The Force is a mystical energy that binds together all life and matter in the galaxy. Though the Force flows through all living beings, it can only be harnessed and controlled by beings known as "Force-sensitives." Force-sensitivity was correlated with and sometimes attributed to a high count of symbiotic and supposedly intelligent microorganisms called midi-chlorians that were found in a Force-sensitive's blood; the higher the count, the greater the being's potential Force ability.
Force-sensitive beings were able to tap into the Force to perform acts of great skill, strength, and agility as well as control and shape the world around them.
The Light Side of the Force
The light side of the Force was concerned with ideals of peace, knowledge, benevolence, and healing. Followers of the light side strove to live in harmony with the world around them, acting out of wisdom and logic rather than emotion and haste. In order to achieve a relationship with the light side of the Force, its practitioners would often meditate to clear themselves of emotion, particularly negative emotions such as fear and anger.
The largest group of proponents and teachers of the light side was the Jedi Order, who strove to maintain peace and justice throughout the galaxy. The values of the light side were culminated in the Jedi Code. The Jedi accepted the view that there were two sides of the Force: the dark side and the light side. A follower of the light side used the Force for defense and knowledge. Mutual trust, respect, and the ability to form alliances gave the Jedi distinct advantages over the Sith.
Traditional Jedi were keen to keep the Force "in balance." They attempted to achieve this by destroying the Sith and denying the dark side entirely—essentially keeping balance by restoring the Force to its natural state, the light side, since they viewed the dark side as a perversion. This involved the purging of negative emotions such as fear, anger, and hatred as such emotions could seduce the user to the dark side. In contrast, positive emotions such as compassion and courage nurtured the light side of the Force.
Passion was considered dangerous as it could lead to strong emotions that could destabilize the Jedi's mind and lead them to the dark side. Love was, curiously enough, seen as something both Jedi and Sith avoided. While the Jedi espoused a broad, all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love for all beings, love for another being—romance, a possessive love by nature—was prohibited in post-Ruusan order. The Jedi viewed love as a risk best left untouched. The passion that came with love could lead to hatred and anger, as Anakin Skywalker demonstrated by becoming a Sith due in large part to his love for Padmé Amidala.
Possession of material things was also prohibited in the post-Ruusan Reformation era Jedi Order, with the only exceptions being the Jedi's lightsaber, clothes, and other bare necessities.
The Dark Side of the Force
The dark side of the Force was considered by the Jedi to be a corruption of the Force aligned with fear, hatred, malice, and selfishness. Such negative emotions seemed to increase the strength and abilities of a user of the dark side, providing a path towards personal power and the destruction or control of all opposition. It was generally accepted that use of the dark side of the Force was extremely addictive. The primary users and supporters of the dark side were the Sith.
Although at one time being the name of a primitive humanoid species native to Korriban, the Sith became an order of dark side Force-users who aimed to forcibly take control of the galaxy and reshape it in their image. Some users of the dark side did not affiliate themselves with the Sith and were collectively branded Dark Jedi. Some light Jedi, such as Jaden Korr and Galen Marek, could use dark side powers while resisting the temptation of the dark side.
The Dark Lord Darth Bane considered the Force to be finite and thus ideal for exclusive use by the Dark Lord. He eliminated the practice of having vast numbers of Sith at the same time, thereby aiming to concentrate the dark side of the Force into two individuals: a Sith Master and his or her apprentice. This tradition, or "Rule of Two," later underwent a small reformation by Dark Lady Lumiya following the deaths of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader in 4 ABY. The Rule of Two was later rejected by Darth Krayt, who instituted the Rule of One, with "One" referring to the Sith Order itself and its many minions, acolytes/adepts, and lords, led by only one Dark Lord of the Sith, or Dread Lord.
Darth Krayt believed he gave the Sith and their power a purpose, unlike Darth Bane, who believed that power was the purpose. The Rule of One called for cooperation and even some level of loyalty between the Sith. However, the Rule of One did not represent the Sith as a whole, and Krayt was even labeled a heretic in the holocrons of Darth Bane, Darth Nihilus and Darth Andeddu.
Use of the dark side of the Force was strictly forbidden within the Jedi Order.
The Living Force
The Living Force was the most prominent philosophy of the Jedi. Proponents of the Living Force thought that the Force flowed through all living brings, and thus connected them both directly and indirectly. As such, Jedi believing in this ideology were very aware and mindful of living beings around them. They displayed the utmost level of empathy and mercy. They also emphasized the importance of dealing with the present rather than worrying about the future or brooding over the past.
However, this leads to a propensity to act impulsively and passionately. As such, it was widely believed that the Living Force shared both light and dark side qualities. Followers of the Living Force had to be wary of the pull of the dark side, which could be particularly strong in followers of this philosophy.
Qui-Gon Jinn, a notable follower of the Living Force, was able to rediscover the ability to retain one's identity after death by means of a Force ghost. This allowed Jedi to spiritually manifest themselves and interact with the physical world.
The Unifying Force
The Unifying Force was a much rarer interpretation of the Force. Followers of the Unifying Force believed that the Force was a single, neutral entity seemingly incapable of deciphering between good and evil, lacking a distinct "dark" or "light" side. Adherents to this philosophy were very concerned with the future and prophetic visions.
It is believed that Grand Master Yoda, who was famous for his constant mindfulness of the future, was a proponent of this philosophy. Many dark side Force-users such as Darth Sidious also supported this concept claiming that the Force truly was an impartial deity. The key difference between the Jedi and Sith variants was the proper use of this supposed force of nature. The Sith saw it as a tool fit only for personal power gain, while the Jedi saw it as a means to foresee events, gain knowledge, and avert crises.
The Potentium was a relatively rare perspective of the Force that claimed that the dark side of the Force didn't exist and that the Force as a whole was naturally righteous. Believers in the Potentium thought that the dark side existed only inside the individual in the form of negative emotions and evil intentions. Therefore, anyone could utilize dark side abilities so long as their intentions were just.
The Jedi viewed this idea as dangerous and insolent and as such banned the doctrine within temple walls. A notable proponent of this philosophy was the living planet Zonama Sekot.
Beliefs of the Aing-Tii
The Aing-Tii monks from the Kathol Rift viewed the Force in a very peculiar way. According to them, the Force didn't exist in shades of black or white, per se, but in a variety of different colors. This line of thinking extended to individuals as well, whom they believed were never totally good or evil, but were part of a broader, less definite spectrum. Because of this type of reasoning, they were able to use unique abilities that were unfamiliar to either the Jedi or the Sith.
- Enhance Senses: Jedi and Sith can call upon the Force to dramatically increase their senses and mental processing speeds, allowing them to see, hear, and smell things miles away, react to things such as blaster bolts, and fly a ship better than any non-Force user.
- Force Speed: By using the Force to alter their capabilities, Jedi and Sith can increase their physical speed to superhuman lengths, allowing them to fight at blindingly quick speeds and sometimes even vanish to the naked eye. It is a very common ability and is often used to bring a quick end to a fight. It can, however, be quite taxing on the body and prolonged usage typically requires a recovery period.
- Telepathy: This is a fundamental application of the Force that allows Force users to probe and manipulate another's mind. A Jedi may use this ability to calm a belligerent socialite, convince a criminal to surrender, or misdirect an evil Stormtrooper. A Sith might use this ability to instill fear in an opponent, find a hidden secret inside the mind of a prisoner, or reduce a foe to violent insanity. It is common for Jedi and Sith to form telepathic bonds with comrades where they are able to freely mentally communicate through vast distances.
- Telekinesis: Yet another core Force power, this is used to some degree by nearly all Force users. Force users use telekinesis to physically manipulate objects from afar. It manifests itself in a variety of ways such as Force Push and Pull. The mass of the object(s) manipulated depends on the skill, power, and mastery of the Force user. Padawans typically begin by lifting small stones or guiding sand into a bottle, but more powerful practitioners have been known to collapse entire caverns and maneuver whole Star Destroyers.
- Tutaminis: This ability allows the user to create a field of energy absorption. This field can vary in size, although it is commonly created around the palm. Depending on the individual, this can be used to absorb blaster bolts and even lightsabers.
- Force Lightning: A hallmark ability of the Sith, it allows the user to shoot bolts of thin lightning of varying intensities at a target, causing anything from excruciating pain to outright incineration. Although difficult to do so, it is possible to absorb, deflect, and even redirect Force Lightning using a lightsaber or Tutaminis. This ability, due to its destructive nature and reliance on hatred and anger, is banned from the Jedi Order.
- Electric Judgement: A rare and controversial light side application of Force Lightning discovered by the esteemed Jedi Master Plo Koon, it works in much the same way as standard Force Lightning, but relies on a sense of justice as opposed to hatred. It bears a signature green color that distinguishes it from the Sith variant.
- Precognition: A Force user can extend their perception to the flow of time itself, allowing them to sense things seconds or even minutes before they occur.
- Force Healing: This ability allows the user to relieve pain, mend wounds, cure illnesses, and generally heal a living target through the Force. It is primarily used by Jedi, although the Sith can utilize this ability as well. However, the dark side offers only a perversion of true Force Healing, at best only temporarily curing ailments, or at worst requiring a sacrifice of some sort.
- Force Choke: Also called Force Grip, this ability acts as an extension of the hand allowing the Force user to grip the trachea of their victim and strangle them to death. It was used heavily as a torture technique by the infamous Darth Vader, among many others. Its use is banned among Jedi.
- Force Crush: Much like Force Choke, this refinement of telekinesis allows to user to grip the target with great intensity, crushing the target. It was notably used by Master Mace Windu against General Grievous, resulting in a seemingly permanent cough and wheeze. It is rarely used by Jedi due to its barbarity.
- Force Storm: Although "Force Storm" has been used to describe great discharges of Force Lightning, it is officially a separate ability that allows the user to create a maelstrom of lightning that rips a hole in the fabric of space-time to open a hyperspace wormhole. Developed by Darth Sidious, it is the the most destructive application of the Force ever recorded. Its only known usage was by the creator himself.
The Jedi Order
The Jedi were an ancient and widespread organization of light side Force-users that acted as peacekeepers, diplomats, and guardians, maintaining serenity and safety throughout the galaxy. The Jedi were very much respected by governments and citizens alike. While typically creating and maintaining peace through their wisdom and patience, the Jedi could enforce law and order through their martial prowess and ability to manipulate the Force.
Despite the Order's good reputation, many times in history have the people of the galaxy felt distrustful of the Jedi and their secretive institution, sometimes going as far as blaming certain conflicts and tragedies on the Jedi.
To become a Jedi, one must possess Force-sensitivity and be discovered by a Jedi. Prior to the Great Jedi Purge, the Jedi Order had designated Jedi recruiters whose duty was to track down undiscovered Force-sensitives, but the job was considered undesirable by many due to the unpleasant reality of taking a child away from his/her family. Other Jedi on missions might happen upon Jedi potentials and could report their findings to the Order. Regardless of the method of discovery, the Jedi would observe and study the Force-sensitive, determining whether or not they bore the necessary qualities and lacked certain unfavorable attributes such as aggression and fearfulness.
Once the Jedi decided that the Force-sensitive was acceptable, their training began. The Jedi would commence their training at the rank of Initiate. They were expected to wear a neutral color tunic, complete with a belt and boots. Their studies would revolve around the Three Pillars of the Jedi: Force, Knowledge, and Self-Discipline. The Pillar of the Force involved studying the many aspects and interpretations of the Force, the history of the Force, the Jedi Code, and the Force itself via many rudimentary abilities such as tutaminis, altus sopor, curato salva, and simple telekinesis.
The Pillar of Knowledge involved the academics. While studying this pillar, students spent much of their time in the Jedi Archives learning about the galaxy, stars, and planets, the various flora and fauna known to the Jedi, and the history of the Order itself. Finally, the last pillar, Self-Discipline involved lightsaber combat and meditation. Here, Initiates were taught the various forms of meditation such as Empty meditation and Rising meditation, and the first form of lightsaber combat, Shii-Cho. Once ready, the Initiates underwent a series of exams that analyzed their progress and determined if they were ready to advance into the next rank.
If the Initiates passed, they would proceed to the rank of Padawan. As a Padawan, the Jedi would be assigned to a Knight or Master who would guide them through this stage. It is at this stage that the Jedi would construct their very own lightsaber. The process included deep periods of meditation, collection of various components, and, of course, the achievement of a lightsaber crystal. The Jedi Padawan would continue to be formally instructed in the ways of the Force, training in the rest of the lightsaber forms, mastering more advanced Force techniques, studying the galaxy and its inhabitants in more depth, and learning more about the ways of the Jedi, but the main goal of a Padawan is to successfully complete the Jedi Trials.
The Jedi Trials consist of five distinct trials: the trials of Skill, Courage, Spirit, the Flesh, and Insight. The Trial of Skill requires the Padawan to display an adequate sense of expertise, control, and discipline, whether that be through a lightsaber duel against a formidable opponent or other means. The Trial of Courage places the student in a position that necessitates bravery and maturity. An example of this would be the confrontation of a Sith Lord, as was the case with Obi-Wan Kenobi when he faced and defeated Darth Maul. The Trial of Spirit involves a Padawan's ability to purify oneself of dark side emotions and resist the temptation of the dark side entirely.
The Trial of the Flesh, often times considered the most difficult of the trials, tests the Padawan's pain tolerance. This pain could be mental or physical, but it must be significant. Lastly, the Trial of Insight demands the student showcase great wisdom, whether that be through finding a solution to a difficult problem without the use of violence or displaying ability to avoid expert deception. There is no particular order in which the trials must be tackled, but once they are all passed, a Padawan will be Knighted.
No longer bound to a master, a Jedi Knight was free solve problems their own way. As an official Jedi of the Order, their duty was to uphold the principles of the Jedi throughout the galaxy. To do so, a Knight would undertake specific jobs that would employ their greatest talents. Examples of jobs would be Jedi Starfighters or Aces, Jedi Seers, or Jedi Shadows.
To attain the rank of Master, a Knight must successfully guide a Jedi Padawan to the rank of Knight and show great mastery over most aspects of the Force. The legendary rank of Grand Master was incredibly rare, often times only being held by a single Jedi at a time. To achieve this rank, a Jedi must be unanimously considered the Master of Masters, the Wisest of the Wise, and the most powerful Jedi in the Order. It is the highest possible honor within the Jedi Order.
As previously described, the ranking system is as follows:
- Jedi Initiate
- Jedi Padawan
- Jedi Knight
- Jedi Master
- Jedi Grand Master
A Jedi Knight may also choose to specialize in one of the three branches of Jedi: the Jedi Guardian, Jedi Consular, and Jedi Sentinel.
The Jedi Guardian was a vigilant crusader against evil of all shapes and sizes. Guardians were known for focusing much of their attention on lightsaber combat, mastering every form with deadly efficiency. Typical jobs for a Jedi Guardian included peacekeeping, security, military, and martial instruction.
Jedi Consulars served as diplomats, scientists, teachers, and healers. Their duty in the Order was to uphold the central values of the Order and spread the doctrine of the Jedi. They were known for their mastery over the Force, while usually obstaining from direct physical combat when possible.
The rarest of the three classes, Jedi Sentinels were appropriately viewed as a balance between the Consular and Guardian. Sentinels didn't prioritize Force knowledge over martial prowess or vice versa. They instead devoted much of their attention towards the non-Force related skills and traits. As such, Sentinels served as the Order's computer specialists, mechanics, security experts, and masters of espionage.
They would often be sent to remote regions of the galaxy to infiltrate enemy ranks, safeguard specific territories, or gather intelligence on unknown areas. Most Jedi that survived Order 66 were thought to be Jedi Sentinels.
The Jedi Code
The Jedi Code speaks of serenity and peace.
There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony. (Added in Star Wars: KOTOR)
There is no death; there is the Force.
There was a new Jedi Code after the fall of the Empire.
Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.
Jedi respect all life, in any form.
Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
Not all Jedi that leave the Order turn to the dark side. Those that can retain their self-control and discipline become Gray Jedi. A rare breed of Force users, they often turn to a life of solitude, as former Jedi find it very difficult to integrate into "normal" life. A few practicing Jedi have been considered Gray Jedi by some, as was the case with Qui-Gon Jinn. Although very unusual, Sith who reject the teachings of their masters may also become Gray Jedi.
Force users who were never trained in the ways of the Jedi or Sith but still used the Force could be considered Gray Jedi as well, an example of this being members of the Jensaarai. The term was also used to describe simply those that walked the lines between the light side and the dark side. As such, Force users like Revan who utilized both the dark side and the light side of the Force were sometimes considered Gray Jedi.
Around 130ABY, Imperial Knights who served under Emperor Roan Fel were referred as Gray Jedi.
Many users of the dark side of the Force aren't members of the Sith Order and as such are labeled Dark Jedi. These Force users are often times ex-Jedi who left the Order but were rejected by the Sith. Asajj Ventress was an example of this, being first trained in the ways of the Jedi but eventually falling to the dark side and being rejected by the Sith.
Some, however, never cared to join the Sith such as the infamous Dark Jedi Jerec, a former respected Jedi Master who turned to the dark side after Order 66. Many organizations that utilized and worshiped the dark side but were not affiliated with the Sith were classified as Dark Jedi such as the Nightsisters.
It is believed that the first ever Dark Jedi who is credited among others with the creation of the Sith Order was Xendor, a former Jedi.
Order 66 was a directive given to the Clone Trooper Army directly from Chancellor Palpatine. The directive had been secretly put in place at some point during the creation of the Clone Army and could be considered the whole reason for the creation of the Clone Army in the first place.
The exact working of the order is unknown but its purpose was to designate the Jedi, once the ally of the Clone Troopers, an immediate threat and to be killed on sight. Many Jedi were individually assigned to brigades of Clone Troopers to command them in assaults and defense and so were already spread out too thin. The order was communicated directly through the internal headsets of every Clone Trooper and was carried out without question.
Many Jedi were cut down within moments of the order's activation, being caught off guard and out numbered at close range. Some, like Aayla Secura and Plo Koon,never saw the coming threat and were killed instantly. Others, like Ki-Adi-Mundi,were able to sense the threat from their own troops and were able to defend themselves for a time before being overwhelmed. Yoda was one of the Jedi who took down his attackers before they could act.
Great Jedi Purge
This started the Great Jedi Purge and the near extinction of the Jedi as a force for good in the galaxy. The disorganized Jedi were now split apart and with Anakin's raid on the Jedi Temple, they had nowhere to return to. Those that remained tended towards anonymity, exile, and contemplation. Darth Vader spent a great deal of time and resources hunting down the remaining Jedi both personally and via other means.