The Invisible Empire of Romantia

Further from my posting of yesterday, I used to have such a good laugh over the Romantic, the Reactionary Review, the Imperial Angel and the New Century written by those dotty ladies in England who are certainly less innocent than they would like us to believe. But, no smutty stuff here!

It’s all rather funny, completely batty, but it doesn’t leave us indifferent. Here is a description of the Great Invisible Empire from the 1980’s.

* * *

The Invisible Empire of Romantia is like an archipelago of islands, spread out upon a sea of darkness. Each one of those islands is a Romanian home, its warm light glowing and its strong walls firm against the rising tide of madness.

Some of these islands are very small: a single room at a University college, a tiny flat, even a mere bedroom. Yet however small it may be, it is home, and it can be a part of the Empire of Romantia.

One of our most charming Romantian writers tells me in a letter how her first Romantian home was her bedroom. “My parents watched television. It made me so sad. It was quite unendurable to see them sitting placidly before a deluge of filth and evil which was pumped into the home each day. Their home, not mine. My home was my bedroom. Every night, between half-past six and seven I retired there. I undressed and got into bed: there I did my homework on my knees, read, wrote, listened to classical music and the latest dance-band singers, all on my darling wind-up gramphone Al Bowlly, Hutch, Bing Crosby, Vera Lynne, Ruth Etting. They were my friends: they and the masters of English letters, great and small —C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Jane Austen and a hundred others. It was a strange life, I suppose. When people came to call they had to say I was in bed! I was always in bed. And there, instead of being poisoned by the cathode-ray, I gained a solid grounding in English literature and began to be a writer. I did not know about secession then, but in my own funny way I had seceded. The whole room was part of Romantia, even though I did not know the word. I would never have anything Babylonian in it. Not a packet, not a carrier bag. Most of my books I bought from a second-hand shop but when I had paperbacks or library books I hid them in a box under the bed. No one coming into my room should see anything to make them think they were in the late 20th century.”

Such are the simple beginnings of secession: the rudiments of making one’s home a Romantian sanctuary: and if a child living in a largely unsympathetic parental home can do it, what excuse has any one else?

Of course, there are more Romantian homes now, and while a world of garish barbarity may exist outside the door, there are now places to go: other homes that are not part of Babylon.—And within those homes, often more places again: cinemas, night clubs, shops, taverns. For many Romantians delight in transforming their homes, just as they transform their own personalities: playing the game of building a world—for what is any world, Babylon included, but a game? Is not the success of the modern disease simply a question of the number of people it has persuaded to take its game seriously and call a monstrous, vulgar, unintelligent farce “the real world”? We have thrown its persuaders out of our houses. We no longer take the game seriously: thus our homes are not part of its world. They are part of our world.

Another friend writes to me of her first Romantian home: “As soon as I went to University, I decided to break with Babylon and make my room a sanctuary from all the ghastliness. It was a bit of a business, because the rooms were all furnished with identical ‘fittings’ or ‘units’ or whatever dreadful name they call them in the most horrible light wood. However I bought lots of charming, Victorian-looking drapes at a charity shop and covered everything—the awful bedside-thing, the dreadful desk, the nasty institutional bed which did not even have the decency to be cast-iron. I put my few treasures there—glass candlesticks, framed prints of Miss Katherine Hepburn and Miss Carole Lombard, a picture or two, my Victorian tea set with only three cups, and of course, my books, which transformed the plank-bookshelves. People used to say that it was like stepping into another world.”

Of course there are certain advantages to just beginning in life. Another friend, who has only recently become a Romantic faces a different problem: “There is nothing hateful in my house, but really I have never been vigilant until now. All sorts of not-really-very-nice things which one gets because one is half-thinking one ought to collaborate. Gradually I am replacing one thing after another. I started by getting everything remotely exceptionable out of the drawing-room and making that a wholly Romantian room where I could invite any one. Slowly I am licking the rest of the house into shape.”

It is not merely a physical, but also a psychological process whereby one transforms one’s home into a Romantian sanctuary. Another correspondent writes: “As my Romantian house takes shape and my taste is refined by photoplays and racination, more things jar with me. In my bedroom in the morning I can always hear the roar of traffic, which began to grate with me as a hateful intrusion of Babylon. Recently I had an inspiration. I lay in bed and listened to the cars and pictured them— not Babylonian cars, but beautiful, black shining real cars, like the ones our friends drive and the ones you see in the photoplays. I see busy streets bustling with real cars and real people. It has added a new dimension to my sanctuary, and I feel I am colonising some of the ‘ether’ about my house: widening and strengthening my ‘bubble’.”

This mention of “ether” and of the” bubble” brings us on to the ritual side of building a sanctuary. Not every one is drawn to ritual, and if, for whatever reason, you do not wish to use such means, please feel free to ignore this passage. If, however, you have no aversion to ritual, be assured that it can help greatly in creating a true Romantian sanctuary, even if you see it as nothing more than an aid to building its reality in your unconscious mind.

This ritual is very simple. All that is needed is a stick of incense, preferably of a scent corresponding to the sun (frankincense, myrrh, saffron, amber). Choose which room is to be the heart of your sanctuary. It may be the drawing room, your study, even a bedroom. Facing East, trace upon the air with your lighted incense stick the sign of the Fora (the circle-cross on the Romantian flag and shield), saying “In the name of Themis, protect this sanctaury”. Envision the Fora standing before you, golden, glowing and as tall as yourself. Trace it again, with the same words. in the North, the West and the South. Now, Facing East again, and with eyes closed, imagine the four Foras growing and moving outwards, and about them, with you as its centre, a great golden bubble, so fine and so pure that all things of Babylon must wither and die at its touch. All within the bubble is golden light, and if any of the area about your house is enclosed within it, it too is transformed. The motor cars into real motor cars, the people into real people wearing real clothes and walking like racinated human beings. Hold this vision in your mind (it does not matter if you only think it rather than see it), and then see a golden shaft descending from heaven through the centre of your bubble, forming the roof-tree of your sanctuary and also the thread or pillar which connects you with Romantia. See, high above, the towers of the celestial Empire shining in the sky.

Finally, raising your right arm, say “Hail Themis, Hail Romantia, Hail Themis.”

You can repeat this ritual whenever you feel your sanctuary needs to be renewed, or purified, or more closely linked to the rest of Romantia. We have known psychically sensitive people actually see this bubble even when they know nothing of Romantia, and certainly it will protect and help you.

But whether or not you use ritual means, you can make your home, however large or small, a true part of the real world: the sane, civilised, charming world which should have been your birthright—and still can be.

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7 Responses to The Invisible Empire of Romantia

  1. Jim of Olym says:

    For alternative universes, check out Islandia, by Austin Tappan Wright. One of the great alternative universe novels (in the south Atlantic ocean, which never was nor could be, based on actual oceanic geology) but is a good read nevertheless!!

    • There is the Italian town of Imperia (real – not a fantasy or a joke), situated on the Ligurian coast just the other side of the border from Nice on the Côte d’Azur. It is a beautiful town (wouldn’t I love to go sailing there!), and nothing could be less British!

      • Simone says:

        Imperia is were I spent my last three annual holidays. A lovely place indeed, but a bit pricey. What is less known outside Italy is that the Bishop of Imperia, Mgr. Olivieri, is one of the most (if not the most) traditional-minded in Italy, and never allowed the destruction of old altars in his diocese’s church; therefore in almost all parishes the Novus Ordus Missae is celebrated ad deum and with great reverence. It’s one of the few places on earth where Catholic priests still generally wear the cassock! Then, for a strange coincidence, Imperia is really very close to my own ideal “RC Romantia”.

        p.s. the name “Imperia” derives from the small river “Impero” that divides the two towns of Oneglia (owned by Piedmont until 1861) and Porto Maurizio (under the Genoan republic) merged into one single city in 1930’s by Mussolini. The two towns still have two distinct patron saints: St. John the Baptis in Oneglia, and St. Leonard of Porto Maurizio (who invented the practice of Via Crucis) in Porto Maurizio.

    • There is also The Island that Time Forgot, but not a nice place to share with the dinosaurs! I was fascinated by Michael Crichton’s Congo. These are lost worlds, but not utopian dreams. The Indiana Jones movies touch that tender spot, as do the stories of Clive Cussler and the legends of Ed Dorado in the South American jungle.

      This is a very powerful archetype, reflected by the Garden of Eden of the Book of Genesis. It also explains our fascination with things like shipwrecks, abandoned islands and time capsules. All these things are linked.

      I used to have hours of conversation with an Oxford don called Dr Ray Winch about a community of secular canons still in their pre-Reformation condition, effected neither by the Reformation nor by post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism – but with its organic legitimacy intact through privileges and canonical custom.

  2. Thank you for sharing.the Invisible Empire of Romantia. I had never heard of it before and as a Steampunk fan it is rather delightful to have an alternate world based on Reactionary and Conservative opinions rather than Radicalism and Socialism. I only wish there was more information available. The facebook group does not seem to exist any more – and I wish those cassettes were still available.

    • Thank you for joining us. Your blog looks great fun! – and with good serious reflections. There is the old joke about London gents’ clubs – you know someone has died because of the ungodly stench from behind the newspaper! I was invited a couple of times to the East India Club in the 1980’s, a pleasant place. Fortunately I had a decent clerical suit with a full collar, though I was a mere seminarian!

      I can recommend you a link for your blog – The Handlebar Moustache Club – founded by an old boy from my alma mater. I’ve never tried it myself! The Germans are even worse than us! 🙂

      We can get awfully gung-ho about our old Empire, the big moustaches and the like. It was also a very unjust world, and not everything the British did in the Empire represented our finest hour. In fact, we invented the concentration camp (Boer War II), and I would hardly call blowing Indians away from cannon civilised.

      We can have fun, but we need to keep our heads on…

  3. Pingback: Home Oratories | Anglican Rose

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