Long before Willow won over Tara at Wicca Group or flayed her first victim, witchcraft spelled its way into the Buffyverse via a self-professed Cyberpagan named Jenny Calendar. As Sunnydale’s Tech. Ed. teacher she seemed the perfect foil to Giles’s mannered librarian. Outspoken and thoroughly modern, her introduction followed the lines of that classic trope – opposites attract. It was sweet to see the Hellmouth’s grownups getting some action, and together, Giles and Jenny had a lot to offer the Scoobies – heart, smarts and much magical know-how. They also each had their secrets (demon-conjuring, Gypsy revenge agenda) giving their story depth and texture.
Which is why Jenny’s death at the hands of a fully-vamped Angel was particularly disturbing – and the elaborate set up that led Giles to the discovery of her body was one of the more sadistic moments in the series – one that made Angel’s own (albeit temporary) demise both necessary and justified. This Ankh, for one, never forgave him.
She was, after all, a very cool human and pretty damned interesting to have around – the embodiment of the contemporary occultist. Her roots were Old World Romany witchcraft, as were the means of her magic, but her life online (and hanging out with the young folks) gave her a much broader perspective, expanding her understanding well beyond the limits of her traditional upbringing. It was, in fact, the meeting of an ancient occult text and technology that first brought Jenny and Giles together – when scanning a particularly powerful grimoire resulted in a demonically possessed computer and an enthralled dark-witch-to-be Willow. It is important to note that there are no coincidences in the world of Whedon. Willow would become who she was – both the go-to gal for all things tech and the biggest baddest witch on earth – largely because of Jenny Calendar’s influence and ultimate end. Which brings Ankhie to today’s tangential ramble…
Technology has served pagans and occultists well. Virtual communities – composed of individuals who practice in isolation or are wary of exposure – allow for the free exchange of ideas and access to material that others (in previous generations) spent lifetimes acquiring. The internet is a place where those with unorthodox beliefs or alternative lifestyles can commune, banishing loneliness with the click of a keyboard. It does not, however, make us any less alone. Nothing can replace true human interaction.
Ankhie took a stay-cation last week to spend time with a couple of cool teenagers. Both are smart, funny, and very plugged in. One has been raised since infancy as a practicing Wiccan, the other a barefoot agnostic. Ankhie had all kinds of plans for these kids – picnics, boat trips, inspirational visits to museums and sites of historical significance – but they were having none of it. They were happiest sitting back to back on the sofa chatting with friends on social media and with each other in-between rapid fire IMs. I was, frankly, appalled, and prepared to drag them out of the house by their power cords. Then I realized. They were actually fully and creatively engaged in their community – and Ankhie, of all people (she who spends 10+ hours a day online) -should realize that. Technology cannot replace the tangible. But there is a world of possibility that lies beyond our physical reach. There is a danger of too much access without enough engagement and too much information without the foundation of learning and experience needed to use it well and properly (see Willow above). And nothing replaces books (ahem! note the name of this blog!) or actual experience, but our lives are a lot more magical today because of technology rather than in spite of it. Had these two kids been online in separate rooms, or even separate chairs I might have made good on my threats to pull the plugs, but they were sitting together, actually touching, making eye contact, giggling, like girls passing notes in school or whispering while everyone else at the sleepover watches scary movies and talks about boys. Plus it was close to or over 100 degrees all last week! Cut Ankhie some slack! So while the ladies typed and tittered, yours truly cracked open the box set of BTVS. Thus this post. There are no coincidences in the world of Ankhie either – or so I’d like to think.