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What did we see when we watched the Royal Wedding?

British royal family image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Becoming a Canadian means coming to terms with the monarchy.

A year or so from now, at my own citizenship ceremony, I will be asked to swear allegiance to the Queen.

“Say ‘spleen’ instead,” suggests a fellow ex-pat. And I’ve considered it.

I come from a long line of French Protestants, English Quakers, American free-thinkers and Unitarians — not a monarchist in the bunch.

When I come to my ceremony, 12 to 15 months from now, there will likely be a number of my ancestors who will shake their heads and frown.

It was not my intention to watch the Royal Wedding last week, and yet I figured I ought to watch a bit of it. After all, William may one day be the king, to whom, as a Canadian, I owe my allegiance.

So I stopped by a friend’s house to watch — just a little. And eight hours later, I finally walked back home to get some sleep.

What began as a willingness to keep an open mind became out-and-out fascination with — well — the hats first of all. They were something out of a Fellini movie. And the CBC’s coverage of the event was by turns respectful, tongue-in-cheek and outright hilarious.

And yes, there was something about watching good news after wave upon wave of the world’s distress.

But more than that, I became aware of a sense of continuity that I often lose. In his short homily, the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to Catherine of Sienna and to Chaucer. Everywhere in the ritual there were allusions to former kings and queens, a narrative line that reconnects us through history to the mythological world, both Christian and druidic.

The Royal Family suggests the archetypal family. Every family has weddings. As I watched, I recalled the weddings of my sisters, and later my niece and nephew. I recalled my roles as brother and uncle. I felt my age.

At every wedding, on some level, we watch an inner marriage, what the alchemists and CG Jung called the conjunctio. Metaphorically, we see the marriage of “opposites” or two individuals becoming “one.” We also witness the marriage of aspects of ourselves — what we might call our inward King and Queen.

As I watched the Royal Wedding, I got curious about the current relationship between my inner sovereigns, and imagined them taking this opportunity to renew their vows to one another.

It’s been a stormy marriage in a world that doesn’t give much time to inward figures, much less sovereigns, and I came away feeling deeply renewed and with an important question: Over what areas of my life do these powerful inner figures have sovereignty?

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