Friday, November 22, 2013


British Museum
For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise
Plate 6

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 6, (E 262)  
"6 At length for hatching ripe he breaks the shell" 

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 19, (E 268) 

"6 I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell 
When weary Man enters his Cave 
He meets his Saviour in the Grave 
Some find a Female Garment there 
And some a Male, woven with care 
Lest the Sexual Garments sweet 
Should grow a devouring Winding sheet"

If William Blake created a system he did not mean for it to have universal application. He did not want to be bounded by someone else's system nor to limit anyone by his own system. His enigmatic images and aphorisms in Gates of Paradise are meant to to provide openings, not to close the mind into a pattern that must be followed. Whatever meanings can be attached to the series of plates he created will serve its purpose if the reader/viewer looks into himself and his experience as he puzzles over the images. 

The image of a winged infant emerging from a cracked egg awakens in our minds memories of periods of transition. Exiting from the egg is a second birth following the first in which the infant was uprooted from the earth in Plate 1. Between the two events the child has become acquainted with the functioning of his mind in four spheres - body, mind, imagination and emotions. According to Erik Erikson the child transitions though four periods each with its own tasks which should lead to trust, autonomy, love and competence. If the transition is not made smoothly the child may not develop a sense of identity, may experience shame and doubt, may find guilt in himself, or may view himself as inferior.

However the child navigates the four aspects of himself and his outer world, he will arrive at puberty facing greater change internally and externally than he has faced to that point.

Every birth is a death to the previous state. The life inside the egg of childhood is dead when the adolescent emerges into the sexual potentialities which have developed in his body. Simultaneously his mind has arrived at a point when his ability to think abstractly and analytically and inclusively has increased exponentially.

The new world which the mind and body encounter is not without assistance because the spiritual sense has been activated as well. The garments which one may put on are the active and receptive modes which complement each other. Not recognizing the states as garments will result in over-identification and illusion. Either position when confused with the identity may lead to another death with a repetition of the cycle.  
Milton, PLATE 41 [48], (E 142)
"These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains
Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire
Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration.

Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Femin[in]e Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into
PLATE 42 [49]
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee

So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold & with a shriek
Dolorous that ran thro all Creation a Double Six-fold Wonder!
Away from Ololon she divided & fled into the depths
Of Miltons Shadow as a Dove upon the stormy Sea."

John 3
[1] There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
[2] The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
[3] Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
[4] Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
[5] Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
[6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
[7] Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

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