June 6th, 2009
Recently I watched the Mary Poppins film. It was not what I expected. The sight of her singing and snapping fingers at things and making them dance and the seemingly limitless power she had literally sent chills up and down my back. Did you ever wonder why
1 She is cold to the children
2 She is in control, not Bert—who ought to be the hero here
3 She can do anything she likes
Here’s the answer I got after rifling the original Mary Poppins books, in which:
1 Her main character traits are unequivocally coldness and being self-centered.
2 She has supreme power. She can walk through ‘Other’ doors into ‘other’ worlds and go through ‘Cracks’ and enter pictures and, additionally, it’s all real: the punch line.
3 She brings the children with her into these other realities and then, after bringing them back, denies it ever happened. This has an extremely disorienting effect upon them, especially when they discover evidence that it was ‘real’.
It didn’t take me very long—a few pages, in fact—of reading in the very first Mary Poppins book before something leaped out of the pages at me. Allow me to quote:
A spoon was attatched to the neck of a bottle, and into this Mary Poppins poured a dark crimson liquid.
“Is that your medicine?” inquired Michael, looking very interested.
“No, yours,” said Mary Poppins, holding out the spoon to him. Michael stared. He wrinkled up his nose. He began to protest.
“I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I won’t!”
But Mary Poppin’s eyes were fixed upon him, and Michael suddenly discovered that you could not look at Mary Poppins and disobey her. There was something strange and extraordinary about her—something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting. The spoon came nearer. He held his breath, shut his eyes and gulped. A delicious taste ran round his mouth. He turned his tongue in it. He swallowed, and a happy smile ran around his face.
“Strawberry ice,” he said ecstatically. “More, more, more!”
But Mary Poppins, her face stern as before, was pouring out a dose for Jane. It ran into the spoon, silvery, green, yellowy. Jane tasted it.
This is really, really bad. Not only is the anti-hero, the self-centered nasty Mary Poppins in complete control of her surroundings, she has control of the children too. In other words, she has unlimited power.
And if the description of Michael’s will inverting itself and the succeeding pleasure dealt out did not tick you off, it sure ticked off me. The problematic fascination with children being disoriented and subjected to an array of sensations continues throughout the entire series. It’s—it’s—appalling, disgusting. Unfortunately, I have an explanation.
This is typical sadistic behavior. The methodology goes
1 addict the body
2 bypass the mind/destroy the will
3 establish complete control over the victim
So I was, uh, shocked to see it in such an old book. But the shock doesn’t end there; in Mary Poppins Opens the Door, there’s an episode in the time between the Old Year and the New where Mary Poppins brings us to a wild dance with fantastic characters and witches. This may not press buttons in your mind, but I was planning a scene in my book where Sleen (the Goat-King of the Underworld) revels in the five unlucky days of the Winter Solstice with all of his demonic friends (sorcerers, mythical figures like the Kelpy), and where Sleen (Satan) kills the Sun and the Sun’s white horse (which, of course, the Sun rides through the sky).
A lot of my conclusions in this rather mythical area are stemming from old British ideas like the Mari Llwyd—the horse’s head which is aggressively paraded about during the shortened winter-days. Plus of course you’re dealing with the very old ‘Celtic’ ideology of the-goat-is-bad and the goat is ‘the devil’s old grandfather’. They used to call him the Pucca. (similar to Puck, eh?) But unfortunately nobody could recall why he was bad.
Then there’s more stuff, for instance; the Glockler-type Winter traditions that go on in the Alps, where there is a fairly strong wild-goat themed custom, and the old ritual idea from ‘Viking’ Scandinavia that horse-heads are totally malicious magic, plus a round-about trail of ideas linking the Wild Goat with the calendar. He would also be depicted surrounded by witches (to the order of twelve) while he himself symbolized the 5 unlucky days of the Winter Solstice. Altogether of course they were thirteen; i.e., twelve months, 6 weeks in each, 5 days to each week and one extra week which belonged to the Pucca. Got it?
So there are some overlapping traditions which place the Goat King (there’s also a cache of stuff from the Mediterranean, but this isn’t the post for it) in the Winter Solstice killing the Sun and the Sun’s horse. I presumed he had a big ‘gathering’ at the sacrifice, because of the reveling, aggressive nature of British/Swiss traditions, and so I was writing it into my book … I read this in Mary Poppins Opens the Door, and I’m startled out of my wits. Because it’s the same thing. And it’s putting Mary Poppins in the role of Satan, that horned devil.
Unfortunately, there’s an added dimension to this wild scene. Mary Poppins is smack in the center of the dancers, who by the way are in a ring; playing the accordion bewitchingly. And that’s the problem—it’s a big genre in British folklore that all these stone circles were people turned to stone because they were dancing around the Devil. He is, um, playing the bagpipes.
So I have to conclude that Travers was trying to place Mary Poppins in the role of Satan. This is a story with satanic undertones, a piece of disgusting propaganda. It’s really how Satan would like to view himself—attractive and totally powerful. But the only reason anyone would ever be attracted to him is for power. And he’s not ultimately powerful. (and he hates that) Just like Mary Poppins, he is nasty, self-centered, cruel and sadistic.
Now, if we are talking about the movie Mary Poppins, I have to say that they did a fairly good job of cleaning it up. I most admire how they ’sentimentalized’ the story by making it ultimately about reconciling the children to their parents, (which is not her goal in the books), and in fact showing them a better path in life. The entire plot, which I have just described, hinges on feeding the birds—an act of goodness and kindness and mercy. This is not bad!
But some things survived; Bert is an ancillary character, Mary Poppins makes three cold statements, etc. etc.
So unless somebody else can offer any other real, meaningful explanation, I stick to my guns and say Mary Poppins is Satanism in verrry thin disguise. What do you think?
Interesting topic Adele.
Sherwood is all in leaf,
I thought Adele's comments on the 'Poppins woman' were quite interesting, but I have long held a theory about this gal. I don't think she is rightly the devil so much as one of his servants. To me, she greatly resembles both the fairies and the witches from legends originating in various parts of Britain and Ireland. Here are my points:
1. She's all about power, a witchlike characteristic
2. A powerful witch/sorcerer or fairy taking part in the bringing up of children is an old, old theme (remember, fairies were always child- stealers)
3. She has no emotions in a human sense, a fairylike characteristic. Remember Thomas the Rhymer? There was 'the narrow path of righteousness, the broad road of wickedness, and the hidden path to fairyland'. Fairies were supposed to have no concept of human joy or pain, or good and evil, that's what made them so incredibly dangerous!
4. She is alluring, deceitful, but adheres to strict rules that seem senseless and often merciless to humans, a quality that fairies and witches would share, but for different reasons.
From my corner of the Greenwood, Ruth
Very, very insightful! Yes, she does remind one of the elves/fairies/witches. Good point about the Tooth Faerie. Must be a bad tradition.
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