1. ‘Orghast’, WP 126.

2. In the Bible, the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus (The Acts (9: 1-9) is an example of the transforming power of Divine revelation. So, too is the conversion of Buddha; and of such hermit saints as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony.

3. Titus Burckhardt, in Alchemy (Element Books, 1987. pp. 161-166) provides an excellent account of the athanor and the three levels of generative fire associated with it.

4. Because the practical Alchemist is working with volatile materials, the danger of an explosion as a chemical reaction takes place is very real. Hendrick Heerschops’ painting, The Alchemist’s Experiment Takes Fire shows only a small explosion but some explosions were devastating.

5. For initiates who are immersed in the depths of the unconscious (as they were on the Path of the Devil) and are seeking the enlightenment which is possible on this Path, failure leaves them imprisoned in darkness and, possibly enslaved by the Lord of that darkness.

6. Picasso made many portraits of his close friend Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918). They shared an interest in magic, and Apollinaire was also an important avant-garde writer and poet who coined the term ‘Orphism’ for a form of abstract art created entirely from “conceived rather than received reality”. He is, therefore, an appropriate figure to appear in ‘Your Paris’, where Ted’s and Sylvia’s vision of the world is Orphic in just this way.

7. At that time, Sylvia certainly saw her writing, too, in terms of painting and drawing. In a letter written from Paris on 4 July 1956 (SPLH), she likened writing to “a powerful canvas on which other people live and move… ”.

8. At Delphi, the tympanon announced the birth of Iacchos. At Eleusis, an instrument called an echion – “an enormous contrivance with a nerve-shattering effect, which the Greek theatre employed to imitate thunder” announced the birth, amidst fire and smoke, of the holy child Brimos to “the goddess of the underworld”, Persephone. This moment marked the return of Demeter’s daughter from the underworld and the renewal of the fertility of Earth. Kerenyi, Eleusis, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1967. pp. 83-4, 94.

9. “made a note of” is a beautifully ambiguous phrase which suggests both sound and writing. Grammatically, it is part of the sentence about the stolen water bag, but it occurs immediately after a section break which graphically suggests the way in which PAUM! swallows everything which has gone before.

10. Old names for the tarot card of The Tower were ‘The House of the Devil’ and ‘The House of God’. Shiva combines these titles, and the sexual imagery of the Tower is repeated in the Lingam.

11. By my calculation, the Gematria of the word ‘PAUM’ is: 80 + 1 + 6 + 600 = 687. These three numbers (6,7 and 8) are the ruling numbers of this Path. Added together, they reduce to 3, which is the number of the Divine Triangle in which the All Father and the All Mother are joined to the Source. 3 is also the number of the Word, of perfect harmony and of revelation.

12. The daffodil is often called ‘The Herald of Spring’ because of the golden, trumpet shape of its flower, and because it is amongst the first of the Spring flowers to appear.

13. Perhaps the oldest surviving Holy picture of Mother and Child is the Ancient Egyptian papyrus painting of Isis suckling the holy infant Horus. The same grouping of Goddess and holy child was common in votive offerings made at Greek sites associated with the Cult of Persephone. It survives in Christian iconography as images of the Virgin and the infant Jesus, often with a third child present who is identified as the infant John the Baptist.

14. Many practical alchemists recorded the sudden dazzling luminescence which heralded the final stages of the process, although it did not guarantee success in making gold. A well-known painting by Joseph Wright of Derby (d. 1274) illustrates this moment.

15. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, p. 76, Note 28.

16. St. Thomas Aquinas is reputed to be the author of Aurora consurgens.

17. ‘Elm’ (SPCP 192-3) is dated 19 April 1962. The daffodil photograph which is reproduced in Sylvia’s published journals is dated 22 April 1962. Nowhere in his poem does Ted speak of a photograph, or specify a precise date for his “picture”.

18. St Theresa of Avila (1515-1582) was founder of the Discalced Carmelite order of nuns, an eremitic, ascetic order which followed the Carmelite Rule of prayer, solitude, silence and perpetual abstinence and fasting. In her autobiography, The Way of Perfection, she wrote (and Sylvia copied into her journal) of “devil” inspired hallucinations which filled her with terror; and of the devil being present at her death bed (SPJ Appendix 10. 44 [a-b], 45 [b] - 46 [a]).

19. The Moon Goddess in her light-reflecting form is Selene, Venus, Goddess of Love: the obverse of Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld. Together, these were Sylvia’s “strange muse, bald, white and wild, in her ‘hood of bone’… ” (‘Sylvia Plath: Ariel’, WP 161).

20. Drumming on her thumb with her fingers (checking the rhythms of her lines as she wrote), Sylvia made ‘o’-shaped, moon-shaped circles. The thumb is phallic. In Palmistry, it rises from the Mount of the Moon and belongs to Venus and Hecate; so, it is beloved by witches: “By the pricking of my thumbs / something wicked this way comes”: Macbeth 4 1:46.

21. The position and the capital ‘S’ and ‘D’ of these words gives them emphasis and suggest a reference to Morpheus, son of Hypnos (brother of Death), and the darkness of Hades in which Morpheus dwells.

22. Ted Hughes’s letter to Anne Stevenson, quoted in Malcolm, J. The Silent Woman, PanMacmillan, London, 1994. p. 143.

23. Letter from Ted Hughes to Keith Sagar, 18 June 1998. British Library: DEP 10003 (9).

24. The Paris Review, Vol. 37, No. 134. Spring 1995. pp. 7-8.

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