Thursday, October 15, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript

Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 115 [111], (E 385) 
"Rahab triumphs over all she took Jerusalem
Captive A Willing Captive by delusive arts impelld
To worship Urizens Dragon form to offer her own Children
Upon the bloody Altar. John Saw these things Reveald in Heaven
On Patmos Isle & heard the Souls cry out to be deliverd 

He saw the Harlot of the Kings of Earth & saw her Cup
Of fornication food of Orc & Satan pressd from the fruit of Mystery
But when she saw the form of Ahania weeping on the Void
And heard Enions voice sound from the caverns of the Grave
No more spirit remained in her She secretly left the Synagogue of Satan
She commund with Orc in secret She hid him with the flax
That Enitharmon had numberd away from the Heavens   
She gatherd it together to consume her Harlot Robes 
In bitterest Contrition sometimes Self condemning repentant
And Sometimes kissing her Robes & jewels & weeping over them 
Sometimes returning to the Synagogue of Satan in Pride
And Sometimes weeping before Orc in humility & trembling
The Synagogue of Satan therefore uniting against Mystery
Satan divided against Satan resolvd in open Sanhedrim
To burn Mystery with fire & form another from her ashes 
For God put it into their heart to fulfill all his will

The Ashes of Mystery began to animate they calld it Deism
And Natural Religion as of old so now anew began
Babylon again in Infancy Calld Natural Religion"

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts 
Blake was asking us to associate the images of Rahab, Babylon, Deism, Mystery, the Synagogue of Satan, crucifixion, and consuming flames. All were connected to error and the process of replacing error with truth. It is never easy to overthrow existing processes. Nor is it possible to predict the consequences of overturning current philosophies and methods. Splendid as Deism, the new sanitized religion of the rationalists, seemed to the intellectuals, Blake found it wanting in providing an environment in which man could flourish in his full humanity. 

Blake felt that Christianity as it was practiced by organized religion, was mistaken in its understanding of Christ's mission. Instead of enabling man to experience the risen Christ within one's own being, the organized church substituted rituals, doctrines and morality and a hierarchy of clergy. Not knowing Christ Within, they preached Christ on the cross or Christ in the tomb. The Christ who transforms the world through loving inclusiveness was forgotten as the church supported greed, war, empire and oppression by the wealthy.

On page 111 Blake used an image of Christ consumed in fire, pierced with nails and wearing the crown of thorns. But Christ in his suffering was offering himself for mankind's salvation.

From page 264 of Blake's Apocalypse by Harold Bloom:

"These lines, which end Night VIII, present in very condensed form Blake's sardonic analysis of 'the Ashes of Mystery,' or eighteenth-century natural religion. Deism tries to prove 'Christianity Not Mysterious,' replacing supernatural revelation by natural reason. But the Deists replace the Mystery of revelation with the Mystery of nature, and their trinity of reason, nature and society is another triple-headed manifestation of Female Will. The fire of Critical Deism burns up Mystery, and then the spectral reasoning of Constructive Deism form another Rahab from her ashes, a new Babylon in its infancy. Blake's imagination could no more accept the universe of Newton than it could the god of the churches. Blake's God was human in the clear light of creative vision, and so was Blake's cosmos, if the eye could only see everything it was capable of seeing. What makes this polemic so sardonic is the Blakean conviction that Deism is providential: 'For God put it in their heart to fulfill all his will.' Deism, to Blake, is absolute error; the ultimate negation of the truth. Such negation, to Blake, must compel a vision of the last Judgment:"

A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 554)             
       "The Last Judgment when all those are Cast away who trouble
Religion with Questions concerning Good & Evil or Eating of the
Tree of those Knowledges or Reasonings which hinder the Vision of
God turning all into a Consuming fire. When Imaginative Art &
Science & all Intellectual Gifts all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
are despis'd lookd upon as of no use & only Contention
remains to Man then the Last Judgment begins & its Vision is seen
by the Imaginative Eye of Every one according to the
situation he holds."

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