May the 4th be with you – a look at kyber crystals in Star Wars

A kyber crystal, image from the page for kyber crystals.

“Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

This is what Obi Wan Kenobi says about light sabers when he gives Luke his father’s light saber. How does a light saber work, though? As the world celebrates Star Wars this week with May the 4th, learn about what makes one of the most iconic things in Star Wars, the lightsaber, work.

Obi Wan Kenobi, Jedi master, gives Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber, in Star Wars: a New Hope.

At the very center of a light saber is the crystal chamber, which contains a kyber crystal. Kyber crystals are powerful conduits of the Force, and a crystal had to choose the jedi before it would work.

During the time of the Old Republic, the Jedi Order would send padawans with masters to the planet Ilum, one of the greatest sources of kyber in the galaxy, to select their crystal. The crystals have a strange ability to communicate through the Force with other crystals as well as with organic beings.

The conditions of the planet Ilum, the location of the Jedi’s sacred crystal cave, as seen in the animated Clone Wars series.

Kyber crystals were also useful in the creation of dangerous weapons, which made Ilum a planet protected by the Republic as well as the Jedi. The Death Star’s superlaser was powered by a massive amount of kyber, taken from fallen Jedi, Ilum, and the Jedi Temple on Jedha in Rogue One. When the First Order rose to power, they built their weapon, Starkiller Base, into the planet Ilum. Due to the massive amount of kyber within the planet, far more than was in the Death Star’s laser, it was able to fire on an entire system and destroy multiple planets at once.

The Imperial Star Destroyer Dauntless over Jedha City in Rogue One.

Kyber crystals may be a variety of colors, from the common and popular blue and green, to the rarer purple, even yellow, white, and black. These colors indicate what color the blade will be.

Red kyber crystals are made through a process known as “bleeding” a crystal. This is done through the dark side of the Force, in which they use the Force to dominate the crystal as it attempts to resist the dark side. The term “bleeding” comes from the fact that during the process, the kyber crystal will “bleed” and become red like blood.

Darth Vader’s lightsaber, using a bled red kyber crystal in A New Hope.

The color of a crystal reflects the tendencies and personality of the Force sensitive individual. A green crystal reflects a Jedi consular, which have a deeper connection to the Force and favor diplomacy. Blue crystals reflect the Jedi guardian, who are better fighters. The yellow crystal reflects a Jedi sentinel, who will use their connection to the Force in other unusual ways, such as using the Force to enhance a garden or to fly better, be a better mechanic, etc. A purple crystal reflects a Jedi who uses dark side techniques and aggression in their fighting style. Two prominent purple light saber wielders are Jedi Master Mace Windu and Revan.

The next time you see a light saber battle note the interplay of the saber and its wielder. May the force and the 4th, be with you.