My Notes on The Magical Carousel by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, fifth chapter, Leo.1
The Masculine Principle
The first sentence of the fifth chapter presents a kind of dual awareness, one looking back, the other looking forward. We are “on the cusp” between Cancer and Leo, in astrologer speak. This notion appears to simultaneously close the previous chapter and open the next. Specifically, there is the idea of “wonder” or a rumination about the future, of “further adventures” but significantly not as strong a preoccupation with the past as is our wont in Cancer. The children are leaving the sign of the Crab, and are now looking forward, for clues about what might lie “in store” for them. Interestingly, as the action begins the new chapter there is a growing ‘awareness’ that the ever present “pull” in Cancer is gone and that the Crab has faded from view. Perhaps this is a suggestion that the tug of the Moon fades, but before things can really get going there is a nuanced set up where everything first comes to a stop, and the children fall asleep. Leo is after all a fixed Sign.
After a time, their faces are alit with a bright shining light that awakens them from their slumber. They need to spend a few minutes adjusting their eyes to the flood of light, as they shake off the lingering shade from the many nights of darkness. The boat has become noticeably still, no longer undulating softly in the calm sea waters. The children share a flash of realization that maybe now they might SEE what the land really looks like in the light of day, but everything has changed. The water has receded and the boat now sits on sand, left in the wake of change as it were.
Since the suggestion at the start of the chapter calls for an adventure, it is no surprise that the children hop up and out of the boat to begin exploring. The air is warm and heavy, perhaps not stifling hot, or unbearably hard to breath, but noticeably changed from the previous land. This place isn’t nearly as lush as Cancer, but it isn’t exactly desolate either. A few trees and shrubs dot the hillocks but other than that the land is flat, with orange hues, touches of ochre, and golden shades of turmeric covering everything…
The children seem perplexed about what to do next, they are “fixed” in place which affects their ability to decide “what to do.” Then they are startled by an uproarious noise that gets them thinking, nervously, about portentous possibilities, and then at the very next roar has them running for their lives as if a lion were chasing them for dinner. As the children round the corner of a hillock a majestic castle comes into view with flags and banners flapping in the breeze, a high wall surrounds the castle and in front of the wall a ring of fire envelops the whole castle in a protective blaze. Patrizia uses an interesting descriptor at this point where she says, “They can go neither backwards nor forwards!” And once again, the children are frozen, unable to act, almost as if some impetus is required in this land to create movement. Furthermore, fear seems to be that impetus, but the motivation to act courageously, springs forth in each instance, instinctively and as naturally as the presupposed threat of danger. This time is no different and the children summon the strength of conviction and courage to jump through the ring of fire. They sail “through the air as is if they had wings,” when suddenly, there in front of them, as before, they see a door with a symbol and the number 5 on it.
The KEY works and they gain entry to the castle. As the children begin to take in the amazing glitz and glory of the décor, no sooner than the door is slammed shut behind when it suddenly flies open again “and in comes a very jolly parade of gnomes and pixies, playing tambourines and bells, jumping up and down and dancing merrily around a carriage they are pulling.” But perhaps most startling is the lion who they see for the first time, and who by the narrative might be dressed in drag, “with bows and bells and a funny little crown.” Everyone and everything is being decorated but the parade of characters calls the attention of ALL, and Val and PomPom are swooped up and placed right next to the lion, which terrifies them. But his manner is affable, and almost silly to the point of ridiculousness. Before long they learn that their fears were overblown. He is more of a toothless lion, than king of the forest.
It’s July 23rd and he lets out another roar…. A banquet is being prepared for the King of Day. They enter the core of the castle and discover preparations being made for the entertainment of people who “would come from far for the great celebration.” A bizarre lot of characters is described, resembling the scene where the Madhatter and the March Hare were having tea in Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, and whom the Cheshire Cat called “both mad.” Here too the lot of characters appear to be “very mad-looking people.” However, the truth is that the people described are merely different from each other, different in fashion and style, but also joined in their enthusiasm for celebrating the gaieties of life. As the games begin, the throng is caught up in song and dance when three consecutive explosions ring out to announce the King of Day. He enters the hall showing off a plump, magnificent countenance that is cheerful and full of good humor. The King is a lover of life and wears a crown of flames on his head that literally lights up the room, and all that surrounds him. He is honored as the guest come to their feet and raise their glasses, they all chant good wishes to him for good health and a long life.
The celebration is a fortuitous gathering of the lucky since such festivities are rare and just to be invited suggests something special about the guest. All preparations for entertaining the guests were handled “with such grace, elegance, and generosity.” These were then followed by amusements devised by the King of Day himself. A veritable carnival of recreation that seemed to never end. Anytime there was the slightest lull in fun and laughter, the King knew just what to say to keep the party going.
He summons the guest to an adjoining room where the castle’s theater happens to be and encourages everyone to quickly be seated. He then signals for the play to begin. His pride is bubbling up and bursting at the seams even before the curtains are drawn open, in anticipation that His play will be received with great acclaim and applause. But there is no response, his signal for things to begin is ignored…. A gnome pokes his head out from behind the curtain and meekly tries to explain the problem, but the King loses his temper and without listening “begins ranting and raving like a child who has lost his toy.” Many of the guests begin to leave somewhat annoyed on behalf of the gnome’s ill treatment. The King of Day is disgraced and sulks away, slinking back into his throne ashamed. There he cuddles with lion who consoles the King despite his inglorious behavior.
Val and PomPom spring into action at this point before all is lost and begin to spontaneously perform for the audience. PomPom dances and Val sings. Neither are very good, but they ham it up and people slowly take interest, returning to their seats. They continue to perform and get better at entertaining the guests. The whole show turns around and the King is very grateful. As he expresses his appreciation, Val nudges PomPom to show the King the letter they carried over from the Queen of Knight.
As PomPom reads the letter from the Queen “the King burst into a resounding laugh and exclaims with great joy: ‘An heir! I have an heir! This is my boy!’” He shouts much more than this but the gist of it all is to restart the festivities, only bigger and better than before. As the King regales his guests with his version of the story the children notice that time is getting away, and that they’ll be in trouble if they don’t figure something out and quickly, because the King of Day intends on keeping PomPom close as he plans a new celebration. He mentions preparing the young boy for a transfer of power. At this news Val and PomPom look as if they’ve seen a ghost because it dawns on them that they may once again be prevented from leaving on time, for the continuation of the journey into the next land.
The party commences, or recommences in this case, and all the “mad-people” are up to their usual antics, pushing the limits of joy, enthralled with good company, and each other, but mostly by the admiration they can win for themselves. Everyone is caught up in the ruckus, until they all run out of energy. One by one, each guest starts to nod off to sleep, and Val gets the idea that she and PomPom can simply sneak away, which they do, and would have succeeded at doing if it weren’t for the nosey lion sounding the alarm with an ear-splitting roar, waking the entire contingency of party goers. A comical commotion ensues, upset and overturns at every corner, everything in the room is flipped upside down, things smashing, splintering snaps, and other sounds, like you might hear in the eruption of a riot. The children hear footsteps racing toward them, so they run.
Every character at the table is now in hot pursuit of Vall and PomPom. The King and the lion lead the charge, followed by all the guests — “jester, acrobats, minstrels, mimes, gnomes, and pixies.” The chase is a comedy of errors, wrong turns and collisions that end up in a scrum before the parties can disentangle, regroup, and then the chase is on again. It goes on and on like this until gradually those in pursuit start dropping off from the chase because they get all tuckered out. Ultimately, the King and the lion are the only ones left still chasing the children and they run after them in circles round and round a chimney stack. The lion is closing in and nearly has the children in his grasp when he involuntarily lets out a humongous roar, much in the way a professional baseball pitcher might heave a fast ball to home plate in the throes of August. But this roar is so loud and so disturbing that Val and PomPom jump up in fright, scared out of their wits. Up and over they go, then plunged down the chimney… they fall through the chute of the chimney that “seems unending, that seems to carry them to the very bowels of the Earth.”
1 Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2017). The Magical Carousel and Commentaries: A Zodiacal Odyssey (2017th ed.). Notion Press, Inc.