Everyone who walks the Jedi Path was once searching for something: support, knowledge, insight, strength, or inner peace. But how do you get from being curious about a new path, or daydreaming about being a Jedi, to living the path and training, online and off, every day? I asked California Jedi and friends to share their “origin stories”, and this is what they had to say.
Chris Miller, California Jedi
I was looking for role playing games. Like you write a story with a group of people. I ended up finding an online Jedi group. I first thought they were a bunch of nerds, but then I stayed because I realized I may have something to learn.
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 phenomenon of people putting down “Jedi” as their religion on census forms. Instead of laughing along with the rest of the world, 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. I processed their critique, then put my ideas to the test. For the past fourteen 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.L. Christopher Bird, California Jedi
In October of 2014, I moved from solitary and online practice to offline training and practice when I met Opie Macleod for the first time and became involved with California Jedi. Having peers on the Jedi Path was so beneficial for my training, and was glad to be away from the toxicity of many online communities. In California Jedi, I made many friends, and they helped me along the path and my training became much better doing it in an offline community than it ever did on my own with only online interactions with other Jedi.
On April 26, 2015, I dedicated myself to meeting the California Jedi Knighthood Standards, putting a learner’s braid in my hair. 840 days later on August 12, 2017, at the second California Jedi Gathering, it was cut off as I was made a California Jedi Knight.
Star Wars was the foundation of how I saw the world. I was a toddler when Return of the Jedi came out, and I watched those tapes so much that the labels disintegrated over the years. Some summers I’d watch them over and over every day. Seeing Luke deal with his emotions, watching him find goodness in Vader even though by default he was the ultimate ‘bad guy’, watching him let go when he dies. It all affected me strongly and built my ideas for life and how I see people. I actually ran across something called the Jedi Academy years ago when I was on a spiritual search sometime around the year my father passed away.. never joined, though. Truth be told I keep coming full circle back around to Jedi. Although I am not officially in any training program, I work hard to follow the code, do service where I can, meditate, mediate… And bring myself back to center when I make mistakes or feel lost.
Since I am a mother to two teenagers I’ve always felt it’s super important for me to set an example for my kids. That’s another reason why Jedi just feels right. I have homeschooled them since the beginning, so we have a close relationship. We always talk about philosophy and I’ve helped them with meditation and emotions etc. They also come with me and help pick up garbage in our neighborhood, etc. It means more to me than anything, to make sure they have a solid foundation for their lives and can hopefully spread that out into the world when they’re adults.Mel Jenkins, AK
Adam King, PA
My Jedi path really started in August or September of 2012. I was bored and dissatisfied with my life and had just cleaned up from a strong, albeit brief, addiction to crack cocaine. I wasn’t exactly unfulfilled by my religious/spiritual beliefs, but I felt like there could be more to add that would allow me to get even more out of life. I think I’d recently read an article on artificial religions, or perhaps I’d just been reading a lot of fantasy novels with fabricated religions. Whatever it was, something engendered the question: “I wonder if there are real life Jedi out there?” So, I went to Google (which hadn’t really failed me much to that point) and did a search.
I found a few campy roleplaying sites at first, but then I stumbled upon Temple of the Jedi Order and Force Academy and…well, that’s how I got started.
But, if I were to get really deterministic about it, I’d probably mention the fact that I’ve been watching and loving the Star Wars movies since I was probably four or five years old (whenever my mom allowed my dad to show them to me for the first time, anyway). I was always fascinated by the Jedi and their “religion” and beliefs and abilities. I grew up to also be interested in the Greek and Roman heroes and their mythologies. Then the medieval knights and their caste system and codes of chivalry. There was always something there calling me or reminding me that real heroism was possible.
But no, my Jedi path didn’t actually start until I asked the question and did that Google search.