The entire story of the Wizard of Oz is an allegorical tale of the soul’s path to illumination – the Yellow Brick Road. In Buddhism (and an important part of Theosophical teachings) the same concept is referred to as the “Golden Path”.
The story starts with Dorothy Gale living in Kansas, which symbolizes the material world, the physical plane where each one of us starts our spiritual journey. Dorothy feels an urge to “go over the rainbow”, to reach the ethereal realm and follow the path to illumination. She has basically “passed the Nadir (lowest point)” by demonstrating the urge to seek a higher truth.
Dorothy is then brought to Oz by a giant cyclone spiraling upward, representing the cycles of karma, the cycle of errors and lessons learned. It also represents the theosophical belief in reincarnation, the round of physical births and deaths of a soul until it is fit to become divine. It is also interesting to note that the Yellow Brick Road of Oz begins as an outwardly expanding spiral. In occult symbolism, this spiral represents the evolving self, the soul ascending from matter into the spirit world.
Before undertaking her journey, Dorothy is given the “silver shoes”, which represent the “silver cord” of Mystery Schools (Dorothy was wearing ruby slippers in the movie due to a last minute change by the director, who thought that the color ruby looked better against the Yellow Brick Road). In occult schools, the silver cord is considered to be the link between our material and spiritual selves.
During her journey along the Yellow Brick road, Dorothy encounters Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion who are respectively searching for a brain, a heart and courage. Those odd characters embody the qualities needed by the initiates in order to complete their quest for illumination.
After surmounting many obstacles, the party finally reaches Emerald city in order to meet The Wizard. Surrounded by artifices and special effects, the Wizard comes across as cruel, rude and unwise. The Wizard is in fact a stand-in for the Old Testament personal God of the Christians and the Jews, the oppressive figure used by conventional religions to keep the masses in spiritual darkness: Jehovah or Yahweh. It is later discovered that the Wizard is a humbug, a charlatan, who scares people into worshipping his Wizard. He surely could not help the characters complete their quest. If you read literature of Mystery schools, this point of view towards Christianity is constantly expressed.
After all is said and done, the brains, the heart and the courage needed to complete Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion’s quests were found within each one of them. Mystery Schools have always taught their students that one must rely on oneself to obtain salvation. Throughout the story Dorothy’s dog Toto represents her “inner voice”; her intuition … The inner Christ. Remember, the Kingdom of God is within you.
The fake Wizard invites Dorothy into his balloon to go back to Kansas, her final destination. She however follows Toto (her intuition) and gets out of the balloon, which represents the empty promises of organized religions. This leads to her ultimate revelation and, with the help of the Good Witch of the North (her divine guide), she finally understands: everything she ever wanted could be found “in her own backyard”.
In order to obtain illumination, Dorothy had to vanquish the wicked witches of the East and the West – who were forming an evil horizontal axis: the material world. She was wise in listening to the advice of the good witches of the North and South – the vertical axis: the spiritual dimension.
At the end of the story, Dorothy wakes up in Kansas: she has successfully combined her physical and spiritual life. She is now comfortable being herself again and, despite her family not really believing the details of her quest (the ignorant profane), she can finally say “There is no place like home”.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.