Second Quarter

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Water glyph: Element of Water

Quarter in which Mask dominates

Phase 8 or West is ‘symbolised in the diagram of the “Great Wheel” as a cup, for it is an emotional or natural intoxication’ (AV B 258). If the Wheel is taken to symbolise a complete round of both life and after-life Phase 8 is birth, and it is linked with the descent into the ‘fury and the mire of human veins’ (‘Byzantium’, VP 497) and by extension with the cup of forgetting. If the Wheel is taken for a single human life, it is linked with the onset of emotional complexity and sexual desire at adolescence. In this Quarter, therefore, the soul moves towards maturity, through a form of youth, as emotion comes to the fore, and the Phases are associated ‘with elemental water, because there the image-making power is at its height’ (AV B 93). The Faculty which dominates is Mask the image of what we desire, revere and direct ourselves towards. Insofar as it shapes desire, the Phases of this quarter are among the most emotional Phases, and insofar as it refers to ideals, it also shows the beginning of philosophy and thought, personally centred, since the Phases are antithetical but with an image of the impersonal, since the Mask of the incarnations at these Phases is located in the impersonal last quarter. It is also the image-making Faculty and, particularly in the Phases after the Tinctures open, poetry, especially lyric and sensuous poetry, is possible. The Mask ‘before Phase 15 is described as a “revelation” because through it the being obtains knowledge of itself, sees itself in personality’ (AV B 85), but it is in the Second Quarter where the Mask emerges in full strength that this revelation through the image comes into its own.

Yeats places Wyndham Lewis at Phase 9, which has the violence of the initial Phase in a triad, while Parnell is placed in the codifying central Phase 10, and Spinoza and Savonarola are located at Phase 11, where personality begins to prepare for subjective values through conviction. As in the other quarters, the Opening and Closing of the Tinctures differentiates the two triads: ‘at Phase 11 the antithetical opens, at Phase 12 the primary’ which:

means a reflecting inward of the Four Faculties: all as it were mirrored in personality, Unity of Being becomes possible. Hitherto we have been part of something else, but now discover everything within our own nature. Sexual love becomes the most important event in life, for the opposite sex is nature chosen and fated. Personality seeks personality. Every emotion begins to be related to every other as musical notes are related. It is as though we touched a musical string that set other strings vibrating. (AV B 88)

The first, turbulent Phase of the second triad is the hero’s Phase 12, where Yeats places Nietzsche and which was the Phase assigned to Cuchulain in his preparation for the play The Only Jealousy of Emer. Sensuousness dominates Phase 13, with Baudelaire, Beardsley and Ernest Dowson assigned to this Phase, while Phase 14 continues the theme with Keats, Wordsworth and Tennyson as writers and Titian and Giorgione as painters, along with Adolphe Monticelli and possibly Charles Conder. Phase 14, looking towards the perfect beauty of Phase 15, is also the most usual phase for personal beauty, and Yeats placed Iseult Gonne among the ‘many beautiful women’ who are incarnated at the Phase, epitomised by Helen of Troy or the women of Burne-Jones’ painting.

At the end of this quarter, Will and Mask, the two Lunar or antithetical Faculties have developed themselves strongly, but the outward-turning Solar or primary Faculties are both less developed, and when the soul is incarnated in the non-human Phase 15:

Creative Mind is dissolved in the Will and the Body of Fate in the Mask. Thought and will are indistinguishable, effort and attainment are indistinguishable; and this is the consummation of a slow process; nothing is apparent but dreaming Will and the Image that it dreams. Since Phase 12 all images, and cadences of the mind, have been satisfying to the midn just in so far as they ahve expressed this converging of will and thought, effort and attainment. The words ‘musical’, ‘sensuous’, are but descriptions of that converging process. . . . The being has selected, moulded and remoulded, narrowed its circle of living, been more and more the artist, grown more and more ‘distinguished’ in all preference. (AV B 135-36)

Yeats should perhaps have qualified the term artist here, since it is the Paterian or Decadent idea of the artist as aesthete rather than artist as creator, which finds stronger expression after the Full Moon in the Third Quarter.

The Tinctures   The Phase Triads   The Cardinal Phases   The Wheel   Geometry   Terminology

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