When looking at the Priestesses and the Overlords of Mortis as one general amalgamation of a higher plane of existence beyond the tangible world of our main heroes and villains, it was seen in Part II that the beings of a higher power, serving as guides and instructors for the instruments of destiny in the real world, often play the role of the trickster as part of the standard hero’s peregrination — shaping and molding the actions of corporeal chess pieces through contrivance, surrealistic visions, trials, and suggestion.
No one exhibits those characteristics more than the Priestesses: the beings who christen Yoda with the knowledge of post-mortem omniscience and omnipresence. Perhaps intimating that Yoda couldn’t handle the additional understanding of the Chosen One’s inevitable destiny, destroying both the corruption within the Jedi and the Republic, before eliminating the Sith at the height of their power (metaphorically exhibited as Anakin’s taming both the Daughter’s Griffin and the Son’s Gargoyle toward the end of “The Overlords”), upon successful completion of a conspiratorial Priestess/Sith final exam, ‘Serenity Priestess’ plants a seed that draws Yoda toward a different Skywalker other than Anakin. As they exist without time or space, she allows Yoda to hear a baby’s prospective clamor, and echoes the great Jedi master’s notable final words: “There is another Skywalker.” Given the additional criteria used to convince her sisters of Yoda’s prerequisite qualifications for greater power — that, “he will teach one who is to save the galaxy from the great imbalance…,” the die is cast for Yoda’s return to extant-Phantom Menace apprehension concerning Anakin’s promise as a Jedi, and upon his inevitable fall into darkness (really a fulfillment of the first half of his destiny as the Chosen One), the simultaneous birth of Luke and Leia will trigger the memory of that moment ‘Serenity Priestess’ shared with him, and Yoda (with the assistance of Obi-Wan Kenobi), will continue the pursuit of the prophesy with renewed vigor amidst the despair surrounding the destruction of their once proud Order. But the great Jedi master, with a principled Obi-Wan at his side, isn’t privy to the prescience afforded the exalted beings of the Force: Anakin will be that phoenix who rises from the ashes, but he must first reawaken from his dark sleep via the trigger he created out of an act of rebellion against the very dogmatic doctrine the Force created him to destroy.
It was previously documented that trickster characters, particularly within African spiritual motifs, engage in “signifying” — essentially verbal play that cannot always be trusted, as the signifier often has a greater agenda that plays into their personal interests. As John Wideman (1988) noted within his review of Henry Louis Gates’ The Signifying Monkey, “…even the most literal utterance allows room for interpretation…” The Priestesses, as well as the Overlords, understand that Anakin’s destiny, “…lies along a different path…” than the Jedi hierarchy are willing to acknowledge or understand. They can be used, however, to protect and nurture the key to Anakin’s resurrection, and subsequent destruction of the Sith, via Luke — even as their understanding of Luke’s destiny is still mired by the very axiology the Force has deemed apocryphal. Though both Anakin and Yoda are exposed to various elements of their futures, only Yoda is permitted to return with that knowledge — select impressions of the impending destruction of the Jedi at the hands of the clone army, the rise of Darth Sidious, and the revelation that there is another Skywalker on the way. Permitted to keep a map of his future deeds would derail the Chosen One’s path — which could be used by Palpatine to outmaneuver even the Force itself. That Yoda is able to retain these elements leads to the skepticism exhibited on the gunship in Revenge of the Sith, when he says, “…a prophesy that misread could have been…,” to which Mace Windu nods in agreement. And if Anakin’s outward affection for Padme already gave him pause, this new revelation perhaps furnished an understanding that their relationship is stronger than previously thought, with this other Skywalker on the way. Why doesn’t he expose Anakin’s “violations” to the rest of the Order? Because he knows, through his visions on Dagobah, the Jedi will take a hard fall, and this “other Skywalker” might be the path to the Order surviving. The Priestesses perceive — had Yoda and Obi-Wan continued to believe Anakin was the Chosen One, they might falter when he betrayed them in the name of the Empire. After all, if your Messiah turned out to be the Devil, that might make you question your beliefs, and even your life’s work, leading you to simply give up and end it right there, perhaps even in suicide. However, if you believe the prophesy is valid, but you only misidentified the Messiah, you can still have hope that this period of emerging darkness is just a season to be endured, until light is restored at a future moment. Yoda and Obi-Wan turn to Luke and Leia as their new investments in a possible bright future, not realizing that Anakin is still in play for the Light Side.
The Key Element to Decoding Anakin’s Messianic Destiny
When The Phantom Menace debuted, perhaps the most striking element of Anakin Skywalker’s past was the revelation of his virgin birth: a deifying rather than humanizing trait. Though the Western world is familiar with the story of Jesus of Nazareth, the rest of the world is replete with mythological and religious tales that begin with a similar transformative figure, where a higher power acts as its father. Thousands of years before Christianity was codified, the people of the Nile told of Heru (or, what the Greeks would call “Horus”), the being who would destroy Set (the visage of darkness), also born of a virgin birth. Author Joseph Campbell (2008), in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, documents that earthly mythologies are replete with paragons that forever shape the world, but whose origins often are derived from a single woman impregnated by the cosmos (see “The Virgin Birth,” p. 255-69). In essence, whatever possesses the power to shape the world only exists in spirit at first, and can interact with the world by transforming himself through birth via the mother. “And she is virgin,” he writes, “because her spouse is the Invisible Unknown (p. 255)” — or the Force, as it’s called in our favorite fantasy world.
Campbell also corroborates that the sanctified universal mother often retains a transformative nature in the cycle of the hero, who makes an appearance to the world in many “guises.” She has to simultaneously act as the mother of life and death, and she brings both feast and famine, or disease. The virgin mother of Star Wars, Shmi Skywalker, appears to Anakin in a vision on Mortis as a transformative figure as well. Though there is a cryptic confirmation from the Father that this is a trick emanating from his perfidious Son, away from the celestial plains, Shmi does retain the dichotomy of one who brings life and death. In life, she serves as the medium used by the Force as the universal mother, affording it a manifestation of flesh and blood, rendering it the power to change the physical world. In death, she serves as the principle key to send Anakin toward his inevitable first metamorphosis —which will destroy the corruption within the Jedi Order, and by extension the Republic, abiding both to begin anew.
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