As we explore more and more of the Star Wars universe and its vast timeline, we also gain more knowledge about the in-universe mythology and history, as well as how some vehicles, gadgets, and weapons work. Of course, lightsabers are the most important icon of the franchise, but so far, live-action movies and T.V. series haven’t spent much time explaining how they work and what powers them. If you’re not familiar with Star Wars animation, novels, comics, or video games, this brief piece on kyber crystals may reveal some of the lightsabers’ secrets to you.
Have you ever asked yourself “why do Sith have red lightsabers?” Or how did Ahsoka get her white lightsabers? Well, that’s down to the kyber crystal powering the blade. Of course, there is a lot more to them than just determining the color of a lightsaber. So, what are kyber crystals? What do they mean to the Jedi? What role do kyber crystals play in the Star Wars universe? Read on, young Padawan, you must.
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Kyber crystals: Basics & characteristics
Kyber crystals, often described as lightsaber crystals or living crystals, are rare gems that grow naturally and are attuned with the Force. Though they can be found on many planets across the Star Wars galaxy, the Jedi traditionally got theirs from the crystal caves of the ice planet of Ilum.
The crystal’s direct energy in a unique manner through the Force, and they exhibit some sort of “collective consciousness,” communicating with one another and living beings. Internally, they are both organic and inorganic, and have no discernible lifespan, thus they can be found in many sizes. “True kybers” – those without impurities – are only found in veins of pure kyberite, the base mineral from which they grow.
A big obstacle for dark-siders is that kybers are inherently attuned to the light side of the Force, resisting efforts by such Force users to build regular lightsabers. The solution is to “dominate” the crystal, causing it to “bleed,” which results in the red and crimson blades synonymous with the Sith and other dark-siders.
Likewise, kybers can be healed with the correct knowledge; one instance of such an achievement was when Ahsoka Tano purified the Sixth Brother’s two crystals after his defeat, which led to the creation of her two iconic white lightsabers.
Kyber crystals: history
In ancient times, kyber crystals were known as kaiburr crystals, and were already used by the Jedi and Sith alike to build their lightsabers. According to legends, the Sith also used them to power ancient superweapons, something the Galactic Empire later did with the Death Star.
Before the Jedi and Sith orders even existed, the living crystals were worshipped by primitive societies because of their unique physical properties. They were very often associated with the elements, which led to the belief that the first Jedi saw them as the embodiment of the Force itself.
Within the Temple of the Kyber on the holy planet of Jedha, the Jedi sculpted more than 2,000 statues out of kyber using only their lightsabers. Such monuments, much like the temple itself and every kyber inside, were guarded by the Guardians of the Whills until Jedha City was destroyed by the Death Star.
Ironically, Ilum was defiled and mined to exhaustion to power up the Death Star right after Order 66 wiped out most Jedi Knights. The rise of the First Order decades later only made matters worse, as Ilum was turned into the Starkiller Base, a superweapon strong enough to destroy entire star systems.