In this third part of the Wonderful Wisdom of Oz series, we look at the story from the perspective of spiritual alchemy or the transformation of the self, and how various parts of Dorothy’s self are represented by the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Toto.
Dorothy’s Spirit in Toto
In myths and fairy tales, animal companions are attuned to the spiritual realm. They guide the hero or heroine through a special passage or to a place of safety, and they help the reader realize that the physical world and the spiritual world are not separate. Dorothy’s pet dog, Toto is a catalyst who gets Dorothy away from the storm cellar, into the upward spiraling cyclone and into Oz. His name comes from the Latin totum, meaning ‘whole’ or ‘all together’.
Unlike Dorothy’s other companions, Toto isn’t lacking anything. He represents Dorothy’s animating spirit, or instinctive intuitive nature, beyond the intellect, which the soul requires to achieve wholeness and eventually ascend. He is Dorothy’s intuition, who warns her of danger and shows her that all is not what it appears to be. Dorothy and Toto set out to find the Wizard in the Emerald City, at the center of the four countries of Oz.
Beyond the Shifting Sands
Oz is surrounded by a deadly desert of shifting sands, which, in the teachings of Theosophy, is called the ring-pass-not between the etheric and other dimensions. As Baum lay on his deathbed, his last words were, “Now we can cross the Shifting Sands [to Oz].” So Dorothy’s journey can be seen as a near-death experience and the lessons she learned there as preparation for returning to schoolhouse Earth and passing her tests. Many people have had near-death experiences; some individuals remember their adventures on the other side, and have been transformed by them. Dannion Brinkley, who has had three near-death experiences, is an amazing spiritual person, whom I had the good fortune to meet.
Oz proper, outside of the Emerald City, represents the lower etheric. The lands that surround it, beyond the deadly desert, symbolize portions of the astral plane, inhabited by evil creatures. One of them, the Wicked Witch of the West invaded Oz and took control of Winkie Country. So Oz isn’t perfect. Dorothy realizes that going “over the rainbow” isn’t an escape from her troubles. She realizes that she doesn’t belong there (it’s not her time) and that she has to find her way back home. She comes to the realization that you don’t have to travel over the rainbow to find your “heart’s desire,” you can find it “in your own backyard.” We don’t have to have a near death experience to be transformed. Our ordinary lives can provide us with the opportunities and tests to develop our souls, and change our mediocre world into a luminous magical one. This transformation is spiritual alchemy, the changing of our leaden existence into a golden life.
At the beginning of the story, Dorothy is self-absorbed and full of self-pity. She is bored by her life in Kansas and longs for adventure. However, soon after she arrives in Oz, she misses her Aunt Em and longs to return home to Kansas. When Dorothy meets her three companions in the story, they are also self-absorbed and full of self-pity. That’s because they are parts of her self.
Dorothy and her companions form a support group and give each other hope, even if it is the vain hope that the Wizard will help them. It is only when they unite for a larger purpose that their collective energy is galvanized to overcome their self-absorption and they are able to do battle against the forces of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy experiences a spiritual alchemy when she transforms her own leaden thoughts and feelings into the gold of a more Self-empowered individual who demonstrates mastery of her emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual worlds, while gaining the ultimate victory over the witch. In the thirteen sequels, Dorothy undergoes many more tests, or initiations. She grows in wisdom, love, and strength with each new visit to Oz. We can also develop our spiritual nature by attending the etheric retreats at night, learning from the masters in the universities of the Spirit and applying their lessons in our daily lives.
The Yellow Brick Path of the Sun
Dorothy’s journey is the archetypal pilgrimage found in many myths and folktales. She is the archetype of the orphan heroine, and her journey from Kansas to Oz and back is the Call to Adventure, Initiation, and Return that characterizes the heroic journey. The yellow brick road is symbolic of the spiritual path, or the path of the sun. Yellow is the color of the sun and wisdom; however, it’s more than just a path of wisdom. The sun gives light (wisdom), warmth (love), and life (power).
Thus, to make this journey, Dorothy must draw on and develop her intellect (the Scarecrow), her love (the Tin Man), and her will power (the Cowardly Lion). They represent the divine spark, the threefold flame that lives within the heart. When this flame is activated to its fullest potential and balanced, the highest form of enlightenment is attained and the soul can return home. However, Dorothy’s threefold flame is weak and unbalanced. The Scarecrow should represent the fount of wisdom, yet he’s brainless. The Tin Man should be the love flame, yet he has no heart, no feeling. The Lion should be the decisive, determined and courageous will, yet he’s spineless.
The Lion also represents the intuitive function and visionary capabilities of Dorothy’s etheric or memory body. Up until now, she has not fully purified this body, which is of the element of fire. Like her inner Munchkin, the memory body is a storehouse of erroneous beliefs and painful memories that lie in the unconscious from this life and all other lives. If it is not purified, all of her decision-making and will power will be hampered by these old beliefs and memories and she will be unable to receive divine inspiration, as Dr. Hew Len teaches in Zero Limits.
On their way to the Emerald City, Dorothy and her companions encounter a deep ravine, representing the abyss of the unknown. The Lion leaps across it three times with the other travelers on his back. Each time, he gains more self-confidence. When we overcome obstacles on our path, we are empowered in like manner.
The Scarecrow represents Dorothy’s mental body or the air element. When she first meets him, he doesn’t think he has a brain and laments that he’s not fulfilling his purpose in life because the crows perch on his shoulders and mock him as they eat the farmer’s corn. The crows symbolize negative thoughts of self-criticism, pessimism, and despair that distract us from our purpose in life and drain our energy.
The Scarecrow is nailed to a post until Dorothy takes him down. The post represents orthodox (straight thinking) religion, with its intolerance of creative thinking that goes against the status quo. Baum wrote in an editorial that “the priests must acknowledge their fallibility…abolish superstitions, intolerance, and bigotry…establish true relations between God and Christ and humanity…reconcile reason and religion, and…let the people think for themselves.” The Scarecrow’s post is a cross, and the Scarecrow is symbolic of man crucified between the horizontal plane of matter and vertical plane of Spirit. This is the duality of human existence, which the mind is powerless to free itself from. The scarecrow demonstrates intelligence throughout the story. Whenever they find themselves in trouble, the scarecrow figures a way out.
The Tin Man
The Tin Woodsman represents Dorothy’s emotional body or water element. He used to be a flesh and blood Woodsman who fell in love with a Munchkin girl who was a servant of an old lady. The old lady didn’t like the thought of losing her and asked the Wicked Witch of the East to enchant the Tin Man’s axe so that it kept chopping off his limbs. However, each time he lost a limb, he went to a tinsmith who fashioned a new metal limb for him. When the axe chopped off his head, the tinsmith replaced his head.
This infuriated the witch, so she made the axe chop him in half! The tinsmith put him back together; however, he forgot to replace his heart. As a result, he lost his love for the Munchkin girl. This fragmentation of the Tin Man’s body is symbolic of the shattering of the emotional body due to loss. Some common expressions that reflect this state are “broken hearted,” “losing heart,” and “falling to pieces.”
When Dorothy and the Scarecrow find the Tin Woodsman, he is rusted solid from rain. He can’t speak or move. This means that suppressed negative emotions of anger, resentment, and revenge are petrifying him, preventing him from expressing love through speech and action. Blocked emotions manifest as stiff and tense muscles that form a hard armor of protection and isolate people in a cold world, untouched by the warmth of a loving heart. Dorothy and the Scarecrow help him by oiling him. When you’re anointed with oil, you’re being prepared for an ordeal, or initiation. The initiation of the Tin Man is the initiation of love, which he expresses again and again throughout the story.
Balancing the Threefold Flame
So, Dorothy must free, develop, and balance these parts of her soul: her thinking, feeling, and will. This can be difficult at times. Sometimes the mind and the heart are in conflict. The Scarecrow and Tin Man argue about the relative value of a brain vs. a heart, which Baum took from Blavatsky’s chapter “The Two Paths,” in The Voice of the Silence. Sometimes the will is weaker than the mind. The Scarecrow is afraid of a lighted match; the Lion is afraid of everything. When the three plumes of the threefold flame are balanced, they can spin faster like a balanced load of laundry. When your threefold flame spins faster, all your chakras can spin faster because they become entrained with it. That fills your aura with the seven rays of the chakras, and your aura expands.
When Dorothy and her companions encounter a swiftly moving river (torrent of emotion), they have to leave the yellow brick road and cross the river in a raft. In the process, the Scarecrow (mind) gets stuck on a pole in the middle of the river. This illustrates how the mind can be out of its depth when trying to navigate the turbulent flow of emotions.
The Poppy Field Detour
Sometimes the body and the will do something that the mind and heart know is wrong. After a stork rescues the Scarecrow, Dorothy and her companions continue straying from the path and encounter the poppy field, which symbolizes drugs, alcohol, gambling and other addictive behaviors that sap your energy and resources and prevent you from progressing toward your goals. Dorothy (the physical body) and the Cowardly Lion (the will) fall into a deep sleep. This is the state of consciousness and will, associated with addiction — the body is enslaved and the will is paralyzed.
The Scarecrow and Tin Man (mind and heart) work together to find a way of getting Dorothy and the Lion out of the poppy field. They are able to carry Dorothy and Toto out; however, the Lion is too heavy. In other words, you can physically remove drugs, alcohol, and other addictive stimuli from someone and take them to a safe environment like a rehab facility, but the real test is getting their will to go along. You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
With the help of some field mice, the Scarecrow and Tin Man are able to move the Lion out of the poppy field. The mice symbolize many small good habits, which when combined and empowered with a strong momentum backed by intention and self-love, can overcome the inertia of a large bad habit like an addiction. This is a law of spiritual physics.
So Dorothy’s three companions represent the three qualities of the threefold flame. They also represent the finer elements: fire, air, and water, and Dorothy’s finer bodies: the etheric, mental, and emotional. Dorothy herself represents the earth element and the physical body. All four bodies are stuck at the beginning of the story: Dorothy is stuck in Oz. The Scarecrow is nailed to a post. The Tin Man is rusted solid. And the Lion is imprisoned by his fears. They help each other to get unstuck. Dorothy takes the Scarecrow down from his post, together they oil the Tin Man, and the three of them convince the Cowardly Lion to leave the relative safety of the dark forest. And they all try to get Dorothy back home. Our four lower bodies are connected. By freeing one, we can free all of them. For example, if you make a decision with your will to start an exercise program, you can get your physical body unstuck, and your emotional and mental bodies become free as well.
Next month, we will examine the negative aspects of Dorothy’s self: the Wicked Witch of the West and her allies. Also, we will see what the great and powerful Wizard of Oz symbolizes.