Are You Ready to Be Strong?

Willow spell to activate all the slayers using the axe

Earlier this week a group of witches may have gathered on the dark moon to focus, concentrate, and channel women’s anger into action around the election that is coming up in 25 days. I’m not saying they did, or who they were, but they might have.

Those witches may have called upon their ancestors – both of blood and of spirit – and a variety of Goddesses who have something to be righteously pissed about. I’m not saying they did, or who they were, but they might have.

Those witches may have inscribed the symbol of Venus on black candles and charged those candles with sacred purpose in magical circle. I’m not saying they did, or who they were, but they might have.

Those witches may be burning those candles daily until the election, calling on and renewing the energy of that working each time. I’m not saying they are, or who they are, but they might be.

Those witches may be planning to bury the remnants of that spell in a desolate place, or cast it upon moving waters, on the morning of Wednesday, November 7, 2018, I’m not saying they will, or who they are, but they might.

During that hypothetical working that, rumor has it, took place on the night of the dark moon, one of those witches may have been inspired to read the final stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Young British Soldier:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

And that may have inspired one of the OTHER witches to talk about Willow Rosenberg as an avatar of women’s rage and women’s power.

Spoiler alerts below (although, come on, Buffy the Vampire Slayer HAS been off the air for 15 years, y’all)

Rage

In season 6, after Warren, leader of the red herring season Big Bad, the Legion of Dim, kills Willow’s lover Tara in a failed attempt to kill Buffy, Willow goes rogue, is revealed as the REAL season Big Bad, hunts Warren down, kills him by FLAYING HIM ALIVE using her supernatural powers, and nearly destroys the world. And the thing is, you almost want her to.

In every other season (except season 2), the Big Bad is, to quote Buffy:

And the thing is, I like my evil like I like my men – evil. You know, “straight up, black hat, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy Metropolis,” bad.

Willow’s not. Her Big Badness is complex. She’s a powerful witch who, over the course of the season, has become a magical junkie and attempted recovery, a process that seems to be working until she’s provoked by an egregious act of evil perpetrated by a deeply misogynist man. Her “evil” comes from a place of righteous rage and an overwhelming desire for cleansing fire. She only, in the end, kills Warren, a clearly justified act, and because of that, she is able to be redeemed.

(And can we talk for just a second about how ground breaking it was to have an open lesbian couple with on-camera love scenes who matter of factly shared a bed in a show aimed at teenagers 15+ years ago? It was also network TV’s first long-term lesbian relationship. That’s pretty fucking rad, in both senses of that term.)

Power

In season 7, the Big Bad is really big, really bad, and possibly undefeatable – the First Evil, and its army of prehistoric uber-vamps. Minions of the First Evil swarm the globe, attempting to kill all the potential slayers. See, in every generation there is a chosen ONE. She ALONE will stand against the vampires the demons and the forces of darkness.

A new slayer is only called when the previous slayer dies in battle, usually fairly young. No more potentials = no more slayers. The line dies out. The First Evil wins.

The Scoobies realize what’s up, and Giles comes back from his self-imposed exile in the UK, bringing with him a bunch of the surviving potentials, whence they proceed to hole up in Buffy’s house, conveniently located near the Hellmouth, and try to figure out what to do.

Here, Buffy’s ongoing relationship with the first slayer and the mystical powers that created her deepens. She finally sees the misogynistic frame of slayer-dom: The male shamans forced this responsibility upon a young woman in Africa many, many generations ago (and the fact that it’s a metaphor for having raped this young woman is EXPLICIT). Men set up the rules that there can be only one. Because that first exploited young woman helps Buffy see the frame, she can now challenge it. And she does.

But in order for that to happen, Willow has to face her fear of losing control and being utterly destroyed by her magic. She does, and performs the spell (which involves a totally bad-ass axe) that breaks the men’s power and instantaneously activates EVERY SINGLE SLAYER IN THE WORLD.

Or as Buffy puts it in the speech that is the voice-over while it’s happening:

So here’s the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power…now? In every generation, one slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power will have the power, can stand up will stand up. Every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

 

Who is your female avatar of rage? Of power? How will you call on her in the next 25 days to sharpen, focus, power, and direct your magic and your activism?

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

NB: Yes, I know we’ve all decided that anything by Joss Whedon is problematic because he cheated on his wife. Sorry not sorry, Still love Buffy.

NB: Yes, I know we’re all decided that Buffy in particular is problematic because there were no major characters of color. Oh – except Kendra. And Mr. Trick. Both of Giles’s love interests (although Robia LaMorte is almost definitely not actually Roma, but I’ve been unable to confirm or disprove). Forrest Gates. Principal Robin Wood (and his slayer mom). Who was – briefly – a love interest for Buffy. Several of the potentials in season seven. The first slayer Spike killed in China during the Boxer Rebellion. And, of course, the first slayer. And the shamans who made her.

But yes, none of the core Scoobies was black. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think the only one who really could have been without creating blowback (the lesbian witches? the evil characters? the overtly sexualized bad-girl slayer? the terminally uncool comic relief?) was Cordelia Chase, the gorgeous, popular Queen Bee of Sunnydale High, and then I suspect they would’ve felt like they had to significantly dial back the bitchy in her character, which would’ve been a real shame. Although I would’ve loved to see Quentin Travers played by a black Brit.

 

7 responses to “Are You Ready to Be Strong?

  1. I love me some Buffy! Currently though my favorite icon of female power is…Doctor Who!!!

  2. I’m not saying anytime like this may or may not have happened in Ohio.

  3. “ANYTHING ” dammit autocorrect.

  4. Medea was my main muse for a long time. She’s back. Also my laptop is Kore and her predecessor was Hekate.

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