Friday, 1 December 2017
Is Albion a woman?
Nations are personified, and real personifications are either male or female. So, is Albion a woman?
If Albion is real, rather than a mere 'poetic conceit' or reification; then this question needs to be treated as a question about reality. The personage Albion is either a man or a woman.
(I am assuming here, what many will not assume, that real personages must be male or female in their ultimate reality: i.e. that there is no-such thing as a person who is neither a man, nor woman, nor both at once, nor both in sequence. I assume that sexuality is binary and eternal and goes-all-the-way-down to the most basic level of ultimate reality. I assume this: therefore I do not intend to argue it!)
If Albion is a real person - presumably an angelic being, then is Albion a man or a woman?
Both traditions exist - indeed, both exist even in William Blake; although Blake mostly describes and depicts Albion as a titanic, muscular man.
However, I believe that Albion is a woman.
Evidence? Well such things can only be known directly (and mistakes can be made!) - however, there are quite a few women in British legend who have (arguably) served as more-or-less convincing representatives of Albion.
Effective women leaders are even-rarer than effective men leaders - and given that fact it is striking that some of the best (or, at least, most effective) national leaders have been women (although not The Very Best: Alfred the Great).
Examples might include Boadicea (currently usually called Boudicca), Queen Matilda (crowned in Bristol, but not in London - she links the Anglo Saxon Kings with the Norman monarchs - from Henry II), Queen Victoria and Margaret Thatcher (yes, I know...); also the legendary symbol of Britannia (who 'rules the waves' - or did for a while!) - depicted on coins.
But the best examplars are first and foremost Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Anne (aka. Good Queen Anne and 'Anna Gloria') - among the few English monarchs that (like Victoria; and indeed Margaret Thatcher) gave their names to an era.
In sum, if we do intuit that Albion is a woman, then there is a decent body of 'evidence' consistent-with that assumption.
So Albion may be one of those nations spiritually-ruled and represented by a woman (another example is Mother Russia). This would suggest that we would need to revise contradictory national symbols such as 'John Bull' or male lions...
Does it make a difference whether we regard Albion as a man or woman? Yes, of course! And - if we get this right - then her symbols ought to have more power and validity.