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).
Willows interest in the basics (such as charms, glamours and levitation) eventually turns into a desire to move to the next level (where spells involving conjuration, primal forces and transmutation can be found). Willow wants to learn this higher level, despite the fact that her basic spells are only being successful about fifty percent of the time.
Willow – Starting to “step up” her spells (a way to “fix” her problems!)
Fortunately, Willow soon meets a “like-minded” witch at a campus coven: Tara. It is through Tara that Willow starts to learn more about witchcraft, for example: Tara offers Willow a crystal as a gift (which Willow refuses), but leading to Willow suggesting that they can “try out some spells together with it”. Despite their growing friendship, Willow still casts spells without Tara’s assistance – particularly when its needed to help the scoobie gang.
When it comes to the character of the “Wiccan Witch” Tara, these are my favourite seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Best seasons to watch for Tara – the “Wiccan Witch” – Buffy Seasons Four, Five and Six
I feel that Tara’s character best portrayed the paths of a “Nature Witch“. She started as a shy, stuttering, “Solitary Witch” who was always over looked by other people (akin to a new born seed – taking roots in the soil). She then starts to venture out (at a campus Coven), where she meets Willow, and starts to put her ideas forward (akin to the seed’s roots spreading out – in search of Water and Soil). She then slowly “Blossoms into a Flower”, walking the paths of Happy and Fun, when it’s realised that both her, and Willow, are Soul-mates (akin to a Plant that’s bathing in the “Rays of the Sun”). Yet then does her character surprise the most, as she becomes someone that’s both strong and dependable, having grasped the “True Nature of Witchcraft“, when Willow starts to go “Off the Rails” (akin to a plant with “Strong Roots”, that’s able to “Weather the Storm”). Yet just when we have grown accustomed to seeing the plant each day, are we reminded of the “Wrath of the Earth”, when Tara is snapped away (akin to a plant that got flattened one day) – it’s “Cycle Complete”, and the Earth starts again.
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).