- "A symbol of courage given to those who have overcome the challenges of a shrine."
- — In-game description
During "The Isolated Plateau" quest, the Old Man requests Link to find the four Shrines of the Great Plateau to trade of the Old Man's Paraglider, collect their Spirit Orbs, and subsequently return to him. After collecting all four, Link is directed by the Old Man to go to where the four shrines intersect which turns out to be the Temple of Time. There the Old Man reveals himself to be the spirit of the Last King of Hyrule Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule and reveals Link's history as well as the story of the Great Calamity that lead to Link being placed in the Shrine of Resurrection. Rhoam gives Link the Paraglider, as collecting the Spirit Orbs was simply a test to lead Link to the four Shrines.
Spirit Orbs can be offered to the Hylia's Goddess Statues, like the one inside the Temple of Time. By praying in front of these statues, Link can receive either a Heart Container or Stamina Vessel if he offers four Spirit Orbs. As a result, this trade is valuable for increasing the capacity of Link's health gauge with another Heart Container or his Stamina Wheel with a 20% extra part.
This choice can be undone after completing the side quest "The Statue's Bargain" at Hateno Village. Link can indeed retroactively trade to the Horned Statue a Heart Container or a Stamina Vessel, referred to as "essences", to increase the other by selling for 100 Rupees. Then he can purchase the "essence" of his choice for 120 Rupees.
There are a total of 120 Spirit Orbs obtainable from the 120 Shrines of the game. Once all gathered, the side quest "A Gift from the Monks" is unlocked and the armor set, comprising the Cap, Tunic and Trousers of the Wild and corresponding to the Breath of the Wild Hero's Clothes, appears in front of the giant Goddess Statue located inside the Forgotten Temple. The Spirit Orbs all feature Hylia's Goddess Crest in their center.