Who is the Sugar Plum Fairy?
Anne Maria Clarke @ the ballet
The Sugar Plum Fairy has deep roots in myth, in centuries old stories of mortal beings spirited away into other realms, magical realms that do not conform in the slightest to our everyday world. Oisin is famously carried away to Tir Nag Nog in the Irish legend, Taliesin to Annwn, the Welsh Other world and Thomas the Rhymer in the Scottish poem, who accompanies a beautiful lady to Elf land where he remains for seven full years.
There are various ways of arriving in such places or states as they might be more helpfully understood. In the Nutcracker story, young Clara falls asleep beneath the lighted tree on Christmas Eve and like Alice, who drinks her magic potion, shrinks down to the size of her toys and dreams of journeying to an enchanted realm with the Nutcracker doll given to her as a gift by her uncle, the local toymaker. The imaginal world, the 'let's pretend place' if you like, is all at once animated, made real and true and the everyday world for the duration, pales into a kind of bland insignificance. Yet it is precisely because of these 'adventures' these extra-ordinary journeys into the beyond, that our everyday mortal world is enriched and made new.
In our story, it is almost as if in crafting and giving Clara the handsome Nutcracker doll her uncle is enabling this important transition from childhood to adolescence. In Joseph Campbell's scheme, this uncle could well be the wise helper whom the heroine is destined to meet. He is clearly the initiator of the adventure and knows full well the powers invested in his Christmas Nutcracker doll. He knows too of the Sugar Plum Fairy who inhabits the heart of the make – believe kingdom whom Clara is destined to meet.
Parents of course are reluctant to let their children go and often do not recognise the moment when it is right to do so and so it falls to others, like Clara's uncle to create the opening for the adventure.
A pretty pink fairy, not unlike our Sugar Plum is placed on top of the cake to add to the enchantment – but no one ever knows that she is actually a manifestation of the mighty Fairy Queen herself who rules over the enchanted realm with her husband the Fairy King – humbly disguised in this tale as the apprentice cook. Not all is what it seems to be at first glance you see and the fairy on the cake and indeed our own Sugar Plum are merely ways in which these immense archetypal energies choose to clothe themselves at what we might call - their lower octave - or frequency, the outer ripples if you like, of the deep, deep source from which they come to form.
Well, the young boy who finds the Fay-Star ....Tolkien's alter ego it has been said.... travels at will between the worlds and becomes known as Star-brow, for whenever he returns from Faery, the star which is stuck to his brow glows and glows especially after he meets the Fairy Queen.
So please don't scoff and turn up your intellectual nose - for the Sugar Plum Fairy, albeit fashioned from festive marzipan and frosted icing ... is not at all discontinuous with the Fairy Queen proper – as Tolkien has clearly shown us - the archetype - the goddess in fact before whom men quake in their boots and bow down.....and to whom, unless we have hearts of stone, we are all ineffably drawn.
At Christmas time, in our Western traditions, alongside the more sober Mother of God, this is clearly how she finds her way into our everyday lives. We can make her small if we wish, we can diminish her significance, like TinkerBell in Peter Pan - yet there she still is, every year delighting us with her magic.
Like Oisin, Taliesin, Thomas the Rhymer and Star-Brow, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince all meet a Fairy Queen of sorts – and maybe it is fitting that our Christmas adventurers meet her in the form of the Sugar Plum, for it is said that to meet her within her higher octave, so to speak, is sometimes too awesome an experience. The Nutcracker is a taster therefore, a prepatatory initiation into the more grown up wonders to come.
So have a mind to these deep connections when you place your own manufactured fairy atop your Festive Tree. She is no lightweight - as innocent children see very well - she is a reflection of light itself - glorious and utterly compelling to behold - the feminine aspect of the the Divine within creation.
Merry Christmas to all
Anne Maria Clarke
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More fairy-stories, myths, legends and books by
Anne Maria Clarke
http://www.archivepublishing.co.uk/Transpersonal Books - Transpersonal Psychology. Understanding the Soul - Expanding Consciousness