Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduces a brand new variation of Force Healing. Every Star Wars movie expands the franchise’s mythology in some way, especially with regards to the Force. In the case of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the film’s new Force powers are one of the most interesting aspects of the entire film, and the new “Force Heal” power stands at the center of all that.

On the face of it, there’s nothing new to the idea of healing someone with the Force. The old Expanded Universe introduced Jedi Healers like Cilghal, who were particularly gifted in this talent and could treat even the most grievous injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, the power is a core part of the mechanics in countless different Star Wars games. All of these characters and abilities are considered non-canon after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, of course, which makes this the first time a version of Force Heal has been given a position of prominence in the new canon.

What’s more, the power displayed principally by Rey - and later by Ben Solo, who may learned it through his Dyadic Force bond with Rey - is different to anything that’s been seen before. In fact, it even appears to be able to raise the dead.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Introduces A NEW Force Healing Power

Rey first demonstrates the power of Force Heal in the desert of Pasaana, when she and her friends are cornered by a monstrous serpent. She recognizes that the creature is injured, and bravely steps forward to heal it. According to Rey, the method she uses is quite an unusual one, because it involves a transfer of life and Force energy from one person to another. That’s something that has never been seen before in Star Wars, and it makes more sense than any version of Force Heal seen in the old Expanded Universe; the Force is about balance, after all. Later, Rey uses this same power of Force Heal to heal a mortal injury she’d just dealt to Kylo Ren. In a nice bit of synergy, viewers will recognize this variation of Force Heal from this week’s The Mandalorian episode 7, when Baby Yoda uses it as well. The strain exerts a toll on the 50-year-old infant, and it collapses.

There appears to be a spiritual dimension to this Force Heal power, because so far every subject has been transformed by it. In the serpent’s case, the creature loses its aggression, and leaves Rey and her friends to escape the tunnels alone. For Kylo Ren, the experience of being healed by Rey seems to be an important part of his redemptive arc, and shortly afterwards he casts his crimson lightsaber into the churning waters of Kef Bir. The same is true in The Mandalorian, when the man saved by Baby Yoda develops a conscience at last.

The climax of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ends with the most dramatic demonstration of Force Heal. The effort of battling Palpatine is too much for Rey, and she dies; however, Ben Solo is able to channel his life energy into her in order to bring her back to life. It’s the fulfillment of Anakin Skywalker’s dream of resurrecting a loved one, but it’s a result of sacrificial love rather than the possessive, obsessive love Anakin had for Padmé. The limits of this new Force Heal power are unclear; is Ben able to do this because Rey has only recently died, or would you be able to raise someone from the dead even if they had been gone for some time?

Force Healing Is An Inversion Of Rise of Skywalker’s Force Drain

Interestingly, there are some similarities between Force Heal and another power demonstrated in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Force Drain, an ability exhibited by Palpatine himself. In one key scene, the Emperor recognizes the Force bond between Rey and Ben Solo, and realizes that he can take that power for himself. This ability was actually introduced into the Disney canon back in 2015, in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, when a Sith cultist named Yupe Tashu mocked a prisoner. “Did you know that the Sith Lords could sometimes drain the Force energy from their captives,” he asked. “Siphoning life from them and using it to strengthen their connection to the dark side? Extending their own lives, as well, so that they could live for centuries beyond their intended expiration?” Force Healing is best seen as the yin to Force Drain’s yang, because both abilities are about the transfer of life - and the Force itself - from one person to another. In the case of Force Healing, a light sider sacrifices their own life energy to restore someone else; in the case of Force Drain, a dark sider takes the life energy of another to replenish themselves.

Why Haven’t We Seen Force Healing Before?

Some fans have been shocked at the addition of this new Force Healing power, an ability so great that it can resurrect the dead. The argument has been that it undermines the story of Anakin Skywalker, because in truth there was actually a way for Anakin to save his beloved Padmé from death. But this is an overstatement, because there’s no evidence Anakin would have been capable of the kind of self-sacrificial love and compassion displayed by Rey and Kylo Ren. His love was tainted with darkness, with an obsessive desire to possess the object of his love, which would probably have meant he was unable to use this power in the first place.

In any case, there’s no evidence the prequel era Jedi knew of this Force Heal power. Baby Yoda uses Force Heal instinctively, rather than from formal training; he may be 50 years old, but for his species that means he’s still a toddler. In Rey’s case, she potentially learned the Force Heal power from the ancient Jedi texts she took from the first Jedi Temple on Ahch-To, which included volumes long thought lost. Alternatively, it may be an innate ability rather than a learned skill in the first place; if Force Heal and Force Drain are related, then Rey could have inherited this from her grandfather, Palpatine. Whatever the case, it’s reasonable to assume that Ben Solo learned the trick because of his Force bond with Rey, which had already been confirmed to allow knowledge and training to pass between the two.

Interestingly, it is possible the Jedi Order had consciously suppressed knowledge of this Force Heal power over time. The Jedi of old believed in a life of balance, even envisioning balance as a distinct aspect of the Force. That means they would teach Force Heal, even if doing so did open up the possibility that a student experimented with Force Drain as well. But this perspective was abandoned over time, and by the prequel era the Jedi wouldn’t be willing to teach anything that could be corrupted and allow others to take life from another being. This supports the notion that Rey has discovered Force Heal from the old Jedi texts, simply because they date back to the foundation of the Jedi Order, when the Jedi served balance rather than the light.

More: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Every Easter Egg & Reference