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

De Conjugio


THE REPRESENTATION OF CONJUGIAL LOVE BY MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Love truly conjugial is represented in heaven by various things. It is represented by adamantine auras; sparkling as if from rubies and carbuncles; also by most beautiful rainbows and golden rains, which, when they are beheld, fill the bystanders with such pleasurableness and such delights, that they affect the inmosts of the mind. I have heard the angels, when conjugial love was so represented in the paradises of heaven, say that they were filled with such delight, that they could not express it otherwise than that it was delight itself, from which, as from their origin, all the rest of delights arise; and this delight was said to be a pure delight of the mind without any excitation of lust, for such is conjugial love in its origin.


Since love truly conjugial is in its origin pure delight itself of the mind, and that love is the fundamental of all loves, and from love is all the beauty of the angels in heaven, for love or the affection of love forms everyone, wherefore every angel is as to his face the image of his love or affection, hence it is that all the beauty of the angels in heaven is from their conjugial love; for the inmost of their life which shines through is thence. An angel was seen by me, who was in pure conjugial love (he was from the third heaven); such was his beauty that the bystanders were carried away with admiration, saying that it was beauty itself in its essence.


That love truly conjugial is such beauty, and also such delight, is from its first origin, which is the union of the Divine love of the Lord with His Divine wisdom; then the marriage of the Lord with heaven, and with the church, and thence with everyone the marriage of good and truth, concerning which origins of love truly conjugial it shall be spoken in their places.


IN LOVE TRULY CONJUGAL THERE IS NOTHING WHATEVER OF LASCIVIOUSNESS. Those who do not know what love truly conjugial is, and who are not in it, may think that it is not given without lasciviousness, but yet the difference is such as is between heaven and hell; for their delight appears in externals as if the same, but every external derives its quality and its essential nature from internals. The internal of conjugial love is from the Lord, and thence from heaven, and from everything auspicious and happy there; but the internal of lasciviousness or of adultery is from the devil, thus from hell and from everything inauspicious and unhappy. Every external derives its essence from internals; therefore neither are the external of conjugial love and the external of adultery alike. The external of conjugial love is filled with all the delights of heaven, and the enjoyment of heaven which is in that love expels all the enjoyment of hell; hence those two enjoyments in external form are, because of their internals, altogether dissimilar. The angels also clearly perceive from the sphere of the love of two consorts whether what is lascivious is in it, and its quality and quantity, and so far remove themselves from them. The reason that the angels so far remove themselves is, that the lasciviousness of adultery communicates with the hells, but the chastity of marriage with heaven.


LOVE TRULY CONJUGIAL IS CHASTITY ITSELF. Celibacy is not called chastity in the heavens, nor is a girl called chaste, neither is an unmarried woman, nor a virgin, but a wife who turns away from adultery is called chaste; likewise a husband who turns away from it, because love truly conjugial is what is called in heaven chastity.


CONJUGIAL LOVE IS INNOCENCE ITSELF. Consorts who are in conjugial love appear in heaven like the innocent.


CONJUGIAL LOVE IS LOVE TO THE LORD. All who are in love truly conjugial are in love to the Lord, because it descends from the marriage of the Lord with the church; hence it is that they who are in the third heaven, who are all in love to the Lord, are in love truly conjugial. Love truly conjugial cannot be given except by the Lord.


TWO CONSORTS IN HEAVEN MAKE ONE ANGEL. There is between two consorts in heaven a similar conjunction as there is in every man between the will and the understanding, or between the good which is of the will and the truth which is of the understanding; because the female by nature is affection, which is of the will, and the male is by nature thought, which is of the understanding; more concerning these in the work on Heaven and Hell.


THOSE WHO HAVE FOR AN END IN MARRIAGES LASCIVIOUSNESS SUCH AS IS OF ADULTERY. There appeared to me as if in a kitchen, wherein was a dark fire-place, without fire on the hearth, [women] with knives in their hands with which they, as it were, wished to slay infants; they were crafty, cunning, and malicious, all harlots, secretly alluring men to themselves from every quarter. These being inspected by the angels, appeared like intestines in pairs of balls, one of which was filthily bloody, the other foully yellow; thus were represented their lusts when they were inspected by angels. All were such women as seek matrimony solely for the sake of adultery with others, because then they do not fear scandal on account of illegitimate offspring, which they attribute to the husband; their lot is most cruel; all things there are filthy; they dwell in caves, and on account of their ugliness and deformity they fear to be seen, nor can they longer allure any adulterer because they are deformed and have a foul smell; men, also, with whom adulteries are the end of matrimony, and afterward have lived with adulteresses, acquire such a nausea for a wife that they fly from them. They become at length impotences, and with them the life of thought and speech perishes in the society of wives, and especially in the society of their own wives.


MICE. Lascivious wives, and also unmarried women who make light of whoredoms, dwell in two kinds of places, some in the western region in front, and some behind. All that are there knew how to insinuate themselves with men by simulated affections, by which they acquired the lascivious love of some male, caring nothing whether they were good affections or whether evil affections. Those who dwell in front were crafty and cunning, and of such a genius that they could perceive of what nature, disposition, inclination, and cupidity were the men whom they wished to allure, especially in depriving a man of his wealth, and in the meantime that they may live luxuriously. They dwell there in caves wherein all things are fetid, and the places where they dwell smell like the smell where mice are; they even appear when seen by angels like great mice. I have heard certain ones, who had been in their caves, saying that the smell was that of mice, and that their places were fetid and filthy; but that they knew how, by phantasies, to render themselves beautiful, and also to decorate these places with various articles, but this only for some moments; for when the phantasies cease the appearances cease, and then all things are foul. It is said even that they delight in those foul and filthy things, the more so the more interiorly they are in them. That they are thus delighted is from correspondences with such a life. They were often seen by me, sometimes when by phantasies they had assumed beauty, appearing then magnificent in dress and charming in countenance, but as soon a fantastic thought was removed from them, which is done by a good spirit and by an angel, they appear deformed altogether like devils, some black, some horribly flamy, some like corpses, and also they were often seen by me like great mice with long tails. Their concupiscences appeared thus. What is wonderful, there are some spirits of both sexes who in the appearance of their passions appear like cats, and those mice fear them just as mice fear cats on earth; they appear like cats because they cared nothing for religious things, except that they heard them but retained nothing of them. I saw that in those caves are noble wives, yea, of such men as were of the first nobility; but all there are compelled to labor, but no one of them can go out, nor is it permitted to let them out, because they are cunning beyond the rest of spirits, and enter the affections of men secretly and draw away their minds; in this they are more skillful than the rest, and so they are shut up, that at last they do not open a finger to let them out.


They, however, who dwell below in the western region are similar and in greater number. They are unmarried females who have given themselves to whoredom and passed their whole life in whoredom; there is a similar smell of mice there, not so strong, and they also appear like mice, but smaller. The caverns where they are appear winding and subterranean, one cavern below another, and a great multitude is there.


I have seen the larger mice, when a preacher came to them, hold by phantasy a book of psalms in their hand, and look towards certain from whom they draw what to answer, and answer as from themselves; this by cunning, and then they feign devotion, when yet they have no devotion at all; so they deceive the preachers, but they do this in the gates; but within in the caverns they answer nothing, because they cannot look to those from whom they draw the answers.


VARIOUS THINGS CONCERNING MARRIAGE AND ADULTERIES (1) Heaven is marriage and adultery is hell.


(2) Marriage descends from the marriage of good and truth, and adultery from the marriage of evil and falsity.


(3) Therefore there is given priestly adultery which in external appearance is similar.


(4) In heaven they abhor adulteries, and therefore heaven is closed to adulterers; and hell is opened wide according to the quality and quantity of the adultery.


(5) A man by conjugial love receives the form of love in the mind, and therefrom in the body, thus the form of heaven.


And a man by adulteries receives the form of adultery, thus the form of hell.


(6) Conjugial love is the fundamental love of all heavenly loves, and it is the image of heaven, thus of the Lord.


(7) Heavenly joy is founded upon conjugial love.


(8) Hence the heavenly joys which the angels have solely from thence are innumerable; and scarcely one of those innumerable joys is known in the world, because at this day adultery reigns there even from falsity of doctrine, but that they were known in part to the ancients.


(9) Angelic wisdom grows by marriages, and it is in the place of procreation to them; for which reason it is a procreation of wisdom, whence daughters, sons, father, and mother in the Word signify such things as are of good and truth, thus which are of wisdom; passages may be adduced from the Word.


(10) From adulteries all ignorance and stupidity in spiritual things grow, because it is the marriage of falsity and evil. The falsification and adulteration of the truth and good of the Word is signified by whoredoms there, may be proved from the Word.


(11) To love the consort is to do good before the Lord, because this is chastity itself; and the church itself is called virgin and daughter, as the daughter and the virgin of Zion and Jerusalem. Passages may be quoted.


(12) Conjugial love has communication with heaven, and the organs of generation have correspondence with the third heaven; especially the womb, concerning which correspondence.


Even intercourse from conjugial love communicates.


(13) That love arises from the Lord's influx alone through the third heaven.


(13) (a) The third heaven is the conjugial of heaven; thus marriages are held as most holy in heaven; and adulteries profane.


(14) What adulteries are, considered.


(15) Conjugial love increases in potency and effect to eternity, insomuch that it is love as to all power and effect, thence is the life of their souls; but with adulteries love decreases as to power and effect, even so that it becomes impotence and a stock, and scarce of any life.


(16) No one can be in conjugial love unless he be spiritual by combat against evils and their falsities, and unless he acknowledges the Lord and His Divine.


(17) The wife and husband are consociated as to mind as one flesh. It is my bone and my flesh, as Adam said.


(18) Conjugial love continually unites, that they be (one man).


(19) Conjugial love depends on the love of the wife, and such is the love of the husband in reciprocation, and the love of the wife does not depend on the love of the husband; the reason is, because like as the will actuates the understanding, good actuates truth, hence it is that it is said that the husband ought to cleave to the wife; the contrary is the case with those who are not in conjugial love.


(20) The wife wills to think and will as the husband, and the husband as the wife, and because each wills this, each is led by the Lord as one, and the two are one angel; for when the will and the understanding are not one's own, but the other's, and this mutually and reciprocally, it cannot be otherwise than that they be led by the Lord as one.


(21) Hereditary evil becomes by adulteries continually more malignant, which is on account of adulteries which are considered allowable.


(22) Adulteries are most filthy may appear only from this, that the seed of the man as to its spiritual, and also as to its interior natural, adds itself to the body of the woman, for the man's life is in it; what, then, can it be, when the lives of several men are introduced at the same time, but filthiness and interior putridity.


(23) An example that one acquires such a nausea and disgust against his wife, as not to be able to look at her, merely when he doubted about God and the Word, was the priest, i. . . .


(24) Conjugial love is such love, such delight, and such wisdom to those, that heaven is in it; that so far they are men, is confirmed by angels of heaven by a living voice. Afterwards they looked into hell, and said that there was all filthiness, and that especially adulterers and adulteresses appear like swine and hogs, and those who are like swine and hogs delight in ordure; and they said that one of them delighted in it so much that he wished to eat it. This coincides with the prophet who was ordered to make for himself a cake with dung.


(25) By conjugial love the interiors of the mind are opened, because the influx into it is from the Lord through the third heaven; thence a man becomes receptive of all celestial loves and likewise of truths.


(26) In conjugial love is the inmost of conscience.


CONJUGIAL LOVE WITH THE ANGELS. I have spoken concerning conjugial love with angels, and they said that it is the inmost of all loves, and that it is such that a consort sees his consort in his soul and in his mind, so that his spiritual image is there; and thus that a consort has the consort as if in himself, and this is cohabitation in the spiritual sense. This also was represented by angelic ideas which cannot be expressed. Hence their conjunctions are delicious.


TO ONE MAN ONE WIFE. In the Christian world, where interior things of the church are revealed, and where the Lord is worshiped, and it is known that from Him is heaven and the church, and the church is conjoined with Him, as a wife with a husband, and that there is but one church, and that with those who are of that church there will be the conjunction of good and truth, it is not allowed to take several wives, for this would be to pervert the spiritual which is, or can be in marriage. Wherefore, if a Christian man should take several wives, it would be as if he had with himself two churches; also as if truth should take its essence from two goods, with which marriage is not given; for good is the esse of truth, and the esse or essence of one truth from two goods is not given. Whence it is that love truly conjugial can by no means be given in the case of one man with several wives, for thus it would be lasciviousness that would enter; besides, love cannot be divided, since it is from the affection of one, which is of the will, concordant with the thought of another, which is of the understanding, and this unanimity and cohabitation, which makes the essence of conjugial love, cannot be given (in the case of several wives). In a word, with them there is not the Christian Church, wherefore when an angel in heaven only thinks of several wives, the celestial and angelic perishes, and joy as well as wisdom with him, and he falls from heaven.


There have been seen those from Christians who have confirmed themselves about polygamy, they were several thousands in one society; for those who are alike as to love form a society, and conjugial love is the fundamental of all, and when the Last Judgment took place, that region appeared as if swallowed up by hell, and afterwards it was said that they knew nothing about their members of generation, just as if they had been without them; they had confirmed themselves in this from the Judaism of the Old Testament, because it was then lawful to take several wives; but it is lawful in Mohammedanism everywhere. It was permitted to the Jews because the Jews were external men, inwardly idolaters, with whom the interiors of the church were not, nor were opened; wherefore they did not recognize the Lord. What it is with Mohammedans shall be told hereafter.


In a word, several consorts and one husband cannot become one flesh, that is, one mind, which consists of will and understanding, the marriage of which, as far as relates to the mind in its existence, presents a marriage; for all things in the universe relate to the marriage of good and truth; thus to marriage, in order that they may be anything, and produce anything, and marriage itself in its very form and its very essence, is presented in man with his compeer; likewise in an angel.


A PLURALITY OF WIVES AMONG MOHAMMEDANS. I have spoken with Mohammedans about the spiritual marriage, that it is the marriage of good and truth, and that good loves truth, like two consorts, and that they desire to be conjoined, and to produce goods and truths, like daughters and sons, and to procreate families as it were. This they understood well, and also that conjugial love descends from that spiritual origin, and that all the spiritual with man undergoes a change, so that it may scarcely be recognized when it descends into the natural, but is known only by correspondences. From which it appears that those who have several wives conceded to them from their religion, cannot have love truly conjugial; and it is said that a plurality of wives was conceded to them, or polygamy was permitted, because those who are in warm countries, more than those who are in cold countries, burn with libidinous heat; therefore if polygamy had not been permitted them, many of them would rush into adulteries more than Europeans, and would thus act contrary to their religious persuasion, and to act contrary to that is to profane what is holy. It was shown further that all their love of marriage is lascivious, thus not spiritual, and cannot become spiritual unless they acknowledge the Lord.


The lot of those in the other life is such, that first, as in the world they there take several wives besides concubines [pellices]; but because in the spiritual world the conjunction is of souls, and they are of different souls, they cannot be together, but separate from each other spontaneously, and are finally conjoined to a woman who is of similar soul; thus gradually they separate from their women, and thus finally are united with one with whom their soul accords; moreover, they who persist in polygamy, in the course of time become so feeble and impotent that they are disgusted with marriage, for lasciviousness brings this with itself.


Those of them who are in their heaven have but one wife, and have rejected more, for there is a Mohammedan heaven distinct from the Christian heaven; but they who at last, as do many, acknowledge the Lord as one with the Father, are separated into heavens, which communicate with the Christian heavens, and with them there is conjugial love.


They have heard from the angels conjugial love described as to its delights and pleasantnesses, and that it endures to eternity with an infinite variety of delights and pleasantnesses, and they wondered, many of them therefore received faith in the Lord, and were sent among the angels of the Christian heavens, and instructed concerning the Lord and in the doctrine of love and faith towards Him.


THE STATE OF CONSORTS AFTER DEATH. Almost everyone who has lived in marriage in the world, after death either meets with his wife, if she died first, or awaits her. When they meet, they mutually explore each other as to what their mutual affection was; and if there had not been mutual affection, they separate spontaneously, for two dissimilar affections and thoughts cannot consociate, for there is a communication of all affections and thence of thoughts; if there is not a concordance, a great uneasiness begins, then difficult breathing, like a discordant panting, so that they cannot but be separated, and then they are conjoined with others according to similitude.

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