Yeats'  Emblems of the 28 Lunar Phases
W.B. Yeats' obscure work, A Vision, allegedly claimed its source as spirit-communicators,
messages received via his wife through automatic writings and trances. The core of the messages
concerned an elaborate system of human incarnations based on the 28 phases of the moon, and the
cycles of History. The system delivered was also transformed into some of Yeats' most interesting poetry.
The late George Mills Harper, Yeats scholar at Florida State, has composed the definitive two-volume
work:
The Making of A Vision, and from this source I was able to apply the so-called "emblems of the
phases"  to my art and my own interpretation of the 28 phases. All images are taken from the card-file
catalog found in Yeats' papers -
I tried to stick to his descriptions as closely as possible and these descriptions were included in
parenthesis and small type with each image. How they are emblematic of the incarnations is found in his
work
A Vision and/or is open to interpretation. Click each image for larger view.
1. Complete Plasticity (a naked man with outstretched hands to tree/obsessing figure, not luminous,
snake coiled around feet.)
2. The beginning of Energy (a white bird flying with an entranced limp leopard in beak. Bird not 1/16
size of leopard)
3. Beginning of Ambition (Eagle on sea with one foot caught in back of sea lion, one on dolphin.
Eagle drags both)
4. Desire for the external world (figure climbing pine to grasp stars)
5. Separation from innocence (man making chain or putting it on another)
6. Artificial individuality (savage putting nails into idol)
7. Assertion of individuality (satyr -goat legs- follows own image or mask)
8. War between individuality and race (man over abyss, hands in beak of bird of prey, feet in mouth
of bear, water below.)
9. Belief instead of individuality (leopard- eagle on head plucking out eyes)
10. The image-breaker (man with mouth forced open by gag and tongue torn out)
11. The consumer (A sword cleaving through skull)
12. The fore-runner (Sword cutting hand in two)
13. The sensuous man (Man hanging over pool)
14. The obsessed man (Leopard springing)
15.  No description except this is a phase of complete beauty (Man with arrow and stone, one in   
each hand)
16. The positive man (Dark circle with hand)
17. The Daemonic man (Crystal arrow and  crescent)
18. The emotional man (Two faced figure)
19. The assertive man (Wolf)
20. The concrete man (White bird torn apart by wolf and leopard)
21. The acquisitive man (Man lamp; statue)
22. Balance between ambition and contemplation(Man beating self with flail)
23. The receptive man (Blindfolded man balanced on point of pike, juggling colored balls)
24. The end of ambition (Woman, cup, boar)
25. The conditional man (Vast figure of God with human figure flickering before his face)
26. Multiple man or Hunchback (Hunchback fighting his shadow with sword which bleeds)
27. The Saint (More or less Easter figure holds simulacrum. He stands on globe)
28. The Fool (A shrunken faceless man whirling a rattle)
For a more in depth look at the Yeats' emblems and their relationship to his work in 'A Vision' -
please visit the website of Neil Mann:
YEATS'  VISION