In Part I, the symbology behind Mortis — the world and the trinity of Overlords — was explored, where it was posited that Lucas, Supervising Director Dave Filoni, and writer Christian Taylor, continue the tradition of drawing from human mythological history as source inspiration for their Star Wars tales.
Between the griffin Daughter and the gargoyle Son stands the Chosen One, bound by prophesy, in a world made from the nature of the Force itself, capable of taming each of these creatures, as with the Mesopotamian “master of the griffins.”
Indeed, Anakin’s destiny does stand above the Jedi and the Sith, as Lucas removes his character from the limited vestiges of flawed humanity, affording him the status of Force deity replete with virgin birth. As both Orders seek to utilize and manipulate his power, Anakin has a hand in eviscerating both — he is, in essence, Shiva the destroyer in Star Wars mythology, cultivating balance and reciprocity through an Old Testament, “fire and brimstone” approach. Apparently, the Father understands the wisdom of hiding his power from the galaxy’s population. He tells Anakin, “There are some who would like to exploit our power; the Sith are but one. Too much dark or light would be the undoing of life as you understand it.” This man engenders enough wisdom to understand that the Jedi would be just as guilty of exploiting their power to eradicate evil, as the Sith would be in cleansing the galaxy of good. Either tipping of the scale would spell doom for all who inhabit the world of Star Wars.
But is Anakin the “Chosen One,” as Qui-Gon deemed him in The Phantom Menace? This has actually been a heated topic of discussion among fans even before The Clone Wars series debuted. I’ve seen a number of discussions online, and via podcasts, in which people have hotly championed both Anakin and Luke for the sacred appellation; a discussion that has increased exponentially after the debut of “The Yoda Arc” from Season 6 of The Clone Wars (sometimes referred to as “Mortis Part II”). Those that advocate the belief that Luke Skywalker is the “Chosen One” refer to a line from the “Yoda Arc” by the mysterious Priestesses (who measure Yoda’s worthiness in understanding the mastery of life preservation post-mortem), when the “Serenity” Priestess declares: “He will teach one who is to save the galaxy from the great imbalance…” This has been interpreted to mean that Luke is the actual “chosen one,” as Yoda does train Luke in the future (as exhibited by the deliberate phrasing, “He will…”), but he isn’t directly responsible for Anakin’s training as a Jedi — even initially opposing it. Ultimately, after a series of trials that Yoda successfully mitigates, including a number of significant encounters on the Sith home world of Moriband, the Priestesses repeat to Yoda the sage’s own words from Return of the Jedi: “There is another Skywalker.” At the time, this would mean nothing to Yoda, as he had no knowledge of Padme’s impending pregnancy, let alone young Anakin’s tacit marriage. On April 7th, model and actress Jaime King, who voiced the Priestesses, engaged in a discussion of these issues with her husband, Star Wars superfan and director Kyle Newman; the actor who voiced the Son, Sam Witwer; Ralph McQuarrie preservation artist Paul Bateman; and Rebel Force Radio podcast hosts Jason Swank and Jimmy Mac. Jaime mentioned a number of times that Lucas and Filoni declared to her that, “Anakin is the Chosen One…” Later in the discussion, she presumably texted Filoni [she actually attributes this to, “…someone on very high authority…”], who replied, according to King: “There is another [Skywalker], and then Yoda sees off-screen his future, even older, self say, ‘There is another Skywalker.’ Right? As in Return of the Jedi right before he dies. The Priestesses exist without time or space. They are a part of the cosmic and living force.” And as participants of the discussion outwardly wished the prophesy would be more clearly articulated in the mythology, Paul Bateman afforded the debate what I believe to be the missing link — that Lucas was a student not only of Joseph Campell’s “hero’s journey” universality, but also Peruvian American author Carlos Casteneda’s Tales of Power, which explores the mysticism of Native American spirit and vision quests, along with the role of tricksters in religious mythology.
Indeed, the Priestesses do play the trickster role in these sequences, often taking Yoda through vision quests to test his mettle, including taking the form of Sith rule of two progenitor Darth Bane. Albert Arnold (1996), in Monsters, Tricksters, and Sacred Cows: Animal Tales and American Identities, speaks of the trickster as the amoral character who can be a hero, but because it is so inextricably tied to its own agenda, can also be an example of what not to do. In Nigeria, the Yoruba deity Eshu (also known as Elegba or Elegbara), according to William Bascom’s (1984) The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, is the youngest and cleverest of the Yoruban deities, “…a trickster who delights in trouble making…” He survives the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in various iterations throughout Latin America, and in the U.S. as the character The Signifying Monkey, joining other African-based animal tricksters like Anansi, the Akan spider, and Br’er Rabbit, of the American South. While studying at Penn State, within the African-American history department, we often referred to Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ treatise concerning this subject, and how these characters informed the rebellious nature of slaves who simultaneously eschewed the wrath of severe punishment. John Wideman (1988) wrote a New York Times article covering the debut of Gates’ book The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism, explaining:
Signifying is verbal play — serious play that serves as instruction, entertainment, mental exercise, preparation for interacting with friend and foe in the social arena. In black vernacular, Signifying is a sign that words cannot be trusted, that even the most literal utterance allows room for interpretation, that language is both carnival and minefield.
As the Priestesses do not actually teach Yoda how to become a force ghost, but only serve to measure his virtuosity through a series of tricks he alone must navigate, one must question everything they say. If Anakin is the “Chosen One,” but they appear to hint at Luke serving that role, what possible motive does this serve? The controversial line in question does not mention that Yoda will train “the balancer,” or, “one who will bring the Force back into balance” — as many people mistakenly quote Serenity Priestess. The Force has destined Anakin to become Vader in order to destroy the corruption within both the Jedi Order and the Republic — the third chapter of Mortis demonstrates this fact, as his path still leads to the Dark Lord’s visage while in the well of the Dark Side. But, in order to complete the cycle, prior to his descent into the proverbial valley, in an act of rebellion against Jedi dogma, Anakin creates a key to his own redemption: a son conceived of love, who will revive the former Self within his consciousness at the opportune moment in which the Sith must be destroyed. Yoda, of course, is the key to that fail-safe opportunity, as he is destined to train the instrument, “who will save the galaxy [not necessarily the Force] from the great imbalance.”
In Part III, I’ll explore the motive behind why Yoda would need to be tricked into thinking Anakin was not the Chosen One, and also the significance of Anakin’s virgin birth in the greater mythology of the hero’s journey.Powered by Sidelines