Monday, April 15, 2013


Original in Morgan Library & Museum
Illustrations of the Book of Job
Job's Evil Dreams
Butts Set, Plate 11
 Two sides of man's psyche can be seen in the images stone and fire. Throughout Blake's poetry and visual images we see these symbols recurring but they are never pinned down or defined in concrete terms. To define them in concrete terms would be to make them into 'stones' and remove the possibility that they become 'fire.'

The level of truth which can be put into laws or doctrine or scientific definitions is well represented by stone. It is hard and inflexible; it is not amenable to change. Fire, on the contrary, ever changing itself, is the agent of change. Fire, as a level of truth, is active not passive, responsive not rejecting, forgiving not condemning. In Biblical terms stone is the Old Testament, fire the New Testament; stone the priest, fire the prophet; stone the law, fire the gospel; stone is matter, fire is spirit. Becoming receptive to higher levels of spiritual development involves moving from the truth which is known, to the spirit which is unknowable. Stone is codified truth; fire is experienced truth. The process of developing spiritual consciousness involves both stone and fire because spirit once achieved must produce new truth which becomes stone before it can again become transforming fire. 

Jerusalem, Plate 49, (E 199)
"They are beginning to form Heavens & Hells in immense
Circles: the Hells for food to the Heavens: food of torment,
Food of despair: they drink the condemnd Soul & rejoice
In cruel holiness, in their Heavens of Chastity & Uncircumcision
Yet they are blameless & Iniquity must be imputed only           
To the State they are enterd into that they may be deliverd:
Satan is the State of Death, & not a Human existence:
But Luvah is named Satan, because he has enterd that State.
A World where Man is by Nature the enemy of Man
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"
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 21 and 24, (E 43) 
" I tell you, no virtue can exist
without breaking these ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue,
and acted from impulse: not from rules.
  When he had so spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out
his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose
as Elijah."
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 559)
"By the side of Seth is Elijah he comprehends all the
Prophetic Characters he is seen on his fiery Chariot bowing
before the throne of the Saviour." 
Acting from the level of stone leads to division; embracing the the flame leads to reconciliation of the contraries.

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