What is The Way, anyway? The Mandalorian's religion and creed explained
What is the Way? It’s a fair question, given how many times The Mandalorian himself, Din Djarin, says it throughout the course of the Disney Plus series. Far from being just a catchphrase for Star Wars fans to parrot, "This is the Way" is actually a gateway into learning about Mando’s history, his culture, and his religion – and how it affects future internal and external conflicts. So, worth knowing then. And we’re here to explain what it all means.
What is The Way in The Mandalorian?
"The Way" refers to two things. Firstly, there’s The Way of the Mandalore which is more akin to a religion that some more hardcore, fanatical Mandalorians follow. It’s also shorthand for the rules and creed that Mandalorian cults – such as Mando’s Children of the Watch – follow.
The creed and The Way are very much one and the same; The Way is just the religion they follow. Think of the creed is their unwritten Bible.
There are certain rules Mandalorians must adhere to: never take their helmet off in front of someone, always help other Mandalorians, and whoever wields the Darksaber (currently held by Din Djarin after defeating Moff Gideon in battle) is allowed to lead all of Mandalore.
One of those main rules is that someone following The Way should never remove their helmet – and it’s something Din Djarin has followed most of his life, only removing it on certain occasions throughout the series: to eat, to receive treatment from the droid IG-11 in the season 1 finale, and to comfort Grogu in the season 2 finale.
Another decree that’s been handed down from one Mandalorian generation to another is that you must also protect other Mandalorians.
That’s especially timely, given that Mandalorians have been on the receiving end of the Great Purge just a decade prior to the events of The Mandalorian. That event saw the Empire attempt to snuff out Mandalorians and saw many of them retreat back into the more hardline, individualist tenets of The Way – Mandalorians first, others second.
In effect, think of it as the Ten Commandments but, instead of "Thou shalt not kill" it’s "Thou shalt not remove thy helmet," among other things. However, we don’t know every single facet of The Way and probably never will.
You also have to swear an oath. The season 3 premiere featured such a ritual, but was (rudely) interrupted when a creature attacked before Mando saved the day.
When asked to take his helmet off, Djarin replied, "It is forbidden. No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the creed."
Simple? Not quite. A certain Bo-Katan – a fellow Mandalorian who removes her helmet (more on that in a moment) – appeared during the second season has called into question everything Mando knows about The Way. Towards the end of the episode “The Heiress,” Bo-Katan commends Djarin for his bravery during their raid on an Imperial cruiser. After the fight, she pointedly remarks “This is the Way,” hinting that protecting a Mandalorian brother (or sister) and doing some good is the path that Mando should choose to go down, not adhering to religious fanaticism.
It seems, then, there is another Way… one that lets Din get some fresh air now and again. However, by the third season, he wants to atone for removing his helmet. He can only do so by bathing in the Living Waters on the ancestral homeworld of Mandalore, one that has been almost destroyed by the Purge.
The Mandalorian religion explained: Children of the Watch and the Armorer
As revealed in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, Din Djarin is a Child of the Watch. Bo-Katan explains that Djarin’s part of a more hardline group who are a "cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society".
The helmet rule is an obvious indicator of that, but Djarin seems to be unaware that there’s any other way to be a Mandalorian.
The Children of the Watch, in Bo-Katan’s words, want to "re-establish the ancient order of The Way." What that entails is very much open for debate, but it appears to be an isolationist, more aggressive stance towards Mandalorian exceptionalism than other famous Mandalorians – such as Bo-Katan – who can go about their business freely, helmet or no helmet.
And how does the Armorer fit in? She's not just there to make The Mandalorian's armor. In terms of plot, she’s there to teach Mando (and the audience) about the Way. It’s unclear if she’s the leader of the splinter group that formed on Nevarro, but she holds some sway over the Children of the Watch faction.
But, like Djarin’s sudden revelations about The Way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about The Armorer, Mando’s religion, and how the Children of the Watch are perceived by wider Mandalorian groups. They are seemingly shunned for their hardline stance and Mando maybe, just maybe, is waking up to that.
This is the Way? Maybe not for much longer. At least, not as we once knew it. For more from a galaxy far, far away check out the upcoming Star Wars movies and shows in the works.