Posted by: aboutalbion | September 12, 2012

Two symbols of …

From a couple of events over the past few days, I am adding two symbols to my collection of cultural evidence for the case that the UK is a religion.

1  The ‘Last Night of the Proms’ last weekend is a widely supported annual musical ritual, and an anthropologist would probably identify the community singing of the choruses of “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Rule Britannia” as two of the special moments of the ritual.

These are the words of the latter chorus:

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Here Britannia is being used as a symbol for the female personification of the island of Great Britain.   She is represented on some UK coins as a goddess wearing a military helmet.

2  I read of the appointment of a philosopher in residence to reflect on why the White Cliffs of Dover have become such a symbol of the UK.

Our national collective imagination remembers that the White Cliffs of Dover were cited by Julius Caesar as a “giant natural fortification”, were chosen by Shakespeare for an important scene towards the end of “King Lear” with the words, “There is a cliff whose high and bending head looks fearfully in the confined deep”, and were associated with many pivotal moments of the Second World War (and summarized in Vera Lynn’s song “the White Cliffs of Dover”).

So, two symbols – Britannia and the White Cliffs of Dover – to add to my collection of symbols which point to the numinous centre at the heart of UK society.


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