Avatar image for beniboybling
Posted by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio
"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

The nature of non-corporeal beings is a complex and, in my belief, not very well explained subject in Star Wars lore. We know that they are a basic analogue for the spectres and malevolent phantoms of mythology and folklore, but their abilities and nature remain ambiguous and at times seemingly contradictory.

Different interpretations can be drawn from different sources, but after discussing with topic with others and taking as broad an overview of the facts as possible, I believe I can make some grounded and universal conclusions on the matter. So to begin, key terms and their definitions associated with this subject:

[For the best reading experience, check this out in blog format]

The Living Force: the living Force is an aspect of the Force described as “raw and close at hand”, it is an energy that exists in all living things and necessary for life. It might be described as the ‘physical’ aspect of the Force, with every tangible Force ability from telekinesis, to telepathy, from healing to alter environment, and indeed Sith lightning and magic, being derived and dependent on this aspect. Plagueis, in his study of midi-chlorians, broke this power down further into anima and pneuma. Anima relating to “animals, plants and other living beings”, and pneuma as “the expression of conscious thought”, collectively comprising life.

The Cosmic Force: the cosmic Force, also known as the unifying Force, is the other side of the coin. Described as a “vast cosmic power” it binds the galaxy together, uniting matter to give it shape and cohesion. It concerns the will of the Force, and cosmic flow of the universe. In that respect you might consider it the ‘metaphysical’ aspect. Plagueis described it as aperion, attributing it to space and time. The cosmic Force is the source of destiny and visions of past and future, and so all powers of foresight are linked to this energy. Plagueis also attributed to it powers that manipulated space such as fold space.

So how do these two aspects of the Force related? Well according to Qui-Gon and the Force Priestesses the living Force feeds into and sustains the cosmic Force that in turn keeps and binds the galaxy together, allowing life to flourish. Hence when a living thing dies, it becomes one with the cosmic Force.

“When a living thing dies, all is removed. Life passes from the Living Force into the Cosmic Force and becomes one with it.”

“One powers the other. One is renewed by the other.”

The Force Priestesses speaking with Yoda

“All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians. Because of this, I can speak to you now.”

The spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn communing with Yoda

Understanding the difference: It may seem strange that there are two different “types” of Force energy, which can only be used for certain things. After all it's all Force energy right? So how could they possess different properties? Well, my understanding is that while they are fundamentally the same, they do have a different nature. The cosmic Force is static, it’s a fabric, it binds everything together. It can be folded or stretched, it can be felt and listened to, but it can’t be torn away from one’s own purposes.

The living Force in contrast is not static, it’s a flowing current, it’s water to the cosmic Force’s stone, and so can be manipulated and channelled much more profoundly and easily, bent to a Force users will. Think of the cosmic Force as the bowl, and the living Force as the soup that is drunk from it. Naturally the bowl must remain intact, parts of it cannot be taken away, but the soup can be freely removed and consumed.

The Netherworld of the Force: the Netherworld or the Nether was a realm believed by the Jedi to be beyond the physical, a space were all living things transcend to upon death. Whether the Netherworld exists as an actual space is uncertain. I interpret it as a metaphor, for the process of transforming into cosmic energy and becoming a part of the cosmic flow of the universe, or rather the Force.

Midi-chlorians: midi-chlorians are intelligent life forms endowed with an unusually strong connection to the Force in all its forms, they inhabit living cells and those with a particularly high concentration are able to use these organisms to draw on that connection, and so feel and call upon the living and cosmic Force.

Midi-chlorians, as connected to both the living Force and the cosmic Force, act as a bridge between them, allowing living Force energy to pass through into the cosmic Force and allowing the living to commune with the cosmic Force and its inhabitants. Furthermore, as conduits of Force energy, they are responsible for inducing and sustaining living Force energy, anima and pneuma, life and consciousness, in all living things. They are effectively responsible and necessary for the existence of life in every form.

So with those definitions established, we can begin approach the topic. This blog will be split into three parts. The first will look at Force Ghosts or Jedi Spirits, the second will seek to understand the nature of Sith Spirits, and the final section will look at artificial Spirits created through essence transfer.

Part I: Force Ghosts

“There is no death. There is the Force.” ~ The Jedi Code

When most Jedi die, the totality of their existence would be absorbed into the cosmic Force, and their identity would be lost in becoming one with it. However, it was possible for a Jedi, through a mastery of self, to learn to retain their identity – their pneuma or consciousness – and manifest in the physical plane.

The process by which a Jedi becomes a Force ghost is not explicitly stated, but we are given a general idea that it is achieved through both an understanding of the self, and a letting go:

At death, in order for you to preserve your identity, you must know yourself, your true self, then let go.

Force Priestesses to Yoda

There will always be an element of unknowable mysticism to how this ability works, nonetheless we can unpack it a little. I’d infer that “letting go” is vital to becoming one with the cosmic Force, and so allowing the natural process of death to take its course. However, through a total understanding and acceptance of self, one might imagine they achieve a kind of wholesome inner strength. Allowing them to retain their identity in the Nether, and return to the living world as and when they wish.

Unpacking it in this way helps us understand how, despite this technique supposedly being lost by the “Golden Age” and rediscovered by only a select few, Jedi such as An’ya Kuro, were able to manifest as ghosts. Because the criteria necessary to become a Force ghost is merely a Jedi’s commitment to letting go, and a total understanding and acceptance of self, something many achieve without training. Yoda in fact, learns no special technique, but merely embarks on a spiritual journey to achieve this state.

Indeed, might we infer the loss of this “technique” is a result of the Jedi losing their way? A disconnect from their self and purpose? Such distinctions are certainly drawn in the Yoda arc, with Yoda overcoming his 'hubris' and looking beyond the conflict, so it’s possible it's tied to a greater philosophical problem.

Force ghosts manifest through midi-chlorians, and therefore through life, communicating with those in the physical world through the midi-chlorians’ connection to the cosmic Force. For this reason, only Force-sensitives are able to sense and perceive a Force ghost, appearing invisible to all others.

Jedi believed in a reciprocal relationship with the Force, serving its will and being guided in return, a relationship reflected by their nature as Force ghosts, as the SWTOR Encyclopedia aptly puts it:

…the Jedi accept death and strive to pass on wisdom to future generations. It is believed that Jedi, freed of attachment and fear of death, have no reason to return unless they have an urgent warning or advice for those they knew in life … Jedi entities rarely linger once they have spoken, they understand that though they can give advice, the living must find their own path.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

As a result, Force ghosts rarely choose to effect the physical plane. And as one with the Force, one would imagine that in the rare instances that they do, they do so in reflection of the will of the Force, and its strive for balance. Below are several examples of Force ghosts manifesting with living Force powers:

Qui-Gon Jinn used telekinesis to make his presence known to Yoda:

"I am part of the living Force, Yoda."

(You might find it strange that Qui-Gon says he is part of the living Force, when we have been told living things past into the cosmic Force upon death. My explanation is that because Force ghosts communicate through living things, manifesting through the living Force, they can be considered part of it.)

Revan used telekinesis to aid the Coalition Strike Team:

"I am with you. Be strong."

The Jedi Exile is stated to have lent Revan strength while in stasis:

As the Emperor fed off him, Meetra allowed Revan to feed off her. Her sustenance strengthened his resolve whenever he grew weak, refreshing and restoring him so he could continue his never-ending war. Because of her, Revan was able to do more than just fight to keep the Emperor at bay.

The Old Republic: Revan

Orgus Din was able to help the Hero of Tython wrest free from the Emperor:

When Master Orgus Din, an old ally, reaches out through the Force, the Knight is able to break the Emperor’s mental domination.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

And Vodo-Siosk Baas returned from the Nether to assist in defeating Exar Kun:

During the Jedi academy’s battle with the spirit of Exar Kun, an apparition of Jedi Master Vodo-Siosk Baas – who was slain by Exar Kun on Coruscant – materialised on Yavin 4 and aided the Jedi in bringing an end to the ancient Sith Lord.

Jedi vs Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force

It begs the question however as to where Force ghosts derive their strength. As previously explained all tangible Force abilities such as the ones being demonstrated here, are products of the living Force, yet a Force ghost is a being of the cosmic Force, and posses no midi-chlorians, and therefore no connection to the living Force. So we’d assume they lack the energy to sustain these powers. So where do they get their power from? Well just as a Force ghost is able communicate with Force sensitives via midi-chlorians, that they are able to draw on the midi-chlorians’ connection to the living Force for as a source of strength:

"I cannot help you," Aidan sighed. "I lost my power long ago, when I failed to defeat Vader. I am no longer a Jedi."

"But you were able to touch me. You shoved me through a doorway!" Tash cried.

...

"I was able to touch you because we are connected by the Force. I drew on your link with the Force to become more solid, just as I draw on it now to become visible to you. But that's all I can do. I tried to be a hero once, Tash, and I failed."

Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi

This encounter is particularly revealing, as it demonstrates at once that a Force ghost possesses no inherent strength of their own, but can acquire strength by another's connection, an external connection. Given that midi-chlorians are in all living things, it’s possible that a Force ghost can draw on the midi-chlorians in all life, but it appears easier to draw on the connection of those they share a bond with.

Qui-Gon is a good example, as a Force ghost he was only able to manifest before Yoda when in a meditation, and therefore more deeply attuned to the Force. It is likely that with only the living Force energy of the Jedi Temple, his voice was faint, and even when in contact is only able to establish communication for a short time, and prove his existence with a brief display of the Force. On Dagobah however, a planet Yoda notes his “strong” in the Force, and Qui-Gon describes as “one of the purest places in the galaxy”, Qui-Gon can communicate freely, and is able to guide him with a physical manifestation of light:

"Follow the light. The light will be your guide."

However Jinn notes he cannot show himself to Yoda as his training was incomplete. Yet on Mortis, a planet immeasurably strong in the Force, he does so before Kenobi:

"Obi-Wan, have you done as I asked? Have you trained the boy?"

So we have a strong correlation between the abilities of a Force ghost, and the potency of living Force energy, reinforcing the notion that it is borrowed strength.

Yet this interpretation in part appears problematic. For example if a Force ghost can indeed only draw on the living Force for strength, and has no personal strength of their own, then how was Revan able to draw of the Exile’s power? And how was the Hero of Tython able to draw on Orgus’? Both of these events took place aboard space stations, far removed from the living Force, so it is a legitimate question to ask.

I would hypothesise the following, that while a Force ghost should possess no intrinsic living Force power, they remain beings of light. Therefore by immersing others in that light, have the power to purge darkness and strengthen a Jedi’s connection to the light side, by inducing the serenity necessary to draw on it.

I believe this effect to be most evident when Orgus assists the Hero of Tython:

Orgus’ presence appears to visibly wash over the Hero, cleansing him. Noting Orgus words: “Don’t let him win. Free yourself.” Orgus isn’t giving the Hero his strength, he’s helping the Hero realise his own.

I believe this can be applied to the Exile assisting Revan also, who “strengthened his resolve … refreshing and restoring him”. Bathing Revan in the light and so warding off the Vitiate's dark influence, and helping him achieve serenity, would certainly have strengthened his resolve, giving Revan the will to fight.

Does this mean that the power a Jedi possessed in life is irrelevant to their existence as a non-corporeal being? I don't think so, one's command of the Force is more than about midi-chlorians, its about being able to sense the Force and know how to control it, a Jedi would retain these qualities in death and so I'd infer the ability for a Force ghost to draw on the living Force around them would correlate to their strength in life.

So, having established the living Force as borrowed power. What about the cosmic Force? The cosmic Force is what a Force ghost is comprised of, and as one with the cosmic Force one would imagine their abilities in the scope of aperion are unlimited. Remember, the cosmic Force encompasses that of space and time, and two key abilities Force ghosts possess is the ability to traverse these planes freely.

In terms of space a Force ghost seems able to appear anywhere in the galaxy, they also possess profound farsight – the ability to sense events and persons in other places. Orgus Din is again a good example:

“His power is growing. Only you can stop him. You must go to Tatooine.

A starship crashed in a desert canyon. Use the Force. Find it…”

Spirit of Orgus Din, Jedi Knight Act III

Here Orgus demonstrates awareness both of Vitiate's growing power and future plans as well as the Order’s secret mission to infiltrate his fortress, guiding the Hero of Tython to one of their Jedi agents.

In terms of time, Force ghosts also possessed impressive prophetic powers, often able to see into the future and predict events with a great level of accuracy.

Orgus predicts Scourge’s betrayal, and perhaps senses his true allegiances:

“Keep your true nature secret. Find a way out. Your dark ally with help.”

Spirit of Orgus Din, Jedi Knight Act II

Qui-Gon demonstrates knowledge of the Grand Plan and foresees the Order’s fall:

“When will this happen?”

“It is happening right now. It has always been happening. With each day the Clone War wages, evil is growing in its power. What you felt in the cave is merely a portion of what the dark side now holds.”

Spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn communing with Yoda

This is not to say that a Force ghost is all knowing, for we must remember that despite their potent connection to the cosmic Force, the future is always in motion.

Part II: Sith Spirits

"The chains of the grave cannot hold a Dark Lord of the Sith…" ~ Marka Ragnos

Unlike the Jedi, the Sith refuse to accept death, and they do not believe, as the Jedi do, that oneness with the Force will grant them immortality, or at least, the immortality they desire. For a Sith, death is the end, and so they struggle against it. Even with the demise of their physical form, they attempt to cling to life.

In this respect, those strong in the dark side achieve continued existence as Force apparitions in a different way to the Jedi, they “persist through sheer force of will”. Your probably aware of the fundamental differences between Jedi and Sith spirits, that while Jedi are able to move freely, Sith are bound to physical spots. I believe the reason for this difference lies in the manner in which they achieve spirit status. As discussed, the Jedi technique to becoming a Force ghost involves achieving a spiritual state where one understands one's true self, and is ready to let go. However that this is something a Sith simply cannot do:

"Eternal life…"

"The ultimate goal of the Sith, yet they can never achieve it; it comes only through the release of self, not the exaltation of self. It comes through compassion, not greed. Love is the answer to the darkness."

Yoda communing with the spirit of Qui-Gon, ROTS novelisation

Powerful Sith manage to retain their identity by clinging to the physical world, but fail to let go and achieve oneness with the cosmic Force. In this respect they are subverting the natural order, by which when a living thing dies, it passes from the living Force, into the cosmic Force. They resist this process, struggling against the tide. As a result Sith spirits require an anchor, a means of tethering themselves to the physical plane and resisting the natural drag into the Netherworld of the Force.

But what does this actually entail? What are the mechanics behind this process?

First let’s recall the three different types of Force energy according to Plagueis. Aperion i.e. space and time, the cosmic Force, and that which makes up the living Force; anima & pneuma, life and consciousness. When a living thing dies, the body is purged of midi-chlorians, that which sustains the living Force, anima and pneuma. Their body ceases to function and their mind effectively dissipates. However powerful dark siders while experiencing bodily death, still retain consciousness, pneuma.

Without a living body, without life, they have no anima, all that remains is their mind, conscious thought that is dependent on the living Force to exist intact. What this means is that a Sith spirit is dependent on the living Force to exist as consciousness and indeed to manifest in the physical plane. However without midi-chlorians they no longer possess a natural connection to it, they require an external source. That which they anchor to is that power source, less of a physical mooring and more of a means of sustenance, which they are therefore drawn to. Without this sustenance they’d be unable to sustain their identity, and would meet oblivion, in this respect they are unable to leave the place they are "anchored” to.

When a Sith spirit dies, they seek these sources of power, one might infer that the corpse of the deceased would be their initial target, given that even in death, the vessel of a powerful Sith remains corrupted and therefore infused with the dark side. This would explain why the spirit of Horak-Mul was bound to his sarcophagus, and able to survive removal from his tomb without an alternate source of energy.

After death, the corpses of the ancient Sith, to which the spirit was likely tethered, would be buried in elaborate tombs and temples. Structures which according to the writings of the Sorzus Syn – one of the twelve Dark Jedi exiles and first of the Sith Lords – were focal points of dark side power.

The Sith have had a thousand generations to perfect the dark arts. The ziggurats of stacked stone and the mountainsides carved into stern faces are more than just tombs for vanished kings. When you stand at the intersection of this mystic architecture, you feel a rush of wind and a shiver of electricity. The angles of these mausoleums focus the arcane energies of the Force.

Chronicles of Sorzus Syn, Book of Sith

No doubt also containing powerful relics and amulets, these tombs would have provided wellsprings of living Force energy for a Sith spirit to sustain themselves on. And indeed when exploring the tomb of “Bilious Torment” (yes that's apparently his name), Syn notes that “the inner sanctum held the sarcophagus of the great ruler, placed at the centre of a power of loci.” Syn makes no mention of Sith spirits, but it seems as if the tombs of these were designed to sustain their disembodied will of the dead they housed.

Physical structures and the nexuses contained within them however were not the only sources of sustenance. Karness Muur for example used the Muur Talisman to contain and sustain his essence after death. However a receptacle is not enough, the talisman would also have had to been able to sustain his essence, and therefore to generate living Force energy. Possible? I believe so. Midi-chlorians are not all that is attuned to the Force, lightsaber crystals were noted to be attuned to the Force also.

At the heart of every Jedi lightsaber is a kyber crystal found on several planets, most notably the icebound caves of Ilum. This crystal is attuned to the Force, and connected to a Jedi Knight on a deeply personal level. In this way, a lightsaber is an extension of a Jedi's Force awareness.

Kyber Crystal (Lightsaber crystal), Star Wars Databank

Sith amulets often, if not always, feature a visible ‘crystal’ element, the Muur Talisman included. And it's noted that Sith holocrons used crystal ‘capstones’ as a power source. Its therefore likely that the talisman was powered in such a way, not only fuelling is properties as a weapon, but the essence of its host.

Not all spirits are so lucky to have a pre-constructed power source however. Darth Sidious for example upon meeting his end aboard the Death Star, not only found is body destroyed, but himself stranded in the empty void of space, a place with no living Force energy to sustain and tether his disembodied will.

And indeed, despite being immensely powerful and indeed among the most powerful Sith in galactic history, Sidious nearly succumbs to the Nether, almost failing were many lesser Sith have not:

He had spent over a year disembodied, formless, drifting through the maddening void of the Dark Side. He had never foreseen having to transport his spirit so far across space. He had nearly dispersed forever, but he had survived, and now need never fear death again.

Dark Empire Sourcebook

A potent example of how vital a source of sustenance is for a Sith spirit. However those Sith anchored to potent nexuses of energy are very powerful entities, and fully capable of influencing the physical world while in these places of power. Below are some examples of their living Force abilities:

Aloysius Kallig Force grip/ragdolls and Force chokes Nox:

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Kallig drove Sith Lords, slaves and soldiers insane open entering the Dark Temple:

…ambitious Sith Lords mounted a plan to crack open the Dark Temple and seize the powerful artifacts locked inside. Their plot ended in disaster when their forces were overwhelmed and driven mad by the spirit of Sith Lord Kallig.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

“His power overwhelmed all inside the temple, and even now the workers plot against each other, believing themselves Sith Lords and drawing terrible power from Kallig himself.”

Lord Alaric, Buried Power Quest

Darth Andru attacks Nox with Sith sorcery that incapacitates Khem:

No Caption Provided

Freedon Nadd collapses an immense pile of rubble on Exar Kun:

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2

Credit to i_like_swords- Exar Kun Respect Thread

The spirits of Korriban were even a threat to Sidious, an extremely powerful Sith Lord:

The spirits of Korriban are quite real. Indeed on one occasion they nearly killed me.

Sidious' annotations to The Science of Creating Life, Book of Sith

Finally as beings of cosmic energy, conventional Force abilities proved ineffective:

No Caption Provided

In terms of cosmic Force powers, as discussed unlike Jedi ghosts, Sith spirits were bound to specific locations where they were able to sustain themselves. However they retained the ability to travel across the breadth of space, though in the rare instances they did, it is likely they required an alternative anchor.

Freedon Nadd for example was able to manifest before Exar Kun in three separate locations, first within his tomb on Dxun, then within the Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban, and finally the Great Temple on Yavin 4. All linked in the respect that they were focal points of ancient Sith power.

A pantheon of spirits led by the ghost of Marka Ragnos also manifested before Exar Kun as well as Ulic Qel-Droma on Koros Major as a result of their amulets:

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3

Credit to i_like_swords- Exar Kun Respect Thread

Their battle might have gone on for hours but for the macabre manifestation of a host of Sith spirits, led by the shade of Marka Ragnos.

The Dark Side Sourcebook

And Kallig was able to manifest before Nox aboard his ship while in space:

"Flesh of my flesh. Listen to me."

And though the means by which he does so is never explained, I would infer he does so by drawing on Nox’s connection and the blood ties between them, in a similar manner if you recall that Aidan did in Galaxy of Fear. However as Kallig remarks, “I cannot linger long. It takes too much out of me to appear here.” Suggesting that without a strong source of living Force energy to draw on, it is difficult for them.

Finally Darth Sidious, in perhaps the most impressive display of all, was able to rend the very fabric of space to possess and tether himself to one of his disciples:

Even as he perished, Palpatine used the dark side knowledge the Sith Lords had granted him years earlier to rend space itself and transmigrate his essence across lightyears to Droga's body. The infusion of Palpatine's overwhelming dark side energies reduced Droga to incoherent madness.

The Emperor's Pawns, Star Wars Gamer #5

In terms of foresight and farseeing, there is little evidence to suggest that Sith spirits were particularly capable in this field. They were however, more capable than corporeal beings. Kallig for example, using his powers of foresight, was able to locate lost items that once belonged to him, such as his mask:

“An enterprising Sith Lord on Korriban has uncovered a piece of my old armour, my mask.”

Spirit of Aloysius Kallig, Sith Inquisitor Act I

And by siphoning Nox’s power and connection to the Force, is able to locate his lightsaber:

“Now, I have another gift for you - one that was dearer to me than even my life. My own lightsaber. Until now, lost to me… but through your great power in the Force, I have found it. You must claim it.”

Spirit of Aloysius Kallig, Sith Inquisitor Act I

Kallig’s powers in farsight, while certainly above that of most mortals, do nonetheless appear to be dependent on existing bonds and external sources of strength. And holistically the prophetic powers of Sith spirits do not compare to their Jedi counterparts. I believe the explanation lies in their nature, unlike the Jedi, Sith spirits refuse oneness with the Force, and I believe this inner turmoil is reflected in their powers, incapable of listening to the current of the Force as a Jedi ghost is able.

To exist as a Sith spirit is a tortuous existence, barred by their own greed and selfishness from achieving peace through oneness in the Force, but unable to fulfil their goals in life. Many Sith spirits spend this period in slumber, others dwell in reflection, such as Ajunta Pall. Coming to realise the futility of their pursuit of power that ironically, has shackled, rather than freed them. As a result there are instances of Sith Spirits being redeemed the light by Jedi and by others, finally achieving peace in death.

To conclude this look at Sith spirits, I’d like to approach the Force-walking technique with the above conclusions in mind. The Force walk was an ancient Sith technique used to bind the ghosts of dead Sith (though the ability works on all spirits) and channel the ghosts power for their own use.

However as we have established, a Sith spirit has only a finite source of living Force energy, and once depleted, we’d assume they'd meet oblivion. So for that reason I’d believe a bound spirit to be themselves finite. That Nox is able to tap in to the reserves of Force energy that the spirit has saturated themselves with, but without a natural connection to the living Force, that energy would eventually be depleted.

It is never explicitly stated to be finite or infinite, however according to the gatekeeper of Ergast’s holocron, "ghosts may be bound and their strength borrowed, for a time.” The implication being that this is a temporary source of strength, and indeed not one the Nox is dependent on for power. As a finite it would not be wise for Nox treat it as a permanent and personal augmentation, and if we interpret Nox’s use of their power as sign-posted when his eyes glow and he visible resonates with energy:

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Then we can interpret it as a repository of energy Nox taps into when necessary.

Part III: Artificial Spirits

"The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be… unnatural." ~ Palpatine

Death is not the only way to achieve spiritual existence, and indeed many powerful in the dark side are able to shed their mortal bodies, acquiring the powers of spiritual form, but not without dangers and drawbacks. This final chapter will look at some of those beings, explaining their nature and the abilities that they attain.

At the core of our conversation is the essence transfer technique, an ability that involves the removal of the “spirit” from the physical body, often but not always with the intentions of entering another form, an act of metamorphosis into a non-corporeal state. And with that in mind I’ll break down the process.

As we know the Force is comprised of anima, pneuma and aperion. The life and consciousness of the organic form born from the first two respectively. And according to the Darth Andeddu, a master of the practice, the process of essence transfer results in bodily destruction.

The ritual is fraught with danger. Attempting it will cause the current vessel to be destroyed; your body will be consumed by the power of the dark side.

Holocron of Darth Andeddu

We might interpret this as the transformation of anima into aperion, living flesh and life into cosmic Energy and indeed visual depictions appear to imply this process:

The final clone of Darth Sidious attempting to possess the new born Anakin Solo
The final clone of Darth Sidious attempting to possess the new born Anakin Solo

This is not always the case however. The body of Darth Zash for example remained intact, though dead, when she performed essence transfer. I’d infer that only those more powerful Force Users, saturated in anima or rather the living Force, disintegrate in this manner, much in the same way some do upon death.

Anima is replaced with aperion, leaving pneuma or consciousness, which exclusive of living tissue, remains. Plagueis believed that the patterns of the pneuma could be then imprinted onto the neural pathways of another brain, achieved easiest with clones, but possible with occupied vessels also. A clone can be interpreted as having an absence of pneuma, of consciousness, allowing the possessor to easily slip inside. But a conscious life form already has pneuma, which must be forced out or suppressed.

Though essence transfer is an artificial and therefore controlled process, and one that circumvents the unexpected shock of death, it is still a perilous procedure, and artificial spirits like Sith spirits require sustenance and therefore anchors to fuel their disembodied will - to keep their pneuma or consciousness from dissipating. For the most part this involves entering a host body as quickly as possible and indeed a loss of anima, of the receptacle of the flesh, would likely result in a loss of living Force energy.

Those unable to enter a new physical form however must resort to alternate methods, both to sustain themselves and indeed exert their power. For remember while beings of the cosmic Force, this is not an energy they can use to effect the physical plane, they need living Force energy to use their powers, and without midi-chlorians and therefore a natural connection to the living Force, they seek external sources. With that in mind I’d like to explore the nature of several different individuals who experienced more permanent metamorphosis into artificial spirits. Namely Exar Kun, Darth Nihilus, Mother Talzin and Vitiate.

No Caption Provided

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Exar Kun, Dark Lord of the Sith

"My spirit will live forever! Forever!"

Exar Kun was a Dark Lord of the Sith of the Old Republic era who in an attempt to avoid defeat at the hands of the Jedi Order, performed an elaborate ritual to transform himself into a being of cosmic energy and “run rampant throughout the cosmos” – below is the full ritual itself as according to Tales of the Jedi.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Credit to i_like_swords- Exar Kun Respect Thread

What is interesting about this feat is the sheer extent of the measures Exar Kun goes to perform the essence transfer ritual. Unnecessary measures for a mere transference of his spirit. It’s obvious that Exar Kun not only sought to liberate his spirit, but to empower it immensely with the living Force energy of the sacrificed Massassi. While it is possible this power was solely to counterattack the Wall of Light, it is also implied that Exar Kun sought to escape Yavin 4 and travel across the galaxy.

I’d theorise that Exar Kun merely need such vast amounts of energy to gain mobility, giving him access to places where he would not have the luxury of potent nexuses of dark side energy. By creating a personal reservoir of energy, a portable nexus, he could sustain him and so grant himself autonomy.

Exar Kun failed in this endeavour however, trapped by an immense Wall of Light. Described by Odan-Urr as “the most devastating attack possible using the powers of the light side”, it has the ability to eradicate dark side energy, and presumably stripped Exar Kun of his power. Leaving Kun alive, but in his words “trapped”, lacking sufficient strength in the living Force to leave and perhaps properly feel the Force around him, but enough strength to sustain his pneuma, his mind. Anchoring himself to his temple, Kun likely drew on the dark side energies of the planet focused and channeled through the Massassi architecture to sustain himself over the millennia to come, temples he improved from Sadow's time to be more effective:

I think Kun saw what Naga Sadow had accomplished here with Sith alchemy and architecture and decided he could do better. He forced the Massassi to build new temples, but this time with a focus on complementing and augmenting the dark side. Kun even went so far as to use various technologies to manipulate the Force in ways that I can’t say I understand.

SWTOR Codex: The Dark Legacy of Yavin 4: Part III

Four millennia later Luke Skywalker established a Jedi academy on Yavin 4, and Exar Kun sought to feed of the power of its students, intending to use their power to restore his physical form:

A few scant years later, Kun is brought sharply awake by the arrival of not one or two, but a dozen humans blazing with the power he needed to live again. Eagerly but cautiously, Kun observes each arrival, probing for weaknesses and the power he needs to restore his lost reserves of energy. For a time, he is able to subside by feeding on their residual energy, but soon he will need worshippers if he is to grow more active. With a nucleus of followers to provide him energy-providing anger and fear, Kun will have enough power to escape his exile and take on human form.

Exar Kun himself possessed a great many other dark powers that he was unable to harness without the energy he needed to fuel his disembodied will.

The Jedi Academy Sourcebook

Much like a Sith spirit, with no natural connection to the living Force, he had become dependent on external sources for power, and over time he would grow powerful on the hate of Skywalker's students.

No Caption Provided

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Darth Nihilus, Lord of Hunger

"He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh..."

Darth Nihilus was a member of the Sith Triumvirate, who after being stranded on Malachor V, became a wound in the Force. So what is a "wound in the Force"? Well in the simplest terms in is an absence of the living Force, caused by a mass loss of life. However, and this is of import, it is not an absence of the cosmic Force, that which governs time and space, that gives matter its cohesion. Entire planets have been rendered wounds in the Force such as Malachor V, Ziost and Nathema, and yet though left barren of life, those planets have remained intact, space and time continue to flow, matter did not collapse.

The wound that Nihilus carried inside of him gradually grew fatter and deeper as he caused more and more death, gorging himself on the lives of millions. And considering that a wound in the Force is an absence of life, anima and pneuma, such an ever expanding black hole we’d assume would essentially have the effect of killing him. And indeed it is implied that Nihilus' wound is in fact consuming him:

While illness cannibalizes his body, a vast emptiness devours his humanity. Then, when all seems lost, he discovers that his emptiness hungered.

...

…as Nihilus greedily consumes entire planets’ life energy, the dark side macerates him even faster. But no matter. Nothing matters except his hunger. Before it devours him totally, Nihilus uses his power to displace his persona into his robes and armour. As his useless body disintegrates, he becomes living primitive intention, at last, the whole of the galaxy becomes food – for Nihilus has become the hunger.

Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide

Nihilus managed to survive however through the process of essence transfer, binding his spirit to his armour. Remember a wound in the Force only consumes the living Force, not the cosmic Force, which would allow Nihilus’ spirit, a cosmic entity, to coexist with his wound. Nonetheless Nihilus’ consciousness still existed as pneuma, an aspect of the living Force that required living Force energy to survive, something his wound would eat away at. Indeed note how Nihilus is described as “primitive”, primal, single minded in his focus on consuming life, and almost oblivious to those around him, as “dust motes in a storm… a grain upon the beach… and as insignificant as a body that orbits the graveyard of Malachor.” I believe this mindlessness is a result of Nihilus’ degrading consciousness, his very identity slowly being annihilated. With Kreia implying that he was in fact doomed to self-destruction:

"There is no strength in the hunger he possesses… and the will behind his power is a primal thing. And it devours him as he devours others—his mere presence kills all around him, slowly, feeding him. He is already dead, it is simply a question of how many he kills before he falls."

Kreia, Knight of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

However Nihilus persisted, his will endured, and with no natural connection to the living Force, he must have had an external source to sustain him. I believe the nature of this source should be fairly obvious, no doubt the life that Nihilus drained to feed his every growing hunger, his dependency being implied:

Darth Nihilus was known as the Lord of Hunger as was noted for his ability to literally consume the Force energies of his victims, which he used to sustain his own life energies.

The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

For Nihilus draining the lives of others become more than a means of satiating his hunger, but a necessity to fuel and sustain his very existence, and without "food", we'd assume he'd meet oblivion.

In regards to Nihilus’ mask and armour, one might draw comparisons between it and the Muur Talisman, however though a receptacle for his spirit, I do not believe it sustained him as it does not appear to possess any crystal component. Most likely it was just means of giving him form, so that he could be perceived by non-Force sensitives and wield a lightsaber. However it likely became infused with the dark side and so in that way would be able to sustain his spirit for a time. In fact according to the Star Wars Encyclopedia:

As he died, Darth Nihilus's body seemed to melt away into nothingness, as he somehow managed to encase his spirit in his battle armour. When the armour was transported to Korriban for burial, his spirit travelled with it, and the connection to Korriban's dark side nexus allowed the spirit of Nihilus to maintain contact with the physical world.

The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

Though dubious in canocity, as according to the KOTOR Campaign Guide his spirit had already dissolved by point of death, and upon death, his armour evaporates, I do believe it proof of concept.

No Caption Provided

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mother Talzin, Nightsister Shaman

"I am not a natural Force wielder like Jedi or Sith. I use dark magic to achieve power."

Mother Talzin was the powerful leader of the Nightsister clans on Dathomir and master of many esoteric abilities and dark side talents. Among these powers was the ability to transform into non-corporeal form and revert to corporeal state at will, essentially the power to become intangible when she pleased.

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

This is an very impressive ability, for while most are unable to return to physical form upon transformation, Talzin can do so instantaneously. This mastery over spirit also gave her the ability to, in the absence of support from her clan, extract part of her essence in order “resurrect” her son, Darth Maul.

“Mother sacrificed much of her own form to resurrect me.”

Darth Maul, Son of Dathomir #4

I would think “form” can be interpreted as anima, and as an aspect of the living Force it could certainly be used to power a restorative ritual of this kind. However this is not the same as merely exhausting one’s energy, something that can be recovered from with a period of rest, Talzin is actually extracting a part of her own living Force, not the living Force around her, but that which sustains life in her body. In this respect we’d imagine such a sacrifice should have caused Talzin’s bodily death, and resulted in her passing into the cosmic Force. But by virtue of her talent in the Force, Talzin survived the process.

Nonetheless such a significant loss of anima would have left her body unstable, and indeed in the respect that she is effectively cheating death, the forces of nature would be working to assimilate her into the cosmic Force, to carry out the natural process. And we see this state of limbo, visually manifested:

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Note how Talzin’s physical form appears to waver, as if she were slowly fading away, I believe this is supposed to reflect the instability of her form. This incident took place on Zardossa Stix, the desert moon of Bardotta, whose native inhabitants were noted to be strong in the living Force, the basis of anima

“…as a Bardottan, you possess a strong connection to the living Force, a connection that will now be mine.”

Mother Talzin, The Disappeared Part II

Talzin planned to harness this connection by kidnapping the Force sensitive Dagoyan Masters, stripping them of their Force energy and storing it in a magical orb. Her plan culminates in an elaborate ritual where she plans to rip the living Force from the Bardottan Queen. Talzin claims to do this in the pursuit of power, but I think we can also infer that she did so out of necessity, to restore the lost anima needed to fully restore her form. The ritual is interrupted however, resulting in a massive explosion of energy that Talzin is caught in. The last of her anima destroyed by the blast, or her time up, Talzin “perishes”.

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

However Talzin survived as a spirit, as pneuma and aperion, consciousness and cosmic energy, but lacked the power to return to physical form. In this condition Talzin shared many of the abilities of a conventional spirit, such as the ability to traverse space, appearing before Maul by using him as a “vessel.”

No Caption Provided

I think this can easily be interpreted as Talzin drawing on Maul’s connection to the living Force and perhaps their blood ties to manifest in space before him, much in the same way Kallig did before Nox.

In order to restore her form from a now completely non-corporeal state Talzin again required a source of living Force energy, to this end she had Maul capture Count Dooku and bring him to Dathomir, were she appeared before him and began to slowly drain the Count of his life force.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5

The place is described as “the heart of Mother Talzin’s power”, and as a planet strong in the Force, it is likely that Talzin upon “death” returned to this place, using its power as a means of sustenance, much like Sith spirits use their tombs. Furthermore the fact that Talzin required copious amounts of power to restore her form suggests it is a process that expends or at the very least demands anima, Talzin therefore must have found a way to retain her anima when typically transforming into non-corporeal form, rather than having it released, and therefore was able to revert back to her physical self instantly and with ease.

No Caption Provided

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Sith Emperor, Ruler of the True Sith

"There is no death; there is only the Force - and I am its master."

The Sith Emperor, also known as Vitiate, was an immensely powerful Force user and deeply learned in the ways of the dark side, rising to prominence during the Old Republic era to rule over the resurgent Sith Empire. Much like Talzin he was able to extract his essence. However he was able to do so in much more profound ways, extracting and implanting several parts of his form into his Voices and his Children.

For centuries, the Emperor’s Voice has delivered the Sith leader’s commandments to his servants. In fact, to converse with the Emperor’s Voice is to have an audience with the Emperor himself, whose power and consciousness have been placed within the Voice’s body.

SWTOR Codex: Voice of the Emperor

The Voice of the Emperor was a “hollow vessel”, devoid of psyche, that Vitiate imbued with both his pneuma and vast amounts of his anima, giving it his consciousness and “the Emperor’s incredible power”, while we’d assume that just enough anima remained in his true form to keep it alive.

Infants of all species taken before the Sith Emperor, the children are infused with the Emperor’s strength, sharing some measure of his thoughts and power for the rest of their lives. They become the Emperor’s eyes and ears, and –should the Emperor focus his presence upon them – his puppets.

SWTOR Codex: Children of the Emperor

Vitiate employed a similar process with his Children, infused with both parts of his anima, his strength, and also “imprinted” with “his consciousness”. This is especially interesting, as it implies that pneuma can be divided into parts like anima, as opposed to being extracted as a whole. One would imagine this would result in the degradation of the mind, which would become literally fragmented

But we shouldn’t consider pneuma in such a material way, according to Plagueis all “thinking, self-aware minds” were part of a collective pneuma, a hive mind of sorts, which made possible telepathy and mind tricks. I’d interpret this collective pneuma as akin to the internet, and each individual mind as a website. In the respect that websites can be browsed by accessing the internet, minds can be “browsed” as well by accessing this hive mind. To apply that to the Children, consider how a website is shared, it is not like a file that has to be copied and pasted, or cut altogether, it exists as one original “copy”, a means of access is merely provided. In this respect Vitiate when extracting his pneuma and imprinting it on others, he is not cutting or copying or even dividing his mind, but merely sharing access to his consciousness with others.

In terms of anima however, the source of life and most of one’s powers, would “sacrificing” his form in this way weaken his body and Force ability? Temporarily I believe so, but like Talzin, Vitiate would be able to restore his lost form by siphoning the living Force from an external reservoir, of which he had plenty.

Vitiate was not without weakness however, and after being sufficiently drained of power, lost his grip on the physical plane and like Talzin became a spirit. The climax of the Emperor’s ritual crisis marked the beginning of Vitiate’s downfall, his attempt to consume the life force of the entire galaxy thwarted by the Hero of Tython, the interruption of the ritual itself being described as weakening him:

You’ve learned that the Emperor is on Dromund Kaas, temporarily weakened by your efforts thwarting his plan for galactic annihilation. Striking at him now is your best chance to defeat him once and for all.

Doomsday, Jedi Knight Quest Entry

Vitiate's “true” Voice was then struck down by the Hero of Tython within the depths of the Dark Temple, and although Vitiate did not die, we can assume that this abrupt and unexpected loss of form, while in a weakened state, came at a loss of power, which we infer from what we are told by his Hand.

"The unexpected blow was a shock. The Emperor’s consciousness was wrenched from his Voice. He now slumbers, gathering his strength."

Servant One in correspondence with the Wrath

What Vitiate suffered was a considerable loss of living Force energy, and considering that is true body would have been dependent on that energy to sustain what little anima it had left, we might infer that it was put in danger of being destroyed altogether. At the very least entering the state of limbo Talzin experienced. However the Hand claims that the Emperor’s “true body” has been moved to a safe location, implying it remained intact. And yet despite that when Vitiate is finally reawakens from his slumber on Yavin 4, it is not this true form we are confronted with, but a cackling spirit that promptly departs.

As Darth Marr himself remarks:

“He did not assume a physical form or possess a body. And he left as soon as he appeared. None of it makes sense!”

Darth Marr, Rise of the Emperor

No Marr, no it does not. What I’m about to say is pure theory, but I believe in make sense in light of this and what we’ve discussed. I believe that, for whatever reason, the Hands lied, and that without sufficient living Force to sustain the anima of Vitiate’s true body, it was destroyed, dissipating into nothing as Talzin did. In that respect the Emperor much like Talzin, became the formless being we now behold.

But that’s just a theory, a game theory. And irrespective of the truth we can assume upon being brought to the Yavin moon the Emperor did not possess a physical form, and therefore without a natural connection to the living Force, required external sources of energy to restore his lost power. It is therefore unsurprising he would be brought to this planet of which “the dark side of the Force has flowed through ... in an ever-increasing magnitude”, the temples were focal points of that power. In that respect the temple in which Vitiate was housed would have acted much in the same way as a Sith tomb, fuelling his disembodied will.

But Vitiate required more, or at least more to recover faster, feasting on the deaths caused by the conflict on the planet, and siphoning the living Force energy they released. As Vitiate himself remarks “the scores of dead have nourished me. I am awakened. And I bring with me - death!”

The transformation of a corporeal being into an artificial being comes with many benefits and amplified abilities, of which I’d like to discuss. Chief among these was freedom from the mortal coil, it has been well established in lore that the physical body puts limitations on one’s ability to wield the Force, both as a result of old age and the body’s ability to channel Force energy, to act as a sufficient conduit.

Not only were their limits to how much Force energy the organic form can channel at any one time, but there existed the risk of having this conduit overloaded. The nature of Dorsk 81’s demise in the post-ROTJ universe is a prime example of this. Dorsk was a member of Luke’s Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4, and when the academy was attacked by the Empire, the students of the Academy gathered together to channel their combined strength, amplified by the Great Temple, into Dorsk, to power a massive attack:

No Caption Provided

"Move!" he shouted.

The words themselves were like power incarnate, white-hot energy flaming out of his mouth, from his fingertips, surging through his body and burning, burning.

"Dorsk 81," Kyp said, looking down in horror as the cloned alien's skin sizzled from within, as if the tissues had been brought to a boil. Dorsk 81's wide yellow eyes were now only smouldering sockets. Steam rose from his body.

A breath of words curled out of his gaping, blackened mouth. "They're gone, my friend," he said.

"Wait!" Kyp said. "Wait, we'll find a healer. We'll get Cilghal back. We'll find-"

But Dorsk 81 was already dead in his arms.

Darksaber

Evidently if the physical form can only withhold so much Force energy at a time, and too high a concentration of energy results in a Force “overload”, causing the subject to be boiled alive. Nor does this profound telekinetic showing demonstrate the threshold at which these effects are felt, with Luke Skywalker experiencing these effects when conjuring a photorealistic illusion of a starship, while simultaneously projecting an illusion of his own starship that had the effect of cloaking it.

A flurry of streaks and flashes filled the forward viewport as the pirates opened fire on the counterfeit. Luke continued the illusion's gentle turn, keeping it well ahead of its attackers and drawing them farther away. His skin felt dry and papery, and waves of heat were rolling through his body as the cytoplasm inside his cells began to boil. He did not let up. During the past year, he and Jacen had been working on overload techniques, so he knew could endure the pain and fatigue almost indefinitely. His body would pay a steep price, aging a year in a matter of minutes, but he knew he would not collapse.

The Dark Nest Trilogy: The Unseen Queen

No longer bound by a corporeal form, a spirit would be unlimited in this respect, able to channel as much energy as they had the capacity to draw upon, without damage to their non-existent bodies. This would theoretically allow for massive and instant explosions of power, demonstrations some of whom we’ve discussed have shown. Vitiate for example upon his return caused violent tremors and weather phenomena, and an explosion of possibly Force draining energy that caused significant casualties.

No Caption Provided

"We suffered many casualties upon the Emperor's return..."

Darth Marr, Shadow of Revan

Vitiate then went on to consume all life on Ziost, an effort an effort achieved seemingly without any assistance or lengthy ritual, and such was the explosion of power than it shook the space station in orbit.

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Exar Kun upon transforming into non-corporeal form also demonstrated the ability to channel vast amounts of power, so much so that a Wall of Light created by “thousands upon thousands of Force wielders” – including legendary Jedi Nomi Sunrider and Thon – was unable to destroy him, only seal him away. And although Kun did siphon the living Force from “thousands of Massassi sacrifices”, neither they nor Kun compared to the combined might of the entire Jedi Order. This power is likely why he sought spirit form.

As well as possessing unlimited ability to channel the Force, I’d also infer that the amount of Force energy they could gather and wield was equally limitless. A physical form could only contain so much power, especially the corrupting power of the dark side, hence why Palpatine's unworthy clone bodies rapidly decayed after his spirit entered them. However since an artificial spirit possesses no body, no such ceiling should exist, and the amount of energy they could gather should ultimately be limitless. An artificial spirit's power therefore may potentially exceed the power that they possessed in life. Though it is likely in order to do so they would have to gorge themselves on vast amounts of Force energy.

The second major aspect in which we’d infer artificial spirits received benefits was the field of mental domination and possession, of which become synonymous. Consider how a corporeal Force user dominates or influences the mind of another, by reaching out with their power, extending the tendrils of their presence to infiltrate or overwhelm their psyche. A artificial spirit however, unbound, does not reach out, they are instead in a position to swallow up their targets, consume them with their presence. And such a total and overwhelming assault, we’d assume, is far more potent and harder to defend against.

This applies to natural Sith spirits as well, Aloysius Kallig for example if you recall, single-handedly dominated the minds of powerful Sith, soldiers and slaves who entered the Dark Temple:

…ambitious Sith Lords mounted a plan to crack open the Dark Temple and seize the powerful artifacts locked inside. Their plot ended in disaster when their forces were overwhelmed and driven mad by the spirit of Sith Lord Kallig.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

“His power overwhelmed all inside the temple, and even now the workers plot against each other, believing themselves Sith Lords and drawing terrible power from Kallig himself.”

Lord Alaric, Buried Power Quest

This kind of instant and mass domination has only been ever replicated by the some of most powerful of Force users in mythos such as the Dread Masters, the Sith Emperor and Darth Sidious, all of whom we'd assume are in a superior league to Kallig. And Vitiate himself upon arriving on Ziost, displayed telepathic power he had never demonstrated before, accomplishing mental domination on a planetary scale:

As the Sith Emperor gradually dominates the free will of everyone on Ziost, both Lana Beniko, Minister of the newly formed Sith Intelligence, and Theron Shan, a spy for the Galactic Republic, are trying to stop the chaos.

SWTOR.com, Rise of the Emperor

Mother Talzin was also able to possess the body of Count Dooku:

No Caption Provided

Credit to Aurbere - Mother Talzin Respect Thread

And although weakened by her Force drain (though later he is strong enough to wield Force lightning), he remains a prodigious Force user of whom it is questionable Talzin could mentally dominate in corporeal form merely be weakening him, mental influence of any kind being unlikely at Dooku's full strength.

So what does it mean? Well it means that we shouldn’t assume that the corporeal and non-corporeal versions of an individual will be the same, if even comparable, in terms of their abilities. Nor should we assume a corporeal being capable of its non-corporeal feats, and therefore should be wary of drawing comparisons between spirits and physical beings, without taking into account their intrinsic qualities.

Conclusion

"Pass on what you have learned."

If you’ve made it this far, bravo, and I very much hope I’ve widened your knowledge on the subject. However to refresh your memory of what you’ve read, a brief re-cap.

If you’ve made it this far, bravo, and I very much hope I’ve widened your knowledge on the subject. However to refresh your memory of what you’ve read, a brief re-cap.

Force Ghosts: A Force ghost is a Jedi spirit who after death becomes one with the cosmic Force, but, through total understanding of their identity, are able to retain their it in the Nether, and return to the physical plane. Force ghosts manifest in the physical plane through the midi-chlorians in all life, but do so sparingly, understanding that the living must find their own path. As one with the Force it is likely that any aid they offer is a reflection of its will. They are capable of influencing the physical plane if they so which, but require external sources of living Force energy to do so, as they possess no natural connection to the living Force themselves, and without external sources of living Force energy, they are only able to immerse others in light. What they do possess is a profound connection to the cosmic Force and so space and time, allowing them to see far across the galaxy, into the future, and manifest anywhere at will.

Sith Spirits: A Sith spirit is the cosmic essence of a dark sider, and unlike Jedi, are unable to learn the technique to retain identity after death, instead subverting the natural order and clinging to the physical plane through sheer will power. Their's is a perilous existence as they need living Force energy to sustain their disembodied will, and without it will be consumed by the Nether and meet oblivion. With no natural connection to the living Force they seek out places of power, their own corpses corrupted and infused with the dark side, Sith tombs designed to focus the Force, amulets possessing Force sensitive crystals, and other Force users, all act as means of sustenance. This necessity limits their mobility, unable to leave these places of power for fear of expending their energy. Those who sustain themselves on potent nexuses wield great power, and are more than capable of proving lethal to even the most powerful of Force users.

Artificial Spirits & Quasi-Spiritual States: It is possible for a dark sider learned in the Force to remove their essence from their body and so willingly transform into an artificial spirit. Existing as living consciousness they often implant themselves in new hosts, but not always, and those who do not wish to or cannot do so must like Sith spirits, sustain themselves on external sources of living Force energy, possessing no natural connection themselves. Many artificial spirits have been known over galactic history such as Darth Nihilus, Exar Kun, Mother Talzin and the Sith Emperor, each unique in their own way but sharing several characteristics. These individuals also find themselves endowed with powerful capabilities such as the ability to channel vast amounts of energy at any one time for potent displays of the dark side, or to possess the minds of other beings, even powerful Force-sensitives, with ease, abilities that must be considered when comparing and considering their feats.

So, here ends my take on the mysteries surrounding Force ghosts and Sith spirits, I hope you found it as revealing as I did in the act of making it. Below is a bibliography of some of the key sources of information I used, for those who wish to explore the subject further, or draw your own conclusions.

Bibliography

The First Pillar: The Force in The Jedi Path: A Manual to Students of the Force

The Science of Creating Life in Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side

Chronicle of Sorzus Syn in Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side

Jedi Spirits in Jedi vs Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force

Sith Spirits in Jedi vs Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force

Ruling for Eternity in Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia

Force Planet – Star Wars Databank

Overlords – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Voices – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Destiny – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Sacrifice – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

Jedi Knight Story Quests – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Sith Inquisitor Story Quests – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Shadow of Revan Expansion – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Avatar image for i_like_swords
#2 Posted by i_like_swords (26203 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll need to give this a read through sometime soon. Saving it in my followed topics for now. Nice job either way; you clearly put an extreme amount of time and effort into this.

Avatar image for shootingnova
#3 Posted by ShootingNova (25691 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll need to give this a read through sometime soon. Saving it in my followed topics for now. Nice job either way; you clearly put an extreme amount of time and effort into this.

Avatar image for masterkungfu
#4 Posted by MasterKungFu (20773 posts) - - Show Bio

kudos for putting in the effort

Avatar image for beniboybling
#5 Posted by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio

Drew confirmed in an email that the Exile did not aid Revan in the mental war, she merely sustained him via allowing him to counteract Vitiate's Force Drain. Also, make sure to give credit to people.

Mmkay, interesting. And no worries, I credited everything I borrowed, the rest is all own research, gifs/images etc.

Avatar image for beniboybling
#6 Edited by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll need to give this a read through sometime soon. Saving it in my followed topics for now. Nice job either way; you clearly put an extreme amount of time and effort into this.

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you guys.

Avatar image for s_w_legend
#7 Edited by S_W_LeGenD (90 posts) - - Show Bio

A (mortal) Force-user's potential to manipulate the Force is dependent upon his internal midi-chlorian count. The higher the count, the closer a living being have the connection to the Force. The Jedi named Dorsk 81 simply didn't had the potential (i.e. sufficient midi-chlorian count) to perform that ambitious task and exceeded his limits for it, this is the reason for his demise. In comparison, Luke Skywalker and Tenebrae (Vitiate) relatively had much higher midi-chlorian count and potential to wield the Force in much more profound ways accordingly at individual capacity. You overlooked this matter in your analysis.

Nonetheless, great effort and informative analysis. However, it is too early to draw a conclusion about this topic since the lore is ever-expanding and newer content can challenge the validity of earlier content in the process.

Vitiate "can" possess a living host or even create an extraordinarily strengthened biological body for personal use but he have evolved beyond this need. A major reason for Vitiate to stop depending upon a biological body was to increase his personal safeguard.

The Emperor created his first Voice after the legendary Jedi named Revan attempted to assassinate him on Dromund Kaas. Though Revan's plot failed, he approached within striking distance of the Emperor. To guard against further vulnerability, the Emperor created the Voice to deliver his orders while distancing himself from the forces that conspired against him. Centuries later, this very safeguard would save the Emperor once more.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Without a physical form, Vitiate cannot be restrained using conventional methods. Evidence in this blog of mine: http://www.comicvine.com/profile/s_w_legend/blog/power-progression-and-evolution-of-emperor-vitiate/105016/

On Ziost, Vitiate possessed/acquired many living hosts to carry out his will, and even created beings of pure dark side energy (e.g. Monoliths) to contribute to the chaos and murders he caused on the planet.

In simplest terms, due to the relentless effort to overcome the shortcomings of mortality, Vitiate seems to have evolved into a powerful entity that is not dependent upon biological forms to function and manipulate the Force. This is my take on his latest depiction.

Avatar image for beniboybling
#8 Edited by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio
@s_w_legend said:

A (mortal) Force-user's potential to manipulate the Force is dependent upon his internal midi-chlorian count. The higher the count, the closer a living being have the connection to the Force. The Jedi named Dorsak simply didn't had the potential (i.e. sufficient midi-chlorian count) to perform that ambitious task and exceeded his limits for it, this is the reason for his demise. In comparison, Luke Skywalker and Tenebrae (Vitiate) relatively had much higher midi-chlorian count and potential to wield the Force in much more profound ways accordingly at individual capacity. You overlooked this matter in your analysis.

Nonetheless, great effort. However, it is too early to draw a conclusion about this topic since the lore is ever-expanding and newer content can challenge the validity of earlier content. Vitiate can acquire a host or even create a physical body for personal use but he have evolved beyond this need. A major reason for Vitiate to stop depending upon a single body was to increase his personal safeguard.

The Emperor created his first Voice after the legendary Jedi named Revan attempted to assassinate him on Dromund Kaas. Though Revan's plot failed, he approached within striking distance of the Emperor. To guard against further vulnerability, the Emperor created the Voice to deliver his orders while distancing himself from the forces that conspired against him. Centuries later, this very safeguard would save the Emperor once more.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Without a physical form, Vitiate cannot be restrained using conventional methods. Evidence in this blog of mine: http://www.comicvine.com/profile/s_w_legend/blog/power-progression-and-evolution-of-emperor-vitiate/105016/

On Ziost, Vitiate acquired many hosts to carry out his will, and even created beings of pure dark side energy (e.g. Monoliths) to contribute to the chaos and murders he caused on the planet. In short: in his effort to overcome the shortcomings of mortality, Vitiate have evolved into a powerful entity that is not dependent upon physical forms to function.

Also, is it too hard for you to credit me for the images that you used for Sith Emperor section? Courtesy should be extended to all individuals from whom you draw materials from.

I wouldn't say midichlorians had much to do with it, it was his living tissue that couldn't handle the stress. Nonetheless Luke Skywalker and Jacen Solo also suffered the effects of Force overload, so I wouldn't say its exclusive to lesser Force Users. But thanks for your input, and I plan on revising sections if necessary based on new content, especially regarding the truth behind Vitiate's true form, which is purely theoretical at this point.

I don't believe anybody is beyond the need of a physical body however, Vitiate needs physical form to achieve a natural connection to the living Force, there is no evidence to suggest he somehow achieved a way to bypass this. He needs a body.

And I didn't use anything from your blog, those gifs are all mine.

Avatar image for s_w_legend
#9 Edited by S_W_LeGenD (90 posts) - - Show Bio

@beniboybling:

Living beings (mortals) are able to manipulate the Force on the basis of their midi-chlorians. And midi-chlorians exist within the living tissue of a living being, in the cells of a living beings. Tissue - not being able to handle the stress - is same as the midi-chlorians - not being able to hand the stress - due to limited count; I don't see a difference in this matter. Yes, Luke Skywalker and Jacen Solo were also stressed by those feats, but far less then Dorsk 81. You're welcome and fair enough.

Vitiate's command of the Force is likely greater then that of any Force-user or practitioner of the dark side:

In his relentless pursuit of immortality, the Emperor explored the most sinister, uncharted depths of the dark side.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Vitiate's power is defined by the number of individuals/beings he drains/consumes, it is not defined by use of biological bodies. On Ziost, Vitiate doesn't seems to give the impression that he needs biological bodies to manipulate the Force. Vitiate seems to fit the notion of being an entity.

I have further edited my first response. Recheck it.

Furthermore, Vitiate visited Dark Temple as well and even performed rituals inside it. And no spirit was able to overwhelm him. Instead, Vitiate drained every captive within:

Burial place, prison, and reliquary, the Dark Temple was built on the orders of the Emperor to seal away powerful artifacts and the Emperor's enemies, both alive and dead. The temple became a nexus of dark side energy as the Emperor performed rituals within, drawing strength and knowledge from his captives.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Avatar image for beniboybling
#10 Edited by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm afraid that your saying just doesn't make sense.

For one while midichlorians do exist within living tissue, they remain exclusive of living organisms, it is a symbiotic relationship between two exclusive parties. Furthermore your theory would only make sense of Force overloads only occurred when external sources of energy were forcibly channeled through a being, because it is just not possible for a Force user to, on their own, draw on more energy they are capable of wielding, they cannot achieve what is beyond their power/potential unless forced by an outside party, there connection to the Force just wouldn't allow it.

But this isn't the case, again Luke and Jacen experienced these effects without any external sources being channelled through them. There connection to the Force wasn't the problem, the midichlorians in their body in fact allowed them to draw on such copious amounts of power, it was their bodies that could not take it, not the midichlorians providing the power in the first place.

Take note of the example I cited:

His skin felt dry and papery, and waves of heat were rolling through his body as the as the cytoplasm inside his cells began to boil.

Cytoplasm =/= midichlorians. His midichlorians are not boiling over here, it's his living tissue that is being damaged by the sheer amount of Force energy being channelled through him. Your argue it's because "they didn't have the potential", but Luke did, his body just couldn't handle it. Bearing in mind that the destruction of one's midichlorians would merely result in bodily death, not damage to living tissue. The fact that it is is concrete proof that the organism itself is the limiter here.

And the fact that Luke experienced less damage than Dorsk merely reflects the disparity between the feats performed, conjuring photorealistic illusions is impressive, but it does not compare to TKing an entire fleet of Star Destroyers. If Luke had attempted that, he would have died too.

Anyway I'm not going to get into a cyclical argument over your vague assumptions, fact is there is no concrete proof that Vitiate, in spirit form, retained his natural connection to the living Force. The fact that he required external sources of living Force energy to restore his strength strongly suggests otherwise. In that respect he is not beyond that need of a bodily vessel.

Which, really, is why he has them. Something your hardly accounting for.

Avatar image for revantheknowledegecarrier
#11 Posted by RevanTheKnowledegeCarrier (92 posts) - - Show Bio

The force can manifest itself in hundred of ways not just two...

Those are the two principales, force need to understand the basic of the mechanic behind every force ghost, but every force spirit aren't the same !

There is subtlles variations that matter...

Avatar image for lettsplay10
#12 Posted by lettsplay10 (20589 posts) - - Show Bio

wow

Avatar image for s_w_legend
#13 Edited by S_W_LeGenD (90 posts) - - Show Bio

@beniboybling:

Dorsk 81 did not perform the feat of pushing the starships by himself, he lacked the strength to do so. He, however, became a vessel through which the power of several Jedi began to flow to perform the aforementioned task. The flow of the Force energy - of such magnitude - through him, overwhelmed him, which is not surprising since this significantly exceeded his natural potential.

Dorsk 81 died a hero after again joining with his fellow Jedi and channeling their combined powers through himself to create a Force storm that pushed an entire fleet of attacking Imperial Star Destroyers nearly out of the Yavin system.

Taken from (The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia)

So you believe that even Luke Skywalker lacked the strength to endure the aforementioned pressure, should he try? I thought that he was stronger then a bunch of Jedi put together.

Regarding Vitiate's power, read this:

Unleashed from his sanctuary on Yavin 4, the former Sith Emperor has now struck the Imperial world of Ziost. Using his immense power in the dark side of the Force, he has dominated the minds of the planet’s Imperial troops--as well as an elite cadre of militaristic Jedi--and has set them against the populace, engaging in a bloody slaughter.

Taken from (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

Is the highlighted part too difficult to understand?

Vitiate have spent a long time, exploring ways to overcome the shortcomings of mortality. In doing so, he have learned to exist and manipulate the Force without the need of a biological form. And this is apparent from his actions on Ziost and the aforementioned revelation.

Correct interpretation would be regard Vitiate as an entity; problem solved. Every aspect of Star Wars is not logical, so don't try too hard. Here:

Vitiate may be more powerful then any of us assumed. And as he does not appear to have any manner of physical form, he cannot be restrained or destroyed by conventional means.

Taken from (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

The aforementioned revelation is very telling. It explains that Vitiate have become so powerful and learned in the ways of the dark side that he does not needs a biological body to function and manipulate the Force. And in this manner, he have significantly enhanced his safeguard against external threats. Conventional means (i.e. weapons and Force powers) cannot restrain him. Revan's assassination attempts had motivated Vitiate to focus on increasing his safeguard centuries earlier.

I also disagree with this:

"And Vitiate himself upon arriving on Ziost, displayed telepathic power he had never demonstrated before, accomplishing mental domination on a planetary scale:"

Just because Vitiate didn't perform a certain task earlier, doesn't means he could not. He is clearly defined as the most powerful Force-user ever in TOR sources, and such promotion is not a matter of empty words. I consider Rise of the Emperor expansion as a content that is properly focused on demonstrating Vitiate's power and evolution. We may see more from him in the future.

Avatar image for beniboybling
#14 Edited by Beniboybling (58 posts) - - Show Bio
No Caption Provided

@s_w_legend Potential has nothing to do with it, as explained, and I'm afraid I can't further assist in your understanding of the matter if your not prepared to listen to my responses.

Anyway, the fact that Vitiate can manipulate the Force as a spirit - which most Sith spirits and Force ghosts can do - is not proof he had a natural connection to the living Force.

Avatar image for revantheknowledegecarrier
#15 Posted by RevanTheKnowledegeCarrier (92 posts) - - Show Bio

There is also the "aura force" wich is between the living force and cosmic force, it is shaped by the emotions of the force user planet etc...

That's how you can feel people presence. See vision etc.. it is an acess for living being to the cosmic force.

Inccident can leave trace on a place, like Revan passage, or Vitiate/Palpatine passage.

The screm of the death on Alderaan or malachor V... All of those things leave a mark, a trace, an imprint.

Force ghosts are often imprints... Trace of the past...... Like vodo Siosk Baask......

Avatar image for freedon_nadd_1
#16 Edited by Freedon_nadd_1 (361 posts) - - Show Bio

Ghosts are not stronger than their fleshy versions, especially for the Sith. Otherwise they wouldn't try to seek new bodies. Sith spirits are much weaker than their mortal forms(Vitiate being the exception)

And the Sith spirits need dark side focal points not to grow their powers but to keep their spirit forms from not getting into the Hell of the Netherworld of the Force.

And the midichlorian count does not determine one's strength in the Force. Anakin has had the greatest midi-chlorian count but he wasn't 'I will become the most powerful Jedi.'

There are examples of beings with low midi-chlorian count and yet wielding great Force power.

Avatar image for erkan12
#17 Posted by Erkan12 (8391 posts) - - Show Bio

@beniboybling:

Dorsk 81 did not perform the feat of pushing the starships by himself, he lacked the strength to do so. He, however, became a vessel through which the power of several Jedi began to flow to perform the aforementioned task. The flow of the Force energy - of such magnitude - through him, overwhelmed him, which is not surprising since this significantly exceeded his natural potential.

.. I know this is an old post, but I've to say it, potential has nothing to do with Force ghost ability, I am pretty sure that Yoda > Qui-Gon in terms of raw potential, yet Qui-Gon was the one that taught Yoda how to use that ability.