The Meaning of the Wizard of Oz

My children recently watched the Wizard of Oz at a friend’s house, and the deeper meaning of this film is so wonderful that I wanted to share it with you.

All good stories have a deeper message, and all films do too, and if you watch or read with the question in mind “what is the deeper message of this?” then you will understand the intentional communication beneath the superficial events and interactions that take place. Dreams are exactly the same. If we understand the symbology and the relationship between things in the dream, we can learn a lot about what we need on a deeper level. For more info on this, read the chapter on dreams in my free book “How To Live in Love” :

So, the Wizard of Oz is all about journeying into your heart (The Emerald City) to find love, strength, courage and wisdom, while conquering the evil and selfish impulses (the wicked witches) that attempt to get a foot-hold in every person’s life.

Dorothy is not quite enjoying her life at the beginning of the film and she longs for something more. She is unfulfilled, and not in touch with the realm of her heart. The absence of her parents is a significant feature here (which symbolises a separation from her Earthly Mother, and her Heavenly Father). She feels lonely. She longs for what lies ‘over the rainbow’. The rainbow symbolises a bridge that leads to a new reality (perhaps even a pot of gold, which is symbolic of inner richness and fulfilment)

Then along comes the wind (symbolic of divine power, spirit, God) to create a tornado. She loses consciousness, and the ‘dream’ begins.

She lands in another realm, which symbolises her subconscious. Even upon landing, she defeats the wicked witch of the east. The witches symbolise all the negative aspects of Dorothy, or of any person, (e.g. meanness, greed, selfishness, negativity, jealously, hatred and so on), and just by arriving in Oz, she rids herself of one aspect of her negativity. This is the reward for initially journeying inward. The good witch Glinda gives her the ruby slippers, telling her that she will always be safe when wearing them. They symbolise trust, faith and inner security, the essential qualities that allow Dorothy to feel a sense of safety and protection. This is essential. Trust is essential.

She meets the munchkins, who symbolise child-like innocence and joyousness, and she learns that she must follow the yellow brick road (yellow representing joy, light, happiness) to get to the Emerald City (the heart).

Along the way, she meets the cowardly lion, the tin man and the straw man, all of whom need something. These are the aspects of the self that need strengthening along the way, if we are to dwell in the realm of the heart as we are destined to. Courage is needed, strength is needed, love and wisdom are needed. The kindness of these 3 sidekicks is notable (and it was also obvious in the beginning of the film, when the 3 men on the farm helped Dorothy). This emphasises the important role of kindness in reaching the realm of the heart. Along the way the wicked witch tries to stop them, notably in the deadly poppy fields where Dorothy grows sleepy. This symbolises the importance of alertness, of being present and awake, and not becoming lazy and undisciplined.

When they reach the Emerald City and meet the wizard, he requests the broomstick of the wicked witch. It turns out he is a ‘fake’ wizard, and cannot give the group the courage, love, strength and intelligence they need. This is symbolic of the inability of any other person to give you what you need. You have to do the work yourself, you have to discover your strength, love, courage and intelligence yourself. And this is what happens as they confront the wicked witch (evil, darkness, selfishness, destructivity). They uncover these noble characteristics within themselves in the process of the confrontation, which is unavoidable.

The flying monkeys of the witch represent the tricky mind, all the thoughts that mislead you, divert you, confuse you and lead you away from your destination.

Eventually, the wicked witch is defeated by water, which symbolises purification and cleansing. This suggests that negativity and darkness will be cleansed from you when you purify and clean your body on the inside. Water is purification, and essentially the wicked witch is purified and dissolved. This is what happens to our negative tendencies in the process of purification; they dissolve.

So the witch is defeated, evil is vanquished, the journey has been successful, the healing has been completed. Now Dorothy needs to return home, to the outer world where she lives. The fake wizard is incapable of taking Dorothy home (again highlighting the inability of another person to take you on your journey) and the good witch informs Dorthy to click her heels together and say “there’s no place like home.” This is an important sentence, because home is where the heart is. It almost serves as a little cue, a trigger for remembering the realm she has ventured into. Once back in Kansas, she could simply remind herself of “home” (her heart), with this little simple action. She repeats this phrase upon waking back in Kansas, as she cuddled Toto. The presence of Toto on the journey is also symbolic, as dogs represent loyalty, trust, and friendship, all qualities of the heart.

Upon waking in Kansas, she is surrounded by concerned and loving friends and family. This again shows us the value of the heart, of care, of concern. They care about her, and she realises how lucky and blessed she is to be surrounded by them, in her familiar and homely surroundings. Nothing is lacking. She is deeply grateful. Her inward journey has been successful. Once you have discovered your heart, there truly is no place like home.

One last thing.. It says a lot that only her journey into Oz is shown in colour in the film. On returning to Kansas, it is black and white (sepia) once more. The use of colour tells us which ‘reality’ is more real, which has more depth, more beauty. Kansas is not so real after all; it is colourless in comparison to Oz. The inner realm into which she ventured was the true reality. It is Kansas which is the dream.

“Develop the strength of your heart”

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We are all children, longing to find our way back to
the world of innocence, joy and freedom we once knew”


About Alexander Bell

Lover of God, man of Christ, father-of-four, writer, composer of healing music & expert on nutritional healing. •
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1 Response to The Meaning of the Wizard of Oz

  1. Alicia says:

    This film was my main talking point during the years I had therapy! In particular, the ‘man behind the curtain’ used to symbolise my emotional pain at realising my parents were not the all powerful, all knowing and perfect people I needed them to be, but were flawed and infallible like the rest of us. The film is multi layered and can mean different things to different people, but is certainly very powerful indeed.

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