Queen Elizabeth I Witch Queen of England? By P.T. Rodge When anyone mentions Witchcraft most people immediately think of some wizened old crone living in a run down cottage in the middle of the woods somewhere, but the truth is far different. A closer study will reveal that Witchcraft was (and probably still is) practiced by many Men and Women of the aristocracy and upper classes and has always reached the very top echelons of society. Of course, in the past, this was not done openly but a reasoned examination of the evidence will allow you to draw some interesting conclusions. One such story is that of Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was (and still is) revered as one of England‟s greatest Queens, and rightly so, but there are aspects of her life that seem to pose something of a conundrum. The most puzzling of these is how she managed to survive to rule for as long as she did. In 1559 she passed the Act of Supremacy leading to the re-establishment of Protestantism. In doing this she refused to countenance the more extreme ambitions proposed by most protestant leaders of the day who desired to have more reformist powers. Thus, in one fell swoop Queen Elizabeth managed to make an enemy of both the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Elizabeth‟s reign is marked by drama, intrigue and plots against her. In 1569 a rebellion in the north of England by feudal aristocrats had to be put down by military force. In 1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated her from the church. Jesuits were trained in Europe and sent to England to inspire plots and assassination attempts. In modern times these Jesuits would be regarded as terrorists. Then in 1571 an international conspiracy against her known as the Ridolfi plot was uncovered. Throughout all of this Elizabeth strongly maintained her dislike of evangelical fervour and continually argued that an individual‟s private beliefs should remain private. These plots continued until she was forced to suspend the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Grindal, for refusing to implement her order to suppress the extremist reformists. He was eventually replaced with Archbishop Whitcliff who acceded to her more moderate orders. Dismayed at what was happening in England, Pope Gregory XIII declared in 1580 that “no action taken by any person would be considered too extreme to rid the world of such a heretic.” This was seen as the Pope giving his blessing for any assassination that might be attempted. In 1584 the only other Protestant leader in Europe, William of Orange, was assassinated, despite this Elizabeth seemed to show little concern and often refused the guidance of her advisors when it came to matters of her own safety. Plots to kill Elizabeth and to invade England were rife and in 1586 Sir Francis Walsingham was credited with uncovering the Babington conspiracy to kill the Queen, but Elizabeth remained confident and seemingly fearless in the face of such danger. While Mary‟s implication in many of these plots was clear and obvious and the Pope saw Mary as the true Queen of England, Elizabeth had continually refused to allow Mary‟s trial and execution. The Babington plot, however was the final straw for Elizabeth and so finally she conceded to advice. Mary was put on trial and executed although Elizabeth professed that this action was not what she wanted. Her advisors privately mocked at Elizabeth‟s claims that if Mary were to be executed, this action would lead to an invasion by France and Spain. Then in 1588 the seemingly invincible Spanish Armada set sail. It was as if Elizabeth had some foresight of this invasion that nobody else seemed to see coming. History tells the story of England‟s fleet led by Sir Francis Drake and it is told as if it were some great naval victory. Not to take anything away from Drake‟s exploits but the Armada had more ships and was considerably more powerful. Strategists still argue over the events but Drake‟s involvement did succeed in preventing the Armada from ever reaching England‟s shores. The prevailing wind then forced the enemy fleet to take a circuitous route around Scotland on it‟s way back to Spain. At this time the Armada was barely damaged and theoretically the invasion could have been re-launched the following year. That is the accepted history. Now we come to some lesser known aspects of Elizabeth‟s reign. Many would say that to suggest Queen Elizabeth was herself a Witch an absurdity as it was she who introduced the Witchcraft Act of 1563. However, this act was introduced after a group of dissatisfied noblemen were discovered making a waxen image of the Queen to cast a curse against her. Under pressure from advisors, the court and the church, Elizabeth had to act. Elizabeth was unable to resist the growing demands for a law against Witchcraft and this act prescribed death by hanging for “employing or exercising witchcraft with the intent to kill or destroy”. Thousands of old women were regularly hauled before the magistrates on the flimsiest of evidence. However, under Elizabeth‟s act those simply accused of witchcraft would commonly be sentenced to spend some time in the stocks. Six hours once every quarter year is an example of the leniency prescribed. Considering that any accusation of witchcraft would normally result in torture and execution , Elizabeth acted against the tide of the time and offered „witches‟ a certain amount of protection against the excesses of the church. It wasn‟t until the replacement act was introduced by King James in 1604 that harsher penalties returned. Delving more deeply we discover that Queen Elizabeth employed John Dee as her astrological advisor. It was well known that the Queen took Dee‟s advice on almost all matters including when would be the most propitious time for her coronation. John Dee was a great mathematical scholar but to many occultists he is also considered the father of modern witchcraft. He is credited with the development of what is called „Western Esoteric Tradition‟ which is the synthesis of European astrology, ritual magic, alchemy and the combination of many other techniques of practical occultism. This was further developed into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century by MacGregor Mathers and his associates. John Dee was born on July 13th 1527 at Mortlake, then a country village but now a suburb of London. Astrologically, at the hour of his birth the Sun was in Cancer and the zodiacal Sagittarius was on the horizon, all this favours scholarship and the study of secret sciences. During the reign of Queen Mary, also known as bloody Mary, the then Princess Elizabeth was held a virtual prisoner. During this time she was in continuous correspondence with John Dee and informers revealed that he provided Princess Elizabeth with Queen Mary‟s horoscope. While Dee was a proclaimed occultist, the information contained in Mary‟s horoscope would only be of use to Elizabeth if she knew the craft of magick and how to use it. The discovery that Dee had passed on in this information led to his arrest on suspicion that he was plotting with Elizabeth to kill Mary using witchcraft and magick. Although cleared of this charge he was immediately re-arrested and jailed on charges of heresy. Mary died in 1558 and immediately Elizabeth freed Dee and appointed him her spiritual advisor. It was John Dee that Elizabeth consulted regarding the nobles who had been caught constructing the waxen effigy of her and although she instilled the Witchcraft Act, John Dee was known to practice astrology. He also carried out many séances and was dramatically involved in the scandalous act of raising the dead at Walton-le-Dale in Lancashire where, according to eye witnesses, the dead raised up to walk and speak. The depth of Dee‟s occult involvement is revealed in that he credited with developing the Enochian language, the so-called „Language of Angels‟ that he claimed was taught to him directly by the angel Uriel. To practitioners of magick the use of this language has been invaluable in increasing power and effecting their spells. John Dee is by any standards a famous occultist and practitioner of anything that can be described as „the occult‟. He has been described as a Wizard on par with Merlin. The question on just how far Queen Elizabeth was involved with these activities remains subject to debate. There have always been denials but her lack of fear in the face of all the plots against her could be seen as an insight into future events. There are also questions as to how, again and again, all these plots were uncovered and why exactly did she require Queen Mary‟s astrological chart? Of course she used spies to protect herself but surely these plotters would have expected that. Even today‟s security services struggle to uncover the goings on of modern terrorists and their failures regularly appear on the news. The Catholics wanted Elizabeth dead, so did the Protestants. The aristocracy of England wanted her out of the way as well as the church. Even the Pope openly gave his blessing to her death. Yet, somehow, Elizabeth always seemed to stay one step ahead of all of them all. She always managed to be aware of what these people were planning against her. It comes to mind that Witchcraft could have been the only thing available at the time to not only give her the predictions of future events but also the protection she needed. You could even question why Elizabeth chose to be completely bald and never married. Experienced occultists will understand the deeper spiritual implications for a witch in making such choices. It is clear that Elizabeth was not only a friend but also a student of John Dee the most powerful occultist of the day. Human nature decrees that her interest would develop and with his guidance she could become one of the most powerful witches of her time. It has to be pointed out that one of the major contributing factors that helped Drake defeat the Armada was a storm that raged over the area south of the English channel. This storm and it‟s winds were described „particularly severe‟ , „wholly un- seasonable‟ and „un-naturally long lasting‟. This storm whipped up just as Drake reached safety and drove the Spanish ships up the channel directly into the path of the treacherous Scottish rocks. The storm continued as they tried to escape down the east coast with Spanish ships being wrecked on the coast of Ireland and even as far down as the West Country. Not only was John Dee a powerful occultist he was also well known for his ability to work magick on the weather. The charge is that along with his witch Queen Elizabeth, John Dee and the royal coven raised the storm that defeated the Armada. The word „coven‟ is appropriate because Elizabeth had her inner circle of special advisors and raising and maintaining such as storm would almost certainly require the power of a group. Is this another story in a long line of similar tales where the direct employment of witchcraft has been used to protect and prevent the invasion of our green and pleasant land? The fact that Elizabeth was a close confidant of John Dee from before the time she imprisoned Bloody Mary and a long list of highly questionable events, leads to the reasonable judgement that maybe, just maybe, Queen Elizabeth I was in fact the Witch Queen of England.
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