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"But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression…the dark side of the Force are they, easily they flow… If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you, it will…"
―Yoda — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

Ancient symbol of the dark side of the Force

The dark side of the Force, also known as Bogan,[1] was one of two ways of channeling the Force.[2] To tap into the power of the dark side was to indulge in raw emotions such as passion. The dark side was greed; the fear of change and the inability to let go. By holding on to things, one rebelled against the will of the Force and became angry and hateful, which in turn led to suffering. Those who were unable to conquer their dark side were devoured by it.[3] The Sith were Force-sensitives well known for embracing the dark side and being the mortal enemies of the Jedi, who served the will of the Force and thus the light side of the Force.[4][5]

The dark side was associated with the night and masculinity.[6] As with the light side, it was an integral part of all living things, and as the shadow of the soul, the dark side had to be continually overcome by sentients to walk the path of the light; Indulging in the dark side led to imbalance.[7] The dark side was not more powerful than the light side; it was an easier, albeit destructive, path. Failing to resist the temptation of darkness would allow the dark side to dominate one's destiny,[2] although redemption was always a possibility.[8]

Anakin Skywalker, gifted in the Force,[4] succumbed to the seduction of the dark side because of his inability to let go of his attachments. Skywalker was attached to his mother and his wife, and the possibility of their deaths sent him rebelling against the natural course of life and the Force itself, seeking power in his fear of losing his loved ones and becoming a hateful, disfigured cyborg and an agent of evil.[3][9]

Definition[]

"It's called the dark side of the Force because it's secretive. That's all. The Sith kept their knowledge and identities hidden—in the dark, see? They thought it made it easier to impose order."
Lona Aphra to her daughter, Chelli Lona Aphra[src]

The dark side was defined as anger, fear, aggression[2] or evil, otherwise known as fear.[7] It was stated that the Sith referred to the dark side as "dark" because it was secretive. The Sith kept their knowledge and identities secret because they believed it would make it easier for them to impose order.[10] Farmer Kaeden Larte, who had previously seen her friend Ahsoka Tano use the light side of the Force, felt as though the dark side was unnatural and wrong upon seeing the Sixth Brother use a Force choke.[11]

The essence of the dark side[]

"You've told me your existence has been nothing but pain and loss. Never feeling secure. Never having a home. You deserve so much, and I can get it for us. The life we'll be able to have together once—"
"What kind of life will that be, Quinlan? The kind where we're slaves to our hatred? Our rage? That's what the dark side made me. That's what it does. Nothing is ever enough. You get more, and more, but you're never happy. It's a trap baited with all the things you want most in life—and it's not worth living. I already left that behind."
Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress[src]

Seduced by the dark side, Anakin Skywalker ceased to exist and became Darth Vader.

The dark side was selfishness, possession, interlocked with fear of loss what gave rise to anger and hate and brought suffering - to those whom its power was unleashed and who embraced it alike. As noted by former Dark Acolyte Asajj Ventress, those who followed the dark side were never satisfied, always desiring more than what they gained.[12] In fact, Grand Master Yoda believed that, after giving into fear, anger and hate was path to the dark side.[4] Yoda believed that, once one started down the dark path, it dominated their destiny forever.[2] Nevertheless, a return to the light side was always possible.[8][13]

Hubris[]

"The beast is you and you are the beast. To deny it simply gives it power."
Serenity, to Yoda[src]

The dark side was selfishness, fear and aggressive feelings in all living things - however, beings were often tempted to deny and trying to escape from this truth, imagining the dark side to be something external, something what is not the part of them, something what they can get rid off. Such a hubris was easy to fall into. Even Grand Master Yoda, who trained to conquer his darkness for hundreds of years, initially refused to recognize the reflection of his dark side as part of himself what he chose not to give power. However, denying the truth only fed the dark side.[7]

Attachment[]

""The only love I feel in my heart is haunted by fear what would happen should I let go".
"Then it is not love. It is a prison."
"
―Anakin Skywalker to the Son who took the shape of Shmi Skywalker[src]

Living beings tended to mistake attachment to be love. Whereas attachment was possession and as such, like everything of the dark side, had selfishness at its core. Since it was possession, it fed into the fear of loss, which was yet another face of greed. When attachment creeped onto love, it become pain just like Anakin Skywalker described it: love was haunted by the fear of loss and the fear of the pain what that loss would bring - thus, it wasn't love, but a prison, in which the loved and the lover are both prisoners.[6] Attachment led to jealousy and it was always followed by fear what led to hate.[3]

Greed for power[]

"The Dark Side does not serve us. We serve the Dark Side."
Darth Momin to Darth Vader[src]

The trap of the dark side was that whatever one selfishly gained through it, it was never enough. The Sith were butchering each other, victims of their own greed.[14] Darth Sidious's ultimate desire was to use the powers of the dark side to alter the universe itself.[15] Anakin Skywalker, who initially only wanted the power to defeat death out of attachment to his wife, ultimately developed the desire to rule the galaxy and make things the way he want them to be.[3]

Although Jedi were taught to follow the light side of the Force, the dark side was seductive, and one had to be at calm, at peace, to be passive in order to have a clear mind and thus, a clear judgment, to be mindful of thoughts and feelings.[2] Thus, they could avoid falling to the dark side. Even a Jedi raised in the traditions of the Jedi Order for years could be corrupted by the lure of the dark side in certain situations.[3] Despite this, while the Jedi often described the dark side as a "quick and easy path,"[2] drawing upon its power did not come with ease or without cost to those who possessed strong compassion and were not used to drawing upon feelings such as hatred.[source?]

Dark side abilities[]

Powers[]

"The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural."
―Darth Sidious, to Anakin Skywalker[src]

Relying on anger, fear, hatred and bitterness, which was the dark side of the Force, granted certain abilities that wielders of the light side had no access to, such as possession[16][17] and the ability to manipulate Force visions.[14] The method to use the dark side was to one let anger and hatred for someone wash them away entirely, to be filled with anger and hate and the desire to cause pain and suffering.[18] Most dark side powers were purely offensive in nature like Force lightning. Dark side power could also be used to alter life and could, according to legend, be used to manipulate midi-chlorians to create life or keep someone from dying.[3] The dark-side historian and Sith cultist Yupe Tashu told Wedge Antilles on Akiva that some Sith Lords were able to siphon the Force from their captives in order to extend their own lives for centuries beyond their natural expiration.[19] Dark side abilities were considered by some to be "unnatural."[3]

Will and usage[]

The Jedi emphasized that using the Force to hurt or destroy was of the dark side; although the Jedi sought to defend others by disarming the enemy, the line on how far they would go was always blurred, so it was crucial for them to keep their mind clear. Luke Skywalker was tempted by the dark side when he attacked his father in fear of losing his sister just like Anakin Skywalker pledged loyalty to Darth Sidious in fear of losing his love.[20] Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger drew upon his fear, anger and hate to summon a massive fyrnock to attack the Grand Inquisitor for fear of losing his friends.[21]

Dark presence[]

The power of the dark side was penetrating and pernicious. The Jedi Temple was built on top of an ancient Sith shrine and, unbeknownst to the Jedi, the power of the dark side seeped upwards through the Temple from the shrine, slowly weakening the Jedi over a millennium.[22]

If the presence of the dark side was significantly powerful, nearby Force-sensitives often feel the sensation of cold. This happened on several occasions to Ezra Bridger and Kanan Jarrus in the presence of Darth Vader, and also occurred when Luke sensed the dark energy emanating from the Cave of Evil on Dagobah.[2][23] Extensive use of the dark side could leave an entire planet corrupted by its energy. Dathomir was one such place that was heavily steeped in the dark side.[12] This could also resonate through physical objects physically associated with individuals with a strong dark side presence,[24] such as that of Darth Momin and his mask. Momin's mask corrupted nearby beings and turned them into mindless killers.[25]

Perception[]

Jedi[]

"The dark side consumes. And there is no balance to be found in such a path."
―Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn[src]

Master Yoda had to overcome his dark side in order to learn the way of immortality.

The dark side of the Force was highly corrupting. According to Grand Master Yoda, the destiny of one who embraced the dark side would be forever dominated by it,[2] but redemption was never impossible, choices, actions, both selfless and selfish paved one's path to follow trough life. The Jedi knew that the dark side is fear, leading to anger, what leads to hatred, leading to suffering - mostly for the one who embraced the dark side. The Jedi conquered their dark side through patience, training and discipline, not giving it power over themselves.[7]

Sith[]

"The dark side does not serve us. We serve the dark side. If we glorify it through our acts and our work and our art, it gives us power. It gives us life. Even life eternal."
―Momin, to Darth Vader[src]

Darth Sidious believed that the source of his dark side power was the universe beyond the edges of the known galaxy.[19] Darth Vader saw the dark side as strength and believed he embodied its power.[26]

Lord Momin saw the dark side of the Force as a higher power[27] and devoted himself to creation through his given powers.[28] Specifically, Momin believed in the creation of art that glorifies the dark side, which could, in his view, grant the artist eternal life.[27] Such extremist views led to Jedi and Sith holocron chroniclers' neglect of Momin.[28]

Behind the scenes[]

As George Lucas explained numerous times over the years, the dark side was greed, self-centeredness, fear, anger, hate, bitterness, owning, having, not being able to let go of things - and thus, it was the opposite of the light side of the Force what was compassion, caring about others, love, fairness, charity and hope. He stressed that the dark and light sides are not malevolent or benevolent in themselves, but one must stay on the light side to keep the Force in balance and do the right thing.[29][30][31][32][33]

Appearances[]

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Kylo Ren was Darth Vader's grandson and the archetype of a new generation of dark side warriors.

Non-canon appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]