Could Mother Goose have been a real person, who not only predicted Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and Hitler’s rise to power, but also the winner of the 2008 presidential campaign? Most would say no, but at a press conference in Paris today archeologists said that was in fact the case.
After two years, a team of scientists has finally completed translating the last of the nearly 500-year-old documents found beneath the Paris church of St. Denys-sur-Seine during excavation for the extension of the Paris subway in 2005. The documents, also called the “Mother Goose Prophecies,” have achieved international fame for detailing the mysterious figure known only in nursery rhymes for the past five centuries.
“This is an amazing find, one that changes everything we knew about history,” said Nicole Digmun, head of the Ecole Paris de Technologie et l’Arts Humain, who headed the translating team. “Every archeologist hopes to find something like this, but few actually do. It’s on a par with Dawson’s Piltdown Man or the Mitchell-Hedges Skull.”
The documents, which were written in a mix of primitive French and Latin, are the diary of a sixteenth-century Abbess known as Mere D’Oye, or Mother Goose. In them she not only sets out her life, which reads like a renaissance romance novel, but also makes a series of prophecies about the future. These prophecies, which are still not fully understood, are set out in rhymes easily memorized and were kept alive by country folk as the famous “mother goose” stories.
“Every original story is there, from Humpty Dumpty all the way to Jack and Jill,” said MIT Researcher Budd Grant. “Everybody has always believed that these were just nonsense rhymes, but they’re actually a vision of the future more powerful than we could imagine.”
More incredible than that was revelation of Mere D’Oye’s personal life. As a poor girl she worked carrying paints for her father, an Italian businessman, until one day she was swept up as a studio model and later lover for the famous painter and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. But they broke off their affair when she became pregnant, and she fled in 1502 with her unborn child to France. There she finally settled in the abbey of St. Denys, where her son Michel was born in 1503. Michel was sent to Notre Dame to be raised by the monks there, later claiming lasting fame for his own visions, more commonly known by his anglicized name of Nostradamus.
But the son’s visions do not compare to his mother’s eerie accuracy. “Michel de Notre Dame was an amateur,” Digmun said. “Mere d’Oye was a professional. She envisioned a world totally unknown in the 16th century and set it out in fascinating detail. Mother Goose was particularly interested in the 20th and 21st century, which she called a future where man’s greatest dreams and nightmares will become one and the same.”
The scientists laid out the “Mother Goose Code” as follows:
Jack and Jill: Clearly depicting the rise of Napoleon, or Jack, and the French people, also called Jill. Long fascinated by what was meant when he “fell and broke his crown”, this poem signifies the place, Waterloo, which Mother Goose identified as “toilet de l’eau.” In England a toilet is called a loo, and eau is water, thus Waterloo. In the final stanza the English, symbolized by their queen as the mother of the pair, punishes the people of France with a spanking for her attempt at following “Jack” to the top of the hill.
Pease Porridge: A note to the side reads “1929”, showing that Mother Goose was well aware of the depression that would soon stalk the world, forcing people to eat porridge that was nine days old.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater: This bleak poem discusses how vegetarian Adolf Hitler held an entire world hostage to his mad whims with the imagery of a man forcing his unwilling wife to live in a pumpkin.
Little Boy Blue: With her depiction of the working classes in their blue coveralls sleeping while industry falls apart, Mother Goose is warning of the labor strife and decline in productivity that comes with heavy unionization, particularly in Europe.
Old Woman who Lives in a Shoe: Originally titled “Apres la Guerre”, or “After the War” in English, this is a prediction of the baby boom that broke out after World War 2.
Little Miss Muffet: With its depiction of a girl eating bizarre food and fleeing from every hint of danger, Mother Goose penned a final warning to her adopted nation of France, warning it of its fate. In fact, the original title was “My People.”
Man in the Moon: She wrote in Latin an expression translated as “It’s True!” for this prophecy, which clearly depicts the first moon landing, shown on television well after most children should have been in bed.
Hey Diddle Diddle: This vision of sex (the dish and spoon) and drug use (violin-playing cats and cows jumping over the moon) was clearly the countercultural movement of the 1960s.
Jack be Nimble: Less serious than most prophecies, this quatrain predicts Evel Kneivel’s fame and eventual fiery crash at Snake Canyon. She noted “not a devil, but not so clever either.”
Banbury Cross: One of several “celebrity icon” prophecies, Mother Goose was predicting the life and career of Madonna, whom she called “the taker of children.” Digmun said that the scholars had a lot of disagreement over this prophecy, but finally were swayed when one pointed out that “in the 80’s, who rode more cock horses than Madonna?”
Patty Cake: Unable to fully comprehend the internet and microwave ovens, Mother Goose likened it to a baker who could fabricate food instantaneously. But she was sure to mark the pie with a “T”, which in the original meant “Technologie.” It was only later changed to “Timmie” to help the uneducated remember the rhyme.
Humpty Dumpty: One of the rare totally clear prophecies, this one details the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, aka the powerful king who could not recreate his lost empire.
Pussycat and Queen: This perplexed Mother Goose, who could not understand the power of her vision, but she was clear on its meaning: the death of a member of the royal family of England in Paris. Tragically, this is clearly the death of Princess Diana by car crash, with the hounding Press playing the role of the cat and Diana playing the role of the terrified mouse. This is the most-altered of the original poems, as Mother Goose was afraid of the eventual political ramifications of such a vision.
Hickory Dickory Dock: With its imagery of a clock striking one after a panicked mouse runs up it, leading it to return to its normal life, Mother Goose dismissed the notion of Y2K as a real danger. In fact, the original title of this poem was Hickory Dickory Hoax.
Mary Mary Quite Contrary: With its forged documents, growing from the ground with as much provenance as silver bells and cockle shells, this predicts the fall of Dan Rather as assisted by Mary Mapes, one of the most contrary people ever known at CBS.
Three notable Mother Goose prophecies beyond these, though, are likely to be reflected on over the coming years as their power is verified. Digmun, who calls herself a “Mother Goose believer” says that if we realize the power of these prophecies we can act now to improve the human condition:
Rain Rain, Go Away: With the image of Johnny, or America, unwilling to accept the rain, this predicts global warming, hurricane Katrina, and environmental disaster ahead if something is not done about global climate change.
The Fly and the Bee: Digmun says this clearly states that people will accept gay marriage, just as it would be hard to imagine a fly and a bee getting married. “Those who fight against gay marriage are lost,” says Digmun. “They may as well accept what a sixteenth-century nun saw so clearly.”
Curly Locks: Finally, Mother Goose is clear about the winner of the 2008 presidential election: John Edwards, famed for his lack of actual work experience and fine hair. “It’s pretty much all done except his opponent’s concessions,” said Grant. “Mother Goose is telling him to begin writing his acceptance speech.”