Over the years Star Wars has revealed that the Jedi Order possess a range of ancient prophecies - but what are they, and what do they mean? Star Wars: The Phantom Menace introduced Anakin Skywalker as the prophesied Chosen One, a being destined somehow to bring balance to the Force. The Jedi interpreted this to mean that Anakin was destined to destroy the Sith, and were understandably taken rather by surprise when instead Anakin betrayed them and became a Sith Lord. Yoda suggested that the prophecy could have been misinterpreted.
Lucasfilm is preparing the way for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a film that's intended to bring a final close to this trilogy of trilogies. That means it has to draw on plot threads running through the prequels, the original trilogy, and of course the sequels themselves. There can be no loose ends when the story is complete, and given that Emperor Palpatine's return means Darth Vader's sacrifice didn't completely destroy the Sith, the Chosen One prophecy needs to be revisited.
Recognizing this, Lucasfilm has released two new tie-ins that explore the themes of prophecy and foretelling. The first, Claudia Gray's novel Master & Apprentice, has explicitly revealed a number of key Jedi prophecies, including the text of the Chosen One prophecy. The second, Cavan Scott's audiobook Dooku: Jedi Lost, has revealed a little of what it's like for a Jedi to catch a vision of the future. In one key scene, Dooku himself unknowingly experiences glimpses of his own descent into the dark side, and even his own execution at the hands of Darth Vader.
Yoda believed that the prophecies were dangerous. He believed that Jedi should live in the present moment, and that the future should only be revealed as the Force willed; to study the prophecies was to attempt to control the future, and thus was of the dark side. As a result, just a handful of Jedi - including, of course, Qui-Gon Jinn - had spent time looking through the prophecies. Qui-Gonn was particularly fascinated by a group of prophecies pertaining to the Chosen One, and these led him to recognize Anakin Skywalker as the one destined to bring balance to the Force. Let's take a look through the few Jedi prophecies that have been revealed to date in the new Disney Star Wars canon, and try to work out what they mean.
The Kyber That Is Not Kyber
"When the Kyber that is not Kyber shines forth, the time of prophecy is at hand."
Kyber are living crystals, composed of both organic and inorganic matter, and because they're partly alive they are attuned to the Force. The crystals exhibit strange shifts in their lattices, which have caused some to wonder whether or not they actually have an emotional spectrum. According to Chuck Wendig's novel Aftermath: Empire's End, "Just as the Jedi are a lens that focuses the Force, so is the kyber crystal a lens that focuses the light inside the Jedi - and the light inside the Jedi's weapon, the lightsaber." The Jedi venerate the kyber, but the Sith corrupt them, bleeding them to the dark side of the Force and using them to create terrible superweapons. As Rogue One confirmed, the Death Star itself was powered by kyber.
One of the most curious prophecies is of "the Kyber that is not Kyber." This particular prophecy was fulfilled in Master & Apprentice, when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi stumbled upon kohlen crystals. "It looks almost exactly like kyber," Qui-Gon reflected as he studied a sample. "The same heft. It even possesses some vibration with the Force." Incredibly, kohlen could even power a lightsaber, as proven when a would-be saboteur attempted to stop Obi-Wan's lightsaber working by switching his blade's kyber crystal for kohlen. Qui-Gon took the triggering of Obi-Wan's blade to mean that the time of prophecies was at hand, and that the Chosen One would appear soon.
"The Danger of the Past"
"The danger of the past is not past, but sleeps in an egg. When the egg cracks, it will threaten the galaxy entire."
The Jedi had believed the Sith to be extinct, to the extent that they only taught their students lightsaber combat for ceremonial purposes. In reality, of course, the Sith were far from extinct; they had gone underground, corrupting the Old Republic from within. The cracking of the egg presumably refers to the moment when the Sith chose to make their presence known to the galaxy in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with Darth Maul murdering Qui-Gon Jinn. Curiously, though, this prophecy may carry two meanings rather than one. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the galaxy believed that Palpatine - a.k.a. Darth Sidious, last of the Sith - had been killed. The trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has suggested his threat cannot be consigned to the past just yet.
The Chosen One
"A Chosen One shall come, born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored."
This is the famous Chosen One prophecy, and it's certainly ambiguous. It's clearly Messianic, foretelling the Virgin Birth of a savior figure who will somehow bring "ultimate balance" to the Force. This Chosen One is certainly Anakin Skywalker, a child who had no father and whose Midichlorian levels were off the charts. The idea of "balance" is an odd one, and seems to suggest that the prophecies predate the Jedi Order; the Jedi honor the light and attempt to destroy the darkness, rather than truly seeking a harmonious balance between the two. It's notable that the Jedi assumed the Chosen One would destroy the Sith, and didn't expect anything to happen to them during the time the prophecies were fulfilled. Given some of the other prophecies surrounding the Chosen One, this was naive at best, absolutely foolish at worst.
The interpretative key to this sentence may lie in two words: "through him." This doesn't necessarily imply that the Chosen One himself will be the one to bring balance; rather, it suggests that something he sets in motion will do so. That could be through his children, or potentially through his Force Ghost mentoring a student.
"The Highest of the Jedi"
"One will ascend to the highest of the Jedi despite the foreboding of those who would serve with him."
This prophecy undoubtedly speaks of Anakin Skywalker, who was made a member of the Jedi Council by Palpatine, against the wishes of the Council themselves. As such, it subtly hints at the conflict between the Jedi Order and the Republic Government under Palpatine.
"The Sacrifice of Many"
"Only through the sacrifice of many Jedi will the Order cleanse the sin done to the nameless."
Many of the prophecies remain mysterious, though. In this case, "the sacrifice of many Jedi" probably refers to the deaths of the Jedi during the Clone Wars, which culminated in Order 66. What's unclear, however, is exactly what "the sin done to the nameless" was. It could potentially refer to the Clone Troopers, who the Jedi allowed to be slaughtered in battle and didn't trouble to think of as people; alternatively, a number of recent tie-in books have focused in on the fact the Jedi didn't really try to wipe out slavery in the galaxy. It's notable that the Chosen One was born a slave.
"Give Birth to Darkness"
"She who will be born in darkness will give birth to darkness."
Palpatine's return neatly binds the Star Wars Saga together, meaning it's all one single narrative - the story of the Emperor's rise and fall from power. As such, the prophecies naturally span the whole Saga. That means this particular prophecy most likely refers to the birth of Ben Solo. Leia is the daughter of Darth Vader, born after her mother was almost Force-choked to death, so she was certainly born in darkness; and her son, too, was destined to fall to the dark side.
"When the Force Itself Sickens"
"When the Force itself sickens, past and future must split and combine."
One of the strangest Jedi Prophecies refers to the Force itself sickening, and to past and future splitting and combining. At this stage, it's impossible to say just what this prophecy means; there is a single hint in Ken Liu's The Legends of Luke Skywalker, where the dark side's dominance is referred to as a sickness in the Force. So the first half probably refers to a time when the dark side has ascended to power; either to the Dark Times between the prequels and the original trilogy, or to the First Order's victory in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Palpatine's return.
Two Prophecies Speak of Palpatine's Return
"When the righteous lose the light, evil once dead shall return."
"He who learns to conquer death will through his greatest student live again."
Two prophecies speak of the return of a powerful evil; it's reasonable to assume they're talking about Palpatine, and as such they may well be hints as to the plot of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Palpatine was a student of Darth Plagueis, who he claimed had learned to conquer death; various tie-ins have already shown Darth Sidious was obsessed with conquering death so he could create an eternal Empire. If anyone was going to learn how to come back from the dead, it would be Palpatine. And yet, there are two conditions to this:
- Palpatine will return "through his greatest student"
- The Emperor will, however, only come back from the dead "when the righteous lose the light."
Darth Vader was undoubtedly Palpatine's greatest student, so this suggests that Vader himself set something in motion that will ultimately allow the Emperor to return; perhaps there's something to the theory that Palpatine used Vader's mask as a resurrection tool. The comment about the righteous losing the light may simply refer to a hopeless situation, with the First Order dominating the galaxy in the aftermath of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As with so many of these prophecies, it's all pretty vague and indistinct; there's clearly intent to the wording, suggesting they tie in to Lucasfilm's broader plans somehow, but at this stage it's impossible to say what the meaning really is.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019