The Secret of Jedi and Sith Force Spirits

It is rare for a Jedi to become a Force spirit that can communicate beyond death. Those that knew the skill only used it at need. It is therefore no surprise that in times of war as Jedi fell, the training to do this was lost. Overtime, it would’ve become a mere legend even in the Jedi archives. The Sith are another matter, for while they have the ability to ‘stick’ as spirits, they must be anchored somehow and their driving desire is to have the power while remaining in physical form.

There are some spoilers here from Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars the Old Republic and other sources. If you want to see the sources to see a list of possibly referenced content, skip to that section.

The Jedi Force Spirits

In ancient times, Arca Jeth and Master Dominus of the Great Sith War knew this power of becoming Force spirits. Arca appeared once to his former student, Uliq Qel-Droma. Millennia later Ulic in turn would aid Anakin Skywalker, his Force spirit guiding him in destroying the Dark Reaper, an ancient Sith weapon, which was dug up during the Clone Wars.

Master Oteg,, Sith pureblood Jedi Knight and Kira Carson meet with the Force Spirit of the Exile
Master Oteg, Sith pureblood Jedi Knight (long story!) and Kira Carson discuss Orgus Din and Exile’s Jedi Force spirit

Long after after the sacking of the Coruscant and breaking of the following treaty, Orgus Din proved he had this power by appearing to his student, after death. The Knight was overwhelmed and turned into a puppet by the Sith Emperor’s power, the Force spirit of Orgus Din’s encouragement helped him break free. Master and Admiral Oteg received a visit with the Exile, Meetra Surik, warning of Revan’s danger and imprisonment. This led to his rescue.

It also leads to evidence how rare it is, for (if you play as knight and choose correct dialogue) Jedi Admiral Oteg will confirm it’s nearly unheard of for one Jedi spirit to hang around, let alone two!

Some Ancient Jedi Force Spirits

  • Andur Sunrider (Knight, appeared only briefly to counsel his wife, Nomi)
  • Arca Jeth (Master) -spoke to his former apprentice
  • Dominus (Master) – disappeared
  • Orgus Din (Master) – appeared to his former apprentice
  • The Exile, Meetra Surik – appeared to Master Oteg
  • Revan – appears to several others

It’s little surprise that by the time of Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker the ability was lost. How it was rediscovered is a mystery. Qui-Gon was taught by Whills, though it is a mystery how this came about. But at least a few others learned of it too. It’s possible Qui-Gon mentioned it to a discreet few such as Nejaa Halcyon. Likely they found the clues in ancient records and also sought these ancient teachers.

Qui-Gon Jinn-funeral
Qui-Gon Jinn’s body is ritually cremated on Naboo, as his colleagues, padawan, Anakin, and the Naboo look on.

After Qui-Gon Jinn’s death, his body did not vanish as the ancient Jedi. Obi-Wan assumed he was truly gone, and did believed young Anakin’s dreams of him were mere wishful thinking. There were other instances where he felt he received guidance but believed it was only his memory of his teachings. But likely Anakin was simply more open, as he was also open to hearing Uliq’s spirit during the Clone Wars. Qui-Gon’s attempt to try and dissuade Anakin from taking revenge on the sand people was overheard by Master Yoda, who was in deep meditation.

At this point, Yoda sought out this knowledge, becoming Qui-Gon’s student through contact with his spirit. Jinn’s spirit also spoke to Anakin on Praesitlyn when he nearly took vengence again. Obi-Wan only discovered that Qui-Gon was truly communicating beyond death after the destruction of the Order. Obi-Wan taught Anakin Skywalker at the moment of his death. Later Jedi who had the training included Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade Skywalker at the least.

Theories

Why so many appeared after the Clone Wars:

It is possible Qui-Gon mentioned his secret studies to a select few others that were not so stiff as the Council. It’s also safe to say Yoda himself may have taught others after Qui-Gon taught him. Qu Rahn for instance apparently did visit with him on Dagobah. Yet another possibility is the fact there WERE occasionally interactions with other Force Spirits.

During the Clone Wars for instance, Anakin Skywalker met the Spirit of Uliq Qel-Droma, who guided him in destroying a weapon of the Great Sith War. When Luke founded his Jedi Academy one of the first threats was a Sith spirit named Exar Kun, and when he was vanquished, Kun’s former Master briefly appeared. Any of these might have, in this time of crisis, chosen to pass on the knowledge.

While the disappearance of the body of a Jedi like Nejaa Halcyon might raise a few eyebrows, it’s unlikely at the time that the Jedi not in the know were in any position to investigate the mystery. They were in the middle of the war, and if any other bodies were to vanish, they were likely chalked up to being obliterated by enemy weapons.

Why some Jedi Spirits continued to appear:

Obi-Wan left Luke after several years, claiming he couldn’t put off ‘moving on’. He was inconsistent even when he did appear, at times leaving Luke to his own devices and only seeming to contact him at great need. Therefore it’s possible he felt that Luke did not need his guidance, and in fact relying on him may be detrimental. Luke appeared as a Force spirit several generations later to his descendent, Cade Skywalker, just as Uliq did to Anakin, and Meetra to Oteg, so need does seem a factor.

Examples of Jedi who gained this power soon before or after Qui-Gon fell:

  • Tahl (spoke to him)
  • Nejaa Halcyon (body vanished)
  • Aidan Bok (contacted a young Force sensitive)
  • Halagad Ventor (communicated with Rebels)
  • Qu Rahn (communicated with Kyle Katarn)
  • An’ya Kuro? (apparently vanished on death, although this was a ‘Tales’ comic & may be Infinities.
  • Kento Marek (communicated to Galen Marek, AKA Starkiller. The story may differ based on media.)
  • Echuu Shen Jon (communicated with Luke & Leia, post Endor)
  • Aryzah (communicated with a gambler, and the young would be Jedi who joined him)

The Sith Force Spirits

Ulic grieves as Arca's body vanishes and the Force spirit of Freedon Nadd has just healed the broken Exar Kun with the dark side
In Tales of the Jedi, Arca vanishes as he dies, even as the spirit of Freedon Nadd completes the seduction of Exar Kun to the dark side.

The Sith may anchor, not by oneness of the Force but by a selfish refusal to let go. Marka Ragnos appeared to his followers even as he was buried due to the arrival of Republic explorers. Freedon Nadd, who fell but wasn’t considered a Sith Lord, also guided his descendants and worshipers on Onderon from his tomb.

These Sith spirits haunted the tombs of Korriban along with the guard beasts and traps of ancient alchemy and technology. Exar Kun tried to free himself by selfish means as the Jedi pounded his stronghold, only to find himself trapped their for 4000 years. Only the combined power of the Jedi Academy students foiled him.

Palpatine used clones to anchor himself, as well as his Emperor’s Hands. This was similar on a smaller scale to what Vitiate once did, invading others to use as hosts, including the ‘Children of the Emperor’. However the clones were defective and the abruptness of his death by Skywalker did affect his spirit. He became more and more unstable as Force sensitive clones often did, even if he had found a way to put at least part of his spirit within, his mind was apparently affected.

The Sith spirits therefore are neither free or as powerful as the Jedi spirits. They constantly seek ways to return to the physical realm.

Some Ancient Sith Force Spirits

  • Freedon Nadd (appears to several)
  • Marka Ragnos (appears to Sith)
  • Naga Sadow (seen on Yavin 4)
  • Tulak Hord (seen on Yavin 4)
  • Kallig (appears to descendent)
  • Exar Kun (in Yavin 4 temples)

History of the Force Spirits

Jedi learned this skill from the ancient Whills. To the ancient Jedi it was fairly common knowledge that one could become a Force spirit. But years of war took it’s toll and it was lost until Qui-Gon Jinn rediscovered it. Training is definitely required to master it, particularly to the extent of having the body vanish into the Force. Qui-Gon’s incomplete training is why his did not.

It seems time does not diminish the Jedi’s ability to communicate, but need and training may. Luke saw both his Father and Obi-Wan in dreams after they became Jedi Force spirits. Leia saw Anakin once, asking forgiveness so that she would not be burdened by hate. Luke Skywalker himself, appeared to his descendent generations later.

Sith on the other hand, on death, can only survive at all beyond death if bound to something. Usually this is their tomb or an object such as a crystal or amulet. The average Sith Force Spirit has little power beyond it except for influence, but that is dangerous enough. The most powerful may yet have control over physical matter in the immediate vicinity, such as Exar Kun in the Yavin 4 temples, or Freedon Nadd in his mausoleum. These places are especially dangerous to Jedi, as the strongest Sith such as Vitiate or Darth Bane, have been known to try and take control of them.

There are very rare instances where a dark side Force spirit might rejoin the light side of the Force. These were usually unable to achieve it on their own, and remorse and repentance were needed. (To witness this you need to choose the light path and certain dialogue in Knights of the Old Republic, or successfully gain the Sith Inquisitor title Darth Imperious in Star Wars the Old Republic and choose to help the spirits.

Non Jedi Force Spirits

While only Force Users are known to become Spirits (whether Jedi who are freed or Sith attached to objects) other spirits are also seen. There are various areas, Force Nexus, throughout the galaxy where great events often occur. This doesn’t always mean everyone sees them or they can communicate (although if strong in the Force they might). Wicket’s the Ewok’s grandfather actually appeared in a moment of crisis by his “Spirit Tree” on Endor, suggesting Endor is one such Nexus and possibly explaining others, such as Lak Sivrak being drawn there. The Valley of the Jedi also continued to be one after the trapped spirits were freed, and Morgan appeared to his son Kyle there.

Conclusion

In order for one to truly transcend death, and go anywhere after, one had to have self sacrificial love. This is something the Jedi strove for even if they did not know of the possibility of becoming a Force spirit. A Sith therefore would always fail, because the very drive for eternal life was one based on selfishness instead. They were merely trapped as shadows of the mortal world.

Sources:

As always, all sources come back to the original six movies. Only three were released by the foundation of the expanded universe. As such, authors were discouraged from using them too frequently in post movie content. Pre movie content was set thousands of years before, to allow for the natural changes of in universe time and events to smooth over what otherwise would be discrepancies.

  • Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones (movie, novelization)
  • Star Wars Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith (novelization)
  • Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope (movie, novelization)
  • Star Wars Episode 5 The Empire Strikes Back (movie, novelization)
  • Star Wars Episode 6 Return of the Jedi (movie, novelization)
  • Tales of the Jedi comics / graphic novels/omnibus by Tom Veitch, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Knights of the Old Republic (game)
  • Star Wars the Old Republic (game) Especially these arcs:
    • Jedi Knight origin story arc
    • Jedi Consular origin story arc (indirectly)
    • Sith Inquisitor origin story arc
    • Tatooine planetary arc
    • Taral V/Maelstrom Prison – talk to Master Oteg
    • Shadows of Revan
    • Ziost expansion
    • Knights of the Fallen Empire
    • Knights of the Eternal Throne
    • Echoes of Oblivion
  • Last of the Jedi Series by Jude Watson
  • Star Wars Tales 1 & 2 or Volume 1 – Extinction. This may or may not be Infinities, though it apparently doesn’t contradict anything. (Rumor says the dialogue was altered here. I haven’t seen the volume & can’t confirm.)
  • The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ryder Windham
  • Allegiance by Timothy Zahn
  • Rebel Forces (series) by Alex Wheeler
  • SW Adventure journal 13: The Last Hand by Paul Danner
  • Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi by John Whitman
  • Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina – One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
  • Tales from the New Republic
  • Galactic Battlegrounds (video game)
  • Domain of Evil (WEG Roleplay)
  • The Clone Wars (X-Box)
  • The Force Unleashed (game, comic adaptation, novelization) by  Sean Williams 
  • Classic Marvel issue 92 “The Dream”
  • Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers
  • Dark Forces Jedi Knight (game/novella/audio drama) story by William Deitz
  • Jedi Outcast (game)
  • Heir to the Empire – Timothy Zahn
  • Dark Empire, 1, 2, Empire’s End by Tom Veitch
  • Jedi Academy (trilogy) by Kevin J. Anderson
  • I,Jedi by Michael Stackpole
  • Jedi Academy (game)
  • Legacy of the Force – multiple authors
  • Fate of the Jedi – multiple authors
  • Legacy comics by John Ostrander
  • Ewoks: Wicket’s Wagon (animation)
  • Jedi VS Sith The Essential Guide to the Force by Ryder Windham

Apocryphal Sources to this Timeline

  • The Clone Wars 2008 (Mortis Arc)
  • The Heart of the Jedi by Kenneth Flint (commissioned story was never published)

Out of Universe Quotes

In my original proposal for the “Jedi Academy” trilogy, I had suggested that Exar Kun could be the spirit of a long-dead dark Jedi or a Dark Lord of the Sith that had fallen centuries ago. George Lucas said he wanted me to use a Dark Lord of the Sith. ~ Kevin J. Anderson interview here.