God as Imagination: the Image and the Imaginer in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabî
Introduction: Ibn ‘Arabî and Islamic mysticism
According to Professor Henry Corbin, one of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Ibn ‘Arabî (1165–1240) was “a spiritual genius who was not only one of the greatest masters of Sufism in Islam, but also one of the great mystics of all time.”
Imagination (khayâl), as Corbin has shown, plays a major role in Ibn ‘Arabî’s writings. In the Openings, for example, he says about it, “After the knowledge of the divine names and of self-disclosure and its all-pervadingness, no pillar of knowledge is more complete”.
The Worship of the Serpent: The Awakening of Eve and the Generation of Nature
The Symbol of the Serpent: Introduction to Blavatsky’s work
Blake’s art speaks in symbols. But what exactly are symbols? And why are all of the deepest ancient esoteric truths always communicated through symbol and image? Pike suggests that symbols are the most powerful way to mediate and convey a “truth” that lies beyond ordinary conscious, “rational” thought programmes and parameters: “The first learning in the world consisted chiefly in symbols. The wisdom of the Chaldæans, Phœnicians, Egyptians, Jews; of Zoroaster, Sanchoniathon, Pherecydes, Syrus, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, of all the ancients, that is come to our hand, is symbolic. It was the mode, says Serranus on Plato’s Symposium, of the Ancient Philosophers, to represent truth by certain symbols and hidden images.”
And one of the most powerful, and recurrent, of all these ancient symbols, he notes, is that of the serpent or dragon. “This will be found to be confirmed by an examination of some of the Symbols used in the Mysteries. One of the most famous of these was THE SERPENT. The Cosmogony of the Hebrews and that of the Gnostics designated this reptile as the author of the fate of Souls. It was consecrated in the Mysteries of Bacchus and in those of Eleusis. Pluto overcame the virtue of Proserpine under the form of a serpent; and, like the Egyptian God Serapis, was always pictured seated on a serpent, or with that reptile entwined about him.”
Apocalypse and Perception: Moving beyond Natural Perception
‘The Man Who Taught Blake Painting in his Dreams’ (c. 1825). This is a replica of one of Blake’s drawings of figures that appeared to him in visions. It has also been proposed that Blake’s image might be a ‘visionary self-portrait’, showing the artist himself at the moment of the inspiration. The strange form on the forehead may represent flames.
“Through the eighth Eye man is able to cast off the error of tradition and dogma and achieve individual inspiration”. Picture: ‘The Sun At His Eastern Gate’. Many people see the sun as a natural object in the sky, i.e., see it in terms of the dogmas of natural science, literality, and tradition, without the reality-based eight eye.
Prophetic Vision in Blake’s Poetry
In a previous study, Blake’s Eyes of God Cycles to Apocalypse and Redemption, the seven Eyes of God in Blake’s prophetic books were correlated with biblical and historical periods. Directed by the spirit of imagination, these cycles were seen as intrinsic to apocalypse. Here we examine the poetic inspiration of Blake’s eighth Eye and relate it to the prophetic vision in some of Blake’s designs.
Tradition and Imagination in William Blake’s Illustrations for the Book of Job
Suffering into Wisdom: If Oedipus was the key figure for the 20th Century then Job is the archetypal figure for the 21st century, embodying the awakening into the social and the imaginative nature of self, through the collapse of ego and the experience of trauma and suffering
“Previous studies have concentrated on the engraved set, and no one has explored the implications of the earlier dating now agreed for the watercolour series.”
Blake created two versions of his Illustrations of the Book of Job, and it is now agreed that about twenty years separates his first watercolour series and the final engraved set of plates. The first (‘Butts’) series of water-colours was the product of the tumultuous and creative years 1805-10, following a time when Blake experienced a strong sense of vision and Christian regeneration; whereas the engraved set was produced 1821-1826, at the end of his life.
This article explores Blake’s treatment of the Job theme, in which the ‘friends-turned-accusers’ seem to have been a central pre-occupation. Blake’s illustrations contain important elements which are not found in the Old Testament text, and I consider Blake’s imaginative use of this material, exploring in particular the importance to Blake of St.Teresa, Fenelon, Mme. Guyon, Hervey and other people of ‘prayer’.
Blake’s Job was unique in the corpus of his work. Previous studies have followed Wicksteed in concentrating on the engraved set, and no one has explored the implications of the earlier dating now agreed for the watercolour series. The thesis is essentially concerned with Blake’s Christocentric theme, and Job’s inner journey of prayer, in these illustrations.
The Philosopher’s Stone, the Spiritualisation of Matter and the Numerology of God
The word “deluge” hails from the Latin “diluvium,” meaning to wash away or dissolve. The Deluge, as a world-shaping event, is recorded in the collective mythologies of nearly every ancient culture from Pre-Inca Tiahuanacu, the story of Vishnu and Manu in the Hindu tradition, and the Turtle Island myth of the Anishinaabe to our most antiquated accounts in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and “The Book of Genesis.”
“the story of Vishnu and Manu in the Hindu tradition”. Manu is a term found with various meanings in Hinduism. In early texts, it refers to the archetypal man, or to the first man (progenitor of humanity). The Sanskrit term for ‘human’, mānava, means ‘of Manu’ or ‘children of Manu’. In Vishnu Purana, Vaivasvata was the king of Dravida before the great flood. He was warned of the flood by the Matsya (fish) avatar of Vishnu, and built a boat that carried the Vedas, Manu’s family and the seven sages to safety, helped by Matsya. The myth is repeated with variations in other texts, including the Mahabharata and a few other Puranas. It is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.
The common narrative that binds them is the meeting of a man (often a demi-god) with a greater divinity. The divine being warns the man of the coming flood and gives him instructions to build a ship, in which he is taken away to a Holy Mountain where he waits until the Earth is restored or cleansed by the waters. One of the most interesting details of Deluge mythology is the adaptation of the myth to best suit the cosmological understanding of the culture meant to receive it. Both the ancient Sumerian and primitive Hebrew cultures relied heavily upon the symbolic use of numbers to transmit ideas.
Through examination of numerical variations in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” in relation to “The Book of Genesis,” one will discover that although the details of Deluge mythology are as divergent as human culture, this is not a result of the mistranslation of an ancient historical account, but an adaptation of symbols to conjure the same meaning; thus transcending both cultural and religious differences, in order to communicate “the secret of the gods.”