Witch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Witch, Warlock, Sorcerer, Wizard
Kind Both humans and demons can use magic
First appearance "Witch"
Creator Joss Whedon
For the Season 1 episode, see Witch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode).

In the fictional Buffyverse established by Buffy and Angel, a Witch is a person who has great knowledge and power over the use of mystical forces, commonly known as "magic" and colloquially referred to as "mojo" and "the whammy", to perform various feats that defy the laws of nature. The term "witch" is commonly used to refer to female magic-users. Male witches are known as warlocks. In the Buffyverse the term magic is commonly used as "Magicks".


As portrayed in Buffy and Angel, becoming a witch involves a great deal of practice and work. Even those gifted with an unusually high ability (Willow Rosenberg, for example) can take several years to perfect their powers.[citation needed]

Spells can be performed by anyone by use of magical items while saying particular incantations (often in Latin). However witches have greater knowledge and power over the use of magic.[citation needed]

While most every being seen on the show, from demon to human, is capable of performing magic, there are natural witches with whom the talent for the harnessing and manipulation of mystical forces appears to be a genetic trait. This talent is inherited from mother to daughter. Examples:

While these witches do tend to be extremely powerful, ordinary people without the genetic boost, such as Willow, demonstrate that they can be surpassed.


The shows portray magic as capable of being used as a force for good and evil. Willow and Tara use magic to support Buffy in the fight against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. However the growth of power can also become corrupting. Catherine Madison used magic to take over the life of her daughter's younger body. Willow gradually began to use magic in every part of her life, until she was addicted to it. Later, after the death of Willow's girlfriend Tara Maclay, Willow sought revenge which resulted in dark magicks taking control of her, becoming what is known as "Dark Willow".[3]


In the Buffy series, magic is often used as a metaphor for other things. For example, during season four magic is used as a metaphor for the lesbian relationship between Willow and Tara that is only hinted at (if rather overtly)[4] until the episode "New Moon Rising" when the relationship is revealed. Also, briefly in season five and heavily in season six, when Willow becomes addicted to magic, magic is used as a metaphor for drug addiction, with Willow going through all the typical destructive behaviors and withdrawal symptoms of a drug addict.


In the season one episode "Witch" a method is demonstrated that, by performing, a witch can be identified by using various ingredients; some of their hair, a little quicksilver (mercury), some aqua fortis (nitric acid), and "eye of newt". The ingredients are heated then applied to the possible-witch. If a spell has been cast in the previous 48 hours, the witch's skin turns blue where the substance comes in contact with it. This was used to discover that "Amy" (actually Catherine) was a witch.[1]


The real-life belief of Technopaganism is also present in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although they are not mentioned beyond season two and with Jenny Calendar as the only one seen on-screen. She is seen as a low-level practitioner of magic and does not consider herself a witch.[5] Even so, technopagans of the Buffyverse are not portrayed that differently from witches, they are just more familiar with modern technology and its relation to the black arts. Although not specifically addressed, the implication is that there is a difference in power levels between a technopagan and a witch, as Jenny states in the season one episode "I, Robot... You, Jane" in which Giles asks if she is a witch. Jenny's answer, "I don't have that kind of power" indicates that witches are able to perform greater feats of magic than other, more casual practitioners of magic.

Willow could be seen sometimes using modern technology and contacts to further her witchcraft (e.g. the internet). However she identifies herself as a witch rather than a technopagan.

See also[edit]

Magic users in the Buffyverse[edit]

For a more complete list see here

Key witchcraft-related Buffyverse episodes[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Witch"
  2. ^ Family
  3. ^ Villains
  4. ^ Eden, Martin, "Alyson Wonderland", from Buffy the Vampire Slayer magazine #15 (UK, December 2000), page 8-14.
  5. ^ I, Robot... You, Jane