It was quite by chance that in 1991 I became aware of the inner meaning in P L Travers’ Mary Poppins. I had been reading a book about the Goddess which takes you through one calendar year of her festivals called The Year of the Goddess by Lawrence Durdin-Robinson. I learnt that ‘The Great Goddess’ was known by many different names throughout the world: that she was also called The Triple Goddess, thus following the journey all women make from Maid through to Mature Woman and Mother and then Wise Woman. One of her titles was Mistress of the Animals and she was also known as the Moon Goddess, the moon being perceived as feminine.
Shortly after reading this book I just happened to read Mary Poppins to my two small daughters as their bedtime story. When I reached Chapter 10 entitled Full Moon I my suspicions were aroused. Surely not, but was Mary Poppins the children’s nanny being portrayed as the Moon Goddess? In this chapter the children, Jane and Michael Banks, Mary Poppins’ charges, are urged from their beds at night by a voice which leads them to London Zoo. There, they discover everyone is in a state of high excitement because it is ‘The Birthday’ which is falling on the ‘Full Moon’, a rare occurrence. As Special Guests of this important person, the children are led into the presence of none other than their very own nanny, Mary Poppins, sitting on a log in the Snake House surrounded by all the snakes. By now I was beginning to look at the book through a new lens and, the more I looked, the more evidence there was to suggest that Mary Poppins is indeed being portrayed as the Great Mother Goddess.
The book even spells it out when Mary Poppins straightens her hat at the Tobacconist’s shop on their way to have tea with Uncle Albert:
It had one of those curious mirrors where there seem to be three of you instead of one, so that if you look long enough at them you begin to feel you are not yourself but a whole crowd …Mary Poppins sighed with pleasure…when she saw three of herself, each wearing a blue coat with silver buttons…she wished there had been a dozen of her or even thirty. The more Mary Poppins the better.
There she is, The Great Triple Goddess, known the world over and associated with life-giving waters (her blue coat) and the silvery moon (the silver buttons).
Most ingenious of all, the book is divided into twelve chapters for the 12 calendar months and Mary Poppins stays for exactly one year. On the day of her arrival, Mr Banks informs us there is a cold east wind and, on the day of her departure, the chapter begins ‘It was the first day of Spring’ and Mr Banks comments that the parrot tulips are in bud and that the wind is in the west. The first and last chapters, as we see, deal with Mary Poppins’s arrival and departure. The three chapters the follow chapter one are, The Day Out, Laughing Gas and Miss Lark’s Andrew, all of which are concerned with the Goddess in her role as Maid. The following three concentrate on the Goddess as Woman/ Mother – The Dancing Cow, Bad Tuesday and Bird Woman. Then come the three chapters to do with the Goddess as Crone/Wise Woman, Mrs Cory, Full Moon and Christmas Shopping. These are interrupted by the chapter called John and Barbara’s Story which, as the title suggests, is their story.
However, there was one chapter whose inner meaning I was unable to fathom and that was Chapter 5, The Dancing Cow. Two events conspired to give me the key to unlock the hidden meaning. One day, for light relief, when I had made yet another failed attempt to understand this chapter, I made a lexigram of the words, Mary Poppins. You make as many words as you can out of the letters in the given words. To my surprise, I found they could be divided into each of the three roles of the Goddess as Maid, Mother and Wise Woman, but not as nature intended, more as Society has distorted them.
Maid pin, snip, soap, mop, pie, spam, sip, prim, pram, soppy, popsy
Woman man, pay, pimp, porn, sin, pain, mar, rip, primp, popsy, ma, may, yams
Wise Woman pray, poppy, rays, air, spin, say, rain
For the Goddess – in the guise of Mary Poppins – to fulfil her role as Maid, she has to escape the middle-class control of young women. This she does on her day off when she meets the man she is ‘walking out with’ who is Bert the chimney sweep and pavement artist. When Bert sees her he cannot disguise his admiration and Mary Poppins coyly looks down at her shoes and rubs one toe along the pavement. She has undergone a dramatic change: no longer is she the haughty children’s nurse she was only a minute ago: she has become a coy young woman. Ruefully, Bert tells her he has no money and cannot take her to tea. Sensitively disguising her disappointment, she brightly tells him she does not mind. But then Bert draws her into one of his pavement pictures and they are magically whisked away to a woodland glade. The Goddess undergoes a further transformation: she is now a cockney girl as revealed in her exclamation, “Strike me pink!” Bert, too, has become a cockney lad and the waiter, who deferentially waits upon the carefree, courting couple throughout, offers Bert a pin for his whelks, a food much beloved by cockneys. Only as a cockney can a young, unmarried woman be abroad without a chaperone and free from stifling middle-class convention.
In fact, their behaviour at afternoon tea in the magical glade is an amusing demonstration of how not to behave in polite society. Mary Poppins sits down with a ‘plop’ and tea is poured from an urn not a teapot: they polish off all the little raspberry-jam cakes, drink three large cups of tea each and, when they get up to leave, they just brush the cake crumbs off their clothes as there are no napkins. As many know, the Goddess of old was worshipped in just such a woodland setting and little cakes were offered at her shrines.
When Mary Poppins abruptly leaves the Banks family, Mrs Banks is indignant and distraught, for who is going to put the children to bed? It does not occur to her to do so herself, such being the convention of the day. For the Goddess to fulfill her role, therefore, as a hands-on mother she is obliged to become a children’s nurse. A more unsuitable person into whose tender care mothers gave their children would be hard to find, as the Goddess herself is at pains to show us through her adopted persona of an Old Maid. As the famously sharp, prim nanny, she is, in reality, an Old Maid who is always acutely aware of her humiliating status as a woman without a husband nor children. It is this which makes Mary Poppins the Old Maid so angry and bitter with her lot, and which makes her unfit as a children’s nanny. Of course, the children, being less conditioned than the adults, feel the great love of the Goddess through her stern exterior and are bereft when she leaves them. How has this unnatural state of affairs arisen where a mother has so little to do with her own children, and how is it that so many children were left in the charge of those who are no substitute for a mother’s love and care, and are often singularly ill-fitted to provide such nurturing?
It is interesting that on the magical adventures that Jane and Michael have with Mary Poppins, she is recognized by all the people they encounter for who she truly is, the Great Mother Goddess, and how they treat her with love and respect, whilst in our world she passes by unrecognized. The reason for this, as many know, is that the Goddess has been suppressed. Why has she come into our world in the famous guise of the sharp-tongued Mary Poppins? She has come to reveal the reason for her suppression and to bring healing. She has come to heal the relationships within the family and to fulfill her nature in whatever way she can in our Society, with the help of a little magic, of course, and the help of many friends from amongst the pantheon of gods.
Concerning Chapter 5, The Dancing Cow, what I did know was that the cow was sacred to the Goddess. The headdress of Hathor, the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility, consists of a full moon mounted between the horns of a cow and, to this day, the cow is held sacred in India. From the book, The Year of the Goddess I learned that the colours of the Triple Goddess were White (Maid), Red (Woman/Queen) and Black (Wise Woman/Priestess), hence the ‘dancing cow’ in question went by the name of the Red Cow. We have now entered the merry month of May, the month when the Goddess moves from her White Maid phase into her Red Mother/Queen phase. But the curious nature of the story was still a mystery. The bare bones are that the Red Cow lives a conventional life in the ‘the best field in the whole district’ knowing little of the outside world and bringing up the Red Calf to be a model lady like herself. One day, she begins to dance, which she enjoys and finds liberating. But then she discovers that she cannot stop and, after a week of being unable to eat or sleep, she decides to visit the King to seek help. Brought before the king, it is the king who spots the star on one of her horns. The only suggestion he can make is that she jump over the moon like the cow in the well-known children’s poem, The Cow Jumped Over the Moon to which The Red Cow agrees. The star comes tumbling off and she lands back in her own field to find she has stopped dancing.
I had been reading a book recommended by my mother called The White Goddess by the poet and scholar, Robert Graves. When I happened to re-read Chapter 5, the strange elements in the story finally fell into place, and the revelation was shocking. As a scholar, Robert Graves’s research of his subject matter – the Goddess as Muse – was thorough. The author tells us it was from many diverse sources that he pieced together a part of our history we have lost. Yet this turns out to be at the very heart of the ancient worldwide fertility cults presided over by the Great Goddess, leaving us ill-equipped to truly understand ourselves today. The fertility cults were Goddess-centred because it was believed that the Goddess ensured abundant harvests. Her representative was the Queen and it was she who ruled. Robert Graves calls these communities ‘queendoms’. At her side was her consort, the Sacred Sun King, but it was she who held all the power and the king was a mere cipher. The ancient game of chess well expresses this hierarchy: the Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, whilst the King can only ‘hobble’, one step at a time and needs protecting. Shockingly, I discovered that the Sacred King, as Robert Graves calls him, was sacrificed twice yearly, at mid-summer – when the sun was at its zenith, and at mid-winter- when the sun was perceived to ‘die’. At midsummer, the outgoing king was replaced by his ‘tanist’ or ‘twin’ who was then sacrificed at midwinter. To symbolize the extinguishing of the light of the sun, the king was blinded, and to show that he was being shorn of his great power as the embodiment of the sun, the locks on his head – being the very rays of the sun – were cut off and, finally, he was beheaded.
When the Red Cow lands back in her field, she begins eating at once, moving steadily across the field ‘beheading her golden soldiers’. She is so hungry that by the time she has finished ‘she had eaten up several regiments.’ We read that the soldiers are dandelions which are like suns and are therefore alluding to the Sacred ‘Sun’ Kings who were put to death during the Queen/Goddess’s reign. We are also being told that during this period young men met their deaths in this way in great numbers. Traumatised by the experience, we are shown how the fear remains with the Sacred Kings in subsequent lives. At last we understand the king’s curious obsession with getting to the barbers on time. Just as the Red Cow enters the throne room, the king stands up and ‘magnificently’ orders his coach to go to the barbers. He is irritated by the interruption and tells the Red Cow that he has “an appointment with the Barber at ten. He won’t wait for me longer than that and I must have my hair cut.” When the Red Cow agrees to jump over the moon the king replies, “Good”, …pleasantly, realizing that he would be in time for the Barber, after all.’ The subconscious fear from the trauma may be triggered when a former Sacred King’s hair begins to grow too long. The King of the Waxing Year who succeeded the King of the Waning Year on the day after the sacrifice at mid-winter began his rain with a shaven head. From then on his hair would not be cut until his brutal sacrifice at Mid-summer: his growing locks symbolized the increasing power of the sun rising ever higher in the sky to its zenith at mid-summer. The longer his hair, the closer his sacrifice. When the king asks who she is, the Red Cow answers that she is a cow, to which the king replies crossly, “I can see that,”…”I still have my eyesight…” revealing that he was blinded at his sacrifice.
When the Queen was overthrown by the king she was disempowered and put out of the way and kept under guard. So now we understand why the Red Cow is guarded by the dandelion soldiers in her grand field and why the king sees her so seldom that he does not even recognize his own wife when she appears at court. And this situation continues today in many of the Arab countries and elsewhere where women are still guarded, have very little liberty and receive a poor education, if any. It is because the subconscious fear and anger are still there even though they no longer have any basis in fact.
After relating the story of the Red Cow to Jane and Michael, Mary Poppins waits for the effect she knows it will have on Michael who is a former Sacred King, because here is to be found the root cause of misogyny the world over. The Goddess has come to heal the Sacred King of this terrible wrong that was done to him in her name. She knows that by reminding him of that life, it will bring it to the fore, which will then enable her to help him release the memory. Sure enough, in the next chapter, aptly named Bad Tuesday, Michael behaves very badly, cruelly even. The anger and hatred left over from that life come to the surface and he feels it as ‘the hot heavy weight that was within him’. Eventually, all of Michael’s anger and hatred is externalized, which he experiences as being attacked by the angry native peoples they met that day when circumnavigating the world on their afternoon walk. Terrified, he cries out for Mary Poppins to help him and shuts his eyes tight. He remembers being borne away in something soft.
When he opens his eyes again, he finds he is warmly wrapped up in his own bed and, ‘oh, the heavy burning thing that had been inside him all day had melted and disappeared…how happy he felt and how lucky he was to be alive.’ Mary Poppins appears with a cup of warm milk and stands beside him without saying a word. Michael ‘could smell her crackling white apron and the faint flavor of toast that always hung about her so deliciously.’ And he drinks the milk as slowly as he can to keep her standing beside him for as long as possible. It is a deeply moving scene: at long last the King and the Goddess are reconciled.
Cassie Martin, 15 February 2015
July, 2017. And, below, is one I wrote earlier! But removed for some reason. A little later I added a more condensed version as above which I sent off to a number of magazines including a newspaper, in February 2015, but with no success. I am including it again because there has been some interest shown recently, doubtless due to the remaking of the film, Mary Poppins. starring Emily Blunt as the famous nanny.
Excerpts from the book The Secret Goddess by Cassie Martin
The Secret Goddess
I was reading a bedtime story to my two young daughters from the well-known children’s book, Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. When I reached chapter 10, entitled Full Moon, it suddenly struck me that the eponymous heroine was none other than the Great Mother Goddess. Naturally, I was incredulous at this discovery but the more I read, the more convinced I became. In chapter 10, for example, the children are woken up in the middle of the night by a voice which urges them to follow and which takes them to London Zoo. They scarcely have time to grab warm clothes. When they arrive at the zoo, most bizarrely, the animals are out of their cages and in a state of high excitement because “the Birthday” has fallen on the day of the Full Moon. The children are treated as very important guests as we learn that they are considered friends of the honoured personage whose birthday it is. Finally, It transpires that it is the birthday of the children’s very own nanny, Mary Poppins! The fact that it falls on the night of the Full Moon is a fairly heavy hint that she is being identified as the Great Goddess who in myth and legends from all over the world is traditionally identified with the moon. The chapter is even called Full Moon.
The reason why I was able to jump to this conclusion was that, quite by chance, I happened to have just read a book on worldwide festivals of the Goddess throughout one calendar year in called, The Year of the Goddess, by Lawrence Durdin-Robinson. Without this I would not have picked up on this extraordinary and quite unmistakable comparison being drawn between Mary Poppins and the Goddess.
As is widely accepted, the Goddess has been suppressed and the world’s religions are almost exclusively patriarchal. It is for this reason that Mary Poppins has to come amongst us in disguise as a children’s nurse in order to attempt to fulfil her divine nature in its triple guise of Maid, Mother and Wise Woman, yet within the confines of our society. By suppressing the Goddess we have lost touch with the seasons and rhythms of Nature and in so doing, lost touch with our spiritual selves.
As to whether the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, consciously wove the story of the Goddess into this seemingly innocent and amusing story for children, we shall never know. She told people that the idea came to her ‘out of the blue’ and that she wrote the books very fast.
It soon became clear that a cryptic story was being told in each of the chapters and in two of them she has come to heal the wounded person who is the Sacred King, so as to restore the love between the King and the Queen.
Help with the Goddess’s Hidden Story
It was when I reached chapter five, The Dancing Cow, I found I could not unlock the cryptic story that I knew it contained. The book, The Year of the Goddess, had taken me comprehensively through one year of the old, pagan cult of the Goddess, but little did I know that there was one vital part of that cult which had been unknowingly omitted. Because of this, I was unable to understand the first of the three chapters on the middle phase of the Goddess, as wife and mother – chapters 5, 6 and 7. This is because that aspect of the cult is so horrific and painful that gradually, over time, it has been suppressed and, finally, forgotten.
Try as I might, I just could not unlock the clues in the story. I remember one afternoon making yet another attempt to understand this particularly mysterious chapter, but after a while I had to give up. For light relief, I decided to do a lexigram of the name Mary Poppins and proceeded to make as many words as possible out of the letters.
As I wrote the different words, a pattern began to emerge and it became clear that I could place them in three distinct categories:
- pin, snip, soap, mop, pie, spam, sip, prim, ma, pram, soppy, popsy
- man, pay, pimp, porn, primp, sin, pain, mar, rip
- pray, poppy, rays, rain, air, spin, say
The first grouping summed up Mary Poppins’ job as a nanny, as well as describing the life of an Old Maid who has to penny-pinch and eat spam! And how ingenious were the words ‘soppy’ and ‘popsy’ as they perfectly summed up the sentimental Miss Lark, while ‘prim’ and ‘pram’ accurately described Mary Poppins life as a nanny. The three groupings corresponded to the three different phases of the Goddess as they have come down to us – suppressed and distorted. This meant that the shocking group of words which included ‘pimp’, ‘porn’ and ‘sin’ could only apply to the Goddess in her sexually mature phase, as wife/Queen. An astonishing and quite unexpected aspect of the book was being revealed in the lexigram of the Goddess’s name in her disguise as an English nanny. I was soon to find out how this tragedy came about as it is implicit in these chapters.
The last group of words seemed to describe the Goddess’s divinity (pray) and connection with the natural world. But there is one word, ‘spin’, which reveals the source of fear of the Goddess for many in this final phase of the Goddess as Priestess, for this aspect of the Goddess was also corrupted during the pagan Cult. At the time, I was unaware of its full significance.
Doing the lexigram seemed to trigger an unusual experience I had the same night. In what seemed like the middle of the night, I suddenly found that I was awake and remembering something I had read in the book The Great Initiates by Edouard Schure some years ago. I was remembering that the classical Greek authors say that the genius of the Egyptian language was that the same work or hieroglyphs could be interpreted at three different levels – ‘literal, figurative or transcendent’, or put another way, ‘everyday, symbolic and hidden’. Schure explains that the last two levels could not be understood without a key. This ‘concentrated’ style of writing reflected a fundamental belief of the Initiate Hermes’s doctrine according to which the same law rules the natural world, the human world and the divine world. Thanks to this writing, the initiate embraced the three worlds in a single glance. It was only much later that I realised that each of the chapters in the book Mary Poppins has three levels of interpretation, not just two, as I had thought.
The instant I became aware that I was awake, a series of pictures began to go through my mind with each image staying for only as long as it took me to understand what was being conveyed. Not a second of time was wasted. First of all I saw the name ‘Mary’ written and I thought about the sound of the name with the ‘y’ omitted. I realised ‘Mar’ made the same sound as the French word for ‘sea’ (mer) and ‘mother’ (mere) and ‘mare’. The sea has always been thought of as feminine as it is generally held that life first came out of the sea; secondly, the Goddess has been worshipped anciently as The Great Mother; and lastly, in one of the most widespread Celtic cults, the Goddess was worshipped as the Mare Goddess Epona. The name ‘Mary’ is of course the name given to the Goddess in the Christian era, but I had never before realised its profound origin. It is therefore no coincidence that the secret Goddess is called ‘Mary’. Next, I understood that ‘Mar’ spelt backwards was ‘Ram’: ‘Mar’ was feminine and the ‘Ram’ masculine. This illustrated so simply how the two, masculine and feminine, are one.
Then I saw the ‘y’ of ‘Mary’ detach itself and move to the right and I focussed on this ‘y’. I remembered that one of the names for God in the Old Testament was Yahweh and that the ‘Y’ represented that name. I saw energy, or the One Life Force, as running down the tail of the ‘Y’ – descending from a great height – before dividing into the two branches of the ‘Y’ at a lower level: one branch was the masculine energy and the other was the feminine energy.
Next, I saw a ram’s head. One horn was straight and spiralled, and the other was a cornucopia, spilling out with the fruits of the earth. Again, the one horn was the divine masculine and the other the divine feminine. Underneath, on the left side, I saw the word ‘horny’ and to its right was the word ‘whore’. I understood that both words were derived from the horns of the Ram, the Ram being the symbol for the Age of Aries which preceded our own Age of Pisces, the Fish. It was fascinating to work out how the word ‘whore’ was derived from the word ‘horn’: a ‘w’ for ‘woman’ was put in front of the ‘h’ and the ‘ny’ was dropped.
Finally, my thought returned to the beginning of the experience when I had been thinking of the three levels of interpretation that the Egyptians used in their hieroglyphs. I was given the word ‘spin’ to interpret at all three levels which was to help me greatly in understanding the three chapters towards the end of the book devoted to the Goddess in her role as Priestess/Wise Woman. It was also one of the words found in the name ‘Mary Poppins’. And then the pictures were over and I went straight back to sleep.
From this experience I realised that there were deeper issues being covered in the secret story than I had realised. At some point during the Age of Aries the Ram – approximately 2000 B.C. to the birth of Christ – a woman’s sexuality came to be seen as something unclean and debasing, whereas a man’s sexuality was seen as healthy and natural. This is why the Church came to insist on the Virgin Birth. It was imperative that the Goddess, as Mary the Mother of Jesus, should not be seen as a sexual being if she was to be considered worthy of our respect and love, particularly the love and respect of men.
The Goddess’s Story Revealed
Although these pictures and ideas were to prove very helpful in understanding a deeper level of meaning, they did not help with the immediate problem of unlocking the secrets of Chapter 5, which remained as mystifying as ever. In the meantime, however, a book called The White Goddess by the poet and scholar, Robert Graves, had been recommended by my mother and I had been diligently attempting to read this heavy tome. A recurring theme of the book was the sacrifice of the King, consort of the all-powerful Queen in the pagan fertility cults. Robert Graves, besotted with the Goddess as source of inspiration to poets such as he, was able to investigate areas of this widespread cult where others had feared to tread. He revealed that he had only been able to piece it together from many different texts as it had been suppressed.
So it was that when I read Chapter 5 again, I at last understood the inner meaning contained in this chapter, The Dancing Cow. It is telling us of the cruel nature of the King’s sacrifice at the instigation of the Queen; and of the dire consequences for the Queen in their future relationship after she had been deposed.
The story itself is a little strange and mysterious but there are sufficient familiar elements in it for it to be passed off as a harmless piece of nonsense. The Red Cow, we are told, lead a contented, if dull life, in a large field where she brings up a succession of red calves. One day, quite suddenly, she begins to dance only to discover that she cannot stop dancing when she wishes to. In desperation, as she has become quite exhausted by now, she decides she will have to visit the King to ask for his help in solving the problem. At Court, where the King is making up new rules and regulations by the minute whilst surrounded by sycophantic courtiers, he is the only one to spot there is a fallen star caught on one of her horns.
He immediately concludes, correctly, that it is the star that is causing her to dance. The King motions one of his courtier to pull it off but it is stuck fast. All the courtiers together try pulling off the star but to no avail. The encyclopaedia is consulted only to come up with the story of ‘The Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon’. At this, the King irritably suggests that the Red Cow had better try it too. This she does and as she is leaping over the moon the star slips off her horn and rolls away into the darkness sending back ‘great chords of music’. The Red Cow lands back in her field and she is no longer dancing.
Mary Poppins tells us that the Red Cow was very important person and that, consequently, she lives in the best field in the whole district, full of dandelions like soldiers. Her importance, the size of her field and the fact that it is the King who is the first person she thinks to consult over her problem, are all telling us that she is, in fact, none other than the Queen, wife of the King, who in the pagan cults was identified with the Goddess and one of the animals sacred to the Goddess is the cow. As she is never without a calf in the story, we are also being shown that she is in the Mother Goddess phase and therefore her colour is red, hence her name, ‘the Red Cow’. White is the colour of the Maid and Black that of the Crone, Priestess or Wise Woman.
The transcendent or third level of meaning concerns the star which will be discussed later. Of more immediate concern was the symbolic level. When the Red Cow jumped over the moon she came to land, not in the King’s court, but back in her own ‘dandelion field’. She was very hungry and immediately began eating the dandelions in the field.
And here is the first major clue as to the cause of the King’s fear of his Queen and why he needs to keep her locked up in her field, far away from court, guarded by soldiers:
‘Quietly and serenely she moved across the field, beheading her golden soldiers as she went….Every time she ate the head off one soldier, another grew up in its place, with a green military coat and a yellow busby.’
The meaning behind the dandelion soldiers is twofold. Firstly, the lion is one of the animals sacred to the Sun King and, secondly, dandelions are like round, yellow suns. The green military coat refers to the later incarnation of the Sacred Sun King as the Green Man or agricultural Hercules such as Osiris or Tamuz. At the Sun King’s sacrifice at midsummer high on a hill, he was beheaded and the round head, like a sun, was sent rolling down the hill to symbolise the downward trajectory of the sun from midsummer to midwinter.
It is the Red Cow/Queen who eats the heads of the dandelions as the King was sacrificed in the name of the Goddess in whose name the Queen used to rule. And just as the King was immediately replaced by the King-of-the-Waning-Year, so another dandelion immediately takes the place of the beheaded dandelion.
When the Red Cow appears unbidden at the court of the King, so rarely does he see his consort that he does not recognise her and asks her who she is. She politely replies that she is a cow to which the King answers:
“I can see that,” said the King. “I still have my eyesight.”
I now understood that his second statement was alluding to the blinding of the sun king at his sacrifice to symbolise the extinguishing of the light of the sun.
Throughout the audience with the Red Cow, the king is very agitated about getting to the Barbers on time and this is highly significant. He says the Barber will not wait and he must have his hair cut. When he realises that the Red Cow is going to try his suggestion of jumping over the, he is greatly relieved, as he realises he will be able to get to the Barbers on time. In the Cult of the Sacred King, the King’s hair was identified with the waxing and waning of the sun’s strength throughout one year. As the sun’s strength increased, the King’s hair was permitted to grow ever longer until, at his sacrifice on midsummer’s day one of the many rituals at his death was the cutting of his hair. This demonstrated that he was being shorn of his strength, just like Samson.
The presence of the Red Cow at Court has triggered the King’s subconscious memory of his cruel sacrifice in another life when his hair was cut and he was put to death immediately afterwards. But why should the fear take the form of a compulsion to keep it short? It is because former Sacred Kings are unable to allow their hair to grow long without it stirring the subconscious memory of their sacrifice and the absolute terror they experienced as the day of sacrifice drew near. At this point it becomes apparent that Mary Poppins is implying that souls do indeed come back for further life experiences on Earth carrying with them traumas from their past lives.
This might explain why there was such a fierce reaction in the 1960’s when the first male hippies started to grow their hair long. For such a seemingly harmless fashion, the angry reaction from the Establishment or older generation was bizarre in its vehemence. Such youths were branded ‘long-haired louts.’ It occurred to me that it was not so much the loutish behaviour that was provoking their anger, but the long hair – at least judging by the king’s behaviour in the Mary Poppins story. Added to which, the Sacred King was always a youth as he only reigned for six months. When the fears of former Sacred Kings was not realised in the 60’s, their subconscious minds underwent a liberating re-education and this particular fear evaporated. This is how the boundaries of fear can be pushed back. The difficulty, as it is for anyone with a powerful subconscious block or fear, is to confront that fear and discover that it has no foundation in present-day reality.
It is because the subconscious mind has no sense of the passage of time which means that a fear is ever present. Those feelings are very real but former Sacred Kings cannot of course identify their origin, only take measures to control that fear by not allowing anything to disturb the memory if possible. One of the King’s measures is to keep the Queen / the Red Cow / wife, locked away in her field / home guarded by the dandelion soldiers / allowed a limited education and no public life. The sight of her is enough to remind him of when he was helplessly in her power. Slowly the idea came to me that here was to be found the root cause of so many men’s fear and hatred of women. It was not as women thought: it was they who first ill-treated men.
We also discover the grim fact in the Goddess’s secret story that this Cult endured for a very long time and that many young men were its victims. After she has jumped over the moon and the star has come tumbling off her horn, and the Red Cow is at last released from her incessant dancing, she returns to her tranquil field. On returning home the first thing she does is ‘move across the field, beheading her golden soldiers’ and because she was so hungry ‘she had eaten up several regiments’ of soldiers by the time her hunger was satisfied.
The Anger of the Sacred King
So serious have been the consequences of the Cult of Sacrifice of the King in human relations and even in the shaping of our society, that further revelations of its nature are the main subject of the next chapter, Bad Tuesday. It is the very next day after the Goddess has related the story of the Red Cow and Michael wakes up ‘with a curious feeling inside him’ that he ‘knew, the moment he opened his eyes, that something was wrong’. Michael, a former Sacred King himself, has had the trauma of sacrifice brought in to his conscious mind by Mary Poppins’ story of the Red Cow. This has been deliberate on her part for one of her aims is to heal the Sacred King.
Overnight his character has undergone a dramatic change. From being a gentle, thoughtful boy, he becomes violent and cruel. He feels hateful and says flatly and rudely to Mary Poppins when she asks him to run his bath that he won’t. He knows he is in disgrace with her because for the first time in his life he has to bathe himself, but he doesn’t care and asks whether he should let the bath water out ‘in the rudest voice he had’, to which Mary Poppins does not reply. Michael responds by saying out loud that he doesn’t care ‘and the hot heavy weight that was within him swelled and grew larger.
Going downstairs for breakfast he knocks the hot-water jug for his father’s shaving out of the house-maid’s hand and when she remonstrates with him he replies ‘calmly‘ that he meant to. This is a most important word, for it demonstrates his lack of feeling as he has cut himself off from them to seal off the painful memories of his rejection and sacrifice. It also demonstrates the dramatic change in his personality after only the previous day having been so kind and thoughtful about his sister’s earache.
Michael behaves badly all morning and we are told that it is the heavy feeling inside him that made him do ‘the most awful things’. He kicks the cook Mrs Brill so hard on the shin so that she screams aloud, and he is cruel to Miss Lark’s dog whose tail he ties to the fence with a piece of string. (The dog was one of the animals sacred to the Goddess – the dark Goddess Hecate is always accompanied by a dog). We are left to imagine for ourselves how such fury and hatred shown here in a little boy, might express itself in a fully grown man.
Despite the already dramatic effect of her story on Michael, Mary Poppins continues the process of reminding Michael of the pagan Cult on the afternoon walk in the park. She demonstrates how she had once been adored and revered throughout the world and this sends him into even more paroxysms of fury and rudeness. In the park, Mary Poppins sees a shiny, sparkling object on the ground and asks Michael to bring it to her saying ‘Somebody’s dropped their tiara perhaps’. It is in fact a compass, but in the cryptic story it is also, symbolically, a tiara and therefore a crown. Mary Poppins and Michael fight over who should have possession of the compass/tiara, and Mary Poppins wins, saying she saw it first. This is because, in the memory of the Sacred King, it was the pagan Goddess who first wore the crown, before the Sacred King took it from her by force. Comparing the crown with a compass is also telling us that the Cult of the Goddess and Sacred King was once practised worldwide.
Mary Poppins points the compass in turn to the North, South, East and West and they travel instantly to each of those destinations. On arrival they are greeted by the ethnic people in that part of the world – by Eskimos in the north, tribal Africans to the south, an old Chinese Mandarin in the east, and Native Americans to the west. Significantly, they all recognise and acknowledge Mary Poppins as the Great Goddess.
In the hot south an African couple is seen under the palm-trees covered in beads and wearing great crowns of feathers and with beads in their noses, ‘And on the knee of the dark lady sat a tiny plum-black baby with nothing on at all’. This is an image of Black Isis with her baby Horus on her lap, as well as The Black Madonna and Child, reminding Michael of the pagan Goddess in her black, death aspect, which would hold much terror for him. When transported to the West, the Native American comes hurrying towards the newly arrived visitors with the words ‘Morning-Star-Mary. Greeting’. This is identifying her as the Love Goddess, since the Morning Star is the planet Venus. She in turn knows who he is, calling him, ‘Chief Sun-at-Noonday’, i.e. the Sun King, once consort of the pagan Queen.
It is when Mary Poppins and the children reach China that the old Mandarin (significantly wearing a gold brocade kimono) greets them in a manner that can be compared with the sun’s journey through the skies in one year. In the pagan cult towards midwinter the sun was described as ‘Old’.
‘The old gentleman, seeing the little group formed by Mary Poppins and the children, bowed so low that his head touched the ground. The old man, rising ceremoniously, began to speak. ‘Gracious Sir,’ she (Mary Poppins) began, ‘it is with deep regret …must refuse your expansive and more-than-royal invitation. The lamb does not leave the ewe… than we depart from your shining presence. But noble and ten-times-splendid Sir, we are in the act of encompassing the world.
The Mandarin, for such indeed he was, bent his head and was preparing another elaborate bow when Mary Poppins very quickly moved the compass again.’
The head of the old Mandarin therefore represents the ‘old sun’ and his low bow – so that his head actually touches the ground – is describing the sun’s descent and return to the womb of Mother Earth. The ‘rebirth’ of the sun is described in the phrase ‘rising ceremoniously’ when, indeed, there was much ceremony attached to this important and life-giving event. As the sun reaches midsummer it has become a ‘shining presence’ that has increased in strength ‘ten-times’. As the Mandarin is about to make another ceremonious bow, symbolising the downward passage of the sun once again, immediately after the midsummer solstice, Mary Poppins hastily points the compass in another direction. The meaning behind this action is that she does not want the ‘Sun King’ to be sacrificed as he once was. The Mandarin’s descending bow would signify that the King of the Waxing Year had just been most brutally put to death. She wishes to have nothing to do with the evil cycle of the Sun King’s death and rebirth and death once again.
When they find themselves back in the park Michael demands ‘his’ compass back, to which Mary Poppins replies ‘My compass, thank you,’ and puts it in her pocket. Michael, as the Sacred King, is reliving that period of history when his one desire was to oust the Queen/Goddess from her powerful position and take her place. When she does not give him the compass/crown his reaction is revealing; ‘Michael looked at her as if he would like to kill her’.
Gradually, as the masculine and warlike Age of Aries got underway, the Sacred King’s power increased and the Queen’s correspondingly waned until the King felt strong enough to challenge her supremacy. This bitter struggle is immortalised in the nursery rhyme:
The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown,
The Lion beat the Unicorn all around the town
Some gave them white bread and some
Gave them brown and some gave them plum cake
And drove them out of town
We are witnessing that fight for the crown between the Queen/Goddess and the Sacred King when Mary Poppins and Michael fought for possession of the compass/tiara.
The fact that the Sacred King in the story is the boy Michael shows that the feelings which erupt from his subconscious mind can only have been experienced in a past life. We know that he is normally a particularly affectionate and thoughtful little boy. Nor has he ever before in his short life behaved in such an anti-social way. The hidden story shows that we are liable to carry the memory of a traumatic experience in a given life through to the next life if the feelings have been left unresolved because they were too painful to confront. It is this which creates what is termed today ‘an emotional block’.
An essential part of the healing process is the need to re-experience ‘blocked feelings and pain to release the energetic flow of feelings’. (Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan). This is what the Goddess has set out to do with her story of the Red Cow and her journey around the world. The Goddess remains detached from the disruptive scenes that ensue as the boy re-experiences the emotions from that experience. This is precisely what she hopes to achieve. Michael is ‘re-experiencing blocked feelings and pain’ and an ‘energetic flow of feelings’. The fight between Mary Poppins and Michael over the ‘tiara’ has made the ‘burning weight within him grow worse’ so that he becomes even naughtier towards evening. When he pinches the twins and makes them cry, Mary Poppins tells him: ‘You’ve got something coming to you!’
Finally, we see all his rage and hate externalised in the form of the ethnic people they had met on their round the world voyage, bearing down on him:
‘the Eskimo with a spear, the Negro Lady with her husband’s huge club, the Mandarin with a great curved sword, and the Red Indian with a tomahawk with their weapons raised above their heads, and, instead of looking kind and friendly, they now seemed threatening and full of revenge.’
They are his own feelings of ferocity and hate. In terror he calls out to Mary Poppins to help him and closes his eyes tight. He feels himself being wrapped in something soft and warm and “Oh, if only he had been good – if only!” He wails again for Mary Poppins and feels himself being borne away and put down in ‘something still softer’. In that moment, he is full of love for the Goddess and says, “Oh, dear Mary Poppins” to which she replies with characteristically impatient, unsentimental words, as would the sharp tongued Nanny, but said in a soothing manner, as her divine nature comes through.
Michael opens his eyes and finds himself lying in his own soft bed wrapped by his blanket and to his relief, he finds that the imaginary people have gone. He also discovers that the violent feelings he had been experiencing have left him. He feels happy and at peace. Mary Poppins brings him a cup of warm milk. She knows what he has endured. It is a most moving moment in the book as the Goddess stands quietly by the little boy as he drinks his milk:
Michael sipped it, tasting every drop several times with his tongue, making it last as long as possible so that Mary Poppins should stay beside him…..He could smell her crackling white apron and the faint flavour of toast that always hung about her so deliciously. But try as he would, he could not make the milk last forever, and presently, with a sigh of regret, he handed her the empty cup and slipped down into the bed. He had never known it be so comfortable, he thought. And he thought, too, how warm he was and how happy he felt and how lucky he was to be alive.
The fear surrounding this emotional trauma has been so great that it lead to the complete suppression of the cult of the sacrifice of the king. To begin with there was deliberate suppression by the king, now in charge, understandably. The sacred groves full of skulls were destroyed and all other major visible signs. Years later, with the memory of the cult fading from living memory and the king’s fear held now in the subconscious mind, a layer of lesser reminders of the cult would start to impinge so those too were expunged. In this way, all reminders of the cult were done away with. So now the memory only exists in the subconscious memory. Should reminders of that past ever rear their ugly heads, the reaction is often swift and brutal, such is the fear of former sacred kings of being returned to that state of helplessness and cruel sacrifice.
I would go so far as to say that cultures and customs the world over are to a greater or lesser degree a reaction to its cruel practises, in particular, the cruel treatment of women. As the subconscious mind has no sense of time that fear is ever present, so the cruelty continues. Only when the memory has been brought into the light will men stop punishing women. At present there are many reminders of the cult in our media. What goes under the guise of women being strong and powerful and throwing off the shackles of their cruel treatment, are in fact very specific reminders of when the queen and her priestesses sacrificed men. Note the colours employed – black and red – for temptresses who often scorn men and even murder them. The latest example of this is a remake of The Three Musketeers by Dumas in which a female spy for Cardinal Richelieu murders her lover in the bath. Her hair is black and her lips are red and she is fond of wearing both those colours. In fact, the same colours of the wicked queen in Disney’s Snow White.
The flames of fear are easily fuelled in this way because we are ignorant of this trauma from the past.
Put another way, has anyone ever asked why men should hate women so? It is against nature for the male of a species to hate its mate. There has to be a cause, a reason which lies in a remote and forgotten past. The hatred is directed specifically towards sexually mature women: the pagan queen/wife of the sacred king was a sexually mature woman. In many cultures, including western culture until relatively recently, the care of her own children was taken away from a woman – hence the Goddess having to be a children’s nurse in order to fulfil her natural role. Women’s movements were strictly controlled because of the subconscious fear of extra sexual activities. In other countries where the cult must have been particularly cruel, any sexual pleasure was destroyed through female circumcision.
An article in the Sunday papers about this time related what a pop-singer described as ‘a scary experience’. In her last video she tells a story ‘she had always wanted to tell’ about a guy who is heading for disaster if he continues with his present lifestyle. His long-time girlfriend sees past his flaws and loves him all the same and just wants them to be happy together. Of course, this is not what happens and we are lead to understand that things end badly for the boyfriend.
At the end of three days shooting she just broke down at the piano and cried uncontrollably. It seems clear that through the story she chose for her video – one she says she had always wanted to tell – she was re-creating a past-life trauma, which enabled her to release the blocked emotions. Artists have a great ability to work through past and present-life trauma as they are more likely to tap their subconscious minds as they seek inspiration for their art.
© 2003 Cassie Martin