Earlier this week I came across a cool post on the Confidentials site that featured comic book legend/sorcerer supreme Alan Moore talking about the history of Western esoteric traditions and giving a list of his top five mystics and magicians. Here’s a bit about the poet/artist/gnostic prophet William Blake…
Blake summed up the artistic, anarchic soul of magic with his statement, “I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s”, and he certainly lived by that difficult dictum.
Though knowledgeable about subjects such as kabbalah or the transcendent teachings of Immanuel Swedenborg, Blake created his own intricate cosmology and expressed it through his visionary art and writings.
And though his gaze saw eternity in a grain of sand and raised an ethereal, fourfold, eternal city over the reeking slums of 18th century London, he was fiercely grounded in material and political reality. Politically a radical, he’d waved his red cap exultantly while watching Newgate prison burn and suffered sedition trials for repelling an attack by a drunken British soldier. He saw celestial or demonic visions on the stairs of his Lambeth home, sat naked with his wife Catherine in its garden, and was a friend of Tom Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.
He could not tolerate cruelty, to people or animals, and if you read his poem London it could have been written last week. He left a glorious body of work that allows us spiritually anaesthetised moderns to catch a glimpse of the archetypal world that he inhabited.
As an artist, as a mystic and as a human being, it is very, very difficult to improve on William Blake.
Blake is one of my great heroes, and his inclusion here is probably what inspired me to post about this. Here is the complete list:
1: Alexander of Abonoteichus (c. 105-c. 170)
2: Dr. John Dee (1527-1609)
3: William Blake (1757-1827)
4: Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
5: Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956)
Follow the link above to see all the details — it’s a great read. Here’s Moore giving his keynote address at the Trans-State conference last September…