Among the new content coming to Destiny 2 in the Shadowkeep expansion and the Season of the Undying, a new raid, called the Garden of Salvation, will debut on October 5th. While raids are kept a tightly held secret by Bungie, the developer has revealed that the raid will take place within the Black Garden. The Black Garden has been an especially important location in the franchise, both in-game and within the lore.
This raid will have story and world implications much the same way that The Last Wish raid did in the Forsaken expansion. The Season of the Undying does not actually officially kick off until after a team has beaten the raid. Similarly to how The Last Wish raid was the inciting event for the three-week curse cycle in The Dreaming City and introduced a new mission, once Garden of Salvation has been bested, the Season of the Undying begins.
Raids are built into the lore and world of Destiny 2, and just as it is a pinnacle activity, it is often one of the most intriguing world-building opportunities in the game. So, as players prepare for the challenges the game is ready to throw at them when they enter the Black Garden for the Garden of Salvation raid, here is everything you need to know about the Black Garden.
Destiny 1's campaign ended there
Not long into Destiny 1's original campaign, the Black Garden takes center stage. After players meet the Exo Stranger, she tells players that they must go to a place of legend called the Black Garden because "the greatest threat of all lies there." She tells players they must go to the Black Garden, rip out its heart, and only then will the Traveler begin to heal. This leads players to visit the Reef to meet the Queen of the Reef Mara Sov and her brother Prince Uldren. Ultimately, in the last mission of the game, players go to the Black Garden and destroy the heart, a black amorphous blob.
While it wasn't the most compelling ending to Destiny's original campaign, it introduced the mysterious Black Garden, which led to interesting lore entries in Destiny 1's Grimoire cards and it continues to be mentioned in the lore found in Destiny 2. It also served as the location for The Undying Mind strike in Destiny 1 and players also returned there for some quests.
It's on Mars...or is it?
In Destiny 1, the way Guardians got to the Black Garden was through a Vex gate located in the Valley of Kings on Mars. The Black Garden has always been associated with or placed on Mars itself. In fact, when the final campaign mission of Destiny 1 ends, the heart is destroyed and Ghost says "We're back on Mars" while still standing in the Black Garden. But, while it is sometimes on Mars and its access point has been up to this point, the Black Garden exists outside of space and time. The flavor text from the "Blood in the Garden" quest in Destiny 1 says:
It twists and shifts almost too fast to follow, sometimes grounded on Mars, sometimes…somewhere else.
Also, the "Legend: The Black Garden" Grimoire card says:
The Garden grows in both directions. It grows into tomorrow and yesterday.
The Black Garden exists outside of space and time, and players will find a new entry point to the Black Garden in the Season of the Undying for the Garden of Salvation raid somewhere on the Moon.
It is where the Vex are "born"
The Black Garden is perhaps best known for being tied to the Vex, which is why the Garden of Salvation raid will be centered on the Vex. In fact, the cinematic trailer for Season of the Undying appears to show Vex being created, which may be happening within the Black Garden.
In the lore, the Vex have been often referred to as the "gardeners" of the Black Garden and Destiny 1’s Grimoire often referred to the Black Garden as the birthplace of the Vex. However, in new lore in Destiny 2, it makes it clear that the Vex are not literally born or created in the Black Garden, and although they go there and are connected to it, they are not literally created there.
The Vex are born here, in the sense of baptism: consecrated to the service of some terrible purpose that the machines found within.
It is tied to the Traveler & the Darkness
The Black Garden is inextricably linked to the Traveler and the Darkness, the two ultimate forces at work in the Destiny universe. In the lore, the Warlock Punjari says that Traveler did not create the Black Garden but that it exists because of the Traveler:
The Traveler moved across the face of the iron world. It opened the earth and stitched shut the sky. It made life possible. In these things there is always symmetry. Do you understand? This is not the beginning but it is the reason.
The Darkness exists in the Black Garden, whether that is its home or just another place where it resides. The heart that Guardians defeated at the end of Destiny 1 was part of the Darkness. So then, the Black Garden exists as a type of contrast to the Traveler. The Darkness within it is the antithesis to the Traveler’s light. It is the yin to the Traveler’s yang.
The Black Garden can injure and infect those who visit it
Because the Black Garden is a place of the Darkness, there are examples that the Garden or the Darkness within it can injure or infect those who visit it. The Warlock Punjari speaks about a wound he sustained from one of the thorns in the Black Garden and how it never healed.
At the end of the path grew a flower in the shape of a Ghost. I reached out to pluck it and it cut me with a thorn. I bled and the blood was Light. […] When my Ghost raised me from the sea there was a thorn-cut in my left hand and it has not healed since.
In a pretty disturbing lore entry that tells of Prince Uldren and one of his agents Jolyon in the Garden, they speak about the Garden infecting those who visit it with a “brain stain.” While not revealed, it hints at the Darkness being able to infect and influence visitors to the Black Garden. And in the case of a Cabal that Uldren talks to, the Garden grows literal seeds into the flesh of the Cabal:
Beneath the layer of gel, the whole surface of his skull has the pitted texture of a strawberry. Thousands of tiny seeds glisten in the Cabal's flesh. […] "This place has secrets, […] They grew in him, Jolyon. The Garden grew its secrets in him."
Prince Uldren's story is tied to it
As mentioned above Prince Uldren visited the Black Garden and some even theorize that he too may have been infected by the Darkness there, leading to the events of Forsaken’s campaign. But from a cutscene released in Season of the Drifter, it has been revealed that Uldren was raised from the dead by the Traveler to become a Guardian. Uldren has a history with the Black Garden, and he could come into play in Shadowkeep or in the near future.
The Garden of Salvation raid and new lore added in Season of the Undying is almost certain to add more story and background to the Black Garden. For fans of the world-building and lore of Destiny, it will definitely be something to keep an eye out for in Season 8.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep releases October 1, 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.