If you found yourself curious over what the presence of Rey’s lightsaber meant in The Rise of Skywalker, you’re right—it’s kind of a big deal. Need to know more? Then gather ‘round, and I’ll unspool the tale…
[MAJOR Spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker]
At the very end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey heads back to Tatooine to lay Luke and Leia’s lightsabers to rest. Actually, that’s not entirely true; Luke used one of those sabers when he started on his Jedi path, but it is, in fact, Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber that she buries in the sand outside the Lars homestead. (It’s possible that Luke’s lightsaber is in the wreckage of the temple where he was training Jedi, or hidden away in the bricks of Ahch-To, the way he hid Leia’s for her.) Once the act is done, Rey reveals a lightsaber of her own making—its hilt is from her trusty old staff, and the blade is yellow, or some might even say gold.
But what does that mean?
First, a bit of information about how lightsabers are constructed: The lightsaber is a weapon powered by a kyber crystal, the same type of crystal that was used to give the Death Star its firepower (though it was a lot bigger, of course). Most crystals produce green or blue blades, in varying shades and intensities. Mace Windu was known for his purple lightsaber, and while current canon gives no explanation for its color, it was the final blade Windu ever constructed, after many iterations. The Sith sabers produce red blades because—as Ahsoka Tano learned over the course of her own journey—Sith use the dark side to bend kyber crystals to their will. This cracks the crystals and causes them to “bleed”, resulting in the red color. When Ahsoka learns this, she “heals” the crystals of two lightsabers that she takes from Sith acolytes, resulting in her signature white blades.
So that’s most of the colors that we know… but it doesn’t explain Rey’s distinctive yellow hue.
We’re in luck, though, as the yellow-bladed lightsaber has been shown in canon before. It was a color found in the lightsaber pikes of Jedi Temple Guards, a subset within the ranks of the Jedi that was considered a sacred calling. Temple Guards did not choose their place in the Order—they were Knights or Masters summoned into the service, assigned their new sabers, wearing masks to obscure their identities as a signifier of their emotional detachment and commitment to the Force. In essence, Temple Guards more closely fulfilled the concept of “Jedi as warrior monk,” the highest fulfillment a Jedi could receive.
It is relevant that in Rey’s vision in The Rise of Skywalker, when she sees herself as a Sith, she is wielding a red-bladed lightsaber pike. The foldable hilt is the same style used by Temple Guards; she then ends her journey with the same color blade the Guards used. This suggests that although her ultimate destiny was unknown to her, Rey always knew subconsciously that her purpose was bound up in the defense and protection of others, that her path as a Jedi was closer to that of the Temple Guards.
And there’s another angle to all of this: In the old Legends canon (first conceived in the Knights of the Old Republic game), the yellow-bladed lightsaber was common to a subset of Jedi known as Sentinels. Their role within the Order was unique in that Sentinels tended to keep to themselves, and preferred to learn a range of practical skills that could complement their work as Jedi. This ranged from espionage and hacking to artisanal skills and scholarship. It was assumed by Darth Sidious that many Sentinels survived Order 66 due to their ability to blend into populations and remain anonymous. The Sentinels were known for never over-relying on the Force, understanding of the fact that their abilities had limitations. They were averse to the Jedi Order’s ranking system as well, and often didn’t bother with titles of Knight or Master.
What’s more, Sentinels had a preference for non-confrontational solutions to problems—their yellow lightsabers were a last resort, and more rare for that fact, with some of their ranks excelling instead at disciplines like battle meditation. (It is possible that this is what Chirrut Îmwe unknowingly applied during the Battle of Scarif in the events of Rogue One.) Jedi Sentinels often applied themselves to individual communities, choosing to work with smaller groups and offer their expertise when it was asked for or called upon. In essence, they were likely closer in function to what the Jedi intended when the Order first formed: agents of peace, protectors of life, and (hopefully) guardians of balance.
It’s unclear if this subset of Jedi was erased in the new canon, but their existence and development was documented in the book The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force published in 2010, a history of the Jedi replete with notes and commentary from old masters. If the book itself (or one like it) were a real existing tome within the Star Wars universe, it’s possible that Rey could have gotten her hands on it, read it, and identified with the path of the Sentinels. If so, that provides us with a sizable clue as to what the future of the Jedi might look like.
If Rey chooses to teach new Jedi, perhaps she will put them on the path of the Sentinels—not an order beholden to a government body, but individuals who use their abilities to help others wherever they can. The suggestion at the end of The Last Jedi is that the Force doesn’t belong to one insular group who rarely interact with the galaxy—it belongs to everyone. If a new generation of Force-users are brought up in the mindset of the Jedi who wielded those yellow blades, perhaps that balance the Jedi Order claimed to seek would finally become a reality.