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, and accompanies the Soul’s journey to the underworld. 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. I have heard it said, “If don’t have dreams that induce your fear, then you’re not living big enough.” Watch when those forces come; pay attention to the ways you try to manage them, or manage your fear of them. Let go…surrender!

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 the story, the Wiz is a bit of a trickster. In her dream the Wiz/Animus doesn’t immediately grant her wish to go home, but instead, instructs her to kill Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Maybe there is some dark energy in Dorothy’s psyche that she needs to deal with, to be cleansed of before she can go “home.” We all have shadow material, blind spots, misperceptions and beliefs that rule our lives and feed our doubts and fears. Yes, killing and death is essential to 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…whatever is the thing that 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?  Your dreams will guide you, help you to confront the parts of you that 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, with the support of the supportive Archetypes around her (Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man, Toto). In the story, Dorothy triumphantly takes to the Wiz proof that she has killed off the dark energy (Evilene), and in comes Glinda the Good Witch, as the Anima (archetype representing the healing feminine aspect of the Divine), who delivers the healing medicine…that Dorothy’s power to go home resided in her…that she had it all along. There is a new Dorothy, restored to her true self who knows her power, creativity, courage, and passion…and she no longer needs to believe the lie that others have it, but she can’t have it for herself. She can now return home with more focus and appreciation for all that she has, all that she is, and more.

My own journey is a process of rediscovering and reclaiming 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.