1. My detailed investigation of Hughes’ use of Alchemy in his work was published in my book, Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest, University of New England, Armidale, 1994.

2. Gordon-Bramer, J. ‘Sylvia Plath’s spell on Ariel’, Plath Profiles, Vol.3, Indiana University, 2010. pp.90-99. ; ‘As we like it: Ariel’s Forewords’, Plath Profiles, Vol. 5. Indiana University, 2012. pp.216-63.; ‘“Fever 103º”: the Fall of Man...’, Plath Profiles, Vol. 4, Indiana University, 2011. pp.88-105.

3. Kukil, K (Ed.) Entry for 7 Nov 1959, The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Faber, 2000. pp.525. See also the entries for 9 Feb. 1958, p.327; 13 Oct. 1959, p. 517; and 4 Nov. 1959, p.523.

4. The NeoPlatonic/Christian Cabbala was developed and taught by Renaissance scholars such as Marsilo Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno. Bruno was in England from 1583-85. Shakespeare possibly met him and certainly heard of his teachings. Hughes writes about Shakespeare’s use of NeoPlatonic Cabbala in Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, Faber, 1992.

5. Hughes, T. Adam and the Sacred Nine, Rainbow Press, London, 1979. The press was established and owned by Hughes and his sister Olwyn. My analysis of Hughes’ use of Cabbala in this sequence, Adam and the Sacred Nine: A Cabbalistic Drama, can be found on my webpages at

6. My detailed analysis of Hughes’ use of Cabbala and Tarot in Birthday Letters, Howls & Whispers and Capriccio is available as Poetry and Magic on my web pages at

7. Hughes, T. ‘Sylvia Plath and her Journals’, Winter Pollen, Faber, 1994, p. 184.

8. Anne Stevenson, in her biography of Plath, Bitter Fame, records Olwyn Hughes’ memory of Plath teaching the Hughes family to play this game. (Bitter Fame, Viking, 1989. p.178).

9. Rákóczi, B.I. The Painted Caravan, Boucher, The Hague, 1954. Plath’s copy of this book is held in the Neilson Library Sylvia Plath archive at Smith College.

10. In her article ‘Sylvia Plath’s spell on Ariel’ (Plath Profiles, Vol 3, 2010, pp.91-2) Julia Gordon-Bramer suggests that Plath used either the Rider–Waite or the Tarot de Marseille deck. In her second article, ‘As we like it’ (Plath Profiles, Vo.5, 1012, p.219) she specifies the Rider–Waite deck as the one Plath “relied on” but she gives no reference to support this information.

11. It is difficult to determine exactly how many mountains are shown on the Major Arcana cards of the Rider-Waite pack. Some cards show more than one mountain, others show multiple peaks. The traditional Tarot de Marseille Tarot decks do not show steep mountains at all, just green ground and hillocks.

12. Hughes, T. ‘Sylvia Plath and her Journals’, Winter Pollen, Faber, 1994, pp.180-2.

13. Rákóczi, B.I. The Painted Caravan, p.15.

14. Plath, S. Ariel: The Restored Edition, Faber, 2007, p.xi.

15. I am using the established dates listed by David Semanki in the Notes to Ariel: The Restored Edition, pp.208-9.

16. ‘Love’ in tennis represents 0.

17. It may be purely coincidence, but ‘Love is a Season’, sung by Eydie Gormé, was part of an LP record released in 1958 and the song was frequently broadcast on the B.B.C.

18. Rákóczi, The Painted Caravan, pp.30-31.

19. Hughes, T. ‘The Rabbit Catcher’, Birthday Letters, Faber, 1998, pp.144-6.

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