Interpretation is the key, and more than one interpretation belongs in the Journal so future readers can come to their own conclusions.
—Ussej Padric Bac
The Journal of the Whills was an archive of galactic history maintained by the Order of the Whills beginning in 99,945 BBY. The Whills housed the journal in their monastery on Ashlan Four. The journal was originally spoken of in a prophecy written by a holy man many years before the journal was first created. This prophecy later came to pass in 99,945 BBY when individuals from the Order of the Jedi Bendu located the Whills on their homeworld and brought them to Ashlan Four, where the Whills established their order and began documenting the history of the galaxy in a manuscript.
Over time, this manuscript evolved into a larger historical archive, one that the Whills hoped would be the most complete and honest documentation of galactic history that had ever been recorded. In order to chronicle historical events, the Whills used the time stream, allowing selectively trained individuals to view the historical timeline of the galaxy. Ussej Padric Bac, the Shaman of the Whills, was able to use the time stream to interact in historical events, such as the Invasion of Utapau, which he would then relay detailed information about to the Whill historians. Some of these historians would go on to write individual manuscripts about specific topics that would be entered into the journal.
You and your descendants will go out far beyond the most distant stars and discover a great race of wisdom called the Whills. Their destiny will be revealed to them, and they will follow you to a hidden expanse of space and time engrossed in the light of the Ashlan Nebula. In the holy system, they will dwell on the fourth domain.
—From the Journal of the Whills, 1:3
The Journal of the Whills was first alluded to in a prophecy written by a holy man that foretold the foundation of the Order of the Whills. In the prophecy, the holy man wrote that the Whills would follow a great order of individuals to a planet somewhere in the Ashlan Nebula. Once there, the Whills would record the history of the galaxy.
The holy man's prophecy came to pass in 99,945 BBY when individuals from the Order of the Jedi Bendu, led by Matthew of Skywalker, located the Whills on their home planet of Brodo Asogi and led them to Ashlan Four, a pocket dimension that the holy man saw as a planet in his visions. After they arrived on Ashlan Four, the Jedi Bendu constructed a monastery for the Whills, and a Chief of the Whills was appointed. Matthew shared his knowledge of the Force with the Whills, as well as the history of the Jedi Bendu and the planets in the Ashlan Nebula. The Whills began to document this history in a manuscript that came to be called the Journal of the Whills, a document that was kept in the monastery of the Whills.
The Journal of the Whills is not simply one book. It is not a diary that would be recorded by individuals. It began that way, but it quickly spiraled into something much, much more.
—From the writings of Duseuso
In the thousands of years that followed the creation of the journal, the Whills recorded more information about the galaxy's history. To do so, they observed galactic events through the time stream, a body of water near the Whill monastery that contained images of galactic history flowing through it. During that time, they awaited the arrival of a shaman, an individual who would be able to step into the time stream and interact in galactic events.
Around 3,900 BBY, Ussej Padric Bac fulfilled his destiny and became the Shaman of the Whills, and he shared information about history that the Whills had not known about. Bac's position as shaman allowed him to live on Ashlan Four for thousands of years and to use the time stream to interact with historical individuals such as Sarus, the leader of the Ophuchi Clan circa 22 BBY.
During this time, the contents of the journal grew to the point where one single manuscript was not enough to document all of the galaxy's history. By the time the New Republic came to power, the journal evolved into an archive of historical information, one which the Whills aimed to have become the best source of information in the galaxy, despite the fact that the galaxy did not know about it. Nevertheless, the Whills did believe that their historical archive was the most complete and honest collection of galactic history that had ever been recorded.
The Journal of the Whills is the greatest, most complete, and most honest compilation of the history of this galaxy every recorded. It was our mandate to do so, a mandate given by an ancient order thousands upon thousands of years ago, and a mandate we have followed ever since.
—From the writings of Duseuso
For tens of thousands of years, the Whills worked to document the history of the galaxy, believing it was their mandate from Matthew of Skywalker to do so. In order to fulfill this mandate, the Whills used the time stream so they could directly view historical events. This body of water, located near the Whill monastery, contained moving images of historical events in the galaxy, allowing the Whills to watch them unfold and record them. These events, however, were open to interpretation based on who was watching them, so the Whills believed it was important to include all possible interpretations of historical events and individuals in the journal.
Individual Whills were assigned different tasks while recording galactic history. Many of the Whills became historians, and these Whills were led by one lead historian. One such Whill was Duseuso, a novice historian shortly after the establishment of the New Republic. Duseuso was assigned to document the life of Annikin Skywalker, which he did with some assistance from Ussej Padric Bac. Many years later, Duseuso became the lead Whill historian.
Whills with a specific focus in historical documentation would often spend years researching their topics of expertise. Duseuso, for example, spent decades researching and compiling information about lesser known individuals who participated in the events just prior to, during, and after the Clone Wars. His texts were later recorded in the Journal of the Whills.
And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns...
—From the Prophecy of the Chosen One, Journal of the Whills, 3:127
The Journal of the Whills contained a number of different texts, including prophecies, historical accounts, and biographies, written by an assortment of authors. The earliest entries in the original manuscript were the Prophecy of the Whills and the history of the Ashlan Nebula region prior to the formation of the Order of the Whills. The Whills expanded the manuscript and, eventually, the entire historical archive after this information was given to them by Matthew of Skywalker.
One particular prophecy recorded in the journal was the Prophecy of the Chosen One, a text that spoke of the coming of a galactic savior called the Chosen One who was meant to bring balance to the Force. Ussej Padric Bac and Sarus believed Annikin Skywalker was the Chosen One and took steps to ensure that he fulfilled his destiny. Duseuso, prior to becoming the lead historian for the Journal of the Whills, recorded the biography of Skywalker for the Journal of the Whills.
Information about historical events, such as the Battle of Yavin during the Galactic Civil War, were recorded using the time stream, with many of the historical accounts being open to interpretation. Along with the historical events were biographies of select individuals who played a role in these events. Duseuso's documentation of individuals from the Clone Wars, which was comprised of information about a number of lesser known individuals who played roles during the events of the war, was placed into the Journal of the Whills in the hopes of shedding light on historical figures that many people had never heard of.
Behind the scenes
Ever since the publication of the novelization of the canon Star Wars film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in December, 1976, the canon Journal of the Whills has been a source of mystery for Star Wars fans due to the limited information on the subject. The novelization included a quote from the Journal of the Whills, as well as a depiction of the proposed events of the prequel trilogy prior to the actual creation of the trilogy.
When George Lucas first created the Journal of the Whills while developing the original Star Wars film, he planned to use it to connect the Star Wars galaxy to the real world. Lucas explained that he wanted the story of Star Wars to be told by an observer, an individual who was "probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events." Lucas abandoned the concept, however, and created the Force in its place, leaving the story concept as part of his notes, quotes, and background information that he used when developing future Star Wars films. Nonetheless, the Journal of the Whills is considered canon due to its included in the novelization of the original Star Wars film. Lucas later stated that the stories, had he included them in his films, would have been told to a Keeper of the Whills by R2-D2, and the information would then be recorded into the Journal of the Whills.
Brandon Rhea, author of the Alternative Star Wars Saga fan fiction novel Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One, later developed the concept for the Alternative Star Wars Saga. He started by developing the Order of the Whills, as well as a series of prophecies that were meant to be included in the Journal of the Whills, beginning on Star Wars Fanon, the Star Wars wiki of fan invention, in March, 2007. Some elements of Rhea's concepts were not only inspired by Lucas's original drafts, but also in a fan fiction story called Star Wars: The Preservers by Brendon J. Wahlberg.
In Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One, Rhea furthered developed his and Lucas's Journal of the Whills concepts, introducing elements such as Whill historians and the time stream. Each chapter of the novel begins with a quote from the Journal of the Whills, an intentional homage to the novel Dune. Frank Herbert, the author of Dune and a number of its sequels, included historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter that related to the events of the novel as they unfolded. The Alternative Essential Guide to Characters, also written by Rhea, introduced the idea that the Journal of the Whills was more than a manuscript, but rather a larger historical archive that had been expanded over a number of millennia.
While some readers were receptive to the inclusion of the Journal of the Whills in Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One, other readers have criticized its use. Andrew Barton, author of fan photonovels such as The Drewton Legacy series and the forthcoming Star Wars Episode I: The Saga Begins, does not believe that the Journal of the Whills fits into the "feel" of Star Wars, but rather appears to be more suited for a fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings. Rhea has nevertheless continued to use the Journal of the Whills in his work.
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One (First mentioned)