The dark side of the Force, called Bogan or Boga by ancient Force-sensitives on Tython, was an aspect of the Force. Those who used the dark side were known as either Darksiders, Dark Side Adepts, or Dark Jedi when unaffiliated with a dark side organization such as the Sith. Unlike the Jedi, who were famous for using the light side of the Force, darksiders drew power from raw emotions and feelings such as anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, fear, aggression, megalomania, and unrestrained passion.
NATURE OF THE DARK SIDE
The difference between the dark and light sides appeared to be in how they feel to those who are aware of them. The light side at times was described as a flowing river: soothing, constant, with hidden strength. In contrast, the dark side was described as a roaring fire: obviously powerful, seductive, and potentially dangerous.
The dark side was seen as having been used for selfish purposes, although many darksiders who were accused of such selfishness claimed that the dark side was simply a means to achieve an end. Many found the dark side to be addictive, unable to resist its pull the more they were subjected to it. Even as their physical bodies slowly decayed, Dark side users became more powerful in the Force. Like the light side, the dark side was often treated as a semi-sentient entity with purposeful designs.
The Sith call it enlightenment; however, no records explain exactly how a conversion to the dark side takes place. For some, the dark side was extremely attractive and almost impossible to reject. Every time a person in tune with the Force called on the dark side, they became more addicted to the power it brought them. The dark side’s corrupting influence could take control of a Force user in certain moments. Although the Jedi primarily characterized the dark side as little more than a dangerous shortcut to power, those who embraced the dark side did so for various reasons.
Some believed the dark side to be more generous than the light, as it provided power, strength, and determination. Many of the original Dark Jedi in the Great Schisms of the Jedi Order held this idea and believed it foolish of the Jedi to restrict themselves to a lesser interpretation of the Force.
Some fell to the dark side because of a natural connection with it. In some cases, Jedi who had had limited control over the light side found their power and natural talent massively stronger in the dark side. Others fell because they saw the light side and the endless rules that the Jedi demanded to maintain it as too much to follow, as well as too limiting to their influence on the galaxy. They saw the dark side and its tenets of free passion, action, and emotion as a much better alternative to a life of sterile servitude under the light. Some also converted because they felt that the dark side at least got things done, instead of the patience and pacifism of the light.
Others believed that it was a necessary evil in dire times. Some embraced the dark side not out of personal desire, but as a means to battle the Jedi. For many, the dark side was the first side of the Force to which they were introduced and thus they did not succumb to it. Often the call of the dark side was felt following a personal tragedy, while others turned to it in times of need or distress. In addition, it was possible to be drawn to the dark side by proximity to a nexus of dark side energy.
Though their pasts and situations were varied, almost all who turned to the dark side did so because they faced challenges and difficulties that they felt the light side was incapable of helping them overcome. The changes these individuals underwent that led them to the dark side were clearly a result of their life experiences up to that point, and their willingness or unwillingness to resist the emotive forces that pulled one over the threshold of its allure and power. Among the most powerful of those emotive forces—which lightsiders were ever cautioned to resist and darksiders were ever admonished to embrace—are fear and anger, for both can lead to hate, which ever lies only a stepping-stone away from the realm of the dark side.
Fear was most often the starting point in a slide to the dark side—for, like a plague, it could quickly and rampantly affect individuals, groups, entire populations of cities, and even planets; and like a stream that becomes a raging river, it led naturally to anger, chaos, and unbridled power, if left unabated. When fear was thus allowed to fester and go unchecked, it could take hold and create a concentration of dark side energy that bordered on being something that approached a vergence or nexus in the Force. Those who were Force-sensitive could, often with great facility, detect such concentrations.
DARK SIDE CORRUPTION
The dark side, much like a strong, addictive narcotic, affected not only the mind of the user but the appearance as well. As one immersed oneself deeper within the dark side of the Force, its malevolent power took a toll on the body. The reason for this physical degradation was because flesh and bone lacked the endurance to channel the immense power of the dark side indefinitely. It was also that while the light side and Jedi teachings were devoted to preventing physical change through the Force, the dark side changes had to be accepted by the Sith, or they would fail due to their attempts at moderation.
Many darksiders experienced a change in the pigmentation of their eyes, as their normal eye color would transform into luminous, sulfuric yellow, a blood red or dark orange, usually with fiery red rims around the irises. Further transformations could also occur could also turn the white of the eyes black or reddish in color, as well as the skin around the eyes. The most severe transformations would cause the darksider to appear to be aging rapidly, as the skin would lose pigmentation, becoming pale and mottled while veins became increasingly visible and hair would lose color. At some point, the user’s voice could also be altered, becoming a few pitches lower and raspier.
The effects generally progressed over time and immersion in the dark side, and would not immediately affect one’s appearance. Of those that embraced the dark side, different individuals would experience different symptoms. Only those that devoted almost all of their being to the dark side, such as Darth Sidious, would have their appearance radically altered beyond the norm. In time, the corruption could go beyond mere cosmetic details and directly impair physical abilities.
The dark side could have an even greater effect on the mind, as the user often stopped trusting people and become quick to anger. Likewise, those who already carry mental ailments prior to its use only further exacerbates the issues.
It was possible for these corrupting powers to be potent enough to affect those who were simply near a nexus of dark side energy. Such could lead someone to madness or worse, and cause them to exhibit the appearance of one who had immersed themselves in the dark side.
While the dark side could destroy a body, it was also capable of sustaining one. The hateful, passionate, determined energies of the dark side were so powerful that it could prevent death for a body that was far past the point of death for a normal being.
THE FOUR STAGES OF THE DARK SIDE
- Stage 1: Temptation - It was believed that because a Jedi was in tune with the Force and could use it to whatever ends they saw fit, situations would arise that tempted the Jedi toward selfish applications of the Force. Rushing to help friends, facing obvious perils, and ending disputes quickly were all acts of haste that would result in steps onto the dark path should the individual act first and contemplate later.
- Stage 2: Imperilment - A hasty, indecisive Jedi can be quite a catastrophe to themselves. Also, any Jedi who believes that a “shortcut” through the path of the dark side will be lined with signs redirecting him back toward the light is only deluding himself. It was felt that a Jedi cannot be blinded by the idea of doing what they perceive to be right, by any means necessary, that if one accepts the darkness by which they are surrounded as a means to power, then the next stage has no bearing on their concerns.
- Stage 3: Submission - Once a Jedi accepts the dark path, the end justifying the means becomes irrelevant. Situations like attempting to destroy the Sith through infiltration, or trying to save loved ones from death have caused several famous Jedi to explain away their actions based on the desired outcomes. At this point, their fall to the dark side is nearly complete. On occasion, Jedi who wander away from the light suddenly become aware of their poor decisions. These Jedi are not so far beyond redemption. Some Jedi found the power of the dark side intoxicating and so fully surrendered themselves to it. These individuals are no longer orthodox Jedi but twisted perversions of their former selves. It is then the responsibility of the Jedi to either bring the dissenter back into the fold, or eliminate them.
- Stage 4: Redemption/Atonement - A Jedi who is only slightly tainted by the dark side could atone for their actions through meditation, reflection, and absolution. A Dark Jedi was beyond atonement, and therefore only eligible for redemption. A redeemed Jedi is one who has performed a selfless act of heroism without using the dark side to obtain results. Such acts include saving the life of another through completely selfless action, or helping to right a wrong one has helped to create. This happens from time to time, but on many occasions Dark Jedi were beyond redemption, some outright refusing to be returned to the light side. A Dark Jedi who does not want to relinquish his powers cannot be saved. Any Jedi who kills innocents while under the influence of the dark side cannot be redeemed.
MANIFESTATIONS OF THE DARK SIDE
The dark side was known to manifest itself in many different ways, even in the absence of life, which was the supposed source of the Force. Locations where the dark side ran strong were sometimes called dark side nexuses, and could be the result of many different occurrences. These locations were so potent that they could imbue nearby objects with a dark side aura. Similar to these were wounds in the Force.
A wound in the Force was the result of a massive and sudden loss of life. As the Force is derived from life, it would become traumatized and wounded, affecting the places and people involved. The wound would never heal, and always hunger for life to fill the hole where life once existed. Such wounds could cause great harm to any life that came in contact, corrupting it or devouring it. Proximity to these wounds could often cause a rapid fall to the dark side or worse. Force wounds could also be used to break the will of Jedi, corrupting them and turning them to the dark side.
STRENGTH OF THE DARK SIDE
A common point of debate among Jedi and their dark counterparts was the strength that laid behind the dark side. A major claim of darksiders was that the stronger, darker emotions that fueled their power also lent them an edge over other Force users. The Jedi, and other groups who held to the light often claimed that the dark side was a shortcut to power, but also to suffering and destruction. It is true that many darksiders noticeably advanced in their command of the Force following their conversion.
Many were in fact capable of incredible feats of destruction, such as causing starts to go supernova, or the use of Force storms, powers that seemed incomprehensible for a single being to wield. The Sith often claimed that the Jedi were weak and foolish for not tapping into the dark side, which they considered to be the stronger side of the Force. While the dark side did provide for a more visual display of power, such as Force Storms, the Jedi were capable of the same amount of power, but could not apply it in such terrible, destructive ways. However, these powers came with a price. Abilities such as Force storm and more unique variants of Force drain required extraordinary immersion in the dark side, and the practitioners of such dark powers invariably suffered terrible physical degradation.
Conversely, while the dark side could provide its practitioners with destructive capabilities beyond that of light side practitioners, it fell short of the light side when it came to biologically sustainable healing. While the dark side could be used to improve one’s vitality and repair one’s body as the light side could, the results of utilizing the dark side in such a manner were almost always temporary. Nearly all dark side-based healing powers worked only so long as the practitioner actively channeled the dark side, and whatever malady the power was meant to treat often returned in full force the moment they ceased to do so.
The light side, on the other hand, could provide accelerated healing in a permanent, biologically sustainable fashion. However, there are a few dark side practitioners who have demonstrated the ability to heal themselves in a more permanent fashion.
The dark side was quick to aid a Force-user in combat, often to great effect. Many individuals having displayed many extraordinary feats in battle, like killing many strong foes on their own. The combat prowess exhibited by these individuals may have been the result of a lack of moral restrictions darksiders placed on themselves. When in battle, however, the dark side itself lent to their ferocity and determination.
One weakness that apparently lay in the dark side, which could be seen as giving the Jedi the upper hand, was the strife inescapably associated with it. The Sith Lords could never ultimately destroy their foes because they were bound to, sooner or later, turn upon each other, with each one constantly striving for more power at the expense of others, and seeking to dominate everything around him. This flaw became particularly pronounced if there was no reigning Dark Lord to keep the lesser ones in check.
Another fatal weakness that has been repeatedly illustrated in the dark side is a lack of focus that seems to stem from a reliance on emotions such as pride, anger, and fear, which heighten powers but also lead to clouded judgment. This issue often leads to darksiders being brought low by their hubris, even in situations where victory would otherwise seem assured.
However, this weakness was not absolute, and it was indeed possible to wield the dark side without succumbing to one’s own pride or rage. While it was believed that anger was the most potent catalyst for drawing on the destructive energies of the dark side, there was the realization that it could impair one’s judgment. As such, it was cautioned that keeping one’s anger under control was vital to mastering the dark side, emphasizing that a strong will and high levels of intelligence were needed to exercise this control.
It also should be noted that the training methods of darksiders were often brutal, as exemplified by the Sith. One common result of this tendency was that the weaker darksiders often died before ever getting the chance to fight a Jedi, which may help to explain their high success rate against Jedi–more weak Jedi survived their training to fight the strongest of the Sith. Despite this disparity, the followers of the light proved victorious in the majority of large scale conflicts with dark side adherents. This trend was due almost exclusively due to the infighting that inevitably occurred between the various darksiders during said conflicts. However the Jedi were not always victorious in their war against the Sith. A number of times the Jedi Order has been defeated in galactic conflict.