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Home is Where the Dog Is

In the past ten years I have been teaching The Wizard of Oz to my college LIT students, sometimes three classes per semester, two or three semesters a year, and in recent years,instead of paying attention to the film itself (a film whose dialogue is etched in my memory), I pay more attention to student reactions and responses. Once Dorothy hooks up with her companions along the yellow brick road (a symbol of the third chakra, our core self), we see that each character is not searching for an object like a heart or a brain but is searching for an integral part of himself: chakra he thinks he is missing. Of course we know that no chakras are missing; they just have not been activated in the characters' consciousness. This pretty much parallels the way we live our lives in a mundane world polluted by noise that keeps us from our spiritual selves. Who leads us to our spiritual selves in this film? The same creature who leads all us sharing this blog: Toto, the dog. He is the propeller of the Divine.
Who causes Dorothy to leave home in the first place? A naughty Toto exploring Elmira Gulch's garden. Who leads the trio of her companions to the tower (symbol of the unconsious) where she is kept prisoner? A fearless Toto. Who ultimately unmasks the wizard as a fraud? An all-knowing Toto. And who prevents Dorothy from taking the easy route home in a hot air balloon? Toto, who leaps out of the balloon as it ascends, forcing Dorothy out after him, where she must learn her ultimate lesson: that there are no gurus, there are no greener pastures, that all she ever needs to survive is what she already possesses. Toto is her spiritual teacher in every regard.
Over the years, I've been monitoring student response to these characters and find, surprisingly, that my student reactions differ greatly from mine. They overwhelmingly identify the Cowardly Lion as their favorite character. I, however, water like a fountain every time (and I've seen this more more than 100 times) Dorothy has to part ways with the Scarecrow, her first, completely unselfish, and most loyal companion. Go ahead. Point out how this translates in my own life.
That's exactly what I invite you to do on October 22 at the Crystal Garden in Boynton Beach, where I'll be facilitating a worskshop on this very subject. We will talk about shamanism, mythology, and the chakra system, watch the film, and then see where in our own lives we most identify with the characters so we can fix what we think may be broken. I hope to see you there! Feel free to call me at 954-680-5759 with questions, or call The Crystal Garden at 561-369-2836.


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Visual and Visionary Part 2: The Images

The Grief of the Pasha

by Jean Leone Gerome

The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau

The Bear Dance by
William Holbrook Beard

Spirit Wolf
by Susan Seddon Boulet

Calico Kitty by Georg Williams

Blue Dog (the original)
by George Rodrigue

Bodo Flying through the Night
by Martin LaBorde