Destiny players spend the entire game fighting against something called "the darkness." But does anyone really know what the darkness actually is?

"Darkness" sounds more like a concept than an actual thing. Maybe that's intentional. Maybe the darkness isn't real in the way we think it's real. Or at least, I'm starting to reconsider what I think I know about the darkness after reading a theory penned by Redditor AlphaLupi.

Advertisement

When you look at what the game presents the player, what the darkness actually is isn't clear. The lore posits all sorts of different possibilities—here's a grimoire card that talks about the darkness:

Something hit us. Killed our Golden Age. Nearly wiped us out. Only the Traveler saved us, and at a shattering cost.

The Speaker tells of a cosmic force that swept over us and caused the Collapse. Legend calls it the Darkness, the Traveler's ancient enemy, which hunted it across space.

All we have left are questions. Centuries of debate gave birth to competing arguments on the nature of the Darkness and the Collapse.

The Pujari Position describes the Darkness as a force with both physical and moral presence, an actualization of evil. Pujari art depicts the Darkness as a great storm, or as a change in conduct, a corruption that emerged from within and poisoned the Golden Age.

Saint-14's Position argues that the Darkness was an invading armada, an alien force of incredible - but tangible - power. Some adherents believe that this armada sprang from species rejected or discarded by the Traveler for their sins.

Ulan-Tan's Thesis considers the Darkness a necessary symmetry to the Traveler in a cosmic balance. In this view, the Traveler's goodness led it to sacrifice for others, and it is up to us to return this goodness by healing the Traveler.

The Monist Position, or the Deflationary Position, considers the Darkness as a technologically sophisticated force, perhaps a post-Singularity intelligence. Adherents invoke information theory or contend that the universe is a simulation, allowing advanced intelligence to gain weakly acausal powers by bending the rules.

The Acataleptic Clause claims that we are intrinsically unable to understand the Darkness. In many respects this belief parallels the Praxic Creed, which suggests that we should stop worrying about the nature of the Darkness and focus on resisting and defeating it.

Certain positions - often labeled heretical - imply that the Traveler itself triggered the Collapse, or that it knew the Darkness was coming for it and hoped to use the Solar System as a sacrifice or a proxy army. The Binary Star cult is one notable example. - See more at:

According to AlphaLupi, all of these people get the darkness wrong on some level. They write:

"The Darkness" is entropy. It's the heat death of the universe, or alternatively, the exhaustion of all energy and eventual death of every star until the universe is consumed by black holes. It's just the end of all things, in whatever form or fashion that end comes. (see above for an addendum to this point)

In essence, I think everyone is afraid of the end of the universe.

This is, in my opinion, the most convincing piece of evidence for this theory - Ghost Fragment: Darkness 3. I won't quote the entire thing, but just a few choice parts.

...Why do we have atoms? Because atomic matter is more stable than the primordial broth. Atoms defeated the broth. That was the first war... ...Atoms made stars. Stars made galaxies. Worlds simmered down to rock and acid and in those smoking primal seas the first living molecule learned to copy itself. All of this happened by the one law, the blind law, which exists without mind or meaning... ...This explains everything, understand? This is why the universe is the way it is, and not some other way. Existence is a game that everything plays, and some strategies are winners...

The Darkness is not some kind of tangible force for evil - it's just the inevitability that all life will come to an end, and the stars will eventually burn themselves out.

If the darkness is entropy, what would that make the Traveler? Energy. As this page explains, energy measures "the capability of an object or system to do work," whereas entropy is a measure of "the 'disorder' of a system." The Traveler, which brought a Golden Age along with it, seems to relate to the darkness much in the same way. In this interpretation, it seems likely that the Traveler exists to, as AlphaLupi explains in his post, relight the sun.

It was here to reshape our worlds and make everything new once again, to create life and to restart the cycle of all things.

But something happened that stopped it, and forced it to make a stand on Earth. When it did, it expended all of it's energy to drive away whatever was attacking it. I think there was some kind of massive explosion of energy that rippled through our solar system, perhaps even destroying most of human civilization at the time, and everything else along with it.

Now, the Traveller sits above Earth, damaged and dormant, trying to repair itself and build up enough energy to continue it's task. In the meantime, it created the ghosts to raise a proxy army of Guardians to defend it while it does.

AlphaLupi goes on to explain how each alien race relates to this interpretation of the darkness in this post, which you should read. A small taste:

The Hive

"All of this happened by the one law, the blind law, which exists without mind or meaning. It's the simplest law but it has no worshippers here (out there, though, out there - !)Ghost Fragment: Darkness 3"

"The Hive have seen thousands of worlds taken by the Darkness..."

"We'll learn the song down there. We can learn it from Her. She comes up from the deep dark places where the greater Hive await to sing it to us, and here's a puzzle for you—

The song is death. To hear it is to die. To know the words is mortal. Oh, good point, Eriana, death is just a word, isn't it? A catch-all term for the failure to go on, nothing spiritual, nothing with its own quiddity. We all died once, and it did not prove insurmountable.

But what if what if what if, shhh listen, what if death were reified, described in its totality, made autonomous and universal, separate from any context or condition? What if She could invoke the ending of anything?

How, then, would She know the song, and sing it, without Herself dying?

Perhaps they know a way to make themselves part of the song, part of something vast and burning that rots and peels into ash but never ever ends. Ir Yut, the Deathsinger - Exalted Hive Grimoire"

Out of the all the enemy races, the Hive are the ones most often equated with the Darkness, or assumed to be direct servants. It's easy to understand why, given their general appearance, but I don't believe they serve the Darkness anymore than a predator "serves" natural selection.

"All of this happened by the one law, the blind law, which exists without mind or meaning. It's the simplest law but it has no worshippers here (out there, though, out there - !)Ghost Fragment: Darkness 3"

"The Hive have seen thousands of worlds taken by the Darkness..."

"We'll learn the song down there. We can learn it from Her. She comes up from the deep dark places where the greater Hive await to sing it to us, and here's a puzzle for you—

The song is death. To hear it is to die. To know the words is mortal. Oh, good point, Eriana, death is just a word, isn't it? A catch-all term for the failure to go on, nothing spiritual, nothing with its own quiddity. We all died once, and it did not prove insurmountable.

But what if what if what if, shhh listen, what if death were reified, described in its totality, made autonomous and universal, separate from any context or condition? What if She could invoke the ending of anything?

How, then, would She know the song, and sing it, without Herself dying?

Perhaps they know a way to make themselves part of the song, part of something vast and burning that rots and peels into ash but never ever ends. Ir Yut, the Deathsinger - Exalted Hive Grimoire"

Notice that Dinklebot specifically uses the word "seen" - not "helped" or "served" or anything like that. They've simply observed it happening.

Thousands of years ago, the Hive may have been a race not much different than us. They saw the Darkness coming, saw life and the light of stars extinguished forever. So what did they do? They embraced it.

Oryx, their King, along with the rest of the Hive "gods", learned how to twist their race into the abominations that they are now. They made themselves into creatures of death, and are now a literal army of the undead that marches upon all other living things. They don't serve the Darkness as much as they simply have reverence for it's inevitable victory over life.

What does House Greyjoy say in Game of Thrones? "What is dead may never die"? I think that's the mentality of the Hive. They're a death cult.

Now, back to Toland.

"All of this happened by the one law, the blind law, which exists without mind or meaning. It's the simplest law but it has no worshippers here (out there, though, out there - !)Ghost Fragment: Darkness 3"

"The Hive have seen thousands of worlds taken by the Darkness..."

"We'll learn the song down there. We can learn it from Her. She comes up from the deep dark places where the greater Hive await to sing it to us, and here's a puzzle for you—

The song is death. To hear it is to die. To know the words is mortal. Oh, good point, Eriana, death is just a word, isn't it? A catch-all term for the failure to go on, nothing spiritual, nothing with its own quiddity. We all died once, and it did not prove insurmountable.

But what if what if what if, shhh listen, what if death were reified, described in its totality, made autonomous and universal, separate from any context or condition? What if She could invoke the ending of anything?

How, then, would She know the song, and sing it, without Herself dying?

Perhaps they know a way to make themselves part of the song, part of something vast and burning that rots and peels into ash but never ever ends. Ir Yut, the Deathsinger - Exalted Hive Grimoire"

And that's why Toland was so obsessed with the Hive. Because he understood the law of the universe, and knew that the Hive had learned to make themselves part of death and yet not die. They had a way to survive the Darkness, and Toland wanted that forbidden knowledge.

You can check out the rest of it here.

There are definitely some holes in this theory, for sure. But, even so, I like the idea of it—that the darkness isn't what we think it is, that it's not quite tangible. That makes the idea of the darkness all the more terrifying, doesn't it?

Advertisement

While it's entirely possible that not even Bungie knows what the darkness is, discussing the nature of the darkness is compelling. There is also something seductive, though perhaps misguided, about the idea that Destiny is actually pulling a fast one on everyone—that, hidden inside the lore is a brilliant game. It's probably not true, but hey: it's fun to theorize. At the very least I think everyone can agree on the idea that there's no one right answer for what the darkness is, which is why people are coming up with these theories in the first place. I just wish more of this ambiguity was present in the game, instead of having to go on a separate website to read the lore. Alas!