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Author Topic: Sith and Jedi sects  (Read 979 times)

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Offline Sotekh

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Sith and Jedi sects
« on: 01/22/18, 03:40:03 AM »
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I've not read nearly all of the pre-Disney EU books, and the only post-Disney Star Wars book I've read (so far) is Thrawn, but I don't remember any discussion about sects within the Jedi and Sith orders. 

In universe, we know that the Jedi were regarded (at least by outsiders) as a religion, even if an "outdated" or "hokey" one, as per Han Solo.

Given that real-world religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, all have their schisms and sects.  Without engaging in debate about the merits of any, Christianity is broadly divided into three major groups, Islam into two, Judaism into three, Buddhism into two, and I've no idea re: Hinduism--three, perhaps, but that's a very vague memory at best, so forgive me if I err.


The Jedi have had their schisms, from whence sprang the Sith of course, but within anything I can remember seeing on screen or reading about them, there's at most a few minor notes about the Living Force adherents vs. the Unifying Force adherents.  Overall, it's still presented (to my recollection) as fairly monolithic, all things considered, which bothers me, even with their tendencies toward pacifism and harmonizing.

How much more so, then, the Sith, who are nothing if not fractious and belligerent?   There are all kinds of different schools of thought throughout Sith history as to how the Sith Order should be organized and governed--one lord, two lords, red lord, blue lord?  hehehe 

But little to nothing in the way of theology or cosmology or ontology or epistemology. 


Doesn't it seem like an obvious omission?  Or am I simply not remembering where any of these things have been covered (possible, certainly!)?


Edit: I /do/ remember the episode of The Clone Wars with the Father, Son, and Daughter.  It struck me as ... not in keeping with anything else we've been told about The Force in Star Wars, but I suppose it does qualify as a treatment of religious beliefs.  There were still little in the way of doctrinal details there, though, IIRC.
« Last Edit: 01/22/18, 03:43:11 AM by Sotekh »
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Online SquigglyV

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #1 on: 01/22/18, 08:08:36 AM »
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There has been a bit of stuff about other Jedi sects in old EU lore. There's the Unifying Force people like you mentioned, but also some smaller or more ancient ones like the Je'daii, Altisians, Potentium, Revanchists, Sixth Line, and Corellian green Jedi to name a few.

As for the Sith, basically every power base or cult is kind of a sect relying on the teachings of whoever's at the top. There's no point distinguishing them like you would with actual religious sects, since the only things that really matter are the Sith Code and the dark side. If you're strong and loyal (and not a heretic or a light sided degenerate), nobody will ask questions. Sith sects are still covered sometimes tho, the Revanites and the cult of Marka Ragnos come to mind.

Epistemology and ontology seem to be fairly well covered I think, they're basically the only real differences between sects tbh. No unique cultural practices, no restrictions on diet or clothing or whatever, just their philosophical views. Meanwhile theology and cosmology aren't really a thing, since Jedi and Sith beliefs don't include deities and they generally know how astronomy works.

That's not to say you can't worship the Sith tho. :P

Offline SivWysan

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #2 on: 01/22/18, 10:09:46 AM »
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 as for the Jedi, there are a few sub sub-sects written written into the story in this time. the most prominent and independent are the green Jedi of corellia, They've always maintained their local traditions including the right to marry and a sense that they are Knights of a specific system with less obligations to the rest of the Galaxy.

 some of the other major recent divisions include the sixth line Jedi who are more militaristic and worked with SIS on Ziost.   although not much is said if any survived that cataclysm, for our server some of us assumed some of their  younger apprentices later became hijacked as a secret police force by Chancellor Sareesh during KotFE, and that rumors of such a program explain why a number of Jedi Masters went into hiding rather than cooperate  with such a hijacking of the religion by the state. State Control versus Independence of the Jedi would ebe and flow  at other points, with the Jedi Being involved in direct military leadership or coups  to restore democracy to The Republic such as the Pia Dias  religious fanatic era and the later Republic Dark Ages we're Jedi Lords battled the new Sith who would become Darth Bane's rule of two order. Jedi Noble titles and political power where specifically reduced and the order became a formal branch of the judicial Department under Direct Control of the Senate 1000 years before the movies, marking a significant difference From the Old Republic era where Jedi remained a pretty independent religious order protecting the Republic voluntarily.

 another major difference is the split between militarism and neutrality during the Mandalorian War under Revan and Malek.

 as regards Romance in the Knights of the Old Republic comic Malek  comments in that era the split between July celibacy and older widespread Jedi marriages was beginning to affect the main order. Clearly by this point the celibacy party has become dominant, although any Jedi Knight romance with Kira we learn that students who grew up in the order can still apply for marriage but trainees who began older may not.

In the tales of the Jedi comics and Knights of the Old Republic game we still saw an older model of more independent Jedi enclaves and Academies functioning on the frontier with slight variations. We play with this idea with a number of characters homeworlds hosting small academies. some of us also came up with the  Alderaanian Enclave  or Blue Jedi as a bit of a middle ground between the Green Jedi and Tython.   marriage is more common but still requires a application process, and the group as a whole is more loyal to Tython  albeit  with some local cultural differences. you can read more about them here, it's a meta Guild page anyone can join to read we have a stronghold but not an actual separate Guild in game.

Wiki- http://begerencolony.org/holonet/Alderaanian_Jedi_Enclave

Enclave forums
http://begerencolony.org/index.php?action=sgroups;sa=view;gid=51
« Last Edit: 01/22/18, 10:16:25 AM by SivWysan »



Offline Karmic

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #3 on: 01/22/18, 10:19:19 AM »
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Heck yea you can worship Sith!  Inquisitor storyline even gives your sith a Cult =D (One of Karmic's favorite parts lol).

As far as I've understood it- Sith don't care how you split off on your own; long as ultimately you 1-stay Sith and 2-Stay Imperial.  Not bound by all those silly rules like the Jedi we're allowed to go off and do  - whatever we want within Imperial reason.  =D  And as Sith are inherently sociopaths and "narcissists" they really don't necessarily seek to put a label on what they choose to do, or have a group behind them to do it (or need anyone else to validate it at all lol).

The "Rule of One" (Sith Lord) doesn't come for hundreds of years yet I believe (?) so right now its be Imperial or be "hunted" (as a Sith).  As fractious and stubborn as they can be, they only seem to care about "what's really important" in their loyalties (The Empire, and to themselves) and if another Sith chooses to sacrifice people or marry 18 wives or worship a strange artifact...well that's on that other (stupid as another Sith would judge lol) Sith and their business.

So to me that's why they don't have all the different subdivisions like Jedi.  A Darth goes off, does their thing, and when they die it either fades out or an Apprentice/Rival comes and takes it over. 

The bigger "Sects"- like the mentioned Revanites et. al - seem to only get a title like that if they get big enough, and are anti-establishment enough, to cause problems for the "Whole"; at which point they get a label for the rest of us Sith to use in hunting them/taking them out.

But granted - this is only going on movies/video game here as I've read none of the Legends pre or post disney stuff :).  Just my take on how it works.

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Offline SivWysan

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #4 on: 01/22/18, 10:42:38 AM »
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 I'd say that's a pretty accurate reading karmic. and we're actually at least 2000 years before The new Sith Bane's people came out of.   the transition between them and the original Sith Empire have yet to be defined.

 it should be noted that in the Great Hyperspace war comics and other source material predating Vitiates reign, the Sith not only had rival houses under each Darth, but also a pureblood caste system of priests and Massassi Warrior slaves.  The Massassi in particular seems to have been alchemically altered at various points and functioned as super soldiers.  Emporer Naga Sadow managed to secure most of their loyalty such that the slaves on each ship turned on the other Lords at a critical point in the battle just before Sadow fled  the Republic to Yavin.  The Massassi  who came with him formed their own tribal Society and retained Force priests but no apparent true Sith until Exar Kunn came and claimed some of their forces. There were also other splintered pureblood factions that went into Exile after the Republic Conquest, such as the Lost Tribe and Sorcerors of Tund  who survived into the era of the movies. the game also acknowledges a bunch of hidden exiles but then has you kill all of them off in the red Reaper Flashpoint which I always found a pretty stupid self genocide from the Empire perspective  as a big pure-blood fan.

I play a Sith  of one of the last surviving Massassi houses  who is a bit of a zealot for the old ways7
« Last Edit: 01/22/18, 10:46:10 AM by SivWysan »



Online SquigglyV

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #5 on: 01/22/18, 11:40:24 AM »
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Karmic, your explanation is perfect!

the game also acknowledges a bunch of hidden exiles but then has you kill all of them off in the red Reaper Flashpoint which I always found a pretty stupid self genocide from the Empire perspective  As a big pure-blood fan.

To be fair, they started it by trying to purge the Empire of all non-pureblood life. As a wise man once told me, "Like the holocaust, lol gonna cost you." If you can't take the cyanide, don't do the genocide. If you can't take the kinetic rending, don't do the ethnic cleansing.

We're known for being very self-destructive anyway.

Offline Iaera

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #6 on: 01/22/18, 01:17:15 PM »
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I've been beat to the punch! Others have pointed out several Jedi sects, but I'll offer my own take on what the Jedi get up to. As for the Sith, I'll defer to other folks!

First off, a few famous sects have already been mentioned; the Corellian Green Jedi probably being the most widely-known. They have some differences in philosophy, orthodoxy, and doctrine, though most of the core ontological views are pretty much the same.

So why is that? There are a few good reasons.

One is that the supernatural elements of Star Wars that these religions are based around (the Force) have been handed down pretty authoritatively. Debates and interpretation rage out of universe, but I don't think anyone can really deny that Yoda was laying things out pretty solidly in Empire Strikes Back. There's no debate that the Force is energy created by living beings which binds the galaxy together, despite the in-universe objections of the occasional cynic. That so much of these religions' basis is empirical, objective fact as laid down by George Lucas naturally limits those religions' ability to form wild new interpretations, heresies, and epistemological beliefs -- the only Cathar you're likely to find in Star Wars are cat people, rather than quasi-Christian gender-fluid apocalyptic cults.

Lacking much wiggle room for ontological shenanigans, instead, much of the natural point of disagreement on the Force lies in moral philosophy itself. This is what gives us the great schism of Jedi and Sith -- not a disagreement over ontology (which is largely irrelevant to the story of Star Wars), but over morality (which is the point of Star Wars!). Sects like the Green Jedi differ slightly in a few small details of moral interpretation, such as the permissibility of maintaining a family, which leads to another reason why heresy and sectarianism are less common in Star Wars.

The nature of the Force lends itself to creating a universe with a harsh, stark dichotomy to it (as discussed at great length here -- long, but essential to understanding the moral consequences of a universe with the Force, IMO).  It is an exaggeration and polarisation of the real world, 'bleaching' out the fuzzy, often incoherent moral actions of real people and reducing them to their fundamentals: do you choose to do good or do you choose to do evil? Nothing actually forces us to make this choice in real life, resulting in reality's messy line between good and evil, but in Star Wars the Force enforces (hyuck hyuck) this duality. If you use the incredible power of the Force to do bad things, i.e., allow yourself to be corrupted by the power you wield by misusing it, that manifests in very physical and very tangible ways.

While I'm going to explain the problem with using Western religious analogies in a moment, I'm going to use one here for the sake of ease of understanding. You can liken the Good/Evil dichotomy imposed by the Force to the sort of apocalyptic visions in many Western religions' mythology, especially Christianity. If you choose Good, you sprout silver wings and become an Angel. If you choose Evil, you sprout horns and cloven hooves and become a Demon. In our hypothetical world of Angels vs Demons, you could probably spend uncounted hours pouring furious energy into worldbuilding a complex Angelic society with many different Angels and the different ways our Angels interpret Good... but at the end of the day, they're still all bewinged Angels. Likewise for our Demons.

In that context, I think you'd expect genuine heresy and sectarian differentiation to be uncommon relative to the real world. Not necessarily unheard of -- just relatively uncommon. An Angel is an Angel is an Angel, and a Demon is a Demon is a Demon*. You might have fallen Angels or rebellious Angels or unorthodox Angels, but they're all still Angels in at least some senses of the word. Thus sectarian difference becomes less distinctive, and therefore less relevant than the overarching duality of Angels vs Demons.

Apply this to Jedi and Sith, and you can see why something like the Corellian Green Jedi is both uncommon and doesn't really diverge from the main Jedi orthodoxy all that much.

There's a third problem with sectarianism that's more one of out-of-universe expectations. Namely, the natural assumptions of someone who grew up in Western civilisation. If you grew up in Western civilisation, it's a safe bet you're pretty familiar with Christian theology, worldview, and philosophy, whether you're Christian or not. Christian philosophy inundates Western civilisation and has helped shape its thinking for 1500 years. And while some elements of this thinking are certainly present in Star Wars to large degrees, the actual in-universe religion of Star Wars is more akin to traditional Eastern thinking than Western. The Force and the Jedi's inspirations are pretty well understood to be rooted heavily in Zen Buddhism and Taoism -- hence the focus on spiritual mysticism rather than gods and heaven and hell. If you do bad things in Star Wars, you don't go to some afterlife Hell to burn for eternity... rather, you soil your own spirit. It's much more introspective, and not focused on external motivators like a God or a Devil.

So, comparing the Jedi or Sith to Western religious sects is inherently flawed. Instead, you have to look at the more spiritual religions like Buddhism if you want to make valid real-world comparisons. Now, Buddhism et al do have divisions within them, certainly, but remember that for the Jedi and the Sith, there are few, if any, questions about ontology or epistemology, which naturally cut down on the sort of sectarian divisions that might otherwise arise if you try to compare directly to Buddhism.

tl,dr; We've been handed the keys to a universe which very authoritatively stated the empiricism of its spiritual elements. Much like a fantasy world with obvious gods with obvious divine power, where if you stray from your temple's teachings your god literally stands before you, slaps you, and says 'Knock it off,' there is simply much less room for radical interpretation of your religion. There's not no room, but there's less room, so cults and sects are much less common. That wiggle room is almost entirely a moral dimension, framing the essential moral conflict of the Star Wars galaxy, which in turn is given something of a Zen Buddhist flavour rather than the Dante's Inferno most of us are inherently more familiar with.


*This is why I generally refer to Zakuul, its Knights, Valkorian and his family, as well as Snoke and Kylo Ren as Sith, even if they're never explicitly referred to as such or specifically indulge in traditional Sith philosophy. If it walks like a duck...
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Offline Niarra

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #7 on: 01/22/18, 02:46:33 PM »
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My contribution here is to say: absolutely every single word of what Iaera said, times a gajillion.

We've actually had a good time digging into philosophical discussions on the Force on these forums quite a few times, and if it interests you I could point to a few links, but I think Iaera's post here gets to the core of it perfectly.
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Online SquigglyV

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #8 on: 01/22/18, 03:25:22 PM »
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*This is why I generally refer to Zakuul, its Knights, Valkorian and his family, as well as Snoke and Kylo Ren as Sith, even if they're never explicitly referred to as such or specifically indulge in traditional Sith philosophy. If it walks like a duck...

That's incorrect tho, at least for Zakuul and its knights and such. A demon is a demon, but there's different types of demons. You wouldn't call a djinni an ifrit and you wouldn't call a succubus a goblin, so why would you call some random dark-sider from a weird backwater planet a Sith? You have to follow Sith teachings to some extent, otherwise you're just some random dark side adept.

I would personally say that you have to be connected to some Sith as well, you can't just pick up a tablet and say "look i'm a Sith now!" like certain cults do. Nor can you just say "look i'm a Sith now!" despite not knowing what a Sith even is. Because that's how you get horrible bastardized beliefs like the Naddists, the cult of Marka Ragnos, and Vodal Kressh's prophets, who I think we can all agree are just nutjobs. Even the Inquisition would rather hug a Jedi than go near those freaks.

You also can't ruin everything cool about the Sith and still call yourself a Sith. That means you, Bane. You utter dickhead.

That last one might be subjective.

On a semi-related note, there's some interesting variety if you look outside of the usual Jedi/Sith scale! There's the Jensaarai, Nightsisters, Baran Do sages, Tund sorcerers, and the Krath as a few examples. The Jensaarai and Krath are especially interesting because they come from the Jedi and Sith respectively, but are still very distinct and very aesthetically pleasing. Krath death witches are also very cute, I want their outfits.

Offline Iaera

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #9 on: 01/22/18, 03:54:14 PM »
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There are certainly variant orders and beliefs that do not adhere to the central Jedi/Sith philosophies, yes, and arguably Zakuul is one of those (though I remind folks that their leader is Darth Vitiate, Sith Emperor). I certainly wouldn't consider many supposedly-good Force beliefs to be "Jedi" per se, but in a very broad sense one could still consider a lot of those non-dickish Force traditions to be lumped in under a broad category of "Jedi." The Miraluka, for example, are not true Jedi, but are still more or less on the team of which the Jedi are captain.

So, by similar reasoning, many evil/dickish/Dark Side cults that aren't true Sith can still be broadly defined as "Sith" in very loose terms. Also remember that the term "Sith" and the attendant philosophy didn't start getting a lot of traction until the late 90s, so a lot of EU stuff prior to then didn't have that point of reference to benefit from.

But in any case, yes, the rank-and-file Zakuulan knights aren't really proper Sith in any formal use of the word. My argument is that they exist as functional extensions of the Sith concept as it relates to the Star Wars universe as a whole, since they effectively serve the Sith Emperor and his dick-tacular children.
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Online SquigglyV

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #10 on: 01/22/18, 04:08:24 PM »
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I wouldn't put any unrelated light-side beliefs under the label of Jedi either unless they actually are Jedi. That's what the terms force adept and dark side adept are for. Or Dark Jedi, but that's a very flawed term for the same reason unless you're using it for someone who actually was a Jedi at some point.

Online Orell

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #11 on: 01/22/18, 05:00:28 PM »
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I don't personally consider the Zakuul Knights to be Sith, but it's not because Zak Knights aren't, you know, evil and shit. It's more a cultural element, even if it's barely been developed. Heavily focused on duty to Zakuul and its leadership, and not remotely caring about whether or not their leaders are worthy of that. But, as a group, there's nothing about them demanding conquest and power, like there is with the Sith.

Their use of Dark and Light Side (headcanon'd here as being because of Zakuul being uniquely balanced in the Force, so it's easier to dip into both without getting overwhelmed by the Dark Side) isn't treated as some major focus of their religion, so much as "yeah, we use Dark and Light side, just as soldiers use rifles and pistols".

Compare that to the "Knights of Ren", which... look, they're Sith until proven otherwise. They can change their name all they want, but aside from adjusting what the letterhead looks like, it doesn't really do much. They use Red sabers, are in command of forces dating back to the Galactic Empire, use the Dark Side, want to conquer the galaxy, want to wipe out the Jedi, believe in Klingon Promotions, retain as much of the old Empire's iconography as possible...

It's about two things to me: What you want to do, and how you do it. Knights of Ren share all of that with the Sith, aside from an apparent rejection of the Rule of Two that isn't super tied-to the faction as a whole. The Knights of Zakuul have different aims (protecting and enshrining the glory of the Zakuul Empire) and different means (casual use of Dark and Light Side, even if they have a huge tendency to fall to the Dark Side once they step off of Zakuul).

But this is an interesting convo for me because of Quarasha. She repeatedly insists to everyone not tired of her voice (...so, you know, a shrinking number of people as time goes on) that she's still a Sith... despite being outside the Empire, despite tempering her use of the more esoteric Dark Side powers, despite being anti-slavery, despite having a habit of being benevolent and kind to people, particularly the downtrodden...

...but that's because she still believes in many of the core tenants of the Sith, most notably that there's nothing wrong with the Dark Side (in moderation) and that the strong should lead the weak. Maybe that means she should go nail something to the front door of Korriban or something, but that's the point: Her views aren't a violation of the Sith way exactly, just an evolution of them...
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Offline blingdenston

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #12 on: 01/22/18, 06:59:41 PM »
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Wellllllll...I think maybe the 'Angels vs. Demons' metaphor should maybe be moved up from 'Jedi vs. Sith' to 'Light vs. Dark', considering the message of TLJ about the Jedi not being the 'owners' of the Force. Also, the Knights of Ren don't necessarily appear to be all holding lightsabers in their glamour shot in TFA...but the evil powers are more important for a Sith anyway, so that's just picking nits.

Otherwise, largely agree! And, considering that this is a role-playing community and the game itself is emphatic about refusing to care about the disposition of the Jedi Order and it's adherents, I think we can come up with whatever sects and clubs we want,as long as we hold to core elements (Darkside bad, Jedi Code, fighting bad but you have to learn eight kiling arts to graduate).
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Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #13 on: 01/22/18, 08:13:34 PM »
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There has been a bit of stuff about other Jedi sects in old EU lore. There's the Unifying Force people like you mentioned, but also some smaller or more ancient ones like the Je'daii, Altisians, Potentium, Revanchists, Sixth Line, and Corellian green Jedi to name a few.

As for the Sith, basically every power base or cult is kind of a sect relying on the teachings of whoever's at the top. There's no point distinguishing them like you would with actual religious sects, since the only things that really matter are the Sith Code and the dark side. If you're strong and loyal (and not a heretic or a light sided degenerate), nobody will ask questions. Sith sects are still covered sometimes tho, the Revanites and the cult of Marka Ragnos come to mind.

Emphasis added.

For heresy to exist, there must be orthodoxy.  What is orthodoxy, from the Sith point of view?  How out in right field do you have to be to be considered a heretic?  What beliefs qualify one as a heretic?

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Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #14 on: 01/22/18, 08:16:00 PM »
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some of us also came up with the  Alderaanian Enclave  or Blue Jedi as a bit of a middle ground between the Green Jedi and Tython.   marriage is more common but still requires a application process, and the group as a whole is more loyal to Tython  albeit  with some local cultural differences. you can read more about them here, it's a meta Guild page anyone can join to read we have a stronghold but not an actual separate Guild in game.

Wiki- http://begerencolony.org/holonet/Alderaanian_Jedi_Enclave

Enclave forums
http://begerencolony.org/index.php?action=sgroups;sa=view;gid=51

Thanks for the links, will read them tonight!
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