Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hegemony of the Spectre

Blake's Main Chance:

Becoming an Individual:
 Blake was born an individual, a very distinctive human being-- until he got married in his early twenties. That carried responsibilities; as a bread-winner he of necessity more or less 'joined the crowd'. But he remained a misfit (we all know such people; you may be one), call them unwilling joiners. Everyone must have sustenance of some kind: emotional or financial, usually both.
The crowd is made up of the kind of people who watch the ads to see what people are doing so they know what to do, so they can do the same thing.

People in the crowd generally want to 'get ahead' (whatever that may mean); it takes the place of 'following your bliss'; instead you try to follow the 'bliss' of the person in the crowd whom you most admire, your role model, your 'father', so to speak.

 (Jesus had something to say about your 'father'): "call no man father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven". (Matthew 23:9)

In particular Blake wanted to be able to 'hold his head up'--financially and intellectually. He lent his enormous artistic gift in the service of other people; he especially admired the famous artist, Sir Joshua Reynolds--until he saw the artistic chasm that loomed between the two. He joined the 'Matthew Group', made up of very gifted people..... He rubbed shoulders with the intelligencia until he found himself rubbing elbows; they proved to be just as frustrating as anyone else (they were appropriate provocation for An Island in the Moon; the Matthews Group had been relativized.

"I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans" (Jerusalem, 10.20; E153)
When Blake said that, it marked his realization that the systems he had found in Reynolds and the Matthews Group simply didn't satisfy his needs and values. With The Four Zoas he tried to systematize in poetry his own spiritual values; it led to universal incomprehension by his friends, even his best friends.

In 1800 he wrote to his friend and benefactor, George Cumberland, expressing his emphatic frustration over the commercial art he had been impressed into following, what he called the main chance: "I myself remember when I thought my pursuits of Art a kind of Criminal Dissipation neglect of the main chance which I hid my face for not being able to abandon as a Passion which is forbidden by Law and Religion" (Erdman 706)

But the Magic Moment, the veritable rebirth came at theTruchsessian Gallery  when he "was again enlightened with the light I enjoyed in my youth, and which has for exactly twenty years been closed from me as by a door" (Letter 51, to Hayley; Erdman 756)

The Four Zoas turned into those two masterpieces, Milton and Jersalem. But in general he moved away from 'poetry to painting' . Finally there were the Illustrations to the Book of Job; it might be called his Last Testament.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Repost from December 06, 2009. 

In spite of the difficulty of some of Blake's poetry, he was not trying to hide from us the truth that had been revealed to him, but to make it known. Like us, Blake lived in the world of generation, with all its distractions, distortions, oppressions and disappointments. But the Eternal world of the Imagination he knew to be the real world. He wanted us to know as he knew, that the real world in which nothing is worthless or can be lost, was open for us to enter. He felt with all his being that if each individual could know that Eternal Reality, it would assist in renewing the earthly world we inhabit. Not that we could create a better world, but we may create the conditions for God's transforming power to be manifest.

Vision of the Last Judgment, Page 90, (E562)
"Here they are no longer talking of what is Good &
Evil or of what is Right or Wrong & puzzling themselves in Satans
[Maze] Labyrinth But are Conversing with Eternal
Realities as they Exist in the Human Imagination   We are in a
World of Generation & death & this world we must cast off if we
would be Painters [P 91] Such as Rafa[e]l Mich Angelo & the
Ancient Sculptors. if we do not cast off this world we shall be
only Venetian Painters who will be cast off & Lost from Art"
The following passage is from an article by Michael Vannoy Adams which is the first chapter in Joseph Reppen (ed.), Why I Became a Psychotherapist (Northvale, NJ, and London: Jason Aronson, 1998), pp. 1-14.

"For Jung, the purpose of psychoanalysis is, as Blake says, 'Conversing with Eternal Realities as they Exist in the Human Imagination' (1810, p. 613) - or, in Jungian terminology, dialoguing with archetypal realities that exist in fantasy. According to Jung, the images in a dream - or in active imagination - are exactly what they seem to be or seem to mean. He proposes a precision theory of the imagination. 'Precision means whatever is actually presented,' Hillman says. 'Simply: the actual qualities of the image' (1977, p. 69). The unconscious, Jung argues, is incredibly precise in the selection of qualitatively apt images to epitomize psychical reality. It is difficult to interpret psychical reality not because some censor distorts, or encrypts, reality in a code that we then have to decipher, but simply because the unconscious, like some poet, communicates in images with which we are only more or less familiar. We do not have to translate these images; we have to define them. We have to explicate all that a specific image implies. The imagination is, in this sense, what the philosopher of science Michael Polanyi (1966) (who also befriended me in Texas and later in England) calls a 'tacit dimension,' or what the physicist David Bohm (1981) calls an 'implicate order.' Jungian analysis employs a phenomenological (or 'essentialist') method. It inquires into the essential being or meaning of images, the fundamental phenomena of psychical reality. From a Jungian perspective, the unconscious does not so much conceal as it reveals. What an image is or means is not hidden from us, as if there were some deceptive intent; it is simply unknown to us, because we have not mastered the poetic, or imagistic, language that the unconscious employs."

British Museum
Lithograph, 1807
Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions

Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery:

That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Heaven and Hell

       Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)
No one knows of the Beyond. Still men throughout history have seen visions of it. These visions have informed their faith and galvanized them to the words and deeds by which they have lived. Look now at Blake's visions of Heaven and Hell:

       For Isaiah (and Blake) 'everlasting burnings' had connotations opposite to those of conventional thinking.

Indeed throughout the Bible fire symbolizes God more often than the Devil: " our God is a consuming fire". Note also the burning bush seen by Moses and the forks of flame at Pentecost.  In Eden every bush burns and flaming tongues fill the air; Blake referred to them as burning arrows of thought.

University of Adelaide eBbook
River of Life
       Blake's eternity, both here and hereafter, is characterized by two intense activities, War and Hunting (Milton:
Plate 35:2), "the Two Fountains of the River of Life".
Both are intellectual in nature and aimed at growth into Truth. In this world they have been prostituted into "corporeal war" and the killing of the innocent. War and Hunting of course exhaust the Eternals, so periodic rest is provided in what might be called Lower Heaven; Blake called it Beulah:
    "There is from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant rest Nam'd Beulah, a soft Moony Universe, feminine, lovely, Pure, mild & Gentle, given in Mercy to those who sleep, Eternally created by the Lamb of God around, On all sides, within & without the Universal Man."       4Z (Night 1 5:29-31)
       Blake tells us relatively little about Eden, but in his larger poems he had a lot to say about Beulah. He described it as a sort of way station between Eden and Ulro, which we might roughly translate as this vale of tears. Two way traffic passes through Beulah. Those who reach it from Ulro are in good shape and headed for something better. Those coming from the other direction are also okay for the moment but in deadly peril if they go farther.

       We could also call Ulro "this world". In a sense "this world" is as close to the conventional hell as Blake got. In Blake as in the Bible, especially in Paul, "this world" has a technical meaning. It does not mean the present stage of life as opposed to a heavenly (or hellish) existence beyond physical death. Basically "this world" means a level of consciousness that sees only the material, which Blake called the corporeal. Ulro is the state in which "Reality was forgot, and the Vanities of Time and Space only Remembered and called Reality" (Vision of the Last Judment; Erdman 555; his comments on an astounding canvas; it concerns Revelation 20:11-15).

       Ulro, Blake's hell, denotes a form of blindness or sleep, from which one may awaken:
    "Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life....
           (Jerusalem Chapter One)"
This is his theme, Blake tells us. Students of the New Testament know that sleep and waking are thoroughly biblical figures for the spiritual realities which concerned Blake here. He envisioned Eternal Death as the fallenness of "this world" through which we pass before "awaking to Eternal Life". Blake thus saw hell as man's fallen state before the coming of Jesus to awaken us and set us free.

       The biblical writers as they are generally understood had not adequately grasped the fullness of Jesus' power to rescue mankind totally from the darkness which Blake called Eternal Death. They wrote most of the New Testament in a time of persecution. In their effort to stiffen the spine of the believer in the face of that persecution they retreated into a degree of thralldom to the Old Testament God of Wrath, in the spirit of Jonathan Edwards' sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".

       One can readily understand why the worldly ecclesiastics who followed Peter and Paul picked up on the angry God. All too often he became their primary weapon; the image of hell is the ultimate form of coercion. Blake made no such mistake, probably because of the ten years which he had spent confronting and subduing that "shadow from his wearied intellect", years of suffering, but it turned to glory.

       In those years he laid to rest the Punisher who has afflicted the minds of believers through the centuries, but he retained the creative possibility which represents the best of the Christian faith. The rationalists and deists had thrown out both and confined us to Ulro, which today threatens to engulf mankind. The reader must decide for himself whose hell is most real--the place of unending punishment or the sleep from which man may awaken.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Reposted from Sunday, December 13, 2009.
Illustrations  to Milton's Comus 
Thomas Set
Illustration 3
Blake was capable of making beautiful pictures of birth and renewal as he did in "On the Morn of Christ's Nativity." His poetry too could create lovely images of the gentle side of renewal and new beginnings. In The Four Zoas, as the process of rebuilding a world whose fallen state had made the critical reversal of direction, we find a passage which may surprise and delight us. Tharmas and Enion who had become aged and exhausted as they had wandered futilely in a world of pain and frustration, are the subjects of this passage. Plucking Grapes

The Four Zoas, Page 129 (E397)
"Then Vala lifted up her hands to heaven to call on Enion
She calld but none could answer her & the Eccho of her voice returnd

Where is the voice of God that calld me from the silent dew
Where is the Lord of Vala dost thou hide in clefts of the rock
Why shouldst thou hide thyself from Vala from the soul that wanders desolate

She ceas'd & light beamd round her like the glory of the morning

And She arose out of the river & girded on her golden girdle
And now her feet step on the grassy bosom of the ground
Among her flocks & she turnd her eyes toward her pleasant house
And saw in the door way beneath the trees two little children playing
She drew near to her house & her flocks followd her footsteps
The Children clung around her knees she embracd them & wept over them

Thou little Boy art Tharmas & thou bright Girl Enion
How are ye thus renewd & brought into the Gardens of Vala

She embracd them in tears. till the sun descended the western hills
And then she enterd her bright house leading her mighty children

And when night came the flocks laid round the house beneath the trees
She laid the Children on the beds which she saw prepard in the house
Then last herself laid down & closd her Eyelids in soft slumbers

And in the morning when the Sun arose in the crystal sky
Vala awoke & calld the children from their gentle slumbers

Awake O Enion awake & let thine innocent Eyes
Enlighten all the Crystal house of Vala awake awake
Awake Tharmas awake awake thou child of dewy tears
Open the orbs of thy blue eyes & smile upon my gardens

The Children woke & smild on Vala. she kneeld by the golden couch
She presd them to her bosom & her pearly tears dropd down

Why dost thou turn thyself away from his sweet watry eyes
Tharmas henceforth in Valas bosom thou shalt find sweet peace
O bless the lovely eyes of Tharmas & the Eyes of Enion"

This was not the end of the process or regeneration, but it was the sort of vision we are occasionally given in the midst of sorrow and woe, that provides hope that all will be well. Being able to see the possibility of starting afresh, of casting off the accumulated debris of traveling through a world of sorrow, eases our way along the path to Eternity.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Rerun of post from February 4, 2010

Blake's first level of vision, single vision, is fairly easily transcended. We learn to see beyond the level of material into the level of thought, ideas, reason. And this becomes our mindset, we develop rules, structures and a point of view - an engineer thinks like an engineer and a lawyer thinks like a lawyer. Blake isn't satisfied to let us stay there; he sees it as a prison as much as single vision was. So of each level of vision.
In the Epilogue to Gates of Paradise Blake is trying to force us to another level of thought altogether:

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 19, (E 269)
"To The Accuser Who is
The God of This World

Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan

Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill"

He addresses this to 'the accuser' who is in charge of seeing that the law is obeyed; who ferrets out the lawbreakers and begins the process of meting out punishment. The world has made this accuser its God. But this accuser can't even be trusted to distinguish between the underlying humanity and the facade which he presents. He is not aware of the Identity of man which is Eternal and moves through the states without losing his essential nature. The accuser doesn't know that he hasn't the power to touch that which is real or Eternal within man.

Although the accuser takes on the Divine names he is without the substance. His time of strength and power is closing, the unreal illusion which he has sustained in his wanderings will be buried.

Whatever image he has created is only an image, a new image must arise and replace it.
British Museum
Gates of Paradise
Erdman in the Illuminated Blake states: "A sleeping traveller, naked, his hand on his staff though a spider has spun his web on the top, lies under a hill beyond which dawn is breaking on all sides. The deity which has resided in his sleeping breast, a black nightmare vision of Satan pretending to power over sun, moon, stars, must vanish like a raven of dawn since shown up as a mere Dunce - yet a Lucifer (feckless but better than no dreams at all) for temporarily lost travellers."

Using some of the same images, these verses in Isaiah resemble Blake's verses quoted above, and the Satan Blake described in other passages. The fall and death of the King of Babylon parallels the fall and death of Satan who has lost his place in the bosom of the Lost Traveler.

Isaiah 14
3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 
4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!
11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 
12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  
13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.  
16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: "Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 
17 the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?" 
18 All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb.  
19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

bible3 The Covering Cherub

Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden where everything was cosy, but God had placed on them one prohibition. Eve came under the influence of the Serpent, and Adam joined her in that one violation.  God responded like this:

Gen.3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree  of life.

Cherubim are mentioned often in the Old Testament, but it wasn't until Ezekiel that we find it in the pegorative sense. In his prophecy Ezekiel addressed the arrogant King of Tyre:
Ezekiel 28:
[1] The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
[2] Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:

[3] Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:
[4] With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures:
[5] By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches:
[6] Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;
[7] Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.
[8] They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas....

14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

[16] By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

When we examine the relationship between the quotes in Genesis and in Ezekiel we see a correspondence; both were punishers!

Jesus was well aware of the phenomenon

In Luke 12 we read:
[16] And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
[17] And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
[18] And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
[19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
[20] But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee...

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell we see what Blake thought about the cherubim of Genesis:

PLATE 14 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:
The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire
at the end of six thousand years is true. as I have heard from
For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to
leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole
creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy whereas
it now appears finite & corrupt.
(That Plate is a clear and lucid example of how freely Blake read and used the Bible.)

He made frequent use of cherubs, especially in Milton and in Jerusalem:

Milton Plate 9 (Erdman 104):

Beneath the Couch of Albion, on the seven mou[n]tains of Rome
In the whole place of the Covering Cherub, Rome Babylon & Tyre.
His Spectre raging furious descended into its Space...
The Western Gate fourfold, is closd: having four Cherubim
Its guards, living, the work of elemental hands, laborious task!
Like Men, hermaphroditic, each winged with eight wings
That towards Generation, iron; that toward Beulah, stone;
That toward Ulro, clay: that toward Eden, metals.
But all clos'd up till the last day, when the graves shall yield
their dead
He views the Cherub at the Tree of Life, also the Serpent,
Orc the first born coild in the south: the Dragon Urizen:
Tharmas the Vegetated Tongue even the Devouring Tongue:
A threefold region, a false brain: a false heart:
And false bowels: altogether composing the False Tongue,

Milton Plate 24 (E`204):
When Jesus raisd Lazarus from the Grave I stood & saw
Lazarus who is the Vehicular Body of Albion the Redeemd
Arise into the Covering Cherub who is the Spectre of Albion 
By martyrdoms to suffer: to watch over the Sleeping Body. 
Upon his Rock beneath his Tomb. I saw the Covering Cherub 
Divide Four-fold into Four Churches when Lazarus arose 
Paul, Constantine, Charlemaine, Luther;

In Jerusalem Plate 63 (214):

Then Vala the Wife of Albion, who is the Daughter of Luvah
Took vengeance Twelve-fold among the Chaotic Rocks of the Druids
Where the Human Victims howl to the Moon & Thor & Friga
Dance the dance of death contending with Jehovah among the Cherubim.

Jerusalem 66 (E218):

Here Vala stood turning the iron Spindle of destruction
From heaven to earth: howling! invisible! but not invisible
Her Two Covering Cherubs afterwards named Voltaire & Rousseau:
Two frowning Rocks: on each side of the Cove & Stone of Torture:
Frozen Sons of the feminine Tabernacle of Bacon, Newton & Locke.
For Luvah is France: the Victim of the Spectres of Albion.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Illustrations to Paradise Lost 
Butts Set
Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels 
Paradise Lost, Book 7
by John Milton
 "Know then, that after Lucifer from heaven
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great son returned
Victorious with his saints, the omnipotent
Eternal father from his throne beheld
Their multitude,"  

Blake often speaks of Lucifer without naming him. We can say that Lucifer is both the the cause of the fall for Blake and the victim of it. Albion like Lucifer was 'elected' by the Divine Vision to share God's Glory and to fulfill a mission.  Albion like Lucifer reacts against the role God has designed him for.

Jerusalem,  Plate 43 [29] ,(E 191)
"Then the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appeard above
Albions dark rocks: setting behind the Gardens of Kensington
On Tyburns River, in clouds of blood: where was mild Zion Hills
Most ancient promontory, and in the Sun, a Human Form appeard
And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion    

I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy.
The Reactor hath hid himself thro envy. I behold him.
But you cannot behold him till he be reveald in his System       
Albions Reactor must have a Place prepard: Albion must Sleep
The Sleep of Death, till the Man of Sin & Repentance be reveald.
Hidden in Albions Forests he lurks: he admits of no Reply
From Albion: but hath founded his Reaction into a Law
Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man[.]     
He hath compelld Albion to become a Punisher & hath possessd
Himself of Albions Forests & Wilds! and Jerusalem is taken!
The City of the Woods in the Forest of Ephratah is taken!
London is a stone of her ruins; Oxford is the dust of her walls!
Sussex & Kent are her scatterd garments: Ireland her holy place! 
And the murderd bodies of her little ones are Scotland and Wales
The Cities of the Nations are the smoke of her consummation
The Nations are her dust! ground by the chariot wheels
Of her lordly conquerors, her palaces levelld with the dust
I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return      
Fear not O little Flock I come! Albion shall rise again.

So saying, the mild Sun inclosd the Human Family."

Jerusalem, Plate  54, (E 203)
"But Albion fell down a Rocky fragment from Eternity hurld
By his own Spectre, who is the Reasoning Power in every Man
Into his own Chaos which is the Memory between Man & Man"



Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 204)
 "Then Albion drew England into his bosom in groans & tears
But she stretchd out her starry Night in Spaces against him. like
A long Serpent, in the Abyss of the Spectre which augmented
The Night with Dragon wings coverd with stars & in the Wings" 
Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 204)
 "But others said: Let us to him who only Is, & who
Walketh among us, give decision. bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done: in fiery flames
The Universal Conc[l]ave raged, such thunderous sounds as never
Were sounded from a mortal cloud, nor on Mount Sinai old
Nor in Havilah where the Cherub rolld his redounding flame.

Loud! loud! the Mountains lifted up their voices, loud the Forests
Rivers thunderd against their banks, loud Winds furious fought
Cities & Nations contended in fires & clouds & tempests.         
The Seas raisd up their voices & lifted their hands on high
The Stars in their courses fought. the Sun! Moon! Heaven! Earth.
Contending for Albion & for Jerusalem his Emanation
And for Shiloh, the Emanation of France & for lovely Vala.

Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation     
And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God;
Lucifer, Molech, Elohim, Shaddai, Pahad, Jehovah, Jesus.
They namd the Eighth. he came not, he hid in Albions Forests
But first they said: (& their Words stood in Chariots in array
Curbing their Tygers with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory)      
They Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow
And the voices of the Living Creatures were heard in the clouds of heaven
Crying: Compell the Reasoner to Demonstrate with unhewn Demonstrations
Let the Indefinite be explored. and let every Man be judged
By his own Works, Let all Indefinites be thrown into Demonstrations
To be pounded to dust & melted in the Furnaces of Affliction:"

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Following the lead of Milton in Paradise lost, Blake uses Lucifer as symbolic of a being who was perfect in the Eternal realm until his pride led to his fall. Milton and Blake are basing their poetry on imagery in the Old Testament of men who were blessed with the greatest worldly success and power but reached their downfall through elevating themselves to the status of gods. The term Lucifer is used in Isaiah 14 of the King James translation of the Bible to refer to the king, who although the brightest light of his milieu, had fallen from heaven to be brought down into the pit of hell.

Isaiah 14
 [10] All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
[11] Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
[12] How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
[13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
[14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
[15] Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

A similar successful king described by Ezekiel experienced a similar inflation and fall. In this instance the prophet names the king the 'anointed cherub that covereth', and describes him as walking on the 'Holy Mountain of God.' This leads to the idea that Lucifer is the name of the Eternal entity who was perfect and who became Satan as he fell into iniquity. 

Ezekiel 28
[1] The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
[2] Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
[13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
[14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
[15] Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

The meaning of the word Lucifer in Hebrew is light bearer. The name Lucifer became associated with the Morning Star or Venus, as the brightest light of the morning sky. One reference in the New Testament points to the fall from heaven of the stars on the day of tribulation. A second recalls the words of Jesus speaking of the fall of Satan as lightning from Heaven. 

Matthew 24
[29] Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Luke 10
[17] And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
[18] And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 

Found on Internet

In the series of Biblical watercolor paintings Blake made for Thomas Butts, he included one which goes by the name "Satan in His Original Glory: Thou Wast Perfect Till Iniquity Was Found in Thee". In this picture Blake portrays Lucifer in his perfection at the moment when his Selfhood says "I will be like the most High."

In A Blake Dictionary, Damon provides a description of details to look for in the picture. The image in the Blake Archive allows us to see each minute detail by clicking on the picture:

"A water color entitled "Satan in His Original Glory shows the crowned Lucifer extending the globe and the scepter. The scepter of temporal power lies heavy on a scroll which two figures are endeavoring to unroll. A recording angel sits above three angels trumpeting downwards; beneath them, a figure descends with a book of laws for the starry world below. Beside the cross-surmounted globe of spiritual authority, a female intervenes between a figure reading a book and two fleeing babes. Beneath the globe a figure points to a hint of flames behind Lucifer's robe. There are several figures of woe, including a youth attempting to embrace a maiden, who points upward in warning against Lucifer."   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

bible3 Faith2

"that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." (John 17)

"Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies, There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old. " (Milton 20:33-34)

"I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend; Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me: Lo! we are One, forgiving all Evil, Not seeking recompense. Ye are my members...." (Jerusalem 4:18-21)

The theologues of the forties and fifties learned from Paul Tillich that everyone has an ultimate concern, his God. People in Alcoholics Anonymous have told some of their theologically confused members that, lacking any better God, they may worship a 'pot on the mantle', anything at all to break that devotion to the bottle which is actually the worship of a lower form of the self. To remain sober one must believe in a Higher Power of some sort.

The important thing is that one's Higher Power be not a projection of some lower form of self; that's idolatry. The person seriously interested in ultimate reality engages in a life long search for the most real image he can discover, the image of his God. A person's best image of God nurtures his spirit as he goes through life.

The Bible contains a multiplicity of images of God. For example we read about the finger of God, the nostrils of God, even the backside of God. All his life Blake maintained a high level of respect for the Bible as vision. Nevertheless he refused to worship other men's visions of God:

"I (you!) must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's" (Jerusalem, 10.21; E153).

He's saying that we have a choice: to adhere to the conventions (whatever conventions may be for us) or to create our own values from our own experience. Blake did this for a lifetime, creating his own myth of meaning, and with his creative works he expressed it over and over again.

The only thing Blake really trusted was his own immediate direct vision, and he possessed his soul in varying degrees of patience until that vision clarified, and you may be sure that it was criticized, corrected and amended over and over again. 

The 'Felpham Moment' marks the decisive clarification of Blake's vision of God. Even then the Father remained for Blake a symbol of subjection to the other man's vision, of spiritual tyranny. His own vision came to center upon Jesus.

Nobodaddy, Father of Jealousy, Urizen, all the creator and authority figures that filled the young Blake's mind, represented in essence his rejection of other men's images of God. The "Vision of Ahania" (4Z: chapter 3, 39.13ff; E327) expressed Blake's dawning awareness of a fundamental spiritual truth: the transcendental image which had dominated institutional religion is most often a projection of man's primitive negativities. The ultimate negativities, repressed into the unconscious, irupt into consciousness as the ultimate positivity, a God built upon sand, a "shadow from his wearied intellect". This passage, probably as much as anything else in his experience, inspired Thomas Altizer in the sixties to launch his Death of God movement.

Blake depreciated the God of Law and Wrath in order to exalt the God of Forgiveness. He believed that the far off, elusive, mysterious, transcendental image of God freezes man into spiritual immobility. He wanted to liberate men's minds from this imposture and put them in touch with the true source of creativity:

The prophetic poems which Blake wrote prior to 1800 concern his efforts to know, describe and deal with the old, jealous, wrathful, creator image; he finally dismissed it as a "shadow from his wearied intellect" (FZ3-40.3). The later, major prophecies, Milton and Jerusalem, also contain this theme, happily outweighed by the new vision.

Friday, December 20, 2013


In Blake's worm we find an image of the lowest and weakest form of life. The worm lives in the earth or inhabits the grave.

British Museum
A Small Book of Designs
Copy A, 1789
Image from Plate 4 of Thel
In Thel we learn that the worm appears in another form: that of the infant. But this is not the child of Innocence who is cared for, guided and protected; but a child who is alone, crying for help, unattended and unloved. Because the worm and the infant are vulnerable they appropriately represent man at his nadir; when he is most in need of, and most receptive to help. Thel herself is such a child, on the verge of making a beginning: of experiencing a birth to an evolving consciousness. Thel turns back when she looks into the grave and sees not what we call death but what we call life.

The worm or babe, however, enters the world of 'joy and woe' which Thel refuses and begins the transforming journey.

Thel, Plate 4, (E 4) 
"Then Thel astonish'd view'd the Worm upon its dewy bed.
Art thou a Worm? image of weakness. art thou but a Worm?
I see thee like an infant wrapped in the Lillys leaf:
Ah weep not little voice, thou can'st not speak. but thou can'st weep;
Is this a Worm? I see thee lay helpless & naked: weeping,      
And none to answer, none to cherish thee with mothers smiles.
Plate 5
Queen of the vales, the matron Clay answerd; I heard thy sighs.
And all thy moans flew o'er my roof. but I have call'd them down:
Wilt thou O Queen enter my house. 'tis given thee to enter,
And to return; fear nothing. enter with thy virgin feet.
Plate 6 
Till to her own grave plot she came, & there she sat down.
And heard this voice of sorrow breathed from the hollow pit.     

Why cannot the Ear be closed to its own destruction?
Or the glistning Eye to the poison of a smile!
Why are Eyelids stord with arrows ready drawn,
Where a thousand fighting men in ambush lie?
Or an Eye of gifts & graces, show'ring fruits & coined gold!  
Why a Tongue impress'd with honey from every wind?
Why an Ear, a whirlpool fierce to draw creations in?
Why a Nostril wide inhaling terror trembling & affright.
Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning boy!
Why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our desire?          

The Virgin started from her seat, & with a shriek.
Fled back unhinderd till she came into the vales of Har                                  
                  The End"

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 5, (E 49)
"Does not the eagle scorn the earth & despise the treasures beneath?
But the mole knoweth what is there, & the worm shall tell it thee.       
Does not the worm erect a pillar in the mouldering church yard?
And a palace of eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave
Over his porch these words are written. Take thy bliss O Man!
And sweet shall be thy taste & sweet thy infant joys renew!"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 136, (E 403) 
"O terrible wine presses of Luvah O caverns of the Grave
How lovely the delights of those risen again from death
O trembling joy excess of joy is like Excess of grief

So sang the Human Odors round the wine presses of Luvah

But in the Wine presses is wailing terror & despair              
Forsaken of their Elements they vanish & are no more
No more but a desire of Being a distracted ravening desire
Desiring like the hungry worm & like the gaping grave 
They plunge into the Elements the Elements cast them forth
Or else consume their shadowy semblance Yet they obstinate       
Tho pained to distraction Cry O let us Exist for
This dreadful Non Existence is worse than pains of Eternal Birth
Eternal Death who can Endure. let us consume in fires
In waters stifling or in air corroding or in earth shut up
The Pangs of Eternal birth are better than the Pangs of Eternal Death"      
Annotations to Lavater (E 599)
"God is in the lowest effects as well as in the highest
causes for he is become a worm that he may nourish the weak
For let it be rememberd that creation is. God descending
according to the weakness of man for our Lord is the word of God
& every thing on earth is the word of God & in its essence is God"

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 205)
"Let the Human Organs be kept in their perfect Integrity
At will Contracting into Worms, or Expanding into Gods"

For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, (E 267) 
"16 I have said to the Worm: Thou art my mother & my sister
16 Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb 
 Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb 
Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife 
And weeping over the Web of Life"

First Corinthians 1
[25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
[26] For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth;
[27] but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong,
[28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

bible3 Faith


Everything that lives is holy (end of MHH)

"...I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination."
(Jerusalem Plate 5: line 17ff)

    Seek love in the pity of another's woe,
    In the gentle relief of another's care,
    In the darkness of night and the winter's snow.
    In the naked and outcast, seek love there. 
    (Erdman 498)
The most striking tenet of Blake's faith was his vision of the Eternal; it was also his primary gift to mankind. Blake lived in an age when the realm of spirit had virtually disappeared from the intellectual horizon. This single fact explains why he stood out like a sore thumb in late 18th Century England and why for most of his contemporaries he could never be more than an irritant, an eccentric, a madman; their most common term of depreciation was 'enthusiast'. His primary concern was a world whose existence they not only denied, but held in derision.

The task of the Enlightenment had been to emancipate man from superstition, and Voltaire, Gibbon, and their associates had done this with great distinction. Blake was born emancipated, but he knew that, closed off from Vision, from the individuality of Genius, from the spontaneous spiritual dimension, from what Jesus had called the kingdom of God, mankind will regress to a level beneath the human. In his prophetic writings he predicted 1940 and its aftermath. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:19).

Blake was blessed with vision from his earliest days; his visions were immediate and concrete. He found the eternal inward worlds of thought more real than the objective nature exalted by John Locke and Joshua Reynolds. Their depreciation of vision, genius, the Eternal never failed to infuriate Blake. This fury strongly colored his work and often threatened to overwhelm it. It also led to his deprecatory view of Nature, which was their God. He wrote, "There is no natural religion".

Blake perceived the five senses as "the chief inlets of Soul in this age" (MHH plate 4). The rationalists had imposed upon their world the view that life consists exclusively of the five senses. Blake knew better:

"How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?" (MHH plate 7)

Blake was keenly alive to another world, a world of Vision, of Imagination, of God, which he called the Eternal; it was a world that most of his contemporaries had deliberately closed their minds to. He spent his life furiously trying to strike off their mind forged manacles.

The man of faith believes some things; other things he knows by experience. Blake had experienced the Eternal from earliest childhood. At times the vision clouded, but its reality remained the one unshakeable tenet of his faith.
Every child begins in Eternity. Jesus said, "Except you become as little children...."

Blake knew this better than anyone since Jesus, or maybe anyone since Francis. He knew it because by a providential dispensation of grace the child in Blake remained alive throughout his life. At the age of 34 he wrote those beautiful 'Songs of Innocence', his "happy songs Every child may joy to hear". 'Songs of Innocence' hooked a great many people on Blake originally: transparent goodness transcribed into black type on white paper--somewhat beyond Locke's tabula rasa.

If life were only like that. If Blake were only like that, he'd have an assured place as one of England's best loved poets, a beloved impractical idealist and a threat to no one. But in 'Songs of Experience' he began to express a more complex reality. 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' represents a healthy beginning in working out the complexities. They have to be worked out, every minute particular in the corrosive burning flame of thought, etching away the surfaces, getting down to bedrock.

Most of us have refused Blake and his Eternal because we don't want to be bothered with reality; we don't want to take the trouble. We're content with the little sub-realities that inform our lives and values, the simple half truths and prejudices which we call the real world.
     Blake wrote, etched, painted, sang his visions of Eternity throughout a long life time. 

(Another copy of this material may be found at the Blake Primer.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

A contemporary of William Blake made the first translation of the Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit into English. Charles Wilkins was an accomplished linguist and printer whose interest in India began with his employment in India as a manufacturer with the East India Company. His facility with learning languages and creating typefaces for foreign scripts led to an influential career in introducing the Indian culture to Europe.

The influence which Wilkins had on Blake is intimated by a reference Blake made to a picture (now lost) which he included in his exhibition of 1809. We can assume that Blake read Wilkins translation of the 'Geeta' and absorbed from it insights into Eastern religious thought and practice. He was open to receiving truth from multiple sources and integrating fresh ideas into the encompassing myth through which he transmitted his vision.

Northrop Frye on page 110 of Fearful Symmetry comments on the relationship of the Bible to other religious writings:
"However, while 'The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art,' to regard them as forming a peculiar or exclusive Word of God is a sectarian error, the same one that the Jews made which proved such a disaster to them. All myths and rituals hint darkly and allegorically at the same visions that we find in the Bible, which is why they have such a strong resemblance to Christian myths and rituals...There are many great visions outside the range of the Bible, such as the Icelandic Eddas  and the Bhagavadgita, almost equally faithful to the central form of the Word of God, and the Bible no less than Classical legends comes from older and more authentic sources."   

Laocoon, (E 274)
"The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art"

Descriptive Catalog, (E 548)
           "NUMBER X.      
    The Bramins.--A Drawing.  
The subject is, Mr. Wilkin, translating the Geeta; an ideal
design, suggested by the first publication of that part of the
Hindoo Scriptures, translated by Mr. Wilkin.  I understand that
my Costume is incorrect, but in this I plead the authority of the
ancients, who often deviated from the Habits, to preserve the
Manners, as in the instance of Laocoon, who, though a priest, is
represented naked."

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 551)
                INDEX TO THE CATALOGUE.
   I.  The Spiritual Form of Nelson Leviathan           PAGE 1 
  II.  The Spiritual Form of Pitt guiding Behemoth              2
 III.  The Canterbury Pilgrims, from Chaucer                      7 
  IV.  The Bard, from Gray                                                 35
   V.  The Ancient Britons                                                   39 
  VI.  A Subject from Shakspeare                                      51 
 VII.  The Goats                                                                 52 
VIII.  The Spiritual Preceptor                                ib.
  IX.  Satan calling up his Legions, from Milton                 54
   X.  The Bramins--A Drawing                                       59
  XI.  The Body of Abel found by Adam and Eve, Cain fleeing
       away--A Drawing                                                        60 
 XII.  Soldiers casting Lots for Christ's Garment--A Drawing  ib.  
XIII.  Jacob's Ladder--A Drawing                              ib.
 XIV.  Angels hovering over the Body of Jesus in the 
        Sepulchre--A  Drawing                                  ib.  
  XV.  Ruth--A Drawing                                                        61 
 XVI.  The Penance of Jane Shore--A Drawing                  65"

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 544)
"Poetry as it exists
now on earth, in the various remains of ancient authors, Music as
it exists in old tunes or melodies, Painting and Sculpture as it
exists in the remains of Antiquity and in the works of more
modern genius, is Inspiration, and cannot be surpassed; it is
perfect and eternal.  Milton, Shakspeare, Michael Angelo, Rafael,
the finest specimens of Ancient Sculpture and Painting, and
Architecture, Gothic, Grecian, Hindoo and Egyptian, are the
extent of the human mind.  The human mind cannot go beyond the
gift of God, the Holy Ghost.  To suppose that Art can go beyond
the finest specimens of Art that are now in the world, is not
knowing what Art is; it is being blind to the gifts of the

Bhagvat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon
Translated by Charles Wilkins, 1785

From Translator's Preface
"It seems as if the principal design of these dialogues was to unite all the prevailing modes of worship of those days; and, by setting up the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead, in opposition to idolatrous sacrifices, and the worship of images, to undermine the tenets inculcated by the Feds; for although the author dared not make a direct attack, either upon the prevailing prejudices of the people, or the divine authority of those ancient books; yet, by offering eternal happiness to such as worship Brahm, the Almighty, whilst he declares the reward of such as follow other Gods shall be but a temporary enjoyment of an inferior heaven, for a period measured by the extent of their virtues, his design was to bring about the downfall of Polytheism; or, at least, to induce men to believe God present in every image before which they bent, and the object of all their ceremonies and sacrifices."
Quotes from The Bhagavad Gita:

“He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the 
darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the 
object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in 
everyone's heart.”
“The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains in me.

When he sees all being as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.”
“The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. There 
was never a time when you and I and all the kings gathered here have not
existed and nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bible3 Prophets

"Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets", said Moses
near the end of his life.  The common meaning of 'Prophet' for most
ordinary people was 'someone who foretells the future'.

In biblical days bands of roving prophets used to roam around the country.

Here is a more incisive definition:
"A prophet is basically a spokesman for G-d, a person chosen by G-d to speak to people on G-d's behalf and convey a message or teaching. Prophets were role models of holiness, scholarship and closeness to G-d. They set the standards for the entire community."

My definition: a prophet is someone who understands what's happening and tells people what they might expect if it continues.

Blake saw the misery resulting from the Industrial Revolution, just as some people today will tell us what may happen as a consequence of the Global Revolution. In both cases the poor will pay, many people will become poor, while a few will get rich.

The end of the preface to Milton (better known as the hymn called Jerusalem:

Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets.
                                        Numbers XI. ch 29 v.
(or Numbers 11.29)

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 12, Erdman 38 Blake wrote:
"The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked
them how they dared so roundly to assert. that God spake to them;"
(Read on.) 

The 'Eternal Prophet' appears five times in the Book of Urizen and several times in various other books.

In the mythological writings of William BlakeLos is the fallen (earthly or human) form of Urthona, one of the four Zoas. He is referred to as the "eternal prophet" and creates the visionary city of Golgonooza.

Los, as depicted in The Book of Urizen,
copy G, in the collection of
Library of Congress[1]

The later and more serious poems of William Blake are referred to as the Prophetic books.

Milton Plates 22 and 22 (Erdman 118):
"But then I rais'd up Whitefield, Palamabron raisd up Westley,    

And these are the cries of the Churches before the two 
Faith in God the dear Saviour who took on the likeness of men:
Becoming obedient to death, even the death of the Cross
The Witnesses lie dead in the Street of the Great City
No Faith is in all the Earth: the Book of God is trodden under 
He sent his two Servants Whitefield & Westley; were they Prophets
Or were they Idiots or Madmen? shew us Miracles!
PLATE 23 [25]
Can you have greater Miracles than these? Men who devote
Their lifes whole comfort to intire scorn & injury & death
Awake thou sleeper on the Rock of Eternity Albion awake"

(A Descriptiv Catalogue Erdman 541:
"The Prophets describe what they saw in Vision
as real and existing men whom they saw with their imaginative and
immortal organs; the Apostles the same;"

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 121):
"Los is by mortals nam'd Time Enitharmon is nam'd Space
But they depict him bald & aged who is in eternal youth
All powerful and his locks flourish like the brows of morning
He is the Spirit of Prophecy the ever apparent Elias
Time is the mercy of Eternity; without Times swiftness
Which is the swiftest of all things: all were eternal torment:
All the Gods of the Kingdoms of Earth labour in Los's Halls.
Every one is a fallen Son of the Spirit of Prophecy"