Mickey Mouse and Mack the Knife (Secret of Minnie’s Mousse, Part II)

What is the connection between Walt Disney’s most famous character and a popular song about a murderer from a stage play originating in Weimar Germany? What about the origin of the characters Tom and Jerry? What does all of this have to do with the old European traditions about Saint Nicholas and his fabled child-murdering companion, Black Pete, a.k.a. Krampus? How is it connected to the Russian mystic Nicolas Roerich, Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the design of the American one-dollar bill?

Here is the second installment of the video series The Secret of Minnie’s Mousse, based on an essay of the same title by Tracy R. Twyman. The text of the essay, and the full half-hour of the first installment of the video series, are available at this website for Plus Ultra members.The full text ties together the crimes of Frank Sinatra, Roman Polanski, Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, as well as providing interpretation for the meaning of the Mickey Mouse character, the Disney mouse ears logo, the stories of Lewis Carroll, several albums by the Beatles, the work of Marilyn Manson, Genesis P-Orridge, and much more.

Here is the relevant section from the text:

As I pondered the mysteries of Mickey, I tried to think of what, if any, occult significance there might be to the three circles of the Mickey Mouse head Disney logo. I thought of all the typical things: the Trinity and such. I’ve already mentioned the club connection that I found. Then I thought about the three circles that are used to represent the three gold balls which are themselves the emblem of Saint Nicholas. They stand for the three bags of gold that, according to the hagiography of Nicholas, were used by the saint to ransom the lives of three children.

There are various versions of this myth. In one, the gold is given to the father of three girls to use for their dowries, so that he can marry them off, to save them from a life of prostitution. This explains why the emblem of the three circles, or three golden balls, is associated in some countries with the business of pawnbrokering.

In another version, the balls represent three boys who accidentally wandered away from their family and were lured into the shop of an evil cannibalistic butcher. The butcher killed the boys and submerged their bodies within three barrels filled with brine, intending to sell their meat as pork. But Nicholas intuitively figured out what the butcher had done, opened the barrels, and somehow magically resurrected the boys, who then returned home. Thus, according to The Birthday Book of Saints by Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers, Nicholas became “a Patron of all children in a pickle ever since.” Meanwhile, according to tradition, the spirit of the evil butcher has been following Nicholas “in penance,” taking the form of a figure called by the French “Pere Fouettard.”

While the word fouettard defied Google’s auto-translator, and did not appear in my Langenscheidt French-English dictionary from 1968, the latter source did give me the definition of fouet, which is a whip or birch-rod. Fouetter is the verb for the act of flogging a child. This would go along with the imagery not only of Fouettard’s own penance (self-flagellation), but also the imagery of child discipline that accompanies Fouettard’s mythological counterparts in other countries. For he is certainly the same figure as “Zwarte Pieten,” or Black Pete, counterpart of “Sinterklaas,” as Saint Nicholas is called in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Lower Rhine in Germany.

The job of Black Pete, who appears in blackface, is to flog and threaten children who have been bad, punishing them by with a lump of coal as their only Christmas gift, while his more positive counterpart gives away toys and candy to the nice kids. In some countries Pete is paired with, or replaced by, a child-eating satyr called Krampus, a monstrous creature with snarling fangs and huge goat horns. Krampus actually threatens to kidnap the bad children and take them to his “lair” to have his way with them.

Of course, we are talking about the character who inspired Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, whom I have exposed in previous writings as a personification of the child-eating Saturn or Chronos (“Father Time”) from Greco-Roman myths. While we in the USA recognize Santa Claus as part of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th (a day also said to have been celebrated in the Roman cult of Mithras), the actual feast of Saint Nicholas is generally celebrated on the fifth or sixth of December, and on the 19th in some places. The sixth is the date observed most commonly, but the fifth is his day in the Netherlands. Festivities usually occur on both days anyway, just as we also celebrate Christmas Eve. The traditional activities for the feast day of Saint Nicholas include the giving of small gifts to children by apparitions of the fabled saint. Gifts are placed inside of shoes or socks that have been put by the fire.

The red suit that Santa Claus wears purportedly derives from the bishop’s robes worn by “Sinterklaas” in these older European traditions. In Germany and Poland, boys used to dress up as bishops on the saint’s feast day and beg in the streets for alms for the poor. This is interesting in many ways because in my French dictionary, the word fou is defined as an adjective meaning, “mad, insane, crazy,” or a noun for a “lunatic” or a “fool.” It is also a word for the bishop figure in chess.

The first definitions would fit well with Pere Fouettard’s image as a child-murderer. But as he is described as a butcher by trade, it’s rather strange that he’s addressed as Pere, meaning “Father,” as though he’s a priest, and his name appears to also connect with the imagery of a bishop via the game of chess. After all, it’s Nicholas who is the bishop and Father Christmas, right? But then recall the traditions of Christmas. If you caught Santa Claus leaving you a present on Christmas morning, and you defrocked him, what would you find? Your own father, most likely, right? Nicholas is the “nice” father who gives you things. Fouttard, a.k.a. Krampus or Black Pete, is the mean father who punishes you for being bad, at best with a lump of coal instead of presents, or worse, by kidnapping, raping and killing you. Fouttard is merely the dark side of Nicholas.

Historically, Nicholas lived in the third century and was the bishop of the city of Myra, located in modern Turkey. There is a story about his work as a theologian that is considered apocryphal by some, but may actually be true. It is said that he attended the First Council of Nicea, where he argued in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity. Purportedly he even got violent about it, punching the “heretic” Arias in the face himself. So the figure of Nicholas is historically fused with the concept that the Most High God has three personalities. Therefore, the idea of Nicholas having a child-murdering “alter” personality doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. Furthermore, it is interesting to consider the possibility that this may be connected to his symbol of three circles arranged in a triangle, which are even shown at the bottom of his stole in most depictions of him.

In Christianity, three such circles intertwined represent the Trinity. In occult parlance, three dots arranged in a triangle are used somewhat like an ellipsis is used in punctuation. They represent a word that has been omitted. Often, in the internal documents of secret societies, we see the name of the group, the titles of its officers, and the names of its members written with just the initials, each letter followed by the triangle of dots. So are the three dots associated with Nicholas also meant to represent the Trinity? It seems impossible to deny the implicit connection.

Now you may think that this is all very interesting, but still doubt that it has anything to do with Mickey Mouse or the Disney logo. Well, if so, prepare to be amazed. I was, and I still am. It would be impossible for me to have made this up if I had tried.

The connection between the mouse-head logo and St. Nicholas had occurred to me instinctively, as I had written about the symbols of Nicholas before. Following this instinct, I decided to look up Walt Disney’s birth date, wondering if by any chance it was on or near December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas. Sure enough, he was born on December 5, 1901—the day on which the feast is celebrated in the Netherlands, which is the eve of the feast day in most other countries. This is the night when the saint and his dark partner are said to make their rounds, giving away toys and kidnapping naughty children.

The odds of him having been born on the fifth or sixth of December are less than 1/183. Are you going to tell yourself that this is a coincidence? I don’t know exactly what it means, but a random occurrence it surely is not. There’s more, though.

Continuing to look into the traditions of Saint Nicholas, we find that in central Europe his name is pronounced with an “M” at the front rather than the letter “N.” Thus, he is called Miklavz in Slovenia, Mikulas in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Mikolaj in Poland, Mykolay in the Ukraine, Miklos in Hungary, and Mos Nicolae in Romania. Yes, of course I am thinking that there is a connection between Mickey Mouse and Saint “MEE-KAY.” But there’s more. Again, I am just shocked at how correct my instincts have turned out to be, and what was revealed when I decided to follow them.

As I was preparing this presentation, I was looking through my music collection for something to listen to. My eyes came across the Bobby Darin recording of “Mack the Knife.” Recalling that maus means “knife-point” in German, I decided to play it for the first time in many years. The lyrics intrigued me, for they seemed significantly relevant to the present inquiry. When I looked up the history of the song, I absolutely could not believe what I found. This is nothing less than the secret, dark, hidden origin of the name “Mickey Mouse,” which his creators have kept quiet about, and lied to cover up for, since the late 1920s. Once you see what I am talking about, you will understand why I have no doubt about this.

The song is about a murderous, raping, thieving thug and his various exploits. The swing and jazz versions of it make it seem glamorous, but the original song, portrayed as being sung on the banks of the Thames for a street audience with an organ grinder playing the tune, was much more dark, meant to be taken as an ominous warning about the impending threat of this murderer wandering loose in the streets of London. It comes from a stage play called The Threepenny Opera that ran in Berlin in 1928, the same year that Mickey Mouse was purportedly invented. The play was then produced as a film in 1931 by the Berlin branch of Warner Brothers Pictures. Steamboat Willie, the first theatrical short featuring Mickey Mouse, was released in November of that year as well. The name of the central character in The Threepenny Opera is Macheath, also called “Mackie Messer,” meaning, in German, “Mackie the Knife.”

If you are noticing that the name sounds a bit close to “Macbeth,” I think that is important. A central motif in that Shakespeare play is the metaphorical “bloodstain” on the hands of the murderer (Macbeth himself) that can’t be washed away. The central murder in that play was committed by a knife as well. Macbeth means “Son of the House,” like the royal house, and indeed, the play is all about seizing the royal crown. “Macheath,” means “son of the heath,” i.e., “son of the outlands,” or “son of the heathen,” but interestingly, in The Threepenny Opera, there is a royal connection as well, and at then end of the play the central figures get to join the Royal Order of the Garter.

The Threepenny Opera is based on 1728’s The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, which was itself based upon what were then the recently-transpired true adventures of the outlaw Jack Sheppard, hanged in 1724. He was a thief, and married a notorious prostitute, who was arrested. He broke into the jail and stole her away. Later they were both arrested, but managed to escape by filing through their chains with a hidden knife, then making a rope-ladder of bedsheets to climb down. He continued his crime spree for a while, and escaped from jail two more times!

Eventually, though, he was taken down with the help of a rival criminal, a gang leader named Wild, who had tried unsuccessfully to get Sheppard to work underneath him. Miffed that his overture was rejected, Wild cooperated with authorities to bring Sheppard to “justice.” Sheppard was thereafter a folk hero, and there were several periods in British history in which it was illegal to publish a book or a play with his name in the title, for fear that youth would be influenced to emulate him.

This is why his name was changed in The Beggar’s Opera of 1728 to “Macheath.” His character was also used in the sequel, Polly, which includes scenes of Macheath kidnapping a prostitute named Polly to sell her into “white slavery” via a madam named “Mrs. Trapes,” and an attempt to slip a mickey into Polly’s drink. The story appears, by the way, to be the inspiration for the Nirvana song Polly, which I recall Kurt Cobain saying was about “a kidnapped prostitute being held captive.”

The Beggar’s Opera inspired the penny dreadful story Captain Macheath by Pierce Egan the Younger, published in serial form starting in 1841. Significantly, Egan also wrote another work of fiction romanticizing the life of an outlaw: Robin Hood and Little John; or, the Merrie Men of Sherwood Forest. The use of the name “John” may connect with John “Jack” Sheppard here too, who was named after an older but deceased brother. The figure of Robin Hood is also based—loosely—on the folklore in the British Isles about “Robin Goodfellow,” “Jack-in-the-Green” or “Green Robin,” a forest pixie. In the writings of the Brothers Grimm, they said that “Robin Goodfellow is the same home-sprite whom we in Germany call Knecht Ruprect and exhibit to children at Christmas.”

As a notable aside, I should point out that Pierce Egan the Younger, in addition to contributiong to the lore of both Macheath and Robin Hood, also invented a pair of fictional, wayward young men, Tom and Jerry, whose names were later taken by the famous cartoon cat and mouse duo. Egan’s Life in London is where the two characters were first used, later adapted to the stage in William Moncrieff’s Tom and Jerry, or Life in London from 1821. Later still, in the 1930s, there was a cartoon series called “Tom and Jerry” about two wild and mischievous young men. The following decade, Joseph Barbera, who had worked on those cartoons as an animator, created his own version in the form of the cat and mouse.

The term “Tom and Jerry” is also still applied to a Christmas cocktail invented by Pierce Egan to promote his book. It’s just like eggnog, but with a half-ounce of brandy added to the rum and other ingredients. Thus we can look at this as a potent set of symbols. We have the mouse (Jerry), his predator (Tom), “lost” young men (like the boys who were captured by the evil butcher in the Saint Nicholas story), Christmastime traditions, and intoxicating fluids prepared so as to have the taste and texture of a dessert (like Minnie’s mousse in Rosemary’s Baby).

Returning to “Mack the Knife” again, we already noted that the name “Macheath” was introduced early on to avoid the ban on Jack Sheppard’s name. The ban was meant to prevent people from romanticizing him, but it had the exact opposite effect. With the fake name of “Macheath” introduced, writers felt free to expand upon his mythos, turning him into a heroic character. However, in The Threepenny Opera, Macheath’s crimes of murder and rape are magnified, and it is hard to understand how he could be viewed in a positive light. Nonetheless, in the jazzy-swing versions of “Mack the Knife” that American artists recorded years later, Mackie’s evil ways are celebrated, or so it seems.

In “The Ballad of Mack the Knife,” we hear about how he wears “fancy gloves” (specified as “white” in the Frank Sinatra version) so that “there’s never a trace of red” whenever he uses his knife to kill somebody and the “scarlet billows start to spread.” Mickey Mouse also wears white gloves, although this feature didn’t appear until 1929’s The Opry House. This cartoon features Mickey as the owner of his own small theater and star of his own live variety show. Was the title of this cartoon an homage to The Threepenny Opera, and were the gloves an homage to Macheath Messer?

The Opry House debuted on March 28 of that year. This just so happens to be the date that marked the end of “Holy Week” (also called “Hilarion”) in the liturgical calendar of the ancient Roman cult of Cybele. During Holy Week, new recruits into the cult’s priesthood would be castrated, or castrate themselves, using a ceremonial blade that represented the weapon that the goddess Cybele used to castrate her son Attis, according to the cult’s mythology. This seems to also be connected to the story of Chronos (Saturn/Mithras) castrating his father Ouranos. The day which preceded the final ceremonies, March 27, was called Lavatio (“Washing”), as it was the time at which they washed the blades they used for the week’s sacrifices and mutilations.

Is this why Mickey Mouse, from The Opry House onward, wore gloves, like Mackie Messer’s, meant to represent that his hands were always “clean,” no matter what they were used for? Notably, a Russian sect called the Skoptsi, which practiced full castration of the penis and testicles as a “rite of perfection,’ called the three circular scars left over by the cleaving “the Golden Seal,” and it did in fact resemble the Mickey Mouse head silhouette.

Of course, Mickey Mouse has never been depicted by Disney doing the sorts of things that Mack the Knife did. But in the earliest cartoons, Mickey certainly was a more mischievous character. After all, he meets Minnie Mouse at a carnival where he runs a hot dog booth and she dances the “Hootchie Cootchie Dance” for an audience of horny, howling male animals. (In the cartoon, it is advertised that Minnie’s dance will “put you in a trance,” just like Minnie Castevet’s “mouse” in Rosemary’s Baby.) According to Wikipedia, by just 1934:

…story artists were finding it increasingly difficult to write material for Mickey. As he had developed into a role model for children, they were limited in the types of gags they could make. This led to Mickey taking more of a secondary role in some of his next films, allowing for more emphasis on other characters.

In other words, he’s been keeping his hands clean, letting others do the dirty work for him, ever since. Walt Disney also separated, in his mind, his public own persona from his private deeds, once telling a friend:

I’m not Walt Disney. I do a lot of things Walt Disney wouldn’t do. Walt Disney does not smoke. I smoke. Walt Disney does not drink. I drink.

Mickey’s gloves were purportedly created “as a way of contrasting his naturally black hands against his black body,” according to Wikipedia. This decision is said to have influenced the use of gloves for other cartoon characters produced by rival companies, including Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. The same source also states that “some of Mickey’s early appearance, particularly the gloves, and facial characteristics, evolved from blackface caricatures used in minstrel shows.” But just like Mackie Messer in The Threepenny Opera, Mickey’s white gloves have three black lines on the back.

If you still doubt that Mickey Mouse was inspired by “Mack the Knife,” just listen to the song as it was sung in the original film, and see how the character’s name is pronounced. It sounds very much like the singer, German actress Lotte Lenya, is saying “Mickey Mouse.”

What about the title of the film? Can the three pennies referenced in the title be an invocation of St. Nicholas and his emblem of the three circles, representing three coins or balls of gold, now used to represent a pawn shop? In both the German film and the original stage play, Mackie and his gang end up taking over a bank, becoming “respectable” crooks instead. There is social commentary here regarding the causes of the world financial crisis at that time: sovereign debt, the hyperinflation that had destroyed Germany, and all of the scams played by the international bankers.

Notably, Mickey Mouse appeared in The Opry House barely two weeks after the stock market crash on Wall Street that would send the world into the deepest depression in history. If there was ever a time in which the world needed bags of gold to drop miraculously from the sky like in the stories of St. Nicholas, this was the time. In Washington D.C., that’s essentially what they were plotting. Within a few years, the federal government of the United States would confiscate all of the gold held by individuals and give it to private banks in exchange for paper fiat money and a new line of credit. This would be used finance a host of new social programs, and the impending war, which would provide the impetus for the economic boom that followed.

The new currency that was rolled out—Federal Reserve Notes printed on green paper—was covered with magical talismans related to alchemy and Freemasonry. This was quite deliberate, for the men who had designed the new dollars, and the entire plan itself, were alchemical Freemasons, and the magic they were doing required the public to suspend disbelief in the supernatural. These men, which included President Franklin Roosevelt and his Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, were also inspired by a contemporary Russian mystic, Nicholas Roerich.

This was a man who believed that world peace would eventually be created somehow by using the powers of the “Great Stone” or “Grail stone.” This object he claimed to have actually discovered himself at a monetary in the Himalayas, and the way he described its dimensions, it would have fit inside of a shoe box. Some researchers think that the Grail stone is meant to be covertly represented by the capstone floating over the truncated pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States. Roosevelt and Morgenthau were both personally involved in the decision to have this emblem printed on the back of the new one-dollar bills.

Buddhist symbol of one circle and the three jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, Seoul, South Korea, Asia
Symbol of the Christian Trinity

To represent this stone, and the world peace that he believed would come from it, Roerich designed an emblem identical to that of his saintly namesake: three red circles on a white field, surrounded by one larger red circular outline. He called it the “Banner of Peace,” and it was formally introduced along with the “Roerich Pact.” This was a “Treaty Between the United States of America and Other American Republics” regarding the “Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments.” It was approved on December 16, 1933 by all the representatives at the Seventh International Conference of American States, held in Montevideo, Uruguay. It was signed in Roosevelt’s presence in Washington D.C. on April 15, 1935, and presented by him in a public statement on May 20 of that year.

Within a few years, however, the US and its allies would be dropping bombs all over Europe’s major cities, history and art be damned. In 1941, the Walt Disney Training Films Unit was created to make industrial movies for the military, and Disney himself met with that other associate of Nicholas Roerich, Henry Morgenthau, to discuss a film in which Donald Duck promoted investment in war bonds. The Disney corporation has played a propagandizing role for the military-industrial complex ever since, albeit usually much more subtlely. This seems natural, considering that Mickey Mouse had been a combat veteran since the 1929 cartoon Barnyard Battle, and, as I’ve already mentioned, his face was used for the military-issued gas masks.

There are other things that seemingly connect Mickey Mouse with both Saint Nicholas and his dark counterpart Pere Fouttard/Black Pete/Krampus. In the first few Mickey Mouse shorts that were produced, his nemesis was also named Pete. Note too that just as Pere Fouttard or Black Pete is presented sometimes as a black-skinned Moor from Spain (in other words, a Muslim, in the minds of medieval Europeans), Mickey, Minnie and Pete of the Disney films are also black. In Europe, the part of Black Pete was traditionally played by white-skinned males wearing blackface make-up, and Mickey Mouse’s face is based on those of actors in minstrel shows wearing blackface make-up.

Meanwhile, the overt devil imagery of the goat-headed Krampus—or “Chort” (“Devil”), as he is called in the Ukraine—is held implicitly by his dog Pluto, named after the Roman god of Hell and Death. Just like St. Nicholas, Mickey brings the menacing presence of these demonic figures with him in the form of his companions and rivals, while still distancing himself from what they symbolize, maintaining a friendly veneer. But behind the warm smile of Father Christmas are the fangs of Krampus, and the bloodlust for babies of the butcher Fouttard, lurking just beneath the surface, like Mackie Messer’s hidden jack-knife. As the song goes:

The shark has pretty teeth, dear

And it shows them pearly white

Just a jack-knife has Macheath, dear

And he keeps it out of sight.

An alternate translation of that last line is “But not in such an obvious place.”

In German, “The Ballad of Mack the Knife” was called “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer.” Moritat means “ballad.” According to Wikipedia, Walt Disney had originally wanted to name his mouse character “Mortimer” before his wife Lillian persuaded him to change it to Mickey. I think it is highly likely that he was actually exposed to the German-language Threepenny Opera stage play, and that this is what really influenced the decision.

Supposedly, the Mickey Mouse character may have been inspired by, as Wikipedia puts it, “a pet mouse that Disney had adopted while working in his Laugh-O-Gram studio.” An article published by the UK’s Express newspaper in 2015, about the discovery of some doodles that Disney made while in the trenches in World War I, boasted that it revealed the origins of Mickey, because there were some drawings of rats included. But several of Walt Disney’s earliest, pre-Mickey cartoons featured mice that looked in most ways identical. In fact, it’s these pre-Mickey Disney mice that I think Marilyn Manson’s evil Mickey costume most closely resembles. More on this later.

These pre-Mickey mice are also, like Mickey in his first few cartoons, capable of removing their “ears” as though they are hats, just like the Mickey Mouse “ears” hat. These features are shared by the other characters in these same early cartoons that Disney worked on, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Felix the Cat. They too have the blackface makeup appearance and the widow’s peak, just like Mickey later would have.

Now let us consider who all has performed “Mack the Knife.” Included on this list are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The latter even played the role of the organ-grinding street musician in the 1960s film version. This film was made just a few years before Davis joined the Church of Satan, started by Anton LaVey, who had been a carnival organist earlier in life.

Of course, all three of the singers mentioned above were part of a group of colleagues known as “the Rat Pack.” Mickey Rooney is also sometimes cited as a hanger-on of the group, and he famously attempted to claim that he had been the inspiration for the naming of Mickey Mouse. There are several stories about why they are called “the Rat Pack,” and they are probably all just as fictional as the tales of the provenance of the Order of Water Rats. This is an old fraternity for stage performers in London with Masonic associations, and according to their website, the name has something to do with the fact that “star” is “rats” spelled backward, while “vole” is an anagram of “love.”

In Sinatra’s version of “Mack the Knife,” he seems to throw in a revealing twist to the lyrics, singing, “When I tell you, all about Mack the Knife babe, It’s an offer you can never refuse.” In The Godfather, Vito Corleone threatens a big band leader with murder unless he releases singer Jimmy Fontaine from his contract with the group. The threat was described using the term “an offer you can’t refuse.” As I shall explain, this scene is a fictionalized version of something that actually happened in the real life of Frank Sinatra. This phrase, “offer you can’t refuse,” is used repeatedly throughout the Godfather film series to indicate exactly the same thing. So here we have a clue that Mack’s name can be thrown about as a way of covertly referencing the death threats that are used by crime cartels to control those in the entertainment industry.

[READ THE REST AND WATCH PART ONE OF THE VIDEO SERIES HERE]

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