The ‘Magic Tree House’ Series Mysteries
This children’s book series by Mary Pope Osborne (who was born six days before I was) features seven-year-old Annie and her eight-and-a-half year old brother, Jack for whom a tree house magically appears in each book high up in the tallest oak to transport them everywhere imaginable to go on important and philanthropic missions. This metaphor operates as a wonderful conceptual vehicle for the rising up in vibratory rate to the higher self which is outside of space and time and from where one can journey down to different places in space and time and learn important soul lessons.
Jack and Annie are sometimes assisted by several friends slightly older than they are with some magical powers but their main guide is Morgan le Fay, the sister of King Arthur, who is the Librarian of Camelot and goes around to different time periods collecting books. She is a master at magic, as well, and enlists her two young protégés in her philanthropic work that can be quite dangerous but shows herself to be a shape shifter who often, it would seem, accompanies them and is very seldom recognized in the forms she takes. Morgan exemplifies the role of Sophia who was called Wisdom or the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament who was the earliest help-mate of God. This Sophia/Wisdom/Holy Spirit figure played a large role in the mystery school Christianity of the first, second, and third centuries in the area around Edessa in Syria and east of there.
Book #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark
Annie is an adventurous and imaginative girl who discovers the tree house and quickly climbs up. Jack is a more careful and analytical person concerned about who owned the tree house but when he learned it was full of books he quickly joined her.
Annie exemplifies Saying 4 in the Gospel of Thomas about those who go with their inner intuition even when it conflicts, or is challenged by, or is intimidated by human rules and conventions:
“Jesus said: ‘The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven
Days old about the place of life, and he will live.’”
In the Jewish tradition a baby is circumcised when they are eight days old and enters into the Jewish Covenant with Yahweh. The “place of life” for a baby seven days old is simply at the mother’s breast nursing. This is a wonderful metaphor for being at the breast of the Holy Spirit and receiving inspiration that way rather than having to memorize and follow all the rules that have accumulated over the ages.
Jack’s love of books exemplifies his love of wisdom of the outer world which also leads to Wisdom or the Holy Spirit. They are transported to their first adventure, specifically, because of Jack’s love of dinosaurs and desire to see one. Suddenly, an ancient Pteranodon flies by and the tree house spins around to land in pre-historic times.
Once again, Annie immediately climbs down the ladder to speak with the Pteranodon which exemplifies the making of friends with all of creation that Annie does such as is reflected in the Gospel of Thomas, saying 77:
“Jesus said: “it is I who am the light which is above them all….Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.”
Jack climbs down and begins taking notes in his notebook. This constant habit of Jack emphasizes the importance of the intellect in spirituality—that one needs to keep learning, studying, and integrating the mind with the heart. His study comes in handy in identifying flower-eaters from meat-eaters and easing the agitation of a mother dinosaur by the kids pretending to eat flowers.
Jack finds a mysterious gold medallion with an M on it which he takes back with him. This is a reminder in the spiritual life to always be alert for discoveries and synchronicities which transcend the moment and reflect a larger context.
Jack is saved from the Tyrannosaurus rex by the Pteranodon who swoops down and gives him a ride to the tree house. In a later book Jack and Annie find out the Pteranodon was really Morgan le Fay watching out for them and that the medallion is hers. This intervention represents the angelic presence which is, perhaps, not ‘seen’ but can be signaled in our moments of desperation.
Book #2: The Knight at Dawn
The kids wake up early after their first adventure and Jack writes down all the events of the previous day in order. Annie has to remind him about the medallion, the ‘M’ in the middle of it, and that it came from a ‘magic person’. Jack argues back that that last assertion isn’t proven yet. The two kids see things entirely differently and both have excellent reasons for their perception. The imaginative Annie who loves exploring the mysteries of life represents best Saying 5 in the Gospel of Thomas:
“Jesus said: ‘Love what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest.’”
The children discover the tree house is still there. Annie finds a book on her favorite topic: knights and castles. Before Jack can effectively object, Annie wishes themselves there. They see a knight out the window on a black horse and follow him across a draw bridge that is over a moat and into a castle. They visit a feast in the Great Hall and nervously hide in the dark armory of suits of armor until they were caught by guards and thrown into a wet, dark, dirty dungeon with chains for supposed thievery.
This is where Annie’s imaginative and dramatic talents take over. She whips out a flashlight that she tells the guards is a magic wand. When she turns it on and threatens them: “I will wipe you out” they fall to the ground and the kids escape.
The children hide in another dark room but find a hidden tunnel after reading a map of the castle. The secret passageway leads to a “precipice over a moat” which they don’t understand until they fall and jump into the moat and have to dog paddle to shore. Behind him in the water Jack had heard splashes although Annie was swimming in front. On shore in the glimmer of the moonlight the children saw the gleam of the armored knight on his black horse who gave them a ride to the tree house. This ride was remarkable in giving them an experience of great power and freedom and the whole experience of journeying through the darkness, the feeling of falling, the disorientation of being in the water and total darkness of the land is equivalent to the meditation experience of the psychomantium process. The very early and fragmentary Christian ‘Dialogue of the Savior’ expresses this well which I have reconstructed:
“If one does not [FEAR TO STAND IN THE] darkness, he will be able to see [THE LIGHT]. So I tell you [THE PLACE OF] light is the darkness [SO] stand in [THE DARKNESS OR YOU WILL] not see the light.”
The knight’s armor gleaming in the streaming moon light represents the light that grows and enfolds you that brings you safe to the familiar ‘higher self’ which is the tree house from where we can view everything safely and from which we travel from.
When the kids returned home to Frog Creek Jack discovered a book mark from the knights book had an ‘M’ on it identical to the ‘M’ on the medallion found in pre-historic times leading him to conclude the owner of the tree house books had been there in pre-historic times too. The consciousness of personal freedom and the malleability of time and space begins to grow in Jack.
Book #3: Mummies in the Morning
This book deals with inter-dimensionality in a journey to Egypt. The children still have not met the owner of the tree house but sense a presence. They are silently thankful for the protection on their previous time travels by the mysterious knight and the pteranodon. They had found a gold medallion and a leather bookmark with an ‘M’ on it on their previous journeys which Jack loudly promised to return to anyone listening.
The kids decided upon a book with an Egyptian pyramid and a funeral parade with a black cat. As soon as they made their request a black cat appeared right outside their window. As soon as the treehouse stopped spinning the black cat was again right outside beneath them circling the tree but then bounding toward a funeral procession. This cat symbolizes the reality of the inter-dimensional experience while the funeral parade the children follow dissolves into a desert mirage from another dimension.
The cat leads the kids into the pyramid where they meet a ghost named Hutepi, Queen of the Nile who needs them to read some hieroglyphs so she can find the Egyptian Book of the Dead where some magic spells will help her traverse the “horrors of the Underworld” like “lakes of fire. Monsters. Demons.” This was a common belief in ancient times that one needed the secret passwords to get through the gatekeepers of afterlife dimensions. The myth of the goddess, Inanna, from the other great early civilization from that era, Sumer, told of her having to give up an article of clothing for each of the seven gates she passed through until she ended up naked at her destination. This represents the divestment of individuality (and its replacement with ecstasy) as one ascends dimensions.
The ‘Dialogue of the Savior’ has a similar view of the Afterlife. Here is the Savior speaking to his inner disciples (the capitalized letters are a reconstruction by John Munter of the fragmentary text):
Truly, fear is the power [OF DESTRUCTION]. So if you are going to be afraid of what is about to come upon you, it will engulf you. For there is not one among them who will spare you or show you mercy. But in this way, look at the [LIGHT] in it, since you have mastered every word on earth. It [WILL] take you up to the [HIGH] place where there is no rule [OR] tyrant. When you [LOOK DOWN] you will see those who [ARE SLAVES TO THEIR PASSIONS IN THE LOWER REGIONS] and also [THOSE WHO ABUSE THEM]. But, [I] tell you [IT IS] the reasoning power [WHICH BROUGHT YOU HERE. THE] reasoning power [IS THE] place of truth [IN THE DEFICIENCY] but [A CHALLENGE TO THE AUTHORITES]. But you [REST IN THIS] truth. This [IS THE] living [GOD] and your joy [IN THE SPIRIT]. So [REST] in order that [THE JOURNEY OF] your souls [BE SUCCESSFUL] lest it [REJECT] the word [THAT WILL] raise [YOU UP]... (3 lines indecipherable).... For the crossing place is fearful before you. But you, with a single mind, pass it by! For its depth is great; its height is enormous [BUT A] single mind [OF CONCENTRATION AND] and the fire [OF THE HOLY SPIRIT] [AND] all the powers [OF THE AEONS CAN RAISE] you, they [WILL LET YOU PASS] and the powers [CANNOT PREVENT THAT SINCE] they [KNOW YOU HAVE AN IMMORTAL] soul [THAT] [IS] in everyone [FOR] you are the [FROM THE LIGHT] and [IMMORTAL REALMS SO DO NOT] forget [THAT YOU ARE A] son [OF GOD] and you [WILL][LIVE]."
After going on a treasure hunt and returning the scroll to Queen Hutepi’s mummy the kids get lost in a false passageway. When all hope had seemed to disappear for them to find their way out an extraordinary thing happened. Rather than panicking they just stood there in the complete darkness and silence…and they heard the cat! They followed the sound of the cat through the darkness until “they saw a light at the end of the tunnel”.
Back in the treehouse the kids discovered a large ‘M’ on the floor of the treehouse when the eye catches the light just right and now they are convinced it belongs to ‘M’. Jack, again, loudly proclaims to anyone who might be listening that he will return the gold medallion and bookmark the next day.
Book #4: Pirates Past Noon
Jack and Annie finally meet the mysterious “M” and Annie senses it and is excited but Jack is hesitant for they would have to go through the cold and rain. Jack bundles up the gold medallion and bookmark with the “M”s on it that the kids felt they needed to give back. The gold medallion can represent the presence of the higher self with a person and the bookmark can represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in the historical moment of time and space.
Annie sensed that “M” had been to the tree house. They found a book open with a picture of a sunny beach, a parrot, a palm tree, and a ship on the blue sea that looked so inviting that the kids wished themselves there quickly like the higher self which goes on adventures of reincarnation into the material world without as much concern as one might expect about the prospect of meeting pirates, being captured, being robbed, and being held for ransom as the kids experience.
The kids are faced with the test of how to escape the pirates and return safely to their tree house and find they have one tool the pirates don’t have—they can read the treasure map. Having a sophisticated life skill is helpful but not sufficient. It is not until Annie looks out the pirate ship window and sees the desert island in perspective that it is realized it resembles the pirate map. This ability to look from a higher perspective is a key to their freedom as it is in the spiritual life. The pirates become absorbed in finding the treasure as well as their fear of an upcoming storm and the danger evaporates like an afternoon storm.
The parrot that preceded their journey and warned the pirates to depart in the storm also advised Jack to just leave and not open the chest of buried treasure the pirates had abandoned. The real treasure that Jack retrieved was represented by their gold medallion left by the pirates which represented their spiritual experience of the adventure. That is the real treasure taken to higher planes.
The parrot spoke in a human voice to Jack and when they returned to Frog Creek she swooped in, sat on a pile of books, and transformed into a caped “beautiful old woman with long white hair and piercing eyes” who greeted them and identified herself as “Morgan le Fay’, Librarian for King Arthur, who time travels looking for books to copy for Camelot’s library. Morgan side-stepped the issue of whether she was a magician. Clearly she did magic but preferred being referred to as an enchantress which has more charismatic and, perhaps, spiritual connotations.
Morgan told the children that no else had ever seen her tree house but Annie could because she believed in magic and this helped Jack to see it. Because Jack loved books so much the transporting spells worked. Morgan acknowledged that she was their protector as the pteranodon, the knight, the cat, and Polly the parrot.
As the children walked home away from the tree house, Jack felt in his pocket and found the gold medallion that he had given back to Morgan that she had slipped into an invisible pocket of hers. The sun was shining after the rain and making all the leaves, grass, and wild flowers glisten and gleam like gold or jewels and they had all the treasure that they needed.
Book #5: Night of the Ninjas
The next four books reflect a knowledge of shamanic and spiritual initiation. In book five Jack and Annie face the dark side and find their divinity. Jack is disillusioned in not seeing the Magic Tree House in weeks but ever hopeful Annie finds it in the dark with a note from Morgan le Fay: “Help me—Under a spell. Find 4 thin(gs)”. They discovered a mouse which Jack poo-poo’s as just an ordinary mouse but which accompanies them throughout the next four books and helps teach them many lessons. Jack wanted to study about the land of the ninjas before going there but Annie impetuously grabbed the book and made the magic wish.
Jack and Annie meet some scary ninjas in old Japan who impress them with their cat-like ability to climb into their tree house. Jack is afraid to follow them but Annie leads the way. They meet the ninja master sitting on a mat in a dark cave who suggests he may help in finding Morgan but they have to pass a test. They must avoid the dangerous samurai who would kill them and find their way back to the tree house. The master advised them to utilize the way of the ninja: “Use nature. Be nature. Follow nature” and go east to the tree house.
The kids were able to “use nature” when Jack was able to remember from an old camping book to use a stick’s moon shadow to indicate east. They were next confronted with a fierce-looking Samurai. Annie whispered: “Be nature. Be a rock”. Jack closed his eyes and became as still, solid, and quiet as a rock and soon began to feel as strong and safe as a rock. The kids remembered the third injunction to “Follow nature” when confronted with a stream they couldn’t cross until the mouse ran off to find a branch fallen over a narrow part of the stream which it crossed. Jack and Annie had to think and move like a mouse to make it across on a very small branch without breaking it.
After crossing the river the kids saw the tree house right over head and when they had climbed in they discovered the ninja master there as well. He complimented them on following the way of the ninja and gave them a small, round, clear moonstone that “almost seemed to glow”. He told them they would have to go on without him but there would be more help along the way and to “keep a kind heart”.
The clear moonstone is a wonderful representation of the higher self like that of the ‘Parable of the Pearl’ in Saying 76 in the Gospel of Thomas and elsewhere or the ‘Parable of the Big Fish’ in Saying 8 of Thomas as well. The kids had to overcome their doubt and fear, act with altruism to help Morgan, use their gifts, act quickly, intuitively and alone, and identify with something greater than themselves in nature.
Book #6: Afternoon on the Amazon
After the kids pass their spiritual tests in the Land of the Ninjas they are plunged deeper into the experience of nature in landing 150 feet up in a tree in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. They escape millions of army ants by jumping in a dugout canoe, see flesh-eating piranhas, a vine that really was a snake, a branch that really was a crocodile, and a baby jaguar with a ferocious mother.
Finally, they encountered a monkey which Peanut, the mouse, began hollering at and began throwing fruit at them but who helped them to shore and saved them from the jaguar. Annie had several telepathic communications with the monkey who seem to communicate that he wanted to help get them out of the river and, later, that the mango fruit he was throwing was the item they were looking sent there to find.
Through understanding the nature of the beings in nature the kids were able to overcome their fear and separateness to experience the sweetness of creation that was represented by the mango which was as an important spiritual lesson as it was coming close to their higher self in the previous story.
In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus in Saying 43 spoke against those who “love the tree and hate its fruit (or) love the fruit and hate the tree” but who exulted in Saying 77 that “Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.”
Book #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth
After Jack and Annie pass their shamanic or spiritual tests in Book 5 to develop a confidence in their higher selves and overcome their fear of and separateness from nature in Book 6 their world expands once again as they find themselves journeying back in time to the ice age in their swim suits.
The kids had to overcome fear in the two previous books but this fear is an order of magnitude larger. Annie had impetuously wished themselves there and this happens in following the guidance of the spirit into situations before the mind can comprehend how to cope with the situation.
Saying Two in the Gospel of Thomas reads: “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”
The kids do the best with what they have by putting their towels over their heads and swim goggles on to prevent heat loss. They first run into the cave of a great sleeping cave bear but run for their lives out of it.
When a person begins to grow spiritually they begin to find the universe is a populated place where other beings cannot fundamentally harm you if you remember your center. Saying Fifty in the Gospel of Thomas reads: “If they say to you ‘Where did you come from’, say to them ‘We came from the Light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself...’”
Then Jack and Annie found another cave which “seemed to have a golden glow. This one looked cozy, safe, and warm.” The light recognizes its own.
The kids find a Cro-Magnon fire, tools, warm fur coats, a stone lamp, and leave their towels and goggles as gifts. Reciprocity and letting the energy flow free is an important aspect of living in the spirit as Saying Eighty-Eight in the Gospel of Thomas suggests “The angels and prophets will come to you and give to you those things you (already) have. And you too, give them those things which you have…”
Among the cave paintings of animals was a “sorcerer or ‘master of the animals’. He may have worn reindeer antlers so he could run like a reindeer—and an owl mask so he could see like an owl.” Annie exclaimed they needed to find him since he may have been a friend of Morgan’s. In the meantime, Peanut, their mouse friend disappeared out of the cave and they followed its tracks until losing them in the snow. When a Sabertooth tiger appeared they began running to the tree house but tumbled into a deep animal pit trap they couldn’t escape from. Sometimes in life there is no way out but only a way up.
The kids soon heard flute music and a silent sorcerer appeared to pull them out with the help of a tame mammoth that Annie named Lulu who carried Peanut on her head. The sorcerer gave Jack a mammoth bone flute for their third object needed to free Morgan. The sorcerer’s eyes twinkled when he was asked whether he knew Morgan. He mysteriously disappeared as the mammoth carried the kids towards the tree house in a parade that included elk, reindeer, a wooly rhino, and a bison.
The happy parade took a frightening turn when the sabertooth tiger stalked Lulu and cut off their escape to the tree house. Annie urged Jack to play his flute. The flute music eventually prompted the sabertooth to leave. This experience underscored the reality that the flute represented a very real presence of a harmony of the holy spirit in life just as the mango represented the essential goodness of the material world, and the moonstone represented the importance of the awareness of the higher self.
Book #8: Midnight on the Moon
Book 5 the children came into a consciousness of what it is like to be in their higher, divine self. In Book 6 they came into a deep shamanic understanding of the duality, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ of all of nature but tasted the essential goodness or sweetness of its essence. In Book 7 they time-traveled to deep in the past to discover the shamanic presence and mastery over material creation there too. In Book 8 they time-traveled to the future to discover that time is no barrier and that there are surprises in store.
The theme of Book 8 for the children is that of overcoming their current assumptions and presuppositions regarding the nature of reality. At first sight of the moon book they assume they will be transported to some earthly training facility instead of to a moon base they end up at.
The kids do pretty quickly adjust to the information that the moon base was built in 2031, the book they were reading was written sometime after that, and that Morgan must have borrowed it from the future.
The kids get dressed up in moon suits thinking they have to leave the moon base to find the last “M thing” to free Morgan while Peanut, the mouse ran frantically around the M in the tree house trying to give them a different message.
The kids take a ride in a moon buggy, see a moon man off in the distance flying with a jet pack, and feel uneasy enough to begin their return. A falling rock blocks their path. They jumped over the rock but landed face down and could not roll over to get up until the space man assists them when they had little oxygen left.
The kids write him a note to communicate and the space man replies with a mysterious diagram that looked like stars in a constellation. The kids think the “map” is the “M thing”, return to the base, place the map on the “M” and look for the Pennsylvania book to return. The Pennsylvania book was missing which was an indication to the kids that their mission was not over and the map was not the “M thing”.
Jack finally had a revelation after staring at the diagram and connected the dots like the ancients did looking into the heavens. It formed a mouse so the kids began chanting “Moonstone, mango, mammoth bone, mouse” until a bright light filled the tree house, Peanut disappeared, and Morgan le Fay appeared.
At the very end of the story the children muse about the origins of the huge, inscrutable moon man who has no visible means of assistance. Jack thinks he is a scientist or astronaut from earth but Annie dissents: “No, I think he is an alien… from another galaxy”. In what is a constant and important refrain through the Magic Tree House series Annie gives as her reason: “I just feel it.”
The moon man reprises contemporary alien themes of initial fear and flight, the benign and helpful character of the moon man, and the mystery concerning the whole phenomenon that Annie suggests will be cleared up in the future.
The finding of Peanut, the mouse, as the “M thing” presents a discontinuity of experience one finds in soul travel. Here the kids were given three objects in a row and the fourth one was an actual being that they knew who was with them the entire time in three different ways: as a physical presence of a mouse, as a helpful presence in their adventures, and as a person that they knew. It wasn’t until they went beyond the physical diagram of the constellation to see the symbolic meaning of the diagram that pointed them to the reality that they were looking for that they got the answer right. This points up the essential nature of the universe revealed by quantum physics that the universe essentially is mind not matter.