So, with all this talk of Luke Skywalker being the “last” Jedi and rumors circulating that Rey could be the saga’s first Gray Jedi, I’m sure a lot of non-canon casual Star Wars fans are asking…
…who and what the hell are Gray Jedi??? Fear not, I’m here to help.
Let’s start off with a definition because everyone likes those. A Gray Jedi is a term used to describe wielders of the Force who embrace neither the light or dark side, force atheists if you will. Secondarily but just as important, it speaks to Jedi who wouldn’t surrender themselves to the dark side but at the same time who distance themselves from the Jedi Council and function independently.
However, those who were considered to be true Gray Jedi met both qualifications and did not belong to any particular Force tradition. One prime example was Jolee Bindo, a former Jedi Padawan and a Gray Jedi that served the Old Republic.
“The capacity for good or evil, like the force itself, is in all living creatures. And belonging to the Jedi Order, or the Sith, or any group, won’t change what you are at your core.”
– Jolee Bindo
Along with Bindo, other famous Gray Jedi are Qui-Gon-Jinn, Ahsoka Tano, Voss Mystics, Imperial Knights, Bendu and the Jensaari.
Jedi Qui-Gon-Jinn frequently disagreed and butted heads with the Jedi High Council. He was sometimes referred to as a Gray Jedi for this reason as those who would oppose their guidance or teachings or behaved not in line with traditional Jedi behavior.
“Jinn always does things his own way, always sure he is right, always incredulous if we do not see it his way. Some think he is a gray Jedi.“
– Tyvokka, on Qui-Gon Jinn
There are lots of resources online about the Gray Jedi so I encourage you to go deeper than this brief description and its historical context. This is just skimming the surface of the philosophy behind this concept and it’s potential to story telling in regards to the general Star Wars universe.
While Gray Jedi display a lack of adherence to the light side, they can call upon the dark side at any time without embracing it or succumbing to it’s evil. Typically, Gray Jedi oppose those who embrace the dark side of the force and those beings who were corrupted by it, even further, they are not up for consideration if they had been vindicated after falling to the dark side.
It’s important to note that the term Gray Jedi does not refer to Force users who believe there is no dark side of the Force, those such individuals were instead followers of the Potentium. Potentium are important group in this discussion, as they had a particular way of viewing the Force as a whole without dividing it into light/dark sides. They used the term also to refer to the Force itself, instead of the more common verbiage to most of the galaxy, “The Force.” They claim that what others called the light side of the Force is actually just the Force itself, which they deem an inherently good thing.
As far as Force abilities, all Gray Jedi display the use of both the light and dark side and demonstrate skill with techniques common to Jedi and Sith, such as the ability to construct and wield a lightsaber. However, the use of both light side and dark side powers is not, in itself, evidence of the individual being a Gray Jedi. There have been examples of Jedi using dark side like abilities such as force lighting, but encouraged their students to think of Force powers as mere tools and relegate them to one side or the other.
And now, a brief history lesson:
“… And in the time of greatest despair there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as: THE SON OF THE SUNS.”
Journal of the Whills, 3:127
The idea behind “Gray Jedi” can be traced all the way back to the original concept George Lucas had in mind before Star Wars was Star Wars. The Journal of the Whills was ancient text written by the Ancient Order of the Whills, overseers of the force. Originally, the first episode was going to open with the above quote, as it referred to Luke Starkiller (Skywalker) but it’s another more ambiguous quote in the journal (7:477) that clearly cites a “gray” state that rests between the light and dark side:
“First comes the day, Then comes the night.
After the darkness, Shines through the light.
The difference, they say, Is only made right.
By the resolving of gray, Through refined Jedi sight.”
This of course was abandoned early on and changed to the Star Wars as we know it but the idea of “Gray Jedi” remained and would appear as canon in non-saga materials such as novels, video games and comics. The first appearance being Knights of the Old Republic and the first mention being Republic: The Stark Hyperspace.
The events that led to the Gray Jedi occurred between the beginning of the Sith War (4000 BBY) and the end of the Dark Wars (3951 BBY). The Jedi had lost their luster and degraded to a mere remnant of their existence, as more and more of the galaxy would succumb to traditional war. The Jedi would start to believe that a strong central authority was necessary to regain control of the galaxy and regain their former glory so the Jedi Code was revised to consolidate power and institute more stringent standards on its members. Not all would agree or abide by the new set of rules, as some would object to the barring of the training of any Jedi hopeful over the age of four, the prevention of Jedi from having families and a restriction on the use of Force abilities associated with the dark side.
These individuals that frequently clashed with the Jedi Council would come to be known as Gray Jedi, not just to the Jedi themselves but also the Sith. They would also go on and develop their own set of rules, which would become the Gray Jedi Code:
So, does this mean that Rey is a Gray Jedi? Not quite…but there is some evidence that could be used as a sign of things to come. She has displayed a rebellious streak as seen in The Force Awakens but since there is no Jedi High Council anymore to butt heads with, that doesn’t seem entirely relevant, it’s just more of an affirmation.
She hasn’t shown any indication that she’ll succumb to the dark side yet but she has shown a willingness to let emotion assume control of her mindfulness. This could play as Gray or Dark however depending how strong she develops a resistance to the dark side. And if Luke Skywalker truly is “the last Jedi” and has brought balance to the force embracing philosophies from both sides, then any successor or student of his would be a Gray Jedi by default.
One last bit of speculative fiction, if you have a look at the new The Last Jedi poster, you’ll see Rey is positioned between Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo. This could literally mean she’s the divide between the light and dark side, between passion and detachment. It can’t be coincidence they have her set this way, but it may not mean she’s a Gray Jedi either…
We’ll just have to wait to find out, but since the existence of Gray Jedi in the universe in general is questionable to some and canon to others, we have no way to know which direction Rian Johnson is leaning.
Till next time…MTFBWY.