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Queen Elizabeth, Fantasy & Panache

September 13th, 2022

In this tea we have a meditation together in a forest clearing in Scotland to say farewell to the late Queen. But first we explore the potential meaning in the following remark: “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” I read this as attributed to JRR Tolkien in a Guardian article, but I now find this is incorrect: The Tolkienist website states: “T-Shirts, posts on Instagram, pinning on Pinterest, jewellry on Etsy – all based on a quote which is, in fact, not by Tolkien. The quote is from The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction by eminent fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin, known to be a Tolkien admirer. It is rather important to state that even this quote is not given in its full version.” Read more here.

I then quote from Jeanette Winterson’s article on mourning the Queen, which you can find here. Here’s an excerpt: “She was an icon, and it doesn’t matter how much of that was projection. That’s the point and purpose of an icon – it’s a representative symbol, and its symbolic value is far greater and more complex than any intrinsic value. That’s why there is little to be gained from poring over what the Queen was, or wasn’t, in her own right. Was she progressive? Was she racist? Was she a good mother? What were her views on Brexit? Why didn’t she help Diana? We could go on for ever – and people do. But what do we learn? In my view, nothing. Her private self was irrelevant to an understanding of her symbolism.

The continuity that Elizabeth II brought to this country was more than that of a long life spanning so much change; she was the embodiment of our connection with history – history as a lived and living past, a rope slung across time.

Time, though, is only superficially linear. History repeats itself, perhaps because we fail to reimagine ourselves. What is the balance between tradition and innovation? Is custom superstition? Is custom just the way we have always done things because we fear doing things differently? The wrecking ball of revolution, big or small, smashes what we have loved, as well as clearing the way for something new. New doesn’t always mean better – as the exhausting disruption and acceleration of our own times makes clear. And yet, nations, and their people, must reimagine themselves.” Jeanette Winterson.

Finally, we look at images from the ‘escapist fantasy’ of OBOD’s Summer Gathering, where we see Eimear Burke being honoured as the new Chief. The conclusions I and many viewers reach is that the escapism we seek is from the distorted and toxic ‘consensus reality’ of materialism, consumerism and reductionism. The escape is to greater clarity, deeper understanding! Here is the video mentioned of the Queen being initiated as ‘Honorary Ovate’:

And here are some of the pictures I showed: of Eimear being presented with a ‘badge of office’ – a replica of which will soon be on display at the Museum of Magic & Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall.