Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Here are some insights from Digby's Symbol and Image in William Blake on the four Elements as they represent the struggle of man as he passes through the fallen material world.

Digby states, "...Albion suffers and triumphs in each individual, as is described in the Prophetic Book, Jerusalem. Labouring at the Mill with slaves" means caught in the round of existence, a slave to outer and inner compulsion and consequent conflict. "The Dance of Eternal Death is his name for the passage through, and the struggle with, the state of experience."

The passage through the state of experience doesn't unfold like the opening of a flower, it is more like the life cycle of the butterfly as is intimated on the frontispiece of Gates of Paradise. The poetry doesn't open like a flower either, but must become buried within the psyche, or enclosed within the chrysalis, (words and pictures) before it will yield the release of psychic energy it potentially holds.

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Keys of the Gates, (E 268):

"Serpent Reasonings us entice
Of Good & Evil; Virtue & Vice
Doubt Self Jealous Watry folly
Struggling thro Earths Melancholy
Naked in Air in Shame & Fear
Blind in Fire with shield & spear"

Quotes from Digby, "The serpent is primarily the symbol of the infinite locked up in the finite; the image of the misconception of the part as the whole. The finite thinks it can comprehend the infinite, the part the whole."

The struggle of the Zoas relates to their inability to function as a whole with each part playing an assigned and essential part. We keep hearing, 'I am God.'
Click pictures for enlargements.
Water - Tharmas - "bodily
physical life ruled by the organs
of sense perception and the
sympathetic nervous system."
Life emerged from water and
the body is 70% water. "The
life of sense perception by
itself is a source of contradiction
and doubt, self seeking its own
but never able to satisfy itself."
Notice it is Self and Doubt rather
than self-doubt.

 Earth - Urthona -"instinct,
leading to intuition, based
on the idea of the creative
seen hidden in the earth....
Urthona is equally present in
the opposite poles of
existence, in the receptive as
well as the creative, in earth
as well as spirit." Urthona
to me connotes the
unconscious. Melancholy may
suggest self reflectiveness or
self involvement.

Air - Urizen - "life of thought
and reason, the rational
intellectual faculty....clouds...
represent the duality of the
thinking process, which
involves awareness of
comparison and contradiction
....Nakedness refers to
awareness; shame and fear
to the negative aspect of
dualistic thought."

Fire - Luvah - "feeling and
emotional nature of man...
It is the HELL which is
co-eternal in man with the
HEAVEN of law and order
...Fire is therefore armed
with the spear and shield
of psychological, or spiritual,
warfare...it appears as blind,
because it is impulsive and
not actuated by calculation
and forethought, as reason is."


The pictures complement the words in portraying the complex ideas Blake is reaching for. In some ways Blake is richer than Jung in understanding the psyche.
Text for Gates
hit next to continue

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