The Eighth Eye: Prophetic Vision in Blake’s Poetry and Design, by Rachel V. Billigheimer

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.

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Blake’s Chariots of Fire, by David Sten Herrstrom

Blake’s Transformations of Ezekiel’s Wheels in Jerusalem

 

Introduction: Ezekiel in Felpham

During the only period he lived away from London, Blake underwent what he describes in a letter-poem to his friend Thomas Butts as nothing less than a personal Last Judgment, a harrowing experience which involved a crisis of faith in himself and his friends, as well as an accusation by the spectres of “Poverty, Envy, old age & Fear.” These demons hounded him until he found the strength to resist and defeat them in what he calls a “fourfold vision”.

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Mysticism: The Highest State of Communism, by Jackie DiSalvo

William Blake, Sexual Communism and the Fall into Monogamy

Blake called his Christianity “The Everlasting Gospel”, and as he articulates in that poem, the affirmation of man’s divinity implies a rejection all inequality and authority:

This is the race that Jesus ran

Humble to God Haughty to Man

Cursing the Rulers before the People

Even to the temples highest Steeple …

 

If thou humblest thyself thou humblest me

Thou also dwellst in Eternity

Thou art a Man God is no more

Thy own humanity learn to adore.

Blake’s humanistic Christianity has been acknowledged by most critics. What must be understood, in addition, is that his use of the myth of Albion, trinitarian doctrine, and the idea of a “mystical body of Christ” demands that we read The Four Zoas as a myth which is simultaneously psychological and social. “What are the Natures of those Living Creatures [the Zoas],” Blake tells us, “no Individual Knoweth” , for they evoke a social reality lost to fallen man.

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