Are we in Oz yet?

fairy wingsThe rules in the land of Oz are not like the rules in Kansas. Witches travel on broomsticks and lions can speak. Boats can be rowed through the air. Ruby slippers have magical qualities.

I take colorful Oz to be a metaphor for places of learning. Kansas, therefore, is symbolic of being stuck, and living in a black and white world. Christopher Vogler tells us in The Writer’s Journey that Dorothy learns from everyone she meets. Even Toto, symbolic Vogler says of instincts, helps educate Dorothy.

Many forces in real life try to convince us that Kansas is all there is. Dorothy was carried to Oz by a tornado. Vogler tells us the tornado is symbolic of inner turmoil. We see plenty of inner turmoil in the world. I have plenty of it myself.

The subtitle of the book is Mythic Structure for Writers. The book prompts me to explore my personal mythology with the intention of separating Oz from Kansas. I am particularly impressed with his analysis of the three friends rescuing her from the witch’s castle. He writes:

The responsibility of moving the adventure forward has fallen to Dorothy’s three Allies; this place is so terrible that there’s no help here from kindly wizards and witches. They have gotten by as clowns; now they must become heroes.

He adds that there are some scary places we must go to on our own. I can see elements of the clown in myself. It presents itself as a willingness to make excuses. I am facing some challenges at the present time that can be compared to the witch’s castle. The cowardly lion pleads with the Tin Man and the Scarecrow to talk him out of supporting their plan. Of course they don’t.

The point I would like to make is that we do well to be sensitive to people who are in their own version of Oz. We should share what we know, and do it gently like Glinda, the good witch. We should also be sensitive to the inner turmoil that affects people who think Kansas is all there is for them.

The teachers tell us, metaphorically speaking, that we all have ruby slippers. They can carry us to a place where our authentic self shines once we realize their powers.

We need not depend on turmoil to take us to Oz. Vogler says there are types of heroes including willing and unwilling. There are also anti heroes, people who have been wounded, like Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca. We do well to appreciate the full range of heroes and to know where we reside on the spectrum. When we face the witch’s castle the challenge is to march right in.

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