Jewels in the Claw (6)

Jewels Act Two Royal Court smaller2

Continued from Part Five.

Sipping the tea, his hands clasp around the warm cup. The gesture reminds him of the way she took her husband’s arm, at the end of that first glimpse of what The Queen had in store for him. She, John Dee’s wife, Jane, never entertained the notion that she would not stand, shoulder to shoulder, with her foolish but magnificent husband as his life turned to face the incoming cannon-ball of the Sovereign’s will.

He looks at the place where chair N5 had been, with its quietly intense and magnetically humble occupant.

Jane Dee – Mistress Dee as the others referred to her – had visited Nonsuch Palace, before. As a former Lady in Waiting, she had been at the Young Elizabeth’s beck and call; and had been happy to be so. But this was different. This time, forced to be here by the force of the charges against her husband, she was in hell…

When she spotted the bag of gold coins on the small, ornate table next to the Royal throne, her heart had missed a beat. She knew they were intended for her husband, Dr John Dee; knew beyond doubt that they were a part – possibly just the first part – of a human process designed to crush his spirit… or something worse.

‘Spirit’ she whispers, suddenly frightened that someone had overheard her soft and ironic utterance; spirit was a bad word to use in the land of the persecuted alchemist…

Dr Dee’s lady raises her eyes, slightly, to look around her. To her right is the line of chairs in the West that contains her husband, their apparent gaoler – Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Jesuit Priest, whom she has heard spoken of as ‘the most hunted man in England’.

And yet, The Queen is playing with them all…. First she delights in the dancing entrance of the figures of the Royal Court, orchestrated by Lord Essex – or was it really Sir Francis Drake whose prize was stolen by the more senior Peer? She doubts that few have survived robbing Sir Francis of anything…. though, on the high seas at least, he has done his fair share of piracy.

Is she taunting them – The Queen? Is this whole masque about learning a new dance code to take then across the chequered surface? As she muses, the Queen uses the ladies Bess of Harwick and Blanche Parry to good effect; having them stage an impromptu dance immediately after the stiffly formal movements of the gentlemen – who ‘sought to lift the Queen’s spirits’…. And then there is the first hint of something deeper, as Christopher Marlowe, that most intellectually mischievous figure, prompts an emotional reaction from Her Grace:

“I find men are obsessed with rules!” says The Queen, disparaging the protestations of Essex and Drake. “Women are much more flexible in how they do what feels right.”

Sensing this breach, Sir Francis Drake seems equally determined to flush out the real motives of the Sovereign:

“But, Your Grace, you would be harsh on any man here if he did not follow the set ways of the Court!”

She smiles at that, recognising the practiced hand of strategy, allowing it to have life – as though she had expected–nay held in readiness, the prompt.

Just so, Sir Francis,” she says, through her smile.  “It is an unjust world and women have few advantages – you would, therefore, expect us to use the ones we have!”

Sir Francis Drake bows, practices silence, and withdraws. Only Mistress Dee seems to notice the curl of his smile beneath the greying beard.

Shifting tack, The Queen plays games with sailors and soldiers as she spells out the real meaning of her statement; “Let all be sea, then…” The mock combat she has instigated invites comment of an almost legal level – as Lord Essex is ‘tried’ in the sense of being alive or dead at the bottom of the sea. Even Frances Walsingham, daughter of the – now dying – fearful spymaster; and Lord Cecil, deformed son of The Queen’s near lifetime First Minister, Lord Burghley, are asked for their verdict.

But this courtroom is not established to try these powerful and trusted people; it is established to try the man who now rises, on royal command, to his feet, to stand staring at the pot of gold towards which his unfortunate feet must now move….

Mistress Dee trembles with fear as her husband is escorted to what his wife senses will be his public death before The Queen.

But then, in the way of things of great power, the Saracen noble lady rises to her feet, also, and the world changes….


Other parts in this series:

Part One,   Part Two,   Part Three  

Part Four,

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at

You’ll find friends, poetry, literature and photography there…and some great guest posts on related topics.

©Stephen Tanham

7 thoughts on “Jewels in the Claw (6)

  1. One of the things I am learning in this overall course of study is to not jump to conclusions too quickly. I stop and look up every single thing, every single person whom I am not familiar with, and what one or more of our wise instructors told me is that it all depends on the version we read of what is written about any of these things and/or people. That is so true, for when I looked up Dr. John Dee, there were a number of different writings about him, and all of them approached a little differently. So considering this, it is perhaps a good thing to look up more than one source and read them all when there is some person or thing we don’t know. I actually LOVE doing this as I feel that it makes my reading more interesting in the long run, and helps me to form any questions I might have in the long run. I have not read anywhere that this is recommended; it is just what I do in my hunger to learn more fully. Dr. John Dee was perhaps what might have been called at the time, “A man for all seasons,” or perhaps “One of the greatest men of his lifetime.” What a hunger for knowledge he had, and I love that he studied all the things he did at the time he did when people did not in general do such things. And from what I have also read, we owe the huge library of things he wrote to the people who stole them when he had been set upon by the people so to speak and they burned down his home. But thankfully for us, the books had already been taken, and apparently fans knew what they were seeking, so today in England, I believe there is a wonderful library of his works remaining.

    One of the things I am learning in this study is not to get my thoughts set too firmly on one single idea as representing truth, because truth seems to come in many different costumes as we learn more and more every day. I thank all three of these dedicated people – Steve Tanham, Stuart France, and Sue Vincent for all of the wonderful ways and the things we get to study each and every day. I cannot begin to imagine how long it takes them to come up with and write these things, but sometimes I think they must work solidly around the clock. At any rate, I for one am sure happy that they take the time to do the things they do. It makes our learning so much more in depth, and it seems as though in the end result, we can focus on whatever is most important to all of us in our studies. Thank you too, all of you other folks who post on this list, for often I learn even more when I read your posts and then go to your sites to read more of the same subject, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Anne. It’s important to behave ‘like an alchemist’ with these things, and sift out what we really want and then what we really need. John Dee is a good example of a historical figure who was ahead of his time in some respects, and very naive in others. This was his role in the Jewel in the Claw workshop, held in Derbyshire, this April. This role was used as an example of how the cleverest people can miss the most important things – and also how they can lose sight of the bigger picture.

      The most important life to study is our own… knowledge, leading to the the wisdom of understanding, can only come from our own experience. Anyone else’s can never belong to us. We have a unique relationship with the Universe. We are made to live and express that. That is what the Silent Eye’s course is all about. Steve.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you most kindly, Steve. Yes, I can relate to what you are saying about Dr. John Dee. I have definitely been like that – smart in some things I study, but very naive in many things that are crucial in day-to-day living. I quite often misjudge people and their intentions, or I fail to see evil until it has happened to me or to someone or something around me, so I appreciate and respect what you are having to say. Since I was not able to attend the Jewel in The Claw workshop, I can really relate to what you are saying as I never saw any of this from the writing, and even after reading some different accounts of who is was and the things he knew, I still did not fully realize it. So yes, it takes a lot of independent thinking. And also we do have to start someplace with knowledge even as we are tiny babes and learning to speak, to walk, and to think ourselves. Some of it is given to us from others but other bits are self-understood at one point or another such as learning to crawl and then to walk. Most often we accomplish that on our own. I can definitely relate to this information. Thank you most kindly. This course is a constant re-awakening I believe.


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