Friday, July 17, 2009

Arty Farty Friday ~ William Blake

Perhaps best known for his poetry, William Blake was also a prolific painter and printmaker. This is another artist born before his time - so many of them seem to have been ahead of the calendar. He wasn't appreciated to any great extent during his lifetime, lived mostly in near poverty.

"The esteemed poet William Wordsworth said on the death of Blake: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."Blake died on August 12 1827, he was buried in an unmarked grave in a public cemetery and Bunhill Fields."

I can't do any kind of justice to this man's work in a brief blog post. I recommend Wikipedia's entry for more detail, and a lot more of his artwork can be viewed via Google Image.

Here, I'm concentrating on how his natal chart reflects the outstanding elements of his work. I'll quote some pieces from Wikipedia, and elsewhere, and relate them to his natal chart, looking for artistry, creativity, philosophy, social conscience, religion (and antipathy towards it).

William Blake was born in London, England on 28 November 1757 at 7.45pm (Astrodatabank)

Blake's poetry and paintings rely strongly on religious and philosphical subjects. He wasn't keen on organised religion.

Although Blake's attacks on conventional religion were shocking in his own day, his rejection of religiosity was not a rejection of religion per se.
"Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys."
His natal Sun and Jupiter, conjunct in Sagittarius (sign of Jupiter's rulership), with Pluto there also, put emphasis on an interest in religion and philosophy deep in his nature. These are two facets of Sagittarius/Jupiter. His natal Moon in Cancer lay in scratchy quincunx aspect to his Sagittarius planets though - which may be from whence his antipathy to some aspects of religion emanated.

Blake abhorred slavery and believed in racial and sexual equality.Several of his poems and paintings express a notion of universal humanity:
"As all men are alike (tho' infinitely various)".

In one poem, narrated by a black child, white and black bodies alike are described as shaded groves or clouds, which exist only until one learns "to bear the beams of love":

When I from black, and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,
I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me

Blake was perplexed by the things that should perplex people - moral absolutes, the limits of perception, the tragic duplicities by which we live. All this is expressed in his Songs of Innocence and Experience; who cannot recognise the corruption of inequality in his lines, "Pity would be no more, / If we did not make somebody Poor"? (See here)

His social conscience is represented by natal Saturn in Aquarius, backed up by his philosophical Sagittarius planets. Aquarius relates to social awareness, Saturn was Aquarius' traiditional ruler (before Uranus arrived on the scene), so is at home there.

I was wondering where Mercury in Scorpio came into the picture, then accidentally stumbled upon the synopsis of a book: William Blake's Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision (Paperback)
by Marsha Keith Schuchard (At Amazon, here)
The author’s investigation into the radical psychosexual spiritual practices surrounding William Blake, which includes new archival discoveries of Blake family documents, reveals that Moravian and Swedenborgian erotic and visionary experimentation fueled much of Blake’s creative and spiritual life. Drawing also upon modern art restoration techniques, Marsha Keith Schuchard shows that Blake and his wife, Catherine, were influenced by secret kabbalistic and tantric rituals designed to transcend the bonds of social convention. Her exhaustive research provides a new context for understanding the mystical practices at the heart of Blake’s most radical beliefs about sexualized spirituality and its relation to visionary art.
Scorpio !

His visions:
From a young age, William Blake claimed to have seen visions. The first of these visions may have occurred as early as the age of four when, according to one anecdote, the young artist "saw God" when God "put his head to the window", causing Blake to break into screaming. At the age of eight or ten in Peckham Rye, London, Blake claimed to have seen "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars."

A Yod formation (Finger of Fate) links a harmonious sextile between Uranus and Venus to Neptune and/or Mars, and Black Moon Lilith (the Moon's apogee). Here, Venus, planet of the arts, is in sextile to Uranus, the avant garde planet and the two linked planets both link again, via quincunx (150*) to Neptune (creativity, dreams) and Mars (energy, aggression) to form the the apex. This type of formation is said to create something of a conduit for the energies of the sextiled planets through the planet(s) at apex. In this case that seems to work. Blakes' foresight (Uranus), artistic talent (Venus) chanelled via creativity, dreams, visions and some aggression, towards the wrongs he perceives in the world around him.

If Astrodatabank's information on his time of birth is correct Blake's rising degree is the last degree of Cancer, reflecting his sensitivity and possibly hints at some psychic ability (his visions).

Mercury forms a trine with Uranus and with the ascendant - no surprise that he is a poet as well as a painter (Mercury is the writer's planet).

It's all there, in his chart - the social awareness, the poet/painter, the philosopher and visionary, the interest in eroticism.








A sample poem. - Link to more here

by: William Blake (1757-1827)

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! She did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly
He took her with a sigh.


Wisewebwoman said...

Gosh I do love your arty fartiness, T!
Great post, how truly modern Blake was! A scrumptious read, my dear!

Shawn Carson said...

wonderful essay, twilight!
blake's mars was definitely in high focus as you illustrated, and he represents a change of pace from the venus /saturn artists we have seen recently. his art was very groundbreaking.

Matthew The Astrologer said...

I've always loved William Blake, and even more so when I found out there were numerous astrological parallels.

Wait, he didn't die broke, did he...?

anthonynorth said...

Blake was a brilliant and enigmatic man. He's fascinated me for years.
You've done an excellent job here.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ glad you liked it! :-)


Shawn ~~~ Pleased it pleased! Yes, definitely different, and before his time. :-)

Matthew the Astrologer ~~~ Hi there! Sadly, I think he did.
Struggling artists and astrologers have a lot in common - inspirational but not often seen in Millionaire's Row. ;-)


AN ~~~ Thank you kindly, much appreciated :-)