1. Crowley, The Book of Thoth, p. 110.

2. Crowley, 777, ‘Gematria’ p. 25.

3. ‘Walking Bare’ beautifully describes the gem-like purity and the “appointed” status of a newborn soul-spark in its Earthly setting.

4. In the Hebrew Sephir Yetzirah, the enlightened Tzaddik on this Path hunts for fallen sparks, broken vessels, soul-fragments of a failed Divine Creation. When found, these are, metaphorically, ‘eaten’ by the hunter in order to reconnect them with the Divine Source and in this process the soul of the Tzaddik becomes increasingly conscious of Divinity and increasingly able to reveal it and draw its healing energies into our World. Jesus, the Fisher of Men, was just such a Tzaddik; so, too, were other prophets and saints. But mediation between human and divine is also the role of the Shaman and, traditionally, of the poet.

5. Gifford. T, ‘Go Fishing: An Ecocentric or Egocentric Imperative’, Lire Ted Hughes (Ed. Moulin) Editions Du Temps, Paris, 1999.

6. Baring and Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess, p.204.

7. Ted discovered his own hunting instincts very early. He wrote about this in Poetry In The Making (Faber, 1969. pp. 15-17) and wrote, too, of his belief that hunting and the writing of a poem are essentially the same activity.

8. Sylvia’s journal entries began in Spain on 7 July 1956 and show that by 23 August 1956 the couple were back in Paris.

9. Lorca, F.G. ‘Play and the Theory of Duende’, Deep Song, New Directions, N.Y., 1980, pp 42-53.

10. ‘Fiesta Melons’, ‘The Goring’, ‘The Beggars’ and ‘Spider’ (SPCP 46 - 49). Not until July 1958 was Sylvia able to tackle the dark undercurrents of death and birth of which she was aware in Benidorm. In her poems ‘Old Ladies Home’ and ‘The Net Menders’ (SPCP 120 - 121), she uses moony imagery of fluent beauty to deal with things which she described in her journal as “closed to me as a poem subject till now”. (SPJ 12 July 1958).

11. Images which suggest sexual witchcraft and passions associated with Sylvia’s lips as well as their fullness.

12. See Jerome Bosch (c 1450-1516).

13. The note on ‘Spider’ (SPCP 275) identifies the source of Sylvia’s Anansi.

14. Ted discussed the complex subject of morality and killing in detail in an interview with Ekbert Faas in 1971. This interview is reproduced as ‘Poetry and Violence’ in Winter Pollen pp. 251 - 267, and the beliefs Ted expressed there, offer invaluable insight into the way in which he deals in Birthday Letters with the predatory instincts encountered on the Path of Tzaddi.

15. Sylvia and Ted may have seen Goya’s work, too, at the Prado in Madrid. In the words of one art-critic, Goya “assuredly made beauty out of ugliness and horror” (James, P. Arts Council of Great Britain, Goya exhibition catalogue, London, 1954): and in Goya’s depictions of human folly and perversion in Caprices, Proverbs and, especially, in Disasters of War, that grin of horror and pain is plain on many human faces.

16. Speaking to Ekbert Faas in 1970, Ted described the Shamanic call, its ancient association with poetry, and the special difficulties for poets in our present society of accepting or rejecting that call. UU 206.

17. An ancient Babylonian prayer to Innana / Astarte addresses her as “Light of Heaven and Earth” but also as “Lady of Battles”, “Lioness”, and she whose “Star of Lamentation” causes even “peaceable brothers to fight”.

18. Ted commented on Sylvia’s use of their bad moments as the subject for her poems in a letter to Janet Malcolm, quoted in The Silent Woman, p. 143.

19. In Sylvia’s poem ‘Ariel’ (SPCP 239 - 240), she calls Ariel “God’s lioness”, but the God of the Divine Source is pure, genderless energy which is expressed on the Cabbalistic Tree as ‘male’ or ‘female’ potencies not as gender-defined beings. Cybele, like all gods and goddesses of the Paths, is simply one expression of the energy of the whole.

20. Together, these two grapes, “a black one” followed by “a green one”, complete the winter-summer, night-day, death-rebirth wholeness of the Mother Earth Goddess’s cycles of Nature.

21. In Rome, this feast was know as ‘Hilaria’ (Feast of Joy) but it was also called the ‘Day of Blood’, because in a state of ecstasy and possession men would voluntary emasculate themselves and become Galli, Priests of Cybele. Cybele was imported to Rome from Greece in 204 BCE. Rome curbed the wild celebrations associated with her ‘birthday’ and instituted the Megalesia – seven days of freedom from public and legal duties, filled with processions, games and drama. In Rome, the final day of Megalesia (10 April, until the date was moved closer to the vernal equinox) was officially The Great Mother’s birthday.

22. ‘Poppies in July’ (SPCP 203) and ‘Poppies in October’ (SPCP 240). Both poems were written in 1962.

23. The earliest known description of this disrobing of the Star Goddess is found in ancient Sumerian texts, which tell of Ishtar’s descent into the Land of Darkness ruled by her sister, Ereshkigal, in order to bring back her lover, Tammuz, to the World of Light.

24. Neil Spencer writes that Saturn’s return to our birth-charts between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty “marks a point of reckoning, a crucial stage in our personal development. Saturn is the planet of limitation, responsibility and earned success, its return represents a time when boundaries are broken and outworn structures abandoned.”, True As The Stars Above, Gollancz, London, 2000. p. 51.

25. For the Ancient Greeks, Aphrodite was the laughter-loving goddess. But the laughter of the gods is always to be feared; and in folklore laughter is often regarded as a challenge to the gods and is, therefore, unlucky.

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