I turn first to Otto Rank for an answer as to what role a monarchy plays in the 21st century (though he died in 1939). He says that humanity is as much irrational as it is rational yet we are overly busy asserting our rationality. And he sees this as an especially male problem.
Humanity needs the irrational alongside the rational. It needs artists, images, music, myths, intuition and more. It takes this to unite a nation or a people at a level deeper than law and politics alone.
The British monarchy brings some of the sense of ritual, pageantry, myth and the irrational to its goings-on and this may be its most important role.
Humankind needs much more of the irrational that is positive and far less of the irrational that is crazy, hate-filled, spewing of lies, narcissistic, power-hungry and busy projecting and promulgating the shadow–that which easily fills social media and some mainstream media and political so-called “discourse” in our time.
Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri steps up in an insightful article in The Guardian entitled “Queen Elizabeth Was Part of Our Psyche,” to share some thoughtful reflections on the role her long reign played in the British unconscious.*
He says, “her iconography has penetrated the subconscious of the land and many lands.” He had more than one personal meeting with her and found that “she had a magical effect on people,” himself included. She also had a good sense of humor that invited others to laugh with her.
She was “especially successful” at her job and one reason, he feels, was that following two world wars and the “insane” male energy that dominated them, she represented
…a female force, a stable, balancing, presence [in a time] when the spiritual energy of the world was moving from a male-centered universe to one desperately in need of feminine energies.
The tumbling down of so many structures in the world, empires included, rendered many people “porous.”
And into the inner porousness, that vacuum between two periods, a transition from an old world to a new world, the figure of Queen Elizabeth was just what was needed. The nation drew her into its psyche for shelter and for stability [in a time of upheaval.]
Queen Elizabeth provided, in her irrational role, some values and virtues (including her humor and steadfastness) that the world needs still. We thank her for that. And we will miss her for that.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Also see Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors for to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 219-275.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Photomosaic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, made up of photos of her people, Gatwick Airport, London, UK. Photo by Tomas Martinez on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you feel a kind of porousness in your soul? What do you find that fills it in healthy ways? Do you sense that others feel this too?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God