The Wizard of Oz: A Classic Tale of Better Endings

Like so many, I have loved the movie The Wizard of OZ since childhood.  I guess I like it even more than most, as I have written about Dorothy’s archetypal individuation process—which is what her adventure in Oz is about from an archetypal psychology perspective—in my book Your Life Path (2018, Skyhorse Publishers).   The Scarecrow (unfulfilled or wounded Teacher), Tin Man (unfulfilled Lover) and Cowardly Lion (unfulfilled Warrior), along with Dorothy’s dear animus Toto, are immature facets of Dorothy’s inner persona that she needs to strengthen and integrate in order to develop her own more mature, unified, individuated Self.

I watched it again this week.  Now I can see how the entire story, from the point that Dorothy and Toto are swept Over the Rainbow by the tornadic winds of her internal growing pains, is a ‘better endings’ narrative.  Dorothy’s adventure into the ‘forbidden zone’ of deep unconscious imagery is a chance for her to re-vision her life situation in Kansas (i.e., in the ‘conscious’ state—over the rainbow being her ‘unconscious’ dreamworld–, viz. Jean Houston’s reading) so that, ultimately, she will be able to stand up to the nasty neighbor with wisdom, compassion, and courage, and save her beloved companion Toto.

Me with my own Sophia
(I can identify with Dorothy!)

Significant dreams, as adventures in the realms of the deep ‘Unconscious’, provide an excellent canvas for re-visioning our life situations so we can achieve better endings in our ‘outer’ life. As a species that–at our best–constantly strives for self-transcendence in the form of personal growth and awareness, we are always aiming to forge better endings, every step of the way.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?
– Robert Browning

What’s a Heaven For?


Throughout this year at Life Paths for Better Endings, each month we are conjoining one of twelve universal archetype character types with one positive Life Metaphor, forging an ‘alchemical’ pairing of elements. These conjunctions are to help us manifest Better Endings with respect to our highest values and pursuits. The archetypal energies we are invoking can help us to actualize the Life Metaphor impetus; that is, calling upon the strengths of your intrinsic archetypal character modes can help you realize your highest life values and goals.

Mountain Climber Summit Retro

This month we are pairing February’s astrologically associated IDEALIST archetype with the metaphor Life is a Long and Winding Road.  This feels a very natural conjunction in that sometimes, when the Road feels too long or windy, we can derive needed inspiration from our deepest ‘sense of idealism’.

Corporate Ladder

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,” said Robert Browning, “Or what’s a heaven for?” (“Andrea del Sarto”, line 98).   Let’s call upon our Idealist traits of fortitude and perseverance this week. An ideal or your ultimate Life Dream is worth all the patience and love you can give to gradually realize its highest form of expression.

Like the Monarch butterfly, we cannot be pulled too quickly from our chrysalis of an ideal; only by its own natural struggle toward unfoldment can the strong and healthy, beautiful butterfly emerge from its cocoon.

Digital Painting of a Butterfly

I am reminded of the Buddhist practice of travel via prostration to reach the pilgrimage center of Bodh Gaya where the Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment under a peepul tree.  A monk, e.g. Sherab Gyalsten from Tibet recently (see story), “takes three and a half steps forward, then prostrates flat on the road while chanting mantras. Then he gets up, folds his hands in prayer and repeats the process.” The pilgrimage may take the monk many years to reach the destination. I have seen a documentary about such a monk who arrived after several years to attend a special ceremony at Bodh Gaya. When he arrived he learned the ceremony had been cancelled for that year due to weather conditions. He turned around, prostrated and chanted, and began his journey home.

young Buddhist monks

In what ways are you set upon a Long and Winding Road in your life? How can you draw upon your Idealist strengths to help you to realize your Dream?