Sunday, June 22, 2014

William Blake's Newton

     In William Blake’s Newton, one sees a nude Newton sitting in a very uncomfortable position on a rock measuring out something out with a compass.  The compass is a symbol for geometry, with its most recent use by the Freemasons.  Upon closer examination of the engraving, one notices that the paper Newton is using the compass on is rolled up into a stylized “G”, another symbol for Freemasonry. And the last clue is on the paper that Newton is composing on, a right angle, or symbol for the Mason Square.  All of this arguable, and am not convinced myself, I decided to look more closely into Newton.  What little I knew of him came from rumors and few scientific principles I learned in college; however, the man himself or of his other works, I knew nothing. 

Newton's Coat of Arms
     The most popular thing I remember about Newton was his discovery of gravity while under an apple tree.  This image was always reinforced in TV via cartoons and sitcoms with Newton getting hit by an apple, and the hit serving as the impetus for his “discovery” of Gravity.  Or what I would come to learn as Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.  But what I remember most, is the idea that he received his inspiration from under a tree; similar to Adam and Eve.  So before I even Google Newton, I had the feeling that I was going to connect him with Alchemy and the Occult, and sure enough I did; he even has his own WIKI entry under Isaac Newton’s Occult Writings.  Seemed like a good place to start.
     The first thing that jumped out at me was a quote from economist John Maynard Keynes, who purchased some of Newton’s work.  Consider the following:
after purchasing and studying Newton's alchemical works in 1942, economist John Maynard Keynes, for example, opined that "Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians". [1]
Newton lived in an age when many of the sciences where still being developed and had not come into their own, and alchemy was a science in Newton’s time.  Newton lived from 1642-1727.  Most of his work on alchemy was never published and much of it was purchased by John Maynard Keynes at an auction in 1936.  Among his writings were also the writing of others, and it turns out Newton had a great interest in the philosopher’s stone.  From Wiki:
Of the material sold during the 1936 Sotheby's auction, several documents indicate an interest by Newton in the procurement or development of the Philosopher's Stone. Most notably are documents entitled Artephius his secret Book, followed by The Epistle of Iohn Pontanus, wherein he beareth witness of ye book of Artephius; these are themselves a collection of excerpts from another work entitled Nicholas Flammel, His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St Innocents Church-yard in Paris. Together with The secret Booke of Artephius, And the Epistle of Iohn Pontanus: Containing both the Theoricke and the Practicke of the Philosophers Stone.[2]
Also in the 1936 auction of Newton's collection was, The Epitome of the treasure of health written by Edwardus Generosus Anglicus innominatus who lived Anno Domini 1562. This is a twenty-eight page treatise on the Philosopher's Stone, the Animal or Angelicall Stone, the Prospective stone or magical stone of Moses, and the vegetable or the growing stone.[3]
So, it appears that just by the name of the texts that Newton had, he was in a position to attempt to figure out mystery of the Philosopher’s stone.  He had a treatise with a title connecting the Philosopher’s Stone and the magical stone of Moses?  What if he had discovered that the Philosopher’s stone was the Amanita mushroom, and ingested it, became inspired as he did?  Then he too, is weaved into the mushroom mythology? 

In fact, one of the ancient texts, which Newton translated, was The Emerald Tablet. 

The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Smaragdine Table, or Tabula Smaragdina, is a compact and cryptic piece of Hermetica reputed to contain the secret of the prima materia and its transmutation. It was highly regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their art and its Hermetic tradition. Although Hermes Trismegistus is the author named in the text, the first known appearance of the Emerald Tablet is in a book written in Arabic between the sixth and eighth centuries. The text was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century. Numerous translations, interpretations and commentaries followed.[4]
Here is his translation:

  1. Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
  2. That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing
  3. And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
  4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.
  5. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
  6. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
  7. Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
  8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven & again it descends to the earth & receives the force of things superior & inferior.
  9. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world
  10. & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
  11. Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing & penetrates every solid thing.
  12. So was the world created.
  13. From this are & do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world[5]
  14. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished & ended.
     If Newton did discover the identity of the philosopher’s stone, did he enjoy it, or did he suffer a psychosis associated with a bad trip?  In 1692, Newton was to suffer what was called a nervous breakdown that would last for 18 months.  Consider the following behavior exhibited by Newton:
Newton recorded in his notebook of experimenting with chemicals during June of 1693. The limited evidence for symptomatic mental illness of Newton during this period stem from correspondences (c.f. The Royal Society) revealing melancholia, desire for withdrawal from relations including his good friends, insomnia, apathy, loss of appetite, delusion of persecution, possibly failures in memory (amnesia), and bipolar. In a letter written to Samuel Pepys, Newton stated he was...
extremely troubled by the embroilment I am in, have neither ate nor slept well in the last twelve months, nor have my former consistency of mind
13th September 1693 [8]
It has been suggested that mercury poising caused this, since he mentions ingesting it, and high traces were found in his hair samples after death.  The problem with this diagnosis is that Mercury poisoning caused by ingesting can be irreversible, and fatal[6].  However, compare Newton’s behavior to the effects of psilocybin mushrooms:
Reactions characterized by violence, aggression, homicidal and suicidal attempts, prolonged schizophrenia-like psychosis, and convulsions have been reported in the literature. A 2005 survey conducted in the United Kingdom found that almost a quarter of those who had used psilocybin mushrooms in the past year had experienced a panic attack. Other adverse effects less frequently reported include paranoia, confusion, derealization, disconnection from reality, and mania. Psilocybin usage can temporarily induce a state of depersonalization disorder. Usage by those with schizophrenia can induce acute psychotic states requiring hospitalization.[7]
Also, it is likely Newton would have used alchemical terms rather than actual terms to keep it secret.  Consider too the implications of mercury in the context of alchemy, it has been identified as Prima materia, or the first matter.  Alchemists thought of mercury as the First Matter from which all metals were formed.[8]  By 1612 Martin Ruland the Younger had compiled a list with over 50 synonyms for Prima material:

Names assigned to the Prima Materia in Ruland's 1612 alchemical dictionary, Lexicon alchemiae sive dictionarium alchemistarum.[9]
Microcosmos, The Philosophical Stone, The Eagle Stone,Water of Life,Venom, Poison, Chamber, Spirit, Medicine, Heaven, Clouds, Nebula or Fog, Dew, Shade, Moon, Stella Signata and Lucifer, Permanent Water, Fiery and Burning Water, Salt of Nitre and Saltpetre ,Lye, Bride, Spouse, Mother, Eve, Pure and Uncontaminated Virgin, Milk of Virgin, or the Fig, Boiling Milk, Honey, A Spiritual Blood, Bath, A Syrup,Vinegar, Lead, Tin, Sulphur of Nature, Spittle of the Moon, Ore, The Serpent, The Dragon, Marble, Crystal, Glass, Scottish Gem, Urine, Magnesia, Magnet,White Ethesia,White Moisture, White Smoke, Dung, Metallic Entity,Mercury, The Soul and Heaven of the Elements,The Matter of all Forms, Tartar of the Philosophers,Dissolved Refuse,The Rainbow,Indian Gold, Heart of the Sun, Chaos, Venus[9] 
Since there are so many words used to describe prima materia, I feel it would be difficult to actually assert what Newton ingested.  While mercury poising might be a possibility, I feel if he was really that damaged, it would have been permanently, and he would not of have been able to go on and be as productive as he was after his depression.  Consider the fact that he would go on to become warden of the Royal Mint, makes it suspicious that he would have endured any lasting effects of mercury poising associated with ingesting it. 

     What about Newton and secret societies?  Apparently there are secret societies that maintain secrecy.  According to one researcher trying to prove Rene Descartes was a memeber of the Rosicrucians, said this:
In identifying certain historical persons involved with Rosicrucianism we need to keep in mind that because of various religious and political persecutions of centuries past, Rosicrucians, for obvious reasons, were sworn to secrecy regarding their membership. Even known Rosicrucian apologists such as Robert Fludd and Michael Maier never publicly verified their Rosicrucian affiliation.
And yet, we know that a number of historical figures were Rosicrucian, and if one looks closely there are various references suggesting Rosicrucian affiliation that are often overlooked by historians as being insignificant. For example, the Royal Society of today is derived from the efforts of a group of known Rosicrucians: Theodore Haak, John Pell, and Samuel Hartlib, to name but a few. The group was first known as the "Invisible College," later as the "Rosicrucian College," and finally as the "Royal Society" a name conferred by King Charles II in 1662.
Newton was President of the Royal Society.  Consider that Newton’s occult work didn’t come to light until 1936, and was bought by another member of a secret society member John Maynard Keynes.  Keynes was a member of the Cambridge Apostles.[10]  It has been suggested by some that based on his work and associations that Newton was a member of the Rosicrucians, furthermore the Rosicrucians have claimed him as a member.[11]  Lastly, upon his death, Newton was in possession of over 160 manuscripts dedicated to alchemy, and some even Rosicrucian manifestos.

At the time of his death, Isaac Newton had 169 books on the topic of alchemy in his personal library, and was believed to have considerably more books on this topic during his Cambridge years, though he may have sold them before moving to London in 1696. For its time, his was considered one of the finest alchemical libraries in the world. In his library, Newton left behind a heavily annotated personal copy of The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity R.C., by Thomas Vaughan which represents an English translation of The Rosicrucian Manifestos. Newton also possessed copies of Themis Aurea and Symbola Aurea Mensae Duodecium by the learned alchemist Michael Maier, both of which are significant early books about the Rosicrucian movement. These books were also extensively annotated by Newton.[12]


Also, the Masonic Square and Compass, images that led to this research, also come from the alchemical tradition, and first appear in a manuscript by Valentinus, called Materia Prima, in 1612.  Sound familiar?  Consider the following image in which a two-head hermaphrodite is holding the compass in one hand and the square in the other.  Here’s what Al Pike had to say about the mason and the square and what they represent:
You see at the beginning of this reading, an old Hermetic Symbol, copied from the "MATERIA PRIMA" of Valentinus, printed at Franckfurt, in 1613, with a treatise entitled "AZOTH." Upon it you see a Triangle upon a Square, both of these contained in a circle; and above this, standing upon a dragon, a human body, with two arms only, but two heads, one male and the other female. By the side of the male head is the Sun, and by that of the female head, the Moon, the crescent within the circle of the full moon. And the hand on the male side holds a Compass, and that on the female side, a Square. [13] 

The Hermaphroditic figure is the Symbol of the double nature anciently assigned to the Deity, as Generator and Producer, as BRAHM and MAYA among the Aryans, Osiris and Isis among the Egyptians. As the Sun was male, so the Moon was female; and Isis was both the sister and the wife of Osiris. The Compass, therefore, is the Hermetic Symbol of the Creative Deity, and the Square of the productive Earth or Universe.
The COMPASS, therefore, as the Symbol of the Heavens, represents the spiritual, intellectual, and moral portion of this double nature of Humanity; and the SQUARE, as the Symbol of the Earth, its material, sensual, and baser portion. [14]
     I only wanted to try to show that Newton and Blake might be connected through Masonry, but I now feel it was through alchemy.  And I feel that Newton also discovered the identity of the Philosopher’s stone as a magic mushroom.  And that Blake knew of this and incorporated it into his art.

The first clue is the shape that Newton is drawn in, an incredibly uncomfortable position, with happens to resemble the shape of the mushroom.  Another hint adding to this, is the only piece of clothing appears like a white veil draping his arm.  This appears like the stalk of the amanita rising up to meet Newton’s red hair, like the cap of the mushroom.  Another mushroom hint is also hidden between crevice between Newton’s stomach and thigh; there is what appears to be a mushroom.  And the last hint is the fact that Newton is sitting on a stone or the philosopher’s stone, while he makes calculations.  Newton literally drew his inspiration from the philosopher’s stone, and Blake illustrated it here. And this is just one engraving.   

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[5] Ibid
[12] White, Michael (1999). Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer. Da Capo Press. p. 117.
[13] Morals and Dogma: Consistory: XXXII. Sublime of the Royal Secret pg. 850-51
[14] Ibid