Musing on “The Wiz”

Yesterday was our production of “The Wiz, Our Way,” a musical production at a summer camp.  We added the “Our Way” because I adapted it from the original Broadway musical for very young children.  It was a success, and of all the productions I’ve ever directed, this one drew more creativity from me than I have ever experienced. There were many ingenious moments, which was fulfilling to see come to fruition in the final production. I say “ingenious” because as I was writing and planning the production, I was aware that I was tapping into the creativity of the Divine realm. “The Wiz” is my favorite musical of all time because of the music and the story’s culturally hip re-telling of the classic, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum. Ever since childhood I was always intrigued that the totality of Dorothy’s adventure was a dream, and with each year’s annual televised broadcast, I would discover new gems and truths in the story…I could never get enough of it!  And now that I’m a practitioner of Archetypal Dreamwork, I love it even more.

When I look at the story from an Archetypal perspective, I see a girl being raised by her Aunt and Uncle who is in some way dissatisfied with her life and sets herself on the path to self-discovery. How perfectly the storm (i.e., tornado) comes to help her confront the vicissitudes of her inner world. Storms such as tornadoes, hurricanes and tidal waves are powerful Archetypal forces that produce terror and fright in our dreams; yet they are great helping forces to help us confront and resolve our emotional quandaries if we can acknowledge our fear and allow ourselves to be subsumed by their power (requires fortitude and courage). A tornado’s column touches both the Heavens and the Earth…what an Archetypal figure for Dorothy!  In “The Wiz” Dorothy does not stand at a distance watching the tornado, nor does she manage to reach shelter (thanks to antics of her dog Toto), but rather allows herself to  be overtaken by it, house and all.

In Dorothy’s dream, Toto can be seen as the Archetypal Psychopomp, the guardian of one’s Soul. According to ancient KMTic (Egyptian) mythology, Anubis is a jackal/dog-human who leads the Ba (aspect of a person activated in dream state) to the Underworld where the Ba undergoes its own purifying journey. Anubis reunites the person’s Ba with their core self–the “Heart”/Soul. Indeed, Oz is the Other World, the Underworld, where there is larger than life imagination, magic, power and intrigue and terror…an Archetypal place, because it carries all the keys…it’s the laboratory for Dorothy’s process of transformation.

In Oz, Dorothy journeys down the Yellow Brick Road where she encounters  aspects of herself she may have felt separated from–clear thinking (Scarecrow who didn’t have a brain); passion (Tin Man who didn’t have a heart); and courage (cowardly Lion). In Oz, she regathers those aspects of herself to encounter the Wiz and demand her return home. But first, she must defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, and you know how the story goes.

Each one of us has our own “Yellow Brick Road,” our path and true desire. Whatever the Yellow Brick Road is for you, and whatever “Home” is for you, approach it with singularity in purpose, like Dorothy…and submit to whatever it takes to get there. Follow where the road leads and leave no stone unturned. This may mean that you have to surrender to the scary but powerful Divine forces in you that are there for your good. Let the tidal wave overtake you–you may discover that you can breathe underwater! Let the tornado sweep you into its fold. In the Yoruba pantheon, Oya (“She who tore”) symbolized by the powerful Winds is the deity of transformation and change, both inner and outer. When Archetypal forces come to you in a dream, feel your awe-filled fear, and know that those forces are a part of the Divine realm within you. You are created in the image of the Divine and the Divine has ripped off a part of Him/Herself and placed it in you. You have a direct connection to that power and your dreams will remind you, when it’s needed.

In Dorothy’s dream, the Wiz can be seen as an Animus Provocateur. In Archetypal Dreamwork we define the Animus as a male-figure who represents the male aspect of the Divine, whose role is instructive and supportive. In Dorothy’s dream she has projected all her faith onto a man who rules by bravado and deception. We don’t know why that is. Perhaps there was a void in her waking life that made her insecure around male authority figures, or diverted her attention to improprietous male-figure(s), and perhaps the dream is trying to address this. What we do know is that, in the dream, The Great “Wiz” cannot come to Dorothy as a straightforward male teacher or support figure, but rather, because of some deception in her psyche, the Animus must present himself as a trickster in order to help Dorothy dismantle an unenlightened projection or view she may hold regarding male authority-figures. And instead of fulfilling Dorothy’s wish and taking/sending her home, The Wiz sends her to kill Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West.

Yes, killing and death is another component of transformation. Remembering that every part of a dream is an aspect of ourselves, our dreams will show us the parts of ourselves that need to die, or that we must die to. The Higher Power in you wants you to die to whatever it is that holds you back or keeps you separated from your authentic core or Essential Self.  Are you oppressed by anger because you have not acknowledged your pain or loss? Do you place yourself on a false pedestal or judge and condemn others to disguise feelings of your own inadequacy or inferiority?  Do you employ false pride in order to cover your shame? Is your authentic joy and your authentic power buried underneath other compensatory feelings?  What parts of you need to die?

From an Archeytpal perspective, Evilene’s death in “The Wiz” is the most critical and penultimate moment of the story. No one can kill off the evil witch for Dorothy, she would have to do it herself, for herself.  In the story, Dorothy triumphantly takes to the Wiz proof that she has killed Evilene, only to discover that The Wiz is a mere mortal like her. In comes Glinda the Good Witch, an Archetypal figure (Anima) representing the female aspect of the Divine whose role is to heal. Glinda the Anima/Healer delivers the healing medicine…the Wisdom that Dorothy’s power is not in any other person, but her own Divine power that she has possessed all along. And with her newfound realization Dorothy can leave the fantasy of Oz where her authentic thoughts, passion and courage were outside of her (in the characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion), but now reclaimed and cohesively internalized and she can now return home with more focus and appreciation for all that she has and more.

My own journey has been a process of rediscovering and reclaiming my artistic gifts, my creative power, passion and libido. I had them all along, and bursts of it have been evident throughout my life, despite my own limitations. But now, things are opening up in a grander way as I have been bitten and exorcised by the handiwork of the Divine. In the past, the unknown has provoked anxiety to which I responded to with aloofness or controlling and managing; but now the unknown energizes me because of its expanded possibilities and I am now convinced, in a more heartfelt way, of the Divine’s empowerment in me.

Like Dorothy, I am journeying Home.

 

 

 

 

 

Night Time in the Fire Circle

          Dream:  It’s night time at a fire circle where a woman is being inititated. I’m in the center of the circle with her. My late esteemed and beloved professor, Dr. H, is officiating. I lower myself to the ground in prostrate position and scrub my face with the soil. Nearby is a bucket of water—I  pour it entirely over my head.  A large circle of shadowed Black figures hold hands and circle around me in counter-clockwise motion. Two muscular men wearing bright spandex body suits leap synchronistically across the circle, pausing in mid-air each with each leap. Electrical sparks discharge from their leaps.  Suddenly I’m running—I don’t remember where or why—and  Dr. H says, “Cheptu, take care of Your Son.”

In my dream I am tricked into believing that the initiation is for someone else, but the dream overwrites my psyche, and I become the one being initiated. This is how I have lived most of my life:  gifted with talent, intelligence and charisma in a circle of heartfelt karmic support, yet somehow missing that the party is for me. Trauma and shame supplanted my natural sparkle and the desires of my heart. I settled for a life that was “safe,” but lacking passion.  In my dream, Dr. H stands in the role of the Animus, the male aspect of the Divine; and the son for whom he is concerned is my Soul Boy – the “I Am That I Am” – in all his libido, passion, creativity and power embodied by the leaping men.

In the circle I am exfoliating old, dead skin and being initiated into a new life as the Girl with the freedom of her innocence and the power of her vulnerability.  However, in the circle I can also feel the tension between Divine “sparkiness” and my fear . . . yes, it’s a lot to take in.

          Dream:  I’m teaching music to a class of unruly children who refuse to follow my directions.  I am utterly frustrated—my voice hurting from over-talking, yelling,  cajoling, defending.  I’m tired of the struggle. I’m losing control.

My Soul Boy rebels against being silenced, managed and controlled. I am a great teacher, but in my heart I wanted to be the one on stage performing in music and drama. I regret how I “unlived” much of my life hiding behind “the teacher,” one of the ways I managed my Boy.  I regret what I lost by organizing my circumstances and relationships so that I could never feel or be perceived as powerless or vulnerable.  I was outwardly competent with intolerance for the unknown realm of feelings—I’d run away, first.  I regret the walls I put up to keep from being truly known, even seen.  I’m thankful for the gift of having grown tired of it.

           Dream:  I’m with a man on a long-awaited date to the Opera. I’m feeling very comfortable and enjoying his company. Suddenly he’s yelling expletives about a mother who “beat the crap out of [him] as a child.”

The Animus voices the rage of my Soul Child who knows the truth of abuse and trauma. He curses the Dark Mother energy who took rampage through my psyche, colonized my soul and squelched the opportunities when real joy came into my life. No wonder it was difficult to maintain focus on my passion, because in order to have my passion I would have to deal with scary emotions . . . easier to keep it all stuffed down . . . manage and control the children.  Never sweat. Be ever-vigilant so no one can see my wounds.  The Animus wants me to move on with my life. He shows me that expelling the rage releases the libido.

Through Archetypal Dreamwork I have made alchemical descents through several layers of trauma with the loving support and presence of the Archetypes.  With each new round I experience the kundalini release of once frozen libidinal places and I get to reclaim more of my Soul Boy.

           Dream:   I’m with my students at a library. A woman takes me to another facility that houses an Occupational Therapy Department and a large theatrical space. We pass by a strikingly beautiful young woman whose blue-black skin is dusted with gold powder that makes her gleam. She’s draped in translucent gold lamé fabric; her breasts fully exposed.

The Anima is the female aspect of the Divine. She heals shame. In my dream she redirects me to the “healing theatre” so that I may see what’s possible—the transcendent woman in me, radiant in her sensuality and wholeness.  Fully exposed and she has no shame.  Truly, the past is the past.

          Dream:   I’m outdoors in an ancestral village sitting next to a Pygmy woman.  Something about her draws me— something about her that I understand—maybe her pain. The woman raises her arm towards me, exposing the razor she’s carrying. I grab and immobilize her hand until she drops the blade.

The Pygmy woman provokes me to come to her.  She teaches me that my heart can know her pain because I can now feel my own pain. She holds the story of her tribe—the glory, the suffering and holocaustic loss.  People “cut” when they have unacknowledged pain, however it’s only when we have opened ourselves to our own deepest pain that we can sit with others in their deepest wounding and not run away.   Extraordinary things happen when we heal from our pain . . .  I am becoming the Warrior Woman, the Tribal Healer.

          Dream Reprise:  . . . .  and Dr. H says, “Cheptu, take care of Your Son.”

I get to have it all:  Divine empowerment, love and support; my Soul Boy energy that’s pure and alive; the Soul Girl who knows her desire and longing, and can be in intimate relationship with God; the Warrior Woman; the support of the Archetypes and my Ancestors. There are times that my trauma gets re-triggered, and each time it’s easier to discern that which is dust from the past that I need not react to, project, or internalize.  Each day I dance more freely with the Divine and step further into my new life as a “Soul Theatre” Healer, Vocalist and Songwriter . . .  in my new skin.

 “OPEN MY HEART”

Open my heart to see all your beauty

Open my heart to your power within me

Where’er I go

You know who I am

All the world and heaven await me

If I can stay in my vulnerability

Be with me forevermore and a day

Help me to stay

Help me to stay

Open my heart

Help me stay

Open my heart

Help me to stay

Help me to stay.

©Grace Cheptu, 2012.  All rights reserved.

Welcome

My name is Cheptu. Welcome to my blog, NOW Journey Home.

Bernice Johnson Reagon’s song from the PBS series, “Africans in America,” asks, “What Kind of Land Is This Gon’ Be?” The haunting lyric and rhythm forebode the ultimate vulnerability of a people forcibly displaced from their ancestral home lands that once provided a wealth of happiness, abundance and self-understanding in the context of nature, community and Spirit . . . that brought homeostasis to their lives. In the film, “What Kind of Land?” is sung as enslaved African peoples in chains make their first bare-footed steps onto North American soil where they have been sold into the hands of merchants who treat them as nothing more than chattel and cash crop . . . their perceived ultimate tabula rasa to brand and redefine according to colonial interests.

Several centuries removed, yet the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the trans-generational terror and shame, and its compensatory mechanisms passed into my psyche and lived in my bones, keeping me separated from the love and the power and that I once knew and deserved as a royal daughter of the Divine. My archetypal Soul Girl got trapped in the residuals of an ancestry that involved both the slave owner and the enslaved. Pathology covered me with a hardened shell of independence and aloofness that alienated me from her libido and passion. Yet, despite a legacy seeped in travail and despair, sometimes vibrancy and triumph, and sometimes downright messiness, my heart continued to search for the answer to the question, “What Kind of Land Is This Gon’ Be?” Yet now, not geographical land, but spiritual soulful “land” . . . the imprint of the I AM in me . . . and the seeds I plant in the land for those who will come after me.

Enter my personal journey into the world of the “healing theatre” (i.e., Archetypal Dreamwork) where I am on my “Now Journey Home” to reclaiming my Soul Girl, the one who possessed vintage radiance, power and vulnerability, knowing and trust, and purest relationship with the Divine. As an Archetypal Dreamwork practitioner and student analyst at the North of Eden Center for Archetypal Dreamwork, my experiences have helped me to face into past and present life trauma—not to wallow in it, but to experience the intrapsychic and intercellular release that brings healing to the heart and to the soul. The stone to my cave is rolled away and I can appreciate and function in the greater story of who I AM, and who I AM continually becoming.

Every one of us has our own unique path. What chains enslave you? What colonializes your mind and robs you of your Divine Essence? What separates you from the fullest manifestation of Divine empowerment in your life? Through my blog I will share some of my dream journey. I hope to inspire you and challenge you to trust that the realm of the Divine is here for us and in us, in this life. NOW Journey Home!