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De Conjugio, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1788], tr. by John Whitehead [1914] at

De Conjugio


In general it is to be held that the loins, and the members appertaining thereto, correspond to genuine conjugial love, consequently to those societies where there is such love; the angels there are more celestial than others, and more than others live in a state of innocence and peace, and in its delights which are inmost.


There appeared to me trees planted in a nursery, one of which was taller, the other lower, and two small ones. The lower tree delighted me greatly; and at the same time the most pleasant quiet, which I cannot express, affected my mind. The angelic spirits interpreted this sight, saying, that conjugial love was represented, the quiet and peace of which were also felt in the mind. By the higher tree was signified the husband, by the lower one the wife, and by the two small ones children. They added that in such pleasantness of peace were those who belong to the province of the loins.


There appeared to me a great dog, such as he who is called Cerberus among the most ancient writers; he had terrible jaws. It was said that such a dog signifies a guard, that man may not pass from celestial conjugial love to the infernal love of adultery. When there is a passing from that love to this opposite one, the delight appearing almost similar, then there is set such a keeper, as it were, that opposite delights may not communicate.


The inmost heaven through which the Lord insinuates conjugial love, consists of those there who are in greater peace than others. Peace in the heavens is comparatively like spring in the world, which delights and vivifies all things; it is celestial delight itself in its essence. The angels who are there are the wisest of all, and from innocence appear to the others like infants; they love infants even more than their fathers and mothers have loved them. They also preside over those who are with young.


There are celestial societies with which each and all the members and organs dedicated to generation in either sex correspond. Those societies are distinguished from others, just as that province in man is altogether distinct from the rest. Those who have loved infants most tenderly, as such mothers, are in the province of the womb and the surrounding organs, namely, in the neck of the womb and the ovaries; and those who are there are in a most sweet and tranquil life, and in celestial joy more than others.


But what and of what quality those societies are which belong to each organ of generation, is not given to know, for they are interior. They refer also to the uses of those organs which are hidden and also removed from knowledge; for the reason, which is providential, that such things which are in themselves most celestial may not be injured by filthy thoughts, which are of lasciviousness, whoredom, and adultery, which thoughts are excited with many when those organs are only named. From the Arcana Coelestia [n. 5055].


It is enough to know that love truly conjugial has immediate communication with the third heaven, and also that love itself with its celestial delight is there preserved in all its variety, and also its acts, such as kisses, embraces, and many other things which delight that heaven, for that heaven is in the communication of good affections, when the spiritual heaven is in the communication of the thoughts of truth; hence it is evident that filthy affections and thoughts altogether close both heavens.


A triturating vessel was seen by me, and by it stood a man with an iron instrument, who from his phantasy seemed to himself to triturate men in the vessel, torturing them in direful ways; the man did this with great delight. The delight itself was communicated, that I might know what and how great was the highest infernal delight with those who were such. It was told me that such a delight reigned with the posterity of Jacob, and that they perceived nothing more delightful than to treat the Gentiles cruelly, to expose them when killed to the wild beasts and birds to be devoured, to cut them while living with saws and axes, to cast them into a brick furnace (2 Samuel 12:31), to dash to pieces and cast forth infants. Such things were never commanded nor ever permitted, excepting to those the sinew of whose thigh was out of joint, as Jacob's when he wrestled with the angel (Gen. 32:26, 32, 33). Such dwell under the right heel, where are adulterers who are also cruel. Among the adulterers who are both cruel and the most unmerciful, are many of the Jesuits and monks who were adulterers; their delight is similar when they behold the punishment of death, especially on those who derogate from their despotic power over the church and heaven, and over the souls of men, and also who infringe on their privileges.


Those who have lived in things contrary to conjugial love, namely, in adulteries, when they approached me, infused a pain into the loins, severe according to the life of adulteries which they had led, from which it appears that the loins correspond to conjugial love; their hell also is under the hinder parts of the loins, under the buttocks, where they live in filthy and excrementitious things; these also are delightful to them, for such things in the spiritual world correspond to their pleasures.


Those who are in things contrary to conjugial love, strike pain also into the testicles; they are those who lay an ambush by love, friendship, and good offices, concerning which the following: There arose from the region of Gehenna, as it were, a certain inconspicuous air; it was a band of such spirits, but it appeared then to me as one only, although they were many; against whom were interposed, as it were, bundles, which nevertheless they seemed to themselves to remove, by which was signified that they desire to remove obstacles, for in such manner do the thoughts and efforts of the mind appear representatively in the world of spirits, and when they appear, it is immediately perceived there what they signify; afterwards it seemed as if there proceeded from that body someone small and snow-white, who came to me, by which was signified their thought and intention, that they wished to put on the state of innocence, that no one should suspect anything of their quality; when he came to me he let himself down towards the loins and seemed to bend himself, as it were, around both of them, by which it was represented that they were in chaste conjugial love; then around the feet by spiral turns, by which was signified insinuation by such things as are in their nature delightful; finally that little one became almost invisible, by which was signified that he wished to be altogether hidden; it was told me that such was the insinuation of those who plotted against conjugial love: namely, who in the world had insinuated themselves for the end of committing adultery with wives, talking chastely and sanely concerning conjugial love, caressing infants, praising the husband in every manner of speech, so that they might be thought friendly and innocent, when yet they were cunning adulterers; it was shown me what such become, for after these things were done, that little snow-white person who represented the band arising from Gehenna was made conspicuous, and appeared dusky and very black, and very much deformed besides, and was cast forth into a deep hell under the middle part of the loins, where they live in excrements. I afterwards spoke with similar ones, and they wondered that any one should have conscience about adulteries, and on account of conscience should not lie with the wife of another when it was allowed; and when I spoke with them about conscience, they denied that anyone had conscience. It was told me that such were mostly from the Christian world, and rarely any from other parts.


MARRIAGES. What genuine conjugial love is, and whence is its origin, few at this day know, because few are in it; nearly all believe that it is inborn, and thus flows from a certain instinct, as they say, and the more so because the conjugial exists also with animals; when yet there is such a difference between conjugial love with men and the conjugial with beasts as there is between the state of a man and the state of a brute animal.


Conjugial love takes its origin from the marriage of the Lord with heaven and with the church, and thence from the marriage of good and truth. That conjugial love draws its inmost essence from thence, does not appear to the sense and comprehension, but yet can be proved from influx and from correspondence, and besides from the Word; from influx, because heaven is from the union of good and truth which inflows from the Lord, and is compared to marriage and called marriage; from correspondence, because when good united with truth flows down into a lower sphere, it presents there a union of minds, and when into one still lower, it presents a marriage; wherefore the union of minds from good united to truth from the Lord is conjugial love itself.


That genuine conjugial love is from thence may also be proved from this, that no one can be in it unless he be in good through truth, and in truth from good from the Lord, also from this, that celestial blessedness and happiness are in that love, and all they who are in it come into heaven or into celestial marriage; also from this, that when there is speech with the angels concerning the union of good and truth, there is presented in the lower region among good spirits a representative of marriage, and among the evil spirits is presented a representative of adultery; hence it is that the adulteration of good and the falsification of truth is called adultery and whoredom.


The men of the Most Ancient Church more than others on this earth lived in genuine conjugial love; they are those who were described by the ancients by those who lived in the golden age where innocence, love, and justice reigned. In that love there was heaven to them, but later, after the knowledge of the Lord, and thence love towards Him, perished, conjugial love perished, love towards children remaining; but children can be loved by the evil, but a consort cannot be loved except by the good.


I have heard from the most ancient people that conjugial love is such, that each one wishes to be altogether the other's, and this reciprocally, thus mutually and interchangeably, and then that the conjunction of two minds is such, that this mutual and interchangeable is in all and everything of the thought.


I have spoken with the angels concerning this mutual and reciprocal, and it was described that the image of one is in the mind of the other, and that thus they cohabit, not only in the single things but also in the inmosts of life; and that the Divine love of the Lord can flow into such a one with what is happy and blessed. They said also that they who have lived in such conjugial love in the world, are together, and cohabit in heaven as angels, also together with their children; but that very few are from Christendom at the present day, but all from the Most Ancient Church which was celestial, and many from the Ancient Church which was spiritual.


It was told me that the kinds of celestial and spiritual happinesses, that is, only their universals, are indefinite in number and ineffable, and scarcely any one of them is known in the Christian world, because they are not in the marriage of good and truth, nor in love to the Lord; they know not whence is good, and thus what is truth, and they know not that the Lord alone is the God of the universe.


With those who live in conjugial love, the interiors of the mind are open through heaven, even to the Lord, for that love inflows from the Lord through the inmost of man; they thence have the kingdom of the Lord in themselves, and thence genuine love towards infants, which is for the sake of the Lord's kingdom, and thence they are more receptive of celestial loves than others, and are in mutual love more than all, for this comes thence as a stream from its fountain; for from the marriage of good and truth descend and are derived all loves, which are like the love of parents towards children, the love of brothers between themselves, and love towards relatives, thus according to degrees in their order, which loves are only from the marriage of good and truth; from this marriage are formed all celestial societies, according to all their consanguinities and affinities, and at the same time in each society, whence heaven is called a marriage.


Genuine conjugial love is not possible except between pairs, that is, in the marriage of one man with one wife, but not with many; because conjugial love is mutual and reciprocal, and the life of one interchangeably in that of the other, so that they are as one. Such a union is given between pairs, but not between many, for many destroy that love. The men of the Most Ancient Church, who were celestial and in the perception of the union of good and truth like angels, had one wife only; they said that they perceived with one wife celestial delights and happinesses, and when marriage with several was only named, they were horrified. That the marriage of one wife and husband descends from the marriage of good and truth is evident from the words of the Lord in Matthew 19:3-12, which may be seen and adduced; also from the words of Adam concerning his wife. By "Adam and his wife" there is signified in the internal representative sense the Most Ancient Church, which was the golden age, the age of Saturn, concerning which the ancient authors wrote.


I have perceived the contrary with adulterers, that they are nauseated at marriage and all things which are of marriage, so that they see a wife but do not speak with her from any life; they are averse to all things of it which consorts formerly loved with delights. But as soon as they see the beautiful wife of another as the wife of another, they burn with cupidity; a fiery life kindles the countenance and eyes, and they take delight in everything of her which the husband is averse to, and thus he does when he sees other women.


There was a certain spirit in middle altitude, who in the life of the body had lived lasciviously, being delighted with variety, so that he had loved no one woman constantly, but in brothels, and thus had committed whoredom with many and afterwards rejected each one, whence it happened that he had extinguished the desire for marriage, and had contracted an unnatural nature; all these things were disclosed, and when he attempted a like thing in the spiritual world he was miserably punished, and this in sight of the angels, and then cast into a hell, which is such that they appear there like scum such as is on the surface of the sea; they are the mucus of the nostrils and almost without life, because they have lost everything human, because everything of heaven, which is founded upon conjugial love.


That they cannot be in heaven is evident, for they are as it were contrary to the love of marriage, thus they are contrary to the affections of good and truth from which heaven originates; for when marriage is mentioned there, filthy ideas immediately come in from influx into the contrary. In their ideas are obscene, yea heinous things. They are also in the purpose of destroying heavenly societies. Their religion is to say that they acknowledge the Creator of the universe, Providence only universal, and salvation from faith alone, and that it cannot be worse with them than with others; but when they are explored as to what they are in heart, which is done in the other life, they do not believe those things at all, but in nature instead of the Creator of the universe; and instead of a universal Providence, in none at all; religion they believe to be for a restraint on the common people to make them live morally. With those who by adulteries have acquired a disgust and nausea for marriages, when anything pleasant, blessed, and happy flows down from heaven, it is turned into what is nauseous and loathsome, then into what is painful, and finally into what is noisome; with others into what is obscene.


They desire to obsess man, and with man to return into the world; but they are shut up that they may not speak with man.


The conjugial is represented everywhere in the kingdoms of nature, as from the transformation of worms into nymphs and chrysalises, and thus into winged insects; for when the time of their marriages arrives, which is when they put off earthly forms, which is their worm form, they are distinguished with wings and become flying insects; then they are elevated into the atmosphere as into a certain heaven of theirs, and there they sport among themselves, transact marriages, lay their eggs on leaves, and are nourished with the juice of flowers. They are then also in their beauty, for they have wings of golden, silvery, blue, and shining white colors, and some beautifully distinguished and variegated. Such things does the conjugial produce with such lowly small animals.


There are those who have the cupidity of deflowering young virgins, or to whom virginities and thefts of virginities are the greatest pleasures, without the end of marriage, and when they have stolen the flower of virginity, they afterwards desert them. Those who have led such a life, because it is contrary to their spiritual and celestial nature, and because they destroy the conjugial, are interior murderers, who undergo the most grievous punishment in the other life, for they regard this only from the flower of virginity, which being bereft, they love them no longer, and because it is contrary to innocence, which they wound and kill by leading into a life of harlotry innocent women who otherwise would be chaste, who might be imbued with conjugial love, and thus are destroyers of marriages. It is known that it is the first flower of love which initiates virgins into chaste conjugial love and conjoins the souls of consorts, and because the sanctity of heaven is founded upon conjugial love, thus upon innocence. They are led into phantasies, the actions in which appear as it were real and sensible, and they seem to themselves to sit upon a furious horse which throws them upwards, so that they are thrown down from the horse as if with risk of life, such a terror is struck into them; afterwards they appear to themselves to be under the belly of a furious horse, and shortly it seems to them as if they went through the posteriors of a horse into his belly, and then it appears to them as if they were in the belly of a filthy harlot, which harlot is changed into a great dragon, and there they remain wrapped up in torments; this punishment returns as often as they are in that cupidity, and approach young virgins with their craft. Others are punished by disjointings and unjointings, or by contortions and retortions, from which punishments they are so torn to pieces that they seem to themselves as if cut into bits or fragments with cruel pain, and if then they do not desist, they are cast into a hell of foul-smelling odor.


Those who in the life of the body think lasciviously, and whatsoever others speak convert it into lasciviousness, even holy things, do not cease to think and speak thus in the other life; and there, because their thoughts are communicated, those things come out into obscene representations, whence are scandals. Their punishment is to be stretched out horizontally in the presence of the spirits whom they have injured and whirled around like a roller from left to right rapidly, and then in a reverse direction in another position, and then in another, and so naked in the presence of all or half naked according to the quality of their lasciviousness, and at the same time they are struck with shame. Then they are whirled around by the head and feet transversely like a wheel; resistance is caused, and at the same time pain, and again resistance and at the same time pain, for two forces act, one around, the other back, and so with the drawing apart pain is caused. N. B. N. B. More concerning these subjects may be seen in the first extracts: in ADULTERY, HARLOT, LASCIVIOUSNESS, MARRIAGE; also in Notes from the ARCANA COELESTIA. Especially from Note upon the Apocalypse, and in extracts from the work on "Heaven and Hell," and also from other places.