Astrology is analytical. I like to think of astrologers as the Nerds of the New Age Movement. There are ten “planets” in 12 different signs in 12 different houses all making angles to each other. For the Obsessive Compulsive Astrologer, there are also decanates, Sabian symbols, mid points, progressions, transits and more! Astrology appeals to those that love data and details and making meaning out of these many moving parts.
To make it easier for those first learning astrology, examples from the cultural world aid speed of learning. What is literature and film but symbolism?
The Wizard of Oz, required viewing for US citizenship, is a colorful example of the four elements in Western astrology – fire, earth, air and water. Have you got your pen ready? Here are the characters and the elements:
Dorothy – earth
Straw Man – air
Tin Man – water
Cowardly Lion – fire
In case you were born on Mars, I’ll explain a little of the story. Dorothy lives in Kansas with her aunt and uncle (she’s clearly parent-less). After her little mutt Toto gets in trouble for biting the town grinch, Dorothy runs away, gets caught in a tornado, and is sucked through the tornado into the sparkling and colorful Land of Oz (which is over the rainbow).
Now I don’t know about you, but I always found Oz more appealing than Kansas. Why the girl was so eager to return to the black and white dust bowl rather than stay in the colorful land of yellow brick roads and green cities with chameleon horses, I’ve never figured out. But that explains the element of earth – it seeks the practical, not the magical.
Dorothy has become ungrounded. [Spoiler alert] Her trip to Oz is a dream or maybe an astral projection. Dorothy needs to return not just to Kansas, but to her body. She wants to go home. Her body is her home.
Dorothy is EARTH.
Back in Oz, Earth Dorothy meets the other elements. First comes the Straw Man. He was stuffed with straw but they forgot to give him a brain. When asked how he can talk without a brain, he responds, “People without brains do an awful lot of talking.”
For a creature without brains, the Straw Man is the one coming up with the ideas.
The Straw Man is AIR.
Next we meet the Tin Man who needs oil to move from his stiff and rusted state. We learn he was built without a heart. While Leo, a fire sign, rules the heart in astrology, for the Tin Man the heart is about all emotions, as we learn in his song. Later in the story he cries when Dorothy is poisoned nearly rusting himself again.
The Tin Man is WATER.
And lastly we meet the Cowardly Lion. He comes up to the group ferociously only to react with childlike fear when Dorothy slaps him on the nose. The Cowardly Lion is seeking courage. Courage is about the spirit.
The Cowardly Lion is FIRE.
By the end of the story, Dorothy’s companions all find that they possess the qualities that they mistakenly believe they are lacking. Dorothy’s earth quality quest to return home, a clear and urgent goal, brings out the hidden qualities of her companions.
And what about the ruby slippers given to Dorothy by the good witch Glinda to protect her from the Wicked Witch of the West?
Red is the color of the root chakra which represents, again, grounding. It’s also the place where our energy resides and relates to our urge to fight. [Spoiler alert] At the end of the movie, Dorothy does invoke her root chakra by protecting her friend and inadvertently killing the witch by throwing water on her and melting her.
Dorothy is finally reunited with her body and back in the three dimensional world of the senses.
Her friends air, fire and water are then merely memories.