Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Yale Center For British Art
Plate 46
Albion and his Emanation Jerusalem, both asleep, sit aboard their chariot, which is under the control of beings of which they are unaware. Two beasts  with the faces of man supply the energy which move the vehicle in which they passively ride. The turning wheels in the form of serpents propel the vehicle under the direction of two tiny bird-headed winged creatures riding on the backs of the ox-like creatures. What is meant to be Albion's chariot of fire, without direction from human consciousness, moves man into deeper error.  

Before Los initiates the process of restoring Albion to the Humanity Divine, each of the four Zoas has fallen to the point that his outlook is totally opposite to his role in eternity.

Jerusalem, Plate 38, (E184)
"They [the Four Zoas] saw their Wheels rising up poisonous against Albion
Urizen, cold & scientific: Luvah, pitying & weeping
Tharmas, indolent & sullen: Urthona, doubting & despairing
Victims to one another & dreadfully plotting against each other
To prevent Albion walking about in the Four Complexions."

Jerusalem, Plate 46, (E 188)
"Thou art in Error Albion, the Land of Ulro:               
One Error not remov'd, will destroy a human Soul
Repose in Beulahs night, till the Error is remov'd
Reason not on both sides. Repose upon our bosoms
Till the Plow of Jehovah, and the Harrow of Shaddai
Have passed over the Dead, to awake the Dead to Judgment.     
But Albion turn'd away refusing comfort." 
Urizen, meant to be the active intellect involving itself in interfacing with information and developing understanding of relationships, has become cold and detached. He has reduced interactions to measurements, and objective descriptions from his frozen mind.

Luvah, meant to be the source of empathy and delight through the expression of emotional attachments, has been reduced to regret and depression. The spontaneous outpouring of approval or disapproval no longer flows from his detached heart.

Tharmas, meant to be energetic and active, involved in giving outer expression to inner dynamics, is passive and lifeless. The energy which should be generated through sensory perception and the impetus to create life is not flowing in his lethargic body.

Urthona, meant to be faith and vision, the connective function which holds together disparate parts, has lost the 'blessed assurance' and fallen into a dark pit of isolation. The connection of the body with the wholeness of purposeful living finds no expression without imagination.

From Blake's Poetry and Designs, Edited by Mary Lynn Johnson and John E. Grant, we get a sense of the origin on Blake's term Zoas and the change they underwent as Albion fell:
"Cosmic man, lying unconscious in England, is dominated by his 'Zoas,' Blake's English plural for a word (already a plural in Greek) which in the Authorized Version is translated 'beasts' in Revelation 4:6, though the Hebrew equivalent is translated 'living creatures' in Ezekiel 1:5, 19-23. Both of these Biblical passages describe the four beings who surround God's presence. From this hint, as suggested in postbiblical iconography, Blake developed a conception of man's fourfold nature. Humanity should be composed of wisdom, love, imagination, and strength, but in the fallen state it is torn apart by hypocritical morality, lust, rage, confused fantasy, and chaotic weakness. The personifications of cold reason, wild emotion, misguided imagination, and weakened instinct behave like Titans with fallible human personalities." (Page 215) 

Ezekiel 1
[3] The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
[4] And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
[5] Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
[6] And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
[7] And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
[8] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
[9] Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
[10] As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
[11] Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
[12] And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
[13] As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
[14] And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Revelation 4
[5] And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
[6] And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
[7] And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
[8] And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
[9] And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

One's greatest gifts can turn into one's worst liabilities if not recognized as gifts and put to work in the service of the giver. The Zoas will recover their gifts as Albion is restored to Eternity through the work of Jesus and Los.

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