This is a thought that came to me while discussing the latest 'Buffy' episode withelisi . We all know that in Season 4, "casting spells" was a thinly disguised metaphor (or even euphemism) for "Having hot and steamy lesbian sex". In Season 6, though - at least according to conventional wisdom - the symbolism changed. Magic was now a metaphor for drugs, and a lot of people have said how much they hate this change.
But what if there was no change? What happens if we continue to read "magic" as a metaphor for gay sex even in Season 6?
Well, Willow's attempt after 'Wrecked' to deny the part of her personality that enjoys casting spells, and to refrain from magic by sheer force of willpower, begins to look a lot like those people who hide in the closet and attempt to "cure" their homosexuality through dubious therapy or attending those sinister American Christian fundamentalist brainwashing camps. Of course, such attempts don't work, and sometimes have deeply harmful psychological effects... Although admittedly, most repressed/in-denial gay people don't attempt to blow up the world. At least, so far as I know.
Below the cut, I'll elaborate on this further.
In seasons 4 and 5, casting spells was something Willow and Tara enjoyed doing as a couple; it brought them closer together.
In season 6, though, Willow started to get selfish about her magic. She cast spells the way she wanted to, and didn't care about Tara's feelings or desires. ('After Life')
Then she started casting spells behind Tara's back, and lying to her about it. ('All The Way')
Eventually Tara found out about this, and they had a huge row and split up. ('Tabula Rasa')
Left alone, Willow had nobody to cast spells with. So she hooked up with an old friend and began hanging around in nightclubs casting spells on random strangers. ('Smashed')
She even started going to seedy establishments where you could pay for magic. ('Wrecked')
But then, something happened to give her a bad scare. She realised that this indiscriminate and casual use of magic was hurting her and hurting the people she loved. But she overreacted, and decided that the magic itself was the problem. She would have to give it up entirely; change herself into a non-magic-using person the way she [thought she] was before she met Tara.
With the misguided support and encouragement of her friends, Willow threw away anything that reminded her of her old lifestyle, broke off contact with her magic-using friend Amy, and tried to suppress that part of her personality through sheer willpower. This left her tense, stressed and unhappy. ('Gone')
Amy slipped her a magical roofie one time, and Willow indulged in magic again for a while. But she hated herself for it afterwards, feeling guilty at her loss of control. ('Doublemeat Palace')
Eventually, Willow believed herself to be "cured" of her "magic addiction". But she wasn't; she'd just learned to live her life functionally while suppressing that whole part of her personality. Thrown into a traumatic and stressful situation, she reverted back to type. But because of the months of suppression and denial and self-brainwashing, her emotions were all twisted and repressed and unhealthy, and she suffered a violent emotional meltdown. So did the entire world, almost.
After that, Willow went into therapy where she learned to accept herself again. She was taught that the magic was a natural part of her, not "a hobby or an addiction". Instead of trying to suppress it, she should accept it and learn how to channel it in a healthy way. ('Lessons')
She was still worried that her friends would hate her for what she did, but they proved much more accepting than she'd feared ('Same Time, Same Place')
Eventually she found fulfilment through magic again, and got together with a new partner who - while initially a little dubious - was willing to support her and join in the spellcasting with her again. ("Come on, Red. Make it happen."... "You... are a goddess.")
So. Does it work?