Continued from Part One
He stops in the act of dismantling – the raven directly in line with his left eye. Reluctantly, he climbs onto the chair to unhook the left panel of rubberised black fabric that contains the bird’s image. Then, smiling, he remembers the last minute decision to add the raven panels… such an important part of the Queen’s journey.
Somehow, it seems a sacrilege to take them down…
The stream of consciousness that now belongs to the twenty receivers of the told story opens. It is there, again… and alive…
There is a moment when all the power in the room passes from the artful Marlowe, who has lived up to his reputation for skirting the edge of acceptable Elizabethan behaviour, to the Queen. Her regal gaze, a generation older than many in the room, fixes him like a serpent.
“Elizabeth, Queen of England and Ireland…” The playwright bows, backing away and leaving the intricate space of the chequered Court Floor for the sovereign. She rises, the gold dress swirling around her.
Act One is about to begin in earnest. Shakespeare’s fading life-force had been enhanced by the wild and wonderful energies of Countess Libido, but that level of abstraction now seems far away.
It is 1590. The fearful Spanish Armada is two years vanquished, and Spain – even gold-rich Spain – cannot afford another. King Phillip will never recover from the defeat inflicted by the English captains. Secure beyond question on the right side of the Court, Sir Francis Drake smiles at the Queen’s taking of the power in the chamber; smiles at the esteem in which he, also, is held; smiles at the name given to him by the Spanish crown: El Draco; Dragon of the Seas.
Time passes very slowly as the golden Queen steps onto the black and white tiles. Then the music begins. Climbing and diving, the Elizabethan orchestra weaves a story told in harmony, matching her naval victory with the inevitability of personal sadness inflicted by age. She crosses the squares wrapped in a tapestry of sound that matches her reign, and is seated at her throne in the East.
Frances Walsingham and Robert Cecil join her, right and left. Walsingham the daughter of the Queen’s fearsome spymaster, Francis. Cecil the deformed son of Lord Burghley, William Cecil, replacing his father in what many see as a staged act of political sacrifice to placate the public view of the death of the Scottish Queen Mary.
“What happens when a queen kills a queen?” she will ask, later. Her mind filled with dread, as one of her most trusted subjects turns rogue; the natural chain of Being seemingly threatened on all fronts…
The two children of illustrious parents suit her purpose, here. The other people in the room – lords, gentry and common folk – will assume that all on the royal dais understand the nature of this chamber of transformation. The Queen’s eyes flash, knowing that is not the case. All but she are ignorant of what must take place. All are to be subject to the process.
The Elizabethan realm is secure; now it must be made robust in a way that will embrace the future, not merely arm against it… Spain, deadly Spain – agent of the excommunication of Elizabeth – is a spent force. She is not stupid enough to think that God is on her side. Neither is she naive in knowing that the vast forces of nature were with her as the storms wrecked the plans of the Armada’s commanders. There is a middle ground in which intelligence and skill conspire to protect the oppressed. Small no more, England stands on the brink of a new age.
The Queen looks to her right, taking in the demure but watchful eyes of Lady Rab’ya Anouri, royal wife of the Moroccan ambassador to London. No-one but the sovereign knows her. All must wonder why the gathering includes this Saracen woman, with her strange, flowing robes of orange and white – clearly the child of a different God.
“Be welcome and be seated.”
It is time to stoke the fire… the fire of transformation.
“In here, there will be a Death and a Birth… and a journey between. Let us complete our preparations… Sir Walter Raleigh is waiting in the antechamber. Sir Walter, enter…”
The South and North are complete. Marlowe did that, well. Just enough mischief, swept aside by the royal presence; cowed but smiling: as she likes her playwrights to be. The East now holds all the power she requires, though those within it do not yet realise their capabilities. They are young. The few days here will teach them much about its wielding.
The West… place of entrance and departure, home of the tide of fortune and grace that will ebb and flow in this chamber as each plays their part. Anger, she thinks, time to show how much anger bubbles beneath this calm surface…
“Sir Walter, escort your companions to the chairs that have been prepared for them in the West.”
Moments later it is done. She can hear the silence of outrage, can feel the dread in the room at what has just occurred. Sir Walter Raleigh stands facing her, calm and measured… just as she needs him to be for all of what will follow. But not even he knows…
At his right sits a Jesuit priest, the most hunted man in England. In the heartbeat that follows their entry, she can feel the tension in the body of Robert Cecil, her Secretary. She can read how his eyes are bleeding with disbelief at what has unfolded, so soon in this meeting of sovereign and subjects.
At Raleigh’s left sits the husband of the downcast woman near the end of the Northern line of chairs. John Dee, former Alchemist and Astrologer to the Queen has returned from a fool’s errand to England and this Court.
Both sit in chairs that have been turned away from the royal gaze… The visual exile is deafening.
At the front of the Royal Court, unseen, all three of the ravens are watching….
Other parts of this story:
Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised.
His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.
You’ll find friends, poetry, literature and photography there…and some great guest posts on related topics.