At the time of writing this, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been out for 13 days. In that time, it's made $1 billion in record time, topping Revenge of the Sith for the highest-grossing Star Wars film of all time. Fans across the world got to enjoy the film on the same release date and have been talking about it ever since.

Star Wars is the fairy tale of my generation. It is the journey of heroes in the face of insurmountable odds, of grand clashes of good and evil, and of the ties that bind us all: the Force. It's described as surrounding us and holding us together, within and without everything in the galaxy. Not only that, but it has a Light and Dark side, constantly balancing and checking one another.

But what is the difference between the Light and Dark sides? What do they stand for, and what do they practice?

And don't worry - no spoilers here! Consider this a guide to helping you better understand what exactly is awakening in Episode VII. Train hard, and may the Force be with you.

The Light Side

"How am I to know the good side from the bad?"
"You will know, when you are calm. At peace, passive."
―Luke Skywalker and Yoda

Who used it: Individuals able to sense and use the Force, the largest number of whom belonged to the ancient order of Jedi Knights. They used their abilities to gather knowledge and keep peace in the galaxy.

What it represents: The light side of the Force is the side aligned with honesty, compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, and other positive emotions. One who uses the light side will never draw a weapon on an enemy in fear or anger and will always strive to stay calm in any situation. Many who used the light side meditated to help maintain that inner control.

Known powers: These techniques are typically harder to use and master than those practiced by those on the dark side. But because of this, they are infinitely more rewarding and become more powerful over time. They're almost all defensive or passive in nature, and while they can incapacitate enemies, they usually choose not to. Some specific powers include:
  • Telekinesis (pushing and pulling objects or people)
  • Precognition
  • Persuasion ("Jedi mind tricks")

  • Notable users: Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda


    The Dark Side

    "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural."
    ―Palpatine

    Who used it: The dark side of the Force was primarily used by the Sith Lords. A number of Sith were former Jedi who were seduced by the strength they could gather from the dark side and thus turned against their old practices. They used their abilities to gather more power for themselves.

    What it represents: Darker emotions such as fear, anger, hatred, and aggression are the hallmarks of the dark side. Because of its highly corrupting nature, those who used the dark side quickly became twisted versions of their old selves, They seek to acquire as much power as possible by any means necessary, and are not afraid to use underhanded tactics to get what they want.

    Known powers: Using the dark side allows Force users to use techniques they normally would not be able to. It was the "quick and easy path" promising rapid gains and quick victories. They are almost all aggressive in nature, including:
  • Force lightning
  • Force choking
  • Temporary healing

  • Notable users: Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, Count Dooku