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Who are the Nightsisters in The Acolyte episode 7?

It’s a great time to be a fan of Star Wars, witches, and witches who are in Star Wars. The writing has been on the wall for a while in The Acolyte, with the show’s mysterious coven of all-female Force users having quite a few familiar hallmarks of another all-female Force-using group from the Clone Wars era and on.

[Ed. Note: This piece contains spoilers for Ahsoka and episode 7 of The Acolyte, “Choice.”]

Image: Lucasfilm

This week’s episode put the nail on the proverbial coffin, with Jedi characters referring to Mae and Osha’s coven as a “force cult,” and, pointedly, “Nightsisters.” Or, as they’re known in Star Wars media set hundreds of years after the events of The Acolyte: the Witches of Dathomir.

This isn’t the first time a live-action Disney Plus Star Wars series has mentioned the Witches — they got an extremely fleeting shoutout in The Book of Boba Fett, and an antagonist role in Ahsoka, where the group made a pact with Grand Admiral Thrawn to transport their fallen sisters back to the main Star Wars galaxy.

The difference between modern Star Wars and classic Star Wars is that said witches have been explored pretty extensively in other ancillary Star Wars media, namely The Clone Wars, but also in several novels, comic books, and a bit in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. In Ahsoka, Baylan Skoll notes that stories of the Witches are “considered folktales. An ancient past, long forgotten.” The Acolyte, set hundreds of years before the Clone Wars, seems to be peeling back the curtain on that long forgotten past.

This means that it’s possible to sate your curiosity should you hear about “the Nightsisters” and think they sound metal as hell and worth learning more about. We’re happy to tell you that they are metal as hell, and you can learn more about them.

Who are the Nightsisters, or the Witches of Dathomir?

The three Witches of Dathomir standing together with their hands clasped

Image: Lucasfilm

There is a simple answer to this question, and then a more complicated one. Let’s start simple: Generally speaking, the Witches of Dathomir are the female denizens of the planet Dathomir that belong to the Nightsister clan.

Dathomir? Where have I heard that before?

Good ear! It’s the planet where Darth Maul is from, as well as Mother Koril in The Acolyte. If all you know about Darth Maul is his appearance in The Phantom Menace, well, there’s a lot more to him than that. His home planet has a bonkers backstory! Some of which we’re about to get into.

In Ahsoka, Baylan mentions that they are specifically from a different galaxy, though in earlier Star Wars stories, that wasn’t the case. And they don’t appear to be from a different galaxy in The Acolyte, but there is one episode of the series left, we suppose.

OK, but why are they witches?

Probably sexism. But also because they are Force users with a unique connection to the Force that results in powers quite different from what the Jedi and Sith do. Stuff like necromancy and illusion. Real spooky shit, with lots of spooky smoke. They call it “magick,” and those who wield magick are witches.

But what about the fellas? Can they use magick too?

Kind of. All Zabraks (the Dathomiri people) can be force-sensitive, but magick is solely for the ladies. This is why Darth Maul can be a powerful Force user but not all that different from other Sith Lords you’ve seen before.

darth maul saber fight in phantom menace

Image: Lucasfilm

They keep a very rigid social structure on Dathomir, where everyone belongs to one of many clans, each with their own rigid code. Two of the most well-defined are the Nightsisters (the Witches) and Nightbrothers — the complementary male clan of Dathomiri, who live apart from the Nightsisters and exist as their warrior-servants. The Acolyte may be implying that the Nightsister clan of the Clone War era is somehow descended from Mae and Osha’s coven on Brendock.

None of this should be taken as immutable, either. Star Wars canon is quite loose when it comes to Dathomir and its people, so while it often is characterized one way (a place where generally bad people do creepy magick), there is always the suggestion that we’re only seeing a small sliver of the planet and its culture, since it ultimately is one of many razed by the Empire for refusing to play ball.

This sounds cool. Where do I learn more?

Asajj Ventress in a hood with some of the Witches of Dathomir in an episode of The Clone Wars

Image: Lucasfilm

Your first stop should probably be the Nightsisters arc of The Clone Wars, since those episodes also overlap with a lot of what the Disney Plus shows, like The Mandalorian and Ahsoka and The Acolyte, are doing, and give the clearest picture of what they’re like in current continuity. The arc kicks off in season 3, episode 12, “Nightsisters,” and runs through the next two episodes, “Monster” and “Witches of the Mist.”

They tell a self-contained tale about Asajj Ventress, the villainous Dathomiri Sith apprentice to Count Dooku. When Dooku betrays her, Ventress returns home to the Nightsisters for revenge. The Nightsisters trilogy lays the groundwork for a lot of stories, the most important being the fate of Darth Maul (the final arc of season 4) and, eventually, the conclusion of the Mandalore story in animated form (until it is revisited in The Mandalorian).

Outside of The Clone Wars, things get a little messy, as Dathomir and the Nightsisters are one of the aspects of Star Wars lore that got a lot of attention in both the Legends timeline and the current canon. The various comics and books weave in and out of canonical status, so The Clone Wars is best for those looking for some grounding going forward; everything else is gravy. Spooky gravy.


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