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  • Ozian Religion
  • Ozian Lore
  • Ozian Politics

Ozian Religious Institutions

Lurlinism || Unionism || Pleasure Faith

Lurlinism is centered around the Fairy Queen Lurline being the “God” of the Royalists. In this religion, Lurline was the creator of Oz and she left her daughter, the first Ozma [see Ozian Political Forces] Link to Ozma to rule over Oz. Due to the fact that each subsequent Ozma is a direct descendent of the Fairy Queen and their “God,” the Royalists believe that the throne should be kept in the hands of Lurline’s descent.

“The most coherent one has our dear putative Fairy Queen Lurline on a voyage. She was tired of travel in the air. She stopped and called from the desert sands a font of water hidden deep beneath the earth’s dry dunes. The water obeyed, in such abundance that the land of Oz in all its febrile variety sprang up almost instantly. Lurline drank herself into a stupor and went for a long rest on the top of Mount Runcible. When she awoke, she relieved herself copiously, and this became the Gilikin River, running around the vast tracts of the Great Gillikin Forest and skirting through the eastern edges of the Vinkus, and coming to a stop at Restwater. The animals were terricolous and thus of a lower order than Lurline and her retinue…

‘The animals had come into their being as rolled clots of earth dislodged from the plant growth. When Lurline let loose, the animals thought the raging stream was a flood, sent to drown their fresh new world, and they despaired of their existence. In a panic they flung themselves into the torrent and attempted to swim through Lurline’s urine. Those who became intimidated and turned back remained animals, beasts of burden, slaughtered for flesh, hunted for fun, counted as profit, admired as innocent. Those who swam on and made it to the farther shore were given gifts of consciousness and language…

‘Thus, Animals. Convention, as long ago as history can remember, divides animals and Animals.” (Maguire 114).

As it can be seen, this idea of the flood is most likely based off of the Christian and Jewish stories of the great flood.

Unionism is the more common faith of the Unnamed God. This theory of this so-called Unnamed God, is common among the Munchkinlanders, and those who believe in him consider themselves Unionists. The priest of this religion would be called "Brother," comparable to  a catholic priest in that they are not supposed to enjoy sex, food, or other worldly possessions.

“They [the Unionists] tell a story that I guess would be derived from the pagan narrative, but it has been cleaned up some. The flood, occurring sometime after creation and before the advent of humankind, wasn’t a massive piss by Lurline, but the sea of tears wept by the Unnamed God on the god’s only visit to Oz. The Unnamed God perceived the sorrow that would overwhelm the land throughout time, and bawled in pain. The whole of Oz was a mile deep in saltwater tides. The animals kept afloat by means of the odd log, the uprooted tree. Those who swallowed enough of the tears of the Unnamed God were imbued with a fulsome sympathy for their kin, and they began to construct rafts from the flotsam. They saved their kind out of mercy, and from their kindness they became a new, sentient lot: the Animals.” (Maguire 115).

As can be seen here, the story of the flood holds much closer to that of Christianity because it was considered a semblance of cleanse of the earth at that given point in time. Those who practice this faith tend to be more “conservative” in nature and combat the Pleasure Faith, Lurlinism and the general existence of the Kumbric Witch.

Pleasure Faith are those that believe that the only purpose in life is to enjoy themselves. They believe that magic has the power to do anything, and that if they just combine the right amount of spells, ingredients, and talent, anything can happen. However, in the world of Oz, science and magic walk a very fine line. In truth, the novel never truly defines the difference between the two.

“The pleasure faithers - the pfaithers - say that if anything - Lurline or the Unnamed God - could have done it once, magic could do it again. They even hint that the original distinction between Animals and animals was a Kumbric Witch spell, so strong and enduring it has never worn off.” (Maguire 115)

The Kumbric witch seems to be at the foundation of this religion, however, Elphaba believes that the religion of the pfaithers could possibly be an offshoot of Lurlinism that got lost in history.

Ozian Fable and Lore

Clock of the Time Dragon || Princess Nastoya || Kumbric Witch || Strawnman || Other

The Clock of the Time Dragon is a tic-tok idol worshipped across Oz for its prophetic abilities. It is first described as “a tottering, freestanding theatre, punched on all four sides with alcoves and proscenium arches” (Maguire, 11). The dragon has piercing ruby eyes, silver claws, and skin made of copper discs covered by painted green leather. It breathes sulfur and moves base d on a complicated series of clockwork. Strangely enough, the clock mounted below the dragon does not move, but is painted to always show one minute to midnight (16), symbolic of its nature as a herald of doom and deceit. It uses puppet shows to tell audiences its prophecies, which consist of stories of adultery and wickedness. Frex, a Unionist priest and a victim of the Time Dragon, is against it because it is a “fake oracle, this propaganda tool for wickedness that challenged the power of unionism and of the Unnamed God” (12). The Time Dragon is lead by a group of dwarves, and is thought to be a representation of the dragon that sleeps under the earth come to life. The Time Dragon is particularly important within the novel because Elphaba is born in the back of its wagon (19); this, and her green skin, give her the nickname “Daughter of the dragon” (238).

Princess Nastoya of the Scrow Tribe is an immense, filthy, large-lipped woman who carries herself with crows on either shoulder, yet she is worshipped by the Scrow tribe. In the Scrow shrine, Princess Nastoya reveals her true nature as a changling. She is described as “naked and old and strong; what had seemed like boredom was revealed as patience, memory, control” (237). She drops her guise for Elphaba, exposing the fact that she is, for the Scrow, an Elephant Goddess living under a curse. The Scrow bowed to elephants “from a time before language, the time before history began,” and according to Nastoya they are aware that she is not truly a goddess but an Animal under a spell. She describes herself as “a beast who chooses magical incarceration as a human over the dangerous liberty of [her] own powerful form.” Within the novel, Animals are persecuted, which led Nastoya into hiding. It is Elphaba’s visit with Princess Nastoya and the Scrow that prompt her to take up the name of “Witch” (238).

The Kumbric Witch  is the most prominent and reoccuring example of Ozian folklore in Wicked. The Kumbric witch is describbed many times throughout the text. First, she is depicted in an old text as a woman nursing an Animal and straddling the sea with ruby shoes. At various points throughout the book, the term is used as something of a curse for women of the pleasure faith. At the philosophy club, a den of drugs and sexual deviance, there is a rite involving the Kumbric witch. Three audience members are selected. The first, a man, is marked as the Unnamed God; the second, a beast, as the Dragon of Time (aka the Time Dragon); and the third, a woman, is marked as the Kumbric witch. Perhaps most important to the idol of the witch is unveiled when Elphaba is in the Vinkus. She overhears Sarima telling her daughter Nor the story of the Kumbric witch, who stole fox babies and fed them until they were fat so that she could cook them. In the story, the kits sang her to sleep and escaped thanks to the sun. The story ends with the haunting lines: “And did she every come out?” “Not yet” (247). These chilling words are used to end Maguire’s novel.

The Strawman pin is worn by Munchkinlanders who resist the reign of Nessarose. It was a pagan  custom that went underground, but was revived when Munchkinland faced a great drought. The strawman used to be connected with human sacrifice. It is reminiscent of real-world stories of “the wickerman.”

Other Folklore
The novel has its own history, complete with a developed folklore and many minor examples are featured throughout the tale. For example, there is the proverb:

Born in the morning,
Woe without warning;
Afternoon child
Woeful and wild;
Born in the evening,
Woe ends in grieving.
Night baby borning,
Same as the morning (8).

This proverb is used to highlight the significance of Elphaba’s birth, and how it can bring only woe.
There is also a nursery rhyme that mocks the sociopolitical atmosphere of Oz. It is as follows:

Boys study, girls know,
That’s the way the lessons go.
Boys learn, girls forget,
That’s the way of lessons yet.
Gillikinese are sharp as knives,
Munchkinlanders lead corny lives,
Glikkuns beat their ugly wives,
Winkies swarm in sticky hives.
But the Quadlings, Oh the Quadlings,
Slimy stupid curse-at-godlings,
Eat their young and bury their old
A day before their bodies get cold.
Give me an apple and I’ll say it again (53).

This rhyme mentions the hard nature of the Gillikinese, the agricultural foundation of Munchkinland, the  and the abusive habits of Glikkuns. It makes a cruel mockery of the Winkies (who live  in the Vinkus) and the Quadlings, who, as mentioned are atheistic. The gender roles revealed within the rhyme are also interesting to note, given the importance of gender identity in Elphaba’s life.


Ozian Political Forces

Ozma || The "Wonderful" Wizard of Oz

Ozma refers to both the original Ozma, the ordained Queen of Oz who was supposedly the daughter of the Faerie Lurline, as well as her direct line of descendents. In theory, the soul of Ozma is reincarnated like a pfenix in each new member of the royal line. Traditionally, the Ozma line have ruled Oz from the Emerald City in traditions of Lurline - as such, many of those most loyal to them are devout Lurlinists.

“There’ve been three hundred years of very different Ozmas. Ozma the Mendacious was a dedicated maunt, who lowered rulings in a bucket down from the topmost chamber in a cloister tower . . . Ozma the Warrior conquered the Glikkus, at least for a time, and commandeered the emeralds with which to decorate the Emerald City. Ozma the Librarian did nothing but read genealogies for her whole life long. Then there was Ozma the Scarcely Beloved, who kept pet ermines. She overtaxed the farmers to begin the road system of yellow brick” (43).

The current incarnation of the Ozma line is Ozma Tippetarius, a woman about the same age as Elphaba. Though too young to rule when the previous Ozma died, her father Pastorius served as Ozma Regent until the Wizard seized power. It is believed that Ozma Tippetarius has gone into hiding to avoid the forces of the Wizard’s new order.

The “Wonderful” Wizard of Oz is the dominant political figure in Oz since his arrival from Kansas in an immense hot air balloon. Since his usurpation of the position of rulership from Pastorius, the Ozma Regent, his reign has been marked by strict control of image and policy to ultimately ensure that his status of power is maintained.
A primary example of the Wizard’s assertion of authority for the maintenance of power is his imposition of Banns of Animals - laws that restrict the ability of Animals to travel and function in society. Potentially for the purposes of keeping the rest of Ozian society sufficiently placated, the Wizard seeks to dismantle Animal rights, imposing instructors on the students of Shiz University that seek to indicate Animals’ inferiority.
Part of the Wizard’s power is in his anonymity - though he is a household figure, he doesn’t reveal his actual face to the general public, choosing to dine behind screens at formal events and appear as a variety of spectacular phantasms when confronted by direct audience.