Ghosting Through Life

Even though Oz has a community of Halloween-style monsters, it seems to be pretty light on ghosts and ghouls. While L. Frank Baum did write ghost stories (“My Ruby Wedding Ring” comes to mind), he tended to leave the afterlife out of his fantasy. One odd exception is in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, when Ak tells the Awgwas that they are inferior to humans because they can’t have eternal life in Heaven. The Oz books were particularly quiet on the subject, since no one there ever dies. They did at one point, but the books are contradictory on how long ago this was. There’s actually an example of someone in Oz coming back from death, specifically the Gump.

He reports that he was shot, and then wasn’t conscious until his stuffed head was animated by the Powder of Life. The indication seems to be that Gumps, at least, don’t go into an afterlife after dying. I have to wonder if sprinkling the Powder of Life on a dead body would result in an undead being.

There are a few apocryphal stories that deal with the idea of ghosts in Oz. One is the appropriately titled “Ghosts in Oz,” written by my Facebook friend Marie Candler Richardson, and published in the 1994 Oziana.

This story begins with Ozma and some of her friends meeting Simon T. Inphinium, who was dying at the time Lurline cast her enchantment, and hence ended up living (so to speak) as a ghost. In typical ghostly fashion, he can float in the air and pass through objects. Simon reports an influx of other ghosts in the land, who turn out to have been exorcised from the Great Outside World, Ghostbusters-style. Okay, maybe not quite like that, even though the Wizard of Oz actually uses the expression “‘busting’ ghosts.” Weren’t the ghosts in Ghostbusters kept inside the containment unit, not transported elsewhere? Regardless, the Wizard invents a machine that sends the ghosts out of Oz. Simon remains in the palace, however, and I understand he’s since taken up ghost writing. Also, while recently perusing Phyllis Ann Karr‘s Maybe the Miffin, I was reminded of the Fall Guys, who were the spirits of people who committed suicide by jumping off cliffs. The Wicked Witch of the East brought them to Oz and placed them at the bottom of a waterfall, so that they could capture anyone who tumbled down the falls. Snif the Iffin reports this to Ozma, and she apparently sends the Fall Guys back, although exactly where they belong isn’t entirely clear. I suppose Oz can harbor just about anything, including ghosts.

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7 Responses to Ghosting Through Life

  1. Marie says:

    Well, the idea there was that there was some sort of glitch with the containment unit that was somehow sending the ghosts to Oz instead of, well, containing them properly in the unit.

  2. vilajunkie says:

    I don’t suppose Ozite vampires sparkle, but I’m sure they do something equally silly. And the zombies probably are in constant search for BRANS, which doesn’t really affect the Ozites except for the Scarecrow. Would the Scarecrow turn into a zombie if he lost his brans? :)

    • Nathan says:

      There’s actually a book called Vampires in Oz, but I haven’t read it. The Baum Bugle review said that it was about a vampire finding her way to Oz and reforming, or something like that.

      • vilajunkie says:

        I could see the Wizard inventing blood capsules–they work like the Square Meal Tablets but contain blood that doesn’t come from any living thing. Or an Ozian community of vampires with a blood bank that works like a real bank but only in increments of blood rather than money. Or maybe Ozma declares that the vampires must only feed on vegetable juice (aka Virgin Marys), which doesn’t really affect any of the people Ozma cares about except for Carter Green, who would be in danger of vampire attacks every night. So maybe vampires in Oz suck the “blood” of Mangaboos, because the Mangaboos aren’t “real” people and Dorothy is interested in some sort of revenge on them. Yeah…

      • Nathan says:

        Peter Schulenburg’s Tin Castle says that Ozian mosquitoes (which we know exist based on the Tin Woodman’s comments in Emerald City) eat a plant called bloodroot. Maybe that would satisfy vampires as well.

  3. Pingback: The Ozzing Dead | VoVatia

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