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Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

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[Jul. 26th, 2006|04:58 pm]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

churchofjoss

[texanfan]
I think this is appropriate to this community.  In the fic I'm currently writing I'm about to do some very involved spells to facilitate the climax.  I've got Wiccan friends who can help me but after Writer Con I face a conundrum.  I heard two opposing viewpoints.  Both started from the point that Joss obviously knew little about Wicca and that neither Willow nor Tara followed the tenets of that faith.  Some said this could be corrected in fic, others said it was disrepectful to pretend they were real Wiccans at this late date because that's not how they were represented in the show.  Opinions?  Discussion?
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[User Picture]From: cissasghost
2006-07-26 11:30 pm (UTC)
IMO Tara could have been a very lapsed sort of Wiccan - we never saw her doing anything overtly religious but IMO several of her opinions expressed re: magic could have come from a Wiccan background.

Willow, no way. She's a witch, but not a Wiccan. Last I recall canon, she was a non-practicing Jew - which is interesting as Judaism expressly forbids witchcraft. There's a magical tradition (not sure of the distinction there, but there apparently is one), but I don't think it resembles what Willow was practicing, especially considering the big resurrection spell called on Osiris (an Egyptian deity). Thinking of her as a purely created character, yeah, Joss mixed his mythologies big-time. If you want to think of her as a real person . . I'm not sure of the appropriate dictionary term for her beliefs. She's not *quite* a polytheist, or at least that doesn't adequately explain the entirety of her belief system. She clearly *believes* in multiple gods, based on multiple source mythologies, and every time she comes across a new one, she encorporates it (someone who knows more about this, feel free to step on me if I'm wrong here, but isn't that sort of characteristic of voudoun?) However, her gods are all very small-g, she doesn't worship in any way that we're shown in canon and she doesn't seem to believe that these higher powers are necessarily humanity's moral superiors - if anything she seems to believe the opposite. We also see evidence in her behavior that she believes herself - and presumably others - capable of attaining a god-like level of power with sufficient study and practice.

So yeah .. don't know that there's a single word for her. She's a credulous cynic, I guess, and weird as this may sound, to all intents and purposes she's an atheist. She doesn't believe in anything deserving of her worship or devotion, what she believes, she believes because she's seen it work, she has no faith in the traditional sense. Where she interacts with the spiritual it's because it's *useful*, that's all. There's no moral significance to it in her worldview.
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[User Picture]From: ravenwings_7
2006-07-27 06:30 pm (UTC)
I think the word you may have been looking for was "pantheist," although your point of Willow-as-atheist is definitely a good one. I tend to think of Willow's lack of worship as a (possibly subconscious) belief that the deities she invokes are not "true" gods, but more just very powerful spirits (I'm not certain I said that terribly well).

As for her use of the term "Wicca," I've always felt that she consciously adopted the label; perhaps in an effort to distance herself from the negative connotations of "witch," but more likely because she felt that her family would take her practice of magic more seriously if they thought she had converted to another (established) religion than if they thought she was just playing with spellbooks.

I agree with your assessment of Tara, as well (especially as Wicca is one of the most loosely-defined religions out there). Just because she didn't follow Wiccan tenets in the time we knew her, doesn't mean she never did (and I don't recall her ever going directly against the Rede). It makes sense that she's simply non-observant (thus maintaining the title).

Oh! IIRC, voudoun and some of it's cousins are kind of a hodge-podge of various (highly modified) African and/or Caribbean deities mixed up with Christianity, but practitioners don't make a habit of adding new deities to the mix (I could be very wrong on any aspect of that statement, though).
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[User Picture]From: harmonyfb
2006-07-28 01:01 am (UTC)
I agree with your assessment of Tara, as well (especially as Wicca is one of the most loosely-defined religions out there). Just because she didn't follow Wiccan tenets in the time we knew her, doesn't mean she never did

While that could be true, the way her character was written reminded me more of a looser FamTrad, and not a Wiccan. She was definitely more interested in spellwork than religious practice (I think that could be said of all the characters, really.)
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[User Picture]From: texanfan
2006-07-30 01:40 pm (UTC)
That's an extremely good analysis of Willow's character. She believes in things only in so far as they are useful to her. You never see her, or Tara for that matter, with a shrine or altar. BTW, the Jewish tradition you're looking for is Kabbala (Probably horribly misspelled) and no, it's nothing like what Willow and Tara do.
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