Blake was indebted to the heterodox tradition for his development of the concept of emanation. A Christian Gnostic theologian of the third century presented the idea of emanation descending from God into lower forms of existence. The emanations were "not separate existencies so much as personified agencies." However, like Blake, Valentinius saw the the emanative portions falling into "only a partial knowledge of the hidden God."
As we read in Frye's Fearful Symmetry, "The word "emanation" in Blake means the object-world; creature in Eden, female in Beulah, object or nature in Generation, abstraction in Ulro." (Page 127). We follow in Blake the descent of the emanation through the four levels of spiritual consciousness as she attempts to reascend to "depth which the understanding cannot fathom."
Brief Analysis of the Sects, Heresies, and Writers of the First Three Centuries PRINTED FOR JAMES COOPER, TRINITY STREET, in 1857 elucidates the concept of emanations:
Page 29 To read the Greek words go to the website. Valentinus
"The theory of emanations, which was in some measure adopted by all Gnostics, received considerable increase from the fertility of his speculative powers. He supposed a Supreme Being, infinite, invisible, incomprehensible, and therefore called Bv0o^, the depth which the under- standing cannot fathom, who, having spent numberless ages in repose, resolved to reveal himself, and for this purpose employed his thought, Evvota, also called 2t^, silence, who alone had dwelt with, or within him. The first manifestations, or ^ons, produced, were NoO?^ in- telligence, and *A\i]0Ã¢Â‚Â¬ia, truth. These ^ons are to be considered only as revealed forms of the Supreme Being ; not separate existencies so much as personified agencies, whose combination constituted the Plenoma, or fulness, of the attributes and perfections of the Godhead. They comprised altogether thirty ^ons, of whom half were supposed to be males, Ã‚Â«.6., active agencies, and the other half females, t.e., passive principles. In proportion as these -^ons were removed from the Supreme God, they decreased in knowledge and perfection. The lower ^ons had, therefore, only a partial knowledge of the hidden God, and the desire of one of them in particular, 'Siorjyiaj to know more of him produced a con- cision in the Pleroma, one result of which was that Jio(f>ia gave birth to an imperfect being, who was incapable of remaining in the Pleroma, and was cast out into Chaos, i This being, called Achamoth, formed the Demiurgos, by ] whom the world was made, and reduced tVva wvia Ã‚Â«a.^ Bbapeless mass of matter to some degr^^ oi ot'^ax* ^^Q^" Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252) "Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon: When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin: All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time. In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment. Beholding them Displayd in the Emanative Visions of Canaan in Jerusalem & in Shiloh And in the Shadows of Remembrance, & in the Chaos of the Spectre" Vision of Last Judgment, (E 562) "Jesus is surrounded by Beams of Glory in which are seen all around him Infants emanating from him these represent the Eternal Births of Intellect from the divine Humanity A Rainbow surrounds the throne & the Glory in which youthful Nuptials recieve the infants in their hands In Eternity Woman is the Emanation of Man she has No Will of her own There is no such thing in Eternity as a Female Will"