The Greek Holon Journey Nine:
"The Wizard of Oz" Continues
Under an Ancient Tree on Mount Pelion, listening to Jean retell the story of the Wizard of Oz, we have each begun to revisit our life as a heroic journey. Finding where we are now in the story will give us fresh insight about where we must go, what we must do, what needs to happen next.
The Road of Trials, the Belly of the Whale
Dorothy is offered Guidance, but not a map. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” What in the Hero’s journey is a road of trials, often for the heroine includes a time of what Joseph Campbell calls being in the “belly of the whale”. In "The Wizard of Oz", this is symbolized by the poppy fields where Dorothy and her three companions suddenly fall deeply asleep under the spell of the Wicked Witch.
asleep in the poppy fields
The Belly of the Whale takes us by surprise, for just when we know what we must do, just when we manage to fool the guardian and pass the gate, we find ourselves blindsided… by a depression, an ingression, a call to the depths of being. Though we are clear about our mission, we are not yet prepared.
The Belly of the Whale gives us preparatory time, time for deep inner work. We enter our own depths, the source place for all endeavours. Find your form for this inner work: drawing or dance or journaling or music or drumming or nature or working with an archetype. “You may not know what your archetypal guidance is, but your archetypal guidance knows who you are.” (Jean Houston) When you discover who your archetype is, you have guidance. You are put on the path.
Live in the Temple of Inner Abundance where you are in the womb of your new becoming. Choose your daily practice and be faithful.
Assisted by her friends, Dorothy wakens and all four approach the Emerald City.
Once again they face a guardian at the gate who will not allow them to see the Wizard. Dorothy’s tears as she speaks of her longing to see her Aunt Em break down his resistance. Yet the Wizard, when they at last meet him, refuses to grant their request until they fulfill an impossible task: "Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West!"
The challenge here is to discover the task that you never believed you could do, but the Wizard of the inner sanctum of yourself always knew you could, and if you did, would change the nature of your belief about yourself….Your inner Wizard…the Friend, stands before you and asks you to recall the “impossible things” you have done….
Now the Friend-Wizard asks you to consider what “impossible things” you have yet to do in the near future. The Friend-Wizard also asks you to imagine as vividly as you can actually doing it, with all the difficulties and acts of courage that it may require. Remember that you have allies, a Protector and the Friend to help and accompany you.
(Jean Houston in The Power of Myth and Living Mythically p.202)
Emergence with Amplified Power
You discover now that your expectations become magnets, drawing to you what you need for your task, your life work. You have entered the path of wisdom, and with her come all good things. You experience the grace of ABBONDANZA. You are moving into the fullness of life. Your entelechy holds the seed of what you truly are and draws you into the magic and mystery of being “a local outcropping of the Godself in time”. (JH)
The life force of Toto (“Run, Toto, Run), the support and cleverness of her three friends, and finally the life force of water accomplish the impossible. Dorothy and her companions return to the Wizard in triumph.
Returning home to a Kansas that may not have changed, Dorothy discovers that the real change is within herself. She has met and integrated her intelligence, her compassionate heart and her courage.
Now she is ready for her great task of greening the wasteland.
The Greek Holon Journey Eight:
"The Wizard of Oz" Under an Ancient Tree
Communion Reflection January 12, 2021
It is afternoon of the day when we wakened early to watch the eclipse of the Blood Moon. The magic still lingers. The eclipse had looked like great branches of light, inviting us, as Jean had said, into the next level of our human becoming, activating our essential humanness as it moves to its next possibility.
Now we are about to explore our lives, to see them as heroic journeys, to discover that next level of our human becoming, that next possibility that awaits.
Massive branches hover protectively above us as we gather beneath the ancient plane tree in the courtyard of St. Paraskevi Church on Mount Pelion. The tree is older than the story we are about to hear, older than the storyteller, older than the listeners.
Jean is going to take us through the story of “The Wizard of Oz”, to illustrate the stages of the heroic journey, using the framework created by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The first stage is the CALL.
In the film version of the story we see Dorothy in a dying wasteland, living on a farm in a dust bowl with an aunt and uncle as grey as their home, so focused on counting their chickens that they cannot hear Dorothy’s cries for help. The only life in the scene is Toto and when he is threatened by Miss Gulch, Dorothy becomes desperate, longing for a new place, a place of safety and happiness, “somewhere over the rainbow”.
Miss Gulch arrives and takes Toto away. When the little dog escapes, Dorothy determines they must run away. They don’t get far. Professor Marvel receives them with kindness and understanding, then urges Dorothy to return home as her Aunt Em is sick with worry over her. That might have been the end of Dorothy’s search for a new life… the end of longing, the refusal of a call that feels impossible….
But then comes the twister, the twist of fate that knocks her on the head, picks up the house and carries it with Dorothy and Toto inside, to Oz.
So this is where our journey begins: the call to leave a way of life that we have outgrown, followed by a refusal… because we can’t find our way or we don’t feel ready or we must put it off until we have placated Aunt Em….
Then fate steps in and, ready or not, we are on our way!
"What emotional or psychological twisters have you brought on yourself in order to get away from Kansas?....Taking on a twister is what human beings often do to get from here to there. And sometimes twisters just arrive on their own steam." (Jean Houston in The Power of Myth and Living Mythically pp.183-4)
What call allures us now?
What are our reasons for refusing?
Meeting the Guide, Crossing the Threshold
In the heroic journey, following the hearing and refusal of the call, Joseph Campbell found that the hero(ine) was given a guide, a supernatural helper to assist in crossing the threshold, which was guarded by a fierce presence.
Arriving in Oz, Dorothy meets Glinda, the wise friend who can guide her steps in this wondrous strange land.
Glinda is the archetype of the benign protector, a figure who appears in all myths. It is a figure that lives in everyone. In fact, look inside now and ask for your Protector to come forward. You may feel or sense their presence in many ways….You can even begin by imagining a radiant bubble of light coming toward you, and then opening up to reveal…who? (Jean Houston p.187)
Glinda will be Dorothy’s protector. The ferocious Witch of the West is determined to punish the girl who killed her sister by dropping a house upon the Witch of the East.
In addition to Glinda, Dorothy will gather three more allies: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion who will assist her in what has become her quest: to find her way home, even as she will assist each of them in his quest. ( to be continued)
Communion of Creative Fire Reflection for Epiphany
January 5, 2021
“Weaving a Spirituality for our Time on the Loom of our Lives”
What is it about early January and especially the Feast of the Epiphany that sends us into the heart of our lives with questions? What is my deepest desire for this New Year? What star am I to follow? How can I, like Brigid of Kildare, FOCUS on what matters most? And this year a new question rises with urgency: While the Corona Virus continues to bring suffering and death, how may my life offer compassion and light to others in the midst of planetary darkness?
Even in lockdown, even in these times when we are limited in our contacts, the primary commitments of our lives remain. Yet there are as well so many paths opening for our engagement: a multitude of ZOOM courses, summits, gatherings, many with a spiritual focus…
If you find it bewildering, you are not alone.
When the snowfall on New Year’s night finally created a white wonderland around my home, I paced out a snow labyrinth, rudimentary, three intersecting spirals. I walked it, holding my confusion, asking, “What am I to do? How am I to choose among so many activities? Where shall I focus my energy? What is most important in my life?"
When I reached the heart centre of the labyrinth, I stood listening, still unsure, but as I walked out an answer arose, so simple I might have dismissed it… the labyrinth itself showed me. "Choose from your heart centre. What do you love most?"
Suddenly it was easy. Inside, I drew a labyrinth with three spirals: in one I printed: “The Communion of Creative Fire”; in the second, “Dancing the Womb of Compassion Course with Banafsheh" and “Singing the Dawn”, the novel I’ve been writing for four years, to be completed by Brigid’s Feast, February 1st.
These three involvements will shape my days, have already begun to do so.
And so here in the Communion of Creative Fire, we take up our task once more, dear friends. We sit down at our looms and choose the coloured yarns for the weaving of a spirituality for our time. We know what we are about, our hands are strong, supple, as we select the shades, the textures, the combinations that harmonize best. We include the dark threads as well as the golden, the soft fibres as well as the tough. We know this weaving requires it all... the warm rose madder of love, that stretches across the universe for three trillion miles in a NASA photograph…
the gold of wisdom, polished to glowing through times of suffering and loss… the deep purple threads that remind us that 96% of the universe , including ourselves, dwells in darkness… invisible threads of beauty wind themselves into the spaces between the weaving: music, song, dance, poetry, stories, the threads of the relationships that give meaning to our lives… and our weaver’s shuttle moves with ease between ancient wisdom, and the edges of mystic knowings of today’s physicists.
The ancient weavers were women, and as they wove, I believe they created and shared stories that wove meaning through their lives. The fragments of these tales that still remain reveal their ways of knowing… their understandings of love, of wisdom, of darkness, of suffering. Listening to these tales while we do our own weaving lends enchantment, as well as clarity.
Here is an old Scottish tale: “The Stolen Bairn and the Sidh.” It is a story that never fails to inspire me anew to commit my life to what matters most.
By the fireside of an ancient gypsy woman, there sits a young woman, barely twenty. Exhaustion and grief have bowed her, stolen light from her lovely sea-green eyes. For weeks, she has been wandering the moors, knocking on every croft door, walking through towns, seeking everywhere for her small son. His father is dead. The little boy is all she has left in the world and she loves him desperately. This gypsy woman, known for her deep wisdom, is her last hope.
The old woman stands, takes a handful of dried herbs from a cauldron at her side, throws them on the fire. After studying the dim patterns of smoke, she reaches for the young woman’s hand, and holding it between her two gnarled ones, she speaks gently: “Prepare yourself for great sorrow. Your child has been taken by the Sidh, the fairy folk of Ireland, into their Sidhean. What goes into the Sidhean seldom emerges.”
The young woman begins to weep. “I may as well die, for without my child, I have nothing to live for.”
“Do not despair. I see one hope. The Sidh have a great love of beautiful things; yet, for all their cleverness, they are unable to create anything, so must either steal or bargain for what they desire. If you could find an object of immense beauty, you might be able to bargain with them to regain your son.”
“But how shall I get inside their Sidhean?” the woman asked.
“Ah,” said the gypsy. “You shall need a second thing of great beauty to bargain your way inside.”
Then the gypsy woman gave her directions to find the Sidhean, blessing her with a protection against harm by fire, air, water and earth. The young woman slept deeply that night. When she wakened, the old Gypsy woman and all her people were gone, and the place of encampment was an empty field.
The young woman drank water from a sweet stream, ate some bread given her by the gypsies. Then she lay in the grass and wept. How could she do this impossible thing that was asked of her? After a time, the flow of tears dried, and a light wakened within her. She thought: “ I shall need not one but two things of incomparable beauty.” She set her mind to remembering all the lovely things she had heard about. Of all, she chose two: the white cloak of Nechtan, and the golden harp of Wrad.
With sudden clarity, she knew what she must do. She stood, began walking towards the sea.
She clambered among the rocks at the shore, gathering the down left by the ducks. And the blessing of the gypsy protectee her from harm by the waves, the wind, the sun’s fire and the sharp rocks.
She sat on a large stone to weave the down into a cloak. She cut a strand of her her hair with a sharp rock. With it she wove a pattern of fruits, flowers and vines through the hem. The cloak was so beautiful it might have been a white cloud fallen from the sky. She hid the cloak behind a gorse bush, then walked the shoreline until she found a frame for her harp, a fish bone just the right size and and shape. With strands of her hair, she made the strings fast to the frame, then tightened and tuned them. The sound of the melody she played was so lovely that the birds of the air paused in mid-flight to listen.
She placed the cloak around her, and carrying her harp, set out for the Sidhean.
A Sidh woman, arriving late, rushing towards the opening in the hill, saw her. Mouth agape, eyes burning with greed, the fairy gazed at the cloak. A bargain was struck. The fairy woman allowed her to enter in exchange for the cloak. The other Sidh folk were so enthralled by the cloak the fairy woman wore that they did not notice as the young woman walked into the throne room and began to play her harp before the King. The king’s eyes grew wide in amazement, then narrow in greed.
“I have many harps ,” said the King, pretending disinterest, “ but I have a mind to add that to my collectiotn. What will you take in exchange for it? ”
The young woman said “Give me the human child you have here.”
The King whispered to his servants who brought a great caulron of jewels, which they poured at her feet. But she would not look. “Only the child,” she said. The servants came a second time with a cauldron of gold pieces. Again she did not look, but played on her harp a tune of such love and longing that the King was overcome.
The servants were sent out and returned carrying the child. When he saw his mother, he gurgled with delight, and stretched out his arms to her. Letting the harp be taken from her, she lifted her arms to receive him. Then she walked with him out of the Sidhean.
How does this story speak to your own life? What is the one thing for which you would give all?
The woman created what she needed, two things of incomparable beauty, using what the seashore offered, and even her own hair… how do we create what is needed from the substance of our lives?