Reflections on the Queen’s Passing: Otto Rank & Ben Okri

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. 

18Forty addresses Rationalism and the human condition: how both rationality and irrationality are needed in science and faith.

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. 

In keeping with ancient custom of many cultures, the royal bees were informed when Queen Elizabeth had passed. Tweet by @EsheHoney.

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.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May remembers the Queen’s humanity and humor. Daily Mail

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?

Recommended Reading

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

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13 thoughts on “Reflections on the Queen’s Passing: Otto Rank & Ben Okri”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today again I say that I am not really moved by the Queen or the British monarchy. What moves me about England in terms of what Otto suggests is the irrational, the art, music and myth–and for me that would be the myths of Avalon and Camelot and about Robin hood–and Robin Hood even was the archetype of one who takes from the rich and gives it to the poor–isn’t that a novel idea? You ask us however, “Do you feel a kind of porousness in your soul?” What you call “porousness,” I call a veil–a veil that separates me from this world and the world to come. Next you ask us: “What do you find that fills it in healthy ways?” Ritual, and I’ve even written a couple of books about various rituals. And finally you ask us: “Do you sense that others feel this too?” I would say that some of the people that I hang out with do, but I think that most don’t.

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      Agreed here…

      Re: Queen Elizabeth II

      “We will not blame him for the crimes of his ancestors if he relinquishes the royal rights of his
      ancestors; but as long as he claims their rights, by virtue of descent, then, by virtue of descent, he must shoulder the responsibility for their crimes.” -James Connolly, on King George V 

  2. Avatar

    The pourousness that I feel in my soul, is experiencing and encountering for myself, a living, intimate, personal relationship of friendship, companionship and sacred communion and union with the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the Divine Mother/Father, as well as the benevolent mystics, saints, and sacred ancestors; and the many expressions and manifestations of this, that unfold, evolve and emerge in so many diverse ways within my inner life and my external world. Many see this as irrational, or figments of ones imagination. Yet I have experienced the many blessings of being and living in this spiritual reality, by simply engaging with this Original Blessing, which is an open invitation to all… in many unique and diverse ways, which continues to deepen my trust, my faith and my hope. I know others sense this too, and I am grateful and blessed by those whom share their experiences, either through their personal stories or their writings, or many other artistic and creative ways… for this too, helps me to trust more deeply in my own soul’s journey.

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      Lise Tostrup Setek

      Thank you Jeanette Metler,
      I recognize and accept what you are writing.I have experienced many blessings, too. Queen Elisabeth II made a promise 21 years old, which she kept for 70 years! Her steadfastness, willingness to serve: mostly with a smile and good humour (but serious when it was due) made a strong impression on me. I only listened to her voice on radio, and watched her on TV. I am not British, I do not live in any part of the Commonwealth(anymore). However, to me she was an example, because she did not suffer from being self-complacent. Her ethical compass was excellent! R.I.P.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Bill, you may not feel it makes sense to see irrational fantasy as a benefit, but that what all children do when they play, and adults do when they read works of fiction or watch movies. And the benefit is that we often need breaks from the pain and sufferings of the world. This in turn can revitalize us to go back out to work for just causes. These are the benefits I see…

  3. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew, for today’s meditation that did speak to me about the power of myth and positive irrationality. I have often sensed that art, music, dance and intuition are so meaningful in a way I was able to feel and not think about.. I would never had made the connection of the power of Queen Elizabeth in her living a fantasy, yet she was able to show us so many wonderful traits she spread in subtle ways. Her death and your assessment of her life opened my heart and mind to a bigger picture. Gratitude for toay’s meditation and explaining it through the thinking of Rank and Okri. It makes complete sense now.

  4. Avatar

    Yes, I feel that humanity does have a deep porousness in our souls. Personally and I feel that in humanity, our souls feel a thirst and hunger to fill this emptiness with a deep sense of love and meaning in our lives (the archetypes of our True Self and meaning in Jungian Psychology). Humanity has historically tried to fill those deeply unconscious needs in many different ways, often in various distorted, unhealthy, dysfunctional, and destructive ways. Historically and up to the present day, there have also been many spiritually graced people who realize that these deeper needs are spiritual in nature so they dedicate their lives each in their own unique ways to their spiritual journeys. Almost universally, this deeper spiritual journey is inspired unconsciously and consciously by our Source~Creator’s Spirit of Divine Love~Wisdom Calling all of us back home in Divine Loving Diverse Oneness Present within and among us daily in sacred Mother Earth….

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    Dear Matt — an important book you must read: Inflamed, Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice by Rupa Marya & Raj Patel

    1n affection and respect, what are you doing wasting your time (and ours) extolling the late British queen? She is being buried with hoopla and circumstance not because she was a nice lady but because she is the symbol of an empire that devastated the Earth, enslaved people, imposed white supremacy, and capitalism, the economics of empire and colonization, on the entire world. The effects of these have brought the Earth to change her patterns and brought the world to the verge of collapse.

    Care and discretion must be taken in what and how symbols are honored and used. Consider that the swastika, ancient symbol of divinity and spirituality has been forever tainted by the atrocities of Nazism. The same can be said of the Christian cross when it has been used to justify empires and colonization, when it is used by the Christian Right in the name of white nationalism, to persecute women and LGBT folk.

    Take care, Matt, that you do not devalue what you have created in your “Daily Meditations.”

    fond regards and blessings —
    Rafael J. González

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Rafael, I can understand your anger over the past injustices cause by the colonialism of the British Empire. But are we to hold the anger even after it ended? Should we hate the Germans because of what happened during WWII? And you have already written off all of the good that Christianity has done in how it helped countless millions over the centuries of the sick and suffering, the homeless and other unfortunates–for many years the Church did this without the help of governments. Cut Matthew some slack for trying to lift up the good in what she was and did…

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        My anger, Richard, is that the injustices of the European empires (not only English) are ongoing — white supremacy, genocide, rape of the Earth, virtual slavery (exploitation of labor), capitalism (the economics of empire.) And not only England, but of such as the elder child of England, the United States of America (a European empire in its language, its racism, its abuse of the Earth, its capitalism, its treatment of other nations and peoples, its wars.) As to Christianity, it is a mixed bag — Christianity began to rot when it allowed itself to become a tool of the state in the 4th century with Constantine. And caring for our “sick and suffering, the homeless and other unfortunates” has been a human trait long before Christianity and will be so long after. Christianity stands out more for betraying the teachings of Yeshua the Nazarene than for keeping them. I take my friend Matthew to task because he knows better.

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    She seemed like a sincere and devout lady in fulfilling her duties. However, as you said, she kept her opinions to her self. The mother is grounded in compassion that feels deeply the pain of her children. She should have called for reparations regardless of what is proper according to British monarchal tradition.

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