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"Every man, woman, and child on Nathema died that day. Every beast, bird, and fish; all the insects and plants; every living being touched by the Force was consumed. When the ritual ended, Nathema was no longer a world. It was a husk sucked dry. Lord Vitiate sacrificed millions, stealing their life force to make himself immortal."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

The Ritual of Nathema was the name given by historians of the reconstituted Sith Empire to the event in 4999 BBY, in which the Sith Lord Vitiate performed a dark ritual that stripped the Force itself from the entire planet of Nathema. While Imperial historians saw it as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the Old Sith Empire, the Ritual was actually the result of Vitiate's mental enslavement of over eight thousand Sith Lords. He forced them to participate in the Sith magic that killed every living thing on Nathema and rendered himself immortal.


"But in the aftermath of the war—after our defeat at the hands of the Republic and our flight to escape the massacre of our people by the Jedi—he emerged from his solitude to call a great council of all the Sith Lords who remained."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

In 5000 BBY, the Sith Empire was destroyed by the Galactic Republic in the Great Hyperspace War, and the people of the Empire were terrified that the Republic and their Jedi protectors would not stop until the entire Sith species was wiped out.[1] Supreme Chancellor Pultimo was in the process of orchestrating a purge of the remnants of the Empire,[4] and the Sith Lord Vitiate chose to take advantage of the people's fear. Broadcasting speeches across the Empire that described how the Jedi would not rest until the Sith were destroyed, Vitiate stoked the Empire's terror and then offered them hope:[1] arriving on the planet Korriban,[3] Vitiate sent out a call for all of the remaining Sith Lords to meet with him on his world Nathema, where he promised to lead them in a powerful ritual of Sith magic that would ensure the Jedi Order's destruction. However, Vitiate ordered his scientists and researchers to locate a world upon which the Empire could rebuild without fear of the Jedi following.[1]

The RitualEdit

"He turned them into slaves to his will, forcing them to participate in the most complex ritual of Sith sorcery ever attempted. Calling on the dark side, Lord Vitiate devoured them. He fed on their power, absorbing it into himself, utterly obliterating all traces of his victims."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

In 4999 BBY,[2] not long after he returned to Nathema,[3] Vitiate was informed by the head researcher that they had discovered a hyperlane connecting Korriban and the long-lost colony world of Dromund Kaas. Three days later, Vitiate announced the commencement of his ritual,[1] and eight thousand Sith Lords answered his call,[3] including the surviving members of the Empire's ruling Sith Council.[2] However, as each Sith arrived at his palace, Vitiate dominated their minds and bound their wills to his own, placing their strength at his disposal. He then began the ritual itself, which took ten days to perform and enabled him to consume the life force of every living thing on the planet. The combined power conferred immortality upon Vitiate, granting him immense strength in the Force at the expense of the entire world.[1]


"Their deaths also made him stronger than any Sith who had come before, and he ceased to be known as Lord Vitiate. On that day, the Emperor was truly born."
―Darth Nyriss[src]
Ritual of Nathema

The surface of Nathema after the devastation

As a result of the Ritual, Nathema was left entirely devoid of the Force, and the physical environment of the planet itself was warped. Color seemed to have leeched from reality to those who stood on its surface, and the planet's orange sun appeared to be a dull brown when viewed through the atmosphere. The newly immortal Vitiate shed his mortal identity and took on the title of Sith Emperor, blaming the devastation of Nathema on the Jedi. He then proceeded to gather the younger generation of the Empire's people before embarking on a twenty-year odyssey from Korriban to Dromund Kaas. After reconstituting the Empire on Dromund Kaas, the Emperor purged all navigation data relating to Nathema in order to ensure that no one discovered the truth of Nathema's fate.[1]

However, members of the Empire's ruling Dark Council eventually discovered the planet's existence and history over a thousand years after the Ritual, and they began a conspiracy to unseat the Emperor and ensure he would never commit such a crime again. The conspiracy was destroyed,[1] however, and by the time of the Great Galactic War with the Republic three centuries later, the Ritual of Nathema was celebrated by Imperial historians as a great achievement. The historians were unaware of the actual events of the Ritual, believing that the other Sith Lords had willingly sacrificed their strength on the Emperor's behalf.[3] The Sith Lord Scourge, who had visited Nathema and learned the truth of the Emperor's rise from the conspirator Darth Nyriss,[1] dedicated himself to preventing the Emperor from performing the Sith ritual on a galactic scale during the Galactic War between the Republic and the Empire, and he informed the Jedi High Council of the Ritual's history in order to convince them of his sincerity.[5]

Behind the scenesEdit

The Ritual of Nathema was first described in Drew Karpyshyn's 2011 novel The Old Republic: Revan, though it was not given a proper name until the release of the BioWareLucasArts video game Star Wars: The Old Republic later that year. One of the in-game Datacrons, holocron-like devices that grant players permanent stat boosts, can be located in the Gorinth Canyon region on the Empire's version of Balmorra, and the corresponding Galactic History entry for the in-game Codex describes the Empire's account of the Ritual of Nathema.[3] The Ritual is also mentioned in the Jedi Knight class mission "An Unthinkable Alliance" during the game, though Lord Scourge does not identify the planet's name.[5]

The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, a reference book released alongside the game, features Jedi Master Gnost-Dural's investigations into the history of the Emperor, though he was unable to determine exactly what occurred on Nathema.[6] The 2012 reference guide The Essential Reader's Companion mentioned the event during its summary of Karpyshyn's novel,[7] and the Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia also featured a mention of the Ritual.[2]



Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 The Old Republic: Revan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 SWTOR mini Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex Entry: "Galactic History 31: The Ritual of Nathema"
  4. SWTOR mini Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex Entry: "Galactic History 30: Rise of the Sith Emperor"
  5. 5.0 5.1 SWTOR mini Star Wars: The Old Republic—Jedi Knight Mission: "An Unthinkable Alliance" on Tython
  6. The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
  7. The Essential Reader's Companion
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