Albion has a composite character second to none. It means (originally) England, but at a deeper level it means the cosmos, which is a man!. (In this Blake agrees with the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalah, the Heavenly Man of Philo, St. Paul's heavenly man, the second Adam, and the cosmic man of Gnostic mythology, and the Hindu god, Krishna.) These are all facets of what Blake meant by Albion.
Albion, the eternal man, fell asleep into mortality in Beulah. We read at the beginning of Night 2 of The Four Zoas these ominous words:
- "Rising upon his Couch of Death Albion beheld his Sons
Turning his Eyes outward to Self, losing the Divine Vision. Albion called Urizen & said: "Take thou possession! take this Scepter! go forth in my might
For I am weary, & must sleep in the dark sleep of Death."
This dissolution of the cosmic man, described at the beginning of The Four Zoas, passes through the Circle of Destiny, and at the end of The Four Zoas he awakens from his mortal sleep and resumes his place in Eternity. That in essence is a thumbnail account of Blake's myth: descent from Eternity, struggle, and eventual return.
Albion was present in the beginning, coming down from Eternity into Beulah for R and R, sleeping through the whole drama and awakening at the end:
So it was for Blake, and for all of us, according to the system that Blake created!