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Rogue One — the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise — is a phenomenal success, proving that the idea of producing spinoff movies can be good one. Eagle-eyed viewers will no doubt have questions about one of the central plots of the film: the mysterious #KyberCrystals, the legendary gems that power a Jedi's lightsaber. Today, I want to cast my eye to the Kyber, to evaluate what we know, and to raise some tantalizing possibilities.
What Are Kyber Crystals?
Kyber are living crystals, composed of both organic and inorganic matter. Because it is partly alive, Kyber is attuned to the Force, hence both Jedi and Sith use Kyber in their lightsabers. In the novel Ahsoka, we learn that Kyber Crystals exhibit a sort of "collective consciousness" and can verbally communicate with one another and other living beings. The crystals exhibit strange shifts in their lattice, causing some to wonder whether this indicates an emotional spectrum.
Kyber are naturally attuned to the Light Side of the Force, but can be turned to the Dark Side when a Sith Lord imposes their will upon the Kyber. In a fascinating parallel, the novel Catalyst — a prelude novel to #RogueOne — describes Galen Erso's experiments as him imposing his will upon the Kyber, and the crystal even changes hue after he's learned how to force the power out of it. In imposing his will upon the Kyber, it's strongly implied that Erso unwittingly turned them to the Dark Side.
Disturbingly, Galen Erso was only rediscovering an ancient secret. In The Clone Wars, Yoda observes:
"Long ago in forgotten times, when the Sith and Jedi fought for control of the galaxy, weapons there were, of unimaginable power. Always at their heart, a Kyber Crystal was."
From 'Rogue One' to 'Aftermath: Empire's End'
The latest Star Wars novel, Aftermath: Empire's End, gave us some more clues as to how the Kyber work. In one interlude, we meet representatives of a group known as the Church of the Force, who seem to share some similarities to Rogue One's Guardians of the Whills. At one point, we hear a hologram of the Church's leader declare:
"Just as the Jedi are a lens that focuses the Force, so is the kyber crystal a lens that focuses the light inside the Jedi - and the light inside the Jedi's weapon, the lightsaber."
In Rogue One, we see the Guardians of the Whills use Kyber in a similar way. They're referred to as protectors of the Jedha Temple, and Chirrut Imwe - played by Donnie Yen - is the most notable Guardian. He picks Felicity Jones's Jyn Erso out of a crowd because of her necklace, for example, and according to the Rogue One Official Collector's Magazine his staff is capped with a Kyber Crystal. Given that's the case, in all Imwe's most dramatic feats he's in contact with Kyber; either holding his staff or his 'lightbow'. The lightbow is clearly evocative of the lightsaber, so we can presume both weapons are powered by Kyber.
It seems that the Kyber focuses the light inside a man or woman, whether they are Force-sensitive or not, and allows them to influence the Force in a way that is almost Jedi-like. This fits well with an intriguing scene in Rogue One, where Jyn grasps her Kyber necklace as the team attempt to get through the shield gate at Scarif. Many fans — including my fellow Creator Katie — suggested that the scene hints at Jyn's Force-sensitivity; instead, I'd suggest that it hinted at the power and nature of the Kyber.
One additional detail is worthy of note: In the Rogue One prelude novel, Catalyst, Galen Erso's work on the Kyber Crystals has a fascinating effect. As he strives to bend the Kyber to his will, he begins to exhibit disturbing behaviors; physically he struggles to sleep and experiences strong headaches, and psychologically he becomes introverted, obsessive, and increasingly selfish. I've already suggested that Galen was artificially bending the Kyber to the Dark Side; it seems that this action had a profound impact upon him.
Drawing the Threads Together
I don't think that Jyn Erso is Force-sensitive; rather, I think the key part is the Kyber. Kyber can be used to focus a person's presence in the Force, unlocking abilities that would otherwise be available only to Jedi. What's more, it's worth remembering that both Jedi and Sith have traditionally used their Kyber-powered lightsabers as both powerful weapons and meditative tools. In fact, in #TheForceAwakens Ryn is 'called' by Luke Skywalker's lost lightsaber - or, perhaps, by the Kyber within it.
It seems clear that Kyber Crystals are somehow attuned to the Force, and that even non-Force-sensitive people can use them to access the Force. They can bend minds (Jyn), see the vagaries of the Force around others (Chirrut), and even perform incredible feats. The best example is when Chirrut, clinging to a staff with a Kyber cap, walks boldly across the line of fire to activate a master switch. He's only finally shot when he no longer holds the staff in his hands; he has to release it in order to pull the lever.
For now, this is just a theory - but the evidence is building, and Lucasfilm is working hard to build a consistent universe across countless different media. Given that's the case, we can surely expect Kyber Crystals to become increasingly important to the future of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away - so it's only a matter of time before we learn the truth.