(For an introduction to Self-Annilation look at Plate 40 of Milton. To read this is a difficult assignment, but it abounds in the particular Blake ideas that will help you understand the whole bit.)
And first he found the Limit of Opacity & namd it Satan In Albions bosom.
For in every human bosom these limits stand/
And next he found the Limit of Contraction & namd it Adam
While yet those beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil
(Four Zoas, Night 4 56:20 Erdman 338)
"Each man is in his Spectre's power until the arrival of that hour when his Humanity awake and cast his Spectre in the lake." (Jerusalem, plate 37 E184)
"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 east against the current of
Creation, and devour'd all things in its loud
Fury and thundering course round heaven and earth
By it the Sun was rolled 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 and a Holy One
Its name. He answer'd: "It is the Wheel of Religion."
I wept and said: "Is this the law of Jesus,
This terrible devouring sword turning every way?"
He answer'd: "Jesus died because He strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its name
Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death,
Of sin, of sorrow, and 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 and Forgiveness of Sin.
Go, therefore, cast out devils in Christ's name,
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease,
Pity the evil; for thou art not sent
To smite with terror and with punishments
Those that are sick, like to the Pharisees,
Crucifying, and encompassing sea and land,
For proselytes to tyranny and wrath.
"But to the Publicans and Harlots go:
Teach them true happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace.
For Hell is open'd to Heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst, and the prisoners set free."
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)
For Blake (and before him for Swedenborg) states are the stages or conditions through which we pass in our journey through life. Blake had colorful designations for the various states. For example Satan is the state of Death, Adam, Abraham, and many other biblical figures serve to designate various states we may pass through in time. Jesus was the Divine Humanity, the final and perfect state that we achieve.
According to Damon (page 386) "States are stages of error, which the Divine Mercy creates so that the State and not the individual in it shall be blamed."
Once you realize that a person is not a state, but in a state, it becomes possible to forgive.
Forgiving is the characteristic of the Divine Humanity (Jesus), the one state that is not error.
Blake did not consider Adam, Abraham, Moses, etc. to be merely individuals in history. No, they were types of states through which we may pass in our journey upward or downward. Christ is the ultimate state toward which we aspire, a state of forgiveness rather than judgment.
The states represent "all that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years"
(Jer 16:67 E161).
Satan has varying identities in Blake's poems, but Friedlander, describing Blake's Milton indicated Satan was "any person who thinks himself "righteous in his vegetated spectre, holy by following the laws of conventional piety". (Thus he is very close to Jesus and Paul, both of whom considered self-righteous judgment as the Ultimate human evil.)
Another word for this is the limit of opacity.
(From Damon, page 386): "the stars symbolize Reason"; they belong to Urizen; in Eternity they were part of Albion, but with the Fall they fled, and formed the Mundane Shell. Blake also provided a redemptive dimension to stars.
Time and Space are creatures like Adam and Eve. Blake tells us that Los created time and Enitharmon space. The magnificent Arlington Tempera is often called the Sea of Time and Space.
Water symbolizes matter or the material world. In Genesis God moved over the face of the waters. Here it stands for chaos. Creation was made out of chaos, but in Blake's myth water continuously symbolizes the fall from Eternity into materiality. Narciss fell in love with his watery shadow-- and chose it for his life. Albion did the same in his descent from Eternity into the water of material life.
Notes on Thel: Har is the place of primeval innocence where Thel lived until her unhappy journey into time and space. (Damon p. 174) (Har has an entirely different meaning in the poem, Tiriel.)
the Cave of the Nymphs, used by Blake in the Arlington Tempera, a painting portraying man's descent into the Sea of Time and Space (by the "northern bar"). This reference in Thel is an early example of a mythological figure much more extravagantly elaborated at a later date with the painting. (Kathleen Raines' book Blake and Tradition gives a good source for interpretation of the Cave of the Nymphs as used by Blake.)
The northern and southern gates symbolize the descent of human beings from the Eternal into the material via the northern gate and the return to the Eternal via the southern. The Book of Thel amply demonstrates that where "The eternal gates' terrific Porter lifted the northern bar", and Thel, an eternal being "entered the land of sorrows".