The Hidden Spirituality of the Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars 9! End of an Era! I guess it seems like many are happy it’s over. Rotten tomatoes, 52% OOF! 

Despite that, the new films lack a cohesive plot bridging them all together, Star Wars since it’s very beginning has been steeped in spiritual symbolism, such as the name Jedi seemingly linked to the fictional Egyptian magician named Djedi, and the concept of the force itself based on Taoism. I mean, I’m not the only one who reads the Tao Te Ching and imagines Lao Tzu as a little hairy green man, right? *crickets*

So the rise of skywalker! Let’s break it down! 

*intro*

Oh, btw’s, Spoiler warning, but you knew that already didn’t you? 

The movie begins with Rey meditating and gently levitating. She’s asking, “Be with me, be with me; be with me.” Calling to presumably Luke or the other Jedi to support her. Very soon, she says, “You’re not with me” with reluctance, and returns with disappointment to the ground. The lesson here is spiritual surrender - despite her connection to the force, she is unable to truly surrender to the wisdom of the Jedi she is trying to connect with. She is filled with expectations and desires that she misses the real opportunity to connect on a deeper level. It is the same as Korra in Avatar: The Legend of Korra, who cannot Airbend due to her lack of ability to surrender to stillness truly. We’ll come back to this at the end.

One of the most profound scenes in this movie happened in the caves of Pasaana. Rey and company find themselves trapped in these underground sand caves with no apparent exit. They see the dagger they were looking for, “super easy, barely an inconvenience!” - thanks, Ryan! And then they encounter the Vexis Snake. This big angry puppet I mean serpent who most certainly looks to kill them all. Recognizing that it’s harmed, Rey uses the force to heal the snake, which opens up a passage. 

Now, why is this significant? If we look at the world's most prominent religions, all of the Abrahamic faiths, we find this story in Genesis about the Garden of Eden and how the serpent tricked Eve into, you know, harsh times. I don’t want to cast this as good or bad, but simply to say that, especially within the Abrahamic traditions, the serpent has most often been a symbol of the devil, and something to fear. This idea is found all over the place, even outside of religion, from Jafar in Aladdin to Voldemort and Slytherin's house. I mean, hey, even Indiana Jones hates them! 

But when we look deeper into history - the serpent wasn’t always evil, and this is true even today. In the Mayan cultures, we see the Oroborous - the Serpent eating its tail, describing the infinite cyclical nature of the universe, and divine sources of wisdom. The Mayans also have Quetzacoatl, the winged serpent deity who stood for learning! 

In Ancient Greece, we have the Caduceus, the twin-serpent staff of Hermes. This is also a symbol of Wisdom, describing the Masculine and Feminine energy channels that run up the spine igniting with wings at the top - describing the ascension process. Often, every time that the serpents cross is depicted with a Chakra point as well. In the Tarot, we sometimes see a Serpent wrapped around an egg. In essence, the Serpent here represents the flow of cosmic energy, and the egg it wraps around is the ever forming reality that is coming into being by our progressive growth through life. 

When we see Rey in the cave with the serpent, the party has an immediate reactionary choice. Fight or flight. Rey, the divine feminine stepping into her power, makes a different choice. She heals the serpent and opens up a hidden passage as a result of this action. This very scene describes the divine feminine treating the wounded snake, relieving the fear of that which is misunderstood, and through compassion, opening up a hidden doorway into the next stage of the journey. This is practical to use in the sense that - If we experience something in life that we immediately fear, how might showing compassion to that thing change the outcome of what we expect to happen? Think about it.

Now, much of Rising of Skywalker revolved around Ray's descent into facing her inner darkness, stemming from her being the granddaughter of Palpatine. This evil energy within her DNA scares her and twists her thoughts into believing that she could become evil. Now, Rey didn’t have a choice about carrying this darkness within her, it was there since she was conceived, and her shadow self had to be faced fully for her to embody the light and truth within her. We even got to see a little bit of this with the fight between her and her well, shadow self

The spiritual lesson here for all of us is that; often it’s not our faults that we carry darkness within us - often there is hate, fear, shame, guilt, and more that is imposed upon us from a young age from our environment, often coming from abusive others in the world, including but not limited to family or friends, and even though the trauma isn’t our faults, we are responsible for doing something about it, face it like Rey did, and come to terms with who we indeed are. We can begin this transformation process for ourselves even by merely changing the language that we use. Like Caroline, Casey describes, instead of using the word Trauma, try “My dangerous and beautiful assignment,” because our greatest struggles hold the seeds of profound personal transformation within. 

In Rise of Skywalker, there’s even a bit of a redemption story here for the Emperor himself, for it’s through his bloodline that he comes to meet his end. He is the one who - quite literally - sowed the seed of his destruction…. *sigh* sorry, that wasn’t meant to be a pun *play clip “Do it” from Pitch Meeting*

Next, let us continue with the Death and Resurrection of Kylo Ben - lol. You see, in the ancient mystery schools and throughout many religions and spiritualities, we find this idea of spiritual death and rebirth. The end and rebirth cycle is often believed to be a necessity to be initiated into the inner mysteries in the personal and spiritual transformation process. As one part of you dies, a higher expression of you can come to light. This is found in the three-fold sequence in the Tarot - The Hanged Man, Death, and Resurrection. We see this happening in the last fight between Rey and Kylo Ren.

Rey wins the duel with the help of Leia, who together reflect the two aspects of the Divine Feminine - the youthful and mature energies, and can bring the chaotic masculine to a stillness. Rey healing Ben was the same energy as healing the Serpent, demonstrating to the masculine - who is now listening under his defeat - what love feels like. The result, he experiences not only physical but a spiritual rebirth as well. 

We now come to the great battle with the Emperor himself. The Emperor is a reflection of one of the biggest challenges in society - how certain people will use and manipulate others to wield power in a selfish way, which has no choice but to corrupt him. In the book “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover,” it describes the fundamental archetypes of the Divine Masculine, and how each pattern splits into an aggressive and passive expression. The Emperor is embodying the aggressive polarity of the King archetype - the Tyrant. In the end, the only way to transmute his evil is the path of destruction. 

Now, at the very beginning, we spoke on the subject of Mystic Surrender and Rey’s inability to hear Luke truly. Much like Ben's defeat, which allowed him to feel compassion once again, Rey being drained of all of her energy enable her to penetrate the barrier that blocked her from her connection to everything. In this, we find that classical Taoist passage “Empty yourself and you will become filled,” and so she is, receiving exactly what she needs to defeat the great evil. 

Ben's final act of reviving Rey is his final atonement, which is his at-one-moment. It is a giving back, the sacred apology of the masculine from its evil transgressions, and both him and Leia disappearing signals the completion of this cycle. 

Coming to a close, Rey develops a new golden lightsaber. This brings us to the rise of the goddess within, reflecting Luke, who designed his Green lightsaber at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. There is an archetype here that is reflected in many mythologies of the world called “The woman with the golden hair” - describing the celestial powers of the sun and the moon being manifest within a woman, and this subtly carries an expression of the Christ Sophia - The Christ Consciousness awakened within a woman. 

Finally, we have the conclusion of the movie with Rey naming herself a Skywalker.  Personally - this scene struck a beautiful note within me because it reminded me of myself. I never felt as though I had a real last name because I, too, have gone through a journey of not feeling like I belonged and then finding a new name for myself. That said, Rey stepping into the name Skywalker is akin to her stepping into her power, bringing an ending to the old story and a new beginning at the same time. While we may or may not ever see Rey again in Star Wars, she will stand as an inspiration for force users everywhere, and especially women and girls around the world, as a demonstration of the power within them. 

While Rise of Skywalker might not be a perfect movie, I think one of the things we often take for granted in Star Wars movies is how steeped and rich in spirituality they are, but we’ll save future discussion for another time. 

Thanks for watching! 

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