William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 3: Plate 64

Of the Mundane Shell which froze on all sides round Canaan on
The vast Expanse: where the Daughters of Albion Weave the Web
\Of Ages & Generations, folding & unfolding it, like a Veil of Cherubim
And sometimes it touches the Earths summits, & sometimes spreads
Abroad into the Indefinite Spectre, who is the Rational Power.

Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los: even Vala:
And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howlings
Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach & a devouring Tongue.
Her Hand is a Court of Justice. her Feet: two Armies in Battle
Storms & Pestilence: in her Locks: & in her Loins Earthquake,
And Fire. & the Ruin of Cities & Nations & Families & Tongues 

She cries: The Human is but a Worm, & thou O Male: Thou art
Thyself Female, a Male: a breeder of Seed: a Son & Husband: & Lo.
The Human Divine is Womans Shadow, a Vapor in the summers heat
Go assume Papal dignity thou Spectre, thou Male Harlot! Arthur
Divide into the Kings of Europe in times remote O Woman-born
And Woman-nourishd & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd! 

Wherefore art thou living? said Los. & Man cannot live in thy presence
Art thou Vala the Wife of Albion O thou lovely Daughter of Luvah
All Quarrels arise from Reasoning. the secret Murder, and
The violent Man-slaughter. these are the Spectres double Cave
The Sexual Death living on accusation of Sin & Judgment
To freeze Love & Innocence into the gold & silver of the Merchant
Without Forgiveness of Sin Love is Itself Eternal Death 

Then the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific
Glittering with precious stones & gold. with Garments of blood & fire
He wept in deadly wrath of the Spectre. in self-contradicting agony
Crimson with Wrath & green with Jealousy dazling with Love
And Jealousy immingled & the purple of the violet darkend deep
Over the Plow of Nations thundring in the hand of Albions Spectre 

A dark Hermaphrodite they stood frowning upon Londons River
And the Distaff & Spindle in the hands of Vala with the Flax of
Human Miseries turnd fierce with the Lives of Men along the Valley
As Reuben fled before the Daughters of Albion Taxing the Nations

Derby Peak yawnd a horrid Chasm at the Cries of Gwendolen, & at 
The stamping feet of Ragan upon the flaming Treddles of her Loom
That drop with crimson gore with the Loves of Albion & Canaan
Opening along the Valley of Rephaim, weaving over the Caves of Mach
                                                              pelah  

Plate 64: Analysis.

Of the Mundane Shell which froze on all sides round Canaan on
The vast Expanse: where the Daughters of Albion Weave the Web
Of Ages & Generations, folding & unfolding it, like a Veil of Cherubim
And sometimes it touches the Earths summits, & sometimes spreads
Abroad into the Indefinite Spectre, who is the Rational Power.

Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los: even Vala:

1-6

The centre of Albion has unfolded and the vortex of the world of Generation is reversed by the incarnation. Shrunk by Los to the limit of human form, Rueben inhabits the prophetic Promised Land; he is perceptually bonded to stone, caves and mires in Canaan (2: 34; 43-51). The petrified materiality of Albion's centre is energised into primal shape and form round: "the Mundane Shell" now "froze on all sides round Canaan", settling upon the unfolded and emptied centre. The mundane shell in the world of Generation is "The Habitation of the Spectres of the Dead & the Place/Of Redemption & of awaking again into Eternity" (3: 59; 7-9).

The mundane shell is finite, and as noted, Los's ordering of the chaos within Albion by it takes place in all four worlds of the poem. In Ulro, Chapter 1, Los fabricated Golgonooza, the mundane shell and the spaces for the starry wheels in the emptiness of Albion's collapse within into non-entity (1: 3; 30-55); in Eden, in Chapter 2, Los built the mundane shell around the axis of his seven furnaces (2: 43; 77-81); Chapter 4, Beulah, is dealt with below; here, in the world of Generation, Albion's collapse into sterile self-predation is transformed as the reversed vortex begins to operate upon generative appetite and sexual expression within the mundane shell. Thus, Albion's inner collapse here is into "The Vast Expanse" of generative sterility under the mundane shell.

Its constituent order is generative and so it is organised into a succession comprised of the generations of life that inhabit or occupy it for the duration of Erin's time-space continuum; so the "Daughter of Albion Weave the Web/Of Ages & Generations" for they weave time into the historical process of fertility. The historical process is the event cycle of Blake's prophetic history of Canaan, which led to the incarnation and will culminate in Albion's re-awakening.

The web is the interlaced life processes, or the psychophysical materialities of life, that become woven into the temporal fabric of the world of Generation; "folding & unfolding it, like a Veil of Cherubim".

Blake consistently associates finite emanative energies with fibres, threads and weaving, with garments, veils, webs, fibres, looms, shuttles, and like symbols of expression of his ‘string theory'. Christ describes the fibres of love between all humans in the opening lines to the poem, and this Divine connectivity binds all forms into a tapestry or fabric of form and being (1: 4; 8). Nature is the veil or web of Vala. It is important to remember that this weaving takes place beneath the threshold of finite human perception. Hence Blake's prophetic mission is to reveal in his art and poetry what is revealed to his visionary eye. An example of the woven connectivity by the emanative energies is given: "Man is adjoind to Man by his Emanative portion:/Who is Jerusalem" and "her/Shadow is Vala, builded by the reasoning power in Man" (2: 44; 38-42).

The woven universe is described as a tent created in response to the temporal and spatial realities of eternal life (2: 38; 14-50), and Los has made it clear that "there is no Limit of Expansion" and "there is no Limit of Translucence" (2: 32; 45): those in infinity can "Contract or Expand Space at will" and live, "Contracting or Expanding Time" (3: 55; 44-45). In its finite context in this world of Generation, the shrunken flexibilities of perception range from the "Earth's summits" of petrified form to the "Indefinite Spectre" of formless space, "who is the Rational Power". This web, woven by the daughters of Albion, thus organises and universalises fertility into unity: "Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los: even Vala".

And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howlings
Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach & a devouring Tongue.
Her Hand is a Court of Justice. her Feet: two Armies in Battle
Storms & Pestilence: in her Locks: & in her Loins Earthquake,
And Fire. & the Ruin of Cities & Nations & Families & Tongues

7-11

Albion's feminine component energies coalesce to express the woven bonding, at first in primal appetite. The female creator/destroyer begins to arouse and enflame fertility: Vala took the "Looms in dreadful howlings/Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach & a devouring Tongue". She is appetite and expression: her "Hand is a Court of Justice" and her judgements are of creation and destruction, of life and death, for she stands over war and conquest, "her Feet: two Armies in Battle"; her hair crackles with elemental power, "Storms & Pestilence"; "her Loins" breed "Earthquake/And Fire" and her potencies destroy the continuity of forms of finite consciousness, she is the "Ruin of Cities & Nations & Families & Tongues". She creates to destroy, to create again for death and destruction are meaningless except to fertilize birth.

She cries: The Human is but a Worm, & thou O Male: Thou art
Thyself Female, a Male: a breeder of Seed: a Son & Husband: & Lo.
The Human Divine is Womans Shadow, a Vapor in the summers heat
Go assume Papal dignity thou Spectre, thou Male Harlot! Arthur
Divide into the Kings of Europe in times remote O Woman-born
And Woman-nourishd & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd!

12-17

Her potencies are concentrated. In self-intoxicated delusion she seeks to usurp God's creation of life. Her usurpation is described in context, in Chapter 2, when "in Sexual Reasoning Hermaphroditic", she claims she alone is "Beauty", and "the Imaginative Human Form is but a breathing of Vala" out from her "secret cave"; males are "Born of the Woman to obey the Woman" for she is "Love" and the infinite "Region of Brotherhood" (2: 33; 48-51).

Here, in the world of Generation, Albion's collapse and division into component energies is the result of his attempted self-creation. Within him, Vala' emanative energies are isolated from Luvah. Separated, she becomes compressed into the finite life/death cycle of fertility and assumes the power of life and death. The "Human is but a Worm" she cries unable to see that all finite life is but a shadow of their infinite substance. To her inverted potencies the "Male" is "Female, a Male; a breeder of Seed", thus she claims to be the source of the Divine image: the "Human Divine is Woman's Shadow" she cries, "a Vapor in the summers heat". Her finite, ecstatic sexuality overwhelms and inverts sexual reciprocity; masculine energies now war in phallic competition in order to seed the female womb and are "Woman-born/And Woman-nourished & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd".

Wherefore art thou living? said Los. & Man cannot live in thy presence
Art thou Vala the Wife of Albion O thou lovely Daughter of Luvah
All Quarrels arise from Reasoning. the secret Murder, and
The violent Man-slaughter. these are the Spectres double Cave
The Sexual Death living on accusation of Sin & Judgment
To freeze Love & Innocence into the gold & silver of the Merchant
Without Forgiveness of Sin Love is Itself Eternal Death

18-24

Confronted by such primal ferocity Los sees paradox "Wherefore art thou living" he asks. Her potencies are perverted: "Man cannot live" in her "presence", thus sexuality is become self-destructive. Violence results from perversion of the emanative connectivity, She is, as noted, Jerusalem's shadow, "builded by the reasoning power of Man" (2: 44; 42), and Los says, "All Quarrels arise from Reasoning". Connectivity in forgiveness and love is perverted by Albion's sexual irrationality into "the secret Murder" and its public other, "The violent Man-slaughter". The secret and the public are twinned in "the Spectres double Cave" of negation and darkness.

In this perversion of relationships, even after "The Sexual Death", moral and physical vengeance lives on in the "accusation of Sin & Judgement". Law becomes "the gold & silver of the Merchant" and the commercial purchase of "Love & Innocence". Without Divine love and "Forgiveness of Sin", finite emotions exhaust themselves in self-consummation and "Love is Itself Eternal Death".

Then the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific
Glittering with precious stones & gold. with Garments of blood & fire
He wept in deadly wrath of the Spectre. in self-contradicting agony
Crimson with Wrath & green with Jealousy dazling with Love
And Jealousy immingled & the purple of the violet darkend deep
Over the Plow of Nations thundring in the hand of Albions Spectre

25-30

The inverted pursuit of selfhood by Albion caused the collapse into self-consummation and the radical distortion of Luvah and Vala in Albion's hermaphroditic self-adoration. They will be created into form and be saved, for that is the Divine promise, and God's salvic purpose. Until then the mundane passions mutually transform each other in negative fusion. Their fusion is a parody of the male and female in Beulah where "the Female lets down her beautiful Tabernacle/: Which the Male enters magnificent between her Cherubim", and "becomes One with her" (2: 30; 35-36).

In this parody "the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific" in pride of selfhood. The spectre is garbed with "precious stones & gold" for it is finite and condensed. The light of emanative reciprocity in infinity is here "Glittering" with reflections, the spectre's "Garments" are of "blood & fire". It exists in "deadly wrath" and "self-contradicting agony".

In a parody of the light of infinite reciprocity where "the Form is the Divine Vision/And the Light is his Garment" (3: 54; 1-5), here, the inflamed fusion of the spectre of Luvah and Vala is a passion infused rainbow spectrum of finite light: the spectrum is "Crimson with Wrath", "green with Jealousy", "dazzling with love/And Jealousy immingled", and the "purple of the violet darkend deep/Over the Plow of Nations" in the "hand of Albion's Spectre". The collapse of Albion beneath the plough is noted: "A dark Hermaphrodite they stood frowning upon Londons River".

And the Distaff & Spindle in the hands of Vala with the Flax of
Human Miseries turnd fierce with the Lives of Men along the Valley
As Reuben fled before the Daughters of Albion Taxing the Nations

Derby Peak yawnd a horrid Chasm at the Cries of Gwendolen, & at

31-35

The sexual inversion of male and female, for Blake, is the hermaphrodite, and as noted, Albion collapses into hermaphroditic inversion in his self-abasement before both Luvah and Vala (2: 33; 28). Thus, here, the fusion of spectre and Vala becomes "A dark Hermaphrodite" by "London's River" at the centre of Albion's interiority. These "Hermaphroditic Condensation are divided by the Knife" into sexual reproductive being and form; "Two Contraries war against each other in fury & blood" and Los "fixes them on his Anvil" to "Create a World of Generation fro the World of Death" (3: 58; 10-20). Sexual identity is thereby forged.

Out from the centre where Los labours, Vala transmits the primal cruelties of Albion's emotional and sexual self-contradictions: "And the Distaff & Spindle in the hands of Vala with the Flax of/Human Miseries turnd fierce with the lives of Men". Eventually, Rueben, the shrunken human life-form in Canaan, "Fled before the Daughters of Albion".

The stamping feet of Ragan upon the flaming Treddles of her Loom
That drop with crimson gore with the Loves of Albion & Canaan
Opening along the Valley of Rephaim, weaving over the Caves of Mach
                                                              pelah

36-39

The landscape itself, Albion's materialised finite form, responds by fragmentising and "yawned a horrid Chasm" while the "flaming Treddles of her Loom/That drops with crimson gore with the Loves of Albion and Canaan" infuses the blood of love's jealous violence and killing into the gashed finite world: "Opening along the Valley of Rephaim", ploughing over the forms of death.

The daughters of Albion infuse the petrified, emptied and lifeless existence of Albion's interior landscapes with the potencies of blood and life: "weaving" energised forms of life and death over the grave of "the Caves of Machpelah", or Abraham's family tomb.