Tuesday, November 15, 2016

QE2 and the Holy Anointing Oil

There's quite a lot made of the anointing with oil of Queen Elizabeth in the series The Crown, now airing on Netflix. 

First, in Episode 4 ("Act of God") The Queen's grandmother Queen Mary tells her that the calling to monarchy "comes from the highest source, from God himself. That is why you're crowned in an Abbey, not a Government building; why you're anointed, not appointed."

The following episode ("Smoke and Mirrors") begins with a flashback to Elizabeth's childhood, rehearsing the anointing of her father George VI before his coronation. "When the holy oil touches me, I am transformed, brought into direct contact with the divine. Forever changed, bound to God," he tells her, "as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed."

The coronation re-enacts Elizabeth's 1953 ceremony, when, according to The Telegraph:

The Queen was now prepared for the religious and constitutional peak of the ceremony, the anointment, when she was consecrated as sovereign. The ritual was hidden from view, by a canopy held over the the Queen by four Knights of the Garter. Behind the canopy, the Archbishop anointed the Queen with holy oil on her hands, breast and head. The oil was made from a secret mixture of ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmin, cinnamon and musk.... 

Meanwhile, the choir sang “Zadok the Priest” – the words, from the first Book of Kings, have been sung at every coronation since King Edgar’s in 973. The anointment ritual is even older, going back to King Solomon himself, supposedly anointed by Zadok in the 10th century BC.

Solomon is famous for having hundreds of incense burners at his great temple, possibly burning the exotic spices brought to him by the Queen of Sheba.

Exodus says: "The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty. . .You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.'"

Some think the fragrant cane (kaneh bosm) was cannabis, mistranslated in modern bibles as calamus, and that it was also the incense burned in ancient times. 

In The Crown, Nathan is also mentioned as an anointer of Solomon by the archbishop, who seems to see a change in Elizabeth after she is anointed. Nathan was a court prophet to Solomon's father King David, who wore a robe of linen when he danced and howled.

"Who wants transparency when you can have magic?" says King Edward the Abdicator in The Crown. "Put her in a robe and anoint her with oil, and what do you have? A goddess."

Both Queen Elizabeth and her husband are related to Queen Victoria, who may have been prescribed cannabis for menstrual cramps. The Royal Family is known to take kava, a plant with psychedelic properties, on their South Sea visits.

UPDATE 2/14/2023: Sir Patrick Stewart was interviewed on The Colbert Show tonight. Stephen remarked on how young he looked at age 82, and asked, "When they knight you, does the queen anoint you with some oil that keeps you young?" Stewart replied, "It's very interesting you should say that, because I felt that something happened in that moment," It's a magical moment....maybe it was a little oil on her hand when we shook hands....and that immediately took 30 years off my age."

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