it is stranger than we can imagine.’ - Sir Arthur Eddington.
Lewis Carroll---real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pictured below left)---had a great interest in the ‘occult’ and, in particular, in Rosicrucianism and in what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Ancient Wisdom’ (or the ‘perennial philosophy’), and what we have in both Alice and Through the Looking-Glass is a literary outworking of the archetypal story of the hero or initiate's journey, as well as the Gnostic redeemer myth, and the allegory of the descent ('involution') and ascent ('evolution') of the human soul.
Back to the ever-vanishing Cheshire Cat. (I will be like the proverbial kid in the lolly shop in this post. Forgive me.) It is the Cat---a symbol of divine wisdom in Ancient Egypt---who tells Alice to take a 'short cut' and go to the Queen. ('Some go one way, and some go another way, but I always take the short cut.') Very sound advice, this Cat gives. Now, remember when Alice plays croquet with the Queen of Hearts? Croquet---with flamingos for mallets and hedgehogs for balls. Quaint. Well, the Queen is in all of us. (No, not in that sense. Sorry.) The Queen has that mentality held by so many of us---she must always win or succeed, no matter what. She gets terribly angry even at the thought of ‘losing’ the game. That is why the Queen's playing card guards make sure the Queen’s ball goes through the hoops every time. That is the way the ego-self ‘works’---self-will run riot. The 'don't mess with me' mentality.
And what of the ‘path’? Well, there are lots of paths in Alice, but none of them really lead anywhere. Funny, that. In Through the Looking-Glass Alice remarks, 'Here's a path that leads straight to [the garden of live flowers] ... no, it doesn't do that ... how curiously it twists! It's more like a corkscrew than a path!' And so we find Alice 'wandering up and down, and trying turn after turn.' So must we. We must never become complacent and settle for just one 'version' or 'brand' of Truth---say, the church or religion we were 'born' into. Alice asks Tweedledum and Tweedledee, 'Which is the best way out of [the] wood?' The fat little men 'only looked at each other and grinned.' Love it!
That reminds me of the old Buddhist story, ‘You are on the Other Side.’ Reason, intellect, and book knowledge---not unimportant things by any means---are not the ‘short cut’ described by the Cheshire Cat. Indeed, they are hindrances to spiritual growth, as are all the things that the world deems important. The latter---along with those who seek worldly fame and success---are not only deluded, they’re ‘nothing but a pack of cards.’
Alice finally masters the underworld ('Wonderland' or the 'Looking-glass world') and becomes an 'initiate.' She awakens to her true 'be-ing' and full potential as a human being. She comes to know Truth. You can, too.
Choose---like Alice---to be mindfully different. And don’t forget the short cut.
1. Some of the scenes described in this post come from Lewis Carroll’s writings while others come from other literary as well as cinematic versions of Carroll’s works.
2. On 20 June 2015 the talented Australian broadcaster Jamie Travers interviewed me on 2SER - Real Radio 107.3 FM in connection with the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. To hear the interview please go to http://www.2ser.com/component/k2/item/16205-decoding-150-years-of-alice