For my ally is The Force, and a powerful ally it is.
Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us.
Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
I meant to get this post done for Star Wars Day; May the forth be with you and all that, but sadly I had to resign myself to Revenge of the Fifth er … Sixth. I am a
closet geek. I have a degree in a science and have always loved science fiction and space travel, Han Solo, and “pew pew” laser guns. I was 8 years old when Star Wars: A New Hope came out in theaters. Although everyone at that time just called it Star Wars, and it was beyond cool. It had a certain something about it that made for an exciting and meaningful story. I think it had a lot to do with magic. In fact, I think Star Wars at its core is a story about magic and that’s why it has such wide appeal.
Star Wars itself has a very eastern mystique about it. The Jedi look a bit like samurai warriors and many costumes and names have sort of the same kind of far east quality. Aside from this, The Force permeates all the films, and those who have the ability to control it have a powerful ally. Sounds a lot like magic to me. In fact, many a witch and magician have defined magic in this way:
“Magic is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.”
– Aleister Crowley
“Magic is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with the Will”
– Dion Fortune
“A magical act may be defined as causing reality to conform to will” – Phil Hine
“Causing change by directing energy with one’s will.” -Kerr Cuhulain
“The Force is what gives the Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi
Yeah, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a magician of sorts. I think he was actually patterned after Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. At this point in the story he is also an elder and on the verge of training young Luke Skywalker (who has a very magical name). Which brings me to yet another parallel between the Star Wars story and magic. Magical training is taught to beginning students by an experienced magician. Obi-Wan and Yoda are elders in the magical order of the Jedi. They train the younglings and the inexperienced Luke Skywalker who have been identified as having some natural ability to use magic. Hmmm, yep, sounds like a magical tradition to me.
In addition, the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead is an idea rooted in ancient religions and witchcraft. Some of my favorite scenes in Star Wars are those where characters talk with the dead or see the spirits of those who have died. Practicing pagans often converse, make offerings, venerate, or even work with the dead. The characters in Star Wars seem content on just talking to them. However, these benevolent spirits do make conversation, give advice and dire warnings, and generally try to help the living. They seem to embody this idea of eternal consciousness in the universe.
A Jedi, like any good magician, is taught that The Force can be used for many purposes. It can be used for protection, persuasion (these are not the droids you are looking for), wisdom, to see the future, and old friends long gone. Although the Jedi harness the power of the force to do their bidding, people unfamiliar with The Force doubt its very existence. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the muggles we all know? Something like, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid!” or how about, “There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny!” Those who have no experience with magic, always discredit its validity. Apparently, this is also the same in a galaxy far, far away.
Finally, the idea that this magical Force can be used for good or ill is one of my favorite ideas put forth in the Start Wars universe. The Force isn’t good or bad, it just is. It is up to the Jedi or Sith Lord to figure out how they will wield it.
For the most part, Star Wars has always been a story about the dark side of The Force versus the light side. However, there is much talk of late about the Gray Jedi. Jedi that follow the will of the force but travel a path between light and dark. Sort of like a gray witch. In fact, some have speculated that Rey, of The Force Awakens, may become one of these Gray Jedi following her own path… Perhaps then we will at last fulfill the prophecy and finally bring balance to The Force.