Saturday, August 06, 2016

AHANIA & PERSEPHONE

As we continue to consider the influence of Greek Mythology on Blake, we look back at a post from May 05, 2011, AHANIA AS PERSEPHONE.

Thel and The Little Girl Lost were not the only characters created by Blake which owe their origin to Greek Mythology. Ahania, too, hawks back to the myths which Blake was pondering.

Blake's Ahania, the Emanation of Urizen, partook of Persephone. The cyclical nature of woman's fertility repeats the seasonal cycle of vegetative regeneration. Ahania spins her own cocoon to undergo the transformation of rebirth. By having Ahania reenact Persephone's journey, Blake symbolizes the process of renewal which humanity undergoes in his passage through time.


Gospel of John
Chapter 12
[20] And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
[21] The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus
[22] Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
[23] And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
[24] Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
[25] He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.


Careful attention to the passages posted in Ahania Regenerate leads into the roots of some of Blake's symbols for regeneration including the above passage.

From Greek mythology he drew on the tale of
Persephone which was the basis for the Eleusinian mysteries reenacting the periods of the year when the goddess was bringing her life to the vegetative world and the time when she was hidden underground in the dark world of Hades. These corresponded to the periods when the crops were actively producing their fruits and those when the seed was buried in the ground awaiting the condition for growth. The periodic cycle of birth and death, of growth and rest, of activity and renewal was one of the phenomena represented by Urizen and Ahania in Blake's myth.

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 122, (E 391)
"The times revolve the time is coming when all these delights
Shall be renewd & all these Elements that now consume            
Shall reflourish. Then bright Ahania shall awake from death
A glorious Vision to thine Eyes a Self renewing Vision    
The spring. the summer to be thine then Sleep the wintry days
In silken garments spun by her own hands against her funeral
The winter thou shalt plow & lay thy stores into thy barns       
Expecting to recieve Ahania in the spring with joy
Immortal thou. Regenerate She & all the lovely Sex
From her shall learn obedience & prepare for a wintry grave
That spring may see them rise in tenfold joy & sweet delight
Thus shall the male & female live the life of Eternity"
Blake's recurrent theme of weaving has an undercurrent to the cocooned being which is one phase in the life cycle of butterfly. The two periods of visible activity of the butterfly are the larval or caterpillar stage of devouring food, and the adult butterfly stage of mating and laying eggs. In the stages of the cocoon and egg, the appearance is dormancy. Blake uses the garments woven by the emanations as 'bodies of death': clothing in the generative world of matter and death. The hidden activity of the world of generation like that of the cocooned pupa is transformation. The egg phase of the butterfly is likewise a period of transformation in which the egg acts as a womb for the birth of another outwardly active stage.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 125, (E 394)
"Then Urizen sits down to rest & all his wearied Sons
Take their repose on beds they drink they sing they view the flames
Of Orc in joy they view the human harvest springing up
A time they give to sweet repose till all the harvest is ripe"
The annual agricultural cycle demands periods of intense activity and periods of preparation and waiting. Urizen and his sons have completed a period of activity and they rest while they watch and wait. Ahania represented that period of restful watching and waiting which Urizen relinquished in his restless pursuit of making a world in his own image. Now with Ahania's return he can sit down with his wearied sons.The need for the mind to engage in varied activities is clarified in the characters of Urizen and Ahania. As the intellect or rational mind Urizen assumes that dominance is his due. But forces exist which are not controllable by rationality. Much of the mind is devoted to unconscious activities of which the reasoning mind is unaware. Ahania, as Persephone, has access to the underworld, or as psychology would call it, the unconscious. Urizen without Ahania could not rest nor could he listen to the inner, underlying motivations of his own actions.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 125, (E 394)
"And Lo like the harvest Moon Ahania cast off her death clothes
She folded them up in care in silence & her brightning limbs
Bathd in the clear spring of the rock then from her darksom cave
Issud in majesty divine   Urizen rose up from his couch
On wings of tenfold joy clapping his hands his feet his radiant wings
In the immense as when the Sun dances upon the mountains"


The moon is fully reflecting the light of the sun, the shroud has been carefully removed, the spiritual body has emerged from the clear waters of rebirth. The Eternal Ahania exits the cave of separation to the life of reunion.









"The Reunion of Soul and Body"
Illustration to Robert Blair's The Grave