why Fujin is associated with wind magic, and why she has the Guardian Force Pandemona. Raijin alludes the Japanese thunder god, and he uses thunder-based attacks, and is healed by thunder based attacks directed towards him. In Chinese Buddhism, a legend states that Fujin and Raijin were originally evil demons who opposed Buddha. They were captured in battle with Buddha's army of heaven, and have worked as gods since then.
The Guardian Force Quezacotl is based on the Quetzalcoatl, one of the major deities in ancient Mesoamerican mythology. Quetzalcōhuātl means in the Nahuatl language "feathered serpent". Due to the many civilizations worshiping the same deity using different names for it in the span of almost 2,000 years, the exact attributes and significance of this god vary. Most stories agree upon Quetzalcoatl being the god of the morning star and being known as the inventor of books, the calendar and the giver of maize to mankind. The worship of Quetzalcoatl was, in some religions, connected with human sacrifices, while in others, opposed to them.
Freya Crescent is named after the Nordic goddess Freyja (lit. Lady), who among other things, was associated with war, magic, death, and love. As a throwback to previous Final Fantasy games, the town of Lindblum has a church.
Much of Final Fantasy X is based on the corruption of organized religion and the misuse of such faith to support an evil cause. Yevon presents itself as Spira's saving faith, but comes apart as a corrupted and manipulative religion centered on minimally appeasing the masses to maintain the status quo while committing heresies in the background. Yevon's downfall alludes to the religious skeptic's argument that organized religion is corrupt, and has its followers worshiping lies. Yevon resembles a theocracy; one that exercises authoritarian political power, rather than solely administrating its doctrinal affairs. Like Final Fantasy VII (which the developers confirmed being connected to Final Fantasy X) there are strong Gnostic undertones to the portrayal of spirituality in Spira.
The Yevon Temple draws inspiration from many real-world religions, such as Shintoism (practices and temples), Buddhism (iconography and ritualistic disciplines), Islam (pilgrimages) and Catholicism (hierarchical structure and rigid doctrine). A most notable influence appears to be derived from the faith of Jodo Buddhism, a branch of Buddhism centered on the doctrines and practice of Amitābha Buddha, where its founding story describes the monk Dharmākara ascending to Buddhahood and discovering the power to establish a buddhakṣetra, a realm beyond reality founded by a Buddha's own merits. Naming his world the Pure Land and becoming Amitābha Buddha, he vowed to make his world a paradise to which all peoples of his faith can enter and transcend into Buddhahood with ease to help the rest of the world.
Adapted into Japan, Jodo became popular with the common castes due to its simplicity in comparison to Shingon and Nichiren, and its influence reached into the Imperial Court; by the times of the establishment of the Tokugawa Shougunate, Jodo had reached its loftiest height of power for over the span of 264 years. Many of Yevon's aspects, from its founder's backstory, its control over the world, and reign of influence, also tie in with the East Asian design direction and Yevon's incarnation within the game.
Yevon comprises of leaders known as Maesters, which include Seymour Guado, Wen Kinoc, and Kelk Ronso. These positions are comparable to the Catholic roles of cardinals, and Grand Maester Yo Mika's wardrobe resembles the Pope's.
Yuna resembles a miko of Shinto religion, having been raised in the ways of her religion and travels to do good in the world. To further the elements of Japanese religions, the pyreflies are based on the concept of human souls appearing as fireflies.
Seymour Guado envisions himself as a messiah as he offers the promise of a better life for the people. His goals are more akin to the Hindu deity Shiva, intending to destroy everything to save it. He can be compared to a false prophet, as he preaches for unification yet tricks the people of Yevon and plans to become Sin with the intention of destroying Spira. When he is killed he assumes a pose similar to how Jesus is often portrayed on a crucifix. Seymour also goes on to "rise from the dead" by becoming an unsent.
Gnostics believed all humans have a fragment of divine light, corresponding to the pyreflies in Final Fantasy X, inside them. Only by rejecting the material world and recognizing all life stems from the Pleroma/the Absolute can the fragments return to the source (i.e. the Farplane), bringing their memories of life with them. This overlaps with Seymour's nihilistic worldview, in that he attempts to free people's souls from the pain of life, though he attempts to kill them rather than enlighten them.
The Roman Catholic Church persecuted the Gnostics as heretics, and the Gnostics' esoteric knowledge of how to return to the source of life was mostly eradicated, dooming the fragments of divine light, in the Gnostics' eyes, to keep cycling (a key theme in Final Fantasy X) into the material world. Similarly, the true nature of Sin and the destruction it wreaks was subsumed by the Yevonite church, who created a doctrine to fit their ideals, perpetuating their organization and, by extension, Spirans' suffering.
Gnostics believed in aeons, manifestations of the Absolute formed from its divine light, like how the aeons are made of pyreflies in Final Fantasy X. One of the aeons, Anima, is a concept of the eternal feminine in the psychology of Carl Jung, who was inspired by Gnosticism. The name "aeon" has its root in the Greek deity of the unending cyclical nature of time, "Aion".
Sin is a transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate. Yu Yevon created Sin as a bodyguard and for power, thus exhibiting lust, pride, and greed (and possibly more): three of the Seven Deadly Sins. Sin may also be a representation of the Christian concept of "original sin", as the Maesters state it can never be vanquished because humanity will never be that pure. Grand Maester Mika knows that worshiping Yu Yevon is insufficient and that Sin will be reborn.
The summoner's pilgrimage is a religious one, whereupon the summoner prays to shrines of departed spirits to receive their protection as spirit guides. The summoners are viewed as martyrs, a concept where one dies for their religion in the face of an enemy, physical or spiritual, and is exalted for it.
Valefor is a demon in the ars goetia (demonology text listing the names of all the demons and their orders). "He tempts people to steal and is in charge of a good relationship among thieves. Valefar is considered a good familiar by his associates till they are caught in the trap." He commands ten legions of demons, though her appearance in the game is different than the form in the aforementioned texts (lion with the head of a man or donkey). His description is reminiscent of the game in general, since the aeons are created by the fayth who, in turn, were created by Yu Yevon.
The story of Final Fantasy X has some allusions to Christianity. The Bible is separated into two primary parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The first book of the Bible is Genesis. Following Creation, man (Adam and Eve) disobeyed God, introducing sin into the world. Prior to the original sin death did not exist as Adam and Eve could eat from the Tree of Life. After eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the two were expelled from the Garden of Eden where the Tree of Life grew, and death was introduced to the world.
Death existed prior to Sin in Final Fantasy X, but Sin brought with it the "spiral of death," the cycle of sorrow and demise; because of Sin, everything in Spira revolves around death.
The Crusaders are named for the legions of the Catholic Church who fought the Muslims during the Crusades.
"Fayth" is an obsolete spelling of the English word, "faith". It is believed to be an intentional use, giving religious undertones to the fayth who are referred to as "children of prayer" in the Japanese. The Siddham Sanskrit script, the basis for the script of Yevon, is used in Japan mostly by the Shingon School of Buddhism that draws on early Hindu traditions.
One traditional concept is that deities manifest their thoughts or spiritual energy in the physical world on several different "wavelengths": Sound, Form, and Symbol. The form through which a deity can manifest is an anthropomorphic representation that is not the deity itself, but a living form humans can apprehend. The form physically expresses the deity's essence, in the same vein the aeons represent the fayth's dreams rather than their temporal bodies. In some Hindu and Buddhist practices one can invoke a deity through the physical representation of a statue, similar to the link between aeons and fayth. The fayth also sing the "Hymn of the Fayth", which may represent the "Sound" part of the different ways deities manifest in the physical realm in Shingon School of Buddhism.
The perspective of Cocoon's citizens onto Gran Pulse resembles the Christian perspective of the material world, where it is said to be a corruptible and malignant place, "an illusion to the glory of Heaven" that is Cocoon. The view is paradoxical in how the basis of Cocoon may be based on the Floating World of Japanese culture, where hedonistic and material pleasures are sought, the thesis of John B. Cobb, where the priority of wealth is have said to have overtaken even the pursuit of God in the Western world, and how years of corruption in the Christian church have come to greed and hypocrisy; from abuse of power to wayward gospels centered on gain and power through faith and zealousness, from the Prosperity Gospel and Christian Identity.
Barthandelus in his guise as Galenth Dysley, can be considered the Sanctum's version of the Pope while he is Primarch down to similar attire and the use of purples and whites. This similarity is further highlighted in the Japanese versions, where he was called "Grand Pope." Ultimately, Barthandelus is more like a false prophet who manipulates events and people to suit his kind's needs.
The concept of l'Cie may allude to principles within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Bön, and other Indic religions. According to the principle of samsāra, life on earth is a curse, and ideally a sentient being must ascend, over many lifetimes, to nirvāna, a more ideal, though not earthly, state of being. The means of escaping samsāra are known as Atman, like a Focus. There are many paths to ascension, although it is never clearly stated which one a person must take. One of them is alluded to in Oerba, with Vanille's robot Bhakti. Bhakti comes from the word bhakta (love) and refers to the idea that one way to achieve salvation is through personal devotion to a deity (fal'Cie).
The idea of Ragnarok originates from the final war mentioned Norse mythology where the world is destroyed with only a handful of survivors, both divine and immortal, who repopulate the world as it is reborn. The characters of Fang and Vanille are based on the Ragnarok myth of Líf ("life") and Lífþrasir ("eager for life")—the humans who will survive Ragnarok, who sleep through earth's destruction and upon awakening will find the earth verdant again. Líf and Lífþrasir will become the progenitors of a new race of humans, and their descendants will inhabit the world. This is congruent with the idea that Fang was originally envisioned as a male character.
The idea of Ragnarok is thematically revisited in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, with the merging of Gran Pulse and Valhalla marking a slow decline of the world and Lightning being tasked to guide the survivors to the new world that is about to be born.
The use of the Ark seems to differ from its religious use. According to world myths, a great flood was set to occur by a vengeful god. Disappointed in his creations, he planned to wash everything away to make way for a new age. The god deemed one of his creations pure and deserving a place in the new world free of evil, and so warned this person. In Abrahamic theology, this man was Noah, and in Mesopotamian tradition, he was called Uta-Napishtim, as well as Atrahasis and Zisudra among others around the world.
The man was told to create an Ark capable of carrying animals and the man's family upon the deluge. The humans did as they were told and survived the flood that destroyed all other land-life. As a reward, these patriarch were either promised by God never again to destroy the Earth by flood, or were given immortality for saving lives from the catastrophe.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the Arks are armories filled with living weapons in stasis, ready for the war on the Day of Reckoning. The Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy mythology infers that the Arks were designed for the war between Bhunivelze and Mwynn, once the unseen gate to Mwynn's residing place would be found.
Orphan is named after the Ophanim, a choir of angels described in Ezekiel's vision as fiery wheels covered in eyes, a description approximated by Orphan's design.
Orphan and the other fal'Cie's motives of getting the creator to return by destroying the world alludes to one theory within deism, popularized by Voltaire, that claims that God was like a clockmaker who wound the clock then left it on its own.
In Norse mythology, Valhalla was a majestic hall in Asgard, where the gods and half of those who died in combat dwell. It was ruled by Odin, who appears as Lightning's Eidolon.
There is an NPC who quips, "Need an ark? I Noah guy!", a reference to the Biblical story in which a man names Noah builds an ark at God's command and places two of each type of animal within it to guard against their extinction due to a cataclysmic flood about to be unleashed by God.
Noel and Yeul have their names derived from French and alternate English name for Christmas, respectively. Yeul being continually reborn refers to the Hindu concept of samsara while playing on the resurrection of Jesus Christ with whom Christmas is directly connected with.
Various Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII aspects are based on Norse mythology. As alluded to in Final Fantasy XIII, the world will end in a great battle called Ragnarok, killing numerous gods, triggering many natural disasters, and a globe-spanning world war. After Ragnarok the world will be reborn, and the surviving gods and mortals will join to rebuild civilization in the new world.
Bhunivelze's murder of his mother and banishing her to Chaos to supplant her position bears some similarities to the Greek myths, more specifically how the Olympian Gods overpower their Titan predecessors, especially Chronos (Saturn in the Roman myths) and take control of the mortals. His being called the God of Light combined with that also bears some resemblance to Lucifer, aka, Satan, who also was called the Light Bringer. The concepts of a world destined to end, a world divided between the mortal realm and an invisible world of the afterlife and a defeated goddess hiding in that invisible world are also highly similar to the Japanese Shinto creation myth.
Lightning is given the role of the savior, to shepherd souls to a new world. She is given the use of the Ark on Hope's Bhunivelze, in which to rest and release the souls of those she has saved. On the eve of the Apocalypse Fang and Vanille guide the souls of the dead to the Ark to escape the end of the world and await for their chance of being reborn in the new world.
The Soulsong and Vanille's intended use as a sacrificial offering can be compared to ritual purification and Jesus Christ's role as the Lamb of God, whose sacrificial death as a servant of God purged humanity's sins and purified them. As followers of Bhunivelze, the Order of Salvation sought to use Vanille as a sacrificial lamb and have her die in a ritual to destroy the dead and 'purify' the living of their burdens in preparation for rebirth in Bhunivelze's new world.
There are two deities: Hydaelyn and Zodiark. While Hydaelyn can be seen as a Earth Mother-type goddess, linked to the aether, Zodiark is a slumbering deity whose revival is being sought by the Ascians through the primals. Needing to be worshiped like gods, sometimes manifested in the forms of deceased ones, or a fictional figure as in the case of Bahamut and Good King Moggle Mog XII, the primals prolong themselves on faith and aether, which weakens Hydaelyn as a consequence. There are also those who can transform into primal forms, like Ysayle and King Thordan.
While Garlean Empire is not shown much, many among its invasion forces express a denouncing view on the divinities worshiped by residents of Eorzea to the point of committing iconoclasm as seen with Gaius Van Baelsar.
Additionally, natives of Doma appear to worship an analogue of Shinto, as Oboro will explain to a budding Ninja that the gods of the Domans are all around them—"in the trees, in the soil, in the crashing waters before you."
Many elements appear to draw upon the themes of religious pilgrimage, specifically by central figures of major religions, such as Buddha and Jesus Christ. Noctis Lucis Caelum is destined by some accounts to be the "King of Kings" of Eos, a title used in reference to Jesus and his Second Coming. Him stemming from royal blood alludes to that of Siddhartha Gautama before enlightenment, who was once a warrior prince to his royal parents and whose birth was in some accounts destined to be the forthcoming of a great figure of salvation.
Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto come to bear in mind some of Buddha's followers who accompanied him to help and protect him on his journeys; Gladiolus as that of the Nio or Vajrapani, Buddha's fierce but benevolent bodyguard; Ignis as that of Monju Bosatsu or Manjusri, the bodhisavva of wisdom; and Prompto as that of Fugen Bosatsu or Samantabhadra, the bodhisavva of practice and conduct, as evidenced by his unwavering friendship and constant efforts to make himself useful to the team.
Kegare is a prime concept in Shinto, Japan's national religion, describing of the importance of cleanliness and the need to wash away impurity, which is believed to stem from disease, filth, and the result of death and bodily harm. Such states of impurity were believed to spawn demons and evil kami. One old belief of Japanese superstition was that sickness was the result of demons. With the Starscourge said to be comprised of that of photosynthetic microorganisms, and the original name for daemon being that of "corpses," (シガイ, Shigai?), the Starscourge works with the context of Kegare as a malevolent disease that reanimates the corpses of the dead into unholy creatures of darkness.
The last parts of the game have elements significant to the interpretations of the "end of days" or the end of the world, be it the Christian Book of Revelation, otherwise known as the Armageddon, or that of Mappo or Kali Yuga, the Latter Days of the Dharma.
The Book of Revelations describes many fantastical entities and beings of chimerical features believed to be allegorical depictions of major figures of divine intrigue that would help orchestrate the end of the world, or would salvage those who would be worthy of a new world after the destruction of the old. Much of the imagery of Revelations also describes major events of disaster that would render the world nearly uninhabitable and wipe out great populations before its ultimate destruction and recreation.
Descriptions of Mappo through the context of Buddhism vary widely, though all bear themes of existential misery and great suffering. One notably extreme example is highlighted with one from Japanese Buddhism dated from the Heian Era, describing Mappo as the days when the universe has exhausted its karma; from this, the earth itself would rupture open, all its fissures leading into Naraka, or Hell, and out would pour demon consorts of Yama, the Judge of the Dead, assigned to capture any of those who have not repented for their karma into flaming carts to forever be thrown into the depths of eternal damnation. Those who would be saved would be only those that would turn to Buddha and all of his bodhisavvas to be saved from the demon hordes.
Lunafreya Nox Fleuret's aspects allude those of the Woman of the Apocalypse, who is one of many major figures of salvation in the Book of Revelations. She is described a "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" (12:1). The woman is pregnant and about to give birth, "travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered" (12:2)." The child she is to birth is said to grow into a "man who will rule with an iron rod", but is chased by "the Dragon", or Satan or Lucifer, who seeks to devour her child. Upon the Dragon waging its war in the heavens, the Woman escapes into the wilderness onto Earth, to where the Dragon gives chase. Heaven gives wings to the Woman, with which she further eludes the Dragon's breath of water that floods the land, which is absorbed by the earth. The Dragon declares "to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (12:17). Though Luna does not bear direct reference to this, aspects of the Woman is significant in her design and story elements and imagery.
Ardyn Izunia, in juxtaposition with Noctis, alludes to enemies and "devil" figures of major religions. In terms of Christianity, he could be compared to the Anti Christ, one of three major figures said to represent the end times, being that who claims to be Jesus but ultimately represents perversion and the straying of Christian principles. How he is of the Caelum line, but comes to plunge Eos into darkness and despair, is most significant of this allusion.
Elements of his betrayal are also reminiscent of that of Cain and Abel, the first offspring of Adam and Eve, and brothers known for their tragic tale that brought about the first act of murder in Christianity. However, thematically they are portrayed differently. Ardyn's role would be akin to Abel, the shepherd that offered to God the flesh and suet of a freshly slaughtered lamb; likewise, Ardyn took upon himself to rid from people the disease of daemons, but was denied the grace of the heavens, and was further demonized by a jealous relative. The relative would be most similar to Cain, who did not go as far as to take the life of another, offering onto God grain and fruit of his crops, but was not graced with His faith, only being granted the blessings of the Astrals. Like Cain, that jealous relative would make for his family a city, the first city in the world, originated from sin; like Cain made to wander, Ardyn would be forced to wander for eternity.
In terms of Buddhism, Ardyn can be seen as alluding the one of many forms of that of Mara or Namuci, who is known as the Tempter or the Demon King within Buddhist lore, who attempted to lead Buddha astray from his path to enlightenment. Though Mara is known by its name, Mara in Buddhist thought is known to take on many forms; some corporeal and concrete, some conceptual and abstract. Ardyn can be seen as that of Mara when first encountering Buddha, as a person with a soft spoken demeanor but was ultimately dissuasive and deceiving. Aspects of him also appear to derive from that of Devadatta, who was the cousin of Siddartha and came to found his own religion out of jealousy after being denied to lead the sangha and had his followers lead back into Buddha's teachings after trying to kill him and slander him.
Some of Ardyn's imagery centers around Biblical themes. There's a piece of concept artwork of Ardyn riding a black chocobo into a city to prayers and cheers, alluding to Palm Sunday. Another piece depicts him stripped shirtless being chained up by men in black robes, alluding to crucifixion. He was originally chosen by to cure the world of Starscourge, but became corrupted and fell from the gods' favor. He also wears an accessory that resembles a single black wing.
Ifrit comes to define the original definition of efreet found in Islamic lore, being enormous flaming derivatives of djinn that inhabit ruins and reside underground, and are feared for their wicked nature. Ifrit is also reminiscent of that of Iblis or Shaytan, who in Islam was originally a djinn that refused to bow down to Adam, the first human; some reasons state of his pride as a djinn and the leader of a fellow tribe, others state of Iblis's loyalty to Allah being a flaw to where Iblis only saw evil and imperfection in man. In Christian terms, Ifrit is comparable to that of Satan or Lucifer, who is spiteful of God's creations after he and his followers are cast from heaven due to his pride; in the Book of Revelations, Satan is referred to as one of the three figures, this time known as The Dragon, who again stirs a war in heaven and is cast down onto the earth to prepare for another war against God. This includes inciting one to become the "Beast of the Earth", or the Anti Christ.
In Buddhist terms, Ifrit can be seen as Mara taken form as that of Namuci or Dairokuten Maou, who is said to be the Demon King proper, and is both the divine being who is said to keep all in the Desire Realm—a realm of sensual and material sensations that includes the Six Realms of existence, one of them being the world of Men—under his control, through both his temptation and the employ of his demon hordes to keep all in fear and eternal cycles of Samsara at his enjoyment. This can be seen through the Starscourge and daemon hordes that spawn because of his influence. His most notable appearance is when Buddha, on the grasp of enlightenment, is eventually confronted by Mara. Mara comes to offer sensual delights and temptations, which eventually are dispelled by Buddha's understanding. Mara then resorts to threats of violence and summoning his demon armies, who are defeated when Buddha gives evidence of those who bear witness of his achievements, being that of the Earth and all of the heavens, who come to Buddha's side. Noctis, likewise, leads the battle of Ifrit when summoned by Ardyn. As Noctis continues on, the Astrals, too, come to his side as those who bore witness of Noctis's feats, helping him defeat Ifrit.
Iedolas Aldercapt comes to represent the third figure of Revelations, the "Beast of the Seas". The Beast of the Seas is considered the hardest aspect to decipher of the three figures of Revelations, but is considered by some to be the metaphorical description of a tyrannical kingdom or empire. Likewise, Niflheim can be considered as the Beast's "body", Iedolas being its "heart". The Beast of the Earth is said to work with the Beast of the Seas to tempt all into worshiping the latter, being in this case Ardyn helping the Empire rise to power to usurp and conquer Lucis. With the Beast of the Seas coming to power, the Beast of the Earth enforces the Beast of the Sea's worship, with the penalty of death to those who refuse its image, which is seen through the Empire's empowering through the employment of magitek forces, enforcing its rule with an iron fist over its conquered nations, and its power turning a majority of the Kingsglaives against their king. Finally, the Beast of the Seas is said to be tempted by the Dragon through giving it the power and authority to rule, which is similar to that of the patriotism and legacy worship displayed by Iedolas hoping to revive the glory of the Solheim Empire, which was toppled by Ifrit, and has its forces ironically powered by the energy of daemons.
In terms of Buddhism, Iedolas likely represents Mara on one account when confronting Buddha in the form of elderly, weary men; one being a farmer, the other a brahmin, to remind Buddha of the inevitable fate of death, passing of all things, and the fear of a tiring, dull life. Upon dispelling Mara's disguise, Mara took the forms of natural disasters, dangerous animals, objects of instinctual sensual desires, and even the unsuspecting calm of life, to frighten into Buddha the fear of death. He was overcome when Buddha told of him his outlook on life, that though human life can be short and fleeting, it is also precious, and that through modesty and bravery, one must strive to attain what one's heart needs most to achieve enlightenment in their own way. While Noctis's journey throughout Eos is a metaphor for this, this all comes to a head when Iedolas succumbs to the Starscourge and becomes the daemon Foras in Zegnautus Keep, where Noctis is stalked by the daemon at his most vulnerable.
The Starscourge may come to represent a manifested concept of "original sin", which in Christian doctrine was brought upon the act of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. To bring "original sin" to absolution and repentance requires one to turn to Jesus Christ as their savior, who came to die for the sins of mankind in the New Testament. Starscourge is a menacing plague Ifrit wrought on mankind in his spite of men. Noctis, who gives his life to end the Starscourge as the True King, does it to bring absolution to Ardyn's soul, and ultimately, to bring about the redemption of the original sins of the Caelum family, that brought Eos to its current state.
Though Buddhism states of tales of bodhisavvas having attained Nirvana by reaching Buddhahood and transcending the mortal world's limits, Parinirvana, or dying into Nirvana, was how Buddha himself transcended. Like Buddha, knowing of his time to pass on, Noctis says his farewells, and accepts his death. Reunited with his beloved in the next world, Noctis and Luna ascend freely into rest. It is unknown what the afterlife itself is like in the world of Final Fantasy, but their happiness together implies they have transcended the needs of the living world into the beyond.
A major antagonistic organization is the Church of Glabados, an allusion to the old Roman Catholic Church and the infamous Medieval Inquisition. The Church's Messiah, St. Ajora, alludes to Jesus Christ, although his actions were closer to that of a false prophet or the Antichrist. His comparison to a false prophet was indicated by his job class, "False Saint" or "Phony Saint".
Germonique's betrayal of St. Ajora to the proper authorities, exempting the more noble reasons behind the betrayal, were similar to Judas's betrayal of Jesus Christ to Pontious Pilate. The Lucavi, who possess humans upon death, refer to demonic possession. The Lucavi are explicitly referred to as demons, and their leader, Ultima, a fallen angel.