Something about the background themes in Silent Hill never clicked with me. Everything made sense from a superficial eye, but there were a few nagging lore details that just felt incomplete.
It wasn’t until I was directed to look up Shintoism and after some (very surface level) research I found the missing piece in the concept of “Kegare”.
Speaking on a basic level, “Kegare” is a state of uncleanliness or defilement. When something or someone becomes impure.
And this concept is central to the Silent Hill symbolism, but to my point is its important to the supernatural aspect of the series. The land that the town of Silent Hill is on explicitly has power, and is why the protagonists all go through such weirdness. The area used to be a holy place of the Native American tribes, who used that power for their own beliefs and rituals and one-ness with nature. Of course the “Native American Burial Ground” excuse works, but it always felt incomplete to me. European settlers driving the natives from their land would of course make those “spirits” and “energy” angry at the settlers, but even that excuse didn’t quite jive with the game’s brand of…wrong.
That’s where kegare comes in. The native’s holy grounds were defiled in the spiritual sense. The settlers bringing Christianity to the region didn’t just corrupt the spirits, they dirtied them. All the Otherworld stuff isn’t a corruption of energy into a Christian-esque hell, it’s the power of the land being “dirtied” into an amalgamation of the Native Tribes’ beliefs and Christian beliefs. It’s the insanity from the Toluca Lake Prison/Sanitorium being built there infesting the energy of the land.
It’s actually quite interesting. I kept looking at the lore from a plain western perspective, but I failed to recognize that it was written as a western setting through the lens of eastern values. And realizing that finally scratched an itch I’ve had for years over this series.
Incidentally this also answers a question I had before, on whether the protagonists repeatedly preventing the “birth” of “God” was making them secretly the bad guys. I mean, the antagonists’ own religion said that if “God” was born from misery they would take pity on humanity, and even though we see “God” like 3 times across the series and He/She/It is very much not a nice God, we only saw an incomplete God. This new insight into kegare though means that no, the believers in the Order was defiling the primordial energy of the land with their Christian understandings, so nothing would pure would ever come from their rituals.