JANNUARY, 2005 e.v.
"By pity 'lightened
The guiless Fool -
Wait for him,
My chosen tool."
And that's where I saw Pinocchio. Not amid the ultra-violet adventure on the dark ride in hyperreality that lasts 3 minutes and 6 seconds, but in the 36 chapters of that "bit of foolishness" written by Carlo Lorenzini whose pen-name was Collodi. On a perfectly good Saturday afternoon, I'm in New Orleans Square, standing in front of the Haunted Mansion (which, of course, is closed today), still trying to catch my breath, having made a mad dash through the cacophony of Main Street U.S.A. in order to get to the wrought-iron gates of the gloomy manse where the others had gathered at the pre-arranged time in hopes of surprising Adam on his **th birthday.
It was all part of the Plan. Camella's plan, not that of Abulfia, Belbo, Casaubon or Diotallevi. But getting to purple #21 in the guide to the magic by noon was no easy feat. Without a coach drawn by donkeys wearing white leather boots, to negotiate the Technicolor samsara, I had to weave through queues of tourists with McDonald's fries and free Coca-cola (not the cups, though!), dodging mothers pushing baby strollers, children clutching balloons and plush animals, their faces besmirched with Nestle crunch ice-cream bars. There were assorted vending carts to avoid running into on my rather circuitous route, locals eating churros in sombreros sprinkled with glittering pixie dust, a Hollywood movie producer in a BMW wheelchair gliding above the alligators in the sewers, a Southern Baptist (goddamn animatronic imitations!) appearing ever so happy on his way to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, an aesthetician and professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna looking for the day after Tomorrowland, all the while muttering to himself "Paradoxical, Possible, Pine Piece Puppet, Pinocchio, Pineal!" and dazzling Snow White who smiled at me (or was that meant for some handsome prince trudging through the brambles, even though in this age of bikini-waxing, brambles are somewhat of a rarity). Had I not been in such a hurry to surprise Adam, I would have stopped to offer her the "kiss of consciousness" or, at least, struck up a conversation about the seven dwarfs which, as everyone in Kalifornia knows, despite being sanitized in the bedtime story, represent the seven charkas associated with the serpent fire kundalini and the psychic/anatomical mysteries of tantra. No, there wouldn't be any Silver Wine of the Moon in Disneyland, not even in Club 33 despite the highly-significant number in Freemasonic iconography.
"I guess the 6 minute tour with its 999 haunts will have to wait," I tell Maynard. "Space Mountain is also closed" he informs me in the cowboy hat he's been sporting of late. "Shame that cotton candy isn't dyed black", I say to Wes and Heather Borland, pointing to the vending cart of fluffy pink and blue spun sugar that's parked in front of the haunted mansion. I then say hi to Dale Crover and his wife, Mo, who's expecting. Many of us are in agreement that, whether it's a boy or girl, the child should be named Aleister.
After saying hello to Alex and Allyson Grey, I walk with Kat across the street to a designated smoking area. Leaning against a rail, I gaze out at Tom Sawyer Island, where Tom, Becky, Huck and a few other Hannibalites are paddling a make-shift wooden raft.
"That looks like a lot of work" I say to Kat as she flicks her Bic, producing a lambent cartoon flame. She exhales a Parliament light, and in her soft Aussie accent informs me that they're only pretending to be paddling - that the raft, like the steamboat and sailing ships from a by-gone era are actually motorized. "Okay, but tell me why's the sky only cloudy and grey over Tom Sawyer Island? It looks like Missouri (or Misery, as we used to pronounce it) weather to me. I hope it doesn't rain on the professor's parade." She looks up at the cerulean blue sky above us, somewhat puzzled by the ominous wool-packs gathering only over the mighty Mississippi. Turning back to me, I shoot her a conspiratorial glance, as if to say "To sell umbrellas with Toontown characters." Before returning to the others, I give her a Disney dollar of the highest denomination, hoping Mickey's currency will be of some use later, especially if any VIPs at the birthday bash are members of the secret club at 33 Royal Street.
A few minutes later, Adam and Camella arrive. Adam looks "really" surprised. He might have been tipped off by an email concerning multiple 1-day park hoppers that Camella purchased on ebay weeks before, but that's just one man's guess. "We're all here except for Danny. You told him that we to meet at eleven, right?" I ask Camella. "Of course..." "Wait a minute - Justin's not here either!" So, I begin talking bets that Danny will be the last to arrive. Even though we know from cell phone technology that Danny and Rynne are in the park and on Main Street U.S.A., and that Justin and Shelee are still in the parking lot, having run into considerable traffic behind the Orange Curtain, I'm still betting on Danny to arrive last. "I'm not talking that bet!" Tool's manager Pete says, and nobody else does either. Amazingly, within seconds Danny shows up. It's impossible to miss him, wearing a bright red tee-shirt with a swastika and the words:"Vote Republican." A few elderly tourists turn their heads, seemingly in disbelief - they, too, amazed that Danny arrived before Justin. Moments later the Tool bassist and Shelee reach the forbidding mansion with its ghosts now unplugged, and we're all accounted for.
"So, what are we going to do?" I ask Camella. "There are bars next door at Disney's California Adventure" she tells all of us. "We should all get some drinks." I look around for Pinocchio, to make sure that his nose (apply phonetic cabala) doesn't grow so long that it pokes the Blue Fairy in the eye. At that moment, I swear Camella's golden mane was enhaloed with a radiant gloriole. There she stood, a sequined Disney angel, casting a near-blinding prismatic refulgence on her enraptured audience. Shafts of sunlight burst through the clouds over Tom Sawyer Island, illuminating a menacing armada of mechanized giant carp in the artificially-polluted depths of Old Man River. I thought I saw Tom, himself, look up, rubbing his eyes in astonished wonder at this miracle. "There are bars next door at Disney's California Adventure." "So what are we waiting for? Let's Jambalaya out of here" I said. Besides, I don't want to grow donkey ears." So, with our 1-day park hoppers, we blow this non-alcoholic colonial Caribbean setting. Ciao!
On the way out of the amusement park designed by DeMoley Society member Walt Disney (who, during WWI, worked for the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in France), while threading my way through the mass of tourists consuming dripping waffle cones, fries, cokes and greasy chili-dogs (completely unaware of the reality beneath Refreshment Corner), I began to think about what the computer Albuafia in Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" had concluded - namely that "Minnie Mouse is Mickey's fiancé" and that "the Templars have something to do with everything."
Jiminy H. Cricket!, is Minnie mouse meant to represent Mary Magdalene and Mouse-ears, himself - Jesus? Perhaps not, but Professor Camestres might have been right about unsheathing the sword with regards to Liber AL vel Legis. Knowing that King Arthur's Carrousel with its painted hobby-horses is #49 in the guide to the magic, and that a pentangle on a heraldic device of green is most suggestive of the secret location of the Stone of Death, Bannock cakes aside, with their reminders of human sacrifice (as in the Beltane victim, although the tradition of burying the Carnival is even more revealing), in the" laundry list" of Colonel Ardenti where it speaks of those "to join those of the bread" and of the stone and the feast, there is much food for thought , particularly when our protagonists realize that Bannockburn can be translated as "stream of bread." Is this an allusion to "The Residuum of Paradise" which is called by others "Occultum of Harlequin" - those tears of fantastic gorgeousness, an arrested cascade of the post-mortem endogenous substance? Now what is it that one of Umberto Eco's co-conspirators asks with regards to the Templars and all the crack-pot occultists searching for modern-day knights and the secret of the Order's legendary wealth? He asks "what better hiding place for the true Templar than in the crowd of his caricatures?" Anyone who has read the book already knows that the pages of Foucault's Pendulum are filled with just such dilettantes and caricatures. Pierce-the-Vale.
As any lost child spilling kernels of popcorn while a hooded crow watches can tell you, it's not hard to get separated from the others in your group in the mass of spectators, especially if there are fire engines and horse-drawn streetcars to marvel over, or if you're looking for Bluebeard's castle in the guide. While heading towards the entrance to Disney's California Adventure, my son and I find ourselves with Maynard, Tool's manager Pete, his wife Trana and their young daughter. Although I promise to take the acorn of my oak on some rides after lunch, as we leave the "happiest place on earth" behind, he lets me know in a perfectly calm matter-of-fact tone that, so far, he's having the worse time of his life (perhaps I should have taken him back to the place where kids are rented - coincidently right next to where lost guests are escorted to). "Imagine how I feel" I try to console him, "missing all those women flashing for the camera at Splash Mountain. But we've got to have faith in the pronouncements of the Disney angel. While standing in the circle of her effulgent spectrum, I heard a jeweled trumpet blare. Didn't you, Lucius? Besides, remember Pinocchio's blunder? After listening to that rascal friend of his nick-named Lampwick, when the puppet climbs into the stagecoach to dreamland, tempted by the promise of a better world, he is diverted from his true aspiration (although his Blue Fairy is still there to offer redemption).
Such are the glamours of the astral plane, whose allure and illusory nature, like the pleasures and games and amusements of the falsely-called "True Playland", too, must be unmasked by the seeker on the path to the grail proper.
There are pitfalls and dangers and badly-spelt remarks among the merriment of the uninitiated, and sometimes an unpleasant surprise awaits those - as diagnosed by a most charming little squirrel (they bury nuts, don't they). A lampwick offers illumination, but is easily snuffed out, which brings about an even more impenetrable darkness. You don't want to get donkey fever, do you (Ee-a!), and have to eat straw from a manger instead of a bologna & cheese sandwich... And speaking of bologna, here we are on the threshold of Prosperine (Proserpine) and I haven't told poor Lucius (who is ever so curious about magick) about Disney's Pinocchio - that which Roy Neary described as "animals and magical stuff and things you'll remember for the rest of your lives." Freudian psychoanalysis and sexual connotations aside, Neary was right, or nearly right, but exactly what is the message that we're supposed to remember for the rest of our lives?
Despite the fact that Disney's Pinocchio is dark in content, with most of the action taking place at night or underwater, for all its technical splendors, in the end, what we get seems to be little more than a modern-day version of a medieval morality play. Besides personal morals and corrupted society being emphasized in the plot, other Xian themes are readily apparent, such as the carpenter Geppetto kneeling in prayer-posture upon a bright 'star', the immaculate conception of Pinocchio-Jesus by a rather Virgin Mary-like beautiful fairy mantled in blue. Add to that lots of puritan biblical teachings with rowdy, rebellious, disobedient youth who are easily tempted by sinful offerings of tobacco and alcohol, having been lured from the straight and narrow path by an evil coachman who represents Satan (his four fingers should have been a tip-off!), only to indulge in mischief and mayhem before they realize via their asinine condition that this paradise is actually hell. Our hero-archetype is even swallowed by the whale, Monstro, (compare with the biblical story of Jonah and the whale) where he 'dies', only to undergo a final resurrection/transformation.
Is this the same Disney that years earlier gave us such morbid treasures as "The Skeleton Dance", "Hell's Bells", "Cannibal Capers" and "Egyptian Mysteries?" In the case of the now very rare "Hell's Bells" (Silly Symphonies, Oct. 30, 1929), the demons of hell milk a dragon-cow in order to provide Satan with his flaming milk. There is also a depiction of Cerberus, the three-headed dog (shades of the Sirius Mystery?) who narrowly escapes becoming dog food for the parade of devils. However, with regards to occult symbolism on display in these early Disney animation cells, the most revealing of the Silly Symphonies was the short entitled "The Goddess of Spring" (November 1934); a recounting of the myth of Persephone, who is tricked by Hades/Pluto/Satan into eating the food of underworld (a pomegranate). In the subsequent grail-like flowering of the land, the cornucopia (horn of plenty) shown with Persephone/Proserpine represents the alchemical stone of death. ET IN ARCADIA EGO. "Minnie Mouse is Mickey's fiancé" and "the Templars have something to do with everything."
But getting back to Disney's Pinocchio, could there be another sub-layer of richer esoteric meaning to be gleaned under the Xian undercurrents? Probably not, unless, that is, you're a southern Baptist on a Toontown witchhunt. Disney urban legends are just that (except, of course, the women who flash for the camera at Splash Mountain). Brad was right: "Who wants to see some dumb cartoon rated G for kids?" Forget luminous paint and Toontown knavery. Go ahead, my son, have a double-scoop of Burr-bank ice cream without worrying about it melting in the vibrantly colorful flames of hell. Ah, but Collodi's book, now that's another story.
Among other things, Pinocchio's creator was said to be fascinated by the occult. Whether by a frightened Ciliega with a purple nose, a green fisherman, Scandinavian mythology, Harlequin and Pulcinella's antics, the principle of morphogenic resonance or the dead weeping, I do not know, but when rightly (or leftly) interpreted, Collodi's original contains Gnostic elements... and then some. Concealed within the pages of the transgressive puppet's adventures is a truly unique initiatory process (remember that phonetic cabala? You might say Pinocchio's 'knows' grows!) that reveals to the genuine seeker of occult wisdom the essential secret of the higher arcanum that is the pageant of the graal-feast - that which I described in my own book, Ijynx, as "an otherworldly kaleidoscope populated by a consortium of hyper-dimensional intelligences."
As I stand in the line between the two Disney amusement parks, I ask Lucius (who, as I've said is ever so curious about magick) to mediate on this: In the "Devil" tarot trump of the 22 major arcane cards that comprise "I Tarocchi Di Pinocchio" (The Tarot of Pinocchio), our whimsical fool/hero-archetype has already cut the strings that once attached him to the puppetmaster, presumably with the pair of scissors in his back pocket. But in that this is the "Devil" card, which is which?
Now, it is time to leave Mickey's sunny world - jalapeno-cheese pretzels and all (and, yet, paradoxically, perhaps, move from NOX to LVX). Where we're going, I tell young Lucius, "you can paint your own sandwich"... not to mention order a dish of sinfully-rich tiramisu. But before we cross over into Disney's California Adventure, let me once again leave you with the words of Roy Neary: You boys have never seen Pinocchio. Are you guys in luck!"
Photos by Camella Grace and Alan Jones