The Divine Child within us is the deep part of who we are. It’s what the Jewish scriptures call the “image of God.” King, Warrior, Magician, Loverby Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette says:
the Divine Child is a vital aspect of the Archetypal Self … the source of life. It possesses magical, empowering qualities, and getting in touch with it produces an enormous sense of well-being, enthusiasm for life, and great peace and joy…
Our culture works hard to convince us, from when we are very young, that the things the Divine Child within us lives in – things like play and dreaming and creativity – are wasteful and wrong, because they do not serve the greater good. The “greater good” is characterized by seriousness and productivity. It has no room for the Divine Child.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy represents this Divine Child within us. She loves. She has hope. Her greatest desires are to reach home, to create community, to care for the oppressed.
The Wicked Witch of the West represents the seriousness and productivity of this world. Her stone and metal castle is dark and dour. She rules over her servants with fear and authoritarianism. The only fun she has is when she’s going to subjugate someone.
Dorothy sings and dances; the Witch glowers and seethes. Dorothy weeps; the Witch threatens. Dorothy heals others; the Witch seeks vengeance. Dorothy has friends; the Witch has slaves. These are two parts of ourselves: Dorothy, the Divine Child, the Image-Of-God within us; and the Witch, the learned impetus within us to shut down, co-opt, commodify and destroy the Divine Child.
But Dorothy is strong, and hard to kill. She refuses to give in to the Wicked Witch’s threats; instead, she empowers her friends: freedom for the Munchkins; strength in the face of the Cowardly Lion’s fear; love even with the Tin Man’s stuckness and rust; purpose amidst the Scarecrow’s straw and emptiness.
(The serious and productive System envies the energy and playfulness that the Divine Child radiates. It’s not an accident that the Witch is green. As in, green with envy: envy of Dorothy’s magic, her ruby slippers, her youth, her beauty, her power. That’s why the Witch has to kill her.)
The Witch’s weapon is fire, at its most destructive. She appears in Munchkinland in a fiery cloud. She throws fireballs at Dorothy’s friends. She posts her message in the sky with smoke. Her castle is lit by fiery torches. And she approaches the Scarecrow to kill him with her broom on fire.
Dorothy’s weapon against the Witch, on the other hand, is water. This matters partly because Dorothy’s homeworld is the Depression-era dustbowl of Kansas. Everything’s brown and dry there – but in Oz, there are fountains and rivers and grass and flowers. Dorothy, from the seeming waterless world, is surrounded by (and therefore embodies) life and fertility. When the Witch attacks the Scarecrow, Dorothy throws a bucket of water – not to harm her enemy, but to save her friend. The water, a symbol of life and purity, kills the Witch; it turns out, not surprisingly, that the Witch was, all along, insubstantial, fragile, and afraid. She melts.
I think that a big part of the work of the Soul is to be inspired by what Dorothy represents within us, and ask the Divine Child to melt what the Witch represents within us. If you’re like me, this process gets repeated many times in my life, or in a season, or even in a day. I have to remember that one of these is a life-giver, and the other is a death-bringer; one is real, and the other is fake; one is the presence of God within me, and the other is the fear-based messages of the world …
and that I have been told my whole life to honor the wrong one.
The Wizard is no better, except that, unlike the Wicked Witch of the West who is a true believer, he knows he’s full of shit. Which in some ways makes him even worse. That’s why he’s working so hard to maintain this façade behind which he hides, afraid to be discovered. He has everyone fooled … except Toto.
The Wizard also uses fire – but it’s false fire, smoke-and-mirrors, just for show. The fakery of Show Business and Wall Street. Asshole.
That doesn’t mean fire isn’t also a symbol of Life – it can be – but in this story it represents the destructive power that resists and tries to destroy new growth.