William Blake – raging against a sea of troubles

William Blake, the 19th century visionary writer and artist is such an influential giant in literary and artistic circles it is astonishing he was regarded so negatively during his life. One review of his illustrations called them a display of “nonsense, unintelligibleness and egregious vanity.” His obituary in the Literary Chronicle described him as “one of those ingenious persons … whose eccentricities were still more remarkable than their professional abilities.” Since his death, his influence and stature have risen to establish him amongst the greats.

  He was born 28 November 1757 7.45pm (from memory) London, was home educated, with the Bible having a profound influence on him, began writing at an early age, claiming to have had his first vision, of a tree full of angels when he was 10. His visions had a lasting effect on his art and writings. He trained as an engraver and later produced his own illustrations.

 He was an enthusiastic Sun Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 5th house on this birth time. Though with a life filled with visions I’d have expected a stronger 8th house so the timing may be out. His Jupiter would give him the vision, ideals and enthusiasm to keep going even in the face of little appreciation.  What may have held him back in his lifetime was an afflicted Mars in Leo which was conjunct Neptune, trine Pluto, opposition Saturn and on the focal point of a Yod inconjunct Uranus sextile Venus in Capricorn.

  Mars in Leo is flamboyant but blocked by the Saturn opposition it would not be ego-supportive. Mars Pluto tends to accompany a lifetime of frustrations, milder since in trine than a hard aspect, but still in operation. A Yod focal point Mars can be self-defeating and being out-of-tune with himself, he’d also present an awkward face to his environment.  

  His Leo North Node does point to him being a trailblazer but looking to his harmonics to explore why he made so little headway in his life he did have an exceptionally strong 8th Harmonic –

8: A fated number. “Karmic debt”. Soul wounds, bad luck or loss may follow this number, which also gives an abundance of strength and stubbornness in the face of difficulties. The road to success is often bumpy and hard, and if it comes easy, or at all, it will not necessarily bring happiness.

Notable also are his 20th harmonic and 13th.

  20: A major upheaval that leads to an awakening which changes the ambitions, ideals, goals or plans for one’s life. Not a good material number, but is considered good for spiritual development. Delays and obstacles.

13: Upheaval, change and rebirth. This number is associated with exploration, genius and breaking with the orthodox. It warns against the unknown and the unexpected. It requires adaptation to change to be successful.

 He also had marked leaving-a-legacy, immortality 17H; a creative 5H; and global-name 22nd.

[Interesting, not the chart I would have expected with such a raging Mars – and I would question the birth time.]

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

“He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity’s sunrise.”

― William Blake

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.”

― William Blake

“I was angry with my friend:

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe;

I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water’d it in fears,

Night & morning with my tears;

And I sunnéd it with smiles

And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright;

And my foe beheld it shine,

And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,

When the night had veil’d the pole:

In the morning glad I see

My foe outstretch’d beneath the tree.”

― William Blake, Songs of Experience

13 thoughts on “William Blake – raging against a sea of troubles

  1. Thank you Marjorie.
    What characterizes Blake is energy, tremendous energy, so I don’t see him with Cancer Rising but rather Leo, which would put his Uranus in the 8th house, and also give him an Aquarius Descendant, more likely too : he married Catherine Boucher, the illiterate daughter of a market gardener and taught her to read, write, make engravings and illuminated books. He treated her as an equal.
    She was his helpmate and spiritual companion, and had visions too, as shown in the novel ‘Other sorrows, other joys’, by Janet Warner.
    With her Juno on his NN and her Aries combo trining both his Leo and Sagittarius planets, she was a vital presence throughout his entire life.

  2. Thank you, Marjorie. I don’t think worldly recognition would have meant all that much to Blake. He was decidedly sniffy about Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, the top society artists of the time, since he viewed them as pandering to the rich and privileged, depicting their subjects in an overly flattering light which Blake disapproved of. In fact he may well have been correct in that those artists’ works, as skillfully painted as they are, do not have the elements of modernism or the visual impact of Blake’s unique artistic vision.

    Through his mother, Catherine he was raised in the Moravian Church which would have fed his rich imagination. The Moravian movement grew out of the Bohemian Reformation of the 15th century, possibly one of the oldest Protestant movements we know of. They were strongly anti-war and believed that Christianity should be heart-based (Herzensreligion). Blake’s father was inspired by the philosophy of Swedenborg, but it was his mother who encouraged her son’s talents. In fact the little boy appears to have been somewhat of a gifted child, writing, composing and singing beautiful songs, (though he had no formal training) and painting and drawing in the solitude of his room. This is what I think of when I see that Mars/Neptune/North Node in Leo. (I have these two planets conjunct in Scorpio and that is exactly how I spent much of my childhood). His visions came early at age 4 when he saw God’s forehead pressed against the windowpane, saw angels gathered in a tree and the prophet Ezekiel beneath. Blake’s Scorpio Mercury which squares his Mars (which incidentally is closely conjunct BML – now that’s a fiery combination!) may reflect the eroticised spirituality preached by Count Zinzendorf (1700-60), leader of the Unitas Fratrum whose ideas inspired his parents’ beliefs. So this rich, radical spiritual movement was fertile ground for the young Blake’s fantastic, burning imagination. And Mars in Leo at its highest expression and when channelled into creative endeavours can produce such brilliance. Combine it with BML and it brings to mind the ‘fearful symmetry’ of Blake’s wild and awesome ‘Tyger’.

    I suspect that Uranus in Pisces may well lie in the 8th – it would make perfect sense. Blake was actually charged with sedition in 1803, after he was heard saying ‘damn the king’. But he was found not guilty at the trial. Transit Pluto in Pisces was squaring his Sagittarius Sun at the time.

    • ‘What is the price of Experience? do men buy it for a song?
      Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
      Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.
      Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
      And in the wither’d field where the farmer plows for bread in vain.’

      There’s Saturn for you.

      • Thank you Marjorie, and VF. An extraordinary character – I’ve been fascinated by him for a long time.
        He’s mystical, but also I see it joined with science in some of his work – a world in a grain of sand, for example.

        Regarding his lifelong visions – the 12th house Moon is strong in Cancer, with that trine to Uranus in Pisces possibly bringing out his ability to communicate his unusual visions in the 9th house of publishing? They aspect a potentially practical, hard-working Venus in Capricorn which could help to ground them in poetry and art? Uranus would hint at the artistic sensibilities of the future, as well of spirituality in Pisces – and we respond to his visions today in new ways perhaps?

        I have nothing in the 8th house, but numerous aspects to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in my natal chart. I saw ghosts from the age of three when I apparently alarmed my parents by chatting about them! One ‘ghost’ description they recognised turned out to be my great-grandfather whom I had never met. I also had predictive dreams, similarly alarming the adults. Fortunately, they never tried to block these experiences, or ridicule them. I also saw other kinds of ‘beings’ in the trees, and on it all went……I learned to keep quiet about it all outside the family.
        I have never attempted to label any of this, and still consider it perfectly normal. I suspect we can all see things, but society and culture tends to block, ridicule, or monetise our natural awareness of other dimensions. Many people have seen their pets react to things that ‘aren’t there’ – and I believe our own deep instincts still resonate somewhere inside us.

        • Wow, thanks Jane. Children’s perception of reality of course is less confined, more open to these experiences. Blake’s 12th house Moon trines his Piscean Uranus which concurs with his mother’s non-conformist beliefs and how she would have nurtured her son’s gifts. I have a 12th house Uranus and Pluto sextile Moon in Scorpio and my mother was interested in the unusual, esoteric and the unorthodox and has herself an 8th house Uranus. My Great-Grandmother saw ghosts. In particular, that of a woman in a crinoline, who she later learned had died when her skirts caught fire (apparently, this was not an uncommon cause of death among women during the era of the crinoline). Some of my earliest childhood memories are of out-of-body experiences and the ominous presence of a shadow person who I was afraid of. As an adult I sometimes wonder if these things were actually part of me, if that makes sense, like you say it’s hard to find the vocabulary to describe these experiences.

          • Thank you VF. Yes, it does make sense that those experiences were part of you. But then there’s the possibility of boundary-less collective experiences that we somehow dip into as well. Many people report out-of-body experiences during surgery, and are able to describe what was happening, and sometimes report conversations happening while they were unconscious. Perhaps we really have no idea what consciousness is, to its full extent anyway? Ditto all the strange reports of children describing previous, adult, lives in great detail in other locations, and finding these to be accurate – or at least very thought-provoking. I keep a very open mind on everything – and when I vaguely understand quantum physics (!), I can see that our linear time world view is very limited indeed.

            “The next world, to me in my childhood, seemed just as real as the world I was living in. It wasn’t that I had a mental picture of it—it was that I never questioned its existence.” Hilary Mantel

            I love that quote. And it is how I still experience this world!

          • The trouble is, I have a Libra Sun in the 2nd which has a tendency to reason and rationalise, but nonetheless life has taught me to keep an open mind on these matters. I don’t believe we yet understand a fraction of what we call reality to put it crudely. When in my early 20s, I had been through a particularly devastating experience (Pluto was on my Moon at the time) and had what I can only describe as a ‘spiritual experience’. My perception shifted to such a degree that I could ‘see’/perceive the life force in everything. I remember ‘seeing’ that even stones and rocks had a life force and a kind of sentience.

          • Thanks so much for sharing that VF. I had something very similar as a young teenager – we were on holiday, walking in a beautiful valley in Wales. Quite suddenly I ‘saw’ all the flowers and trees had an intensity of colour and shape I had never seen before. Everything I looked at seemed lit from within, and I remember thinking ‘this is how the world really looks’. It was so moving, and the sense of every living thing being connected was incredible. I cried when it stopped, as suddenly as it had started. I’ve never had that experience again, but it has stayed with me.
            What I’ve read about people on ‘trips’ of various kinds seems to connect with this, but I never want to take any of those things that open the doors of perception. I think if mine want to open, they will, as and when they feel like it! But it seems this is part of a human being’s mind, whether opened by mushrooms or whatever, or just spontaneously. And nowadays, we can see how much DNA we share with other species – so our connections do have a scientific aspect perhaps. Possibly the “DNA” of astrology, with its repeating patterns in history and family groups, is showing us something similar. Maybe it is the music of spheres resonating through us all.

            At some point it would be interesting to look at the charts for mystical visionaries Hildegard of Bingen, 17 August 1098 JC, and St Teresa of Avila 28 March 1515 JC. Teresa has Neptune in Aquarius conjunct her South Node, and a yod with Uranus sextile Neptune, Moon in Virgo. Hildegard has a fixed t-square of Scorpio Mars, opposing Uranus in Taurus, squaring onto Neptune in Leo. Pluto squares the Capricorn/Cancer Nodes. Her music is very mesmerising.

  3. Really interesting, Marjorie. I’ve just finished reading a biography of Blake (“William Blake versus the world” by John Higgs); I didn’t know that much about him before – I found him intriguing and fascinating. He created his own personal, unique mythology which was fascinating in itself, and so layered. John Higgs suggests that Blake was really ahead of his times, for example (amongst other things) in having a deep understanding of eternity and time – ideas which correlated with our modern discovery that time is a dimension, not a linear fact.
    It’s really interesting to read more about his astrology. I can’t help feeling sad that he didn’t get more recognition within his lifetime.
    Do you tend to look at harmonics when you read someone’s birth chart?

  4. “if the doors of perception were cleansed all things would appear to man as they are, infinite” See Huxley and the band, the Doors…

  5. Hi Marjorie, you say for Blake….”I would have expected a stronger 8th House…”
    If we change your Houses from Koch to Placidus, this gives Blake natal Saturn
    exactly on his 8th cusp opposition Mars-Neptune. This gives him a stronger
    8th House. Click on link below for his Placidus Houses chart. His birth time
    would not need changing.

    • Hmm, I’d have thought Saturn would block rather than facilitate visions. I’d have expected other planets there.

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