In the middle of a field in South Carolina, Alethea Thompson closed her eyes and attempted to sense her way forward. Thompson, now 35, had spent years trying to find a spiritual home and had decided to try something new. This exercise was meant to teach her to “to trust in your ability to sense things and know that you’re not going to fall, you’re not going to get hurt,” she says. And was part of her training to become a Jedi.
After 12 years with the Force Academy, an online community that provides educational courses on Jediism, Thompson is today a Jedi master. She explains that the Force Academy and most Jedi organisations don’t prescribe strict rituals: there are no requirements on diet or clothing and no mass-style services. Jedis do, however, follow a code of ethics that centres on resisting negative emotions and promoting peace.