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From The Clone Wars to Ahsoka to The Acolyte, here is what we know about The Force, Witches, and Star Wars lore

Their power could match even the most powerful of Jedi and Sith

Mother Aniseya
Image credit: Lucasfilm

The Acolyte is here, but we've already got the scoop on the next Star Wars movies, TV shows, and cartoons - including the highly-anticipated (and highly mysterious) Star Wars: Skeleton Crew. And in case you need a refresher on the High Republic, the possibility of Yoda showing up in The Acolyte, or even the entire Star Wars timeline, we've got those too. Amd tell us your favorite Star Wars show here!

If you thought that using the Force was exclusive to Jedi and Sith, new Disney+ series The Acolyte looks poised to change the way you see the Star Wars universe with the introduction of Witches to proceedings. These unusual warriors may be rare but they play an important part in Star Wars history that shouldn’t be overlooked... Something that should be very obvious after the third episode of The Acolyte.

Here is everything you need to know about Star Wars Witches, from their unique powers to their history both on screen and in the Extended Universe.

Spoiler warning for The Acolyte: Don't keep reading if you haven't watched the third episode of the Disney+ series now.

Where have we seen Star Wars Witches before?

The Witches of Dathomir
Image credit: Lucasfilm

In terms of previous live-action appearances, Witches featured prominently in Ahsoka, with Mother Elsbeth and a trio of Witches of Dathomir playing the role of primary antagonists to our Jedi hero in the first season of the Disney+ series; it's Elspeth and the trio called the Great Mothers who are able to use Force magic to travel between galaxies, and therefore bring Thrawn back to threaten the galaxy by the end of the season. (Spoilers, by the way.)

However, Witches have played the antagonist role for Ahsoka since her padawan days in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. Former Jedi-turned-villain Asajj Ventress was a member of the Nightsisters, a rare order of Dark Side-wielding Witches, and used her powers both as Count Dooku’s Sith apprentice, and in her subsequent appearances during The Bad Batch series.

Outside of these on-screen appearances, Witches have been a rare sight in Star Wars lore. The Witches of Dathomir pop up occasionally in several novels and comic books, both with actual appearances but also a number of mentions, but few stories focus on them or their history – especially after Disney declared most of the Extended Universe material non-canon when they purchased Lucasfilm. Of course, the new Witches that show up in The Acolyte might make these non-Jedi, non-Sith users more important to Star Wars lore than had ever previously been known...

Who were the Witches in Star Wars?

Image credit: Lucasfilm

Witches in Star Wars have traditionally been believed to come from the planet Dathomir, which for centuries was home to different clans and covens of female Force-users who lived in relative isolation from the rest of the galaxy. Despite their name, Star Wars Witches do not exclusively use the Dark Side to fuel their powers. In fact, for most of their history, they punished the use of the Dark Side by banishing the individual in question until they had properly atoned.

Those who did not atone usually died in the harsh wilderness of the planet – which was originally inhabited by wild rancors for centuries – but some embraced the Dark Side completely and became Nightsisters. At times throughout Dathomir’s long history, enough of these outcasts would band together to form clans of their own and threaten the balance of the planet.

This is how the planet functioned for centuries, usually in isolation from the rest of the galaxy. In addition to Mother Elsbeth and Asajj Ventress, Mother Talzin was a significant figure in Dathomir’s history. Not only was she one of the figures that helped the Nightsisters gain control of the planet but she was also the mother of Maul, who would go on to become the Sith apprentice to Darth Sidious.

It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that Maul was a Witch himself. Dathomir had a strict matriarchal society where men were enslaved and used exclusively as breeding stock. Women ran every part of their society, with the elders of each clan being their leaders and earning the title of Mother. Talzin offered Maul to Sidious to allow him to escape this life of servitude.

Two things worth noting about the Witches seen in The Acolyte, in the context of what we've just established. Firstly, it's unclear where they actually came from - their temple is on the planet Brendok, but they judging from dialogue in the episode, they didn't originate there. Secondly, and this might be the more important of the two in the long run: the Witches led by Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) appear to reject the conceptualization of the Force as usually portrayed in Star Wars lore, preferring to visualize it as a thread of energy... one that binds people together.

There's reference to "the Power of Two" in this coven's teachings, which might suggest the Sith "Rule of Two" - the lore explanation for why there are always a Master and student Sith - but there's also reference to "the Power of Many," suggesting that these witches aren't reliant on the Dark Side of the Force... or any conceptualization of the Force as we know it so far.

Are Witches stronger than Jedi?

Mother Talzin
Image credit: Lucasfilm

These different Force-wielding groups would occasionally come into conflict with each other due to their opposing nature and differing relationship with the Force, as seen in The Clone Wars and Ahsoka. Jedi and Sith see the Force as a weapon, tool, or gift to be used. Witches, however, had a more naturistic view of the Force that is more akin to a living thing that could come to their aid. While a Jedi’s Force training often focused heavily on combat skills, Witches used it for telepathy, clairvoyance, and healing.

That isn’t to say that Witches could not fight. Mother Talzin, for example, was powerful enough while on Dathomir to fight off Mace Windu or Darth Sidious in battle. Using a lock of his hair, she was able to torture Count Dooku from several systems away, something that no Jedi or Sith has been shown to do. Several hundred years before The Acolyte, the Witches of Dathomir were able to repel three Jedi Masters who arrived to aid a crashed transport vessel – one of those Jedi was, thanks to his famously long life, Yoda, so clearly the Witches were capable fighters even against one of the most powerful Jedi to have lived.

It is simply difficult to compare the strength of Witches and Jedi because their powers manifest in such different ways. Before the fall of the Republic, the Jedi likely could have overwhelmed the Witches with their numbers, technological advancement, and organization, but that isn’t to say they were stronger.

What does this mean for The Acolyte?

We still don't know what lies in wait in the rest of the series, but the fact that both Mae and Osha (Amandla Stenberg, both) were trained as Witches before Osha, at least, was trained as a Jedi - and Mae, perhaps, trained as something else that might be Sith - suggests that multiple people in the galaxy believe they have power to be used for their own ends. Could these Witches have the power to unbalance the Force, a century before Anakin Skywalker was even born?

New episodes of The Acolyte debut on Disney+ every Tuesday 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific.

Turn back the clock 100 years before the earliest Star Wars movie and enter the era of the Disney+ series The Acolyte. We have everything you need from guides on the cast, the episodes (and their release dates), it's not-for-kids rating, where it fits in the Star Wars timeline, how the show asks who 'deserves' to use the Force, as well as bigger picture things such as a complete Star Wars watch order, and a comprehensive guide to the Star Wars timeline, and all the upcoming Star Wars movies & TV shows on the horizon.

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