This post contains details about The Last Jedi.
One of the finest moments in The Last Jedi comes when Yoda, for many the heart and soul of the Star Wars saga, casts lightning at the ancient tree on Ahch-To. It is a symbolic moment for the new films, Yoda tells Luke to cast out the past. To dispense with his reliance upon physical receptacles of knowledge. He pokes fun at Luke for mourning the loss of the ancient Jedi texts in the resultant fire.
Yoda instructs Luke to learn from his failures and place his faith in Rey who already carries with her wisdom equal to the ancient Jedi texts (a delightful little joke since Rey swiped the texts upon her exit – they’re safe and sound). The lesson from Yoda contains a little wisdom for the viewer too; it’s the franchise telling us to strike down the Star Wars we knew. Rian Johnson, like Yoda, has just scorched the structures and ancient texts.
Yoda’s lightning strike on the tree site reminded me of stories I had come across within Celtic mythology in relation to the Oak Tree. The Celts considered the Oak tree to be the most important of trees and a storehouse of wisdom; seen as a portal, or a door. The Celts were thought to be able to achieve higher spirituality through the Oak which was seen as a pathway or a guide to the truth and the portal to the strength and spirituality within oneself. This was because of the interesting quality of the Oak as a tree that attracted lightning.
Because of this trait, the Oak was frequently associated with gods that were in charge of lightning, and not just among the Celts. For example in other religions Thor and Zeus were said to have had an affinity with the Oak tree. An Oak tree that attracted lightning away from settlements and onto itself was a cherished as a protecting power, and is therefore further evidence of its sacred status.
There is a linkage with this time of year too. The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. At this time Celtic priests would cut the mistletoe that grew on the Oak tree and give it as a blessing. The winter fruit of the mistletoe were placed on the sacred Oak trees as a symbol of life in the dark winter months in a ceremony connected with the death and rebirth of the sun.
At the Solstice, the Sun, or God, which has been lost in the stasis of death, reaches a state of re-birth. Out of the darkness and the belly of the Mother Goddess, the Sun comes back into the skies again. This Pagan Festival was enhanced through the Christian celebration of Christmas in which the ‘birth’ aspect was retained.
So in Christmas 2017, when we go to watch The Last Jedi multiple times, it might be worth sparing a moment to consider that lightning strike sent by Yoda. Is it so satisfying because it echoes back to something fundamental buried deep in our psyche?
It’s now only a few days to the Winter Solstice during this Christmas season. With Star Wars this December we’ve see the rebirth of light after the darkness. The light will create the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down. Watch out though, it may take a few Oak trees with it.
May the Force be with You…and Merry Christmas.