The Circle and the Wheel and the Sundoor


[aras-image:5Hv.093,,10,,,Figure 43 Ancient of Days by William Blake.]

In the composition of his painting "The Ancient of Days," William Blake pictures god creating the world through a circular opening in the sky. The kneeling posture of the creator forms a triangle within a circle, and that triangle is mirrored in the compass held in his hand which extends below the circle. The clouds, and the beard and hard of the kneeling figure blowing to the right, suggest that "gale of the spirit" which "bloweth where it listeth." This was one of Blake's favorite paintings and he made several versions of it. He was working on one version at the time of his death. In Blake's personal mythology this figure is the demi-urge measuring out the natural world. The Ancient of Days is the creator of our lesser world, not the God above god, for incarnation to Blake is the descent of the soul into matter. The task of the soul is the journey back to its divine origin. The kneeling human figure is a cultural image of that archetypal power behind the cultural unconscious of man and which is manifested in the cultural expressions of man symbolized by a human instrument, the compass.