Willow does not have long to improve the Wards, that “clamp down” upon her Witchcraft, as her magic is soon required to assist Buffy: raising a “force field” (to help keep an “Uber Vampire” at bay), performing locator spells (to find other potential slayers, before The First can eliminate them), reopening a space/time portal (after Buffy jumped through one) and using a crystal/charm (to help a reformed Andrew remember more about The First).
Willow’s Redemption Spell – In balance, with the Goddess
The final test of Willow’s reformed character occurs when Buffy asks Willow to change the “Slayer” spell: so that all potential slayers shall have the same strength as Buffy (and Faith). Willow is initially scared by the request, as she believes the spell could take her beyond Evil Willow: into a total loss of self control. Fortunately, this turns out not to be the case: and after researching the spell, she is able to cast it with the help of Kennedy (a potential slayer), resulting in Willow glowing in white (and thus being equated with a Goddess). After the “Slayer” spell is successfully cast, Willow collapses from exhaustion; but is able to savour the fact that she has helped to defeat The First, and in doing so, has fully redeemed herself.
Willow’s character then returns to a sense of normality, as she reclaims her space in the Scoobie Gang; but with one important difference: any spells she now casts are primarily to assist Buffy (either directly or indirectly). Willow proves her worth to the Scoobie Gang, as they start to battle against “The First”; which unlike anything they have fought before, is actually “the reason that evil exists”.
Willow’s Candle Magic – Helping to locate The First
An early test for Willow’s reformed character occurs when she talks with Cassie (a young lady they helped in the past); only Cassie is now actually dead, and claims to have a message from Tara (who is also dead). Although Willow becomes emotional in the encounter, she also passes the test: being able to directly face the fact that Tara is dead (without going off the rails). Shortly after, Willow realises that she actually encountered The First, which as it turns out, is able to masquerade as anybody that’s dead. Willow’s reformed character then faces another test, when she attempts to locate The First: her spell goes wrong (as The First corrupts it), and Willow ends up channelling the evil energies of The First (even hitting Buffy with a powerful magical blast). Fortunately, Xander is at hand, who destroys a bowl on Willow’s altar (thus breaking Willow’s channelling of The First). As a result of this (and some common sense), Willow realises that she needs to avoid taking on The First directly: she decides to refrain from magic for a while; and concentrate on increasing her level of self control (in case The First attempts to exploit it again).
Despite the warning from Giles (regarding the use of magic), Willow soon feels the need to play with an anti-love spell, to help quash the growing attraction between herself and Xander. Willow gathers the necessary ingredients (from the local magic shop), then proceeds to mix the spell, whilst waiting for Xander to arrive. Upon arriving, Xander becomes concerned that Willow could even consider casting such a spell – especially after his own love spell (cast by Amy) went wrong.
Willow – with a Spell that many Witches LOVE to dabble with!
However, such concerns are beyond Spike (initially a bad vampire), who interrupts Willows anti-love spell and abducts her to cast his own love spell. Even though neither spell eventually gets cast, Spikes abduction of Willow helps to illustrate the fact that Willow is starting to become known as a witch (around Sunnydale).
With the intervention of fate, Buffy experiences some “Déjà Vu” – and discovers a computer disk that Miss Calendar had dropped (just before she died). Indeed, the Paths of Fate had gone to work – as the disc just-so-happens to contain a spell/curse that can restore Angel’s soul (and make him good again).
Early Willow – her First Spell – with Candles and Runes
It is here that Willow starts to venture deeper into witchcraft, as Willow undertakes the task of learning the “Restoration Spell”, even though Giles has warned her that “channelling such magic’s through yourself may open a door that you are unable to close again”. The spell involves reading several incantations (in both English and Latin), together with several candles, runes, incense and a “spirit orb” (which helps to transfer Angel’s soul). Willow eventually succeeds in casting the spell – and hence restores Angel’s soul (who is himself subject to a cruel Twist of Fate).
For a while, Tara’s character then suggests a darker path – when she deliberately prevents Willows “Demonic Energy” locator spell from working. In this spell, Willow mixes a potion and tells Tara that they should each blow half onto a square map representing Sunnydale (which will then glow different colours to show where various demons are located). Tara prevents the spell from being cast, by throwing her half of the potion under her bed instead (whilst Willow has her eyes closed). It turns out that Tara has a secret to protect – she believes she is part demon, and wishes to hide this fact from Willow. This hiding comes to a head when Tara’s family comes to town: she’s so afraid of loosing her new found friends that she casts a spell (so that they may not see the demon part of her).
The spell involves Tara speaking an incantation, that places a curse upon her friends, being cast when some swirling yellow smoke (that’s blown from Tara’s hands) touches their faces. Unfortunately, consequences arise, and Tara’s spell is more effective than she intended – as Buffy and the rest of the scoobie gang are unable to see the monsters that are attempting to kill them. Fortunately, Tara realises the consequences of the spell she cast, and reverses it just in time for Buffy to save the day. Tara admits what she did, then prepares to leave her friends (by leaving Sunnydale with her family). Eventually, it is found that Tara is human, and that her demon side was all part of a family legend (a lie used by her family just to keep their “women in line”). Tara then becomes an important part of the scoobie gang (helping them with friendship, research and magic).
As their friendship grows, Tara starts to support Willow in various magical spells. Tara helps Willow float a rose, the intention being to use their magic’s to pluck it’s petals off (one at a time). Willow tells Tara this is a test of synchronisation (as their minds have to be perfectly attuned to work as one). The spells not entirely successful however, as they loose control of the rose and it flies around the room (bouncing off the walls), and they end up burning all the petals off in one go (owing to interference from some darker magic that’s at work that evening).
Later, when Willow first introduces Tara to Buffy, a test of their new friendship occurs, as Tara tells Willow that Buffy is not herself. Being able to read Buffy’s aura, Tara tells Willow that there’s something wrong with Buffy’s: its fragmented (like something was forced in), whereas it should be aligned (having energies that flow in unity). Tara tracks down a spell that Willow can use to travel to the “Nether Realm”, where Willow can find out what’s happened to Buffy. Tara says that the journey shall be like astral projection (i.e. very intense), and that she shall have to be Willows anchor (to help keep her on this/earth’s plane). The spell involves Willow and Tara forming a protection circle, by moving their arms around them (in a semi-circle), which eventually leads to the circle being traced by fire. Willow is then able to enter a state of trance, where she travels to the “Nether Realm” and sees that Buffy’s soul has been swapped with Faith’s (that of a “bad” vampire slayers). Willow and Tara are then able to conjure a “magical device” that can swap Buffy’s and Faith’s souls back.
Tara is a shy, stuttering, likeable witch who Willow meets at a campus coven. Unlike the other members of the coven (who are all talk), Tara and Willow actually have an interest in performing spells. Later one evening (after all Sunnydale residents have lost their voices), Tara looks up the campus house that Willow is staying in – and heads over there with the intention of helping to cast a spell to make people speak again. This eventually leads to Tara bumping into Willow (just outside Willow’s room), whilst fleeing from the “The Gentlemen” monsters (who are responsible for the lost voices).
Willow and Tara end up in a common room where Willow attempts to barricade the door by moving a drinks machine with magic. Tara realises what Willow is attempting to do, and grasping Willows closest hand, they use their combined powers to move the drinks machine. The following day, Willow and Tara share their first real conversation, where Willow enquires how long Tara has been practising “The Craft” for. Tara’s reply is: “Always, since she was little” (as her Mum used to).