Darkness: Know Thyself (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back & The Last Jedi)

In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is training with the Jedi master Yoda in the ways of the Force. During training one day, Luke encounters a dark and cold tree cave, which is strong with the dark side of the Force.

LUKE- “There's something not right here. I feel cold, death.”
YODA- “That place... is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.”
LUKE- “What's in there?”
YODA- “Only what you take with you.”

Yoda sends Luke to go into the cave and face the dark side. Inside, Luke encounters a vision of Darth Vader. Luke pulls out his lightsaber and battles Darth Vader. When Luke cuts off Vader’s head, the helmet explodes and reveals Luke’s own face behind the mask of Vader.

In The Last Jedi, Rey has a similar encounter to that of Luke’s back on Dagobah. On Ahch-To she goes to the “dark place” beneath the island and gets pulled down into a cave. (Interesting costume observation- After Rey falls down in the water, her hair knocks loose and she no longer has the triple bun but her hair is half up/half down. Her hair stays this way for the rest of the film. Perhaps marking a change in her character and identity..?) There she faces a mirror-like surface and enters into some sort of infinity loop where there are seemingly infinite versions of herself lined up. She comes to the end of the line and is facing a frosted mirror and asks it to show who her parents are. The frost melts away and she is staring back at her own reflection.

Before there was light, there was darkness. Darkness can represent several ideas, themes, or concepts. It holds the unknown; it is vast and seemingly endless. Darkness can trigger fear and anxiety. Our imagination runs wild inside dark voids. More often than not, however, our worst fears are not in the darkness, but inside us. It is this inner darkness that Luke must face inside the cold, dark cave. He encounters a vision of Darth Vader, whom he battles only to defeat and see his own face inside the helmet. As Yoda said, what’s in there is only what he took with him- himself and his fear. Furthermore, with Rey, she encounters her deepest fear; that in the search for her identity (who she is and what her place in all of this is) she realizes that she is alone. As a child who was abandoned, she fears she is utterly alone, which she says to Kylo Ren right after that scene, “I’ve never felt more alone.”

Our fear can be a power weapon wielded against us by the devil. At the core of fear is the thought that God is not with us. We fear that we are either unsafe, unloved, alone, or not valued. Yet, if we look to the bible, we can see that God clearly tells (even commands) us to not be afraid. The phrases “do not be afraid,” “fear not,” and “do no fear” appear roughly 80+ times in the bible. Most often the phrase is followed up by an encouragement from God.
  • “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
  • “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
  • “ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

As Yoda says, “Fear is the path that leads to the dark side.” In my previous post I talked about light and the presence of God. To contrast or balance that; darkness represents the separation from God. In order to overcome darkness, one must become aware of the contrasting light. When we are within the light of the Lord we know the truth about ourselves. This is how to identify one’s inner darkness, by comparison to God’s light. When we know His will compared to our own, we can see where we have gone astray and walked in darkness alone. That is what sin is, an act against God’s will. It is an action that says, “I choose to do this on my own and without you or against your will.” We are forgiven once we confess our sin, the inner darkness, which separates us from God. We must acknowledge our fallen ways and then repent- turn back towards God.

We don’t defeat darkness on our own though, Jesus Christ already overcame the power of sin and death. Our part is to know ourselves and how our fears can drive us away from God. I believe we also need to acknowledge the lies the devil tells us to feed our fears. As Peter says, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:9) We have an active enemy, just like any good Jedi, there’s a dark-sider we must battle. The words of the apostle Paul speak well about this battle:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 6:10-12)

So may we be on guard and aware of the lies we believe from the devil. May we keep searching our own selves and reveal the dark recesses of our hearts and minds. May we confess and submit our sinful ways to the Lord so that we can walk humbly with Him through our process of sanctification, which will be perfected on the day of Christ’s return.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:23-24)

Excerpts from this post were pulled from my MFA thesis. To read more about how Star Wars and Jesus influenced my artwork, visit my website HERE.

As always, thanks for reading! ^_^ May the Force be with you!