The Witch's Forest
All myths are about the transformation of consciousness. The consciousness is transformed through a series of tests and trials, and as our hero progresses on the path, she must eventually confront the greatest trial. In the old western myths, the great trial was the slaying of the dragon. In our Oz story, it is the slaying of the witch. As Dorothy enters the Witch’s forest, representing the gateway for the true spiritual hero, the sign at the entrance reads, “I’d turn back if I were you.” And truthfully most of us do. As we come into our spiritual maturity we will be called to wrestle with our deepest unconscious fears and all the limiting patterns and false beliefs of our small self – the ego –so that we might discover the power and possibilities of our true and divine Self – the Soul.
When we move away from the light, safety and distraction of our outer world and risk entering the darkness of our inner life – that is when the witch appears. Dorothy didn’t get a free pass home from the Wizard. As we prepare to face our unconscious, the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz transforms from the magical wizard into the wise spiritual teacher who sends the seekers on a perilous trial. The Wizard, now appearing as sage teacher, gives Dorothy a task. The task, to bring back the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, requires our heroine to go back into the dark forest with her new level of consciousness to face her greatest fear. She is sent to slay the Witch, as the knights were sent to slay the dragon, as Moses was sent from the fire of the burning bush back to Egypt to confront the power of Pharaoh. As these stories suggest and as Campbell points out, the hero’s journey is not for the “small and meek” or the faint of heart. The hero’s journey is always an adventure fraught with danger where there is no clear path, no security and no guarantees.
As Dorothy moves through the dark forest she is captured by the flying monkeys and imprisoned in the witch’s tower. Dorothy faces all of her deepest fears while locked in the witch’s tower – separation from Auntie Em and Uncle Henry – loss of her beloved dog Toto – and ultimately her own death. But if we can follow our intuition (Toto) and activate our courage (Lion), our passion (Tim Man) and our focus (Scarecrow) for the challenge, we will surrender the fears of the small self and discover the seeds of a deep internal spirituality that recognizes the presence and power of God in ourselves and in all things. With this new awareness we no longer need to be protected or rescued from life; instead we recognize that life is our opportunity to stretch, grow, uncover and evolve beyond what our small self saw as possible. We throw off the confinement of the small self and expand more and more fully into the creative potentials of our true Self. At this stage of the journey we can no longer follow. We must really give birth to our higher Self and learn to live from the very depths of our own interior – our soul.
Weekly Stepping Stones
What experiences have you had in life that have felt like walking into the Witch’s Forest? If the flying monkeys represent your fears and limiting beliefs - what challenges lie in the Witch’s Forest for you to confront? What does the Witch represent for you? What is the fear that stops you from fully expressing who you are?