11 August 2011

The Many Faces of Willow

I have recently been pondering the use of popular culture characters in spirituality. The following builds on these ideas.

Now, many deities in mythology have various different aspects or incarnations (frequently coming in threes... at least in the views of neopagan and new age writers). Similar qualities can of course be seen in some pop culture heroes as well.

As a sample, I'll briefly discuss different aspects of Willow Rosenberg, a particular favourite of mine. During the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was portrayed in three quite different and memorable ways (more could probably be identified, but since three is a particularly remarkable number in this context, I'll stick to these).

1. Willow the Nerd: This is the regular, everyday Willow. A caring, intelligent young woman, albeit a little shy and insecure. She is both a computer expert and a magician, a combination I personally find particularly appealing.

2. Willow the Vampire: This Willow exists in an alternate timeline, and only briefly visits the universe of the show. She could perhaps be seen as a personification of suppressed lust and impulsiveness. 'Bored now!'

3. Willow the Destroyer: Driven to vengeful madness through the loss of a loved one, this Willow comes close to destroying the world in a bid to end all suffering. She is a personification of the destructive side of magick. While ostensibly 'Evil', she is very different from vampire Willow (who obviously is Evil), less self-gratifying, and more down-to-business with a big 'cause'.

All of these are Willow. Even if the latter two could be seen as possessed by supernatural forces, they still represent qualities that reside within Willow, although they may be suppressed. Together they represent... well, quite a lot of things; good, evil, knowledge, power, etc. etc.

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