Follow the Yellow Brick Road from Old Stories to New Insights


Follow the yellow brick road… This phrase is so familiar that it’s become a part of our modern day conversation. We all know what it means. All we need to do is follow the obvious path, which will lead to the desired destination.

The Wizard of Oz story is about following the yellow brick road home. It’s a symbolic map of an unfamiliar inner terrain. The destination is the heart. This old story provides fresh opportunities to generate new insights and to help us navigate challenges with greater ease and grace.

I did my practicum for a counseling degree in suburban Philadelphia. The alcohol and drug rehab center was located in an upscale neighborhood. It was a nondescript red brick building, surrounded by lush green lawns, trees, and landscaped with shrubs and flowers. It was the kind of place you might drive by a hundred times and not even notice it was there.

My supervisor handed me two books on my first day. I glanced at the covers. The books on drug and alcohol abuse looked less than interesting. You might keep them on the shelf as a reference, but not actually read them. They were the kind of books with statistics, names of drugs, and how they are abused. I thanked her and quietly put them in my bag. She gave me a tour of the place and then left me into a big room to hear the daily “talk” given by one of the counselors.

The counselor was a big burly man. He looked more like a boy’s high school football coach than a counselor. He talked about probabilities. How slim the chances were that any of them would succeed in finding a way out of their addictions. I remember that talk from the first day of college. “Look to your left and right, only one of you will graduate.” I guess it’s supposed to inspire you to work hard, but I walked out of the talk and felt disheartened for the residents. It seemed like the counselors had lost faith. My advisor informed me that afternoon that I would give the talk on my next day of work.

Most of the people in the center were not from the area. They lived in places where crime and poverty were a way of life. They spoke of rape, murder, and the loss of their children in group sessions. They believed what they heard in the talk because that was their reality.

I did not read the book, because I wanted to remain optimistic about their future, and picked the Wizard of Oz for a topic.

I first discussed symbolism and gave them a general sense of how to understand the story  symbolically. Then, I wrote the four main character names on the board, asked what each was searching for, and had them pick a character they most identified with. Each group went into a different corner of the room to talk about what their character would say about their addictions.

I stood in the middle of the room at the podium with about fifty people scattered around the room. I looked at the groups and realized each character group was similar in appearance. The Lion group was soft and a bit heavier. You could imagine talking to one of them for a few minutes and then wanting to give them a hug. They were more interested in feelings. The Tin Men were the work out guys, all muscle, with rolled up sleeves, and trim haircuts. They were the tough guys and their interest was action. The Scarecrow group was taller and thinner. They were more likely to be wearing glasses and focused on insights. Then there was the Dorothy group of two. One young guy was an African American of medium build. The other was a young slim white woman in her early twenties. I found them to be the most fascinating and hardest to categorize.

Each group picked a spokesperson, returned to their seats, and presented their findings. It’s been too many years since this happened to remember the details of what was said, but I remember the excitement in their applause. The Tin Men hurried out, the Scarecrows continued talking among themselves, a few of the Lions came up for a hug and thanked me. The two Dorothy’s were lost in the crowd.

I hoped that the people were able to connect with their character in the story and leave the talk with more faith in themselves and their future. I didn’t want them to believe they were statistics from a worn out alcohol and drug rehab book, but were living breathing characters in a fascinating story, able to generate fresh new insights into their situations. I hoped they saw that the home they were searching for in a bottle or pill was right there inside them all along.

Which character would you choose? What insights would that character offer to you about your situation? Your life? Are you living the fascinating story that is your life? Have you made the journey to discover your inner home? Or are you still looking for it in the world?





A Radical Shift: Seeing Women as Powerful.

Eve-Mother of All

We turned CNN on when the women were marching in Washington. I wasn’t interested in going until my friend Teresa texted me. She said, “Do you see what’s happening in Washington? The feminine is rising.” As I read her text, my hair stood on end. I was surprised I hadn’t seen it myself, since almost all of my work is with symbolism. Within an hour my bag was packed and we were on our way to Washington…

The Wonder Woman movie is doing incredibly well at the box office. The comment I have seen most frequently is that of moviegoers who are perplexed about their own tears during the battle scenes. The sight of a woman in that situation has been an emotional experience for many…

In Arrival, the main female character is the one who learns how to communicate with what is unknown. This is from the blog I wrote on December 6, 2016:

I sat in the theater watching the new movie Arrival with tears streaming down my face. I had been thinking since working on my dissertation about the birth of a new world. I knew it required a new language, but couldn’t seem to get beyond just knowing that, to understanding what it meant. In the movie they said when you immerse yourself in a new language you take on a new world view. The language in the movie was universal and not based in duality.

Arrival’s main character is female and she is the one that learns a new language and takes on an entirely new world view that is not masculine oriented. The starring roles were women in the recent movie Hidden Figures. They were always a part of the American space story, but many of us just didn’t know about them. They played critical roles in space exploration…

Those of us in Depth Psychology are rejoicing. Our founders have been referring to the necessity of reclaiming and revaluing the feminine for many years. Films and stories are indications of what is happening in the collective unconscious. The success of these movies suggests that there may be a deep shift taking place.

In addition to these movies, there is the statue of the defiant little girl on Wall Street that has created quite a controversial stir. This little girl, may be perceived symbolically as the new feminine standing up to patriarchal materialism, the “bull in the china shop,” saying, “Stop!”

We are seeing the feminine in a new light and as an important part of the transformation under way.

I saw signs of this feminine emergence in my own evolving work. In one project I am writing symbolic interpretations of fairy tales. Through this work, I discovered that what had been seen as the passive heroine waiting for the prince, was her taking back her own masculine power. What had been interpreted as the devouring, evil, Negative (Step) Mother (or Witch) was an initiatory Goddess bringing her daughters, or the young feminine in all of us, to consciousness. Her intention wasn’t to kill us, it was, it is, to free us.

This emerging feminine appeared also in my dissertation. I wasn’t expecting it, but was intuitively guided to the Nag Hammadi and the Bible to symbolically interpret the Christian story in a new way. An example was the story of Lot’s wife. I have always heard it said that she was punished for “not listening.” As I re-interpreted the story symbolically, like a dream, through a depth psychological lens, I saw it very differently. She wasn’t punished, but became a powerful woman. A pillar, standing strong and firm on her own. Enlightened. Lot’s wife.

My dissertation research revealed that the feminine that was hidden, misinterpreted, or omitted all together. Let’s just say, I kind of put the powerful feminine back into the story.

We are seeing old stories in a new way, bringing what was hidden out into the open, and revaluing our own feminine as she emerges into consciousness.

I love the symbol of the Statue of Liberty. She stands tall on Staten Island and welcomed immigrants to American shores. She was a gift from the French as they felt a kinship with our revolutionary spirit. They knew and wanted us to remember as well that freedom was not to be found at the point of the sword. Lady Liberty holds her torch aloft, welcoming all as she carries the declaration of independence. The feminine is the way to freedom. We are seeing her rise now.

Initiatory Experiences to Awaken the Soul.



A little girl

Sad downcast eyes

Peers from behind

The bars of her cage


Be small

Don’t breathe

Don’t move

They said


She was good

So she crumpled

Into a heap

Upon the floor


This is Cinderella. When her Good Mother was on her deathbed, she told Cinderella, “Be a good girl.” And so she was.


One day

She could be

Small no more

And raised her eyes



From that place

Hands together

With deep earnestness

She began


Dear Spirit

Up in the sky

Please send help

I need to fly


Her prayer was heard and answered. They sent the mean Stepmother and two ugly Stepsisters to Cinderella. We might think that this is when Cinderella’s life took a turn for the worse, but there is another way to see this. We can perceive the Stepmother as Cinderella’s initiator.

Cinderella is a more modern version of an older story. If we go back to the myths, we find Psyche (Greek for soul) being initiated by Aphrodite (Goddess of Love). Why would the Goddess of Love wish to initiate the soul? Well, the myth tells us it was because the people of the time had lost touch with the Goddess, Her temples were neglected, and She was forgotten. Instead, people looked to a human as Her replacement and worshiped a mere mortal as an incarnation of the Divine.

The myth tells us Aphrodite was angry about this and wanted to take Her anger out on the innocent and helpless Psyche by giving her tasks to complete. Some versions of the story say She is trying to kill Psyche, but it’s not the soul She is attempting to obliterate. It is the ego.

Psyche felt overwhelmed by every task, until that is, she came to the final task. She had to retrieve a box of beauty from Persephone in the Underworld and take it to Aphrodite. This symbolizes bringing the unconscious beauty that is in the care of the Goddess into the light of day, or to consciousness. In order to complete the task, Psyche was told not to look into the box. She couldn’t resist though and decided to take just a bit of the Goddess’s beauty ointment for herself. She thought it might help her win back her husband Eros, the God of Love.

When she opened the box, she fell into a death like sleep. This has been interpreted as Psyche making a mistake, which caused her to fall unconscious, but I don’t see it that way. She finally stepped into her power, looked in the box and saw her full beauty, which was unconscious. She dared to take what she wanted. She saw the truth of who she was, saw her value and Divine origins, in the light of day. It’s brought to consciousness. She did not fall into a state of unconsciousness, as some believe, but her ego was realized as an illusion and what she discovered was her own Divinity.

She realized in that moment that she, Psyche, the soul, was not a mortal, but a Goddess. She understood that she was an equal to her husband, who was a God. She recognized in her wholeness that nothing was missing, or needed to be added. She saw her inner hidden beauty. She opened the box, and He (Eros) emerged from hiding, wiped the sleep from Her now Divine eyes, and married her on Olympus surrounded by the Gods and Goddesses. The only way they could have been married was if they were equal, the soul and the God of Love.

Cinderella was initiated by the Mean Stepmother in order to experience her true nature and find the Divine within. The only way she could have married a Prince and become a Princess was if she had found the inner truth first. Cinderella represents the soul that discovers it is not the human story of the ego, but something else entirely. The soul is and always was untouched by the world of form. The Prince is the God of Love and husband of the soul. When the soul remembers its Divine origin, the two are united as One.

The experiences that are the most trying can be looked at as opportunities to see beyond our limitations and move beyond ideas of being good. Stories and dreams can be road maps for the journey that reveal deeper meanings to us. They guide us to the Truth of our being. We are being initiated by the Goddess to look inside and awaken our souls to their Divine origins.



Reaching for the Ineffable

3-2 FishEye

The inhalation begins, as the eye unfolds, opening, a lifting of the lid, and the winged fish emerges from the ocean’s depths with the rising sun. The winged fish reaches its apex, it turns to begin its descent, as the eyelid slides down across the eye, the exhalation releases, and a gentle splash is heard as the winged fish leads the sun into the still, silent depths of the Unknown.

Reaching for the Ineffable

This post is a duplicate because I could not get the photo in this one to post when the blog was shared….

3-2 FishEye

The inhalation begins, as the eye unfolds, opening, a lifting of the lid, and the winged fish emerges from the ocean’s depths with the rising sun. The winged fish reaches its apex, it turns to begin its descent, as the eyelid slides down across the eye, the exhalation releases, and a gentle splash is heard as the winged fish leads the sun into the still, silent depths of the Unknown.

The Poetic Language of the Soul


I had the following dream in my twenties:

A group of us are being held hostage by several men. We all lay on the deck at the front of a cottage in the middle of a field. The men sit inside watching us. We have to jump up and catch a transistor flying through the air when no one is looking to gain our freedom. I do this and am released. I walk toward the woods.

Dreams come for the benefit of the soul, not the mind. They speak in the soul’s symbolic language and not the mind’s literal language. This is also true for myth, fairy tales, stories, and the things related to the life of the soul.

There is usually one literal meaning to something, but several possible meanings when symbolism is involved.

One possible meaning of the above dream is that the mind was holding me hostage. That I needed to be still until I received information that wasn’t coming from a material source to win my freedom. I had to catch the information floating on the airwaves, which could mean intuition. The masculine says, “This is what you need to do to win your freedom,” be still, wait until the right time, listen, and make your move. Listen for the still, quiet voice to learn something essential to our freedom.

What appears on the surface as being held hostage by someone or something, can take on a deeper meaning when we see that what seems to be one thing is something else entirely. More specifically, we interpret the situation as being held against my will, but in the end I win my freedom. If I hadn’t been held, I might not have opened myself to intuition and won my freedom from the patriarchy, mind, or however it might be interpreted.

Dreams are like fairy tales. This dream theme appears repeatedly in fairy tales. Dorothy is held hostage by the Wicked Witch, Cinderella by her Stepmother, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty by the Beast, Rapunzel by the Old Woman, the mythic Psyche by Eros (then Venus) and Persephone by Hades, Hansel and Gretel by the Witch. None of these characters are free at some point in their story.

When we look at stories literally, we miss the deeper meaning. If the stories were about young women who were in these situations, then we would say this is about the poor heroine as a victim who waits for the prince (in some stories) to set her free. As you may have noticed by the range of stories I have included, they aren’t all rescued by a prince. If we look at them symbolically, none are.

If we read about Dorothy talking to the Tin Man, we don’t say, “She’s psychotic.” We often say it’s pretend, a story, entertainment. What if this is Dorothy conversing with the part of herself that has lost touch with her heart? The part of her that says, “Work, work, work, more, harder, faster, to get what you want.” In the process, she got stuck, and lost contact with her own heart, love, and her soul.

What if the stories weren’t meant to be taken literally? What if they were not intended for the mind but for the soul? What if the stories, like dreams, were in the language of the soul and were about the soul’s freedom from the conditioning of the patriarchal culture?

The soul thrives on depth. Deeper meaning, being, interaction with nature that comes from open and aware engagement. It is nourished by poetry, beauty, and love. Not superficial beauty, love, and stories, but stories, love, and beauty that does not conform to the culture’s ideas of what has value. They reach through the doorway of symbolic language to a deeper truth and meaning to nourish and assist in the growth of the soul.

Defy the Authorities and Follow Your Heart


I dreamt of my stepmother a few nights ago. She was sleeping in the dream, but then awoke, and threw a bunch of shotguns on the floor. It was unusual for her to appear in my dream, but she often shows up when I am pondering the role of the so-called “evil” Witch and Stepmother characters in fairy tales, which I was doing the day before the dream. The Witch and the Stepmother in fairy tales are the shadow feminine.

The shadow feminine is the unconscious aspect of the heroine. The part of herself that she projects onto those around her and they are to blame for her lack of progress. The Witch and Stepmother initially served a purpose. They are the part of us that learned the rules in childhood in order to protect us. When you were ten and languishing in front of the television, they sounded the alarm, “Mom will be home soon. You better get up and finish your chores before she gets back or she is going to be angry.” They were your protectors.

The Wicked Witch was a Warrior in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy saw herself as a helpless Victim when her house landed on the first Wicked Witch and killed her. Then, later in the story, she was devastated when the Wizard told her she had to kill the second Wicked Witch in order to get home. How could she, a helpless little girl, kill anyone? She couldn’t even imagine it.

As Dorothy and her friends approached the Witch’s castle, the Witch in defend and protect mode, repeatedly tried to stop them. Finally, the Witch took Dorothy and the Lion hostage, had the stuffing pulled from the Scarecrow, and damaged the Tinman by having him dropped from high in the sky.

The Witch made Dorothy work in the kitchen and caged the Lion. She repeatedly tried to steal Dorothy’s silver shoes, which eventually made Dorothy so angry she threw water on the Witch, which melted her. This is symbolic of the emotions that can melt the defensiveness and protection we have utilized throughout life. Acceptance of the difficult feelings as they arise will melt the inner Witch. This also moved Dorothy out of the Victim role as she integrated the anger the Witch carried and accepted it as a part of herself. This empowered her to act on her own behalf.

Cinderella played the Victim role with her Stepmother and Stepsisters who endlessly taunted her. They constantly created extra work for her, so she could never rest. They ridiculed her and made her feel as though she was never enough. She would never meet her Stepmother’s expectations in order to be free to do as she pleased.

These women are the inner voices that tell us there is always more work to be done. They are the beliefs we carry regarding inadequacy. They are what keeps us from living the life we desire as our true selves. Those ideas prevent us from following our hearts.

The Witch, Stepmother, and Stepsisters in the fairy tales are the inner voices that keep us from stepping into the fullness of our being. They keep us playing Victim roles and interpreting what happens through that lens. They mire us in giving and receiving blame and guilt, which keeps us under their ever watchful eyes to do more and try harder to be enough.

The roles the Stepmother and Witch played in childhood are not necessary as an adult. Cinderella defied her Stepmother when she went to the balls. The Prince challenged her parents when he insisted she try on the slipper. The Stepmother was the voice that said she had to play smaller the first two times she tried to leave home. The parents continued to ridicule her the third time as the Prince took her away from the home in which she wasn’t seen or valued for who she was.

Dorothy discovered at the end of her journey that she had the power to go home inside her all along. We also have the strength to face our inner critics in whatever form they take. We have the ability to step out of Victim and Warrior roles and into a new story. The power to live the life we long for, following our hearts, and sharing our gifts, is and has been inside of us all along. All we have to do is click our heels together and we are at home in our true self.