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

Spiritual Diary


Another man who appeared honest before all had killed two persons by magical art. Such are they, at the present day, who before the world appear as honest, and still are worse than devils.


That subject of the sirens, or [the one who had made herself] the infernal profane was cast into various hells in front, to the side there, under the feet, where there lay open the entrance as of a great furnace tending into the deep to the left hither and thither, but still after some torments she escaped, eluding them for the most part by her deceitful and magical incantations, to such an extent, that she thought herself able to conquer the hells. Wherever they seemed the worst, she afterwards plotted to allure them to herself, that she might have their assistance. From her also there proceeded a corporeal sphere, whence her speech was similar to what it had been in the world, which sphere filled those in the vicinity, and they seemed to walk with a stately gait when they departed, - a sign of their conjunction with me.


It was at length seen what her end was; there was raised up from the depth, a skeleton, which was not like a common skeleton, but one in which not only the flesh but the bones also had wasted into threads, and thus in a long series, so that it was nothing but an object of this kind, mangled, filamentous, and foul. This was elevated before me, above my head, and it was apperceived that she had been such in her time, and had become such in hell; [although it was apperceived also] that there was still something of life left. It was then shown that she was reduced to this state by worms of various kinds, which worms were also seen in vast numbers.


The hells themselves at length had a horror of her as being the infernal profane; she was continually excogitating arts how she might bind other spirits to me, and those too of the worst kind. It makes [me] shudder also to say that she first killed her infant with two strokes of a knife before she threw it into the furnace.


This magical profane subject was at length conveyed down into a hell under the nates, where there is an abyss directly downward, and there was there a dense something from exhalations, and, at first, a fiery [something] which, however, was invisible to those there. Here she was received by woman who at first dealt moderately with her by pretended decorums. She was there excogitating various arts, which, however, were eluded.


CONCERNING THE POWER OF THE ANGELS. I was put into a state, such that I saw the magicians and the profane without me; when they all appeared to me as being possessed of absolutely no power, and it seemed to me, that I was able to move and drive them singly, by the slightest idea, whithersoever I would. This it was actually given me to do, and it was done with the slightest possible idea. I could conclude from thence concerning angelic power, that one angel could see such to the number of a hundred or a thousand without himself, together with all their machinations, and direct them all whithersoever he pleased. What then cannot the Lord do [with them]? They appeared then small, as almost of no account, somewhat as a man from a high mountain or tower can see many at the same time and see them small; but then it is to be supposed also that he is possessed of power to control them at his will.


CONCERNING THINGS MAGICAL. There are female magicians or witches, some of modern and some of ancient times, in front at the left, in a hell under the earth. Some of them being called forth thence, they appeared in front, above, to the left, and spoke. The speech of their residuum was almost monotonous, like the deeper notes of a flute; they confessed that they were of the character above mentioned, and that they have little of life left.


It was afterwards seen that they still trust in staves, which they make for themselves by phantasies, in which they place power; but these staves are utterly dissipated, and they then suppose that they have lost all their power. They were also seen adhering by the pair, along the length of a kind of staff, although it was not a staff in reality.


CONCERNING IMPEDIMENTS TO COMMUNICATION; SUBJECTS. When any communication is hindered, there then appears below a something like an unknown animalcule; this was seen, and it was said that a thing of this kind was a sign that communication is obstructed.


Witches turn this also into magic, by interposing a cloud, or certain spirits of such a life as to receive everything, and discriminate almost nothing. Thus they magically hinder communications [with spirits], though they suppose that communication is thereby hindered with angels; but this is impossible; all which it has been given me to know by experience.


CONCERNING THE HELLS, THE INFERNALS, AND THE PROFANE. The infernals of both sexes, who receive not anything of emendation by punishments, are those who are borne towards hell. The most profane siren, with others, are oftentimes severely punished, so severely, and by such manifold tortures, that they can scarcely be described; but yet they are afterwards similar to what they were before, and in the end worse. Such are they who are borne towards hell, and when their evils have come to the full, they lapse thither [of course].


In the hells are those of such quality, that they suffer themselves to be punished, and [yet] dread punishment, for they are often punished there by their like. Such are they who are in hell, and [these punishments are effected] by phantasies so atrocious, and by arts so diverse, especially of the magical kind, that they could never be enumerated.


Those who are punished in the world of spirits, and receive emendation are those who become better in consequence of passing through this process.


That most profane subject [before spoken of] was repeatedly punished with the utmost severity, and was as often made worse; till at length she would elude all punishments, and care nothing for them. She was conveyed into different hells, which she finally came to regard scarcely at all, but was there continually intent upon new machinations prompted by the desire to rule over them, and to adjoin them to herself which indeed she did in regard to several.


Being let down to a great depth at the left, she at first shuddered, but afterwards cared not for it. It was said there that she was not yet [quite] ripe [for such a doom], which they ascertained from her hanging like something aerial, and wavering to and fro.


CONCERNING IDEAS. There was called forth against a certain one, with whom I had a childish quarrel, an idea so vivid that I, as it were, actually saw the person to whom I allude, and then the idea was [still more clearly] called forth. Hence it may appear of what quality are the ideas taken up in childhood, and how completely they remain; for as often as I saw him I recollected that circumstance, supposing that he was disposed to persecute me, though in some covert manner, as he is in the moral of life.


THAT WITCHES BIND OR FASTEN THEMSELVES TO IDEAS, AND ALSO TO THINGS SPONTANEOUS; WHAT THE HAIR IS. Witches are intent upon nothing more than to captivate the minds of others, and bind themselves to them, in order that they may, as they suppose, cohere with them, which in my own case was effected by methods inexpressible and innumerable; were I to undertake to recite them, they would be deemed incredible. They enter into all parts of the cranium and the body, and thus inquire what societies are excited, which they bind, and are themselves bound to, in ineffable modes, especially by so entering into the affections that they can afterwards scarcely be separated.


At length they proceeded so far as to invent arts of binding themselves even to the spontaneous things of ideas; for every idea has also a spontaneous [element], which man is not aware of, so that there is both a voluntary and a spontaneous in the ideas of the memory or thought. This they discover by means of their operating in the right time, and feigning themselves to adhere to the locks of hair which are upon the occiput under the cerebellum. In the night time they know that man is in his spontaneous principles, and the cerebellum is that from which the spontaneous flows, and thus that the locks of hair which are there are such things as adhere, whence there is a combing the hair in hell: hairs are the external natural. I was thus bound to a most profane subject, and being then in a state almost [entirely] different, I was less able than before to think as of myself, my ideas being led more forcibly and against my will.


In order to effect this, they remit subjects under the occiput, to the region of the common sense, who cannot be seen or removed like those things which are on other parts of the head.


Into this most profane subject there was an influx, not only from the sirens which were above, and from others round about in the world of spirits, but also from various hells. She thought almost as in the world, and whenever she had thought anything, there flowed, in different ways, from the hells such things as confirmed and new devices for effecting [her aims], and thus she was confirmed from the hells, for she was intent upon nothing else as in fact she had been in the life of the body, where she had connection with the same spirits, and was wholly absorbed in it than that she might be able to rule all the hells, on which account there was a concentration of a plurality of hells [in her].


HOW SPONTANEOUS THINGS DRAW TOWARDS HELL. THE HEREDITARY. It was perceived that the spontaneous [principle], which is the hereditary of man, continually draws him downward to hell, and that the Lord by the voluntary draws him back and elevates him. The spontaneous things are those of the common sense, and are seated in the occiput, where the witches fasten themselves. This fact was also perceived, that the propria of man continually carrying him downwards, but because the involuntary is perpetually conjoined with the voluntary, the man who is regenerating is elevated, and thus withheld by a strong force, which was also perceived.


It was perceived also that those who are spiritual are such that the involuntary draws them down every moment, but the Lord continually elevates them. Wherever the power is the strongest, thither a spirit lapses, that is to say, if he does not receive the good of charity and conscience; in this case he cannot do otherwise than determine himself downwards; and that more or less.


That involuntary was perceived as being of a subtle nature, a certain something aerial and insensible, occupying the entire posterior region. Involuntary things are nothing else than hereditary; so far as a man leads himself according to hereditary [promptings], so far he sinks himself down towards hell; as far as he recedes from them, so far he is elevated. The power of this principle, moreover is augmented by the actualizing of a man's propria, and thus continually increases. The hereditary from infancy appears subtle like a something aerial, but it is continuous [from its origin], so as to be nothing but evil, but when actuality accedes, it becomes more gross and ponderous.


CONCERNING FRIENDSHIP AND THE LOVE OF FRIENDSHIP. I heard good spirits conversing among themselves respecting friendship and the love of friendship, [and maintaining] that there could be friendship indeed, but never any love of friendship, inasmuch as the love of friendship ties minds [animos] together, notwithstanding the minds [mentes] are dissimilar, which causes much trouble in the other life. [It was said], moreover, that the love of friendship regards nothing but the delights of life, which draw away [the thoughts] from the delights and blessednesses of the other life, and is such that when riches and their consequent delights cease, it is then dissolved and becomes none, and is followed by contempt, whatever the love may have been previously; whereas if there was anything good and right in a particular friend, or rather an associate or companion, that that was to be loved, and to be loved the same whether the other party were a companion or not, thus for the sake of the good itself, though he should know its genuine quality and not suffer himself to be blinded by it. Friendship [it was said] is of civil life, but not the love of friendship.


CONCERNING MAGICAL ARTS WHICH ARE ABUSED. I was shown the quality of [certain] magical arts which are most absurd. They were like those of a harlequin. The performers move and twist their loins and feet in various ways, then their bodies and arms; clasping their hands together they put them upon their heads, and then turn themselves to all quarters; they observe that certain things in the world of spirits correspond to these gestures, so that other evil spirits are present, each kind in their own quarters, and some with staves. These harlequins act out the grossest absurdities; they throw themselves down, they roll themselves over, they make themselves scarcely visible; while some exercise magical arts by means of a breathing which they exhale, at the same time fixing their thoughts upon some subject, as the blood, for instance, or the animal spirits, or anything else, observing what effect such things have upon the affections, and these affections, though poisonous and magical, they inspire into others, whose capacity goes no farther than to be affected by whatever they suppose to be good: Adlerheim.


Others are acted upon [and act] through ideas, and attach themselves in various modes to ideas; these different modes were enumerated by a certain one to the number of forty.


Those who are in the hell of magicians, before they are conveyed thither, and also while there, are instructed by experience that these arts are perfectly powerless, and that they are in fact mere delusions; for [though] they at first practice these arts upon each other, and by them torment one another, yet it finally comes to that, that they lose all power and prompting to do harm towards each other in this way.


There are very many of the magical class in the other life. They appear in front to the left for a long distance, on a plane below, and it was said, that their number was great, consisting as much of those who had been skilled in magic arts in the world, as of those who had not; that is, of those who had lived a life of evil, and were carried away with the delight and study of knowing everything. This study or this cupidity is turned into magic, so that [those in whom it reigns] desire nothing more ardently than to addict themselves to magical things, as Adlerheim.


It was shown them in many ways, that they could be moved by others like puppets [marionettes]; they [even] appeared to themselves like puppets, and were moved in like manner as to their bodies, arms, hands, feet, [as if] by means of little hanging strings or threads, pulled by the hand. The whole, the plane in front, was in fact turned into such [magical spirits]. [The beholders] wondered and were indignant, and proclaimed the power of the Lord.


OF WHAT QUALITY THEY ARE WITH MAN WHO CHERISH HATRED TOWARDS ANYONE. There was a certain female who inwardly cherished such a hatred towards her parents at home that she thought of taking them off by poison; and as she imagined that I was willing to marry her, and deceived herself with the phantasy of being married to the man [of her choice], she was at length [upon finding herself disappointed] seized with such a hatred that she thought of murdering me, had it been possible (:Sara Hesselia:). She having died not long after, and before the faculty of speaking with spirits was opened with me, it happened that I was impelled to put an end to my life with a knife, and this impulse so grew upon me, that I was forced to hide the knife in my desk, and thus to remove it out of my sight. I have now discovered that that woman was the spirit who prompted the impulse, she having become excited as often as I saw the knife, and, from the enmity which she had conceived against me, having held the object fixedly in my mind. From this it may appear that men may be unconsciously infested by the dead, who have cherished hatred towards them.


CONCERNING THE UNIVERSAL GENIUS OF SPIRITS. Even the very worst internal spirits have the faculty of understanding truth, so as to apprehend it perfectly, and they know into what state they are everywhere remitted, at which I wondered. They had the most clear perception when they were conversed with respecting evil, amounting even to strong mental confirmation [ad confirmationem animi et mentis]; but yet they were the same after that state as before.


There is with the evil solely the delight of cupidities, and with the good the delight of affection, which bears them [respectively] away. Nothing can be effected [towards reformation], with the evil, however excellent may be their gift of intelligence, unless their delight be broken; their delight is their life; as may hence be manifest. This [I have learned] from much experience.


CONCERNING THE UNIVERSAL AFFIRMATIVE. It is solely a universal affirmative with which man is imbued as to truths by the Lord, as that the Word is the Word, that the Lord is the Lord, that Providence is in the most singular things. When one is in this principle, although he is but obscurely aware of its existence, innumerable affirmatives are insinuated by the Lord.


The contrary is the case with those who are in contrary affirmatives, or those of the false, that is, in the principles and persuasions of the false, or in a doubting negative, still more those who are positively in the negative respecting truths. This [I have learned] from much experience.


True affirmatives may be confirmed even by many fallacies, but this is of little account, for they are easily dispelled. Hence it is that various forms of worship are of scarcely any importance provided there be charity in all.


The affirmatives of childhood are either confirmed by one thing after another even to adult age, and the persons are regenerated, or they decrease [in strength of assurance], and become by slow degrees doubting affirmatives, and finally negatives.


CONCERNING THE HOLY SPIRIT AND INTELLECTUAL GIFTS. It was often perceived and said that the more anyone thinks himself to be the Holy Spirit, the more he loses or destroys of his intellectual endowments, for it is the love of self which destroys. This is still more the case with those who think themselves to have been gods from eternity. The same thing was evinced in the case of certain most deceitful [spirits] in the highest elevation, who possess an intellectual gift beyond others. They can see that they are unhappy, and say that they owe this to their own life, and many other things which are true; but still they remain of the same quality, as was shown by an intuition into the eye where the intellectual endowment manifests itself. So far as the love of self creeps in, so far is the let there obscured, and a dark cloud succeeds, to the perishing of intellectual [principles].


CONCERNING THINGS MAGICAL. There are also other magical arts in which spirits are adapts in the other life that have been acquired by some in the world; to wit, those which are effected by entering into the ideas of others, and into the delights of others, holding the mind fixed in them, and thus impelling to actuality. A certain one was such while be lived on the earth (:Sverin:), and he showed by such things how [spirits of that class] excite.


Such [spirits] can also reason respecting the truths of faith, saying, that they know that this and that is true, as also that what is true [in itself] is false to the evil, and vice versa; but still they are infernal, because they have contracted to themselves a delight in magical things, and were enabled, from their practicing these arts, to commit adultery, just as others by the same means, could take the lives of their fellow-creatures. This delight remains and drags them [down] to hell.


From manifest experience it is given me to know that the infernals can acknowledge truths and be convinced, and thus that they can understand; and they then appear as if easily capable of being reformed, but because the filthy delight of their life follows them, they are, when left to themselves, the worst of the infernals, and like irrational beasts. Hence it may appear manifest that such spirits can speak and reason concerning the truths of faith as well as others, who are not in a life of evil, and that they are the serpents spoken of in Genesis.


There were moreover around me during the whole night a great number of magicians, some of them having been previously evoked from hell, and they exercised their arts. Being occasionally awakened, I was surprised to see them disposed round about, above, and in a long row in front, and having their vile subjects disposed also according to their arts, as also other subjects whom they multiplied by phantasies, in consequence of which they could not really be found, although they appeared there. They supposed themselves to be taking away communication with the angels, besides a great many other things, but all in vain. There were some who bound interiors of the body, some who bound the ideas, and the like, but still abortively.


CONCERNING SUDDEN JUSTIFICATION. Many [spirits] bring with them a persuasion from the world that they may have remission of sins in a moment, and that then nothing of the past is imputed to them. Some attain to that pitch of infatuation as to suppose that they may sin [with impunity], inasmuch as [they presume that] they may, after a certain time, obtain momentaneous remission. There are many such in the various kinds of religions. They retain with them the phantasy that if they could by phantasies get rid of the foul things [abiding] with them they would be free from all kinds of sins; but it was shown them that this was a phantasy. A certain female spirit who was interiorly filled with poisonous serpents of a representative nature (:her infernal profane:) supposed that could she only void those knots of serpents like ordinary stools, she should be entirely freed, which was [in fact] done twice or three times. Such infatuation arises from not regarding life, but saying that faith without works is saving, and that justification may take place in the last hour of life, let one have lived as he may.


CONCERNING DOCT. NORDBERG. In a dream I seemed to myself to have a keepsake of gold among several pieces of money. A certain person came, it was Nordberg, who wished to see them; whereupon he changed the monies into other gold, not into coin, however, and this repeatedly, till at last he had taken away the whole, besides several other things. [During this time] he was standing at the back of my head. When awoke I was assured with asservation, that it was Nordberg, who in fact was seen by me as having been the man, and also as being of such a quality, and moreover that he would not have care had he wounded or killed a man for the sake of getting at the gold, and indeed that he had actually perpetrated something of the kind, consequently that he was in affinity with spirits of such a quality in the other life, and thus devoid of conscience. It was [moreover] suggested to me to reflect upon the characters of such as were priests, and appeared of upright external deportment. With this man I spoke for some time concerning the quality of his state.


CONCERNING THE WAKEFULNESS OF THE GOOD AND THE DREAMING OF THE EVIL; CONSCIENCE. Nordberg complained that he was in such a dream, and thus had done these things in a dream; but it was said to him that the evil, or those without conscience, are in such a kind of sleep, because their interiors cannot be any more awakened. When external things are taken away, then their internal have no more light, thus no more wakefulness. The case is otherwise with those who have had conscience, and have thus been inwardly different: when externals are taken away from them, they are then roused to full wakefulness.


CONCERNING THE HELLS. Sometimes evil spirits are let down into the hells and led about, and thence are shown, as to their quality, to the angels. At first, they are led according to their cupidities [derived] from the natural life in the world. I saw this on two occasions: the two [spirits led about] were known by me, in the life of the body, and were then held in respect. Thence I was also instructed, what is the situation of the hells. The hells are under the earth, 4545-1 beneath the left foot: in front of this foot are the adulterers; and the deeper you descend, the more wicked and abominable the adulterers are. Under the right foot are cruel adulterers. A little in front, are robbers and flagitious spirits; and the deeper you go the more flagitious they are. They dwell there in dusky and excrementitious caverns. This [region] extends for quite a considerable distance. Still more in front, for a great distance, are profane spirits, especially towards the right there, where there is a dark cloud in which they are enveloped.


On the left, for a considerable distance also, are the profane antediluvians, in a dark cloud, something like a rock. No one can be let in there; for they are in so dire a persuasion as almost to slay those who approach. Several times it was granted me to observe how one there endeavors to kill another. This occurs with those who strive to get away. On the right, obliquely in front, are the crafty; yea, the deeper you go the more crafty they are; and still farther, obliquely in front, on the right, in an extensive region, are magicians; there, also, are the magicians of Egypt, and others of that time. In nearly a straight line to the left, and somewhat to the front, for a considerable distance, are those who have not feared death, and yet, at the same time, have feared neither God nor man - thus who have no religion, and hardly any external bonds of shame and modesty. On that side, closer to the feet, are similar characters, but more timid, by degrees.


At the back, under the earth, are genii of every kind, concerning whom I hear nothing; and when anyone is let in there, he does not see anyone: but how they are distinguished, it is not granted to know. On the right, a little in front, are the brothels of the lascivious; and [there] are the voluptuous, who are in excrementitious [hells]. Under the cauda 4547-1 are also excrementitious hells. There, the hells of the genii commence.


CONCERNING THOSE WHO LIVE WITHOUT USE [FOR AN OBJECT] AND CONCERNING THEIR HELL. DISEASES. ((There are some who live not for any use, but for themselves; they have no regard for the public welfare, still less do they find any pleasure in the discharge of public offices; but they act under constraint, so that they may have the appearance [of so doing], and that they may be in office. Moreover, all their enjoyment is in company, in eating and drinking, and in being honored. When they enter into the other life, they cannot be received into heaven, because heaven is a kingdom of uses, and everyone receives enjoyment and happiness in proportion to the quantity and quality of the use which he acquired for himself during his life in the body. These are in a hell deep down under the buttocks, and correspond to obstructions of the cerebrum, along the union of the suture in the top of the cerebrum. I was obstructed for a whole night by them, and perceived what came thence; and I was as if I should die, unless liberated by the Lord. Of such a character are very many at this day. In a word, everyone receives joy and happiness in the other life according to use, its quality and quantity; for the kingdom of the Lord is a kingdom of uses, since neither heaven nor the angels can inflow into those who are averse to all use in behalf of civil society, the country, the Church and the Lord. Since, in civil affairs and the commonwealth, no one is tolerated unless he perform some use, must not this be much more the case in the Lord's kingdom?))


THAT FROM THE LORD IS NOTHING BUT GOOD. Certain spirits infused [the notion] that the Lord does evil to the evil, because when the evil are excited, as it were from Providence, to the commission of evil, they are punished, as has many times been observed. But I replied to them, that this only occurs for the reason that they stand in an opposite state and situation to those in heaven to whom the Lord does good; for the hells are antagonistic to the societies in heaven, and when the Lord does good to the latter, grants them better states and places them in a happier situation, then those who are antagonistic to them are tormented and aroused, because this to them is pain, although they do not know it; and, so, when the Lord does good, they who will evil are punished. This also it was granted to tell them, for I spoke with them: they were those who were on the right hand in hell, whom I affirm to be of the Jesuits, who are crafty, and also magical, and more subtle than others.


CONCERNING A BLASPHEMER OF THE WORD AND RELIGION, PERHAPS WOLF. A certain one appeared at the left, and there was silence; then he spoke, and it was perceived he was like Wolf. 4550-1 After that, he was nearer, and then was diffused from him round about, a sphere, as if he were the God of the universe, which sphere lasted quite a long time. Meantime, he said to certain spirits that he had been the greatest in the earth, and no one so learned as he; but of this they could not be persuaded. He was told that such things as he had been learned in, were only means to wisdom, wherein there is no wisdom unless they be applied; and that to him they had been a means of insanity and of extinguishing with himself truths. Concerning these there was also discourse with him. He approached nearer but lower down, after which that sphere ceased [for then were granted him other spirits]. He then wished to know about everything in the other life, and also the arcana of the internal sense of the Word; and this, apparently, from an inclination in their favor. He also learned some things; but, as soon as he repaired to his own spirits, that is, to the life of his own principles, he ridiculed them. It was said to him that he only wished to know these things for the purpose of making himself great, and of getting gain. It was also shown how the case is with this matter, that, namely, such as he, in the world, appear to be under the influence of zeal, which zeal, however, is spurious, etc. -1752, January 11.


4545-1 The earth here mentioned is not the natural earth, on which we live, but the earth of the spiritual world, which constitutes the lower part of the world of spirits - that is, the part of the world of spirits nearest to, and most closely associated with, hell.

4547-1 The allusion seems to be to the bunch of nerve-roots called the cauda equina, which is situated at the extremity of the spinal column.

4550-1 The Wolf here spoken of cannot well be Christian Wolf, the mathematician and Leibnitzian philosophy mentioned in TCR 696, since he did not die till 1754 (see Dr. Tafel's "Documents," vol. i., p. 617), and the present article is dated 11th January, 1752. This Wolf must be, Johan Christoph Wolf, pastor-in-chief of St. Catharine's Church, Hamburg, on whom Swedenborg called, in Hamburg, on the 2nd of August 1736 (see Dr. Tafel's "Documents" vol. ii., p. 82), and who died in 1738, ("Documents," vol. i., p. 690), consequently, thirteen years prior to the date of this article.

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