delving in a small circle





Pleasant House


Nanna Aida Svendsen ©



Its that time of year. The magic of the Nutcracker ballet is about to reach

out and capture my heart yet again. I first saw the ballet at the Royal

Festival Hall in London with my mother and my little sister. They sat with a

rapt faces mirroring mine totally taken by the music, the dancing, the

scenery and the story. My small sister held my hand tightly as we were

transported to another land where Christmas was as we dreamed it to be, a

snow covered wonder - world outside and a warm enchanted celebration within.

A land where wishes come true and where love wins through in the end,


Now so many years later, I can still feel the wonder of the Nutcracker, wrap

itself round me as the music begins and curtain rises yet again on a bustling

snow covered street scene. Only now the ballet speaks to me beyond the magic

of the scenery, the music and the dancing. I now see the story to contain

lots of little clues as to the inner life. And I wonder if this may in part

be why the ballet is still so compelling, and has become a perennial?


It stirs the child inside me of course. Wakens me at least for a while to her

innocence and magic. And then if I choose to view the characters as metaphors

for various aspects of me, I see a whole new tale unfold. One that speaks of

the female characters as representatives of the inner feminine, the feeling,

intuitive, being part of me, and the male characters as representatives of my

inner masculine, the thinking, acting, doing part of me. Then the story of

Clara and her nutcracker becomes a story to do with the need to have a sound

inner feminine united with a sound inner masculine and how I might achieve

this. Or to put it another way the story comes to be about having a sound

feeling and intuitive system unite with a sound thinking and acting aspect.


It is Christmas Eve. A big celebration is underway. The tree stands tall and

sparkling in the drawing room. Clara and Fritz' godfather has brought many

wonderful presents, he has made himself, including a wooden nutcracker in the

form of a small man for Clara. Clara delighted hugs the nutcracker to her,

and Fritz her brother, jealous, pulls it from Clara and forcing a large nut

in the nutcrackers mouth slams it to a close. In so doing the nutcracker

loses several of his teeth. Clara is upset. Somehow she loves that funny

nutcracker, and so her godfather does his best to mend him placing the

nutcracker safely in the toy chest for the night, when he is done.


Later when everyone is sleeping and the clock strikes midnight, Clara returns

to the tree to look for her nutcracker. But when she does something

extraordinary happens. The tree begins to grow and grow. As Clara looks on

amazed she hears the patter of many feet and is surprised suddenly to find

herself surrounded by a life sized army of mice. The mouse king, a monstrous

mouse with seven heads, demands of Clara that she tell him where the

Nutcracker is hiding. Clara does not reply but the toy chest is flung open,

and led by a now life sized nutcracker, toys, the same size as Clara, go to

war with the mice.


The mouse king having grabbed the Nutcracker's sword is about to slay him

when all of a sudden Clara sends her shoe flying towards him. The moment it

hits the king he and all the mice disappear. And right before Clara's eyes

the nutcracker turns into a handsome young prince. The Prince as a thank-you

to Clara for saving his life takes her through the Christmas wood to his

magic kingdom the land of sweets. Here he and Clara are royally entertained

by a series of dancing candies from all over the world, before setting off in

a magic sled to live happily ever after…


…Yes, I know that Nutcracker place in me., what it feels like to be him. When

I am all dressed up and working hard being of service, being good even, and

yet feeling somehow wooden or numb inside, disconnected in some way from my

self and what I love. I know that feeling of somehow having become

mechanical, being moved or driven by the demands of others rather than being

sourced in my heart. Oh, I know the knocks that can come to me when I am like

this. I know them as a feeling of subtly being beaten or abused, as the

nutcracker is by Fritz, mirroring perhaps a way I am abusing myself or

letting others use me in ways that don't sit well.. That my heart is not

happy I know, even though I may not always know why.


But somehow it seems another part of me does know what is wrong and what is

needed. The godfather in me, the part of me that takes action sourced in

intuition knows that another part of me is ailing. This higher self knows

that the part of me that is doing things so mechanically needs to be

recognized and brought back to life. So he makes me a nutcracker, creates

some situation with a colleague, or has me or see a movie perhaps, something

- anything that can reflect my nutcrackerness back to me and remind in some

sense of what I have become.


Oh there is a love for this nutcracker that arises when I see it, for the

part of me that is doing the best that it can, probably in an attempt to keep

me safe, but there is also sadness. It somehow seems so stilted. Something

is missing. Clara loves the nutcracker as soon as she sees him, knows there

is something special about him, but her love at this moment is not enough to

bring him to life.


However, a journey of the heart has begun, with that first look of love.

When the clock strikes midnight, heralding the time between worlds when the

old day is dying and the new day is just beginning and magic can happen,

Clara enters another world. This is not the world of everyday. This is the

timeless realm of fairy tale, myth and imagination where inner worlds shift

and change. And this is the world I must enter if I want to bring life to the

nutcracker inside me.


It is not surprising that it is a child who must do this, and a girl child at

that. Somehow the innocent responsiveness of the child must be regained for

me to find the aliveness in me. And so must my connection to my feelings and

bodily sensations. So of course symbolically, the nutcracker must be brought

to life by a girl, he alone cannot do it.


But first there is a monster to be met. Yes is this not so? Must I not first

come to see the monster, the seven headed king of mice, who once claimed the

innocent in me, to get it back? Will he not raise his horrid heads and try

yet again to devour the part of me that is waking up and wants to be alive

and free? Will he not come, in the words of another who does not want me to

grow and become ever more myself, someone who feels threatened perhaps by

this evolution? Or might he not come in the form of a shaming voice inside,

saying things like "who do you think you to are?? Don't be ridiculous. A

nutcracker does not want more out of life. He wants to remain wooden and

useful and the same.


And so, if the nutcracker is to find and connect with what's missing, If I am

to come to life, and be ever more present, must I not meet the part of me

that acts yes, but whose action is not sourced in a sound feeling system but

rather in a wounded one? And so my actions like those of the many headed

mouse have become untrustworthy and unsound, and like the nutcracker, somehow

mechanical. Must I not remember the way I was hurt, the choices I made then

in an attempt to keep myself safe? Must I not say "no" to that old way of

acting a way that has meaning? Sometimes by choosing no longer to be defined

by the mouse, but often really by recognizing the wound that he is and being

willing release the distress associated with it, to dispel that king of mice

and transform the nutcracker into a prince?


Is this not what Clara does when she gives the Mouse king the boot, or in

this case the shoe? The mouse king disappears and the nutcracker becomes

real, rather than a parody of himself. He becomes a marvelous Prince and he

and Clara go off together to travel the path with heart and savour life's

unfolding. And is this not after all what living happily ever after is about?

Not that I necessarily have literally to be married, but more that my

thoughts and actions need to be sourced in a sound feeling system, they need

to have heart. What I do needs to be married to what I feel and these two

aspects need to be living happily together so that I can be taken like Clara

to the land of sweets, where its possible to experience the riches of

everyday life, and where I can feel I am living my own and right life.


This then is what the story of the Nutcracker has come to mean to me. When

the curtain rises yet again this Christmas I will not only be transported to

the realm of music, movement, memory and magic - that space between worlds

where transformation can and does happen - but I will also be reminded to

look for and see the places in me where I might still be wooden like that

nutcracker. Have I somehow become mechanical and disconnected from my heart

and from what I love? Are there places where I need to find and reconnect

with the magic and innocence of the child, as well as the wisdom of my

feelings? And if there are I may need to remember not be afraid of

encountering that seven headed mouse but rather to welcome him so that I can

give him shoe, should he rear his awful faces and try to stop me yet again.

Copyright © Nanna Aida Svendsen 2002