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

Spiritual Diary


Suddenly a certain one appeared before me at a little distance, clad in a beautiful snow-white inner garment, of a human aspect, with uncovered head, the locks appearing as with men whose heads are naked. An obscure cloud immediately appeared beneath him, into which he plunged and disappeared. While I was wondering who he might be, and why he became thus immersed in the cloud, his head was shortly afterwards obscurely seen emerging a little, and he seemed to have a flask of red or dark colored wine, which he drank off and disappeared.


It was said he was one who could overcome all, and who could be himself overcome by no one. He was then obscurely seen as being among his own in the deep, and those that were there wondered to what it was owing that he could effect nothing, when they had the persuasion concerning him, as he had of himself that he could do all things, and thus perhaps that he was omnipotent. I heard also that he named the Lord, thinking that he proceeded from him, thus that he was the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Lord.


It was afterwards said to me, both by himself and, as I think, by others also, that such an one supposed himself holy-born, and thus without blemish from his mother's womb, because born such in the world, though in fact [begotten] by their spirit in vile adultery. As he supposed himself conceived, so also that he was born of the Holy Spirit, but with the aid of a man, and thus that he was from eternity - because born of the Holy Spirit. From him it was said that others held that they might perpetrate such nefarious adulteries and abominations. There was also seen near me a face which was similar [to that of] a base and detestable man; concerning whom it was said that he alone, or those like him, might drink such dark red wine in heaven, because he thought the wine to be celestial. This is perhaps their sacred supper - that such should drink either on earth or in the other life.


But that flask was made to envelope him round about, just as is usual in the other life, so that he received as it were, a new shell, with which shell, corporeal as it was, being clothed, he retired to a distance in front, and then being divested of the shell he emerged as a small snow-white something, resembling a man, and thereupon betaking himself nearer to me, but higher, he thence spoke with me, as before, [saying] among other things, that he had thus put off the old man, and put on the new, but saying, as before, that he was not thus among exterior spirits. This took place from his phantasy that he should have presented himself as such, thinking that he had in this laid off another body which he had with him, and thus emerged a new man, and so that he was the Holy Spirit from eternity, perhaps also that it was that which he supposed he had derived from the Holy Spirit, and that that corporeal was laid aside which was from the father.


They are especially such that are the fruit of such a connection, who boast themselves as being holy above others, and holy-born, and of such a quality are they who prompt such connections, and who are with the Quakers when they cohabit in that detestable abomination with the women; for they are pre-eminently lascivious, and I perceived that they are in the persuasion of such adultery above others, thus that they act from the persuasion, which was felt by me; he also, from that persuasion, prompted my pectoral respiration.


But the issue in regard to him was shown, when from being small and snow-white, thus the Holy Spirit above others, he became black and indurated, like a mummy, so that, [in fact] he scarcely differed from a mummy; being thus turned from snowy into black, or from holy to eminently profane; for such, because they are such, are turned into the contrary.


Being afterwards made to revolve [or to be rolled] around an axis or staff transversely placed, [he was, as it were, flattened or thinned out] to a kind of lamina [or plate], and continuing to be thus rolled he became a lamina more and more extended, and at the same time obscure and dense, till finally its length precluded its being any further rolled upon the same cylinder, for [however much of it was rolled] till just so much always remained; which was the punishment for saying that they were from eternity, viz., this being turned into something without end, thus [denoting] a perpetual natural.


Afterward when rolled towards my head there appeared in this long lamina a snake or serpent within the lamina, corresponding to it in size, which snake or serpent was erect, so that its tail was upwards, and its head in my hair. There was then suggested something respecting the serpent, which from the tree of knowledge deceived Eve.


Others who were in the deep, by their aspiration [upon me] affected the region of the left ear, then the left part of the head, and also penetrated by their afflatus, so that they infused a kind of pain into that region, which signifies their insane scientifics, that inspire.


When I awoke in the night I suddenly felt among the hair upon my head a multitude of very small snakes or serpents, and it was perceived that such had been plotting against me in the night, but in vain; it was only by the phantasies that they were among the hairs of my head, where I felt them. Thus I perceived that those who had conspired were very numerous; it was heard also that they had called a great multitude together.


The issue with such as boast with persuasion of being born without blemish, and thus of being the Holy Spirit, when still they are, as compared with others, horribly and abominably adulterous, inasmuch as the bond of conscience is altogether loosed [with them], is, that they became the foulest excretions, for such an issue awaits those to whom the bond of conscience is especially relaxed in such things; and it was perceived that when this is the case one cannot fail to be dissolved into such things, according to the different degrees of relaxation, some into the foul mucus of the nostrils. But this is the first result, as they are afterwards separated from external associates, and sit at first in torment, like the barks [of trees], dregs of oil, and such things, and when severed from companions, they are horrid images of death, only there is a certain society of interior life, of which [however] they are ignorant; for if they should be withdrawn from all interior consociation, they would be deprived of all life. When they have thus sat for a long time, perhaps for many ages, then their externals become dead, and, as it were, indurated, and they then can be formed [or molded] into something, and come into connection with external societies, but [they act] very little from themselves: and so with those who are in persuasion like such, and with whom the bond of conscience is entirely loosed, there is scarcely anything of their own.


I perceived that those of this quality who retain so little of their own, can indeed belong to societies, but they are scarcely aware of the fact; they are, as it were, subjects, and as to their propria inanimate, and serving in societies for bonds of connection, or as mere insertions in respect to such bonds, answering the same purpose as certain words in discourse, which merely perform the office of connectives, without contributing anything of account to the subject-matter, because there is nothing essential in them. Whether they can also serve for subjects through which others speak, without knowing whether it is themselves or the others [that really speak], as is the case with some subjects, I do not yet know; but so it appears, for of themselves they know almost nothing. - 1748, November 1, 2.


There appeared to me two days before, unless I mistake, a vessel in which there was milk, butter, and a certain something representing cheese or bread. What was signified by them I am yet ignorant; whether it was something pertaining to infants when they are born, [to be in some way used] in the place of baptism, or have otherwise some reference to their infants, I do not know.


A certain person spoke with me from a higher place in front, of whom it was said that it was Penn, from whom Pennsylvania derives its name. He spoke well, and because he perceived their quality, he strongly affirmed that he was not such, and that it was abominable [that any should be, such], and that for himself he would disclaim all part in it; saying and asseverating many other things which I do not recollect.


Certain Quakers spoke concerning those who at first became Quakers in such abundance, [saying] that their spirits could not then have been Quakers, thus that they were of another character; but it was answered that almost all the spirits of the world of spirits were such as were bent upon possessing, yea, obsessing, man, and I know that everyone of them wishes to be called the Holy Spirit, provided only that there are subjects who may acknowledge and worship them. Those who then possessed them were from the world of spirits in general; they were also wrought upon by mere enthusiastic influences, which happens moreover in respect to all kinds of enthusiasts. But afterwards Quaker spirits succeeded, when the Quaker sect began, for they are closely congruous to their nature, nor do they admit others into society [with them], for their nature is distinct from the nature of others. - 1748, November 1, 2.


CONCERNING A CERTAIN ONE WHO ASPIRED TO SUPERIOR GREATNESS. A certain spirit said to me "I am nothing," of whom it was asked whether it were not well that everyone should be such as he is, or whether one should desire to be greater than he is, for everyone is a mere diminutive particle among myriads of myriads of myriads; such he is; and yet he wishes to be greater, while at the same time if in the truth of faith, he cannot be greater than he is, which is to be almost nothing at all, and so on. When one wishes to be greater than he is, what then? - 1748, November 2.


CONCERNING SPHERES. In what manner spheres correspond and are effected was made apparent when I walked about a stable of horses and smelt their ordure, of which upright spirits immediately complained, [saying] that they could not endure that smell, because the sphere of reasonings from naturals forthwith occurred, and thus was felt the sphere to which it corresponded. Thus it appears in regard to other things how it sometimes is with the objects of smell and the other senses, as also with the objects of various thoughts, as also phantasies, which form spheres, to which correspond spiritual and celestial things, and thence their spheres, that affect according to the quality of spirits, for spheres are, as it were, the atmospheres of spirits in which they live. - 1748, November 2.


WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS BETWEEN BEASTS AND MAN. Whatever beasts do is natural, because their ends terminate in natural things. It appears, indeed, as if beasts derived it from a spiritual and celestial [source] that, from the prompting of conjugial love, as [for instance in the case] of doves and other birds which go in pairs, they should thus associate themselves in pairs; so also in regard to their young, whether chicks or whelps; then again as to their love towards their mates, with which they live in harmony, and are conjoined, as is the case with many animals, and especially birds, as also serpents, and insects, for instance bees; thus they exhibit friendship towards each other, besides other things [by which they are distinguished] in their societies and economies, all which appear at first blush as if they were spiritual and celestial, but [still] they are not so, because they regard only worldly and terrestrial ends. From ends [alone] can it appear whether anything is spiritual and celestial. It is one thing to be prompted by an end spiritual and celestial, and another to receive such ends, and regard them; [for] unless the recipient be as the agent, then there is not given in the recipient any such thing as that which pertains to the agent.


Beasts also have no skill in arts or sciences, as the mechanical, physical, philosophical, and others; still they are in them, and indeed, like the body of man, in their most hidden arcana, and from nature they know many more things than man by all his arts and sciences, as for instance they know how to construct nests, as the birds; to form webs, as the spider; to enwrap themselves in little silken houses, as the silk-worm; to form beautiful cells and adjust them, as bees; besides other things. These things are scientifics which beasts know; man by his sciences does not reach so far. Wherefore sciences and things of art are such things as man has in common with the beasts, on which account they alike regard the natural life, for ends are terminated in nature.


But it is the prerogative of man over the beasts to be able to think and to have respect to the things which are superior or interior, namely, spiritual and celestial things, which beasts cannot do, and thus have for an end the societies of the other life. If the ends of man did not regard the things which are of a spiritual and celestial life, that is, spiritual and celestial things, or spiritual and celestial good and truth, he would then be unable to have any other life than that which beasts have; for ends show what and of what quality the life is. Thus spiritual and celestial things are the appropriate things of human life, so that [men] may be recipient of them. Wherefore those who come into the other life wholly uninstructed concerning spiritual and celestial things, are like sticks of wood, and scarce anything of life appears in them, prior to their being instructed or initiated in the knowledges of faith. Hence now it appears what is the quality of the life of those who regard no other than corporeal, worldly, and terrestrial things. Wherefore unless the Lord should have compassion, and grant them the faculty of understanding, they would be dissipated like the brutes. - 1748, November 2.


THAT EVIL SPIRITS ARE CONTINUALLY IN THE EFFORT OF EVIL. It was often observed that when I was in the streets, [evil spirits] wished to cast me under the wheels of a carriage, so that this was in fact familiar to them. Today I particularly observed that they were in such a perpetual endeavor, for it was given to perceive it when they thus made the attempt, and indeed that the sphere of their endeavor is continually such that it is their life; and I perceived that man is continually preserved by the Lord, and their endeavors frustrated. Hence it appears that unless the Lord in every, even the smallest moment, preserved man, yea, even the least of his steps, he would immediately perish; such is the effort of the world of spirits. - 1748, November 2.


CONCERNING SPIRITS WHO SPEAK DISSIMILARILY, BUT THINK ALIKE. [Certain] spirits came in front, a profane sphere being sent before them, which led me to think that profane spirits were approaching. But they were the opposites or enemies of such, who placed themselves above my head, because they were enemies; it was thence ascertained that they would breathe annoyance against them, and prompt other forms of enmities towards them.


The spirits who came in front accosted me, saying that they were men; when I said to them that they were not men, as the term is understood, i. e. men possessed of a body, but (that they were spirits, and thus also were men, because whatever there is in a spirit conspires to that which is of man, and so finally to a form similar to the [human] body; to this I apperceived no denial, but [on the contrary] they confirmed it. They said moreover that men are dissimilar, or that there was no society in which one was [wholly] like another; and as this seemed to me impossible, viz. that there should be a society of dissimilars, I spoke with them concerning it, [saying] that they might still be consociated by the Lord to one end, which might act as a kind of common [general] cause to bring them together into a certain unity. But they said they were such that everyone speaks differently [from the rest], and yet they still think alike.


This was also illustrated by the example of one's saying that he who is nothing is least in heaven, while another said that he was greatest, and yet that each was true, and so on. Then again by its being said by some concerning the evil spirits who were above the head, that they were evil; by others that they were good and by others still that they were intermediate, with wide difference; that the evil perceive that they are evil; that the good perceive that they are useful; that the intermediates [exist] with much variety, some of them being worse than others, and others the instruments of greater utility; and thus in regard to other things, so that all perception is one, but the expressions of speech so differ that they appear to be altogether dissimilar.


Evil spirits do not tolerate those [above spoken of] because they cannot apply anything to themselves. They understand their interiors, for which reason the evil spirits complained of them, especially when they said that they [the evil spirits] were good, because they understand that they may perform a use even to the good, [whether] by averting evil, by chastising the insolent, or by tempting. Neither do they tolerate that they should be said to be evil, and on this account they are exceedingly hostile to them. They applied themselves to my left ear and said that they were good spirits, and that it was their custom to speak in this manner. It was said concerning them that they [usually] come congregated in this manner together, though they know not whence; and I perceive that evil spirits are infested by them, and the evils spirits on the other hand infest them also in a variety of ways, because they cannot bear anything of this kind. The sphere of evil spirits I perceived to be extremely repugnant to them, and because they thus act against the evil, they cannot but have them as it were for companions, for the evil are subjects which they vex in this way, but there is still perpetual enmity; wherefore the evil serve them for objects of vexation. Their society, which is a wandering one, was represented by a man or a woman in a chamber in front [clad] in a vestment, which, being changed into a gown of a sky-blue color, [the representation] became a gross kind of man. 3835-1


Thence it appears how the same and a similar idea, while it goes forth into speech or into externals, begets dissimilar ideas of speech; so that though there be but one idea flowing into many societies, even good ones, yet many ideas of speech thence result, so that the variety proceeding from one idea is actually indefinite, what happens in many societies being presented in this one, from which a conclusion may be drawn to associated societies, and even to the universal heaven and the world of spirits.


It was perceived that such represent the isthmus in the brain which is situated between the cerebrum and the cerebellum, from which and through which the fibers are diffused, and whithersoever they extend, they act diversely in the extremes, but yet in their [first] principle they act in the same or a similar way; and also that they represent the ganglia into which a [single] nerve flows, and out of which issues a multitude that part asunder and spread, some this way and some that, and which act indeed dissimilarly in their ultimates, but because issuing from one ganglion, they act from one principle, and thus while in ultimates they act dissimilarly according to appearance, yet in themselves they act alike as to end, which is one; and so in many other things. - 1748, November 2, 3.


CONCERNING THE HOLY SPIRIT. There was with me a subtle spirit who was a subject of those deceitful ones above the head, who found in him a subject that believed himself to be actuated by the Holy Spirit, and indeed that he is the Holy Spirit; for those who in their life, like the Quakers, suppose themselves to be actuated by the Holy Spirit are easily led in the other life, to fancy themselves to be the Holy Spirit, because while in the life of the body they were persuaded that he was in them, and such especially are adapted to be the subjects of those who wish to be worshipped for the Holy Spirit.


It was discovered, as to this spirit, that he was void of conscience; and that he was an adulterer - for he held adulteries for nothing - was discovered from various things which were insinuated for instance by his insinuating adulteries, by his loosing every bond, by his delight in variety - all without conscience. Whether he were in the conjugial principle or not, whether he were a married man or a married woman, this I perceived with sufficient distinctness from the things which were inspired; and he inspired a certain other one [prompting him] to disregard spiritual things, or confirmatory natural things, which he totally despised and nauseated as vile and worthless.


He was then suddenly inspected by angelic spirits, who have an exquisite perception of the presence of such spirits, for they pervert the vessels or ideas, so that they cannot flow in. Being thus inspected he was suddenly extended into a long band [or wrapper] a little before the eyes, and being rolled up was thus left, that they might wait to see what he would do. He attempted to unroll himself and twisted the bandage in every variety of way (:according to interior phantasies, which it was not given to perceive, but only to infer from what he was seen to do with the bandage:). Presently he rolled himself up in the extreme part of the bandage [and passed] through the exteriors of the left eye into the brain, and thence back almost to the [point of] conjunction of the optic nerve; thence from the eye he was cast among the hairs of the head, which signified that because he was the Holy Spirit, he wished to possess everything spiritual and natural, thus to know all things as is conceived respecting the Holy Spirit. Presently afterwards the bandage or long veil like a bandage, disappeared, and made itself obscurely seen, from his supposing and endeavoring to show that he was the Holy Spirit, because thus scarcely visible, and that too before the left eye where yet his obscure presence was amply perceived; in this manner inducing the supposition that he was the Holy Spirit. He afterwards presented to view an obscurely luminous something, as the light of the Holy Spirit, respecting which they are accustomed to say much in their preaching, [and] by which they merely understand an obscurely ominous something, but not [true] intellectual light.


It was afterwards shown by a certain kind of speech with them and others, that they were those above the head - the deceitful among the more deceitful - who think themselves to be the Holy Spirit and who, having obtained this one as a subject, actuated him and wished by him to make it appear that they were the Holy Spirit. Hence the quality of those who, in the other life, vaunt themselves of being the Holy Spirit, may be known. - 1748, November 3.


HOW INTERIOR EVIL SPIRITS FLOW IN. The deceitful [spirits] who are above the head have flowed in for a considerable time and in some cases with so much subtlety that I knew not that it proceeded from them. For some time past a mere manifest reflection has been given me, and today a clearer still, so that I could observe how they flow into the subtle thought of man, which influx is such that man could never perceive the source of it. From close observation granted me by the Lord, I perceived this so manifestly as to notice each one of their common influxes, and if that close observation had not been granted, I should by no means have perceived whence the [influx flowed], still less that it was from those above the head, but [could have taken it to be] in myself and from myself, as other men think and even believe. But that it is from spirits I am now able to know more distinctly than ever before. When they apperceived that I was reflecting upon their influx they became highly indignant and wished, as they said, to withdraw, but they knew not whither.


The things that flowed from them were contrary to the Lord and contrary to whatever is of faith. They were exceedingly complaisant to every cupidity that was given, and when they could hold men in any evil cupidity, they were then in their life and delight, as was also said to them. In such cases they suppose themselves to live as the man, for they then appropriate his life as their own, because in a similar life, consequently in society with the man. But where there is a repugnance, as with one who does not suffer himself to be perverted by them, but remains in faith, with him they cannot live, for he is not in the stream of their life. They especially inspire adulteries and hatreds, and labor with the greatest zeal to abolish every bond of conscience, as their intense exertions with me testify; thus they are adulterers of the highest grade, and void of conscience, and yet they are those who pre-eminently boast themselves of being the Holy Spirit, of whom the more deceitful are yet higher above the head. Such hold their place above the head, and are distinguished according to altitude, because they are of a lofty mind, supposing themselves to be the Holy Spirit, and thus that they rule men.


These flow into inferior subjects, which are with man, and the subjects know no otherwise than that they are themselves the man, but they who are above the head flow into them.


They are ruled by the Lord through heaven, but not by interior influx, because they have no conscience, and are wholly contrary to faith, but by external bonds; for they were such in life as were fearful for their lives, for the loss of honor and fame, which are bonds, and things of this kind by which they are ruled. They are thus bent to such things as the Lord grants and permits, so that there shall be nothing which comes from them, that is not of pardon, if not evil, and of permission, if evil; for they are borne to a certain good also through externals, but not through their internals.


The angels, on the other hand, who are at the head, are ruled immediately by the Lord and also through heaven, and indeed from internals; nor have they any communication with those [others] above the head, only they rule their subjects. - 1748, November 3.


CONCERNING THE BONDS OF CONSCIENCE. Because the deceitful, who are above the head, are void of conscience, the bond of conscience being so entirely loosed with them they do not know what conscience is, therefore they wished to induce upon me the persuasion that that which was indifferent ought to be a matter of conscience. Thus whatever occurred they would infuse a conscientiousness concerning it, without discrimination, so also with those who had conscience whether true or spurious, they would suggest that to do this or that was a matter of conscience, as with me, that I should eat or buy in a certain place, because the persons there were upright, and so on. Thence arise spurious consciences, causing the possessors to be tormented with remorse by doing this or that in which there is no sin. It was given to say to them that they would be goaded by conscience if they could not perpetrate evil, for the devil is of such a quality that he is led on by a kind of conscience, inasmuch as he is affected by anxiety that he is not [always] able to think, speak, or do evil, as is also the case with some men.


It was perceived - what is manifest in itself - that the bond of conscience availed according to the dignity and eminence of good and truth, so that the principal bond of conscience is that which respects the Lord, and thus the things that proceed from Him, as conjugial love, which ought to be held the most sacred of all loves; after this, love for children, and then farther, loves according to their consanguinities and affinities; wherefore the bonds of conscience open altogether as loves. - 1748, November 3.


THAT NATURES ARE INDUCED THROUGH EXTERNALS. From those above the head, who would fain have opposed my writing this, I was instructed that by means of external bonds man contracts a nature, so that he should appear good, as for example through fear for his life, his honor, his fame, his gain, and other things which he loves; and that these fears, which are external bonds, induce such a nature, that they not only consult their interest, and work secretly for it, but also that they appear as it were, upright, when yet they are wolves at heart, like those that are above the head. Hence it appears what punishments are in the other life, which at length induce a kind of nature, that one should be able to be restrained from evils. The spirit then is not wholly ignorant of external bonds, but they are so abhorred that in the least things it is led away by its evils, for they have, as it were, infected the nature.


With angelical spirits there are bonds of conscience, which conscience is from the Lord.


3835-1 Compare AC 5189, where the same class of spirits is described.

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