1. This sketch (dated “26.F.98”), together with other preparatory sketches for this poem and for the rest of the poems in Howls & Whispers, is amongst the Baskin-Hughes papers in the British Library.

2. On a second sketch for this poem the title is ‘Moon list’. Baskin’s writing is clear and the way he forms his letters is generally consistent and easy to read and interpret.

3. Ted returns to this image in the final poem of Howls & Whispers, where Frigga, the Norse goddess of fertility tends her cauldron.

4. Binah’s cheek is also one half of the face of the united Supernals (Binah-Chokmah) who, together with Kether (The Crown) form the head of Universal Man, Adam Kadmon, and represent the highest level of consciousness (MQ 47)

5. Binah and Chokmah live just such busy lives: as All Mother and All Father, Queen and King, Heroine and Hero, etc. in many world mythologies. The Cabbalistic theme of unbalanced energies, a fallen world, a bleeding hero, and a barren land which requires the union of Male and Female energies to restore it to fertility, similarly has many mythic parallels.

6. Such complementary male-female energies were part of Ted’s and Sylvia’s shared mythology. Sylvia wrote of Ted in her journal as “a god” whom she “had conjured” from the sea “for my earth goddess, he the sun, the sea, the black complement power: yang to yin.”. (SPJ 17 July 1957).

7. ‘Asgard for the Addict’, Ted’s review of E.O.G Turville-Petre’s, Myths and Religions of the North (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1964) was published in The Listener, 19 March 1964.

8. In the Nibelunglied, the Rhinegold is the magical source of harmony. The lust of those who seek to own it, however, causes chaos and evil in the world of the gods. So, the World Tree dies; the Spring of Wisdom dries up; and gods and humans and their worlds are destroyed. Brunhilde and Siegfried, are the heroine and hero whose true love restores the balance so that the World Tree can grow again. But Siegfried, like all heroes, must first be tested to prove the strength and purity of his love.

9. Held amongst the Hughes-Sagar correspondence at The British Library.

10. Hughes-Sagar correspondence, 21 April 1977.

11. My own book, Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest, examines in detail Ted’s attempts achieve this rebirth through the poetry and the Alchemy of Cave Birds, Remains of Elmet and River.

12. Elmet, published in 1985, includes some poems which were not in Remains of Elmet and it differs from the earlier publication in the order of poems and in the underlying purpose of the sequence (Ted discussed this difference in purpose with me in 1985, and in a letter to Keith Sagar that same year he wrote of the effort he was making to include “more of my own feelings (as distinct from my mother’s)” Hughes-Sagar correspondence, 28. Aug. 1985.

13. ‘Salmon Eggs’, R 120, THCP 680.

14. Robert Fludd, ‘Mirror of all nature and symbol of art’, Utrisque Cosmi, Vol. 1. 1672.

15. Sagar, K. The Laughter of Foxes, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2000.

16. Hughes-Sagar correspondence, 11 April 1981.

17. Hughes-Sagar correspondence, 18 June 1998.

18. Baskin-Hughes mss. in the British Library, letter dated 15 August 1991.

19. Hughes-Sagar correspondence, 18 April 1998.

20. King Minos was murdered in his bath; Osiris was trapped in his coffin and thrown into the river; and the flawed King, Agamemnon, was stabbed by Clytemnestra as he stepped from the “ritual bath”, “taken by surprise, / naked, helpless”, as Ted described it in his version of The Oresteia (O 54).

21. Baskin-Hughes mss. The British Library.

22. Crowley, ‘Gematria’, 777, p. 28.

23. Ibid. p. 43.

24. SSN = Heline, C. The Sacred Science of Numbers, DeVorss Publications, Marina del Ray, CA, 1997.

25. Capriccio, Poems by Ted Hughes. Illustrated by Leonard Baskin, The Gehenna Press. Part of the final page of each copy reads: “Fifty copies of Capriccio were issued in the unsettled Spring of 1990”. ‘Superstitions’ in Capriccio varies in only a very minor way from ‘Superstitions’ in Howls & Whispers.

26. In Hebrew-Muslim tradition, Adam was created, cast out of paradise and died on a Friday. Loki, was the thirteenth god present when Balder, son of Odin and Freyja, was killed by the shaft of “spermy mistletoe” which Loki tricked blind Hoder into throwing. Balder’s death presaged the end of the corrupt world and the birth of a new, fertile and just world for gods and Man. Christ’s death, too, presages the Day of Judgment and the salvation of Mankind, and in Christian fable, his crucifixion took place on Friday the thirteenth. And Friday the thirteenth is, traditionally, the day on which Christopher Columbus first ‘found’ the New World of America and glimpsed a golden, “perfumed” paradise where people were naked, innocent and sinless. Bound by the chains of his own corrupt society, he brought that world slavery and death.

27. The Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), the oldest known cabbalistic text, is believed to date back to the fourth century AD. Words chosen from it which have similar numerical values are considered to be explanatory of each other.

28. ‘Superstition’ “[OF, f. L super(stitionem f. stare stat-stand) perh. orig.= standing over in awe]”(COD), later came to mean “unreasoning awe or fear of something unknown, mysterious or imaginary, esp. in connection with religion”. (SOED).

29. Appropriately, in Hebrew and Cabbalistic traditions, 6 is the number associated with the Virgin, and 7 with Christ or the sacrificed god.

30. An epicanthic fold is a fold of skin which covers the inner corner of the eye. It is a common facial feature amongst Asiatic peoples.

31. Francis Yates traces this belief in detail in The Art of Memory (Pimlico, London, 1960), and Ted knew her work well.

32. Ibid. AOM 71.

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