Blake was a highly symbolic poet (and painter); to understand much of his thought requires acquaintance with a body of symbols that go back to the dawn of civilization, and up to the 19th century. In an age when only the material seemed to matter Blake was (and continues to be) highly opaque to the pure materialist. Such a person will find most of Blake's ideas meaningless.
But at the deepest level his ideas are the veritable
stuff of life: love and hate, good and evil, life and
death, and many ideas with urgent meaning. A high
proportion of people prefer to turn aside from these
questions, but you can be sure that their unconscious
is full of them.
Blake is about matter and spirit, at the great dividing
line: do you see yourself primarily as a body or as spirit? Begin with the conclusion, to be supported by
an overwhelming body of evidence stretching from Heraclitus in the 6th century
BC to the present:
Our mortal life is a vale of tears to which we have
lapsed from Eternity and from which we will (may?)
eventually escape back into the Higher Realm. This
myth conforms very closely to the Gnostics, the Platonists,
and of course most of Eastern Religion. In the
Christian tradition one can find vestiges of it in many
of the mystics, notably Meister Eckhart, in Mexican
folk culture and in fact universally.
The Western mind revolts from this "never-never land"
at least on the conscious level, but Freud, Jung, and
many other psychologists find strong evidence for
it in the unconscious. At this point many readers may
dismiss Blake's myth as not worth their attention.
The select few who remain may rightfully expect an
entirely new world of grace and enchantment to open
before their minds. The biblically oriented may
perceive that all Blake's poetic and artistic work fits
into a scheme of cosmic/psychic meaning; closely
following the Bible it describes the pattern of
Paradise, the Fall, a gradual redemption, and the final