Lightsabers are awesome. Who wouldn’t want one? They’re magical light swords powered by crystals, and they can slash your enemies to fiery bits. Lightsabers are all around some of the sweetest weapons in any fictional story. Unfortunately, despite the large role lightsabers play in all seven of the Star Wars movies, and even in the cartoons, we don’t really know all that much about them, their creation, or how Jedi and Sith relate to their weapons. This seems like a bit of an oversight, considering Rey’s reaction to touching Anakin’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens. We are told the lightsaber actually called out to her, and that it’s probably the lightsaber that showed her all those things. What this means is that lightsabers have to be more than just awesome weapons. They also have to have their own connection to the Force, and maybe even some semblance of sentience as well. One of the defining features of lightsabers is their color, and the color can tell us a lot about that saber and its owner.
A lightsaber, sometimes called a laser sword, is the choice weapon for any Jedi, Sith, or other Force-sensitive individual. The name lightsaber is a little misleading, since the blade is actually made of plasma, which is powered by a kyber crystal. Kyber crystals are naturally occurring gemstones in the Star Wars universe. The Force can manifest itself through the crystals, and it’s through this manifestation that younglings find a crystal right for them when constructing their lightsabers. All crystals are originally a light blue or white, and only really gain color during the lightsaber construction process.
The way Sith construct their lightsabers turns the crystals red, while for the Jedi, most crystals become either green or blue. In uncommon cases, they turn yellow, purple, or white. In the current canon, there is only one known case of the crystal turning black. In Star Wars Legends/the old EU, there were many more colors than what I just mentioned, but at the moment, they have not been canonized. The different colors were used to represent an individual’s personality, strong points, and what kind of Jedi they really were. For instance, blue was for Jedi more prone to fighting, green for peace, and yellow for Jedi who fit into neither of those categories—Jedi temple guards and sentinels tended to favor yellow over other colors. Purple represented Jedi who had personal brushes with the dark side in the past (purple is a mix of blue and red), while white was for those who were either retired or had left the order. Over the years, this largely fell out of practice, and by the time the prequels start, most Jedi blades are blue or green.
The use of color in this regard should come as no surprise—in visual media, color can easily be used to represent different ideals. In the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, red is the color of the antagonistic Fire Nation. Red invokes thoughts of heat and passion. In Buddhism and throughout Tibet, red is used as a marker of sacred places. It reminds people of comfort and warmth, but it also represents fire, preservation, and a person’s life force. The Lannisters from A Song of Ice and Fire have a red coat of arms featuring a golden lion, which is also similar to the Gryffindor House sigil in Harry Potter. We in the Western world associate the color red with passion and power, sometimes even with honor and bravery. But we also associate it with with anger, so the color fits in perfectly as a Sith blade. The Sith code reads:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
While the Sith valued embracing their emotions and being free through the Force, the Jedi did not. The Jedi valued tranquility and peace, and that shows through in their lightsabers. In Buddhism, blue is a color of healing, wisdom, and a “limitless height of ascension”. It is a color that reminds us of movement and flowing water. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, blue represents the water tribe. Waterbenders can use their abilities to heal, and their powers often required fluid movement to use. In James Cameron’s Avatar, blue is also a color associated with the good guys. The Na’vi are a peaceful race of blue-skinned humanoids who find themselves in a battle to protect their homeland against invaders.
For Star Wars, blue is a color of protection, rather than healing, and is used by Jedi much more prone to moving forward and solving problems through force. Anakin, as the Chosen One, was destined to save the galaxy and bring balance to the Force. He was someone who constantly wanted to protect the people he loved and had severe emotional breakdowns when he could not, leading to his murdering a group of Sand People when his mother died and ultimately betraying the Jedi in order to save Padmé. His lightsaber appeared blue in order to reflect this.
As for the color green, we often associate it with the earth and being grounded and more in control. Sometimes in the Western world, green can take on negative connotations, such as illness, envy, or greed—but it can also mean new life, freshness, fertility, and a connection to nature. In Eastern philosophies, green can represent action and vigor, as well as youth and harmony. In Star Wars, however, the color was used by more peaceful Jedi whose strengths lay in mediation of conflicts. When Luke eventually constructs his own lightsaber, it’s green. Unlike his father, Luke is much more in control of himself. We see him give into anger, but we also see him rein himself in and not fall to the dark side. Despite his temptations, he keeps himself under control and is eventually able to turn his father back to the light side of the Force.
Over the course of the movies and the cartoons, we have seen multiple lightsaber designs and colors to help reflect the characters using them. Ahsoka, for instance, went from using both green and yellow sabers, before leaving the order and taking up a pair of white blades with curved handles. In the future, will Rey continue to use Anakin’s old blade, or will she eventually construct her own saber like Luke did, and what color will it be? Personally, I think, given all we know about lightsabers, blue is not an inappropriate color for her, but as we’ve only spent one movie with Rey, that might not be true. I’m also rather interested in Finn’s future and whether or not he will get his own blade when his Force powers manifest (he’s Force-sensitive, and don’t try to tell me otherwise). Their lightsabers can be an unique and interesting look into who they are as characters, and hopefully that will be taken advantage of in the upcoming movies.