“There’s no place like home.”
I think that, when we hear that sentence, we all go to the same place in our heads. Dorothy closing her eyes, clicking the heels of her beautiful ruby slippers together and chanting over and over the phrase that brings her back to life in so many ways. A phrase that meant so much to those for whom “home” is the ultimate safe, happy place.
My mother, whose name was Dorothy, was a huge fan of the movie The Wizard of Oz, and of Judy Garland. I grew up watching the movie every year, each time they showed it on television. I can probably recite certain parts of it by heart, even though I haven’t seen it in years. She told me that once, after a minor surgical procedure, as the anesthesia was wearing off, the nurse was saying “Dorothy, wake up! Dorothy… Dorothy, wake up,” and she really wanted to say “There’s no place like home,” but she wasn’t able to. She was quite disappointed about that. When she passed over, I found a brooch in her jewelry box that was the ruby slippers from the movie. That pin made its way into my bone set, and it comes up often, usually for women (though, to be sure, the vast majority of my clients are women). I thought that in this time during which “staying at home” has taken on new meaning, it would be appropriate to blog about the osteomancic significance of the symbolism of the ruby slippers.
The ruby slippers show up relatively early in the movie, just as the format of the film changes from monochrome to “technicolor.” Dorothy and Toto, who are running away from a terrible situation, are swept up in the tornado and end up in Oz, accidently dispatching the Wicked Witch of the East, who was apparently out and about on her broom that day, wearing her best shoes. The Wicked Witch of the West, her sister, is of course disappointed that her sister was killed, but what seems to interest her the most is getting her hands on those magical shoes, which, it is implied, she coveted when her sister was alive. As she reaches out, they disappear, and magically appear on Dorothy’s feet, much to her consternation and concern. She doesn’t want this burden. She feels bad enough about having killed the witch, and now she wears her most prized possession on her feet. This is sure to make her a target.
Why would Glinda do such a thing? Think of Glinda as Dorothy’s highest self. She wants to support her growth. And when does growth happen? Not in our comfort zone, that’s for sure. It happens when we are challenged, pushed, uncomfortable, even placed in peril. Dorothy was about to take a journey that only she could take – she was at a critical crossroads, and it was time to make a decision – stay the same, or move on to the next phase in her spiritual development.
Dorothy gets into the ruby slipper predicament by taking the easy path. When a crisis occurs that puts her face to face with the injustice of the loss of her beloved Toto, she decides to do that which is the hallmark of an immature soul – she packs up and leaves. On the way, she encounters a magician – her empathic side – who shows her how her actions are affecting those she loves, whom she has left behind. It’s empathy that sends her back, helping her to realize that what she does doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Everything we do affects not only those around us, but the Universe as well. She chooses to make a difference by running back to do a good deed. But running back to safety, even with the best intentions, is not the pathway to spiritual growth. Running into the storm is. And so she is swept away, despite her desire, by a compulsion beyond her control. It’s time for her to change, and her path is winding and rough.
So with the magical shoes guiding her steps she begins the Heroine’s journey. She doesn’t yet realize that the Yellow Brick Road is her path to enlightenment. On her way, she confronts her fear and vanquishes it, by taming the Lion. Then she conquers her naivete by recognizing that the reasoned choices which direct her steps bring her closer and closer to her goal (befriending the “brainless” Scarecrow, who is obviously the smartest one in their little group). Finally, she finds her frozen heart alone in the wilderness, made bitter and sad by what she sees as the insensitivity toward the impending loss of her beloved friend. Rather than leaving any of these flawed bits of herself along the road, she befriends and embraces them and allows them to accompany her on what she sees as the road to what she still thinks she really needs – to go home.
At last, knowing that she carried what she needed along with her – courage, intelligence, love, and her beloved – she was ready to face her nemesis. Despite her fears, despite she and her friends being cornered in what seems to be a hopeless situation, she destroys her tormentor, not with malice, but in saving another. She reached her goal when she turned her thoughts away from herself.
Then, when she thought her journey was at an end, she was thrown a curveball. As a child, I was angered by the cruelty of the Wizard, who had promised her that the end of the witch would lead to her salvation. I have been in the position of thinking that “only if” I reached a certain goal, all of my troubles would magically end. It rarely turns out that way in real life, does it? But, armed with her newfound courage and confidence, she stood up to the Wizard, not taking “Go Away” for an answer. She realized that the Wizard’s larger than life personage was simply a smokescreen for who he truly was – an ordinary human, just like so many of us, covering for his own self-doubt by bullying others. When Dorothy exposes him as a fraud, she begins to teach him what she has learned along the way. She teases out his courage, his wisdom and his compassion. And when it’s time for them to leave, to finally realize what she thought was her goal, she remembers why she came and chooses to once again rescue her beloved. At last, she realizes that the most difficult path – giving up something you want most in the world to trade it for what you truly need – is the path to salvation.
Only when Dorothy had given up all hope of ever seeing home again did Glinda have her true mic-drop moment –
“My Dear, you had the power all along.”
At this point it’s obvious why Glinda waited until all the perils of Dorothy’s path had been faced to let her in on the truth – if she had told her immediately that the shoes would take her home, before she gained the wisdom earned through her journey, she wouldn’t have transformed from the frightened, impotent little girl she was when she scooped up Toto and ran away from her problems; into someone in charge of her own life. Now she was a Warrior – the savior to others as well as herself. It was only then that she was able to go home. But not to the same home as before, rather one where her newfound power would help her relate to others, her world and herself much, much differently. From now on she would face her trials as a Heroine: from a place of strength.
When I dowse the ruby slippers into a reading, and it falls upside down, I know the person hearing the message has given up on her or himself, or has given to someone else the power they no longer recognize as their own. I know they feel helpless, without a voice, unable to move forward (a right-side up ruby slipper orientation says you’re moving ahead, and on the right track!). The ruby slippers remind you – YOU ARE POWERFUL! Embrace it.
When we’re “stuck” at home (I’ve heard that phrase from so many of my friends!), our focus must necessarily change; but we’re not losing ground, just getting to know a different part of who we are. We’re getting to know our courage, our mind, our heart. We’re destroying our demons by washing them clean – taking back our power as we watch them melt away. We’re unmasking the man behind the curtain, and seeing he’s just like us inside – just an ordinary soul trying to find his way. We’re realizing, if we’re understanding and internalizing the message, that finding our way back home, with newfound knowledge, isn’t such a bad thing after all. And we’re learning…
“There’s no place like home.”
* ruby slipper bone photo credit – Ginger Soul Photography, Westbrook, ME