When I was a little girl, even before I had my first encounter with Odin at the age of eight, I had an obsession ith The Wizard of Oz. (Not with the books, but the classic movie starring Judy Garland.) I liked to pretend I was Dorothy going off on adventures beyond the rainbow, to the extent that for a period of about a year my mother made me wear a sign letting her know whether I was currently Beth or Dorothy. (She was afraid that if I was Dorothy and she called me Beth, I wouldn’t answer–and she was probably right.) I even named two of my pet dogs Toto (in succession).
Of the new friends Dorothy makes in the land of Oz, my favorite was the Scarecrow, on whom I developed a little girl crush. I loved the relationship between him and Dorothy, and the fact that although he claims to be searching for a brain he was already easily the wisest member of their little party.
A few weeks ago I re-watched the movie–for the first time in about 10 years–while relaxing with a few friends, and happened to mention my chidhood crush. One of my friends immediately pointed out that when Dorothy first finds the Scarecrow he is hanging suspended on a stick with a noose around his neck, and asked if that reminded me of Anyone. The whole thing kind of snowballed from there, with all of us pointing out various resemblances between the Scarecrow and Odin:
1) Despite being a scarecrow, the Scarecrow is always surrounded by corvids.
2) The Scarecrow is in search of a brain, and would do anything to get one–not unlike Odin’s ruthless quest for wisdom. Once he has accomplished his quest, the Scarecrow declares, he will “sit [as Odin does on His high seat at Hlidskjalf] and think some more.”
3) The Scarecrow isn’t afraid of witches (much like Odin, who can overcome any witch with His runic sorcery).
4) Oz lies “over the rainbow;” Asgard, Odin’s kingdom, lies over the rainbow bridge (Bifrost).
5) The Scarecrow, Dorothy, and their other companions are traveling to the Emerald City. Asgard is referred to as the “green world of the gods” in Grimnismal (one of the sections of the Poetic Edda, one of the primary source materials of the Northern Tradition).
6) They are journeying to seek the wisdom of the Wizard of Oz, who appears to them as a giant disembodied head. (Strikingly similar to Odin’s uncle Mimir, guardian of the Well of Memory and renowned for his wisdom, who was beheaded by the Vanir and revived by Odinn’s magic.)
7) When the wizard departs Oz for his native Kansas, he leaves the Scarecrow in charge. (Much as Mimir’s wisdom very likely helped Odin ascend to kingship.)
Following this in-depth analysis, my friends and I went on to speculate about the identities of some of the other characters, based on the story symbolism, but none of our ideas seemed to fit quite as well.
I realize this may sound like a frivolous and even silly exercise, but what I took away from it is that surprising insights can come from opening our minds to seeing reflections of the gods from any source and in any context, no matter how unlikely it may appear at first glance. In my own case, for example, this provided further evidence (to me, at any rate), that I was hard-wired to be Odin’s from a very early age, and that He was watching out for me and attempting to communicate with me even way back then, years before I would even know His name.
What about you? In what unexpected places or unlikely contexts have you seen the gods lately?