Magic in the Buffyverse

| Energy | Rituals and Spells | Witches | Mental Powers |

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 7 BtVS/season 5 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

  Energy: A medium or substance by which things act to change other things. In the Buffyverse, there are both physical and mystical forms of energy.   | Mystical influences on physical laws
Mystical forces outside Sunnydale
Rituals and Spells
Non-ritualistic invocation of mystic forces
Compounds with mystical effects
| Invoking and thwarting the mystical by physical means
Other examples of mystic forces |

Physical: Action in accordance with the laws of physics. The physical laws of the universe sometimes get a boost from mystical energy.

"Things like that are easy when you live on a Hellmouth." --Giles, Nightmares


Masquerade's note: If you have a problem with the science of the Buffyverse, remember Joss's axiom: "It's not physics, it's metaphysics!" Magic is always a factor in special powers displayed on the shows, and magic augments the laws of nature. Anyone trying to find a completely scientific explanation anything on the shows is forgetting they're in the Buffyverse.

Mystical: According to Willow's knowledge of magic, magic does not so much break the laws of physics as use them to its advantage: Power cannot come from nowhere, it must be borrowed. Nothing can be created ex nihilo or completely destroyed, merely transformed. Transformation depends on finding catalysts to initiate the change. Despite this, the "laws of the mystical" have a logic all their own, often requiring rituals and spells to invoke them. With sufficient control, these forces can be harnessed. But insufficient precision (e.g., stray words, impure intentions) during the invocation of magic can produce results quite contrary to what was expected.

Buffy's statement, "One day I'm gonna live in a town where evil curses are just generally ruled out without even saying" (IMG) is probably wishful thinking. Things congregate in Sunnydale that you normally wouldn't find anywhere else, but mystical forces work everywhere in the Buffyverse. Examples:

Mystical forces can also sometimes be invoked through certain actions which are not clearly ritualistic. Examples:


Mystical forces are sometimes invoked by physical objects. Examples:


"There's always a talisman." -- Buffy, Lessons

 Mystical forces are sometimes thwarted by physical means. Examples:

Compounds with mystical effects

The mystical properties of Slayer's Blood.... Some of them may be "old vampire's tales" and so on, but...

Other examples of mystical forces

Rituals and Spells

| Rituals | Spells | Curses | Witch Spells | Bad Mojo | Tracing Rituals and Spells |

The mystical forces in the Buffyverse do not behave in a completely random fashion. They can be controlled by those in the know. What is required is knowledge of a ritual or spell--specific words (the "incantation"),objects, and/or actions which harness specific mystical energies. The terms "ritual"and "spell" are used more or less interchangeably in the Buffyverse. The only apparent differences are that spells often mix incantations with potions, while rituals involve incantations and specific bodily actions. Furthermore, the word "spell" is often associated with witches and witchcraft.


Clear examples of the use of rituals in BtVS:

| Creating the Vessel | Possessing and de-possessing the Pack | Binding Moloch | The revivification of the Master from his bones | Feeding Machida | The devotion to Chaos | Getting possessed by Eyghon | Restoring a sick vampire | Revoking the invitation to vampires | Opening the mouth of Acathla | The ritual of the undead (AKA The Gypsy curse) | Feeding Lurconis | Raising the dead | The Dedication ceremony for the Ascension | The ritual of Gavrok for the Ascension | The ritual of Mok'Togar | Summoning Gachnar | Eating of the ex-husband's brains | Summoning the warriors of vengeance | Summoning D'Hoffryn | Opening the Hellmouth | The ritual to keep a demon dead involves burial in virgin soil, and a Latinate incantation (Wesley, IGYUMS) | Traveling to the Nether Realm | The ritual of primeval power | The revivification of Darla | Raising the Thesulac | Forging and defusing the ferula-gemina | Incarnating the Key | A Tirer la Courture | The supplication to Yeska | Transmogrifying a living being | Animating zombies | The ritual sacrifice | Disenchanting the Band of Blacknil | The ritual for slayer guidance | Crossing into Pylea | The raising ritual | Beseeching the Loa | The sacrifice to Avilas | Removing Angel's soul | Returning Buffy from the realm of the Shadowmen | The Bu'shundi locator ritual | Birthing a higher being | The Matis demon's "flesh magic" | De-consecrating holy ground | Crossing dimensions |

The coding of rituals:We have seen several cases in which rituals were kept safe from those who would misuse them by putting the text of the ritual in a secret code, including The Du Lac Cross, for reading his manuscript, and the transliteration annals of the ritual of the undead in B1.


Clear examples of the use of spells in BtVS:

| Detecting a witch | The transpossession, debilitating enemies, and bloodstone vengeance spells (The Witch) | Reversing witch spells | Catherine's spell to put Buffy in the trophy | Turning children into their costumes | The Cordy love-spell and the rat transformation spell (BBB, Gingerbread) | Exorcising poltergeists | Immolating the Glove of Myhnegon | Lover's walk: the de-lusting spell for Xander and Willow and the love spell for Drusilla and Spike | Summoning Anyanka | Willow's protection spells in Gingerbread and Bad Girls | Lifting the veil of the Hansel-and-Gretel Demon | The Clouding Spell | Binding the Hellmouth | Creating a temporal fold | Returning VampWillow to the alternate history | Reversing the aspect of the demon | The Breath of the Entropics | Destroying the Box of Gavrok | Reversing a soul transfer | The Guiding Spell | Making beer "bad" | Binding a Ghost (RWAV, CWDP) | Willow's vengeance curse (WAH) | The Sensitivity Spell | The "I Will It So" spell | The Truth Spell | Supplication to Thespia (the spell to detect demons) | Ionizing the atmosphere | The augmentation spell | The joining spell | Summoning the elements | The confounding spell |

| The Tinkerbell spell | The Blind-to-demons spell | Weakening an enemy | Creating sunshine | Trapping Olaf in the crystal | Releasing Olaf's hammer | Sending Olaf to the Troll dimension | Disappearing and reappearing the cash register | Turning Olaf into a troll | The early warning spell | Teleporting a Hellgod | The deoculation charm | Raising Joyce | The Tara-protection spell | The spells of Darkest Magick | The supplication to Osiris (raising Buffy) | Incarnating the thaumogenesis demon | The sanctorium spell | Body-switching | Time-looping Buffy | Erasing Tara's memory | The sanctorium spell, pt 2 | The Tabula Rasa spell | De-ratting Amy | Rack's black magic spells | Breaking a force-field | Retrieving a wayward person | The spell to enchant the cerebral dampener | Releasing the sword demon | Locating the orbs | Closing the Quortoth fissure | Locating Warren | The Sumerian protection spell | Reassigning someone's sex | Returning missing memories | Locating potential slayers | Delothrian's Arrow | The Turkish Conjuration | The Memory Mojo | Altering the calling of Slayers | Summoning the dead | Throwing Wolfram and Hart out of whack | Removing Enochian glyphs | Cloaking a television signal | Unlocking a lock spell | The memory/reality altering spell | Angel's Wolfram and Hart glamor |

How do spells work? One fan speculates:

I'd say that the electrical currents set up by the witches brain when reciting a spell create a sort of lens for natural forces to funnel through and effect change. The magic circle, whatever ingredients or actions that accompany the spell are part of the lens, and direct the focus (Dianne, Dec 14 19:30 1998).

Curses: Spells and rituals meant to create long-term trouble for the victim. Examples:

Bad Mojo

Most magic on the show isn't "bad", but some is. Examples of human characters who have harnessed rituals, spells, and witch-powers to serve evil or for selfish reasons:


| Witches | Natural witches | Other spell-casters | Good vs. Evil Witches |
Sources of magic powers | Witch training | Witchcraft spells | Wicca the religion |

Witches are human beings who habitually harness mystical forces, with and without using spells. Their power has limits, however. For example, Amy in rat form cannot reverse her own spell from Gingerbread.

Sorcerers and other spell-casters

Witch training: Willow's emerging witchhood

Mental Powers

| Mind control | Psychic powers | Telepathy, Telekinesis, and Teleportation | The nature of supernatural talents |

Mind control: Demons and other baddies often use various levels of mind control to get what they want. Some examples:

Psychic powers: An awareness of future, or hidden, distant events which does not rely on reasoning from evidence of the five senses. The characters who seem in possession of psychic powers are Buffy, Drusilla, the Caritas Host, and Cordelia via Doyle.

Other psychic experiences: Buffy's "deja vu" feelings about the falling pencil in B1 lead to the discovery of Jenny's disk with the soul-restoration ritual on it, Buffy's knowledge that Whistler is a demon sent down to even the score between good and evil, Buffy's knowledge that the monks made Dawn "from her".

Unanswered question: is there one set of "visions" passed to Doyle down a line that included the 17th century woman in "Birthday", or can many people have the visions at once? (Or both?) This is unknown.

Less clear cases:

Telepathy: The ability to read the minds or enter the minds of others

Telekinesis: The power to move things with one's mind alone. It usually occurs under periods of extreme emotional distress.


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This page last modified 7/14/08

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