“What the hell is that annoying sound?” I asked.
“Munchkins. Singing. Sorry about that.”
“Munchkins as in…”
Wizard of Oz, yes. Sorry again. Not what you were expecting I’m sure.”
“Well quite. I was expecting some sort of profound revelation about the nature of the universe, not just an irritating ear-worm from a musical. So what’s going on.”
The Magus sighed and gestured at his altar. “Elemental weapons,” he said, “You know them? Wand, sword, disc, cup. Also known as the four suits of the tarot.”
“Of course. Basic stuff,” I replied. “The wand represents fire – the active will. The sword is air, the analytical capacity of reason. The disc is earth, stability and security. The cup is water, for intuition. Look can you ask those bloody Munchkins to shut up? I’m supposed to be meditating here. It’s distracting.”
“Sorry, no. Okay, you know the basics. Go one further. Assign the elemental weapons to the cardinal directions according to the classical attribution.”
“This is pretty simple stuff, I was hoping for more… okay, okay. Don’t get scowly. Air is east, fire south, water west, earth is north. “
“Look out of the window,” he said. I hadn’t been aware of a window until now, but I looked out just in time to see a tornado fizzling out and dropping a farmhouse on a green faced witch.
“Bloody hell. Why is that movie playing out in my head?”
“It’s playing out everywhere, mate,” said the Magus lighting up a cigarette. “Which witch was that?”
“That sounds like some Hod wordplay,” I said and he smiled mercurially. “That was the wicked witch of the east.”
“And east is…?”
“Air,” said I. “Hah. And killed by a whirlwind. Nice. So she represented malign or misapplied Air? Cruel rationality and obedience to laws at the expense of feeling. Destroyed by the application of the pure elemental form.”
“Don’t feel too smug,” he said, “we’re only at the start of the yellow brick road. Yellow attributed to?”
“Mercury,” said I automatically, “representing travel and wisdom. Oh there’s Dorothy, looking I must say far too old for the character she’s supposed to be.”
“Yeah,” said the Magus, “and she wants what?”
“To go home. Ah. I see where this is going. Home and security, a return to stability and the familiar. That’s earth, yes? So she’s looking to the element of Earth. But she’s just a kid, she won’t be able to, not without some sort of guide. Her higher self maybe.”
I watched as a rubbish bubble made out of special effects appeared and a glamorous figure emerged.
“Higher self?” said the Magus, “Like a good witch. And if she’s representing earth, what direction does that refer to?”
“North,” I said, “So she’s the good witch of the north. Wow. Okay. So she’s setting the soul in need of Earth on the path of wisdom. Nice. Now can you shut those damned munchkins up?”
“Nope, it’s what they do,” the Magus said, “Might as well try to stop the sun from rising or you from being a pedantic contrarian. Keep watching.”
I watched as the dancing young girl and her dog encountered a straw man and they began a whimsical song and dance act.
“If I only had a brain,” I sang along. “He wants a brain.”
“So he’s lacking?” asked the Magus.
“Intellect. Air. She’s seeking Earth, he’s seeking Air. Now they’re on the road together. Okay. I get it. Next comes the tin woodsman.”
And sure enough there he was, all silver greasepaint and amateur body-popping.
“And since he needs a heart,” said the Magus?
“He’s lacking emotion and intuition. He wants Water.”
“Not too much though,” said the Magus “Or he’ll go rusty. Oh look who it is. The cowardly lion. And guess what he wants?”
“Courage,” said I, nodding along as I saw the four companions finally form a team. “He’s seeking Fire. Earth, Air, Water Fire. That’s pretty… well balanced for a kid’s movie.”
“Oh keep going,” said the Magus grinning like a fox licking honey off an electric fence. “Who is fighting them?”
“The Wicked Witch of the West,” I said, “And I’m way ahead of you. The west is Water, emotion. But she’s the Wicked version, the corrupt version. Emotion at its worst – hate and vengeance.”
“And how was her sister killed? The Wicked Witch of the East?”
“Air,” I said, “the whirlwind. And the farmhouse of course. You know, delivering the impact. She was killed by the pure form of her element.”
“Which of course suggests that the Wicked Witch of the West would be killed by…”
“Water,” I said, “and there she is, melting away. Wait, what about the Wizard though?”
We watched the scene unfold back in the Emerald city as Oz the Great and Terrible tried to renege on his deal with the four seekers after completion.
“He’s just a sham,” I said, “I remember this bit. He’s an illusion. A veil, like the concept of maya that needs to be pulled aside in order to pass it. Hah. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, right?”
“Or the veil?” said the Magus flicking what was left of his cigarette at the nearest of the Emerald City soldiers. “Yeah and now that great and terrible Oz is revealed as just another aspect of creation and he’s passing on the grand and ineffable wisdom that…”
“That each of the seekers had within themselves what they were seeking. They only needed awakening to that. It makes sense. Now can you please shut up the Munchkins?”
“Not yet. One last thing. Four elements represented here. Earth, Air, Fire, Water. What’s the fifth element?”
“A shitty film with Bruce Willis? Okay, okay. Spirit, right? The balancing element, the one that binds the others together in a complete whole and represents the aspiration to higher things, grants the insight to see through illusion to the reality behind.”
“That’s right chief,” said the Magus. “And which of our little crew represents Spirit?”
I looked them over and damn near face-palmed like a Picard meme.
“Toto,” I said, “Toto meaning whole, entire. Complete. Toto was with them all the time. A companion, but barely noticed. Then he exposed the truth at the end.”
“Yep,” said the Magus, “the little dog yapping at the heel of the seeker, warning them of danger and accompanying them on the journey.”
He flipped something at me, a card that I caught and turned over. The tarot card of the Fool, the pure soul wandering on his spiritual journey. With his constant canine companion accompanying him into the abyss and beyond.
“I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” the Fool said. And he was right.