"An ingenious piece of machinery was contrived. A gigantic cosmic wheel .... resembling a water-wheel, drew up the particles of light to the moon and to the sun. During the first half of the month the rescued particles of light rose in a pillar of light, known as the column of glory, towards the moon, which, filled and swollen with particles of light, became full. During the second half of the month the particles of light were conducted from the moon to the sun and thence to the paradise of light." From Mani and Manichaeism, Geo Widengren, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1965, p.55. The voyage was then by moonship and sunship, now spaceship.
william blake: jacob's ladder, 1800-03
IF --- and the thing is wildly possible --- the charge of concocting nonsense were ever brought against the author of this website, it would be based, I feel convinced, on this particular page. A critic with the acumen, IQ and literary sensitivity of, say, Reader One, might well opine that it was straying from its putative focus on The Seafarer. Too bad. Order or Progress, but not both, as Ricardo Semler says in his stimulating book Maverick. One thing just leads to another.
It surprises more and more that so much of Blake seems so suitable to illustrate so much of this nonsense. Art houses many mansions. Jacob's Ladder offers a serviceable column of glory, although the space-walking angels look a little listless. Of course, Blake's designs are being wrenched from their intended contexts. It is not to be seriously supposed that he was a Manichaean adept (although not entirely outside the realms of possibility, given his intense interest in the esoteric --- see Hidden Riches; Traditional Symbolism from the Renaissance to Blake, Désirée Hirst, Eyre & Spottiswoode 1964). But he had never read The Seafarer. Nor is there much basis for supposing that the seafarer's ceol was built to Mani's design. These images float suspended in the attics of historical fantasy, to be drawn upon by the collective subconscious, a useful concept.
Below: the Trundholm sun-chariot trundled around the Nerthus amphictyony. Three thousand years later, in Jerusalem, William Blake has substituted woman-power for horse-power. The touch of absurdity in Blake is endearing.
"Perhaps made in about 1300 BC"
From The Sun-Gods of Ancient Europe, Miranda Green, Batsford 1991, p 114
A Christian renounces Manichaeism: "Anathema to those who say that human souls are consubstantial with God; that they are swallowed up by matter and that God now sits and draws them up through moon and sun, which they call ships".