A cultural myth of redemption found in a popular fantasy story

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From the 100th anniversary edition

Realized or not or intentional or not authors project themselves into their stories. Successful stories depend on good writing but they also draw on archetypal aspects that at an unconscious level resonate with most human beings.

Earlier someone shared part of a dream that included the image of the Tin Man from the Wonderful Wizard of OZ (1900). This got me to thinking about the other characters and aspects of L.Frank Baum’s story and who or what they might represent symbolically. However, my projected meanings are in no way intended to convey the meanings that Baum had for them these are just possible meanings that one might entertain should they show up in their dreams.

 Tinman: a Tin Man may be someone with no heart but deep down a heart as big as it gets. It can represent someone acting without compassion or being unsympathetic, or be someone unforgiving or unkind. When oiled e.g. given some kind, caring attention he/she becomes less rigid and stuck in their position. Do you know someone like this?

Cowardly lion: a person who acts tough but misses a golden opportunity out of fear. Are you feeling inadequate? Do you need to face your fears? Are you or someone you know wearing the mask of the tough guy thus keeping people at bay? Often this is the definition for someone who bullies. Are you limiting yourself by adhering to an inner dialog that has you feeling less-than?

Scarecrow: someone who looks scary but is using it as a cover-up so as to protect a vulnerable interior. Do you think of your self as being inferior? Is your exterior not matching your interior? Has your self-presentation been tattered?

Wicked witch: the negative feminine, in this case her insensitivity, and lack of focus except inwardly thus creating self-involvement, and being socially rejecting thus separating herself from others. She is the witch of the west and symbolic of darkness and endings that which needed to be faced in order to bring back the light and a new beginning.

Consider also that a witch can represent ones mother and the magical effect she has on you i.e. she is both nurturer and punisher.

Wizard: your inner wisdom and hidden power. This wizard also played the role of the trickster and was symbolically he who helps us to transcend our conditioning e.g. our learned behaviors, the behaviors and attitudes that limit us in life.

Glinda the good witch: she is the antithesis of the wicked witch, a goddess figure and the divine mother symbolizing feminine power, nurturing, and the coming of age for a young girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. She is the witch of the south that is symbolic of new beginnings, vulnerability and emotions.

Note that each of these characters is representative of Dorothy herself. Feeling unloved, unimportant, disconnected from her real power, with low self-esteem, lost and feeling as though she doesn’t belong, she dreams of a place where she can regain her self by returning home to herself. All aspects of her show up in the dream so as to help her heal and come back to her core being.

The psycho-emotional healing in most stories seems to center around the need to bring resolution to separateness and to unify the disparate aspects of the story i.e. to bring things back into balance. When we get out of balance catastrophic things can happen to help us find our way back home. This goes for societies and countries as well.

This I think is the function of our nightmares (individual or collective), which surly were depicted in Dorothy’s feverish dream i.e. to shake us up a little so as to point out the wrong road we’re on and head us toward the better road, the yellow brick road of hopefulness that leads to a place of healing and personal growth i.e. the green city of OZ while along the way we reconnect and make friends with the rejected parts of ourselves. The monster in the nightmare is not the hero save that they point to the fact that something isn’t working in the individual or societal psyche. As with Dorothy it’s only when we face our nightmarish bully that we can find our way home.