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Thread: The Goddess in Popular Culture

  1. #1
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    Jan 2010

    The Goddess in Popular Culture

    Expanding on some things from other posts...

    Over hill, over dale,
    Through bush, through briar,
    Over park, over pale,
    Through blood, through fire,
    I do wander everywhere,
    Swifter than the moone’s sphere;
    And I serve the fairy queen,
    To dew her orbs upon the green.
    The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
    In their gold coats spots you see;
    Those be rubies, fairy favours,
    In those freckles live their savours:
    I must go seek some dewdrops here,
    And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
    Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
    Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

    -William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Our modern conception of the Goddess combines two previously separate concepts, the Nature Goddess and the Moon Goddess. They were combined by the Alchemists, symbolizing the Great Work, the Philosopher's Stone, the Union of Opposites, Sol and Luna. The Sacred Marriage of Sol and Luna is from Hermeticism. Added to Luna was the Nature Goddess, the archtype being the Fairy or May Queen. Her union was with the Nature archtype that was the Green Man or the Stag. The Green Man/Stag was combined by the Alchemists with Sol, working nicely into traditions that saw Christ as both Solar deity and Stag.

    As such, the Goddess has been with us for a very long time, now, touching our lives, even though we don't recognize her, at first. This is because of how we first encounter her.

    It's been said many times that certain concepts and higher truths are best communicated through Myth, stories, poetry, song, dance, and other forms of art. And that is where we first meet the Goddess. Sometimes, she ends the story united with her Sol/Green Man/Stag. Sometimes, she's his spiritual guide on his Journey. Sometimes, she's just doing her own thing on her own Journey.

    Here, I'd like us to discuss the Goddess in popular culture. I'll start us off with something that's a major part of most of our childhoods, Disney.

    When you're in a shop that carries Disney Princess or Tinkerbell merchandise, watch what young girls do. They make a beeline for it. They've been touched by the Goddess and the Fair Folk, and they're enchanted.

    Wait, you may be saying. Yeah, Tink's a fairy, but what do the Princesses have to do with the Goddess?

    The Disney Heroine is an Archtype, an aspect of the Goddess: The Child of Nature. She is usually to be found in the woods, Nature her true mother. She has a special, spiritual, connection with the forest and it's animals. She's usually considered a strange girl by the "civilized" folks surrounding her. She often longs for her Sun God/Green Man/Stag, or she just wants "a world of my own" or "adventure in the great white somewhere." It's not good for her to be locked behind stone walls.

    The evolution of the Disney Wood Nymph (Or, is she becoming more primal? Notice she stops wearing shoes in the woods by the fourth clip)...

    "But we've met, before." Yes, you meet him every year.

    Has there ever been a better cinematic depiction of the Meeting With the Goddess than that? There are some that equal it...

    Now, that's a Stag.

    Disney Fairies first appeared prominantly in the first Fantasia, being responsible for the turns of the seasons. We follow them through Spring, then Summer, then Autumn, then Winter.

    Disney's most famous fairy would come years later, in Peter Pan.

    She'd become more familiar to decades of children than her Green Man due to her hosting The Wonderful World of Disney TV show. This was back in the days before cable and home video, let alone distractions like the Internet and Playstations. You had to watch whatever was on TV, in those days. So, for decades, every Sunday night, kids were glued to this show.

    In recent years, Tink has gotten her own series of features. Bringing things full circle, she has the same job the fairies in Fantasia did...

    It's interesting to see things from an outside perspective. What would another culture notice that we don't? In Japan, there's a strong interest in European Myth, and the stories that are created from it. They aproach these stories from their Mythic perspective.

    We learned what the Japanese see in Disney's characters with Kingdom Hearts, a series of video games they produced combining Disney characters with their own Final Fantasy series. The plot of the first game centers on the Princesses of Heart, seven maidens with hearts of pure light. If they are brought together, the Door to Darkness will be opened, and all the power of the Universe will be released. The symbolism is, since it's from a Japanese perspective, more direct. Especially, note the stained glass look of the platforms.

    Disney isn't the only place you've encountered the Goddess/Fairy Queen figure. She's been featured in all sorts of stories you've read and movies you've watched. Many songs have been written for her, and about encounters with her...
    Last edited by perceval23; January 3rd, 2012 at 06:58 PM. Reason: fixing outdated links

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."
    -Madeleine L'Engle

    To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said,
    "I've a sceptre in hand, I've a crown on my head;
    Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be,
    Come and dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me."

    Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,
    And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran:
    Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea --
    And welcome Queen Alice with thirty-times-three!

    "O Looking-Glass creatures," quothe Alice, "draw near!
    'Tis and honour to see me, a favour to hear:
    'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea
    Along with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me!"

    Then fill up the glasses with treacle and ink,
    Or anything else that is pleasant to drink:
    Mix sand with the cider, and wool with the wine --
    And welcome Queen Alice with ninety-times-nine!

    -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

    One of the oldest of Myths is the Goddess Descending into the Underworld. Here's a modern Wiccan version...

    The earliest version of the Myth that we know of is Sumerian, and centers on Inanna, their Goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Her name means Lady of the Sky. Her symbol is an eight pointed star or rosette.

    The animal associated with her is the lion, and the planet associated with her is Venus. Her consort is the shepherd Dumuzid. During the Vernal Equinox festival, the king would establish his legitimacy by taking on the role of Dumuzid, spending a night in the temple with the High Priestess in the role of Inanna.
    She descended into the Underworld to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law. However, at the instructions of her sister, Ereshkigal, the dark goddess who ruled the Underworld, Inanna had to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry at each of the seven gates, thus stripping her of her power. By the time she'd passed the seventh gate, she was naked. Ereshkigal took advantage, killing Inanna and hanging her corpse on a hook.
    For three days she was left hanging there, as tends to happen to deities in that situation. She had, however, left instructions before her journey just in case something like this happened. Her corpse was recovered and removed from the Underworld, and it was sprinkled with the food and water of life, thus reviving her. However, demons followed from the Underworld, demanding someone else take Inanna's place. They took Dumuzid.
    His sister, Ngeshtin-ana, convinced the demons to allow her to take his place six months of the year. Inanna misses him during those months, so her fertility fades, to be renewed upon their annual reunion. Thus, the turns of the seasons.
    Lisa Thiel - Song to Inanna

    The Goddess Descending Myth would have many variations, including Ishtar and Persephone. The Persephone version sees her kidnapped by Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Her angushed mother, Demeter, Goddess of Fertility and Grains, searches for her. In her anguish, life comes to a standstill. Hades is forced to return Persephone by Zeus. However, Hades had tricked Persephone into eating pomegranite seeds. If you eat the food of the Underworld, you have to remain there. So, she had to return for the months equating the number of seeds she ate. When Mother and Daughter are reunited, the Earth flourishes with vegetation. When they are apart, it becomes barren and cold once more.
    The most familiar version of the Goddess Descending in our modern era, however, came in the 19th Century.
    "Oh, how glad I am to get here! And what is this on my head?" she exclaimed in a tone of dismay, as she put her hands up to something very heavy, and fitted tight all around her head.
    "But how could it have got there without my knowing it?" she said to herself, as she lifted it off, and set it on her lap to make out what it could possibly be.
    It was a golden crown.
    -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
    The influence of 19th Century fantasy writer and theologan George MacDonald, not only on fantasy literature, but modern Christian and Neo-Pagan thought can't be overstressed. He revived Celtic Christian spirituality with a dose of Alchemical concepts. It was Nature based, centered on groves of trees. The Celtic Christians honored the female nurturing side of God as well as the male creator aspect. Some MacDonald quotes, to give you an idea...
    Especially important was the concept and Mythology of Fairy and the Celtic Fairyland/Otherworld. A little on that...

    MacDonald would be the single biggest influence on J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle, as well as a famous protege. The protege had written a book as a Christmas present for a young girl, based on the Goddess Descending Myth and the Celtic Fairyland/Otherworld, with the girl in the Goddess role. She suggested he publish it, so he went to MacDonald for advice. MacDonald shared the book with his family, who loved it, and agreed it should be published. The protege was Lewis Carroll, and the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll would later write a sequel, Through the Looking Glass.
    Alice Liddell as the May Queen, photographed by Lewis Carroll

    In the first book, Alice enters the Fairyland because of her curiosity. She follows a strange white rabbit to a hole, falls into it, and finds herself in Wonderland. Wonderland is very disorienting, so much so that Alice loses her sense of identity. She remembers she was Alice when she woke up that morning, but isn't sure who she is, now, or who'll she'll be when she returns home. The theme of Death and Resurrection myths and rituals symbolizing it is the old Self must die so the new Self can be born. Alice must discover who she is.
    Another bit of symbolism is impending puberty, and how disorienting an experience that is.
    'Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.

    This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
    `What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!'
    `I can't explain MYSELF, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, `because I'm not myself, you see.'
    `I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.
    `I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, `for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.'
    `It isn't,' said the Caterpillar.
    `Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet,' said Alice; `but when you have to turn into a chrysalis--you will some day, you know--and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?'
    `Not a bit,' said the Caterpillar.
    `Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,' said Alice; `all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.'
    `You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously. `Who are YOU?'
    Ultimately, Alice has to grow into a mature, wiser, person, while retaining her child-likeness. The ending of the first book...
    But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and this was her dream:--

    First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once again the tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes were looking up into hers--she could hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair that WOULD always get into her eyes--and still as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her became alive the strange creatures of her little sister's dream.
    The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by--the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool--she could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution--once more the pig-baby was sneezing on the Duchess's knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it--once more the shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard's slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs, filled the air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the miserable Mock Turtle.
    So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality--the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds--the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep- bells, and the Queen's shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd boy--and the sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all thy other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the confused clamour of the busy farm-yard--while the lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.
    Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
    This concept comes from MacDonald...
    THERE IS A CHILDHOOD into which we have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave behind. One is a childishness from which but few of those who are counted wisest among men have freed themselves. The other is a child-likeness, which is the highest gain of humanity.
    WHEN WE FORGIVE our neighbor, in flows the forgiveness of God's forgiveness to us. For God to withhold his forgiveness from the one who will not forgive his neighbor is love as well as necessity. If God said, "I forgive you," to a man who hated his brother, what would it mean to him? How would the man interpret it? Would it not meant to him, "You may go on hating. I do not mind it. You have had great provocation, and are justified in your hate." No, the hater must be delivered from the hell of his hate, that God's child should be made the loving child that he meant him to be.
    MANY ARE SO BUSY understanding with their intellects that they miss the better understanding of thought of a thing that they miss the thing itself-whose possession, not its thought, is essential.
    TO MANY WELL-MEANING PEOPLE with small natures, theology must be like a map-with plenty of lines in it. They cannot trust their house on the high tablelands because they cannot see the outlines bounding the land. It is not small enough for them. They cannot take it in. Such people, one would think, can hardly be satisfied with creation, seeing there is no line of division anywhere in it.
    WHEN GOD DRAWS LINES, they are pure lines, without breadth and consequently invisible to mortal eyes, not walls of separation such as many Christians are fond of constructing.
    Carroll expanded on his Fairyland concept in his follow-up to the Alice books, Sylvie and Bruno. One can enter Fairyland in another state, which he describes as "eerie," without losing conciousness of events in the real world. Time can stand still or reverse, and the Fae can appear in our world, as the title characters do.

    The first Alice book was set on May 4, Alice's birthday, just after Beltane, and very much embodies Summer. Through the Looking Glass, set exactly six months later, just after Samhain, very much embodies Winter.

    Alice returns to the Fairyland she may or may not have created through a mirror. At first, she's an invisible god, trying to help the chess pieces who don't understand what's moving them around. She then tried to communicate with them by taking control of their pencils as they're writing, but that just confuses them more. So, she enters the garden and becomes a part of the game. The novel follows her Journey from Pawn to Queen, having to pass through seven squares along the way, this being a chess game. It reflects the seven gates Inanna had to pass through, as well as the Seven Stages of Alchemical Transformation.

    The number 42 recurs throughout the books. In Alchemy, the number represents the Creative aspect of God.

    She encounters people from her previous Journey, like the Hatter, the March Hare, and her old adversary, the Queen of Hearts, though they've changed.

    In her essay, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Catherynne M. Valente wrote...

    Alice almost immediately encounters the Ereshkigal of Wonderland: the Red Queen. It is this enigmatic woman that Alice pursues across the chessboard with all the fervor of a knight pursuing a maiden. She is the black kitten to Alice’s white kitten, the Jungian shadow-self which must be integrated into the hero in order to create a cohesive whole. No real motivation is given for Alice’s fascination with the Red Queen, for the urgency of her pursuit. None is needed. The hero must seek out his shadow, the life-instinct must seek out the death-instinct, and the self must seek out the other. Gawain is drawn to the Green Knight, Odysseus cannot help but challenge Polyphemus, Arthur must eventually fight Mordred—and Alice must reach the Eighth Square where her Queen waits.

    In the grand tradition of medieval ladies, the Red Queen is rather callous and cruel. She is a cold, distant figure, the ideal object of courtly love. The famous line Disney gave to their caricatured Queen of Hearts properly belongs to this Queen: “I don’t know what you mean by your way, said the Queen; all the ways about here belong to me.” Alice must prove herself in order to enter the Red Queen’s company, and the entirety of the subsequent narrative is taken up with Alice’s striving towards this scarlet woman, accomplishing feats in order to become worthy of her.
    Along the way, the Tweedle twins dispute Alice's assumption that Wonderland and all in it is her dream. They assert that she, and our world, is the dream of the Red King's. In the Seventh Square, she meets the White Knight, who accompanies her to the threshold that will take her to the Eighth Square. He can take her this far, but not further. He has a large bag, in which she places a serving dish she'd carried from the previous chapter. The White Knight has items that either are or represent things from earlier in the book as well as the first one, like carrots for the White Rabbit, the rattle the Tweedles were fighting over, an empty wine bottle representing the non-existent wine offered by the March Hare, etc. All these things she must leave behind as she takes this final step.

    Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday -- the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight -- the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her -- the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet -- and the black shadows of the forest behind -- all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a green, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half dream, to the melancholy music of the song.

    `But the tune isn't his own invention,' she said to herself: `it's "I give thee all, i can no more."' She stood and listened very attentively, but no tears came into her eyes.
    Once she's crossed into the Eighth Square, she becomes a Queen, and is brought into a Feast with the Red and White Queens. Here, chaos breaks out, the White Queen is attacked, and Alice realizes the Red Queen is the cause. Alice turns the Red Queen into a kitten, Checkmating the Red King, and winning the game. She then returns home. But, she's left pondering what the Tweedles told her. Is the Fairyland her dream, or is our world the dream of the Red King?

    This version of the Goddess Descending has become our greatest modern Myth. The Alice books are the third most quoted works in the English language after Shakspeare and the Bible. So much of our modern culture is influenced by Alice. The books influenced several songs by the Beatles. As John Lennon said...
    Oh, Lewis Carroll. I always admit to that because I love 'Alice In Wonderland' and 'Alice Through The Looking Glass.' But I didn't even know he'd written anything else. I was that ignorant. I just happened to get those for birthday presents as a child and liked them. and I usually read those two about once a year, because I still like them.

    The cover of The Ballad of John and Yoko


    The Beatles weren't the only musicians influenced. Here's a sample...

    Franz Ferdinand and Omnia have made songs just taking passages from the books and setting them to music.

    The Alice statue in Central Park, New York City

    The stained glass windows at All Saints Church, Daresbury






    Like the original Inanna version, this Myth has had many variations. Some of these have become modern Myth, themselves...
    Last edited by perceval23; January 21st, 2011 at 07:00 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Aunt Em once said she thought the fairies must have marked Dorothy at her birth, because she had wandered into strange places and had always been protected by some unseen power. As for Uncle Henry, he thought his little niece merely a dreamer, as her dead mother had been, for he could not quite believe all the curious stories Dorothy told them of the Land of Oz, which she had several times visited. He did not think that she tried to deceive her uncle and aunt, but he imagined that she had dreamed all of those astonishing adventures, and that the dreams had been so real to her that she had come to believe them true.

    Whatever the explanation might be, it was certain that Dorothy had been absent from her Kansas home for several long periods, always disappearing unexpectedly, yet always coming back safe and sound, with amazing tales of where she had been and the unusual people she had met. Her uncle and aunt listened to her stories eagerly and in spite of their doubts began to feel that the little girl had gained a lot of experience and wisdom that were unaccountable in this age, when fairies are supposed no longer to exist.
    -L. Frank Baum, The Emerald City of Oz
    The first major variation of the Alice Myth came in 1900, with the first book in what would be a series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Like Alice, it began with someone telling a story to entertain a group of children, only to have the children suggest it be published.

    If you only know the Land of Oz and Dorothy Gale from the 1939 MGM movie with Judy Garland, then you don't know Dorothy or Oz. MGM took a lot of liberties. For one, combining two separate characters in the book, the Witch of the North and Glinda, created a major plot hole regarding the slippers. The Wicked Witches of the East and West weren't sisters, but rivals and sometimes uneasy allies. The biggest change was in the character of Dorothy, herself. In the books, she's not the helpless, crying, wimp MGM made her into. In the books, Dorothy is smart, brave, compassionate, and very resourceful. Since she doesn't have the brawn of the traditional Hero, she relies on her considerable wits. She's unfazed by all the strangeness she encounters, taking a pragmatic view of her situations. Baum's idea was to tell girls that they didn't have to be just the Damsel in Distress or the Hero's Love Interest, that they could be the Hero. It was a pretty radical concept in 1900, and, it seems, still too radical a concept for MGM in 1939.
    Dorothy also has a bit of a temper. MGM!Dorothy would have gotten on Book!Dorothy's last nerve, very quickly.
    Another huge change MGM made: In the books, it isn't a dream.
    The Alice versions of the Goddess Descending Myth have their own archtypes associated with them. The central figure is the Strange Girl.

    The main story is Down the Rabbit Hole.

    The Goddess figure in these stories has to face, like their counterparts Inanna and Persephone, a Dark Goddess or Lord of the Underworld figure. Dorothy, over the course of the Oz books, faces both. But, the Dark Goddess and Lord of the Underworld discover they've bitten off more than they can chew with this Inanna/Persephone. After they've captured her, she winds up trouncing them.
    It's been said that, when a then contemporary story was set in the American prairies and Old West, you could tell if the writer had actually been there by how they depicted it. If they portrayed it as idealized and romantic, they'd never been. Baum had been there, as we see in the book's opening. The first paragraphs establish just how bleak a place Dorothy is in, and how out of place this strange girl is.

    Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar--except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole.

    When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

    When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

    Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.
    You'll notice how often the word "gray" is used, here. Colors associated with locations will be significant.
    A tornado comes and sweeps the house, with Dorothy and her dog Toto in it, away. They land in a strange place, full of very nice little people. Oh, and it seems they landed on someone, killing them. The little people are actually pleased by this, as the person crushed was the tyranical Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North arrives, dressed in white and purple, and explains things.
    "But I thought all witches were wicked," said the girl, who was half frightened at facing a real witch.
    "Oh, no, that is a great mistake. There were only four witches in all the Land of Oz, and two of them, those who live in the North and the South, are good witches. I know this is true, for I am one of them myself, and cannot be mistaken. Those who dwelt in the East and the West were, indeed, wicked witches; but now that you have killed one of them, there is but one Wicked Witch in all the Land of Oz--the one who lives in the West."
    "But," said Dorothy, after a moment's thought, "Aunt Em has told me that the witches were all dead--years and years ago."
    "Who is Aunt Em?" inquired the little old woman.
    "She is my aunt who lives in Kansas, where I came from."
    The Witch of the North seemed to think for a time, with her head bowed and her eyes upon the ground. Then she looked up and said, "I do not know where Kansas is, for I have never heard that country mentioned before. But tell me, is it a civilized country?"
    "Oh, yes," replied Dorothy.
    "Then that accounts for it. In the civilized countries I believe there are no witches left, nor wizards, nor sorceresses, nor magicians. But, you see, the Land of Oz has never been civilized, for we are cut off from all the rest of the world. Therefore we still have witches and wizards amongst us."
    The Witches of the North and South are each archtypes, the Witch of the North being the Wise Woman, and Glinda the Good of the South being the Fairy Queen. In the Oz books, "Witch" is a title and position. There are plenty of magic users in Oz, but a Witch has specific duties. In Oz, Witches wear white, and only they do. Their clothing is white with the color of whatever region they represent. The East's color is blue, the North's purple, the West's yellow, and the South's red.
    Dorothy's clothes have been damaged by the tornado, so she's given the Wicked Witch of the West's silver slippers, and goes into the house to change into another dress. She chooses the familiar blue and white one, and tries the slippers on, which magically adjust to fit her. When she re-emerges, she learns that she has, quite unknowingly, taken on the title and responsibilities of the Witch of the East, wearing the colors and the powerful magical silver shoes.
    Oops. Well, that's what happens when you're a Child of Destiny, as everyone in Oz now recognizes her to be. The name "Dorothy" means "Gift of the Gods," and "Gale" how she arrived. What that Destiny is is clear. She's set events into motion. As evil as she was, the previous Witch of the East was part of what was keeping the ambitious and power hungry Witch of the West in check. The Wicked Witch of the West has enslaved and despoiled her territory, and seeks to do the same to the rest of Oz. She has a lot of power and resources, but lacks that final thing: The silver slippers. The Witch of the North doesn't know what the slippers do, just that they are very powerful, and the Witch of the West will stop at nothing to gain them.
    Dorothy wants to return home, but Oz is surrounded by the Deadly Desert, which turns any who touch it into sand. The Witch of the North consults a magical slate she has, which says to send Dorothy to the Emerald City. But first, she gives Dorothy something.

    "Won't you go with me?" pleaded the girl, who had begun to look upon the little old woman as her only friend.

    "No, I cannot do that," she replied, "but I will give you my kiss, and no one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North."

    She came close to Dorothy and kissed her gently on the forehead. Where her lips touched the girl they left a round, shining mark, as Dorothy found out soon after.
    On her journey to the Emerald City, she gains companions, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Lion. They each represent things Dorothy will have to cultivate to complete her Quest: Wisdom, compassion, and courage. But, the trip to the Emerald City is not without danger. Valente writes, in the essay quoted earlier...
    Like Persephone, Dorothy is inextricably tied to the land, even if that land is infertile and spent. She will always return to Kansas, and always return to Oz. She shuttles between the two with all the regularity of the Corn Maiden. Indeed, it is perhaps her attachment to Kansas that marks her out as a hero in the Campbellian sense: "The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world?"
    Yet, despite that attachment, and unlike her sister Alice, Dorothy is not at all shy about eating the food of her strange new surroundings, the food, that is to say, of the dead. Once the food from her own house’s larder runs out, she happily eats the fruit she finds in roadside orchards—and perhaps this is an underlying cause of Dorothy’s continual journeys between the two worlds. By the time she reaches the field of poppies, she is subsisting on nothing but the food of Oz.

    The poppies themselves are reminiscent of the threatening flowers Alice first encounters—both heroines tread on the distant cousins of the asphodels of Hades. However, Dorothy’s flowers, as the source of opiates, are an even darker menace. The link between the magical sleep they affect and death is made quite clear: if Dorothy does not wake up, she will die. In the film, this is the work of the Witch, but in the novel, the poppies are simply the natural flora of the area around the Emerald City. Dorothy, unlike Alice, does symbolically die, falling under the spell of the scarlet flowers and waking only after she is dragged from the field by the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow, as they do not breathe. Interestingly, Dorothy only wakes once the kingdom of the field mice have been assembled to rescue the still-slumbering lion, so that she loses consciousness surrounded by symbolic asphodel, and wakes overcome by mice, the symbol of the sun-god Apollo, brought back into the land of the living by her allegorical half-brother.
    In the Emerald City, she's given her task by the Wizard of Oz that was pretty much inevitable from the moment she arrived in Oz: Destroy the Wicked Witch of the West. Before she and her companions leave the Emerald City, she has changed into a dress of pure white. The West, they discover, is a desolate land after years of the Witch of the West's domination. The Dark Goddess figure of this Goddess Descending Myth embodies many social ills, such as greed, slavery, tyranny, and animal cruelty.

    The Witch of the West sees them coming, as she has a telescopic eye. She sends three armies after them, one of crows, one of wolves, and one of bees, all of which are destroyed by Dorothy's companions. The Wicked Witch then sends an army of her Winkie slaves, but they turn and run when the Lion roars at them. The Winkies have no love or loyalty to their cruel Mistress, and aren't going to put their lives on the line for her. The Winkies aren't a different race than the Munchkins like the MGM film makes then, BTW. They're the same little people. They're just called whatever they are based on where they live, like New Yorkers and Californians.

    The Wicked Witch is down to her last resort, her Golden Cap, which summons the Winged Monkeys. She can only call on them three times. The first time she used them was to gain control of the West. The second time was in a failed attempt to take the Emerald City, thwarted by the Wizard. The Monkeys tear apart the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman, leaving their pieces in the woods, and bring Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion. The Wicked Witch sees the mark on Dorothy's forehead and realizes she dare not harm Dorothy... directly. But, she thinks, "I can still make her my slave, for she does not know how to use her power." She sees Dorothy's innocence as a weakness. So, she makes Dorothy a slave, and locks the Lion in a cage and starves him, hoping to break him.
    Wih Dorothy hard at work, the Witch thought she would go into the courtyard and harness the Cowardly Lion like a horse; it would amuse her, she was sure, to make him draw her chariot whenever she wished to go to drive. But as she opened the gate the Lion gave a loud roar and bounded at her so fiercely that the Witch was afraid, and ran out and shut the gate again.
    "If I cannot harness you," said the Witch to the Lion, speaking through the bars of the gate, "I can starve you. You shall have nothing to eat until you do as I wish."

    So after that she took no food to the imprisoned Lion; but every day she came to the gate at noon and asked, "Are you ready to be harnessed like a horse?"
    And the Lion would answer, "No. If you come in this yard, I will bite you."
    Dorothy's companions are lost to her. They were able to take her this far, but, locked in the Wicked Witch's castle, she must face her adversary, alone.
    Dorothy discovers things about the Wicked Witch during her captivity. For one thing, the Witch of the West isn't all-powerful. Everything she has gained through her use of the darkest magics has come at a price. Her telescopic eye allows her to see over vast distances, but she has almost no night vision, thus allowing Dorothy to roam the castle as she will at night, and bring food to the Lion. The Winkies, hating the Wicked Witch, don't interfere with Dorothy's nocturnal activites, nor do they report them. The Wicked Witch has also used up almost all her resources in her attempt to gain the silver slippers. Her fearsome armies are now destroyed, and she can no longer summon the Winged Monkeys. Dorothy notes that the Wicked Witch avoids water. She doesn't bleed, as Dorothy discovered when Toto bit her after the Witch had struck him. She has no bodily fluids. Her abuse of the darkest magics in her selfish quest for power for it's own sake has taken it's toll, and the dark magic is now all that's holding her together.
    The only times Dorothy would remove the slippers was when she was asleep or bathing. The Wicked Witch couldn't take advantage of either of these times, due to her issues with darkness and water. So, she made a bar invisible and placed it where Dorothy would walk, causing her to trip, with one of the slippers faling loose, snatched up by the Wicked Witch. Dorothy throws a nearby bucket of water on the Witch, knowing the Witch's fear of it, but doesn't guess it will be deadly. It melts the Wicked Witch, to Dorothy's horror. She didn't want to kill the woman, even though she was destined to do so. As she's melting, the Wicked Witch of the West tells Dorothy the castle is hers, now.
    Dorothy is now the Witch of both the East and West.
    Dorothy immediately frees the Lion, and the Winkies. Then, she needs to help the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman. The Winkies are only too happy to help, and the companions are recovered and restored. The four are given the Golden Cap and return to the Emerald City. There, they discover the Wizard isn't a true wizard at all.
    He'd actually crashed there in a balloon. He was an illusionist, and had landed right in the middle of a civil war. He used his skills at trickery to convince the Wicked Witches of the East and West that he had power enough to keep them out of the Emerald City, and this bluff had been what had kept them at bay. Now, he could return home (having repaired his balloon in the meantime) and was going to take Dorothy back to our world with him. Unfortuately, as the balloon was taking off, Toto got loose, Dorothy retrieved him, and the Wizard couldn't bring the balloon back down.
    Someone suggested they seek out Glinda the Good, the powerful Witch that lived in the South. It would be a difficult journey to reach her, leading to more adventures, where the group was able to put in practice everything they'd learned from the previous journey. Dorothy did have to summon the Winged Monkeys, though, and learned of how they became enchanted and enslaved to the Golden Cap. Dorothy decided she needed to find a way to release them from it.
    Glinda provides that, as well as explaining how the slippers can take Dorothy home. Dorothy is happily reunited with her Aunt and Uncle, who'd thought they'd lost her. But, as we learn in subsequent books, Dorothy cannot stay there. Oz keeps calling her back. She comes to see it as her true home.
    The original edition of the first book, reprinted with the original coloring in The Annotated Wizard of Oz, begins each chapter with the first sentences in the color of wherever Dorothy happens to be. The colors of her Journey follow the turn of the seasons, starting with Kansas gray, representing Winter; East blue, representing Spring; Emerald City Green, representing Summer; West yellow and South red, representing Autumn; and finally back to Kansas gray, and Winter.
    But again, Dorothy had to return to Oz. On her next trip, she meets her soulmate, the young Queen Ozma, and is abducted by the resident Lord of the Underworld, the Nome King. However, she has brought with her a hen, which the Nome King fears. Why would a Lord of the Underworld fear a hen? Well, he represents Death, and what do hens do? They lay eggs, symbols of renewed Life. Thus, Dorothy is able to overcome the Nome King and renew the Land.

    Ozma makes Dorothy a Princess, and wants her to stay. But, Dorothy can't abandon her Aunt and Uncle. To be able to enter the Fairyland of Oz, one must be "as a child," again going back to MacDonald, as all these variations of the Goddess Descent Myth do. The goal is to become mature and wise, while retaining your child-likeness, your ability to truly feel the magic of the world, and your idealism.
    Mythology is more than just entertaining stories. The purpose of Myth is to guide and inspire us, to show us how to be better, wiser, people.
    Em and Henry become less hardened in their views, after Dorothy has repeatedly disappeared and returned, with an Otherworldly wisdom. Eventually, after a Leap of Faith brought on by a crisis, they are able to see, and enter, Oz. Thus, Dorothy is able to bring them and her beloved animals with her, and take her place as Ozma's companion and Champion.
    Like Alice, that it's a variation of, Dorothy's story has become a modern Myth in it's own right. It's influence is huge. George Lucus drew heavily on it, and said that Leia's bun hairstyle in Star Wars was inspired by the poppies in Ozma's hair.
    Dorothy and Ozma... Oh, Dorothy's a blonde in the books.


    Another thing we see that we saw with Alice is Moon Goddess symbolism. The animal most associated with the moon and Moon Goddesses is the Hare or Rabbit. Alice first enters Wonderland chasing the White Rabbit. Dorothy befriends a whole town of them (a town that is, naturally, part of Glinda's dominion, our resident Fairy Queen figure).

    Oz fan Tim Burton based the two leads of A Nightmare Before Christmas on two characters from the books, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Patchwork Girl.
    It's biggest influence has been on subsequent variations of Alice, which draw from it as much as they do the original. It's become a major part of the larger modern Myth...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Fairy stories are not, in normal English usage, stories about fairies or elves, but about Fairy, that is Faerie, the realm or state in which fairies have their being. Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky, and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree, and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.

    - J. R. R. Tolkien
    The term Green Man is actually fairly recent, coined in 1939 to describe carvings on many churches depicting the face of a man surrounded by leaves or other vegetation, with the vegetation often being a part of the man.

    This particular archtype has been connected to many deities, such as Odin and Christ. It's connected to figures from Myth and Folklore such as John Barleycorn, Robin Goodfellow, Puck, the Green Knight, Green George, Cernunnos, Silvanus, even Robin Hood and Father Christmas. He represents rebirth, the cycle of growth each Spring.
    The 16th Century gave us Jack in the Green, who became a part of Beltane celebrations. He eventually developed into a Trickster and the consort of the May Queen.
    The archtype is also connected to Tammuz, the Babylonian God of Vegetation. Tammuz is the Babylonian version of Dumuzid. He's the consort of Ishtar, the Babylonian name for Inanna, the original Goddess Descending into the Underworld.
    So, it was inevitable, when the modern version of the Myth, Alice, started having variations, that this figure would eventually be brought together with her Green Man. This being the Celtic Fairyland/Otherworld, though, he was going to be more Jack in the Green than Tammuz. The year was 1904...

    J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy began, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as verbal stories told to entertain a specific group of children. It became a play, and then a novel. Tolkien's Middle Earth stories also started this way. That's four classic literary Fairylands. Something's lost today, I think, with the way parents just put their kids in front of the TV and their video games.
    Wendy Darling is a girl who tells stories to her brothers. Peter Pan, a boy who had been lost by his parents and brought by the pixie Tinkerbell to the Otherworld of Neverland, has secretly been listening to her stories at the window. Wendy is at a crossroads. She's told by her stern father that she needs to grow up and put aside these childish things. Peter, though, wants to bring her to his world, and tell her stories to the Lost Boys, other boys who wound up in Neverland. She agrees to go with him, but insists on bringing her brothers along, while their parents are at a society party, Mr. Darling thinking appearances and the social ladder are the most important things.

    Tinkerbell, in love with Peter, is very jealous over his affection for Wendy, and tries to harm her. Peter casts Tinkerbell out.
    Many adventures are had, as they battle pirates led by Captain James Hook. Here, the Lord of the Underworld is a Dark Father figure. Traditionally, in plays and films, the same actor portrays Captain Hook and Mr. Darling. Back in our world, the Darling parents are distraught. Mrs. Darling remains in the nursery keeping the window open, desperately hoping the children will return the same way they left. Mr. Darling realizes what's truly important. Now, he just wants his children back.
    Time is something all the main characters are trying to escape. Peter refuses to grow up, Wendy is having to deal with the same question, while Hook is relentlessly pursued by a crocodile who'd swallowed a clock that's always loudly ticking. This reflects the situation the Mad Hatter found himself in in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

    Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'

    `If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, `you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'

    `I don't know what you mean,' said Alice.

    `Of course you don't!' the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!'

    `Perhaps not,' Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.'

    `Ah! that accounts for it,' said the Hatter. `He won't stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he'd do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o'clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you'd only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!'

    (`I only wish it was,' the March Hare said to itself in a whisper.)

    `That would be grand, certainly,' said Alice thoughtfully: `but then--I shouldn't be hungry for it, you know.'

    `Not at first, perhaps,' said the Hatter: `but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.'

    `Is that the way YOU manage?' Alice asked.

    The Hatter shook his head mournfully. `Not I!' he replied. `We quarrelled last March--just before HE went mad, you know--' (pointing with his tea spoon at the March Hare,) `--it was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing

    "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at!"

    You know the song, perhaps?'

    `I've heard something like it,' said Alice.

    `It goes on, you know,' the Hatter continued, `in this way:--

    "Up above the world you fly, Like a tea-tray in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle--"'

    Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep `Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle--' and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.

    `Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse,' said the Hatter, `when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, "He's murdering the time! Off with his head!"'

    `How dreadfully savage!' exclaimed Alice.

    `And ever since that,' the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, `he won't do a thing I ask! It's always six o'clock now.'

    A bright idea came into Alice's head. `Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?' she asked.

    `Yes, that's it,' said the Hatter with a sigh: `it's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.'

    `Then you keep moving round, I suppose?' said Alice.

    `Exactly so,' said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.'

    `But what happens when you come to the beginning again?' Alice ventured to ask.
    Other stirrings are complicating the situation...

    Peter wants Wendy to stay with him in Neverland, forever. She realizes, though, she must return home, and grow up, as heartbreaking for them both this will be. 
    Hook captures Wendy, her brothers, and the Lost Boys, while laying a trap for Peter, a poison, distilled from his own tears, "a mixture of malice, jealousy, and disappointment." Tinkerbell rushes in and sacrifices herself by drinking the poison, instead. Peter collapses in grief, and Summer in Neverland turns into a harsh, bleak, Winter.
    Peter, refusing to give her up, calls on the world's belief to resurrect Tinkerbell.

    Spring returns, and Peter and Tink fly to the rescue. The crocodile finally catches up with Hook, and Wendy and the rest return home, bringing the Lost Boys with them. Peter and Tinkerbell, though, return to Neverland.
    While Wendy will grow up, she will retain her child-likeness. Neverland will always be a part of her, and, in time, she will share it with her children, who will, in turn, share it with theirs. Her father, too, has been transformed, having rediscovered what he didn't know he'd lost.
    At Oxford, Lewis Carroll created a Myth, which was expanded on by L. Frank Baum and J. M. Barrie. In a few decades, two friends at Oxford would conclude that our modern culture needed it's Myths as much as the ancient ones did. So, they set out to create new ones, using the archtypes and symbols of the old, to serve for our culture what the ancient Myths did for theirs...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    It is interesting. I have never before thought of aspects of the Goddess being in popular culture. Having it described in that way I can see certain characters having those aspects but I wouldn't say the original disney princesses remind me of any way of the goddess. I see the goddess as strong, self-sufficient, knowing when to ask for help when necessary but not in any way as needy as most them. Although I could see newer princesses having more goddess aspects.

    Alice in Wonderland is a great book and movie but I have to honestly say I have never given it that much thought after I passed ten years old. Back then I just figured it dealt with portals to other dimensions and fairy worlds. Your ideas make much more sense but then they seem very well researched. I have to say that even though it did go over my head to look at myths in modern culture that it doesn't suprise me that older ideas would be modernized.
    For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'

    John Greenleaf Whittier

    Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

    Malcolm X

    The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.

    W. M. Lewis

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by Circe3 View Post
    It is interesting. I have never before thought of aspects of the Goddess being in popular culture. Having it described in that way I can see certain characters having those aspects but I wouldn't say the original disney princesses remind me of any way of the goddess. I see the goddess as strong, self-sufficient, knowing when to ask for help when necessary but not in any way as needy as most them. Although I could see newer princesses having more goddess aspects.
    Persephone was pretty passive, too, when you get down to it. Even Inanna/Ishtar needed to be rescued.

    Until writers like MacDonald and Carroll wrote original stories, fairy tales were old folk tales passed orally from generation to generation. That's why there are so many versions of them. It's also important to note, as with any Myth or Folklore, that they would have to reflect the times and culture they were told in.

    That said, the Brothers Grimm, who collected many fairy tales, thought that most if not all had pre-Christian ritualistic roots. You'll note the Death and Resurrection theme of both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. This both represents Nature's cycles and Initiation rituals.

    Then, there's Snow White's physical description: "Skin as white as snow, lips as red as as blood, hair as black as ebony." White represents innocence, red represents livelihood and maturity, and black death. She goes through all of this through her Journey, leading to her rebirth and her union with her Sol/Stag/Green Man. The Prince in these stories isn't even really a fully fleshed out character. He exists to serve and be the Consort of the Heroine. But then, that's Tammuz's and Jack in the Green's job, too, really.

    By the 1990s, the folks at Disney were being more direct about things, having been (They've acknowledged this) using Joseph Campbell's structures on Myth to craft their stories. Walt was aware of the archtypes he was using, though. In one case, he added Mythic archtypes to a film adaptation that weren't there in the books. He took a minor character and expanded him into a Jack in the Green figure for the character he depicted as the May Queen. We'll be getting into that one in a bit, when we explore the Fairy Queen/May Queen aspect.

    Alice in Wonderland is a great book and movie but I have to honestly say I have never given it that much thought after I passed ten years old. Back then I just figured it dealt with portals to other dimensions and fairy worlds. Your ideas make much more sense but then they seem very well researched. I have to say that even though it did go over my head to look at myths in modern culture that it doesn't suprise me that older ideas would be modernized.
    The Alice books are the most complex "children's books" ever written. They're so layered that, as many scholars have noted, they're almost different books every time you re-read them. Something new jumps out at you, every time.

    Every generation embraces, and finds inspiration in, Alice, no matter how different these generations may seem, such as the Psychedelic movement of the 1960s and the Goth movement of more recent years. Such is the power of Faerie. And, that's what Myth should do.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

    -C. S. Lewis

    Starting in the early 1930s, and for almost twenty years, a literary group of friends at Oxford met at a pub called the Eagle and Child. They were called the Inklings.

    The two most famous writers to emerge from this group were J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. A favorite subject was Tolkien's concept of mythopoeia, the creation of Myth. Tolkien and Lewis were especially influenced by George MacDonald (Lewis said he never wrote a book that didn't quote MacDonald at some point), and understood the importance of Myth in the healthy function of a culture. Myths are more than just stories. They're guides on our Paths. They illustrate higher Truths. Their archtypes and symbols represent many things. They show us how to become wiser, mature, people.
    The old Myths were very much a part of the day to day lives of the ancient cultures. Unfortunately, in the modern world, we have difficulty relating to the old Myths that Tolkien and Lewis so loved, as we don't live in those ancient cultures. So, they decided to do intentioanlly what MacDonald and Carroll had done without meaning to, create new Myths, using the archtypes and symbols of the old, that would serve for our culture what the ancient Myths did for theirs.
    They drew heavily on the concept of Faerie, like MacDonald and Carroll at Oxford before them. The woods near Oxford seem a good place to be enchanted by the Fae.
    Tolkien, starting with The Hobbit, wrote his Middle Earth books. Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which he would go on to expand into The Chronicles of Narnia.
    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the next major variation of the Alice version of the Goddess Descending Myth. The Alice figure here is Lucy Pevensie. During the air raids of London during World War II, Lucy and her older siblings, Peter, Susan, and Edmund, have been relocated to the large country house of the mysterious Professor Kirke. During a game of Hide and Seek, Lucy finds a wardrobe.

    She hides there, and while backing further and further up, discovers she's in a forest in Winter. She encounters and befriends a fawn, Mr. Tumnus. He warns her of the Ereshkigal of Narnia, Jadis, who has brought eternal Winter to the land. Jadis wants any young humans who enter Narnia brought to her, but Tumnus has decided not to do that, and sends her home. She, and her siblings, wind up back there, anyway. First Edmund goes, encountering Jadis, who makes an offer to him.
    It seems there is a prophesy in which Jadis's power will be broken by two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve, who are to fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel. They are told the Great Lion Aslan, the Lord of the Forest, is on the move, and they set out to join him. Along the way, Edmund is separated, but the other three are given magical weapons by Father Christmas, as well as a healing elixer to Lucy. Father Christmas hasn't been in Narnia since Winter became eternal. His arrival signals renewal is to come.
    The ice begins to melt, and the trees begin to bloom, awakening the Dryads, the Nature spirits that Lucy discovers she has a special affinity with. They meet with Aslan and his army, and prepare for the coming battle. However, Jadis arrives, announcing she's going to execute Edmund. Aslan offers to be killed in his place, and Jadis accepts. He is bound to an ancient stone, and ritually executed.

    Lucy and Susan are there until the next morning, when Aslan is ressurected, due to "deeper magic from before the dawn of time" allowing someone who has willingly sacrificed themselves for another to return to life.
    Like Tolkien's Gandalf, Aslan is a Christ figure, but also many other things, drawing on many Solar and Nature deities (But then, so did Christ). He's freed from his bonds by the field mice, sacred to the Sun God Apollo. As we recall from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it was the field mice that rescued the Lion and who Dorothy woke up to during their symbolic Deaths and Resurrections. And, as we recall, Inanna's sacred animal is the Lion. So, Lucy is naturally the closest of the Pevensies to Aslan.
    The final battle sees Jadis defeated and the Pevensies taking the thrones.

    For years, they reign. But, while hunting the White Stag, they find themselves back through the wardrobe and home, at exactly the same time that they left, and exactly the same ages they were when they first entered Narnia. The White Stag, as those familar with the Myths that Lewis drew from recognize, is another form of Aslan.
    Some songs from the movie soundtrack... Imogen Heap - Can't Take It In

    Alanis Morrisette - Wunderkind. This song is about Lucy, but the lyrics apply just as much to Queen Alice's and Princess Dorothy's Journeys. It's pretty much this version of the Goddess Descending Myth put into song.

    Tim Finn - Winter Light

    In Narnia, 1300 years pass, and the time comes when they're needed, again. In Prince Caspian, the title character, the rightful heir to the throne, has had it usurped by his uncle. He finds Susan's horn, and summons the Kings and Queens of old. Unfortunately, both the BBC and Walden film adaptations cut the Bacchus sequence, in the BBC's case to avoid controversy, in Walden's case because it wasn't action oriented enough. What the BBC found too controversial is something that confuses many about The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Alice books. How are these books by Christian writers Christian? Well, it's not a take on Christianity that's common, but draws heavily on MacDonald, very Celtic, spiritually and Mythically, and drawing from Alchemical traditions. Bacchus, here, is the Green Man archtype.

    By cutting out Bacchus, though, the BBC and Walden missed the entire point of the story. It wasn't just about removing a tyrant. What Miraz has done is worse than that. An overview of the Bacchus sequence, for those who haven't read the books.

    The MacDonald influence is also why our Goddess figure is a child or teen. God's nature, in this theology, is child-like, so Alice, Dorothy, Wendy, and Lucy are closest to God. So, they are the ones who must lead us into Fairyland.
    God's nature being child-like was illustrated in Kevin Smith's film Dogma.
    In that film, Metatron, the Voice of God, appears to Bethany Sloane, a young woman who's lost her faith in God to to infertility and the divorce that resulted from it. Two fallen angels seek to force their way back into Heaven, though if they succeed, the results would be Apocalyptic. God is currently unable to prevent it, due to a love of playing skee ball. God sometimes enters people to indulge in this bit of fun. Unfortunately, the man that was entered was beaten by thugs into a coma, and is being kept alive by machines, thus keeping God trapped.
    Aiding Bethany in her Quest is a Muse, the previously unknown 13th Apostle, and two Prophets, Jay and Silent Bob (recurring characters in Smith's films). The climax... Warning: Some very foul language. It's Jay, after all. And, Alanis Morrisette, again...

    The Waterboys are heavily influenced by George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis, especially on the This is the Sea album. "The Whole of the Moon" is, in part, about Lewis.

    The Goddess figure in these stories reflects our modern times. She chooses her actions. Note that, rather than the actions of the distraught Demeter figure, Aunt Em or Mrs. Darling, or the Zeus figure, Uncle Henry or Mr. Darling, bringing their daughters home, it's Dorothy and Wendy that make that choice.
    The next major variation of the Alice version of the Goddess Descending Myth would draw on a Scottish version of Fairy lore...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Rhode Island
    I find this all so fascinating and would LOVE to know more!! keep it coming
    Christina Sparrow

    previous MW usernames: VioletStarLizard - lil'BuddhistWich - SunflowerWriter

    I am a sparrow, the smallest of songbirds...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."

    -C. S. Lewis

    In Scotland, it was said that there was a great dispute among the Fae, that led them to divide themselves into two warring Courts. The Seelie Court was benevolent towards mortals. The Unseelie Court was hostile. While helpful to mortals, it was still best never to offend the Seelie Court. The Unseelie Court, however, didn't need to be offended to harm you. In the seasonal turns, the Seelie Court is identified with Summer, the Unseelie Court with Winter.
    Each Court has it's own Fairy creatures. The Seelie Court has Pixies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Selkies, and Leprechauns. The Seelie Court has a fondness for pranks and practical jokes, and often play them on mortals. They never take it too far, though. The Seelie will help humans, and sometimes seek help from them. The most famous Pixie is, of course, Tinkerbell. The most famous Hobgoblin is Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Brownies have been the subject of much Folklore, including the fairy tale The Elves and the Shoemaker. They're the basis for the House Elves in Harry Potter. The junior version of Girl Scouts is named for them, and they are even the mascot of Cleveland's Professional Football team.

    The Fairy Godmothers of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc, are of the Seelie Court. One generally sees the Seelie Court at Twilight.
    The Unseelie Court Fae are known to attack travelers at night, and kidnap children. Creatures of the Unseelie Court include Goblins, Boggarts, and Redcaps.
    In 1986 came another variation of the Alice version of the Goddess Descending Myth, that would put the ruler of the Unseelie Court in the Lord of the Underworld role (which makes sense, since it's the Fairylands these girls are always entering); Jim Henson's Labyrinth.

    It begins with 15 year old Sarah Williams rehearsing a book in a park. She can never quite remember one line, much to her frustration. She also doesn't notice an owl observing her.

    When a bell rings, she realizes she's lost track of the time. She rushes home, as she's supposed to watch her baby brother Toby while her father and stepmother go out for the evening. After an argument with her stepmother, they leave. As Sarah is looking at a photo album containing pictures of her actress mother, she notices her favorite teddy bear is missing, only to discover it in Toby's crib. She snaps at Toby, causing him to cry. To get him to stop crying, she begins telling him the story she was rehearsing, earlier. As we see from her bookshelf, she has a lot of books, including Alice and The Wizard of Oz. This will become significant, later on.
    The story she begins telling Toby is about a maiden, with whom the Goblin King had fallen in love, and given special powers. In the story, the girl can no longer stand the cries of her baby brother, and wishes the Goblin King would come take the child, who he would turn into a goblin. Toby keeps bawling, though, so she finally puts him back in the crib, turns off the light as she leaves the room, and says she wishes the Goblin King would take him away, right now.
    She notices Toby has stopped crying. Worried, she rushes back into the room to discover he's missing. The owl from earlier flies in, and transforms into Jareth, the Goblin King, who tells her he's done as she wished. She begs him to return Toby. Jareth tells her that if she can solve his great maze, the Labyrinth, within thirteen hours, Toby will be returned to her. If she fails, he'll keep Toby forever and turn him into a goblin.
    The Labyrinth isn't easily solved, as nothing is as it looks, there. It's also filled with all manner of puzzles she must solve, and other dangers. She does have the advantage, from those books on her bookshelf, of knowing she's playing out a Mythic cycle. Unfortunately, that old method of marking your path in a labyrinth doesn't work, here. The Alice Myth has become meta-narrative.

    Like Dorothy, along the way she's gained companions; Hoggle, a grouchy dwarf; Ludo, a gentle giant beast that can summon rocks; and Sir Didymus, a chilvarous fox knight. And, of course, she's learning maturity and other life lessons along the way.

    Sarah is tricked into eating poisoned fruit, drugging her. While in this state, Jareth enchants her. Toby isn't who he's really after.

    After breaking free of the enchantment, Sarah and her companions raid the Goblin City, then storm the castle. Again, knowing what Myth she's acting out, Sarah tells her companions that she must face Jareth alone. When they ask why, she answers "Because that's how it's done." She must take a very literal Leap of Faith. Then, she must finally not only remember that line she was rehearsing, but truly understand it.

    And we see how much the Goddess has changed since she was Persephone in ancient Greece. She can have an equal, but none will have power over her.

    Or, maybe it's just the Fairyland setting. The ancient Celts, unlike the ancient Greeks, practiced sexual equality. So, when they're transported into the Celtic Fairyland, Persephone isn't going to put up with Hades trying to dominate her.
    Toby is safe and sound in his crib, and sleeping peacefully. Sarah places the teddy bear in the crib.
    She returns to her room, and sees her friends in the mirror.

    She will always have them, keeping that child-likeness.
    A fanvid...

    The Alice version of the Goddess Descending Myth has continued to be revisited...

    One criticism Pan's Labyrinth has gotten that bothers me is people not understanding why the Heroine always chooses to do the right thing. "What's her ulterior motive?" they ask. I think it a sad commentary on our times that people think one must have a selfish ulterior motive to choose to do the right thing in any given situation. Joseph Campbell was right.
    When asked what happened to a culture that wasn't guided by Myth, he answered "Look around you. You see it in the newspaper, every day." Campbell agreed with Tolkien and Lewis that modern Myths are needed, to show us the way. That these modern Myths disturb our Nihilistic culture so much just proves how much they're needed.
    Some of that mindset have argued that Terry Gilliam would have been a better director for Alice in Wonderland than Tim Burton because, unlike the positive Burton, Gilliam would have made it cynical, and Nihilistic. That's actually why Gilliam would have been absolutely wrong for the material. Wonderland isn't about cynicism and Nihilism. You have to have that child-likeness that Burton has.
    Neil Gaiman has revisited the Alice version of the Goddess Descending Myth twice, now.

    The Close to You scene, very Baumian, or as Oz fans would say, "Ozzy."

    But, what is our Maiden Goddess growing up into?...
    Last edited by perceval23; January 26th, 2011 at 06:46 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    St. Petersburg, FL
    It's too early in the morning for this, but your Inanna information is mostly crap. The Wiccan version is... well... it's painful to read. Basically, it's a modern creation that makes people feel good, and is no where near accurate compared to the original. Modifying myths because it makes you feel good does not accuracy make. The original can be found at

    Secondly, Inanna was killed because she broke sacred laws, one of the most important being hospitality. Ereshkigal didn't "take advantage" of Inanna in any way, shape or form. Inanna made the choice to descend, and then proceeded to break all kinds of rules and laws. She was stripped her of her power, but here's why!

    22 Biting her lip in concentration she considered the words of Neti. Inanna had been the goddess who had commanded that her husband be sent against Gilgamesh in the first place, and Ereshkigal had not forgiven her. In the eyes of the queen of the underworld Inanna did not have the right to even attend the funeral.

    23 "Let her through, but bolt each of the doors before and after she comes through." Instructed the vindictive widow. "At each gate take an item of her fine clothing from her. It is improper for her to be dressed in such finery in the land of the dead."

    24 Heading back to his post Neti secured each of the seven doors. With the preparations made Neti opened the gate to Inanna on Ereshkigal's orders. "Come and enter."

    25 Stepping through the doorway Inanna was shocked when the gate was closed and secured behind her. Neti forcefully took Inanna's rod and cord.

    26 "What is the meaning of this?" Demanded Inanna of her attacker.

    27 "Quiet! This is according to the custom of the underworld. You must not raise your voice against the rules of the underworld." Inanna had broken two different rules. She had raised her voice and she had taken fine clothes into the underworld.

    28 At the second gate she was again assaulted by the gate keeper. The door that she entered was only open long enough for Inanna to go through it. This time the gate keeper removed some of her jewelry. Again Inanna was outraged at the transgression against her.

    29 With each passing gate another thing was taken from her. Finally at the seventh gate her cloths were taken from her. She stood naked and powerless before the land of the dead. Inanna crouched down after her cloths had been taken away.

    30 Inanna of the east was no wilting flower to shy away from danger simply because she wore no clothing. She boldly entered the underworld, and headed straight for Ereshkigal's home. None of the dead rose a finger to stop her. She entered into the city of Urugal.
    The best part? Ereshkigal didn't touch Inanna! Well, not to kill her anyways.

    31 Inanna who, as one of the great seven, was still more powerful than Ereshkigal. She demanded that Ereshkigal stand up from her throne. Once the queen of the underworld had stood up Inanna placed herself upon the throne of Ereshkigal.

    32 She intended to take the realm of the underworld for her own, but the seven judges of the underworld had witnessed what she had done. They rendered their decision against the queen of heaven. They looked at her with a look of death, they shouted at her angrily speaking of the guilt that she should feel for her actions. Inanna had removed herself from the place where she belonged and had attempted to take a place where she didn't belong.

    33 Namtar came up to Inanna and carried out the judgment against the goddess Inanna. She had broken the most sacred laws of hospitality and had stolen from her host. Namtar turned Inanna into a corpse and placed her on a hook for his mistress. His mistress then fashioned a water skin out of the flesh.

    34 Three days passed and Inanna's minister Ninshubur had grown concerned. The funeral of the bull of heaven came and went. Had things gone according to plan Inanna would have come back by now.

    35 In the time that Inanna had been gone, domesticated animals did not mate. Men didn't seek out prostitutes. Romantic couples slept in their own room. throughout civilization nobody sought out intercourse. Inanna's power was gone from the land.
    Crazy how actually looking at myths is so different from what people like to claim they are.
    Last edited by RoseKitten; January 26th, 2011 at 07:39 AM.
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