Sunday, June 29, 2014

William Blake's, The Tiger a Symbol for Amanita Muscaria


I am the true green and Golden Lion without cares,

In me all the secrets of the Philosophers are hidden.
Rosarium Philosophorum or 
Rosary of the Philosophers, Book 5

In alchemy the lion, the "royal" beast, is a synonym for Mercurius, or, to be more accurate, for a stage in his transformation. He is the warm-blooded form of the devouring, predatory monster who first appears as the dragon. Usually the lion-form succeeds the dragon's death and eventual dismemberment. Carl Jung (Fabricius 1976, p. 295).[1]
Medieval alchemy used animal symbols including: the eagle, dove, snake, salamander, raven, unicorn, and lion.  Ultimately they were all symbols for the Amanita muscaria mushroom.  Many alchemists would copy each other’s work, and change the symbols to their own.  William Blake continued this tradition when he substituted the tiger for the lion.  Tigers and lions are very similar animals, with the exception of their coloring.  Furthermore, when one compares the artistic lions of alchemy, with Blake’s tiger it is apparent that Blake is working with an alchemical model, not a real tiger.
Consider the following illustration of an lion from ----, then compare it to Blake's tiger below:

Many interpretations have been offered up as to the meaning of The Tiger, but unless viewed from an alchemical perspective, one will never uncover Blake's linguistic veil.  Consider the first stanza:



TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


The image of an orange and black tiger could resemble something on fire, hence the amanita muscaria, or burning bush.  From a symmetrical standpoint, a tiger's pattern is not exactly symmetrical, and nowhere in Blake's art does he portray the tiger as symmetrical. However, the gills beneath an amanita cap creates a striped pattern.  Consider the following example:


The next stanza :
In what distant deeps or skies        
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?      7
What the hand dare seize the fire?
Lines 7 mentions wings, and these wings have two interpretations relating to the mushroom.  First is the cross section of a mushroom, which resembles a bird in flight, often depicted as the eagle or raven, or dragon. Notice in the image below, the eagle's wings are like a mushrooms spread open cap.


The next part of the wings, relates to getting high, or going to heaven.  The mushroom is the vehicle which takes the user to this other worldly consciousness.  Line 8 asks which hand dare to seize the fire, and the fire is is also reference to the red-capped mushroom.  Who would grab the tiger, or who would pick the mushroom?

     Stanzas three and four ask rhetorical questions to the creator of the tiger.  In stanza three, the persona of the poem asks who's shoulders and by what art constructed the heart of the tiger.  The speaker goes on to ask an awkward questions of what dread hand and what dread feet.  However, if one look's a Blake's notebook, he originally completes the thought of line 12.  Consider stanza three, with Blake's struck-out notebook version of the original stanza four (italicized), with the published:
stanza 3
And what shoulder and what art  
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?  
And when thy heart began to beat,  
What dread hand & what dread feet?

notebook -stanza 4
Could fetch it from the furnace deep
and in thy horrid ribs dare steep
In the well of sanguine woe

Published - stanza 4
What the hammer? what the chain?  
In what furnace was thy brain?  
What the anvil? What dread grasp   
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

From reading the original, it is apparent the third stanza is asking what hand could take the heart of the lion from the depths of a furnace; and allow for it to "steep" into the horrid ribs; the well of blood red woe.  Meanwhile we can see that the published version of the poem, skips this detail and continues with the questioning.  Furthermore, this detail never makes it back into the published version.  The published version avoids asking who could grasp it, instead asks "in what furnace was they brain?"  And changes the image to a blacksmith grasping the brain with tongs out of a fiery furnace.
     From an alchemical point of view, the blacksmith represents the creator, and transformer. However, the same arts can be used to enslave, hence the chain.  Also, the original 4th stanza, Blake uses the image of a deep furnace, combined with ribs, followed by the image of a sanguine or blood-red well.  This deep furnace is hell, and if that is the case than Satan must be the creator whom the speaker is addressing.  He also changes the image from the heart to the brain.  From a Blake perspective, one would assume that the he wanted to represent reason rather than imagination as being created by the Satan.  While this may seem a bit of a stretch, Stanza five adds details which supports this claim. Consider stanza five:

When the stars threw down their spears,  
And water'd heaven with their tears,  
Did He smile His work to see?  
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

The first two lines a reference to Satan trying to over throw God in Genesis, and then the question of did the creator enjoy the revolution; and did the same creator make the lamb as well.  Blake is making the point that the creator of all is just that; the generator of both good and evil (as represented by the lamb and tiger).  Does God enjoy creating evil?  At the same time, the lines have mushrooms connotations as well.

To be continued...







[1] http://www.antlionpit.com/alchemy.html

Thursday, June 26, 2014

William Blake's Book of Urizen and mushroom symbols

Book of Urizen

   William Blake’s, Book of Urizen represents Blake’s attempt at rewriting the Bible, and incorporating Gnostic ideals.  Rather than try to interpret the work, I just want to examine the art for their mushroom implications.  Take the title page for example; it has an old man, sitting beneath a tree, writing a book.  In the background, are the two-tablet like tombstones, which represent Moses’ Ten Commandments.  These two tablets form the silhouette of a mushroom.  In addition, Urizen is sitting under a tree.  Is this the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  Also, many of Blake’s works are framed as a mushroom; the canopy of the trees forms the cap, and the two tablets and the man form the stalk.




Object 4 of Urizen has Urizen reading a rainbow colored book, and his head appearing to emanate light.  His arms are outstretched like the cap of a mushroom.



Object 5 is of an upside-down figure, entwined with a snake, with arms outstretched; Blake’s version of the staff of Asclepius.  The snake is a symbol for the serpent from the Garden of Eden.  And it appears underground, representing the mycelium of the mushroom.



Object 15 has a bent over figure, atop a red globe.  I suspect the red globe to be the mushroom cap of the Amanita muscaria.



Object 20, shows Urizen chained, and mostly white.  Emanating from his head, appears to be a red light.  His body is the white stalk of the mushroom, which meets the red cap of the mushroom. 



Object 21  has Urizen walking and carrying the red globe.  He is clothed in white, while the globe is red.  



     These are just the obvious examples.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

William Blake’s and his Rosicrucian Signature Poem: The Sick Rose



William Blake’s and his Rosicrucian Signature Poem: The Sick Rose

     After examining Isaac Newton, I was left with the impression that William Blake was involved with the Rosicrucians, or as they are known today, the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rosy Cross.  The more I read about the Rosicrucians and their beliefs, the more it appears Blake was one of them.  Furthermore, I keep thinking of Blake’s poem The Sick Rose.  I had to read it a few times throughout my education, and never thought much of it.  In fact, found it to be too esoteric.  Then I got the message as it were, and things like The Sick Rose were so obvious to the initiated. Anyway here’s a little bit about the Rosicrucians and their history.  There’s an abundant amount of information online about the Order, including texts.

According to their website, the Order traces it lineage back to 1500 B.C. and claims that Egyptian Pharaohs’ and Greek Philosophers’ among their members.  They also claim many of the same mystical writers Blake references in his writings.  Consider the following from the Order’s website:
Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt select bodies or schools were formed to explore the mysteries of life and learn the secrets of this hidden wisdom. Only sincere students, displaying a desire for knowledge and meeting certain tests were considered worthy of being inducted into these mysteries… It is further traditionally related that the Order’s first member-students met in secluded chambers in magnificent old temples, where, as candidates, they were initiated into the great mysteries.… Contrary to what historians affirm, our tradition relates that the Giza pyramids were not built to be the tombs of pharaohs, but were actually places of study and mystical initiation.[1] 
Consider the two images below, the one on the left is from?   and the one on the right is by Blake.



The Order goes on to claim to have its share shakers and movers:
Throughout history a number of prominent persons in the fields of science and the arts have been associated with the Rosicrucian movement, such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Cornelius Heinrich Agrippa (1486-1535), Paracelsus (1493-1541), François Rabelais (1494-1553), Theresa of Avila (1515-1582), John of the Cross (1542-1591), Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Robert Fludd (1574-1637), Jacob Boehme (1575-1624), René Descartes (1596-1650), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Michael Faraday (1791-1867), Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919), Marie Corelli (1855-1924), Claude Debussy (1862-1918), Erik Satie (1866-1925), and Edith Piaf (1916-1963).[2]
But what exactly do the Rosicrucians believe?  What is their belief system?  According to their website:The Rosicrucian Order, AMORC is a community of Seekers who study and practice the metaphysical laws governing the universe.[3] According to the original Christian Rosencrantz myth:
... Christian Rosenkreuz was a doctor who discovered and learned esoteric wisdom on a pilgrimage to the Middle East among Turkish, Arab and Persian sages, possibly Sufi or Zoroastrian masters, supposedly in the early 15th century (see section below on Symbolism); returned and founded the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross" with himself (Frater C.R.C.) as Head of the Order. Under his direction a Temple, called Sanctus Spiritus, or "The House of the Holy Spirit", was built.[4]
During Rosenkreuz's lifetime, the Order was said to consist of no more than eight members, each a doctor and a sworn bachelor. Each member undertook an oath to heal the sick without payment, to maintain a secret fellowship, and to find a replacement for himself before he died. Three such generations had supposedly passed between c.1500 and c.1600, a time when scientific, philosophical and religious freedom had grown so that the public might benefit from the Rosicrucians' knowledge, so that they were now seeking good men.[5]
Between 1607 and 1616, two anonymous manifestos were published, first in Germany and later throughout Europe.[2] These were the Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and the Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). The influence of these documents, presenting a "most laudable Order" of mystic-philosopher-doctors and promoting a "Universal Reformation of Mankind", gave rise to an enthusiasm called by its historian Dame Frances Yates the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment".[6]
Early seventeenth-century occult philosophers such as Michael Maier, Robert Fludd and Thomas Vaughan interested themselves in the Rosicrucian world view. According to historian David Stevenson it was also influential to Freemasonry as it was emerging in Scotland. In later centuries, many esoteric societies have claimed to derive their doctrines, in whole or in part, from the original Rosicrucians. Several modern societies have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects.[7]
Considering the works and writings of Blake, seems like the perfect representation of such a society.  But why the Rosy Cross symbol? What is it?  More than you ever wanted to know about the possible symbolic interpretations from Fra. Thomas D Worrel, VII:
The cross is a symbol that is about as universal and ancient as any symbol that has emerged out of man's psyche. The cross symbolizes the meeting at right angles of horizontals and perpendiculars. Forces going in quite opposite directions but meeting at a central point, a common ground. It can symbolize the union of opposites and the dualism in nature. It can be the outstretch archetypal man with the infinite possibilities of growth being immortal. It represents eternal life. The cross can symbolize the decent of Spirit into matter. It is the intersection of the level of time with the Eternity of the Spirit.

The cross is the axis of the cycle of the year whose spokes are the equinoxes and solstices. It is the crossroads where the four directions meet. In a Christian sense the cross signifies acceptance of sacrifice, suffering, and death as well as immortality. There is a legend that the cross of Christ was made out of wood from the Tree of Knowledge, the cause of the Fall, making it the instrument of Redemption. In the Egyptian mythos the crux ansata or - a type of cross - was a symbol of life, immortality, and health. It is held by the gods and goddesses. It also represented the union of Isis and Osiris.

Numerologically, the cross is sometimes represented by the number four. Within our own teachings: "No.4 is the Mystic number, and indicates the operative influence of the four elements. Under this number, or the geometrical square, Pythagoras communicated the Ineffable Name of God to his chosen disciples." In the Hebrew alphabet the last letter is called Tav. And Tav means "mark" or "cross" and its original form was written much like ankh or cross. I could go on with many more examples but I think we can see that the cross transcends human culture in both time and space. It is a symbol that ties us all together as a Brotherhood of Mankind. It is a symbol that goes to the very root of our being.

The rose (Latin, rosa, in Greek, rhodon) also is a symbol that has a rich and ancient history. And like the cross, it can have paradoxical meanings. It is at once a symbol of purity and a symbol of passion, heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life. The rose is the flower of the goddess Venus but also the blood of Adonis and of Christ. It is a symbol of transmutation - that of taking food from the earth and transmuting it into the beautiful fragrant rose. The rose garden is a symbol of Paradise. It is the place of the mystic marriage. In ancient Rome, roses were grown in the funerary gardens to symbolize resurrection. The thorns have represented suffering and sacrifice as well as the sins of the Fall from Paradise.

The rose has also been used as a sign of silence and secrecy. The word sub rosa "under the rose" referring to the demand for discretion whenever a rose was hung from the ceiling at a meeting. In the Mysteries roses were sacred to Isis. It is also the flower of her son Harpocrates or younger Horus, the god of silence.

Numerologically, the rose represents the number 5. This is because the wild rose has 5 petals. And the petals on roses are in multiples of five. Geometrically, the rose corresponds with the pentagram and pentagon. Our teachings state: "No.5 is the emblem of Health and Safety; ...it represents Spirit and the four elements." The Pythagorean brotherhood used the pentagram as the symbol of their school.

The number five being associated with the rose has linked them with the 5 senses. In an absolute sense the rose has represented the expanding awareness of being through the development of the senses.[8] 
Yeah sure? Or it could be the “bloody cross” a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion, an allegory for the Amanita muscaria mushroom, which I mentioned in my book.  So I am suggesting that Blake was a Rosicrucian and that his poem the sick rose, is a poem which he establishes himself as a member by writing an allegorical poem about a rose which is really the mushroom amanita muscaria, or the Rosy Cross. Consider the poem, a short poem about a worm which comes in the night to destroy its crimson bed of joy:


O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.


     The worm that flies in the night is the larvae of a mushroom gnat., and it does not fly. The very small gnat, lays its eggs on the mushroom. The eggs hatch into worm larvae witch the feed off of the mushroom.  Mushrooms often grow after a storm, and the gnat finds the mushroom before first light and has already laid her eggs. So Blake is lamenting that the mushrooms he wanted to eat, were spoiled by the larvae of the gnat.  That is what this poem is about.  All that symbolic interpretation from above can be true, but they too, serve as only more veils over the plain ans simple fact that, all relgions, mystical philosophies are derived from the mushroom Amanita muscaria, including William Blake’s The Sick Rose. 




[1] http://www.rosicrucian.org/about/mastery/mastery08history.html
[2] http://www.rosicrucian.org/about/mastery/mastery08history.html
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Rosenkreuz
[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosicrucianism
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosicrucianism
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosicrucianism
[8] http://www.sricf-ca.org/paper3.htm