1. Hughes, T. ‘Regeneration’, The Listener, 29 October 1964

2. Eliade, M. Shamanism, Princeton University Press, 1972. p. 27.

3. Eliade, M. Op.cit. pp. 22, 82.

4. The oak was sacred to many sky gods and their daughters and sons, including Zeus and Athena, Jupiter and Minerva, Helios and Circe, Dionysus, Herne (who was the British Hermes/Pan), and the Celtic Dagda and Brigid/Brigantia (who was also the goddess of poetic inspiration). The oak was also commonly regarded as a magical doorway to the mystic realms (Paterson, Tree Wisdom, Thorsons, London, 1996. pp. 176-82).

5. Samoyed shamans are carried by spirit guides to an island on which grows “The Tree of the Lord of the Earth”. The Lord calls to the shaman: “My branch has just fallen; take it and make a drum of it that will serve you all your life”. (Eliade, M. Op.cit. p. 40)

6. A creature newborn from a sloughed skin is a common shamanic image, based on magical beliefs associated with metamorphosis.

7. In ’sylvia Plath and her Journals’, Ted describes the process as having a “weird autonomy”, as if her poetry was “a secret crucible, or rather a womb, an almost biological process – and just as much beyond her manipulative interference. And like a pregnancy selfish with her resources” (WP 180-1).

8. Colin Low comments that Chokmah (Sephira 2)“is the sphere of the Mazlot, the Zodiac, and in the cosmology of the ancients, the containing power of the stars” (e-mail to AS, 12 Oct. 20001). This offers another, Cabbalistic, interpretation of “Your stars – the guards / Of your prison yard, their zodiac.”.

9. Joseph Cambell, in The Masks of God (Penguin, 1979. p 7) notes that Zoroaster was a prophet of mystical rebirth and regeneration whose dates “have been variously placed between c. 1200 and c. 550 B.C.”.

10. Neil Spencer, broadcaster, journalist and author of True as the Stars Above (Gollacz, London, 2000) has provided me with the astrological information on which this discussion is based. Sylvia Plath’s horoscope, drawn by John Etherington, appears in Apollon: The Journal of Psychological Astrology, Issue 2, April 1999. (p. 64) but Olwyn Hughes, who is a very competent astrologer, says that both Ted’s and Sylvia’s charts in this article are based on incorrect birth times (Letter to AS, 27 April 2000). Etherington based his chart for Sylvia on information given by editor Karen Kuckil in The Journals of Sylvia Plath (p. 3). Sylvia’s mother, however, in the introduction to Letters Home wrote that Otto, “at a luncheon that day”, told colleagues that he hoped his next child would be a son. This throws some doubt on the birth time of 14.10, unless Otto and his colleagues were having a late lunch. Regardless, of this, at any time between 00.00 and 14.10 on 27 October, 1932, Uranus would have been in the house of Aries in Sylvia’s chart.

11. From a lavishly illustrated, short, coffee-table style book by David Christie-Murray entitled The Practical Astrologer: All you need to know to construct birth charts, cast horoscopes and discover what the stars have to reveal (Australian Book Centre, Queensland, 1998. p. 100).

12. The word ‘hierophant’ is, itself, from a Greek word meaning ‘revelation’.

13. In a discission of the Torah and the mystical significance of the Hebrew letters, the power of Vau to draw the future into the past is associated with the power of “Teshuvah (‘repentance’ and ‘returning to G-d’) from love” to mitigate one’s past transgressions (VAU).

14. In ‘Folktale’ (THSP 309), Ted associates Assia with the leopard of Ein Gedi. The leopard (or panther) is a symbol of Dionysus, and Ein Gedi has Biblical and Cabbalistic associations with dionysic passion. In legend it was the oasis where Kind David hid in a cave with Bat-Sheba, and in the Songs of Soloman the beloved “… is unto me as a cluster of camphire / In the vineyards of En-gedi” (1, 14).

15. Taurus is the astrological sign for this path and the Minoan Dionysus, ‘The Bull God’, is associated with Melissa and with spiritual rebirth. Porphyry wrote: “the moon… they called Melissa [‘bee’], because… bees are begotten of bulls. And souls that pass to earth are bull-begotten”. Baring and Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess, Viking, 1999. pp. 117-9).

16. Like the “Mummy-cloths” of Sylvia’s poem, ‘Facelift’ (SPCP 155-6) from which a new being would emerge. Ted notes say that this poem describes “the experience of an acquaintance, requisitioned for the poet’s myth of self-renewal” (SPCP 219).

17. Held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. There is another version by Grunwald in the Museum Unterlinden, Berlin, which really doeas show St Anthony on a bad day. It was used in Man and His Symbols (Ed. Jung, Aldus, 1964. p.48) to illustrate an article by Jung on dreams and the subconscious.

18. She describes her matricidal feelings in her journals (SPJ 12 Dec. 1985) and, very much as Ted describes them in the poem, in her story ‘Tongues of Stone’ (JPBD p.271) and The Bell Jar (p. 101).

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