Monday, March 10, 2014


The Wheel of Religion
In it he showed once again the difference between false and true Christianity, 
using almost entirely biblical figures:

I stood among my valleys of the south
And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel
Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went
From west to cast against the current of
Creation and devourd all things in its loud
Fury & thundering course round heaven & earth
By it the Sun was rolld into an orb:
By it the Moon faded into a globe,
Travelling thro the night: for from its dire
And restless fury, Man himself shrunk up
Into a little root a fathom long.
And I asked a Watcher & a Holy-One
Its Name? he answerd. It is the Wheel of Religion
I wept & said. Is this the law of Jesus
This terrible devouring sword turning every way
He answerd; Jesus died because he strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its Name
 Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death
Of sin, of sorrow, & of punishment;
Opposing Nature! It is Natural Religion
 But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin.
 Go therefore, cast out devils in Christs name
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease
Pity the evil, for thou art not sent
To smite with terror & with punishments
Those that are sick, like the Pharisees Crucifying &,
encompassing sea & land For proselytes to tyranny &
wrath, But to the Publicans & Harlots go! Teach them
True Happiness, but let no curse Go forth out of thy mouth
to blight their peace For Hell is opend to heaven;
thine eyes beheld The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free.
(Erdman 232-33)

Jerusalem Plate 77:
"Both read the same Bible day and night
But you read black where I read white."
(from The Everlasting Gospel by William Blake)

The Covering Cherub for Blake sums up [indicated] 
the 27 Christian heavens which shut man out from Eternity 
(Damon 93)

In the Everlasting gospel we read 
" Was Jesus Born of a Virgin pure....."

To appreciate these verses look at The Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
      Blake developed a vividly graphic image of the priestly cocoon in
his major work called Milton (See plate 33). 
His poetry here is almost invincibly opaque, 
but the meaning has extreme significance in regard to his pscyhology, 
his world view, his religious outlook. 

The Mundane Shell represents fallen man, and particularly the worship 
of materiality rather than spirit. 
And more particularly the encrustation of organized religion (and law) 
over the spirit of humanity. Viewed individually it represents the psyche 
of a person whose consciousness has not yet evolved from the purely 
material. Or to look at this from another viewpoint: a child who has lost 
his innocence.

Science, like everything else fell and then ascended. 
In the fallen 80% of Blake's myth purely material science, 
ignoring any spiritual content, as denoted by Bacon, Newton and Locke. 

However it will be redeemed. In the Last Judgment
Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War, the war of swords is departed now,
the dark Religions are departed and sweet Science reigns. 

(Four Zoas Night ix 139:8-10 407)
Thus The Four Zoas ends.

In Blake's conception (as in the Bible) we come into the 
world with innocence, lose it (See 'Songs of Innocence' 
and hopefully evolve to a higher level of consciousness. 
Blake and the Bible refer to these two developments as fall and return.
   The 'mundane shell' and the 'covering cherub' are two ways 
Blake described the fallen condition, and organized religion has a 
prominent place in both myths.

   Two (relatively) contemporary authors deserve mention:
Joseph Chilton Pearce's Crack in the Cosmic Egg deserves study. It looks like an elaborate expansion of Blake's ideas here. I haven't recently determined what if any recognition he gave to Blake, although I found the mundane shell mentioned on page xiv of the 1988 edition.

Marcus Borg, on page 114 of his The God We Never Knew, speaks of 'the hatching of the heart', i.e. the conversion of the hard heart to the open heart: "If what is within is to live, the egg must hatch, the shell must break, the heart must open." In Blake's long poem, Milton, the older poet, Milton, imitating his friend, Jesus, comes down from Heaven, and cracks the mundane egg on his way to the center.

In John2:4 we read "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come."  Jesus was speaking as a spiritual rather than a material person.

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