Wednesday, September 30, 2009


In the GOSPEL OF MARK we read:

10:17 - As he began to take the road again (after welcoming
the children), a man came running up and fell at his feet,
and asked him, "Good Master, what must I do to be sure of
eternal life?"
10:18-19 - "I wonder why you call me good," returned Jesus.
"No one is good - only God"

We learn from Blake too, that 'good and evil' are terms of
judgment not forgiveness. Even Jesus did not wish to be
called 'good.' Calling him 'good' forces us back into the old
system of law and vengeance. The New Testament teaches
that the alternative to the law is 'the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit' through whom we can love, trust, forgive and hope
for the glorious unfolding of God's grace.

JERUSALEM plate 49

"Because the Evil is Created into a State. that Men
May be deliverd time after time evermore. Amen.
Learn therefore O Sisters to distinguish the Eternal Human
That walks about among the stones of fire in bliss & woe
Alternate! from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels:
This is the only means to Forgiveness of Enemies"

In Circle of Destiny Milton Percival explains the beginning of the fall thus:
"The great cosmic break in which the fine relationship of the contraries is destroyed is the work of the Spectre. Blown with pride in his emanative life, he abstracts from it a set of qualities called Good. In his arrogance he believes that these qualities which he admires are due to his own activities; he does not realize that they are but the result of the undisturbed functioning of an harmonious whole."

So partaking of the 'fruit of the tree of good and evil' means naming part of the whole, good and claiming it as one's own. Forgiveness is the reversal of that process. By not claiming good as one's own or as something anyone can possess, we put God who includes all things into the right position. We recognize Evil as a State, not a quality or a human being. Forgiveness loses sight of the State by focusing on the individual as part of the Divine Being.

JERUSALEM Plate 99 Erdman says of this image: "God does not appear as beams of light to outshine the flames of Hell but as a human father welcoming a lost prodigal."
Yale Center for British Art

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Circle of Destiny II

Blake De antro nympharum Tempera Arlington Court Devon.jpg

The last post included a link to the Arlington Tempera. You may see it as an excellent portrayal of the Circle of Destiny.
One of the common names for the picture is The Sea of Time and Space. However Damon suggested The Circle of Life as a more appropriate term.

The sea in the picture is only one of several vital scenes; it occurs in the left foreground. The right hand part portrays the Cave of the Nymphs, found in the 13th book of the Odyssey. In fact it's from an interpretation of the cave by Porphyry, a 3rd century a Neoplatonist philosopher.
The upper left portrays Eternity. The center shows two prominent characters. The man kneeling on the shore has been given several names: Odysseus by Kathleen Raine, Luvah by Damon, Albion/Jesus by Digby, or better yet, Everyman (you and I). He has gotten close to completion of the circle of destiny; without looking at the sea he is throwing the girdle of Leucothea which she had lent him to be able to swim ashore (Blake used Book 5 of the Odyssey for this feature).
Behind 'Everyman' stands a woman, perhaps Athene (Raine), Vala (Damon), the anima (Digby). (This shows how Blake says different things to different people -- much like the Bible!)
On the right side of the picture there's an image you might imagine as a double escalator with the right side going down and the left up. Down the northern come the souls with a hankering for mortal life. Up the southern may go Everyman:
"when once he did descry

the immortal man who cannot die
Through evening shades he hastes away
to close the labors of his day."
We can only suppose that Everyman, responding to the radiant woman's signal, looked up and moved!
There's a lot more to the circle of destiny; if anyone shows an interest, I'll be glad to expand on it.
Tell me what you think.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Circle of Destiny

In Night One of The Four Zoas, after a disheartening relationship with Enion, his emanation [wife?], Tharmas reluctantly
"Turnd round the circle of Destiny with tears & bitter sighs,
And said. Return O Wanderer when the Day of Clouds is oer" (Night 1; chapter 5, lines 11 and 12).

The Day of Clouds? Another name for the Circle of Destiny? Or we might call it 'this vale of tears'.

The Circle of Destiny! Percival wrote a book with that name, actually more elementary and hence better for new Blakeans than Fearful Symmetry by Northrup Frye.

The circle of destiny encapsulates Blake's myth perhaps more concisely than any thing else. The rest of The Four Zoas describes the journey Albion (and all of us as well) went through to get back to the Eden he had lost.

Well another concise statement of Blake's purpose came in Plate 12 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: When Blake asked Ezekiel the reason for some of his bizarre behavior, he replied with "the desire of raising others [humans] into a perception of the infinite".

So what is the Circle of Destiny that Blake charged his character, Tharmas with? One of the best answers comes in Blake's magnificent Arlington Tempera.
Click on the picture for an enlargement.
More to come!
Tell me
what you think.

Sunday, September 27, 2009



"When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep.
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep,

Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curl'd like a lambs back, was shav'd, so I said.
Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.

And so be was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight,
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack
Were all of them lock'd up in coffins of black,

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open'd the coffins & set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Tho' the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm,
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

Weep, weep, weep doesn't just mean sweep, sweep, sweep it
also means weep, weep, weep!
This introduces a note of sadness, an emotional content to the
poem. The plight of the child and of children like him is brought
to our attention. The child is aware of his situation and feels it
deeply. His dream of seeing himself and his friends being locked
in coffins frightens him as would the actual experience of
climbing the narrow spaces within chimneys.
The Angel has a 'key' to release him and his friends. From the
experience the children have with the Angel, I suspect Blake was
using the Angel to represent the religious position taken by the
established church saying: 'forget about your pain', 'be a good
boy', 'God will reward you later.' Could the Angel's key be church
doctrines which soothe the conscience of the believers? That
Tom was 'happy and warm' because of his experience with the
Angel seems false, spoken ironically.
Can children be trapped in many ways - by their poverty, by the
neglect of their families, by the economic structure of their
society, by living in this mortal flesh, by a church whose doctrines
supported oppression? Yes, in all these ways and many more, of
which Blake was acutely aware and to which he wanted to
sensitize us.

(E 22)

Blake doesn't set limits on how his
poem can be interpreted. He
presents it to us, and we respond
according to our psychological,
spiritual, social or political condition.
As Damon (A Blake Dictionary)
says, "symbolism is a dream which
fails it its entire meaning is obvious."

Saturday, September 26, 2009



As I read "The Chimney Sweeper" presented in the post above, I realized the the boy in this picture and Tom Dacre of the poem both have shaved heads. So the little boy represented in the picture is likely a chimney sweeper, and all three around the fire represent street children huddled together for warmth as well as light.

Friday, September 25, 2009


From William Blake's Jerusalem: Plate 91

"He who would see the Divinity must see him in his Children
One first, in friendship & love; then a Divine Family, & in the midst
Jesus will appear; so he who wishes to see a Vision; a perfect Whole
Must see it in its Minute Particulars; Organized & not as thou
O Fiend of Righteousness pretendest; thine is a Disorganized
And snowy cloud: brooder of tempests & destructive War
You smile with pomp & rigor: you talk of benevolence & virtue!
I act with benevolence & virtue & get murderd time after time:
You accumulate Particulars, & murder by analyzing, that you
May take the aggregate; & you call the aggregate Moral Law:
And you call that Swelld & bloated Form; a Minute Particular.
But General Forms have their vitality in Particulars: & every
Particular is a Man; a Divine Member of the Divine Jesus.

So Los cried at his Anvil in the horrible darkness weeping!"

Looking at this passage as a whole, we look into a conundrum. Part of the problem is that if we try to apply it to others, we are either fault-finding or projecting. If we apply it to ourselves, we are called Jungians. Let's take it one section at a time.

"He who would see the Divinity must see him in his Children
One first, in friendship & love; then a Divine Family, & in the midst
Jesus will appear;"

This path to Jesus may be thought of as the path through 'innocence'.
It is direct and uncomplicated but not open to many of us. It is the way of participating in the creative process through immersion in God's

The following lines suggest a more complex process of achieving wholeness. It involves altering consciousness and breaking down the patterns that dominate our thinking. Blake is looking deep into the
human psyche:

"o he who wishes to see a Vision; a perfect Whole
Must see it in its Minute Particulars; Organized & not as thou
O Fiend of Righteousness pretendest; thine is a Disorganized
And snowy cloud: brooder of tempests & destructive War"

He focuses our attention on the processes through which we organize people, places, things, ideas or whatever, convincing ourselves that it is the right way, the only way. Perceiving reality in the wrong way(materialistically and legalistically) gives a clouded, distorted picture which leads to anger and destructiveness.

"You smile with pomp & rigor: you talk of benevolence & virtue!
I act with benevolence & virtue & get murderd time after time:"

Then he talks of hiding behind the persona and failing to connect with the 'real' in others thereby taking the life from them and from ourselves.

"You accumulate Particulars, & murder by analyzing, that you
May take the aggregate; & you call the aggregate Moral Law:
And you call that Swelld & bloated Form; a Minute Particular."

He points out the errors of living in the mind and constructing further defenses against the 'real' (spiritual) world, leading to a confusion of categories.

"But General Forms have their vitality in Particulars: & every
Particular is a Man; a Divine Member of the Divine Jesus."

Now he reaches the level of integration: SEEING the Divine Image in all, including within ourselves. This is Blake's reply to his implied question of how to 'see a Vision, a Perfect whole.'

"So Los cried at his Anvil in the horrible darkness weeping!"

Los is undergoing this process himself and watching with anguish as humanity is remolded and reborn.

Jesus as the healer: The Raising of Lazarus

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Matthew 6:28
"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

When I read this passage prosaically, it is hard to accept because I know rationally that everything is not provided for in the natural world. There are those who go hungry and who suffer needs of all sorts. When I first heard these words sung I recognized them as poetry. Then they spoke to me at a different level. I knew they spoke of a deeper aspect of God's provision. I knew that God's love is all encompassing, and that we need to look from a God's eye view to see that God provides for out every need.

A view of necessities: The Piper
Songs of Innocence, Frontispiece

In this letter to his friend Anna Flaxman, Blake who often suffered need because there was little market for his art, indicates that God provides the true necessities - 'The Bread of sweet Thought' and the 'Wine of Delight.' His mind and his spirit were adequately provided for even in times when his body suffered from deprivation.

Letters, "To my dear Friend Mrs Anna Flaxman" (E 709)

"The Bread of sweet Thought & the Wine of Delight
Feeds the Village of Felpham by day & by night
And at his own door the blessd Hermit does stand
Dispensing Unceasing to all the whole Land

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Last Judgment

The concept of the last judgment has driven millions of people out of the Church, out of Christianity. A fair number of these refugees from Christianity have rejected Christendom, not necessarily a faith in "the Good Lord"; they may pray nightly but never go near a church.

Some of these "poor benighted souls" have found refuge among Quakers, who deplore war, but, more important, believe "there is that of God in everyone".

The fortunate few, with or without Quakerism, have found WB, who lampooned Christendom unmercifully. Urizen, (pic) brought the law, but who brought grace? Jesus the Forgiveness of course.

With a few words from Blake's Vision of the Last Judgment he brought that grossly misunderstood concept to its merciful conclusion:

"What are all the Gifts of the
Spirit but Mental Gifts whenever any
Individual Rejects Error & Embraces Truth a
Last Judgment passes upon that Individual."
(Erdman 562)

'Andrew and Simon Peter Searching for Christ'

We don't need to fight Evil (no, no, by golly), but to reject the Errors that clutter up our minds; we thus become those "rich enlightened souls" who join WB in Heaven.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Blake was outspoken in his opposition to oppressive behaviors and to mistaken ideas. Because the enforcement of an external law was the root of much of mankind's suffering, and his inability to perceive the infinite; Blake relentlessly spoke against the law as the construction of Urizen.

The term 'error' was what Blake used to refer to what many call evil. He considered error to be a state and not a person. Error could be brought to light, dealt with and eliminated. Blake's goal was that every person may reach the state of internal unity and brotherhood with man.

Athough this passage at first appears to be harsh condemnation, its meaning changes a we look at it in the light of Blake's vocabulary.

InscrDante 5, (E689)
"Swedenborg does the same in saying that in
this World is the Ultimate of Heaven
This is the most damnable Falshood of
Satan & his Antichrist"

Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other

Notice what Blake is saying:
The idea of 'this World' being the 'Ultimate of Heaven' is abhorrent to him, since his whole psyche and philosophy are committed to the notion that Eternity is the only true reality. As always he wouldn't use prosaic language (as I have used) to state this. He states his reaction according to his system of thought.

'Damnable' means being worthy of complete rejection.
'Falsehood' is error - a state which is created so that the individual should not be blamed.
'Satan' is another word for error, he is the "State of Death and not a human existence."(J49:67)

Since in Blake's system, "One Error not remov'd will destroy a human Soul" (J46:11), it is merciful to remove error. Antichrist is that which opposes Christ, another error to be replaced by truth.

Blake doesn't call Swedenborg evil, he says he is in a state of error. What Blake is doing is speaking the truth in as direct and powerful a way as he is capable of.

(Thanks to Damon's A BLAKE DICTIONARY for help in explaining this)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Milton O. Percival in his book WILLIAM BLAKE'S CIRCLE OF DESTINY, analyzed the ideas that lie behind Blake's thinking. He finds Blake to exhibit familiar tenets of idealism. These are the ones he names:
1.) Appearances are not reality
2.) Intuition is a prime source of knowledge
3.) The mind creates the universe in its own likeness
4.) The cosmic mind corresponds to the individual mind
5.) Reality is mental
Percival adds these tenents in Blake's thought.
6.) The individual and universal minds are identical in nature
7.) The supreme experience is ecstacy
8.) The good life is unitive concerning itself in building Jerusalem

Percival describes the good life as envisioned by Blake thus:
"It requires that one make the mystical identification of oneself with others and of all with God; and that one should have faith in that identification when the immediate perception fades. ...

"The good life must be built by faith or experience, on the qualities of imagination.To attempt to build it on the qualities of reason or sense is to reduce a god-like man to a handful of dust."

Blake in his poetry continually restates and develops these tenets. Furthermore he lived his life by these tenets in his commitment to Eternity and to the expression of Imagination.

"Drinking at the River of Life"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ah! Sunflower

"Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire;
Where my sunflower wishes to go."
(Songs of Experience, Erdman 25)

Frye tells us that this may be seen to reflect biblical
passages about work, such as "work for the night is coming".

"In Ah! Sunflower the flower that turns its face to the sun
through its passage across the sky is the emblem of all those
who have repressed or frustrated their desires to the point
at which they all consolidate into a desire for the sunset of death".

Once again:
"Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done."

(from Frye in Words with Power p. 90-91)

"The passage of the sun symbolizes our journey through life
(through this vale of tears.) Focusing on the sun, as the
flower does, indicates preoccupation with the objective, the
material; Blake considered that a much lesser way to live.

In Visions of the Last Judgment Blake wrote:

"Error is Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation
will be Burned Up & then & not till then Truth
or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up the Moment Men
cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do not
behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is
hindrance & not Action it is as the Dirt upon
my feet No part of Me. What it will be Questiond When
the Sun rises do you not see a round

Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it." (VLJ-N95; E565-6)

Wikimedia Commons
Milton's Paradise Regained 
Christ Ministered to by Angels

Ah! Sunflower also reflects a passage in Gates of Paradise:

"But when once I did descry
The Immortal Man that cannot Die
Thro evening shades I haste away
To close the Labours of my Day"
(Gates of Paradise 39-42; E269)

Friday, September 11, 2009


The Angel of the Divine Presence

"We are all co-existent with God, members of the Divine body.
We are all partakers of the Divine nature." William Blake
(quoted by Crabb Robinson in his diary)

Crabb Robinson Diary

I see a dimension of Christianity beyond following Jesus'
teaching on the Great Commandment, and the Last Judgment.
This is the dimension arising from the Resurrection and the
Incarnation. The message of Jesus could not be completed in
his physical lifetime, because it was to be a demonstration
of a new relationship between God and man. Jesus' promise
that his Spirit would live on and be available to his
disciples, was fulfilled in the empty grave, the post-crucifixion
appearances, and at Pentecost (and ever since.)
We are the
recipients of the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus
by becoming
Incarnate (Spirit in Body) demonstrates that we
too are
incarnated Spirits, bodies which are vehicles for
the indwelling
Holy Spirit. "Members of the Divine body"
as brother William says.
We Quakers are fond of saying there is "that of God in
everyone", which unites us as One Being.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Four Zoas - 2

"Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Blake wrote this verse in Greek at the beginning of The Four Zoas. Sure enough in the thousands of words that follow he does (and we do) exactly that. The principalities and powers are within us. Our lives are made up of these wrestlings.

"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name".

The fourth one! In Bloom's commentary in the back of Erdman, he points to an analogy between Los, the 'fourth immortal starry one' and the fourth one in the fiery furnace of the book of Daniel, "the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" (Daniel 3:25).

Los is the most hopeful of the Zoas - imaginative, intuitive, closely analogous to the Son of God, although his career in The Four Zoas is torturous, frequently destructive before becoming creative.

Blake started with a summary description of
Los, but then he 'began with parent power -- Tharmas.
As we read Blake we constantly encounter seeming contradiction of this sort. He began with Los, but then he began with Tharmas. Did he do that to confuse us? to provoke us into the use of our own imagination? Who knows?

Monday, September 07, 2009


William Blake, Carl Jung and the author of the Book of Job, seem to agree that the experience of Job represented a change in the relationship of man and God.

Job struggles against the perceived injustice of God and the suffering it brings upon him. Job receives a direct intervention from God in the shape of God speaking to him from the whirlwind.

Because Job was truthful with God and confronted God with the human point of view, he received an answer demonstrating God's power, wisdom and mystery. After his trials Job's fortunes are restored and he receives God's favor.

The role that Satan (the personification of evil) plays in the story is pivotal. Satan is allowed by God to test Job because of Job's reputation for righteousness. This perhaps is the hinge of the story because Satan, not God is in charge of testing Job. In the end Job's demands convince God to relate to him directly.

Satan before the Throne of God, Illustrations to the Book of Job (Linnell Set)

Here is a quote from Jung in a letter to Morton Kelsey (from CARL JUNG: WOUNDED HEALER OF THE SOUL by Claire Dunne):

"This is what happens in Job: The creator sees himself through the eyes of man's consciousness and this is the reason why God has to become man, and why man is progressively gifted with the dangerous prerogative of the divine "mind." You have it in Christ's saying: "Ye are gods" and man has not even begun to know himself."

Edward Edinger, in ENCOUNTER WITH THE SELF: A JUNGIAN COMMENTARY ON WILLIAM BLAKE'S ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE BOOK OF JOB describes the encounter of Job with God as "a divine encounter by which the ego is rewarded with some insight into the transpersonal psyche." And he further says "The ego, by holding fast to its integrity, is granted a realization of the Self."

Blake's book, ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB, consists of 21 plates which tell Job's story in a few words and in highly symbolic pictures. Plate 13 represents the encounter of Job with God in the whirlwind which is the intimate experience of a man directly with the numinous. The next plate, number 14, depicts a rebirth of consciousness. The central picture is surrounded with images and words from the creation story in Genesis. The text includes "When the morning Stars sang together & all the sons of God shouted for joy." (Job 38:7) The central image depicts at the top four angels among the stars rejoicing. In the center is kneeling God with outstretched arms and a bright sun-like halo. Beside him are Apollo with the sun, and Artemis with the moon. At the lowest level are Job his wife and the three confronters, who are allowed to witness the celebration of the this new stage of creation. The next seven plates illustrate the changed relationship between Job and God.

Damon in A BLAKE DICTIONARY explains the process Job underwent in terms to going through stages represented by the Seven Eyes of God. In the end "His manhood purged of all error, is now complete."

Each one of us is searching for images to represent indescribable experience.

For links to Blake's illustrations consult the post:
Blake's Pictures for Job

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Four Zoas

A Subjective Reading
A Personal Experience

(A valued friend put me on to a discussion of 4Z found
on pages 203-32 of Blake's Sublime Allegory. Most
[or all?] of this post derives from that essay: On Reading the Four Zoas by Mary Lynn Johnson and Brian Wilkie. Hopefully there may be other posts to come on 4Z.)

"...we want most to encourage the sort of visceral and
personal response to this deeply introspective poem
that we believe Blake demands of his readers." (203)

"...we must recognize that the movement of the poem...yields its meaning in proportion to our
willingness to examine what happens within us."

After those lines on the first page the writers proceed
with a cursory statement of the plot; that's revealed
in the first page of 4Z:

"Four Mighty Ones are in every Man;
a Perfect Unity
(John XVII c. 21 & 22 & 23 v)

Cannot Exist. but from the Universal
Brotherhood of Eden
(John I c. 14. v)

The Universal Man. To Whom be
Glory Evermore Amen"
(John I c. 14. v)

The Universal Man of course is Albion-- representing
an eternal Great Britain, representing the people of
the world in Eternity, representing the perfect you.

"Albion looks up, rises from the rock in just wrath and is about to walk 'into the Heavens'" (Erdman)

The "Four Mighty Ones" (the four Zoas) are Tharmas,
Urthona, Urizen, and Luvah. Blake "begins with
Tharmas..", but before the "beginning " he tell us about
Los (the worldly version of Urthona), "Urthona was his
name", who represents here all the Zoas, in Eternity
with "days and nights of revolving joy", then the plot
is announced:

"His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity His
fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his
Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead."

It's the old, old story everyone can read in the Bible;
In 4Z Blake gave us his version of it -- one of course
of many.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Feast of the Eternals

  At the conclusion of 4Zs, Blake created this beautiful poetic image of Tharmas and Urthona, body and spirit, Man and
God, as they depart the Golden feast. Divisions have been reconciled, unity has been achieved, a new age has begun, rejoicing is underway.

Four Zoas: Night the Ninth, pg 137

"Then Tharmas & Urthona rose from the Golden feast satiated
With Mirth & joy Urthona limping from his fall on Tharmas leand
In his right hand his hammer Tharmas held his Shepherds crook
Beset with gold gold were the ornaments formed by the sons of Urizen
Then Enion & Ahania & Vala & the wife of Dark Urthona
Rose from the feast in joy ascending to their Golden Looms
There the wingd shuttle Sang the spindle & the distaff & the Reel
Rang sweet the praise of industry. Thro all the golden rooms
Heaven rang with winged Exultation All beneath howld loud
With tenfold rout & desolation roard the Chasms beneath
Where the wide woof flowd down & where the Nations are gatherd together"

Since I haven't been able to find an image that represents the Feast of the Eternals, I'll substitute another scene of rejoycing, connecting the lower and higher levels. Note the bread, the wine, the scroll, the compass,the lyre and other of Blake's symbols.

Jacob's Ladder

Here is a hymn we used to sing with the Catholic Charismatics at
Georgetown University which uses a similar theme and expresses some of the same sentiments: GOD AND MAN AT TABLE ARE SAT DOWN

O, welcome all you noble saints of old,
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold.
God and man at table are sat down.

Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;
Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round,
What angels longed to see now we have found.
God and man at table are sat down.

Beggers, lame, and harlots also here;
Repentant publicans are drawing near;
Wayward ones come home without a fear.
God and man at table are sat down.

When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day.
God and man at table are sat down.

(Copyright 1972, Dawn Treader Music.)

Here is a version of the song that unites West and East.

Friday, September 04, 2009

More Resources

The Tate Museum in London is one of the fountains of Blake Learning. There you might find more examples of Blake's graphic art than anywhere else. They have built an online resource for just what we want:
William Blake Online.

If you click on the Collection, it may be slow coming up, but it's worth it. Click on B to get to Blake, then click on one of the pictures and put it in another window to give the largest image.


If you enjoy looking at pictures as I do, you can introduce yourself to Blake's understanding of Job by looking at the pictures he made. There are two series in the Blake Archive. First the plates for his book ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE BOOK OF JOB, which are black and white engravings. The central picture is surrounded by snippets of text from the biblical Job or elsewhere, and decorative images with symbolic meaning.
From one viewing you can get a flavor or the work, but study is required to learn more of what Blake wanted to convey of his vision.

Click on this link and page down to the illustrations and the text in this Boston College website.


In the Archive you will also find Blake's watercolors of the same scenes from Job which he produce for Thomas Butts. Absent are the symbolic borders, but present are the lovely colors. For aesthetic purposes these pictures are the most satisfying, but they convey less of Blake's understanding of Job.

Click on this link to get the Archive for Illustrations to the Book of Job, The Butts Set.

Butts Watercolors


Satan before the Throne of God Click on image to see detail.

The Book of Job represents a strong link among the Bible, Blake and Jung. In each their writing about Job involves development of thinking about the relationship of God and man. The Book of Job is a unique book in the Old Testament as it explores changing ideas about God; Jung's ANSWER TO JOB is the product of the wisdom he developed through experience of unconscious realities; Blake's ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB develops the theme of Job as a part of Blake's vision.

Each author worked in his own milieu. JOB in the OT is a man of the OT culture undergoing the kind of encounters with God had by Abraham, Moses and the patriarchs. In ANSWER TO JOB, Jung works with psychological dynamics as expressed by the character Job in experiencing God's revelations. Blake creates an illustrated expression of Job's experience in the context of images from a broad understanding of psychological/spiritual symbols. The three documents complement one another and together enhance our understanding of the evolution of the consciousness of God.

There will be more about Job later; its a big subject.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Apparently Blake eventually realized that he had been
blessed and singled out to give what he had received,
not to to the small circle of folks around him, but
to the generations which would follow. The furious
effort that he put into his work in spite of the
slight affirmation he received, indicates to me that
he believed that his influence could penetrate
history as psychological development caught up with
him. He could look back at Homer, Jesus and Paul
(among others), who produced not for their
contemporaries but for their spiritual descendants,
and seek to be among them.
Of this frontispiece for JERUSALEM, Erdman says: "We may suppose that Los in his London human form as William Blake, is entering a dark place with his illumination, as Jesus enters Hell with his key; that he is leading us toward a scene of action; that his arresting hand invites our attention; that he is preparing to give himself, as Milton on the title page of Milton." Los Entering The Grave


One of the better known sayings of William Blake concerns "Fourfold Vision." This is from a letter he wrote to his long term friend and supporter Thomas Butts.

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

Blake's ability to envision the psyche as fourfold can be used as a guide to reading Blake on for different levels.

1) It would be possible to read him at the literal level as an account of material, sensual events. This may be the most difficult way to read him because his account would be of historical characters meeting mythological or fictional ones, people being thrown into furnaces or ground up by harrows, curtains being hung in the far reaches of space, and individuals dividing into multiple individuals. Our mind would reject these images as accounts of material activities just as we reject reading all mythologies as history. This kind of reaction could be said to be that of Tharmas. ("a portion of the Soul discerned by the five Senses")

2)We may read Blake on a reasoning level, associating his images with thought forms or patterns which are familiar to our rational minds. So we split off various dimensions of his thought and influences and look at these objectively building systems to explain some aspect of the body of work he produced. In this case we are viewing Blake as Urizen (symbolizing Reason) would view him. Blake portrayed this level of thinking with his famous image of Newton. Image of Newton

3)At the level of emotion we may become involved with the processes he describes, as psychic realities. We begin to see our own psychological process in terms of the characteristics and functioning of Blake's Men, Emanations, and Specters. As Luvah (who include all emotions) we enter into the dynamics of the interactions among Blake's portrayals of our inner functions.

4)The level of imagination represents a transformation or conversion to a spiritual perception. At this level the spirit will speak through the words, not just with or in the words. If Blake is inspired himself, (and he seemed to believe that he was a prophet in the same sense as the OT prophets;) his words can transmit to our spirits through a direct connection with the spirit in him. This level of communication, which Blake called Imagination, was his primary interest. His time, his energy, his goods, his thought, his labor were directed toward expressing Imagination and trying to awaken it in others. Through Imagination we get the fullest understanding of Blake. Non-sensory perception is represented by Urthona (the creative imagination of the individual.)

America a Prophecy,
Title Page "In the mental realm of the prophetic cloud a female and a male philosopher are assisted by a page-turning child . The alert female is already doing so, for the girl at her back is directing us, not her, to the subtitle and the battlefield....The leaping female turns the page." (Erdman)

If we focus on which of these fourfold methods we are using to read (or to understand one another, or to teach our children, or preform various other tasks), we gain a better understanding of the meaning for Blake of fourfold vision, and a greater ability to perceive fourfold reality.

Read Blake or About Blake

People interested in Blake are more apt to read
about Blake than to read Blake. Reading The Four
Zoas, Milton, or Jerusalem are awesome undertakings.
Until you've begun to understand the man's language,
it's a losing proposition. There's a core set of
metaphors that he used repeatedly, although like all
metaphors his are subject to various entonations, and
often used for an object or its opposite.

To enable intelligent reading of the major prophecies
there is a great abundance of interpretations of his
works. Where to begin??? Those of us who have made a
few steps in that direction can perhaps give a bit of
guidance to the beginning student.

Northrup Frye's Fearful Symmetry was the work that
made me a life long lover of Blake's poetry. It's not
easy; I read it five times before I was able to get
more than a few glimmers of light. But it's very
rewarding; you're likely smarter than me, in which
case one or two readings may get you well into the
big poems.

Frye was a celebrated literature critique; after
finishing Fearful Symmetry he said that if he had it
to do over, he would have written more of an
introduction than what he actually did.

The one who gave the simplest introduction for me
was Milton Percival's Circle of Destiny; it's more
systematic and more elementary.

But Kathleen Raine's Blake and Tradition was what made
me a real enthusiast. That's the most easily readable
one, and it's filled with some of Blake's loveliest
pictures. Unfortunately Blake and Tradition is out of
print now, but a fairly good substitute may be found
in her little book, Blake and Antiquity.

Put any books recommended here in Amazon's website,
and you'll find they may have an advanced price, but
page down and you most often see other copies (used
or new) on sale much more cheaply (that's the virtue
of Amazon's farm system).

There is also an amazing amount of valuable information
on line; and this website is here to help you with
any questions you may have.

Good luck with your study of William Blake.