My Notes on The Magical Carousel by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, second chapter, Cancer.1
The Feminine Principle
Soul. Ego, and Form
The movement continues into a darkness that is all consuming, dark as “onyx stone.” Since the children’s ability to see fails them on this leg of the journey they put all their faith in their vahana, their “animal vehicle.” The idea is that the children are “riders” on a mythic mount, in the form of a sacred animal, itself a representation of the energy which transports, carries, or pulls the sacred being through life. In Hindu philosophy each deity had its own special mount.
The bird descends in a circling spiral motion as if it is searching for someone, or something. The water is described poetically as an illuminated body reflecting the light of the “brightest full Moon; but there is no Moon.” And, despite this metaphysical riddle the bird identifies the object it was seeking and puts the children down with the care and attention of a nurse maid, making certain that the spot is solid and safe.
The bird disappears into the night after its deed is done, and the children are left alone on the rock in the middle of the water. The illuminating waters reflect a silvery light, and the rock makes its own shiny reflections, but other than that there is only darkness. They fall asleep, exhausted from their journey “and in spite of their fear.” They only have each other amid a place that is otherwise totally unfamiliar. Then, they are awakened after an allusion to an amount of time that is beyond comprehension. The rock moves.
The movement continues as the rock appears to be navigating the waters into more shallow depths. The children interestingly are described as “frail” with “eyes enormous and shiny.” Characteristics we might find say in a Cancerian person, and then another reference is made to the amount of time elapsed which it seems is intended to convey a calculus of day not well understood then, or now. Then, one small mystery is solved when the children finally discover, to their own dismay, that they are riding not on the back not of a rock, but on a “coral colored Crab!”
The destination appears to be a beachhead where they disembark with the help of the Crab who uses its pincers to “carefully” grab hold of the children and place them in front of a “sinister” looking door. The crab retreats into the quiet and the deep from whence it came.
The children are anxious to get beyond the oddities of this place, to escape from the weirdness if you like, and match up the number 4 they find on the door with a key on the ring with the same number. They’d almost forgotten about the keys but remembered when they saw the number on the door. They try the key, and it works. The door opens slowly, making a creaking sound, like when a child is playing with a balloon, twisting innocently enough, the moment fills with apprehension until just before the balloon pops. Fortunately, there is no pop, but the apprehension still hangs in the air. The doorway leads to a stair passage that starts an ascent behind two torch lights. At the top of the narrow stairway are three doors. They are unsure which door to pick so they choose the middle one.
Once inside they are faced with a similar decision, only this time they need to choose between two doors. And so it continues, in and out of one door and onto another, through which they again move in and out, on and on, like a segment on a cartoon show for children where a cat is chasing a mouse, and a dog is chasing a cat. Such a performance undoubtedly makes children around the world laugh. Unfortunately, for the children in our story, The Magical Carousel, they aren’t really laughing because they are feeling lost and scared inside the labyrinth of the night.
Suddenly they discover a room lit only by candles and a group of young giggling girls dressed in ”flowing, gauzy tunics of mauves, lavender, and silvery tones, with jasmine wreaths in their hair.” A pseudo game of hide and seek ensues until the children find themselves in a great hall of mirrors. A bird, or perhaps a lady dressed as a phantom appears. She is the lady of the night? Adorned with bird feathers, and not paying one wit to the children. But there are more than one of her when her image is viewed in the mirrors. PomPom and Val feel encircled. Chasing the lady of the night as she disappears through the mirrors. The children discover that the mirrors act like doors to other chambers. They go through the mirrors and the chase is on again, from chamber to chamber just as they had played the cat and mouse game above through the many doors. Soon, in a bizarre twist they are back inside the original chamber where they first encountered the giggling girls. The girls tease and laugh and toss veils around the children with a great deal of commotion that spins them, dizzily, until they collapse. Then the children are carried away inside the veils as they chant, “To the Queen Mother! Mother will care for them. To the Queen!”
When the veils are finally lifted, the children find themselves sitting on very comfortable cushions with the elusive girls staring on… music is playing, girls are dancing, and the room is a gigantic kind of ballroom or something. The girls take Val and dress her up in decorative flowers and silks… she is being prepared to meet the Queen. The preparation is for the 22nd of June which is when she “CHANGES”. This is a time when “Anything can happen.” However, the girls are undecided as to what to do with PomPom so they hide him in a pile of veils.
When the Queen Mother appears it is the same lady of the night, or “bird-serpent” woman that was seen earlier. Now she is a dancer, and she flies and spins in leaps and bounds across the floor. She disappears and then reappears as a fawn which the girls play and fawn over. She leaves again, but returns as a clown, and then a turtle. What amuses the girls the most is how completely the Queen Mother identifies with whatever role she plays. PomPom who is hidden away and out of site misses the show entirely. The Queen Mother’s final change shows off a costume similar to what the rest of the girls are wearing only much grander. The girls rush to her, and she coddles and embraces them warmly. Val is left off on her own and alone until the Queen Mother notices her and the girls bring Val over. Val has trouble getting her words out, she is so overcome by emotion and witnessing the love exchanged between the Queen Mother and the girls. Finally, she hands over the certificate which engenders a concerned and a caring response from the Queen Mother. But she speaks to Val/PomPom just as it is written on the certificate thinking the Val/PomPom was one singular person and not two separate individuals.
The ruler of the land keeps to the tradition begun in the first three signs to have the guests tell her tale of adventure and discovery. At the conclusion of the story the Queen demonstrates that she was clearly listening because she summarily ask where the boy is and she catches Val off guard, who shyly points to the pile of cushions and veils where PomPom was last seen. After removing one article after another, the boy is “uncovered” and found asleep. The Queen has an emotional reaction when she sees the boy that makes her wobbly, and it is apparently not just another one of her “moods.” She controls herself and tries to resist being overcome by whatever wave of emotion was crashing in on her. She turns walks a few steps away and collapses. Her attendees scurry to her side to assist her.
When she comes to sufficiently enough to find the words, she shares this tale with Val: “I was once the fairest young princess in the land and being so lovely there were many kings who wanted me for their queen. My heart was not steady though, and I couldn’t decide on any of them. Yet one day I met the one who was to be my king and together we had the most exciting court of all. Everyone would journey for days to send time with us and enjoy all the amusements that were prepared for our guests each year.”
“I gave birth to many children, for it was the King’s need and fervent wish to have an heir, a boy to succeed him. Each child that was born of me was further disappointment to the King, for they were all girls, many, many girls — 27 in all, until finally, of my own choice, I retired to this castle you are in now, safe in the security of these walls, closing out the sorrow I left behind, If I could have presented him with a boy everything would have been different. But at least I am here with my girls and can care for and nourish them with all my heart for the rest of my life.”
In this extended quote from the text on pages 39 and 40, the queen shares her inner motivations that in a way explains her behavior as being tied to longings for things that might have been, a very long time ago.
PomPom rouses from his sleep and feels a little weird with so many girls goggling him. There is silence until one of the girls speaks up, suggesting that they should send the boy to the King! The commotion kicks up again in celebration at such an excellent idea, and in a wink the wheels are put in motion to prepare the boy to be a prince, and to look the part, someone worthy of the throne and heir to the kingdom.
Matters could not have come to a head any timelier than they did… since it now was July 22nd and time to leave Cancerland. But Val was not made part of the offer to the “King of Day” and it was assumed that she would stay behind with The Queen of Night where the queen promised to nurture and nourish her and to “take good care of her, always.” Of course, splitting up would violate the code that was implicit at the start of the journey, so they refuse to go off to anywhere without the other. Val appeals to the queens’ good maternal instincts to give in to her pleas to go with PomPom and the queen concedes. The children return to the beach where they had landed, and the Crab shows up again pulling a small boat. The invisible Moon still illuminates the water, but it is dimming. Time is running out.
There is a very extended series of goodbyes, one more emotional than the next and the children are assisted onto the boat. As the Crab tows the boat with the children in it, the queen and the girls bombard them with flowers until they are out of reach and back where they had started in this land of the “black, black night.”
1 Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2017). The Magical Carousel and Commentaries: A Zodiacal Odyssey (2017th ed.). Notion Press, Inc.