When you look at the diverse and passionate group of Jedi that makes up California Jedi, its easy to think we’ve all been this way for ages. But no one is born a Jedi; we choose it for ourselves through training and drive. So how do you become a Jedi? How do people awaken the force within themselves? Here are three examples of how some California Jedi found the path. Keep an eye out out for more stories in the future!
Katie Mock/Kai-An Tatok of California Jedi:
Leading from the front is a good practice, so I’ll go first! I’ve always drawn inspiration from fiction. I remember playing pretend as a child, fighting off pirates, saving villages from marauders, having moral discussions about my fictional wars and adventures with my friends, all based on the books we were reading. Redwall, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings: they are all incredible stories with lessons to be learned: good versus evil, watching out for your friends, standing up for yourself. Star Wars was no different for me, and I’d always looked up to the fictional Jedi of the original trilogy. When episode three came out I was in a difficult place, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. I’d been raised Catholic but felt ignored by the church (as a queer woman) and angry at its backwards stances on so many things I thought and felt. When a friend pointed me at Jedi Realism it clicked into place like it was always meant to be there, and I’ve been walking the path for over a decade now, going on to found this group.
L. Christopher Bird of The Jedi Path:
The desire to be a Jedi could be expected to be met with a variety of reactions such as incredulity or a laughing dismissal. It is common knowledge that Star Wars is a work of fiction, and that the Jedi as depicted on screen and in print exist only as fantasy creations. It may lead to the question of “why would anyone want to do such a thing?”
As a child in the 1970s and 1980s I often pretended to be a Jedi Knight. I even had childhood clubs with initiations based on the best I could do to simulate Luke Skywalker’s training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back. The idea of being a Jedi continued to appeal to me throughout my teenage years. Then when I was in my 30s, I heard about the Jedi census phenomena of people putting down “Jedi” as their religion on census forms. I started to think, “well why not? Why couldn’t someone apply Jedi philosophy to their lives and live it?” In 2005, I wrote an essay laying out how I thought this might be possible and what the establishment of a Jedi religion would look like. I posted it to the most hostile forum I could find on LiveJournal, a group called Non-Fluffy Pagans. The ensuing discussion was nothing short of spectacular. I had a few supporters and many, many very vocal dissenters. Now ten years later as I write this book, some of my views in that essay remain, but much more of it has changed, even coming around to the views of some of the most vocal dissenters in 2005. The past ten years I have been both living and refining my interpretation of the Jedi Path, putting it into practice and seeing what has benefit and utility, and what does not.
Nicole Wojciechowski (Kamizu) of Temple of the Jedi Order:
My journey down the Jedi path started a long time ago. When I was a child, I was mentally and emotionally abused by my mother. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I found solace in books, stories, and movies. There were knights, mages, dragons, soldiers, ‘common’ people who were thrown into a situation and rose to the challenge… These became my role models. I found a driving need to be these heroes in them. At home, I was a meek little child, but in my head, the stories started forming. I came up with this character and named him Kamizu. Only a few years ago did I realize what he was to me. He was my alter-ego. He got to do the things I wished I could. Be the kind of person I wished I could be. Be loved and missed by friends as close as family. He fulfilled the missing parts of my life.
These stories went on for over ten years. Kamizu was a part of a variety of different universes. A year before I left on my last deployment, I had cut myself off (again) from the faith I had been trying to follow. While I was deployed, I felt a resounding lack of social connection too. Lacking these two pillars, I sunk more deeply into Kamizu’s life. One day, I reflected on how Kamizu had been almost exclusively a Jedi for the last few years. I remember a vague conversation with my dad when I was a kid that there were people who adopted Jedi as a religion. I felt a void in me, a need to believe in something. So I did some research and signed myself up for a Jedi Temple and the training I found there. I hesitated on the name I would submit as my handle. Do I use my college nickname? I kind of recognized what Kamizu was for me at this point. I decided I wanted to be that character. That I wanted the two of us to become one person. So that was the name I chose to use. So here we are, a few years down the line and they haven’t managed to get rid of me yet!