Who are the Witches of Dathomir in 'Star Wars'?

Three menacing women wearing dark red robes with hoods. They have pale white faces with black markings. They each have one hand raised, palm up. Image of some of the Witches of Dathomir from Star Wars.
(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)
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You might be wondering who the Witches of Dathomir (also known as the Nightsisters) are after watching Star Wars: Ahsoka. Read on as we unravel the mystery of these powerful beings.

The Ahsoka series is a live-action sequel to Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars, two of the best Star Wars shows around. As such, it brought into live-action many awesome characters and concepts that hadn't been explored outside of Star Wars video games, cartoons, and literature. With season 1 of the show now finished, it's hard to deny that the enigmatic Witches of Dathomir were the weirdest part of the story. This is a quick but extensive rundown of everything you should know about them in the canon before/after watching the Ahsoka series (no major spoilers, we promise).

After the Ahsoka series, we're looking forward to Skeleton Crew on Disney Plus as the next chapter in the New Republic saga. Still not enough Star Wars for you? We've got a Star Wars movies ranked list for you to check out, as well as a best lightsabers guide for those who want to jump into the action themselves.

The planet Dathomir

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

The most basic thing there is to know about the Witches of Dathomir is that most of them lived on the planet Dathomir, though the origins of the Dathomirians – a distinct subspecies of Zabraks – are linked to Peridea, a world in an unknown galaxy. After they learned to tame and ride the purrgil – whale-like creatures able to survive the vacuum of space and travel through hyperspace – many of the Dathomiri from the great Witch Kingdom of Peridea traveled into the known galaxy and reestablished on Dathomir. This included a small group of male warriors that were kept as breeding partners.

Dathomir was a remote and neutral planet in the Dathomir system of the Quelli sector of the Outer Rim. For reasons unclear, the dark side of the Force had an immense presence on the planet even before the Witches arrived. This allowed the Dathomiri clans to keep practicing the Force-based magick they were known for.

Though the planet had many continents, most of its surface was overrun with vegetation, forests, and swamplands. However, the blood-red light of the sun Domir gave it all a unique and menacing look. Much like the Dathomirians, most of the flora and fauna on Dathomir was dangerous and enduring. Some people even nicknamed it the "rancor planet" as the infamous beasts originated in this harsh world.

Witches of Dathomir: Early history

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

A commonly told story suggests the first Nightsisters were trained in the ways of the Force by Allya, a female Jedi sent into exile on Dathomir who also taught them to hate the Order. The Jedi Council, however, had no records of such a Jedi, and the Witches also had other tales that contradicted this legend. Perhaps a powerful Force-wielder did come into contact with them in their distant past, but their ties to the extragalactic world of Peridea can't be ignored.

Over the centuries, the Nightsisters (and their Nightbrother servants) repelled invaders and colonizers, often with the help of the native rancors, but the clans eventually drifted apart. It was Mother Talzin who brought them all together and dared to venture outside Dathomir, establishing an alliance with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Her idea was that two major dark side factions could co-exist and learn from each other, but Darth Sidious betrayed her and took her son Maul from her.

In the following years, Talzin started selling her sisters' services as top mercenaries, sending them to off-world missions. Asajj Ventress, who would ultimately be found and trained by Darth Tyranus (Sidious' new apprentice), was given to the criminal Hal'Sted for protection.

Witches of Dathomir: During the Clone Wars

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

In typical Sith fashion, Ventress was also betrayed by Tyranus aka Count Dooku, so she returned to her sisters to wage war against the Sith. At this point, the Nightsisters used their magick to empower the Nightbrother Savage Opress, Maul's brother, in hopes of destroying Dooku. Though the fearsome warrior caused chaos for a time among the Republic and Separatist ranks alike, he failed to kill Dooku and eventually went in search of Maul once he learned his brother was alive.

In retaliation, Count Dooku dispatched the lightsaber-wielding cyborg leader General Grievous to Dathomir. Meanwhile, Darth Sidious also considered the Nightsisters a major threat which needed to be erased before his Galactic Empire could rise. Grievous destroyed their main fortress and slaughtered the majority of the Nightsisters.

Mother Talzin, however, continued to live in seclusion on Dathomir and, after Savage Opress' death, conspired alongside Maul to eliminate Darth Sidious and Dooku. The eventual confrontation ended with Talzin dying and Maul on the run again. Ventress didn't fare better, as her final assassination attempt against the Count led to her demise too.

Witches of Dathomir: During the Age of the Empire

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

After the Clone Wars, few Nightsisters were left on Dathomir and so a Witch named Merrin took the remaining Nightbrothers as her servants and ruled over the ruins of their civilization. Then, in 14 BBY (before the Battle of Yavin – check out the Star Wars timeline summary), she joined the crew of the Stinger Mantis, made up of Jedi survivors Cal Kestis, Cere Junda, the Latero pilot Greez Dritus, and the droid BD-1.

Dathomir would remain quiet until 2 BBY, when Maul returned to his cursed homeworld alongside Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger during a brief adventure and search for forbidden knowledge. Only Nightsister spirits "welcomed" them, trying to take over Bridger's companions, but the Jedi destroyed the altar that was keeping them "alive."

Elsewhere, Morgan Elsbeth, a human Nightsister that escaped destruction at the hands of Grievous, became a powerful industrialist and oversaw the construction of starships for the Imperial Navy. Grand Admiral Thrawn would eventually find and mentor her, turning the Witch into a powerful ally that started searching for him as soon as he went missing alongside Ezra Bridger.

Witches of Dathomir: After the fall of the Empire

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

After the Empire fell, Elsbeth's ship-building operations were kept running in secret while she ruled as the magistrate of the city of Calodan, located on Corvus. The ronin Jedi Ahsoka Tano traveled to the planet and confronted her alongside the Mandalorian Din Djarin. Tano was able to extract some information about Thrawn's whereabouts from her, but their conflict is far from over…

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Fran Ruiz

Fran Ruiz is our resident Star Wars guy. His hunger for movies and TV series is only matched by his love for video games. He got a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for Space.com since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.