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In the Wake of Poseidon

I have always had an intense sub-conscious connection with Sinfield's lyrics and knew somehow they were based on more than "stream of consciousness" random "cool sounding" word play. Frustratingly, not being a "student" of Jung or the Tarot, I couldn't connect the dots... But one day I stumbled upon Peter Sinfield's chaotic website and found it fascinating ... I have lifted just a small sliver of the site and redesigned the content a bit to improve the flow of reading and understanding it.

Take some time (when you are in the mood) to read this. It's a mythological / psychological masterpiece... When you are ready to take the plunge, jump to Peter Sinfield's site and dig in -- it's heavy stuff but well worth it...

Why Poseidon?

In keeping with the Temperance theme of the album, Poseidon inhabits the "middle ground" between the sky/heaven (Zeus) and the underworld (Pluto). "Neptune (Poseidon) is between Zeus and Pluto, a middle and not an extreme."
- The Orphic Pantheon

TWO

ONE

"Represents duality. Alteration; diversity; conflict; dependence. Two is a static condition. It is rooted, seen as balance (two sides); stability; reflection. Two are the opposite poles. Represents the dual nature of the human being. It is desire, since all that is manifest in duality is in pairs of opposites. The Binary is the first number to recede from Unity, it also symbolizes sin which deviates from the first good and denotes the transitory and the corruptible."
- Numerology  

"If One represents the principle of Unity from which all things arise, then Two, the Dyad, represents Duality, the beginning of multiplicity, the beginning of strife."
- Differentiation and Integration

12 Archetypes - What the Cover Illustrates...

Cover painting: '12 Archetypes' by Tammo de Jongh
with reference to his book 'The Magic Circle' and Richard Gardner's 'The Purpose of Love'

In The Wake Of Poseidoon

"Richard Gardner introduces twelve prototypes that together encompass a unified consciousness, functioning as one realized body. The twelve compliment and enhance each other even in their differences, and include the whole spectrum of human nature, hidden and realized, that is the key to freedom and immortality.

Working together with the artist Tammo de Jongh, Gardner has developed a magical circle of the mind. It is a workable representation of the twelve archetypes, delineating and receiving influence from the inter-relationship and gradual phasing of the four elements, Earth, Fire, Air and Water. The center is where all attributes may be recognized, welcomed and assimilated into an integrated whole."
- The Twelve Faces of Humankind

On the album cover, the twelve archetypes represent multiplicity.

The pairs of archetypes on the front cover (i.e. Kore, the virgin, and Persephone [top,] Dionysus and Demeter [center], Hades and Hermes, the Yellow Jester [bottom]) represent the Dyad, duality.

The cover painting also follows directly from the end of the previous album. (In The Court of The Crimson King) Or put another way, the last thing revealed in the previous album is the first thing we see about the second album. As the Crimson King learned in The Dance of the Puppets ...

"...we and our parents are puppets in an archetypal drama, manipulated by giant figures operating above and behind our conscious awareness."
- Jung and Tarot, an Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols

The archetypes of the collective unconscious are these "giant figures".

Thinking vs. Feeling

The anthem and namesake of the album, In the Wake of Poseidon is equivalent to the song In the Court of the Crimson King and might well be sub-titled "The Continued Observations of the Crimson King". However, instead of taking place in a "court", In the Wake of Poseidon chronicles what occurs "in the wake of", or as a consequence of, Poseidon (Poseidon, in this case, representing primordial urge, fallen Eros).

 In the Court of the Crimson King chronicles some of the ways in which the king's feelings were subordinate to thinking while In the Wake of Poseidon explores the consequences of "thinking governed by feeling". Put another way, album one is concerned with the dark side of the Thinking function and album two is concerned with the dark side of the Feeling function. The song, In the Wake of Poseidon , moreover, is concerned with the imbalance between the two psychological functions.

"Reason flows from the blending of rational thought and feeling. If the two functions are torn apart, thinking deteriorates into schizoid, intellectual activity and feeling deteriorates into neurotic life- damaging passions."
-Erich Fromm

"...Pete Sinfield rewrote the words to 'Poseidon' about 25 times to tie in with the cover picture."
- Melody Maker, 9 May 1970

Therefore, the lyrics of In the Wake of Poseidon refer to each of the archetypes on the cover painting and the song follows very much from the end of the first album, The Dance of the Puppets . In view of this, the title song, In the Wake of Poseidon can be seen as the immediate sequel to the song In the Court of the Crimson King. It was at the end of that song when our protagonist realized that...

"...we and our parents are puppets in an archetypal drama, manipulated by giant figures operating above and behind our conscious awareness."
- Jung and Tarot, an Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols

The archetypes are these "giant figures" and, just as Pictures of a City develops out of the final verse of 21st Century Schizoid Man , In the Wake of Poseidon is an extended meditation into how it is these archetypes manipulate our lives.

"The goal of evolution for humanity is to become consciously and livingly aware of the nature of these energies (zodiacal influences) and begin to know them and to use them."
- D. K. Foundation

"The Kabbalists and Hasidim held that the human mind is a mirror and, in some respects, the very origin of the theosophical realm and theorized that the energy of the human soul derives from the heavenly Sefirot, the ten archetypes through which God expresses himself in creation. The names of the ten Sefirot (Thought, Wisdom, Understanding, Mercy, Fear, Beauty, Victory, Splendor, etc.), represent processes taking place in the mind and body of man, and thought it possible for man to cleave to these attributes through proper meditation”
- The Lurianic Kabbalah: An Archetypal Interpretaion by Sanford L. Drob, Ph.D.L

Lyric References to Characters (in the painting)

On the title song of the first album, we caught a glimpse of an archetype as a negative force...

"The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams."
The Observer

"Plato's spawn cold ivyed eyes
Snare truth in bone and globe."

"In everyday usage, the feeling function is often confused with emotion. The latter, more appropriately called affect, is the result of an activated complex. Feeling not contaminated by affect can be quite cold."
- Carl Gustav Jung

As mentioned in chapter four, "bone and globe" (throwing bones and the crystal ball) refers to fortune-telling - which is associated with Neo-Platonic mysticism. Neo-Platonism, as the name implies, grew out of Platonic thought and so could be said to be "Plato's spawn". Additionally, mysticism, when it presents itself as science (pseudo-science, actually), can be quite cold and dogmatic.

What we do not see is the fundamental conflict between thinking and feeling and how poorly developed and inferior feeling is in Western society. Feeling is a different and equally valid way of approaching and organizing experience. Jung defined wisdom as the union of thinking and feeling. They are complementary to each other and each is essential. The arguments the militia make against the government are what Jung described as thinking governed by feeling:

'...it does not follow its own logical principle but is subordinated to the principle of feeling. In such thinking the laws of logic are only ostensibly present; in reality they are suspended in favor of the aims of feeling.'
- C. G. Jung. Psychological types, collected works vol. 6 - Political skill and feeling

Read the full analysis here >

All the characters in the painting are referenced throughout the entire album.
Start here and use the hand arrows on the bottom of the page to continue the full read...

It is a fascinating study, weaving in an intricate mix of the Tarot and Greek Mythology. The broad sweep/scope of Peter Sinfield's literary visions spawned across ALL the early King Crimson records and continued on with his collaboration with Greg Lake as well. (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)