Friday, April 20, 2012

THE SOUL'S JOURNEY VII

Center portion of Arlington Tempera


In the Odyssey, when he returns to Ithaca
Odysseus has a additional task to accomplish, that of reuniting with his wife after a ten year absence without communication. He enlists the assistance of Athena and is eventually reunited with Penelope after their long separation.

To Blake the reunion of the Zoa with his Emanation is an important step in achieving regeneration. Symptomatic of the disintegration of the whole man is the loss of the feminine. An example of the recovery of the emanation is reported in this post of Ahania's return to Urizen. The process is that of re-generation, not of simple return to former conditions.

The central figure in the Arlington Tempera may be simple in appearance but she represents a complex symbol because she is the reconciliation or culmination of multiple mythopoeic threads. If seen as Athena she is the divine assistance which aided Odysseus in his travels and brought about his reunion with his wife. Some may see as well as Athena (the intuition or imagination), Aphrodite (the emotions or source of life, born herself from the sea).

In Blake's mythic construction she is primarily Jerusalem the spiritual connection of man to God. She is also Vala from whom the veil has been removed returning her to her unblemished beauty of eternity. She is Enitharmon whose work with Los wrought the bodies in which generation traversed the Sea of Time and Space. She is Enion who knew most acutely what it meant for spirit to be separated from matter.  

The emanations are necessary in the created world; in fact they are the expression outwardly of internal realities: 

Jerusalem, Plate 88, (E 246)
"For Man cannot unite with Man but by their Emanations
Which stand both Male & Female at the Gates of each Humanity
How then can I ever again be united as Man with Man
While thou my Emanation refusest my Fibres of dominion.
When Souls mingle & join thro all the Fibres of Brotherhood
Can there be any secret joy on Earth greater than this?"

The paradox of Blake's use of the female to connect heaven and earth, is that the separateness of the female is extinguished when man awakes to the unity of Eternity. The fragmentation, which in some accounts began with the appearance of the first female, ends with her disappearance:

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"So Los spoke. Enitharmon answerd in great terror in Lambeths Vale

The Poets Song draws to its period & Enitharmon is no more.
For if he be that Albion I can never weave him in my Looms
But when he touches the first fibrous thread, like filmy dew
My Looms will be no more & I annihilate vanish for ever
Then thou wilt Create another Female according to thy Will.

Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin:
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment."

2 comments:

Susan J. said...

"The paradox of Blake's use of the female to connect heaven and earth, is that the separateness of the female is extinguished when man awakes to the unity of Eternity. The fragmentation, which in some accounts began with the appearance of the first female, ends with her disappearance."

I often meditate on the androcentric nature of the Bible, and what it means for women.. I guess the applies to Blake...

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

ellie said...

If we can train our minds to think of the feminine as the outward expression of mental activity which has no other manifestation in matter, we learn to value the feminine while realising it is a function of time and space, and so not permanent.

I see the problem in Blake as a semantic problem: the word 'man' means both the male divided from the female, and the undivided eternal whole.

The Biblical problem, to some degree stems from the patriarchal culture from which the writings emerged.

There is so much to learn.
Friend, Ellie