Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kingship in the Coming Year

Fifteenth-century miniature depicting the Batt...
I was just listening to the opening title sequence for the Kenneth Branagh version of Henry V (1989) and realized I've never written about this film. Branagh is probably far better known to my medical school peers for his role as the flamboyant Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the 2002 film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But I think he's at his best when playing Shakespearean characters and in Henry V, he is awesome.

The setting for the story is the English invasion of France in 1415 during the Hundred Years War. The capture of the city of Harfleur as well as the Battle of Agincourt are key events that reveal the leadership capabilities of young (age 29) Henry. At Harfleur he rallies his troops crying, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close up the wall with our English dead," and leads the charge into the city. Prior to engaging the more numerous French forces at Agincourt, Henry delivers what has become known as the St. Crispen's Day speech in which he declares, "He who sheds his blood with me this day, shall be my brother, be he ne're so vile."

Henry V provides us with a visual image of healthy kingship, a concept which functions psychologically in humans, both female and male, to bring about self-organization, calm determination in the face of stress, and the willingness to assume responsible leadership. Children whose parents are unaware of, or unable to access, their inner king or queen, grow up in environments that tend to be chaotic and stressful, where limits are either unknown or extreme and boundaries often non-existent.

Parents who model kingly and queenly virtues, demonstrate self-control, healthy coping skills, and encourage their children rather than acting as obstacles to the achievement of their own unique potential. Even in the absence of children, couples who access kingly energy create an atmosphere of welcome and peace within a home, making it a place where you feel good just being a guest.

Faced with a new year and all that it may bring, being mindful of the inner king or queen can exert a stabilizing influence on our lives. Imagining ourselves as capable, centered, and adequate to the tasks ahead helps free us from feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. We don't know what Henry felt that day, seeing thousands of mounted French knights charging toward him across the Field of Agincourt, but we know he didn't lose his nerve and we know he didn't run. Accessing our inner royal presence can have the same effect on us.

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