According to philosopher and author Jean
Houston, the greatest truths of your own life can often be found in
pages of your favorite stories. Her new book, The Wizard of Us, uses
the classic story as an example of how the life lessons found in
the greatest myths of our time can help you become the hero of your own life—a life full of purpose, heart and courage.
Q: So what is a myth?
Jean: Well, a myth is a great story. A myth is a kind of story
that puts us on the road of adventures, shows us that we are larger than
we ever thought we could be. Gives us experiences that enlarge our
humanity. Experiences that often begin in a call. I feel called to
something—'I'm in a state of yearning.'
Just like little Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She feels called to
move beyond an outmoded situation in dreary old Kansas, "somewhere over
the rainbow." In fact, sometimes it takes a big thing to get you going,
like a tornado. And she lands in Oz, where she meets the parts of
herself that have been put down: Her mind, her heart, and her courage.
And therein often myths are filled with these symbolic characters, as in
The Wizard of Oz.
I wrote a book about this called The Wizard of Us. She meets the
Scarecrow for the mind—who turns out to have a brilliant mind, though he
thought he didn't have one. The Tinman, who is stuck and she helps him.
She has tremendous compassion, and she helps him release and become
able to move again. And he has incredible love and sympathy and
gentleness. And then the Cowardly Lion, who turns out to be able to do
It's like the world today. We are in teams. We are working together
across the great divide of otherness. We really take on the larger
venture, the larger experience of finding out what our deepest
challenges are that hone our pluck and cunning, make us grow up into who
and what we can be, and in our own way, save our world. That's what a
Q: Are there any telltale signs you're on the journey you're meant to be on?
Jean: Well, there are many different parts of it. You may feel called,
and you don't know for what, but you know you have to get out of an
outmoded situation. You may find curious allies showing up. Sometimes
the book opens to the right page. Or, that telephone call, or that
unexpected grace of a meeting. But mostly, it is a yearning that will
not go away.
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An encore of Oprah and Jean Houston's full conversation airs Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT.