Saturday, 18 November 2017

Albion Set Apart

For those who believe in God everything in the world is a sign pointing to him and to the way he works. It’s a fallen world so not everything is a perfect sign but still we can read symbolic significance into nature and its parts. The four elements obviously have symbolic value and are a clue to something beyond themselves, and the same is true for the sun and the moon, the wind, the sea, the eagle, the lion and so much else. Creation is a book which when you learn how to read it points straight at its Creator and gives you an insight into his mind.

With that thought might we consider that the physical position of countries has some bearing on the role they are intended to play? Before I try to answer that let me say that I do believe many countries have divine destinies. Perhaps all countries do to a certain extent but some do to a large extent. Their role is to bring something new into the world, an attitude to life, a mode of relating to the world, focus on a particular divine characteristic, even a quality of consciousness. We can think of Indian metaphysics, Egyptian religion, Greek philosophy, Italian art and those are just some of the more obvious examples which don’t exclude the contribution of other countries and cultures in those fields.  Seemingly at certain historic periods a group of souls in a particular place acts as a kind of conduit between this world and the higher ones and grounds qualities of truth that take humanity as a whole forwards.

So does the fact that Great Britain is detached from Europe (you could say in it but not of it) and at the far west of the continent mean anything? Was it meant to be a land set apart, in some sense a country not quite of this world? It has not been much like that for the last 2,000 years since the Roman conquest brought it into the wider world but there are grounds for thinking it was perceived along those lines in classical times. It was supposed to be where the druids had their most important sanctuaries and a mysterious island hidden behind gleaming white cliffs. It was just beyond the known world and had the aura of somewhere rather strange and enigmatic.

You might point out that Albion may have been perceived as otherworldly from the outside but life for its inhabitants would presumably have been more or less the same as life anywhere else. Perhaps, but  I remember as a boy reading a book called Guardians of the Forest by J.E. Hood, an author whom I've not heard of elsewhere. The book was about the first Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar and the country it depicted was slightly magical, almost as if there was still a connection to non-physical realms that had been lost in more civilized parts of the world.  The otherworld could sometimes be glimpsed just behind this one.  Some spiritual teachings describe a gradual hardening of the environment over time as the world becomes more material and primitive contact with higher dimensions is lost. The Guardians of the book’s title are people who still have something of that contact which gives them, amongst other things,  a benign power over animals. They protect the country and succeed in driving the Romans out though, of course, it is only a temporary victory. The Guardians know they are the last of their kind and that they will soon disappear. Their role as custodians of the land is nearly over. The modern world is arriving.

What I am saying is that it is possible that Britain’s physical location has some significance. The country has a purpose that requires it to be in some degree isolated. This would explain the fact that many people who want Britain to leave the E.U. can’t really define their reasons in a straightforward pragmatic/rationalistic way.  A lot of them know that economically Great Britain might be worse off but still there is this sense of needing to separate the country from something that is antithetical to its destiny. It is intuition that tells us this. The people that favour Britain remaining in the E.U. usually lack this imaginative connection to something deeper than the material world. They cannot understand it and when they suspect its presence they often dislike it and try to tar it with the brush of stupidity, ignorance and prejudice. Sometimes they may be right but underneath all that there is something else which is the knowledge that Albion has a mission and that mission requires it to be true to itself.

Sometimes when I have travelled in certain parts of Britain I have felt this connection to the otherworld. This is particularly the case in the West Country and the Highlands of Scotland though I am not saying it is restricted to those places. That is just my experience. Nor am I saying it is restricted to Great Britain. Of course it’s not. Everywhere has places like that. But when we talk of Albion this is what we mean. A connection to higher dimensions of being within the country. And it is by aligning ourselves with the spirit behind these places that we can help to bring Albion back into the outer world. Reawaken the sleeping Arthur you might say.

Countries are real. Albion is real and it has a part to play. Some of the nature of its role is indicated by its geographical location and it is up to its inhabitants to look within themselves and also within their land for a way in which they can help Albion come into expression and give the world the gift it has to offer.  This is no call to a shallow nationalism, other countries have their own tasks, possibly the supreme example being Israel, but there is a reason for the fact that Albion has been slightly set apart. It is the trustee of something precious which it has a duty to protect and uphold, and then bring out into the world for the benefit of all.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William. This is a thing which I directly experience in certain times and places - and the experience is as real-feeling as anything else.

There is a question of the destiny of a place and the other question of whether I personally have a part to play in that destiny - and vice versa. When the two come together, then that 'magical' quality you describe is the result - although I could seldom express anything very specific about what that destiny is intended to be.

In trying to pin-down the nature of that very ancient destiny, the writers that come-up repeatedly on this blog are very valuable; as are the folk heroes (Arthur, Merlin and Robon Hood are the most significant, perhaps) - and some of the Saints (you have written of several) are also important, and ought to be much better appreciated.

Thene there is something in the rocks, hills, trees, rivers and seashore.

One interesting aspect is that Ireland clearly has a different, although entwined, destiny from the mainland - as do the three component nations; and certainly there are many distinctive regions within the nations (large and small units; cities, towns and country).

As things stand, I am sure that the spirit of Albion is found in individuals rather than in institutions. This has serious disadvantages; in that all the major institutions are either indifferent to, or increasingly actively-hostile to, Albion - and engage in subversion and inversion of true values. This adverse trend began when the British Empire was substituted for the nations; but has become much worse since the end of World War II.

However it is also a tremendous privilege and source of encouragement and purpose to know that something as noble and important as Albion is now an ideal to be nurtured in the hearts of *individuals*.

We are therefore each compelled by current circumstances to regard Albion as a personal responsibility - and we are not tempted to rely on 'somebody else' whose 'job' is to uphold it.

William Wildblood said...

The fact that this destiny is sensed but can't be defined is interesting. As you say it is connected to certain figures from the past, including some poets and writers, who embody it in their work and/or personalities. It is undoubtedly spiritual but that word can include all sorts of qualities and modes. It is a particular type of spiritual, almost a blend of nature mysticism and Christianity with the former seen in the light of the latter. That's how it seems to me anyway when I try to identify it. It certainly has no part in any of the current institutions and if they got hold of the ideas behind it in any way they would corrupt them.