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Spiritual Diary, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1758], tr. by Bush, Smithson and Buss [1883-9] at

Spiritual Diary


CONCERNING THE SIGNIFICATION OF A PIT, AND OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPIRITUAL AND THE CELESTIAL MODE OF FELLOWSHIP. In order that I might know the signification of Joseph's being cast into a pit [puteus] [:examine to see whether the reading be fovea:], and thence drawn out by the Israelites, and how it happened that none of them except Reuben knew where he was [I was instructed as follows]. Examine how far these things agree.


Being in vision I spoke with spirits, of whom some said they wished to have me in their company. Accordingly, after some little delay I was in consort with genii or celestial spirits, and I then disappeared from the spiritual with whom I had previously been. These, not knowing whither I had withdrawn, sought me, saying that they knew not where I was. I was in fact in company with the genii, and while in that state they [the spiritual] seemed to disappear, although I was near by, and heard them speaking, and seeking me.


When I thus disappeared from sight, they supposed [as is usual with them] that I had fallen into a pit, and when they sought me there they let down a pole suspended crosswise from a rope, supposing that when they withdrew it the person who was to be drawn up would be found sitting upon the pole; but as there was no one seen in this case sitting in that position, they said that he was not there, seeking solicitously in the meantime to find where I was. They were then in their representatives, which were like dreams, because not in the life of fellowship with me.


From the pit there issued, as it were, black spirits, and the pit was filled with water to its mouth, it being to appearance like any other pit on the earth.


It hence appears that when anyone comes from the company of spirits to that of genii, he seems to the spirits to have escaped: such is the difference. I wished to say to them that I was near, but they could not hear.


The mode of acting of the genii when in company with others is soft, gentle, and tacit, like the pulsations of the heart.


Hence it may be inferred what was represented by Joseph's being let down into the pit and drawn up again; for the things related in the Word correspond to similar things which occur in heaven. - 1748, March 19.


CONCERNING THE INFIDELITY OF CHRISTIANS. In the presence of many spirits, and, as I think, of Mahomed also, I was thinking with myself, that is, was tacitly saying to myself (:for my thought is a kind of speech:), how wonderful it is that in the other life so few of those who were called Christians inquire for the Lord, while others who were the votaries and worshippers of men, nay, of devils, seek out the objects of their earthly idolatry, and pay their homage even there; which is evident from the case of those who inquire for Mahomed, for Abraham, for Jacob, for Moses, or whoever else were the idols acknowledged. But I was informed in reply that evil spirits and devils have a perception and sensation of whatever is divine, regarding it with aversion and hatred, and consequently striving against it both in the life of the body, and after leaving the body, while in regard to what agrees with their dominant state or is diabolical, the case is quite the reverse, which, by the way, affords abundant evidence that the Lord is God and ruler of the universe. - 1748, March 19. HOW IT IS THAT THE MINDS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THIS WORLD ARE IN COMMUNION. ((((((This being in communion results from what has been revealed respecting the inhabitants of the earths of this system, namely, that those of the planet Venus and of our earth are such as constitute or represent corporeal things and the appetencies connected with them, thus also terrestrial and lower worldly things; consequently they are those who rule the external senses. In like manner the spirits of the earth Jupiter represent rational ideas, for they live free from care, as it concerned those things that pertain to the bodily senses. They are, so to speak, a sort of ground in which things interior and inmost are sown, for without an interior rational idea those things which are still more interior and intimate are not inseminated. It is also a characteristic of ideas originating in the outward senses, that they prompt to vocal utterance.)))))) The spirits of the earth Saturn correspond to interior sense, or reason; The spirits of the earth Mercury to knowledges; The spirits of the earth Mars to thought.


THAT MORE THINGS MAY BE COMPREHENDED IN A SPIRITUAL IDEA THAN IT IS POSSIBLE TO BELIEVE. A spiritual idea is that by which a man, while he lives as a spirit, and thus separated, as it were, from the body, acts and thinks. That ideas of this kind are, as was said before, more full and more perceptive of things, is evident from the fact, that by means of a spiritual idea it can be known and perceived to the life how the case is in regard to man's non-ability to think, much more to act of himself anything that should not be sin, even while he intends good, as, for instance, his own conversion and self-moved repentance, - how all this may be done, and yet there may be sin, not only in the general act, but in the minutest particulars, - all this, I say, may be set forth and shown most vividly to a spiritual idea. This has been shown to me at different times when I have supposed that I thought in this way and not in that, because the one way was lawful, right, and best, and the other not. Thus I supposed, but still I perceived that it was sin, because it was from myself. Thus, for instance, when I would convert myself to the Lord, and thus apply to myself any species of good, as the good of faith, the good of obedience, the good of what is commended in the Word, yet I still perceived that there was sin in the singular and most singular items of the act, so that [it was clear that] there is nothing in man but what is vile and polluted. Being inwardly moved, even to a degree of indignation, at not being able to do anything of good, the spirits also were in like manner indignantly affected, saying that thus they did not know what good they could do, however much it might be commanded.


From this the conclusion evidently follows that there is nothing good in man, but all good is of the Lord, and that man cannot arrogate to himself aught of good, still less of faith; and yet that this itself is a point of faith, and when recognized as such the ability is in some measure granted; for when I thought from myself also that this was the Lord's gift, and that I was to leave it to Him to work good within me, [I saw] that this also was sin, because from myself. Wherefore whichever way man turns himself from [or of] himself there is sin; consequently all good is of the Lord. But inasmuch as this fact cannot be perceived except by a spiritual idea separated from the body, I can easily perceive how incredible it should appear to men. But that such is actually the case I can affirm in the strongest manner. - 1748, March 20.


As often, therefore, as man reflects within himself that he thinks good, or does good, it comes from his proprium, thus from a certain self-love, cupidity, and appetite. What he thus attributes to himself under these promptings, there is sin in every particular of it. The good, therefore, which is imparted by the Lord is wrought within him while he does not reflect from himself upon it; that is, while man remains ignorant of it, according to the Lord's Word, that man is regenerated, he himself being unaware [of the process].


CONCERNING A COMMON [OR GENERAL] IDEA INTO WHICH FLOWED THE DISTINCT IDEAS OF OTHERS. Being in a common [or general] idea, which was, as it were, the idea of all, without determination to anything definite, there appeared to me [an idea] which I am unable to describe, inasmuch as it is only in the spiritual world that such an idea can be perceived. It may exist, indeed, with some men [in this world], but it is not perceived. Into this idea there flowed the particular or singular ideas of spirits, which I understood with considerable distinctness in general, remaining myself meanwhile in a general idea. In this way singular ideas from others would flow in, and I could understand them. It was said to me that such is the idea of certain spirits. - 1748, March 20. ((((Hence it may appear that general ideas are in themselves distinct from singular ones, and yet the singular exist in the general, though singulars do not know that they are in the general. This general idea was not sufficiently determinate for singular things to apply themselves to it.))))


CONCERNING BODILY APPETITE. There are spirits who constitute what is called appetite, even that of the body. These appetites are various, as of eating, drinking, etc., since it is well known that man is prompted by a certain craving to enjoy the luxury of baths, of fine clothing, and the like.


A certain spirit was so goaded by a longing for a linen under-garment, that he said he could scarcely live if I did not put one upon him; and when invested with it he had such a delight as nothing could surpass, and prayed that he might be left to enjoy his pleasure undisturbed.


As to sense, however, as of touch, he said he did not possess it, so that while appetite pertains to spirits, sense or sensation belongs to man. I asked him whether he had a sensation together with mine when I touched the linen for which he so much longed. He said that he had no sensation himself, but he perceived that I had.


There are spirits, therefore, who are called appetites, with which some are so inflamed that they can scarcely restrain themselves. Such spirits are of manifold genus and species, for the objects of appetite are innumerable, some of which are corporeal, or pertaining to the body, while cupidities are of the mind. Such spirits are called appetites, because they make man to crave, or excite his appetites, whence they have their delights; but sensation is proper to the man only.


Such spirits have derived that peculiarity from their life in the body, inasmuch as they have cherished a craving desire for certain bodily things.


For the sake of distinction [in the use of terms], appetite, or to crave, is predicated of the body; cupidity, or to covet, of the mind; while earnest desire, or to desiderate, pertains to the interior or rational mind. To be willing is of the still more interior mind; while to be effected, though the term is often employed in other connections, is properly to be understood only of the inmost. - 1748, March 20.


[OF THE] SPIRITS WHICH CONSTITUTE THE PROVINCE OF THE SMALL CUTANEOUS GLANDS. There are spirits who, while they wish to know anything, say some that it is thus, others that it is thus, and so one after another, and while they are speaking they observe whether what they say flows freely, without any check or spiritual resistance, in which case they take it for granted that their views are correct. This is a common occurrence with certain classes of spirits, to wit, speaking as if they knew, when yet the fact is not so, nor do they know how it is. Others, again, do not take such positive ground, but observe, as was said, whether there is any spiritual repugnance, and thus an obstruction in the flow, from which they conjecture, and say that it is not so; for while it flows freely they suppose that it is of course from heaven or the Lord, inasmuch as there is nothing there which is contrarious, but all is accordant.


These are they who constitute the small cutaneous glands, of which there is a twofold kind, one with sensation, another without. Those with sensation are such as explore, from their own utterance and diction, whether the thing is so, just as the little glands examine whether the substances that come in contact with them are such as they may admit. The others who are without sensation are such as deal in affirmation, and supposing the case to be thus, and so do not scruple to assent with a kind of audacity.


There are such in the life of the body, persons who desire to know everything, whether it concern them or not, as, for instance, what is going on elsewhere, in societies, or among particular acquaintances, which they are prompted to relate to others. They are thus [a kind of gossiping] informers, of whom some doubtingly, others confidently, throw out and scatter their reports. There are vast numbers, whole cohorts, of such characters.


Such is the nature of those who preside over the province and function of the glands; and such is also the correspondence of their interiors and exteriors with these organs.


CONCERNING THOSE WHO ARE INORDINATELY DEVOTED TO DOMESTIC CARES. I saw a kind of small habitation considerably low down under the left foot a little in front, in which was a large chamber furnished with utensils, which, however, I did not see. The chamber led into a long hall, according to a common construction and through the hall there went a woman of small stature and deformed person.


Upon my inquiring the meaning of these things it was replied that such as were excessively devoted to domestic cares in the life of the body occupied this kind of habitations, and that they still remain engrossed by their (wonted) cares. It was also said that they are, for the most part, from the inferior classes of the people, consisting often of old women, who, although these cares do not pertain to them, yet still assume them, neglecting, like Martha, the better things, such as pertain to faith.


They appear small from being in a low place, and deformed because such [is the effect of] the cares.


HOW REPRESENTATIONS DESCEND FROM THE HEAVENS. I saw a certain garden of large extent and embellished with shaded walks, in which the trees, as I was informed, were adorned with leaves, but without fruits. I inquired how the spirits could produce these and similar representations which are so frequent among them.


I perceived that the angels of the interior heaven, while they are in their ideas, and, as it were, in parables, have inserted into these ideas corresponding objects or scenery, by which their ideas are aided. These things, when they are conveyed down among spirits, are immediately formed by them, according to their fantasies, into new representations on a larger scale, retaining, however, the idea of the angelic society, though modified by their own. Thus the [original] idea grows into a representation.


A similar process of growth or expansion takes place when an idea passes from a more interior [intimiori] to a more exterior [interius] heaven, 1577-1 although unconsciously to the recipients, for in the exterior [interiori] heaven are certain natural elements, to which their ideas adhere, and which govern their form. In the heaven of spirits, or the spiritual world, the same things become material, thus growing, as it were, from a soul into bodies; and these bodies enlarge themselves according to the forms, qualities, and states of the societies concerned.


The same thing holds good of other representations also, as those, for instance, which are of the animal kingdom, and those, too, which pertain to terrestrial objects, as woods, fields, rivers, mountains, - of all which the souls [so to speak] are to be sought in the interior, intimate, and inmost sense. For from the celestial, which is the soul, is formed the spiritual, from the spiritual the natural, from the natural the material, of the threefold kingdom [the mineral, vegetable, and animal].


CONCERNING THOSE WHO FORECAST THE FUTURE, AND ARE SOLICITOUS RESPECTING IT. While asleep there was presented to my view a wooden house with a roof but without windows, in the third story of which were certain persons who, when I would fain come to them bypassing over a bridge, refused to admit me. Whereupon, being cast down, I attempted to climb up, not by ropes, but by twisted threads, along certain small interstices in the wall, which I used for the purpose of lifting myself up that I might succeed in a second attempt to reach the third story, though the attempt was attended with danger of falling. I still was not able to ascend whither I wished. On awaking I heard that another also was desirous of mounting to the same loft, concerning whom it was repeatedly said, "Now he enters," to wit, by an entrance under the roof. Those who dwelt there were unwilling to admit any one, and they were moreover said to dwell upon the roofs.


Upon my inquiring who these were [or whom they represented], it was said that they were those who in their life-time were prone to vaticinate concerning things to come, and again that those who are anxious for the morrow, and do not trust to the Lord's providence, seem to themselves to inhabit such houses, and indeed to dwell upon the roofs, and also in a dark story under the roofs [:mercka i winden:], 1580-1 while the house appears to be constructed of wood, and without windows. In the place of windows there are unclosed apertures, and those who would fain resemble the inmates scale the walls in the manner described, viz. by means of twisted threads or fascicles of such threads, and at the same time with much peril.


THAT FALSITIES HYPOTHETICALLY ASSUMED ARE SOMETIMES CONFIRMED TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT THOSE WHO DO IT DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE TRUTH IS, AND THUS ARE UNWILLING TO KNOW. Let one fact be taken for an example. Spirits partly erring and partly malignant assumed a hypothetical position, viz. the falsity that a spirit could enter into the body of a man, and thus live corporeally. This they were prompted to affirm solely from the fact that a spirit with man thinks that he is the man. But when I asserted that such was not the case they were unwilling to pay any attention to the reasons [which I adduced], for having once assumed in theory the falsity, they were intent upon confirming it; when the fact is, that as the spirit then thinks, apprehends, and wills in like manner with the man, and the appropriate acts follow, the spirit therefore supposes that he is the man. But this does not last long; it only holds in those states [of the parties] which are analogous.


Moreover, that a spirit should be able to pass into the body of another, and live in that body, is at once absurd and impossible, for the consequence would be that the form of one would be changed into that of another, the interior substances of the man would be entirely emptied out, and the substances of another applied, in their stead, to the fibers and vessels, while at the same time all that which had contracted a nature in the [life of] the body and been wrought into obedience to its proper form, would be assumed.


THAT THE QUALITIES OF SPIRITS CAN BE KNOWN AT ONCE BY THOSE WHO ARE INTERIOR, OR WHO CONSTITUTE AN INTERNAL SENSE. ((((A certain spirit, who would fain arrogate merit to himself from his acts and his doctrine in the world, proceeding to a great distance in front, came to those who constitute the internal sense or to the spirits of the earth Saturn, and said that he was nothing, and that he was desirous of serving them. But at his very first approach, they replied that [they saw that] he wished to be great, and that they being small could not be with the great, thus intimating how much he arrogated to himself.))))


From this it is obvious that the quality of a spirit may at once disclose itself to the [above-mentioned] internal sense. There is a sphere, as it were, of spiritual effluvia which exhale, and produce a perception of the life of one's mind. This sphere I recollect myself to have perceived, and it has rarely, if ever, deceived me.


((((Nor need this appear wonderful when a shrewd and, intelligent man is aware from the face, speech, and actions of another of what quality he is, whether stimulated or sincere, and many other things, which are manifest to a man's internal sense. How much more perfect then must this power be with spirits, whose faculty of perceiving things of this kind so far transcends that of men, and with whom the quality of another spirit is at once revealed even from his mute presence alone, and much more from his speech. The manifestation which is from presence only I have often perceived.))))


The spirit was made to pass into another state, in which he could reflect upon his life, and see himself as it were, in a glass, and he then confessed that he beheld himself deformed, defiled, overflowing with vilenesses, even to the point Of utter self-loathing. In this manner spirits can be carried, as it were, out of themselves, or into themselves, and thus made to know themselves. - 1748, March 20.


THAT THE PRIVILEGE OF CONVERSING WITH SPIRITS AND ANGELS MIGHT BE COMMON AND APPROPRIATE TO MAN. Man was so created that he might hold interaction with spirits and angels, and thus heaven and earth be conjoined. Such was the case in the Most Ancient Church, such in the Ancient, and in the Primitive also there was a perception of the Holy Spirit. Such was the case with the inhabitants of other earths, concerning which I have spoken before; for man is man because he is a spirit, with this only difference, that the spirit of man on the earth is encompassed with a body on account of its functions in the world. That heaven and earth are now separated, as respects our planet, arises from the fact that the human race has here, in the process of time, passed from internals to externals. - 1748, March 20.


THAT CERTAIN ONES IN HEAVEN CALL THIS EARTH A PUTRID WELL. When discoursing concerning a plurality of worlds, and [suggesting] that the inhabitants of this earth were too few to constitute the universal kingdom of the Lord, I perceived that this earth was called a well of stagnant water.-1748, March 20.


HE THAT IS LED BY THE LORD IS BLAMELESS. (A man although foul and polluted with defilements, yet while led by the Lord is exempt from blame; for whatever of truth and good he thinks, speaks, and acts is of the Lord, and whatever of false and evil of the devil, for man then knows that he does nothing of himself. - 1745, March 20.


It may be inferred that while one is impelled by evil spirits to thinking or doing evil, he then consents or is in concert with them, but the Lord takes care to prevent his being associated with them in perpetrating or thinking evils.


He who is not led by the Lord not only acts in concert with evil spirits, but he also excites evil spirits to act in that manner, because he believes his cupidities and cogitations to be his own; but whoever is led by the Lord, he is excited by evil spirits, and yet the Lord so acts that he shall not consent. Such also is the faith of those who are led by the Lord


Evil spirits make no account whatever of such a man, and so speak of him, nor do they know otherwise; they hold him as a kind of dead instrument [for effecting their purposes], which they deduce from the fact that they suppose themselves to be the man; on other related points they are ignorant because they are not in true faith, for they believe no otherwise than that life is the special prerogative [proprium] of a spirit; and when this is affirmed, they suppose that the Lord is the cause of evil, when yet this comes from their form, which is properly theirs; but the form is merely organic, being in itself destitute of all life, and merely fashioned that life might actuate it, - and because forms are such, they cannot, although they would, think otherwise, for faith is the gift of the Lord alone, consequently the perception which is of faith.)


THAT A SPIRIT WHEN TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN IS TAKEN AWAY, AS IT WERE, FROM [OTHER] SPIRITS. Distance, in the spiritual world, exists according to interior states, as the more interior spirits are [in comparison with others] the more distant they are; apparent distance is another thing. When spirits are taken up into heaven they seemingly disappear altogether from [other] spirits, although they are in fact present to them, and lead them. I was, in my interiors, in some small degree in heaven, which I perceived from the angelic choirs. And though I did not understand these [choral exercises], yet I perceived that my interiors were in heaven. I then heard spirits inquiring for me, and saying, "He is not here," - being ignorant where I was. During this time they spoke from material ideas, such as belong to the memory of material things [particularium] thus vocally; and thus [it was shown] that I might be intimately present, even in their speech, and yet they not know it.


CONCERNING AN EXECRABLE RABBLE ROVING THROUGH HEAVEN. There is a throne of spirits wandering through heaven, who know not whence they are, though they say they are from the stars or the starry worlds. They come flocking in troops and seek to seduce spirits, with some of whom they succeed.


They are not content with the things which they comprehend, or which are adapted to their comprehension, but they are fain to penetrate the deepest arcana, like some on the earths who are never satisfied to know what faith, charity, and the fruits of faith are, and how men ought to live; but they burn to penetrate divine mysteries, not the inmost, but the supreme, namely, the nature of the union of the Son and His Father.


This crowd is detestable, for they insinuate into the minds [of spirits] such things as it is not allowable to write, lest offence should thereby he ministered to the inconsiderate multitude, but they are such as relate to the union between the Son and His Father, which they make visible by impious representations, thus seeking to compass divine things by a material sense.


But being of such a quality, their motive in doing this is, that when they have succeeded in seducing the man or spirit, they may be able to say that he belongs to them; for while they are perverting his faith, they know that they are alienating the man from the Lord; wherefore with some, after having overcome them by persuasions, they assert a right to them, and make themselves their lords.


The mode of representation which they employ in effecting this seduction is various; as, for instance, that they make their subjects pass under their feet, from the back to the front part of the body, then taking hold of them, turning them round, throwing them down upon their backs, like captives to be stripped and spoiled, and then going away. Others, however, adopt other modes.


By means of representations addressed to the external senses, they show how the Son and the Father conversed together in the manner of men, and the like, which are abominable.


They are accordingly such as endeavor to comprehend inmost and supreme mysteries by their mere external power of apprehension.


1577-1 It is important to remark in reference to these terms that in this and many other passages of the Diary [now called Spiritual Experiences], Swedenborg uses interior, intimior, which, in order to be clearly intelligible to the English reader, we are obliged to express by exterior and interior; inasmuch as by the Latin interior, interius, he means that which is relatively or comparatively exterior. - TR

1580-1 These are Swedish words, equivalent, according to Dr. Tafel, to a dark place in the ground, or possibly to an attic story under the roof.

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