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Art Imitates Astrology: Buffyverse Character Tara Maclay

In a recent AAA post, I honored the 25th anniversary of the premiere of perhaps my favorite TV series of all time, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and opined at the article’s close about how much I missed seeing the show.  Well, the syndication gods have smiled upon me, and just months later, “Buffy” retuned from the celluloid undead to brighten the screen via Comet TV.  As faithful readers of this site will remember, October usually brings at least one horror-or-Halloween-related article, but after five years, I was running out of ideas.  There didn’t seem the ghost of a chance that I’d find a suitable topic, and then my replay of “Buffy” paid off in a snippet I could sink my teeth into:  birth data from the tombstone of a major character.

The character in question is that of Tara Maclay, a witchy-wise college coed brought in as a love interest for newly-lesbian Willow, in season four.  A common love of spellcraft brought them together, and their three-season romance was one of TV’s earliest ongoing depictions of same-sex relationships, cast in a positive light.  Tara met her tragic end as season six closed, at the hands of geek criminal mastermind Warren Mears, who had been plaguing Buffy and the so-called Scooby Gang ever since she came back from the dead (you had to be there).

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Tara (left) joined the cast of “Buffy” in 1999, as a witchy ally of the forces of good against evil; in the character’s “birth chart”, asteroid Hekate, noted as goddess of witchcraft, conjoins philosophical Jupiter and squares spirituality-focused Neptune

Willow, who had become addicted to magic but was struggling to overcome it, lost control completely when Warren accidentally shot and killed Tara, going off the deep end in a dark magic-fueled homicidal rampage which resulted in flaying Warren alive.  Brought back to her senses by lifelong friend Xander’s love, just as she is about to destroy the world, Willow is rehabilitated, and eventually finds the strength to visit her dead lover’s grave.

Which is where astrology comes in.  Season seven, episode four, “Help,” includes a brief screen shot of Tara’s marker, which lists her birth data as 16 October 1980, and her death date as 7 May 2002.  Off to the ephemeris!

I’ve had occasion to profile fictional characters before, and always with stunning and appropriate results.  It’s fascinating to me how the cosmos lines up with human creativity, even in the seemingly random selection of biographical statistics for an author’s mind child.

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Tara is initially shy and withdrawn, with a pronounced hesitation and stutter in speech, suggested in her chart by a Mercury/Uranus conjunction, which also conveys penetrating insights and possible clairvoyance

“Born” 16 October 1980, Tara Maclay’s natal Sun at 23 Libra conjoins Pluto at 21 Libra, an apt image of a powerful person (Pluto) grounded in fairness and a strong sense of justice (Libra), which Tara was.  Always ready to see both sides of the coin, compromise, and promote others’ wellbeing, Tara was a very enlightened type of Libra, who wore with grace the power that was inborn, as the daughter of a witch.  The Sun/Pluto conjunction sits at the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to asteroids McKay (closest to Maclay) at 26 Taurus and Circe (named for a sorceress in Homer’s “Odyssey”) at 27 Pisces, combining her surname with her bent toward the magical arts. 

Asteroid Hekate, named for a Greek goddess who in the Middle Ages developed an unsavory (and unearned) reputation as goddess of witches, appears at 21 Virgo conjoined philosophical Jupiter at 27 Virgo, inclining Tara to Wicca as a religious outlook.  Hekate also squares Neptune at 20 Sagittarius, another indicator of spirituality.

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Tara quickly became romantically involved with series star Willow (right), in one of TV’s first long-term same-sex relationships portrayed in a positive light; Tara’s sexuality is expressed as the Sun squared asteroid Sappho, named for an ancient Greek lesbian poet

Likewise, her sexuality is vividly portrayed, with asteroid Sappho, named for an ancient Greek lesbian poet, at 28 Cancer in square to her Sun, also exactly semisquare Venus at 13 Virgo, arbiter of love and romance.  Unfortunately, there is no asteroid matching Willow or Rosenberg, the character who became her partner, but asteroid Salix is named for the scientific designation for the willow tree, and it appears at 3 Libra, conjunct Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, at 5 Libra.  Salix also exactly conjoins Saturn, so this is a serious relationship, one grounded in stability and good for the long-term, had Fate not intervened.

That intervention came in the form of a bullet from Warren Mears’ gun, and it’s no surprise to find asteroids Warren and Gunn conjunct, at 22 and 25 Taurus, also conjoined McKay at 26 Taurus and asteroid Tara at 2 Gemini.  As well, Warren/Gunn is squared by Damocles, representing the looming threat hanging unseen overhead, from 23 Aquarius, and in a T-square with asteroid Osiris at 20 Leo, named for the Egyptian god of the dead.  Tara’s death was in fact unexpected, the result of a stray bullet intended for Buffy, and in a subsequent scene the grieving Willow importunes Osiris for her dead lover’s return, to no avail.  Asteroid Osiris also squares TNO Ixion at 13 Scorpio, named for the first murderer in Greek myth, pinpointing homicide as Tara’s cause of death, though the orbs are a bit too wide to make this a Grand Cross with Warren/Gunn and Damocles.

tara warren
Warren Mears was the cause of Tara’s screen death, accidentally shot by a bullet meant for Buffy; asteroids Warren and Gunn conjoin asteroids Tara and McKay (closest to Maclay) in Tara’s birth chart, binding the two together – a square from Damocles represents the looming threat of destruction

When Tara was first introduced, her shy, retiring nature and a history of family abuse rendered her with a halting, stuttering speech pattern, as portrayed celestially by Mercury at 17 Scorpio conjunct Uranus at 23 Scorpio, which represents unusual or unorthodox styles of communication.  Willow’s love transformed Tara into a more confident, assertive woman, and her speech eventually reflected this.

Actress Amber Benson, who portrayed Tara, was born 8 January 1977 (no time available), and sports a combination of Saturn at 15 Leo with asteroid Actor at 4 Leo (identifying her thespian profession), opposing asteroid Tara at 13 Aquarius, T-squared Jupiter at 21 Taurus, for the role (Actor) that has been the most famous (Jupiter) in her career (Saturn) to date.  Natal asteroid Amber at 20 Aries squares her natal Sun at 18 Capricorn, and together these T-square Tara’s Sun at 24 Libra, affording an instant identification with the character which engendered an authentic performance.

tara BF adam busch
Tara actress Amber Benson and Warren actor Adam Busch dated for nine years after meeting on the “Buffy” set; natally, Benson sports an opposition from Saturn (profession) and asteroid Actor to asteroid Tara, t-squared by Jupiter (fame, celebrity); also with Tara are asteroids Adam, Busch and Aphrodite, prefiguring the affair (Aphrodite) between them whose catalyst was her work as Tara

Tara’s screen death on 7 May 2002 shows a stunning exact opposition from the highlighting Sun at 16 Taurus to asteroid Warren, the cause of her death, at 16 Scorpio.  (Perhaps the idea for this article was generated by the upcoming Lunar Eclipse November 8th at those precise degrees.)  An exact T-square is formed by Damocles at 16 Aquarius, once again introducing the element of unseen, but impending, doom.  With the Sun is asteroid Lachesis at 24 Scorpio, named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, and conjoined Lachesis (though too far from the Sun to be considered conjunct) is asteroid McKay at 28 Scorpio. 

Asteroid Tara at 24 Cancer bisects a trine from Lachesis to asteroid Anubis at 22 Leo, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, linking her with two death-related energies, and is also sesquiquadrate TNO Ixion at 7 Sagittarius, bringing in the element of murder.  Asteroid Gunn at 9 Libra opposes asteroid Osiris at 5 Aries, affirming the means of her death.

tara death
Willow cradles Tara after the fatal gunshot, later unsuccessfully importuning Osiris to return her dead lover to life; in Tara’s “death chart”, asteroid Gunn opposes asteroid Osiris, with a stationary retrograde asteroid Salix (genus name for the willow tree) on the fulcrum of a T-square

Saturn, ancient lord of death, conjoins Mars, ruler of attacks, guns and violence, at 14 and 16 Gemini, opposing Pluto, modern lord of death and planetary ruler of homicide, at 17 Sagittarius.  These T-square Tara’s natal asteroid Atropos at 18 Virgo, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death.

Interestingly, asteroid Salix (for “Willow”) at 10 Capricorn forms a T-Square with the Gunn/Osiris polarity, and is embedded at station (turning retrograde four days prior), indicating a literal “turning point” for Willow Rosenberg, the once mousey bookworm who subsequently went off the rails in a grief-driven spree of violence directed initially at her lover’s killer and subsequently, the whole world.

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Tara’s grave, listing her biographical stats; at her death, a stunning precise T-square of the Sun opposed asteroid Warren, with Damocles on the fulcrum, faithfully depicted the unseen menace of Warren Mears

Who can explain how a fictional birth date and a fictional death date coalesce to so aptly describe the character given those imagined parameters?  If life imitates art, so, too, does astrology.

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

3 comments, add yours.

Marjorie Manifold

How cool it that! The asteroids even align with fiction. . . hmm . . . Begs the existential question “Are we not all illusions? Fictions of a Master Cosmic illusion? Wizards in a muggle dream?” LOL . . . Happy Halloween!


It is amazing that even the creations of our minds resonate with the stars as we have named them! Reality definitely has a pattern and it is evident wherever we look. I love your turn of phrase, “As Within, So Without”! Will remember that! Happy Halloween, Alex!

Emma Esperanza Acosta Vásquez

Muy interesante el artículo. Alguien me podría informar qué programa saca las cartas con los asteroides. Gracias

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