Myths

 4-11-11

The Myths

as described in Blake and Antiquity
Revised 9-11-11
       These myths are classical stories that Blake drew on, amplified, modified, and used to explain his own great Myth, as expressed in The Four Zoas, Milton, and Jerusalem.

       Kathleen Raine's brilliant little book, Blake and Antiquity was organized into a series of myths, to be reviewed here with much appreciation to the first and second authors.

Some of the Myths Studied

The Book of Thel
Cave of the Nymphs
Cupid and Psyche
Myth of the Kore
The Little Girl
Visions of the Daughters of Albion
Job
Vision of the Last Judgment
The Bible

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The Book of Thel

Thel plat

(Here's a plate from Thel (Plate 4, I believe:)



       This myth is one of Blake's early examples of the descent of the soul:

       Thel, one of the Immortals (in the vales of Har) is attracted to the life below (as we all were). After hearing the encouragement of the Lilly of the valley, the little cloud, the helpless worm, and the clod of clay she ventures down:

    The eternal gates terrific porter lifted the northern bar:
    Thel enter'd in & saw the secrets of the land unknown;
    She saw the couches of the dead,.....
    The Virgin started from her seat, & with a shriek.
    Fled back unhinderd till she came into the vales of Har


       In this early poem Blake asks the question, is life here in the world worth living? (The question is partly answered in The Little Girl.)

       This poem may also be considered a commentary on Innocence and Experience: the vales of Har represent Innocence while the northern bar leads to Experience. Descent from Eden leads to Experience, and when fully experienced, one may return to his (eternal) origin. Thel chose not to go through that journey, so it doesn't express Blake's myth except to act as a preamble.



Cave of the Nymphs

Unquestionably the Bible was Blake's primary source in developing his primary myth of creation, fall, regeneration (or rdemption) and return. However he was fully capable of using other sources, and in The Sea of Time and Space he drew primarily upon Homer (and Plato).

(Kathleen Raines' book Blake and Tradition gives a good source for interpretation of the Cave of the Nymphs as used by Blake.) A condensation of Raines' great work may be found at Blake and Antiquity, which contains considerable stuff on the Sea of Time and Space.

       Three things stand out prominently in this wonderful picture:

       On the right is the cave of the nymphs who conduct innocent souls by the northern gate down into mortal life.

       Below the cave spread across the bottom is the Sea of Time and Space.

       On the upper left you see a representation of the Heavenly Realm.

       Homer wrote about the Cave of the Nymphs in the 13th book of the Odyssey:

    At the head of this harbour there is a large olive tree, and at no great distance a fine overarching cavern sacred to the nymphs who are called Naiads. There are mixing bowls within it and wine-jars of stone, and the bees hive there. Moreover, there are great looms of stone on which the nymphs weave their robes of sea purple--very curious to see--and at all times there is water within it. It has two entrances, one facing North by which mortals can go down into the cave, while the other comes from the South and is more mysterious; mortals cannot possibly get in by it, it is the way taken by the gods.

       The Arlington Tempera contains virtually all of the items in Homer's description. Blake faithfully followed Homer in furnishing his cave. The Naiads use the mixing bowls and stone jars to prepare provisions for the descending souls. On the looms the nymphs weave bodies for them; the purple indicates these bodies contain blood.

       Blake loved the looms and used them repeatedly in his prophecies; in his larger prophecies he described the "nymphs" as vicious wicked women; in fact there are pages of these wicked women.

(The feminine of course connotes the earthly (under the moon), and the masculine heavenly (under the sun) (As offensive as this may be to many readers, I don't know any help for it. It might be considered the guideline that men used in their subjugation of women. Blake wasn't responsible; he adopted all the ancient symbols, including this one.)

       Blake's picture portrays the two realms, connected by two passsages, sometimes called gates or bars or stairs. The picture shows them as stairs. The prominent gate on the right, called the northern bar, is especially rich in symbols that Blake used over and over as he wrote, etched, drew and painted.

       Immediately to the left of the northern gate is the southern gate of 'return' where worthy mortals ascend into the higher realm of immortality.

       In the upper part of the picture the nymphs prepare souls for the descent into the "sea of time and space". The northern gate is filled with a stream, the current moving downward into the sea.

       Blake shows two souls scheduled for mortal life; each possesses a tub or pail which the nymphs prepared for them containing spiritual truth and power for the hazardous journey into the world.

       At the bottom of the cave one of these 'women' lies in the water blissfully asleep; her tub is turned on its side, all the spiritual things spilled and replaced by the water of mortal life.

       The other woman has carefully protected her pail and against the opposition of the nymphs turned decisively back toward the higher realm; following Heraclitus she may be said to be a dry soul. (This scene evokes Jesus' story of the wise and foolish virgins. The dry soul also suggests Thel, who crossed the northern bar, but drew back in horror at the miry clay ahead. The two imaginary humans represent the choices that each of us make every moment: to go the heavenly way or the worldly way, the two ways that that Jesus spoke of ).

       In the symbolic language water denotes matter, the inferior, the worldly. Souls in the higher realm are attracted by the moisture. 'Time and space' is a sea where mortal creatures suffer adventures that may be creative or destructive.

Similar and closely related to dry and moist souls are those awake and those sleeping (this runs like a current throughout the Bible and through Blake as well.)

The Sea of Time and Space

       The River of Adonis in the cave issues into the Sea of Time and Space (one of the common titles of Blake's tempera). There is (relatively) little to report about the sea; it's just about life, about my life and your life and every brother or sister's life.

       But emerging from the sea we find Odysseus, the hero of Homer's Odyssey on the near shore; with his back to the shore he is putting something in the water: in accordance with Leucothea's instructions he is returning her (magic) girdle which she had lent him so he could swim ashore. In the distance Leucothea appears getting her girdle and dissolving "in a spiral of radiant cloud" (Blake and Antiquity page 6).

       Behind Odysseus stands his protector goddess, Athena pointing him to the courts above.

       (The return of Odysseus to his home closely parallels Elijah's ascent on the fiery chariot into Heaven, and of course the Ascension of Our Lord. The thing to remember is that rather than material events these are metaphors. Our metaphors are spacious and temporal; not so in Eternity.)


       The upper left of the picture shows God upon a chariot, driven by the four zoas and surrounded by the immortals. God appears to be a right sleepy god; the import is that it's the inner God who goes to sleep when the soul finds the couch of death and awakens to mortal life (Blake and Antiquity page 15). Raine quotes
"05 My Eternal Man set in Repose
06 The Female from his darkness rose"
The Gates of Paradise


       Once you've grasped the whole of this story you may notice how closely it parallels the primary Bible myth of Creation, Fall and eventual Redemption. It's the old, old story, and in the end there's only one story. (Jesus gave us an abbreviated version of it with The Prodigal Son.)


Cupid and Psyche

       Blake had read Taylors' translation of Apuleius' Marriage of Cupid and Psyche. (Blake could not have read Bullfinch's version , but that may be easier for us to begin on.)

       In her discussion of Blake's use of Cupid and Psyche Raine refers us to a passage in Night ii of The Four Zoas:

    And I commanded the Great deep to hide her in his hand Till she became a little weeping Infant a span long I carried her in my bosom as a man carries a lamb I loved her I gave her all my soul & my delight I hid her in soft gardens & in secret bowers of Summer Weaving mazes of delight along the sunny Paradise Inextricable labyrinths, She bore me sons & daughters And they have taken her away & hid her from my sight. (K 317)

       This is a "paradise of shadows" (Raine 24). Blake described here the coming of an eternal soul into generation, which in Blake's myth is always a misfortune. (However in this (long!) poem Blake provided a creative rational for 'generation' (the descent of the soul).

       In this passage Luvah has (more or less) created Vala, and then (for an unknown reason here) found himself shut off from her and she from him.


       Cupid provides a magnificent house for Psyche, and Luvah does the same thing for Vala, just as Solomon had done (your house is traditionally a symbol of your body). Cupid, Luvah, Solomon build houses for Psyche, Vala, and the Shulamite respectively. They made a house for them, just as God makes a house for us all.

Psyche's House
From Apuleius

    And when she had refreshed her selfe sufficiently with sleepe, she rose with a more quiet and pacified minde, and fortuned to espy a pleasant wood invironed with great and mighty trees. Shee espied likewise a running river as cleare as crystall : in the midst of the wood well nigh at the fall of the river was a princely Edifice, wrought and builded not by the art or hand of man, but by the mighty power of God : and you would judge at the first entry therin, that it were some pleasant and worthy mansion for the powers of heaven. For the embowings above were of Citron and Ivory, propped and undermined with pillars of gold, the walls covered and seeled with silver, divers sorts of beasts were graven and carved, that seemed to encounter with such as entered in. All things were so curiously and finely wrought, that it seemed either to be the worke of some Demy god, or of God himselfe. The pavement was all of pretious stones, divided and cut one from another, whereon was carved divers kindes of pictures, in such sort that blessed and thrice blessed were they that might goe upon such a pavement : Every part and angle of the house was so well adorned, that by reason of the pretious stones and inestimable treasure there, it glittered and shone in such sort, that the chambers, porches, and doores gave light as it had beene the Sunne.

       Words of Vala:


    My Luvah here hath placd me in a Sweet & pleasant Land
    And given me fruits & pleasant waters & warm hills & cool valleys
    Here will I build myself a house & here Ill call on his name
    Here Ill return when I am weary & take my pleasant rest
    So spoke the Sinless Soul and laid her head on the downy fleece
    Of a curld Ram who stretchd himself in sleep beside his mistress
    And soft sleep fell upon her eyelids in the silent noon of day
    Then Luvah passed by & saw the sinless Soul
    And said Let a pleasant house arise to be the dwelling place
    Of this immortal Spirit growing in lower Paradise
    He spoke & pillars were builded & walls as white as ivory
    The grass she slept upon was pavd with pavement as of pearl. Beneath her rose a downy bed & a cieling coverd all

    (Night 9 of 4Z 128:20-33; quoted by Raine on page 26)

       The pleasant house has the symbolic meaning of the Beloved's (that's us!) body. In the Song of Solomon we have this duet:

    Solomon: If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.
    Shulamite: I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment. Song of Solomon 8:9-10

       Each of these three ladies (Psyche, Vala, and the Shulamite) mourns the absence of her husband. Each lady's husband acts as a surrogate for God. Descending into mortal life is a downer that stays with us until the mortal end.


       With a rhapsodic verse from Solomon re his "beloved" in Blake and Tradition (but not Blake and Antiquity) Raine makes for us an extremely significant revelation:

    6:4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem,
       As you read 4Z it becomes more and more apparent that Tirzah is the type of Vala fallen. Jerusalem represent's Vala redeemed.
(4Z is a notebook; Jerusalem is a magnificent (and very long!) poem.)

Persephone

(Kathleen Raines' book Blake and Tradition gives a good source for interpretation of The Myth of the Kore (Persephone), as used by Blake.)

(Kore: Greek        Persephone: Roman)

       Here is a simple version of Persephone's story. We are told that Blake became interested in the Eleusinian Mysteries in about 1790.

       I suppose the original and oldest story of Persephone may have been from the pen of Homer.

       Demeter(Kore) was the goddess of agriculture and marriage. Her daughter was Persephone (Prosepine). This fair maiden plucked a special flower and had the fortune to be abducted by Pluto to be queen of his Underworld. Demeter appealed to Zeus about this outrage; as a consequence Persephone was granted dual citizenship in the Underworld and the World with the freedom to move from one to the other twice a year.

       The natural "species" of this myth is the natural arrangement of the yearly sequence of seasons. Persephone spent winter in Hades and the warmer months in the World. The metaphysical points toward the dual nature of man: made in the image of God, but made of clay.

       Psychologically we have the angelic impulse and the devilish one. (They generally alternate more frequently than twice a year.) The literal "species" is kind of self evident: a girl raped and kidnapped-- all too common in 2007. Whether she's ever recovered is problematic.

       (This little lesson in the species of myths illustrates something that will become more and more obvious if you continue reading Blake: what his words mean superficially is often (or usually) far from his most significant intention.)

       In the early centuries of the Christian era a close relationship existed between the "followers of Jesus" and "those of Persephone". They had much in common-- particularly salvation, which (at least ritually) was achieved in remarkably similar fashions.

Persephone in Blake

       In Blake Vala represents woman until Jerusalem (redeemed Vala.)

       In Lyca (The Little Girl Lost), we see Vala in microcosm (as Persephone). Two poems in Songs of Experience tell her story, a lovely miniature statement of the myth in all the large myths already described here described. Blake spent the next 30 years expanding, enlarging, journaling, commenting on, etc. the basic myth which we've called his 'system', namely the descent of the soul (humankind) into the world (matter) and it's return to Eternity:


The are many ways to interpret the two "Little Girl" poems in Songs of Experience. Following Raine I have focused on the neoPlatonic viewpoint:

Little Girl Lost

           In futurity I prophesy
           That the earth from sleep
           (Grave the sentence deep)
           Shall arise, and seek
           For her Maker meek;
           And the desert wild               [this mortal world]
           Become a garden mild.

Here in Blake's inimitable poetry we have the biblical New Heaven and New Earth. It is also a promise of the happy outcome of Blake's myth. (Look at Jerusalem, plates 96-99.)

    *****************
    In the southern clime,              [the eternal realm]
    Where the summer's prime
    Never fades away,
    Lovely Lyca lay.

    Seven summers old
    Lovely Lyca told.
    She had wandered long,
    Hearing wild birds' song.

    'Sweet sleep, come to me,
    Underneath this tree;              [the Elm of Hades]
    Do father, mother, weep?        [like Demeter wept.]
    Where can Lyca sleep?

    'Lost in desert wild
    Is your little child.
    How can Lyca sleep
    If her mother weep?

    'If her heart does ache,
    Then let Lyca wake;
    If my mother sleep,
    Lyca shall not weep.

    'Frowning, frowning night,
    O'er this desert bright
    Let thy moon arise,
    While I close my eyes.'

    Sleeping Lyca lay,
    While the beasts of prey,
    Come from caverns deep,
    Viewed the maid asleep.

    The kingly lion stood, [lion=Pluto, king of the underworld]
    And the virgin viewed:
    Then he gambolled round
    O'er the hallowed ground.

    Leopards, tigers, play
    Round her as she lay;
    While the lion old
    Bowed his mane of gold,

    And her bosom lick,
    And upon her neck,
    From his eyes of flame,
    Ruby tears there came;        [Why was the lion sorrowful? Did he mourn the descent of the soul?]

    While the lioness               [the lioness?]
    Loosed her slender dress,
    And naked they conveyed
    To caves the sleeping maid.

Little Girl Found

    All the night in woe
    Lyca's parents go
    Over valleys deep,
    While the deserts weep.

    Tired and woe-begone,
    Hoarse with making moan,
    Arm in arm, seven days
    They traced the desert ways.

    Seven nights they sleep
    Among shadows deep,
    And dream they see their child
    Starved in desert wild.

    Pale through pathless ways
    The fancied image strays,
    Famished, weeping, weak,
    With hollow piteous shriek.

    Rising from unrest,
    The trembling woman pressed
    With feet of weary woe;
    She could no further go.

    In his arms he bore
    Her, armed with sorrow sore;
    Till before their way
    A couching lion lay.

    Turning back was vain:
    Soon his heavy mane
    Bore them to the ground,
    Then he stalked around,
    Smelling to his prey;
    But their fears allay
    When he licks their hands,
    And silent by them stands.

    They look upon his eyes,
    Filled with deep surprise;
    And wondering behold
    A spirit armed in gold.

    On his head a crown,
    On his shoulders down
    Flowed his golden hair.
    Gone was all their care.

    'Follow me,' he said;
    'Weep not for the maid;
    In my palace deep,
    Lyca lies asleep.'

    Then they followed
    Where the vision led,
    And saw their sleeping child
    Among tigers wild.

    To this day they dwell
    In a lonely dell,
    Nor fear the wolvish howl
    Nor the lion's growl.



Visions of the Daughters of Albion
Graphic Version
       Here's a Blakean twist on the ubiquitous eternal triangle of all the love stories.

       Here we see clearly the moral species. Blake used it to express his emphatic displeasure at the notion that a raped girl is 'damaged goods' and no longer worthy of the love of her erswhile lover. He considered that a high degree of immorality, another expression of the Jealousy that was for Blake the primary sin; and to perceive a woman as property, all too prevalent in Blake's day and still quite common in ours.

    "Father of jealousy. be thou accursed from the earth!" (And 4 lines earlier:)
    Are not these the places of religion, the rewards of continence?
A poke at conventional religion in which women are considered property!

       Otherwise the metaphysical (or mythological) 'species' presents an early (1793) version of the myth of the Kore. Oothoon is of course Persephone":

    "The Golden nymph replied; pluck thou my flower Oothoon the mild"
       Oothoon was trapped in "Pluto's realm", the material world without escape, but she never joined it. Hurrah!

       This poem has a lot to say about human sexuality, but won't be dwelt with further here. It's discussed more fully at chapter 8.


Symbols

       Although most of us who are religious types may struggle our whole lives for those precious moments of God consciousness, William Blake had a direct pipeline to the Beyond. Heavenly visions dominated his mind in an overwhelming way. His wife had only one fault to find, "Mr. Blake spends too much time in Heaven."

       Those 'heavenly' moments he could best (or only) describe in the symbolic terms of the ages, a language that has been largely forgotten since the Enlightenment by our materialistic culture, which despises anything other than the 'hard reality' of dollars and cents.

Here are a few of the esoteric symbols: The sun is the symbol of God and Eternity.

The moon is the symbol of mortality, the realm of the world.

Lyca is the earth. The little girl symbolizes the world. She is also a type for Leutha (sexuality), and Eve. The little girl heard the "wild bird's song" (look at Plate 6. Lyca here is in the form of an adult woman with a lover (which is what it means to hear the wild bird's song). She immediately desires sleep.

Blake means something other than what we mean by natural sleep; he means in fact the descent of an immortal soul into the fallen world. Coming from the South (land of the Immortals) Lyca hears the wild bird's song, and sleeps.


Job

       Job is the Universal Man, Albion, you and me, the cosmos. In American culture Man may be thought of as getting and spending, or more comprehensively as radical materialists in the absence of any spiritual outlook. Reading The Book of Job, Blake found these same qualities in Job, particularly a legalistic religion of self satisfaction. He also found them in the zoas, fractured parts of the Universal Man when he descended from Eternity and went to sleep.

       Blake did his Job illustrations in his sixties, near the end of a long and productive life. It contains in essence, but comprehensive and succinct the same myth as all the others. Job is the story of Albion, of Blake and his world, of you and me and ours. If you study nothing Blakean but Job, it will yield an accurate picture of Blake's system of thought, what he is about, and what he feels and believes most deeply.

       Kathleen Raine, near the end of her long and productive life published a little book called Golgoonza. It contains a very good treatment of Blake's Job. On page 127 she wrote, "It is clear that the figure of Albion is to a great extent derived from the Book of Job.

       There are many good presentations of Blake's Job on the web. The most helpful one might be in a work emanating from Boston College.

       This one has a frame with the King James Version of the Bible pointed to by Blake in his magnificent production. Remarkably the text spread around Blake's pictures appear to have almost verbatim copies of various parts of the Bible Book of Job.

       Here is the initial picture of another of the Job series. Click on the Next to see the successive pictures one by one. Here is the last picture. These pictures, like most of Blake's pictorial art are largely diagrammatic, designed to convey spiritual meaning.


Summary of Job from Raines Golgonooza
and Edinger's Encounter with the Self

       Plate 0 (Title Page) shows a circle of seven winged angels, to evoke the seven eyes of God and the seven eyes of the lamb. They are said to go to and fro in the earth and to walk up and down in it (Job 1:7). We may suppose that the one on the far left is Satan; his back is turned, and he's striving upward.

       From Plate 1: Musical instruments (for spiritual activity) are hanging unused in the tree. Job and wife sit there, each with a book on their lap indicating that they live by the law: We see a verse of scripture "the Letter Killeth, the Spirit giveth life" ( Corinthians 3:6)

       Above the picture Blake put the beginning of The Lord's Prayer, and in the upper left below the rising Sun we see a cathedral. All of this significies that Job and family are resting here in the arms of the conventional church- the institution where people go to feel. good. They have fallen from Beulah to the land of space and time and pure materialism, making way for Satan to enter their lives.

       In Plate 2 The Angel of the Presence (a name for the Prince of this World disguised as an angel of light) presides over the scene (his short hair distinguishes him from more creditable images that Blake drew of God). He's accusing Job, who attempts to defend (justify) himself. The God figure here is as always the God within Job's mind. (The only God we know is the one in our mind.)

       This picture like many of the others portrays a three story universe. At the upper Spirit, where the God figure resides; the middle level contains the principalities, and at the bottom we have creatures of time and space.

       In Plate 3, receiving permission from the Lord, Satan proceeds to all sorts of havoc including killing Job's children.

       Plate 4 shows the messenger bringing this sad news to Job and wife. Raine (127) also pointed to verses in 4Z Night 1: (Raine 127)

    His inward eyes closing from the divine vision, & all
    his children wandering outside, from his bosom fleeing away.
                  (the last two verses of the first Night)
       In Plate 5 we have an example of self-righteous charity; at least that was Blake's intention: "Was not my soul grieved for the poor?" (Job xxx:25)

       Plate 6: In the face of his "charity" Job comes down with boils from head to toe. Blake used this figure in Plate 21 of Jerusalem when Albion speaks to the Emanation (Vala! Jerusalem):

    "O lovely forms (of female love), you have prepared my death cup.
    The disease of Shame covers me from head to feet.
    I have no hope; every boil upon my body is a separate and deadly Sin.
    Doubt first assailed me, then Shame took possession of me
    (Continue to read this passage in the Blake text.)
                  (Jerusalem plate 21 K643)
       In Plate 7 Job's friends, using the most common (calvinistic) excuse for great wealth, inform Job that his prosperity is gone because he has not been righteous. Such were Job's comforters Job 2:11.

       In Plate 8 Job complains to God and protests, as Raine wrote "the great protest of man against the human lot" (page 131): like the holocaust: what is God doing??? Job says here: "Let the Day perish wherein I was Born" (Job 3:3).

       In Plate 9 Eliphaz, one of Job's three friends describes a dream that takes us out of the purely material where we've been up to now. Dreams occur frequently in the Bible and always represent the eruption of the non material on the scene. Eliphaz pointed upward, and Job and wife and other two friends look into Heaven.

       In Plate 10, in spite of that epiphany, Job's three friends accuse him, causing his response "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job xiii:15)." Job's wife joins in the accusation: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die" (2:9).

       Plate 11: Wife gone, friends gone; Job is all alone, haunted by shadows in his dream and under the dominion of his false God. A very fearful 'God', entwined by a snake, torments Job in his sleep while inhabitants from Hell are trying to drag him down.

       This is a terrible picture: with his right hand Yahweh points up to the Book of Law while his left hand points down to Hell.

       Plate 12: A vivid contrast to the darkness of Plate 11! After the pit of darkness comes the morning, the New Birth! Elihu appears and seems to have set Job straight. (A copy of this picture is said to have been on Raine's desk for years.)

       Elihu, the young man speaks for God; he brings good news, the new wine after the dire warnings of Blake 'three friends' Elihu is the Spirit of Prophecy, Los, the zoa that Blake most identified with. Elihu is a type of Christ.

       In plate 13 God speaks to Job "out of the whirlwind",. Throughout the Bible the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (note the still small voice out of the whirlwind that came to Elijah (I Kings 19:11-13), the wind that shook Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), Jesus' statement about the wind (John 3:8). Job and his wife see God face to face, the most blessed thing that can happen to anyone. Job got new flocks and new children, but seeing God was the real blessing of the experience. The first is material; the other Eternal; God had tested Job and had found him pure in heart.

       Plate 14: "When the morning stars sang together & all the sons of God shouted for joy". We see here the clearest picture of the three story universe which has pervaded the Illustrations to Job. Under the foundation of God sit the characters of this drama in the material realm. God occupies the psychological realm, the vision of God that we carry through life; above are the Eternals.

       The borders of Plate 14 depict the seven days of Creation; Job has created a new world through the travail of his experiences. (Blake set much of his story before the creation; he believed in fact that Creation Continues.)

       In Plate 15 Blake shows God pointing to Behemoth and Leviathan in a sphere according to Raine (140) the time-world. They are said to represent duality, a problem for Job, Blake, and many others of us; "Unity is only in God". Job comes to understand that God is something beyond the "God of Goodness" (See also Jung's Answer to Job.)

       In Plate 16 we see "Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:17-18). Blake has revealed to us over and over who Satan is: he is the Selfhood, and most particularly the Accuser. When we judge we accuse; it is Satan in us. This is the Last Judgment, not a moment of time, but an eternal change that Job and wife are priviledged here to witness.

    Whenever any individual rejects error and embraces truth, a last judgment passes upon that individual.
                  (Descriptions of the Last Judgment page 84)

       In Plate 17 God blesses Job, which inspires him to say, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). In the margin are quotations from the Book of John, a veritable cornucopia of verses describing this moment in everyone's life.

       Raine, a Blakean and Jungian scholar, feels that this is the best evidence of individuation, but that Jung missed it (Golgonooze 141). Did he?

       In Plate 18 God accepts Job and tells him to pray for his friends. The Plate includes a portion of the Sermon on the Mount where we're told to love our enemies.

       In Plate 19 Job is giving a feast out of his new munificence. The guests arrive bringing presents to Job, in contrast to Plate 5, where the wealthy man, Job gives a crust of bread to a beggar.

       Plate 20 shows Job sitting in peace and comfort with his daughters. Raine (142) understands this to mean that Blake has transcended his fear of woman's love, which he had formerly associated with fallenness; I can't agree with Raine about this; he wrote too many glowing love poems. But in the term female love, as in My Spectre Round Me Night and Day , (especially in Verse xi), he's in the midst of another myth, the myth of the fallen emanation of Albion.

       The last plate (21) shows Blake gathered around his family and flock. Recall that Plate 1 had a very similar picture, but with some notable exceptions. The cathedral is no longer in the background (Job [Blake] emancipated from the law), nor is the book of law. Instead the musical instruments, hanging idle in Plate 1, is now in use by Job and family, so they are engaged in creative activity instead of attachment to the law. In both Plates they are gathering at the foot of the Tree of Life.


       The uncanny thing about Blake's Illustrations to Job is that each picture illustrates a stage of his own life. (Everything he wrote was autobiographical!!)


Vision of the Last Judgment

       This myth like Job has as its primary source the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelations, commonly called the Apocalypse. To express this Blake (Here's another link) (and Michaelangelo) each drew a magnificent picture. Blake's may have been less 'aesthetic' than Michelangelo's, but more graphic and illustrating once again his general myth of mankind.

       Many people may perceive the Last Judgment as a prophecy of coming events at the end of time. In contrast Blake saw it as the shape of everyman's destiny, not in time but eternally.

    whenever any Individual Rejects Error & Embraces Truth, a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual.
    (Vision of the Last Judgment 84[b]; Erdman 562)

       In Michelangelo's work the figures on the left (God's right hand) are rising of course and those on the right falling. This may be said to conform to Jesus's parable of the sheep and goats as judged by Christ. Blake saw it, not so much as individuals saved and damned, but as the Many Selves of each of us. Some parts of us may fall into the abyss (at least for a period of time ), while other parts are moving toward the Kingdom of God. Such is the story of our lives and the process of redemption. The movement is not once and for all, but continuous; the chaff is being burned and the wheat gathered into the harvest.

       For Blake the last judgment, when it occurs, represents a change of consciousness, and may be often, from day to day.

       Blake wrote a detailed description of his Vision of the Last Judgment, The Design of The Last Judgment (found on Erdman 552-66)





Finally the Bible

       All the myths, Blake's  primary sources, conform closely to the primary myth of the Bible, namely Creation, Fall and Return. However Blake's system differs from the Bible myth. especially  in one particular: creation did not precede the sequence of events he described.
       In The Four Zoas, his primary myth, the Characters were born and lived before Creation. In fact Los had an active role in creating our world, especially in building Golgonooza. Blake's opinion of Creation, shared by many people today, was that Creation is an ongoing process (see Creation Continues).

       Within this framework Albion, resting in Beulah, fell (or divided) into the four zoas. They lived through aeons of violence and struggle in Ulro (the material world in the absence of spirit). But the imagination came to life, climaxing in the birth of Christ, whom Blake called the Imagination. Los is thus a Christ figure, or at least a fallen Christ figure building, building, building until in the fullness of time the Last Judgment comes upon the world, Ulro no longer exists, everything is subsumed into the Eternal. This closely resembles the Bible story of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Christ, and finally Revelation. Los might be said to have assumed the identities of each of the above in turn until Christ; the progression would then proceed through history to and beyond the present, while Creation waits (with bated breath) for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body. This Blake called the Last Judgment.

       Blake found this myth in all of the stories described here.



Other Notes
The "angel of the divine presence", mentioned in Plate 2 of Job is actually Satan, though he closely resembles Blake's images of God. However the Hebrew letters under his name identify him as "King Jehovah", Job's false God. Blake's Laocoon has as its subtitle,The Angel of the Divine Presence. So we may safely conclude that the God figure at the top of Plate 2 is Satan and that Job and his family are here perceived as under the dominion of Satan.

       We might compare Plate 3 to the descent from the Eternal found in all the rest of the myths described here.

      



Notes

The tree Lyca slept under is the tree at the entrance to Hades, according to Book Six of the Aeneid: "The God of Sleep there hides his heavy head,".

Beasts of prey!! An ambiguous term? But this king of beasts is a very peculiar lion (in worldly terms!). Can he be Aslan?

The house-- in the Bible, in ancient mythology, and in romantic poetry symbolizes the human body. Our house is the garment we wear in this life; we get it at birth and discard it at death. In Blake's myth women are continually weaving purple garments (that is to say the bodies of human beings).

Sinless soul is a name from Vala


R and R: 20th century jargon for rest and recreation.

This from Blake's Annotations to Bacon's Essays....:

    Page 1... Self Evident Truth is one Thing and Truth the result of Reasoning is another Thing.
    Rational Truth is not the Truth of
    Christ but of Pilate. It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil......
    page 5....it being foretold, that when Christ cometh,
    he shall not find faith upon earth.
    Bacon put an End to Faith.

    Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete
    Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke.
                  (Song of Los: 4:17 [68])
In Mithraism, probably Christianity's early chief rival, the lion and lioness conduct the new convert into Mithra's cave. Blake was thoroughly familiar with Mithra and his ways.

Blake used the word love with great depreciation. I wonder if the word didn't have ugly connotations in his age, as it does in ours. (See also the first paragraph of Luvah.)

       However in Regeneration love is hallowed.

In fact the Eleusinian Mysteries are very much alive today, and you can take part in their exercises if you're so minded. Put it in Google. In his "myths of the Kore" Blake used it as well as a great many other sources, particularly the Portland Vase. The significance of the picture on the vase is not generally understood. For Blake it described pictorially the myth of the Kore.

      

    PRINCIPLE 1st That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
    the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius.
           (All Religions are One: Principle One)

    The stars threw down their spears
This line occurs in The Tyger of Songs of Experience. As Raine suggests, this passage in Four Zoas (Night 5 64:20-28, Erdman 344) gives the reader of Songs of Experience an inkling of what Blake meant.

Urizen confesses that his earthly existence is but a reflection of the face of the Eternal Albion, which accords with Plato's ideal and Paul's statement about our vision.

As gold is the metal of Urizen, so silver is the metal of Luvah. When Urizen slept on 'his silver bed', he had departed from his true calling of light like the sun, and slept (symbol of falling) on the moony light of Luvah, giving to him his horses of light.

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