Happy Family




- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Lizard
pg. 2 - Cirkus | pg. 3 - Megaphonium Fanfare
pg. 4 - 'Worship!' Cried the Clown | pg. 5 - Entry of the Chameleons
pg. 6 - Indoor Games | pg. 7 - Happy Family
pg. 8 - Lady of the Dancing Water


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Whipped the World

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"The Beatles keep in touch constantly, bounding in and out of each other's homes like members of a single large family--which, in a sense, they are. Their friendship is an extraordinarily intimate and empathetic bond. When all four are together, even close friends like Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones sense invisible barriers thrown up between themselves and outsiders. "We're still our own best friends," each says."

- Time Magazine Sept. 27, 1967


J.F. Wylie's Happy Family Circus, Britain 1886
The Second Chakra

"...a time of life when a child rises from the murky realms of undifferentiated selfhood to form that uniquely human, but ultimately self-limiting psychic organ, the ego. Although many spiritual disciplines teach that we must eventually vanquish the ego if we are to regain our connection with Spirit, it is certain that we must first fully develop this essential faculty if we are to survive as members of civilized society.

Representative second-chakra figures include... the early Beatles."

- Madness or Transcendence?
Looking to the Ancient East
for a Modern Transpersonal Diagnostic System
John E. Nelson, M.D.


The Third Chakra





"Manipura is the chakra of power, situated at the level of the belly button. Here the energy assumes a violent character aimed at the submission of the world, will to dominate. It corresponds exactly with the moment of the Beatles dictatorship, the Beatles-mania. The Beatles have the world in their hands."

- Magickal Mystery Book
Visioni Esoteriche Intorno ai Beatles
by Matteo Guarnaccia


Lizard is about moving beyond the world of appearances and the image of the Beatles represents perhaps the strongest illusion/delusion of the late sixties & early seventies. Widely idealized, if not deified, when the Beatles sought to maintain their public image as a "happy family" they were just as caught up in appearances as the Smiths and Jones' of Indoor Games.





"Happy family, one hand clap,"

"One hand clap" refers to the zen riddle ("What is the sound of one hand clapping?") and alludes to the Beatles very public embrace of eastern religion. And what is the sound of one had clapping? Silence. The applause has died.

"Four went by and none came back."

The break up of the Beatles and, perhaps, the differentiation of the four psychological functions.

"Brother Judas, ash and sack
Swallowed aphrodisiac."


"Traditional Hindu texts place the second chakra just below the navel, where it is said to govern the sexual organs."

- Madness or Transcendence?
Looking to the Ancient East
for a Modern Transpersonal Diagnostic System
John E. Nelson, M.D.


Judas, the betrayer, is distracted from his artistic (intuitional) pursuits by a woman. "Ash and sack" ("ashes and sackcloth") suggests that Judas was apologetic about his new endeavor.

"Rufus, Silas, Jonah too sang,
"We'll blow our own canoes,"


Blow our own kazoos. Paddle our own canoes.
Like the inhabitants of Indoor Games who strive to keep up with the Jones', the other three Beatles seek to show the world that they too can be like "Judas".
"Blow our own kazoos" is a variant of "toot your own horn" and refers to self-aggrandizement or self-promotion. An instrument associated with "skiffle", the trivial musical genre in which the Beatles got their start, the kazoo is also said to be among the instruments used on the Sgt. Pepper's album. As it is considered more of a toy than a serious musical instrument, the kazoo might be an appropriate symbol of the pre-"artist" Beatles. "Paddle your own canoe" generally means "mind your own business", "do your own thing" or "go your own way".

"Poked a finger in the zoo,
Punctured all the balyhoo."


A reference to the Beatles' deepening immersion in the world. "The zoo" is the animal or physical world...

Second chakra

"The Svadhishthana is found at the level of the genitals, the pelvic zone where rock and roll develops (Elvis the pelvis) and is connected to thought and the actions of the sexual sphere. Everything is lived in sexual terms."

- Magickal Mystery Book
Visioni Esoteriche Intorno ai Beatles
by Matteo Guarnaccia


...as opposed to the interior/spiritual realm of intuition. "All the Balyhoo" is the hype or false image "punctured" by the individual Beatles stepping outside of their expected roles. Suggesting that the individual Beatles were here behaving in a decidedly Dionysian (chameleonic) fashion, this passage apparently refers to the dual nature of Hermes "who says one thing but is secretly thinking another."


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"Whipped the world and beat the clock,
Wound up with their share of stock.
Silver Rolls from golden rock,
Shaken by a knock, knock, knock."


The deeper subject of Happy Family, the conflict between commercial success and artistry (sensation and intuition). The "paybox glove" or some other force in the outer world strongly compels the artist (or any any of us) to disregard intuition.
"Knock, knock, knock" is a death symbol (as in fate knocking at the door at the beginning of Beethoven's 5th symphony) and alludes to the Beatles being "shaken" by the death of Brian Epstein.





"Happy family, wave that grin,
What goes round must surely spin;"


"Wave that grin" refers to the ubiquitous images of the early Beatles waving and grinning at public appearances. What "must surely spin" is an illusion (i.e. the turning mirror and "plate-spinning statesman" of Cirkus). "What goes round" suggests the saying "What goes around comes around" meaning that (for the actor) there are consequences for every action. And, of course, records go around...and spin.

"Cheesecake, mousetrap, Grip-Pipe-Thynne
Cried out "We're not Rin Tin Tin."


"Cheesecake" refers to the Beatles carefully cultivated image as wholesome pop stars. And here we see what had gone around and later came back to haunt them. As the Beatles sought to live down their image as pop stars, "cheesecake" turned out to be a "mousetrap".
Grytpype-Thynne was a Peter Sellers character on The Goon Show which ran on BBC Radio from 1951 to 1960. The comic patter of "teen idol" era Beatles owed a great deal to the Goon Show and added to the perception that the group were mere entertainers and not to be taken seriously. In their later attempts to be seen as serious artists instead of innocuous teen idols, the Beatles were saying "We're not good wholesome family entertainment!" (Rin Tin Tin).




"Uncle Rufus grew his nose,
Threw away his circus clothes"


His nose was his distinguishing characteristic, his individuality. "Circus clothes" refers to his previous role as the clown of the group and also to the images of the past which the group's members now sought to renounce (the costumes worn on the Sgt. Pepper album cover).

"Cousin Silas grew a beard,
Drew another flask of weird"


The former Beatle who became known for the influence of eastern religion ("weird" to westerners) in his work.

"Nasty Jonah grew a wife,
Judas drew his pruning knife."


The further attempts of the other two Beatles to distinguish themselves from the group (establish a new image). Judas' pruning knife represents his cutting himself off from the other members, in effect, disbanding the group.




"Happy family, pale applause,
Each to his revolving doors."


Another reference to applause which began to fade as the Beatles neglected their art (intuition) and became so caught up in the world of images. "Revolving doors" allude to the group's first overt attempt to be taken as serious artists, the Revolver Lp. It also suggests that group members will be "in and out" of their association with the Beatles and, again, there is the "spinning" motif, suggestive of illusion.

"Silas searching, Rufus neat,
Jonah caustic, Jude so sweet."


The individual Beatles in their new pigeonholes.

"They constitute a four-way plug-in personality, each sparking the circuit in his own way. Paul outgoing and talkative, spreads a sheen of charm; he is the smoother-over, the explainer, as pleasingly facile at life as he is at composing melodies. George, once the least visible of the group, now focuses his energies on Indian music and philosophy; an occasional contributor to the Beatle songbook, he is the most accomplished instrumentalist of the lot. Ringo, a thoroughly unpretentious fellow, is also the most innately comic temperament; he is the catalyst, and also the deflator, of the crew. Most mysterious of all--and possibly most important--is John, the creative mainspring, who has lately grown strangely brooding and withdrawn; he is more thoughtful and tough-minded than the others."

- Time Magazine Sept. 27, 1967


"Let their sergeant mirror spin
If we lose the barbers win;"


The spinning mirror tells us again that the Beatles image is an illusion and if the mirror stops spinning, if the illusion is revealed for what it is, the only notable consequence will be that long hair falls out of style. Again, as noted in the section on Cirkus, the spinning mirror is the mind, or at least the mind's unfortunate tendency to see only fleeting images and not the whole picture.

In summary, Indoor Games and Happy Family are cautionary tales that explore the problem of being caught up in the world of appearances (Sensation) to the detriment of one's inner voice (Intuition). Indoor Games explores this phenomenon in an aspect familiar to everyone while Happy Family delves into some of the perils of maya that are specific to the life of a pop star.



Dark Night of the Soul : Cirkus ~ Indoor Games

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