1. The concept of the Shekinah as the female potency of the Divine One is contentious but it is part of the Lurianic Cabbalistic myth in which the first separation took place at the moment of Creation. Gersholm Scholem (1897 - 1982) explains this myth in detail in ‘Kabbalah and Myth’ (On Kabbalah and its Symbolism, Schocken, NY, 1996. pp. 110 - 117) where he deals, too, with “the broken vessels” and with the restoration of the sparks of Soul. Colin Low’s essay On Separation is more general in its approach but it offers a valuable and easily understood overview.

2. Robert Fludd (1574-11637) a physician and an alchemist, published a number of influential books in which he explored “the philosophical brain” and the “Ladder of Perfection”, the links between Man and the Universe, Heaven and Earth, the senses and the imagination, Reason and inner knowledge. He believed that the basis of all knowledge is the imitation of Nature.

3. The shape of Qoph and the role of the Tzaddi are discussed briefly in The Mystical Significance of Hebrew Letters, but this is an extremely old and complex subject which is regarded by many Jewish scholars as sacred and secret knowledge.

4. Usually, on this card the moon face is framed by a full moon around which rays of sun appear, as in an almost total lunar eclipse of the sun.

5. This creature is sometimes identified with the Sacred Scarab beetle of Egyptian mythology, which rolls the Sun through the Underworld so that it will be reborn each day with the god Keph-Ra.

6. Wallis Budge describes Thoth as “the great god of words” and “judge of words”. He notes that in Egyptian texts, the Balance in the Hall of Judgment “is not described as the judging or ‘weighing of actions’, but as the ‘weighing of words’” (The Gods of the Egyptians, Dover Inc. NY 1969, Vol. i. p 408)

7. In folk-tradition, olive besoms are used to drive out evil spirits and olive trees are beaten to ensure that they bear fruit. In mythology, the olive belongs to the great Goddess, to Athena, and to all fertility gods. Hermes invented its cultivation and Medea stirred her magical, rejuvenating, witches brew with it (See Ovid’s, Metamorphoses. 7: 345 - 352).

8. In the Authorised Bible, Cain’s sons become the first artificers, so, his dark blood is turned to creative ends. In the Apocrypha, there are several different accounts of Cain’s murder of Abel. In The Books of Adam and Eve, for example, Eve foresees the murder in a dream; and Earth refuses to accept Abel’s body until Adam dies and his body, made of her mud, is also returned to her.

9. Wodwo’s question “What am I?” is very like “Who’s here?” and both reflect the continuous human concern about our nature and our place in the world.

10. Roob, Alchemy and Mysticism, Taschen, Koln, 1997. p. 501. And Fludd’s Utriusque cosmi.

11. This image of an ape representing human abilities predates Darwin’s theory of evolution and the word ‘apish’, meaning ‘foolish’ is recorded by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as being in use in 1509.

12. The Kraken is an enormous, legendary sea-monster of Northern European waters. When it surfaces, it is said to give off a pungent smell which attracts shoals of fish, which it catches and stores for future consumption.

13. Giorgio de Chirico (1888 - 1974) was an artist whose work Sylvia knew well enough to discuss in detail with a friend in March 1956 (SPJ 25 March 1956). Two years later, she wrote two poems inspired by paintings by de Chirico which had “seized” her imagination, and she recorded quotations from his writings in her journal (SPJ 29 March 1958).

14. The SOED defines ‘daemon’ as ‘genius’, ‘attendant spirit’ and, in Greek mythology, ‘a being of a nature intermediate between that of gods and men’. Also, as ‘a malignant being of superhuman nature’.

15. ‘Full Fathom Five’ was the poem in which Ted believed that Sylvia accepted “for the first time...the invitation to her inner world”. Hughes, ‘Notes on the Chronological Order of Sylvia Plath’s Poems’, in Newman (Ed.) The Art of Sylvia Plath, Faber, London, 1970. p.190. ( This article was first published in Tri Quarterly (7: 81-8), Fall, 1966).

16. Colin Low, Notes on Kabbalah, p. 34.

17. Op. cit., Newman. p. 191.

18. Crowley, Book of Thoth, p. 44.

19. Op. cit., Newman. p. 187.

20. Ted Hughes’ essay, ‘Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Ariel’, in Thumbscrew, 2 Spring, 1995. p. 4 - 5.

21. Op. cit., ‘Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Ariel’, Thumbscrew. p. 9.

22. Dion Fortune discusses the importance of Malkuth in this respect in The Mystical Qabalah, Society of Inner Light, London, 1998 (first published 1935), pp. 263 - 4.

23. These old gods include Hecate, who is goddess of both witchcraft and childbirth; Astarte, goddess of battle; Blue-eyed Sycorax / Cerridwen, the Moon-witch; and the old Biblical God of judgement and retribution.

24. The falling star, thunder, flooding waters, flames and screams, which presage and accompany this birth in Ted’s poem, also carry echoes of the birth of the child to the woman in Revelation (especially Revelation 12: 1-7 and 13-17); and her banishment, like that of the Shekinah, is associated with our divided and fallen world.

25. Op. cit., ‘Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Ariel’, Thumbscrew, p. 11.

26. Op. cit., Newman. p. 187.

27. Faas. UU 181. The extract from ‘Notes on the Chronological Order of Sylvia Plath’s Poems’ which is included in Faas’s book differs from that in the book edited by Newman.

28. Op. cit., Thumbscrew. p. 11.

29. Ibid., p. 11.

30. Ibid., p. 10 - 11.

31. Faas. UU 181 - 2.

32. This is a Taoist maxim from 6 - 4 BC. Quoted by Wu Cheng (c. 1500 - 1580) in The Adventures of Monkey. Ch. 2.

33. The glyph of the Sephirothic Trees generally shows the Worlds one above the other, with the Underworld directly below the World of Assiah. Sometimes the Underworld, the World of Qlipoth, is represented as a mirror reflection of the upper Trees. But Cabbalists believe that the Worlds and the energies are, in fact, all around us.

34. Op. cit., Lorca, Deep Song. p. 50.

35. Aurelia Plath wrote that Otto’s love of honey led him, as a young man, to capture and keep wild bees, and this skill “won him the name of Bienenk√ľng (bee king) from his contemporaries” (SPLH 9).

36. Ted would not have intended the word ‘guilt’, in this context, to imply any transgression of civil or moral laws but to suggest, rather, our crime against Nature. Ultimately, it is Nature’s laws which govern us, and our guilt is the arrogance and pride which blinds us to this fact. It is exactly this guilt, this “staturing ‘I am’”, which Ted described in his early poem ‘Egg-head’ (THCP 33) and which was his constant, poetic concern.

37. It is interesting to note the numerology of this poem. It is made up of six four-line stanzas plus one final line. 6 x 4 + 1. Four is the number of the Elements from which everything in our world is made. Four is the number of Earth and of ‘four square’ stability. Here, four is magnified six times. Six is the number of the heart, of Venus, of the Lovers. Seven, the total number of stanzas, is the number of completion. One is the unity from which all manifestation proceeds and this completes the poem.

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