Wicca. Noun. “A religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (such as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles.”[i]
Although I don’t follow an organised religion, I’ve always felt there was a spiritual gap in my life. I envy my friend’s meditative connection to a higher power when they pray. When I’m struggling with my mental illnesses, I know the ability to focus my mind would give me peace. Yet meditation is not an easy skill to learn as I’ve struggled with it for many years. However, those practising Wicca take this training as the due course in their craft.
“Be aware…that disciplines are ineffective unless a routine is established because the unconscious is attuned to patterns and will respond easily once the pattern of a conscious routine is rhythmic.”[ii]
In my local Vincent De Paul, I came across a book on Witchcraft, and absentmindedly bought it as research for one of my projects. In reading it a revelationary paradigm was cracked. Not only due to its descriptive worth, but it’s connections to female power struggles throughout history. While the modern Wicca has both male and female practitioners, it’s roots are in paganism and witchcraft. Both known for their charged feminine figures.
As a feminist I hunger to understand the lore of the feminine, and that which is interwoven into my body. It was comforting to discover that our pagan ancestors used their awareness of the heavens to not only influences the outer world but their inner worlds. To them inner peace begat outer peace.
“Discovering the sublime silence at the center of your being and activating that center.”[iii]
Of course, as Halloween approaches, (my favourite time of the year), that which is chilling surfaces. Yet it is my duty to remind you that although dark magic exists and was practised as a religion throughout the ages, those that called themselves witches were persecuted out of fear. Not as a result of any true evil. Women were murdered for their independence, for displaying fortitude, and simply for their feminine energies.
Wicca was born in the 20th century out of the ashes of witchcraft and paganism. It can be practised alone or as the member of a coven. It’s the way of the Goddess, to live beyond the ego, to firmly grasp your senses, so you are their ruler. “Awareness is the ability to literally read the feelings in the air…awareness means control of one’s undertakings.”[iv] Wicca is not about changing the outside world to your every whim. It’s changing how you process your inner world so your journey in life may be more mindful, enjoyable, and rich.
Principal Stevens: “Now I think we all know that Dawn is more than just a kid.”
It’s like she knows!
Screenshot of the Episode:
Firstly, this is actually Clare Kramer in the bath so perfect timing, and secondly, what other evil hell god loves bubble baths?
Buffy and friends have the threat of the hell god Glory hanging over them. Some infighting occurs between Buffy and Dawn, and Willow and Tara. One these fights end in tragedy when Glory thinks she’s found the key, and as a result, destroys Tara’s mind.
There is something truly awful about fighting with someone you love. When we fight with a stranger or an enemy, it’s less personal, less painful. When we fight with our loved ones, we are vulnerable and we can cause pain. In “Tough Love” we see the agony we can inflict on our loved ones, and the agony they can inflict on us.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The female relationships take the fore in this episode, and even the subtext from the male characters is female.
Xander: “Whatever you choose you’ve got my support, just think of men as your *pause* you know I’m searching for supportive things, and I’m coming up all bras so… something more manly, think of me as that so…”
BtVS has always managed to subvert the male viewpoint and present itself from the female perspective. The Slayers are female, the male characters are in a passive position, and the morality of the show is presented from the care perspective which is explained beautifully by Jessica Pratt Miller:
“The justice perspective, with its abstract focus on reason and impersonal rules and authority, echoes cultural ideas of masculinity, while the care perspective, with its contextual focus on personal relationships, including feelings and emotions, fits with ideals of femininity.”[i]
Even Giles who is a strong father figure to Buffy points out that although he is there, she needs to take control of her responsibilities with Dawn.
Giles: “I may be a grown-up, but you’re her family, her only real family now, she needs you to do this.”
Buffy’s been struggling with her new found guardian role, as she cannot approach it with her fists. She must get Dawn to attend school, and do her homework, but Dawn doesn’t think it matters. Buffy has to tell her the horrible fact that if she can’t make her, then Dawn will be taken away. Of course in the Buffyverse, this is intensified by the fact that Dawn would without Buffy’s protection from Glory, she would be exposed.
Dawn: “Who cares if a key gets an education anyway?… Those monks put grades K through 8 in my head, can’t we just wait and see if they drop 9 in there too?”
Buffy: “Because they’ll take you away. If I can’t make you go to school, then I won’t be found fit to be your legal guardian.”
Meanwhile, Willow, is grappling with her identity once again, as we have discussed in previous Buffy posts. She doesn’t want to be considered the “Side-Kick.” This identity crisis continues in her fight with Tara. She fears she’s the “Junior Partner” in the relationship. The key reasoning is that Tara has lost her mother, unlike Willow, Tara has been a practicing Wicca longer than Willow, and Tara has been out as lesbian longer than Willow. According to James B. South “…her biggest fear is that, deep down, she hasn’t changed at all; that beneath all the layers of social roles she has assumed, she is still the nerdy schoolgirl that she was when the show first started.”[ii]
Willow bites back at Tara with this bitter retort: “I’m really sorry I didn’t establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship *pause* you’re the only woman I’ve ever fallen in love with so, how on Earth could you ever take me seriously?” This causes a fracture and Willow leaves. This leads to the consequence of Tara being alone when Glory finds her. When she discovers she is not, in fact, the key, she becomes angry and steals her mind. This is the worst punishment a character can face in the show as Glory describes it thusly: “It doesn’t kill ya. What it does is make you feel like you’re in a noisy little dark room, naked and ashamed, there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you’re bad…” This makes me shiver every time.
Spike’s character this season, while mixed ( we cannot forget the Buffybot…), has shown genuine courage and strength. He did not reveal Dawn to be the key, even though Glory tortured him for hours. His face still shows the scars of this valor, born of a new morality, the morality of the Slayer.
He comforts Dawn as best he can, when she is under his protection.
Dawn: “Anything that happens to Tara, that’s cuz of me… I’m a lightening rod for pain and hurt… I must be something truly evil.”
Spike: “I’m a vampire, I know something about evil, and you’re not evil.”
Dawn: “Maybe I’m not evil, but I don’t think I can be good?
This compelling scene has the added dimension of not just Dawn as a mystical key but as a human being. None of us are truly good or truly evil. This is something we struggle with as we grow, and Dawn is getting a lesson early.
Finally, we see the further evidence of Willow’s descent into evil which will culminate in the final episodes of season 6. She reaches for a book with “Darkest Magick” on the cover.
As with Dawns realisation that she can neither be solely good nor evil Willow shows us her dark undercurrents. This was put beautifully by James B. South: “…because our ordinary notion of Willow is one in which Willow would never do the sorts of things she did. It is incomplete as a response, though, because it assumes that we could ever fully understand Willow, that there are no dark currents in her, that we could ever construct a coherent and consistent narrative for Willow.”[iii]
While the episode doesn’t end in death for Willow, she has incurred the wrath of Glory. When Glory tracks her down (“I told you this wasn’t over,”) poor Tara inadvertently reveals to her that Dawn is the key. Had she kept her head as Buffy asked her to, Dawn may not have been discovered so early. We see the fallout from giving in to our desires, a conflict which Willow contends with for seasons to come.
Dormant for over 1000 years, Mount Codlata had recently begun rumbling. Although local populations were aware of this reawakening, little relocating took place. This was mainly due to Mount Codlata’s home in the desert sands and rocky hills of Goath. As one of the most remote places on Tallabh, the Goath desert was rarely visited, except when a scientist or adventurer found the inspiration to wander its lonely mountains or sandy wastelands.
Deep within the belly of Mount Codlata, magma churned graceful yet frantic now as nearly 100 years of activity would culminate in a spectacular eruption. From afar, scientists and ordinary citizens alike watched excitedly for the natural event of the era. Many had taken time from their busy lives to watch this explosive event which had sparked their imagination. Scientists waited patiently for the eruption, hoping once it began, samples would yield valuable data, as sediment from over 1000 years ago would be thrown forth.
So it was that Mount Codlata ruptured in colours of brilliant ecstasy, as the remnants from Tallabh’s indigenous history spewed forth in a river of hot red magma. The generated findings from this explosion were vast. Keeping many scientists and volcano enthusiasts occupied for years to come.
In its initial explosion, debris was flung many miles abroad, some even making it as far as the shoreline more than 40 miles east of the land of Goath. Much of those pieces were gathered for study and private collections. Many more were washed out to sea, carried away by strong currents. One such current brought pieces as far as the icy shores of the Island of Banbás, where the rocks, already cooled, began to freeze as the winter closed in.
One particularly large rock took several weeks to freeze entirely, but by mid-winter, it was frozen internally. The wind howled on the Island of Banbás, and it’s few inhabitants had all but ceased to leave their homes, during the worst of the weather the Island received year round. Winters on Tallabh last 150 days, as the planet, tilted on its axis, languidly orbits the star Glormaar with a circle of 600 days.
The rock in question began exhibiting signs no rock in the history of Tallabh had done. It had all but begun to shake. It’s idiosyncrasies began with gentle vibrations no one would have noticed without the correct equipment. Slowly it vibrated, then shook, then shuddered, until finally, it convulsed violently. As the days rolled by pieces of the frozen rock began to crack and fall away, until eventually after months of frozen shaking, a distinct shape could be seen.
The rock was now decidedly person-shaped. A tall shapely form, with a look of intense fear and pain on their face. One would have recoiled in horror looking upon the agony. Their teeth clenched, fingers like claws, and body contorted from the misery of a lava-encrusted death.
This body, continued its vibrations, day after day, week after week, month after month. It became with each passing week, less rocky and more fleshy. Had this been witnessed, none would have believed what they were seeing. Occurrences outside the laws of nature would cause dubious horror within. The skin eventually clear of all rock could be observed as dark and smooth. It could now be seen that the form was female, whose face, though contorted, was quite the beauty. Her hair was long, lips full, nose button like. Her cheekbones, while defined, made her face soft.
Then on a day near the beginning of the thaw, her brown eyes opened. She took a deep breath and unleashed a scream which carried across the Island of Banbás. This scream frightened the denizens who spread tales of a demonical temptress in the following weeks. None left their houses that day out of fear.
A drooping plant, melancholy in its composure, caused Ellie to pause and sit down beside it. Although she had been growing things all her life, this plant was dying right before her eyes, and to her at that moment, she could not but connect this dying plant, to her empty womb. “The universe is giving me a sign and it’s that I cannot have a child.” Fat tears popped out of Ellie’s pale blue eyes and ran down her round cheeks. She had recently been with a doctor, in nearby Bandialann, and the news had been disheartening.
“Look Ellie, I’m really sorry, but we cannot exactly define why you and Eric have been unable to conceive. You must understand, in all our wisdom, our race still struggles to truly understand why sometimes people cannot get pregnant. Both of your tests have come back and there seems to be absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I feel as though if you are not so hard on yourself that one day you and Eric will have a healthy baby.” Doctor Messa offered her gentle but firm smile. Although Ellie heard the words, her emotions would not allow this to be a peaceful moment of understanding. Her sobs had been loud that day, and Eric, silent in his mourning, had just held her.
Eric had tried for weeks afterward to keep Ellie calm and be positive, but even his inner dialogue was telling him it was hopeless. So when Ellie had told him yesterday morning that she was going to see a witch for help, he hadn’t argued or decried the idea, he had just nodded resignedly. Perhaps this would help Ellie to relax naturally, and that would help matters along. They weren’t that old anyway, barely 40, and people were living to 400 these days with medical advances. So he let her go and kissed her on the head supportively on the way out the door. “Just be safe, ok my love?” She had nodded bravely and set out confidently, back to Bandialann, to a famous witch and healer.
As Ellie sat on the floor staring at the dying plant, she remembered the words of the witch from the day before. Even before Ellie opened her mouth the witch had proclaimed her the mother of a future well-known child, and could she offer her any advice? Ellie had blinked at the outburst, and said through gritted teeth, “myself and my Cayla Eric are having trouble conceiving a child, so how could I possibly be the future mother of a famous child?!” Her bitterness was not hidden, yet it did not phase the witch as she smiled back at Ellie, “Oh my dear, you are so young, why do you worry so? I see children in your future, you just need a little push in the right direction.” The witch rose from her altar, on which Ellie noted a great many things she didn’t understand and glided to a nearby shelf of jars, trinkets, and fauna.
The witch reached in behind several items and pulled out a dusty jar, filled with what Ellie could only describe as dust. “You have finally come along to claim your powder.” Said the witch cryptically, her beautiful green eyes flashing with knowing. Ellie felt uncomfortable for the first time with the women before her. Although she was beautiful, mystery surrounding her. This was perpetuated by the fact that although her brown hair was streaked with grey, she didn’t seem to be that old.
“Now my dear, your future awaits, all you need to do is plant the seeds.” She proceeded to plop the jar of ‘powder’ into Ellie’s hands. Ellie starred into the jar, which seemed to glisten ever so slightly in the light. “What, am I supposed to do with this? Rub it on my body or something?” She asked with undisguised facetiousness. The witch threw back her head and laughed heartily, causing Ellie’s churning stomach to relax. There was something kind about the laughter and Ellie smiled.