Many mysteries haunt the fabled galaxy far, far away, but few concepts in Star Wars are more intriguing than that of the Force ghost. They’ve been seen several times in the Star Wars canon, and Wookieepedia explains that Force ghosts are manifestations of deceased Jedi who retained their identity after becoming one with the Force. But not all Jedi achieve such a state – it involves training.
The technique of becoming a Force ghost was more common in ancient Star Wars history. Both Jedi and Sith were practitioners, though their methods were different and yielded different results. Jedi found peace in death, whereas Sith often attached their spirits to places and objects, driven mad by darkness and isolation.
The path to becoming a Force ghost is a challenging one that requires a great will and a deep connection to the Force.
The Force ghost practice was lost among the Jedi for centuries, but was rediscovered by the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn with the help of a shaman of the Whills. Qui-Gon mastered the technique after death, notably communing with Yoda to teach the old Jedi Master the ways of preservation.
Qui-Gon also appeared to his old Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the season finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the title character finally finds peace and reestablishes his connection with the Force. It is only then that he reconvenes with Qui-Gon, who leads him across the desert toward the next chapter.
For the Jedi, the Force ghost state can only last for so long. Often that period is many years, but eventually they must pass on completely.
This pattern of Force ghost visits to Jedi in need would become a common one. Yoda and Obi-Wan both learned the technique, and both used it to aid Luke Skywalker during times of strife for the young (and old) Jedi.
While Jedi like Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker mastered the Force ghost method after death, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and the Skywalker twins notably transferred their physical forms into states of pure energy. Qui-Gon and Anakin were cremated, but for the others, there was no body to cremate.
A Force ghost can appear in several forms. In the Star Wars films and TV shows, they appear as perfected versions of their physical selves without scars or wounds. They appear gravity-bound and transparent with a blue glow. In other corners of the canon, Force ghosts are also seen floating and manifesting as amorphous energy.
For the Jedi, the Force ghost state can only last for so long. Often that period is many years, but eventually they must pass on completely. The Sith, however, have a different curse.
The Sith employ dark side techniques to reach Force ghost status, and they are not as pretty. Most commonly the Sith bind their souls to places and objects that are either strong with the dark side or hold particular meaning. The powers binding Sith to the physical world after death are often rage and hatred, and they find no peace in it.
Jedi found peace in death, whereas Sith often attached their spirits to places and objects, driven mad by darkness and isolation.
Other Sith have been known to leave traces of themselves in other people. This dark technique is not quite the same as manifesting a Force ghost, but it is a creepy alternative to preservation found only on the dark side of the Force.
Qui-Gon Jinn told Yoda that the key to becoming a Force ghost is “release of the self, not exaltation of it.” That is why the Sith cannot achieve becoming a Force ghost in the way the Jedi can, and why practitioners of the Dark side can never attain their true goal of life beyond death.
The path to becoming a Force ghost is a challenging one that requires a great will and a deep connection to the Force. Most Jedi who die do not find this ability to communicate with the physical world, instead releasing their individual identity entirely and becoming one with the Force.
The Force ghost is a mysterious and powerful figure in Star Wars lore. Though they are not fully understood, these mentors add to the intrigue and depth of this modern mythology and help make Star Wars one of the richest worlds of fiction ever created.