58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
Earlier this year when I told a friend I am trying to understand the American consciousness better she recommended I watch the movie "Wizard of Oz". I had a vague idea of the story but had never actually read the book or watched the movie. Once I watched it I saw how it could capture the imagination and open new worlds.
Now with this amazing book being published it takes the story to a whole new level! Here laid out brilliantly is Dorothy's magical journey in mythological terms relevant to our times with the added practical exercises to help one along one's own yellow brick road. Thank you Jean Houston for the insights, wisdom, humor and practical guidance. I had a wonderful experience with this book - it is so timely and inspiring. Highly recommend it to anyone who wants a deeper perspective on the "Wizard of US" (love the title!)
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2012
Dr. Jean Houston's new book, The Wizard of Us: Transformational Lessons From Oz, is a masterful work on every level. It not only serves as a testament to the very deep spiritual work in which the author has been steeped for the past several decades of her life, but speaks to the profound nature within each of us that is yearning to break free of the confines of the physical world. Within each of us resides the limitless potential that comprises the cosmic consciousness of the Universe itself, and through the lens of the familiar tale of the The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Houston (a leader and one of the founders of the Human Potential Movement) brilliantly illustrates the possibilities of the very real relationship that can exist between the domain of the ego and the Archetypal Realms characterized by the cast of characters in that work.
For this reason, each of the individuals we encounter--and accompany--along the Yellow Brick Road, becomes a mirror, or a reflection of sorts of our own wounded selves, longing to find wholeness on this journey we call life.... As we sing and dance with Dorothy and her friends--and sometimes face unforeseen obstacles, we are reminded to release our self-contained, ego-directed, smaller selves so that we might progress on our own heroic journeys living our lives "writ large," as it were, so that, we, too, can define ourselves by these higher qualities, or archetypal selves, especially when our own well-being, or that of others is at stake.... In this way, we are encouraged by Dr. Houston to become co-creators of a brave new world--as stewards of our planet--all the while exhibiting that which is right and good about our humanity..., and, like the alchemist of old, transforming base metals into gold, through the interconnectedness of body, mind and soul....
Inspiring stories from Dr. Houston's own mythic life and those of others with whom she has worked are seamlessly interspersed throughout to exemplify the lessons she teaches, as well.... In addition, readers are graciously provided with an interweaving of a new repertoire of processes involving meditations and visualizations created by Dr. Houston to perfectly reflect the archetypes within this work--of heart, mind, courage, home and the journey itself. Prior versions of these exercises have proved to be exceedingly helpful for those who participated in them--and who are interested in expanding into their own Greater Selves to more fully embrace their own stories.
Very rarely is a book written that holds within its pages a message for everyone, or rather, Every One, who reads it. This is just such a book. To give it five stars is a disservice, as it speaks directly to that which is infinite in each of us. Its nature is profound, as within it, there is greatness and grace, humor and humility, intention and inspiration, magic and magnificence, spirit and soul.... Dr. Jean Houston is truly a "midwife of souls" who evokes the Wizard in all of Us....
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
Oprah, being a big fan of the Wizard of Oz, had Jean Houston on her show back in November to talk about her new book The Wizard of Us. I found the interview wonderful and was fascinated with Jean. As Oprah said, she is "a quote a minute". One of my favorite quotes from Jean on the show ... "The soul is the essence of who we are, the lure of our becoming". After listening to the show and enjoying the online comments from both Jean and Oprah, I ordered my copy of The Wizard of Us.
Written in a way that captures the reader with her experiences, insights and humor, Jean Houston goes on to reveal a deeper story not just within the American classic `The Wizard of Oz', but also within ourselves. Empowering us with tools to enliven a personal mythic life, to see and experience our own `heroes journey'. Exploring the archetypes and symbols within this story and then reflecting on how they are at play in our own lives, Jean gives us practical exercises that can widen our perspective and understanding of past, present and future events. Giving us keys to make a shift to a conscious journey and enlivening a greater potential that exists in each of us. In the introduction Jean asks us to "explore the ultimate questions of origin: Who are we? Where are we going? Where do we belong? Who are we in relation to other beings? How are we being called to become our best possible selves--creators of a new way of living at this critical time?"
Applause for such a wonderful book. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to deepen, grow and to feel empowered to make a difference.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
THe WIZARD OF US is the 2012 gifting/compilation of five plus decades of Jean Houston's work rewoven through the story we all love. We all love Dorothy and her iconic journey. Jean Houston' new book took this reader into the story in a whole new way and succeeds in taking esoteric ideas and making them approachable and readable for this moment in time. Jean Houston has been deemed a 'Pilgrim of the Future' and here in The Wizard of Us there is a passionate call for all of us to find our 'ruby slippers'. I felt the call.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2012
The first Jean Houston workshop I attended was in Chicago in 1985. The theme was the Wizard of Oz! I was thrilled to see it in book form - finally! I would recommend it for anyone interested in a story that embodies an American myth. It also is a way to work with one's own potential to develop courage as opposed to timidity, a vibrant mind, and
a a heart that connects to others lovingly.I came home from the workshop wanting more, and I have been going to Jean's workshops since. I think they number more than 50. I am not the person I was when I began, and hope to have 20 more years to keep on growing. Sister Joyce Kemp, r.c.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2012
This book starts out with a wonderful foreword from Deepak Chopra. Chopra states that "no one is more capable of giving a complete narrative about myth than Jean Houston...Her aim is like (Joseph) Campbell's; she wants the reader to see that each life has mythic value." Well, Campbell is one tough act to follow, and this book really does not come close to Campbell's astute insights about world religions, archetypes and mythology. While Houston is certainly capable of the claim that Chopra makes, this book meanders in and out of clarity and focus --it's the story about Dorothy in Oz and then it's a series of meditations intended to transport readers elsewhere. A better editor might have given readers a "heads up" about the "Process" sections of the book --rather than jarring the reader from the interesting narrative explanations and hurling us (the readers) into various experiential exercises. All that said, it's a fun book to read and Houston's alternately brilliant and quirky personality and thinking spills out on every page.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
Jean Houston is an extraordinary wordsmith, and the ultimate evacuator, as she takes you on this luscious journey to the Land of Oz...and ultimately to yourself and your innate potential! The Self is the ultimate mystery, and Myth is always about the making of the soul. We all know human beings cannot survive without meaning, and this book will spark your imagination to notice the synchronicities of your life, and the wonderful story of OZ!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
This is a book that will show up for you when you are yearning for guidance on how to live life purposefully, creatively, passionately, and connectedness.
Ms Houston describes this book as ".. a primer for training the mind to see the world in its diverse and simultaneous truths." It's purpose is to "connect to the universal myth within" by living "deliberate lives that actively connect the codes and symbols of our shared mythic story to our increased understanding of our connection to, and within."
Ms Houston uses the story of Dorothy from L. Frank Baum's story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to illustrate the Hero's Journey as examples of the life's journey. The Hero's Journey comes from the late Joseph Campbell's life long work on identifying and analyzing mythic patterns in stories from across time and place.
This book serves to awaken each and everyone of us to recognize our own life's journey of our heroic soul. When we have had enough of our no longer working existence, this book shows us how to find the yellow brick road to an expanded life that matters to us and the world.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
I love the depth of Jean's reflections on the inner journey. An essential travelogue for those who are ready to journey into the world of darkness and come out whole. Learning to confront the shadow begins the healing of the loss soul. Much food for the soul's rebirth. This book offer a spiritual guide and experience teacher who shows how to travel within and find the treasure. We need to discover the wizard inside of us and go forth into the community and share our gifts. The metaphor for each character became for me a reflection of the who I was and the who I needed to become. If you are ready to honor that which hides within, then this book is a great read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2013
In my living room I have a 36-inch-tall figurine made by a local woman artist of a Native American woman shaman with outstretched arms, her open hands facing palms upward, as in a prayer of supplication. I think of Jean Houston (born 1937) as a contemporary American woman shaman. The shaman represents one way to manifest the mature optimal form of the Magician archetype of maturity discussed by the Jungian theorist Robert L. Moore of the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Jean Houston has previously published a book about the Homeric epic the ODYSSEY and a big book about the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris. People who are experiencing a mid-life crisis are undergoing a life transition into a new stage of consciousness that is represented by Odysseus's journey back to Ithaca. But people who are experiencing the later life transition into old age are undertaking a deconstruction and reconstruction of their lives and ego-consciousness that is represented in the ancient myth of Osiris.
But Jean Houston's latest book centers on the 1939 Hollywood musical THE WIZARD OF OZ, starring 16-year-old Judy Garland as Dorothy. For the 75th anniversary of the movie, the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where she was born on June 10, 1922, is planning a festival for June 10-14, 2014. Perhaps Jean Houston was looking ahead to the 75th anniversary of the movie when she wrote her book THE WIZARD OF US: TRANSFORMATIONAL LESSONS FROM OZ (2012).
In this book Jean Houston provides (1) plot summaries of certain parts of the movie's storyline and (2) perceptive interpretations of each part and (3) self-help exercises for the reader to undertake, if she or he wishes to, and (4) commentaries about our contemporary situation. At the end of the book, she uses letters of the alphabet to construct an alphabetized "Manifestation Plan" (pages 188-193). But she only gets up to the letter M. It seems to me that an alphabetized "Manifestation Plan" should go from A to Z, not just A to M.
HER PERCEPTIVE INTERPRETATIONS OF EACH PART OF THE MOVIE
In her perceptive discussions of each part of the movie, she draws on Joseph Campbell's book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES to show how his collation of certain key points in myths about the Hero's journey can help us understand the larger mythic import of each part of Dorothy's Hero journey. The Hero in the Hero's journey represents our ego-consciousness. In the case of Dorothy's journey in the movie, she is experiencing the birth of the Hero in her ego-consciousness. Roughly, most of us experience the birth of the Hero around the age of puberty.
But if the movie centers on a psychodynamic that most of us experienced around the age of puberty, then the movie might be good for young people around the age of puberty to see. But Jean Houston's book does not seem to me to be aimed at people around the age of puberty. I suppose that some young people around the age of puberty could read her book. But even the self-help exercises in the book seem to me to be aimed at people who are beyond the age of puberty.
HER COMMENTARIES ABOUT OUR CONTEMPORARY SITUATION
In her commentaries about our contemporary situation, Jean Houston works with the thesis that contemporary breakdowns are breakthroughs to a new consciousness. Her commentaries do not seem to me to be aimed at young people around the age of puberty. Oh, sure, young people around the age of puberty should be able to read her commentaries and understand them. But her commentaries seem to me to be aimed at somewhat older readers who sense that we are experiencing some kind of societal breakdown in American culture today.
As is well known, conservative Americans today tend to see American culture as undergoing various kinds of breakdowns. But how many conservative Americans today would be open to Jean Houston's claim that we are undergoing a breakdown that is a breakthrough? For many conservative Americans, breakdown is breakdown. Period. Circle the wagons and try to resist the breakdown with all your might.
In the final analysis, it strikes me that Jean Houston's commentaries are aimed at middle-aged (say, over 30) and older Americans who are willing to see themselves as living through a breakdown that is a breakthrough.
The theme that there's no place like home emerges toward the end of the movie. However, this theme also seems to express the longing that Odysseus feels to leave Calypso's island, where she has enslaved him as her sex provider, and return home to his wife and son in Ithaca. Hmm.
Along the way, Dorothy's companion the Straw Man undergoes a deconstruction as thorough as the deconstruction that Osiris undergoes. Happily, Dorothy's other companions are able to reconstruct the Straw Man successfully, just as Osiris is eventually reconstructed, except for one symbolic part that is missing in the reconstructed Osiris. Hmm.
The Straw Man is best understood as one of the two bipolar "shadow" forms of the Magician archetype of maturity discussed by the Jungian theorist Robert L. Moore of Chicago Theological Seminary.
The Tin Man is best understood as one of the two bipolar "shadow forms of the Lover archetype discussed by Moore.
The Cowardly Lion is best understood as one of the two bipolar "shadow" forms of the Warrior archetype discussed by Moore.
Because of her gender, Dorothy represents the Queen archetype discussed by Moore.
However, before Judy Garland played the role of Dorothy in the movie, many Americans had fallen in love with her. As an actress and singer, 16-year-old Judy Garland playing Dorothy in the movie represents the energy of the Lover archetype -- as all artists do, according to Moore.
On page 168, Jean Houston quotes the psychoanalyst David Magder:
"The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion represent syndromes with which most therapists are familiar: low self-esteem based on the sense that one is not intelligent or capable of dealing with the world as one would like to, or a sense of inability to respond emotionally or effectively, and anxiety or fearfulness in dealing with the day to day problems of living."
Toward the end of the movie, the unmasked Wizard of Oz goes back into his official role and grants each of Dorothy's three companions something that is supposed to represent what each of them does not have. The Scarecrow receives a diploma, the Tin Man, a heart-shaped watch; the Cowardly Lion, a medal for meritorious conduct and extraordinary valor. No doubt we do need to receive recognition and validation from others in order to develop our potentialities.
Drawing on my understanding of Erich Neumann's book THE ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS, his synthesis and systematization of C. G. Jung's work into a sequence of eight stages of consciousness, I above suggested that Odysseus's journey back home to Ithaca can be understood as symbolically representing the Hero's journey in the mid-life crisis - the journey into Neumann's stage seven of consciousness. Neumann describes stage seven of consciousness as leading to the rise of higher femininity. Ann Douglas has detailed the historical rise of higher femininity in American culture in her book THE FEMINIZATION OF AMERICAN CULTURE (1977).
Neumann follows Jung in identifying the deconstruction and reconstruction of Osiris as a symbolic representation of the Hero's journey into stage eight of consciousness. In certain academic circles in recent decades, our Western cultural heritage has been deconstructed with the same kind of vigor that Osiris were deconstructed. I wonder if the deconstructionists will undertake the reconstruction. If they don't, they risk sliding into the disgust and despair that Erik H. Erikson sees as one possible tendency of stage eight in the life cycle.
As I noted above, the Straw Man represent one of the two bipolar "shadow" forms of the Magician archetype discussed by Moore. Whenever we undergo a life transition such as the birth of the Hero in our ego-consciousness (Neumann's stage four), we need to undergo certain kinds of new experiential learning. Figuratively speaking, our thought worlds need to be deconstructed so that they can then be reconstructed with our new experiential learning. In this way, the major transitions in the life cycle involve a breakdown that is a breakthrough, as Jean Houston likes to say.
In accord with Jean Houston's own statements about puberty rites and the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ, I have indicated that the movie is deeply attuned to the birth of the Hero in our ego-consciousness around the age of puberty. As I've indicated, the birth of the Hero represents Neumann's stage four of consciousness.
Jean Houston is calling all the people who read her book to revisit the birth of the Hero in their ego-consciousness around the age of puberty. By revisiting the birth of the Hero in our ego-consciousness, we can renew our lives, regardless of our present age. How many among us do not feel a need to renew our lives?
Toward the end of the movie, the famous Wizard of Oz is unmasked as just a one-man special-effects operator.
Nevertheless, through this book Jean Houston as a woman shaman aspires to be the Wizard of us who read her book and take it to heart. In plain English, she is trying to be a special-effects operator in our lives.