« PreviousContinue »
the movements, is called correspondence. By correspondence man communicates with heaven, and he can thus communicate with the angels if he possess the science of correspondence by means of thought. In order that communication may exist between heaven and man, the word is composed of nothing but correspondences, for everything in the word is correspondent, the whole and the parts; therefore he can learn secrets, of which he perceives nothing in the literal sense ; for in the word, there is, besides the literal meaning, a spiritual meaning, one of the world, the other of heaven. Swedenborg had his visions and communications with the angels and spirits by means of correspondence in the spiritual
“ Angels speak from the spiritual world, according to inward thought; from wisdom, their speech flows in a tranquil stream, gently and uninterruptedly,—they speak only in vowels; the heavenly angels in A and O, the spiritual ones in E and I, for the vowels give tone to the speech, and by the tone the emotion is expressed: the interruptions, on the other hand, correspond with creations of the mind : therefore we prefer, if the subject is lofty, for instance of heaven or God, even in human speech, the vowels U and O, etc. Man, however, is united with heaven by means of the word, and forms thus the link between heaven and earth, between the divine and the natural.”
“But when angels speak spiritually with me from heaven, they speak just as intelligibly as the man by my side. But if they turn away from man, he hears nothing more whatever, even if they speak close to his ear. It is also remarkable that several angels can speak to a man; they send down a spirit inclined to man, and he thus hears them united."
In another place he says—" There are also spirits called natural or corporeal spirits; these have no connection with thought, like the others, but they enter the body, possess all the senses, speak with the mouth, and act with the limbs, for they know not but that everything in that man is their own. These are the spirits by which men are possessed. They were, however, sent by the Lord to hell; whence in our days there are no more such possessed ones in existence."
Swedenborg's further doctrines and visions of Harmonies, that is to say, of heaven with man, and with all objects of nature; of the harmony and correspondence of all things with each other; of Heaven, of Hell, and of the world of spirits ; of the various states of man after death, etc.,—are very characteristic, important, and powerful. His contemplations of the enlightened inward eye refer less to everyday associations and objects of life, (although he not unfrequently predicted future occurrences,) because his mind was only directed to the highest spiritual subjects, in which indeed he had attained an
uncommon degree of inward wakefulness, but is therefore not understood or known, because he described his sights so spiritually and unusually by language. His chapter on the immensity of heaven attracted me more especially, because it contains a conversation of spirits and angels about the planetary system. The planets are naturally inhabited as well as the planet Earth, but the inhabitants differ according to the various individual formation of the planets. These visions on the inhabitants of the planets agree most remarkably, and almost without exception, with the indications of a clairvoyant whom I treated magnetically. I do not think that she knew Swedenborg ; to which, however, I attach little importance. The two seers perceived Mars in quite a different manner. The magnetic seer only found images of fright and horror. Swedenborg, on the other hand, describes them as the best of all spirits of the planetary system. Their gentle, tender, zephyr-like language, is more perfect, purer and richer in thought, and nearer to the language of the angels, than others. These people associate together, and judge each other by the physiognomy, which amongst them is always the expression of the thoughts. They honour the Lord as sole God, who appears sometimes on their earth. Of the inhabitants of Venus he
says, They are of two kinds; some are gentle and benevolent, others wild, cruel and of gigantic stature. The latter rob and plunder, and live by this means; the former have so great a degree of gentleness and kindness that they are always beloved by the good; thus they often see the Lord appear in their own form on their earth.” It is remarkable that this description of Venus agrees so well with the old fable, and with the opinions and experience we have of Venus.
“ The inhabitants of the Moon are small, like children of six or seven years old ; at the same time they have the
strength of men like ourselves. Their voice rolls like thunder, and the sound proceeds from the belly, because the moon is in quite a different atmosphere from the other planets.” (According to Gruithuisen, the moon has a very pure atmosphere, five times thinner than that of the earth; therefore the lungs must have a five times greater proportion to the body,—whence the loudness of the voice, which would really be almost like the rolling of thunder.
Swedenborg was mentally transplanted into a great multitude of other Star-Worlds, which he describes as following each other in different circles or rows, with their varied internal arrangements, forms, dwellings, and connections, in exactly the same words, expressions, and descriptions, (in a spiritual sense) as if he were describing some known part of our own earth, which certainly often requires a strong faith, and appears singular to our unaccustomed ears.
The so-called Martin Philosophers, who in the end of the last century made so much noise both in France and Germany, and whose whole doctrine is for the greater part one of magic, require here especial mention. They formed a society of philosophers, named after its master, who is the originator of a work bearing the title .“ On Error and Truth” (Des erreurs et de la verité, Edinburgh, 1775; or, Error and Truth, &c. : from the French of Matth. Claudius, Breslau, 1782.) In this, and another work published by the society itself, (Tableau naturel des rapports qui existent entre Dieu, l'homme et l'univers, Edinburgh, 1782) are contained the Martin doctrines; and these agree, as regards theology and natural philosophy, with the doctrines of the older Kabbalah, and with Christian theosophic mysticism. They speak of a brilliant and exalted original type of man, of his fall, in which they support themselves on various secret supplies of older and more recent secret doctrines.
Their ethics are a Christian Essaismus, which takes as a basis that the mind of man must be freed from all impurities, and enlivened by a higher light, in order to attain its original glory. Their natural philosophy is a doctrine of magic which supposes a certain insight into hermetical art, or a knowledge of natural phenomena, whilst they inculcate this as the necessary basis of all higher perceptions,
and blame those who seek only the spiritual without perception of the natural, “ like persons who float over the ground that they should tread with their feet.” But, because they think that visible nature must be studied in a totally different manner from what it usually is, in order to attain true light, and the real fundamental truth of everything, visible, they blame even the common system of teaching in natural sciences, which is only guided by the physical appearance, is only fixed by matter, and thereby Ioses sight of the true spiritual enjoyment of man: by natural knowledge the mind of man must rather be prepared to guide him into the secrets of the vast connection between the visible and invisible.
They take for granted an invisible world, containing various spiritual beings who have a connection with man, which he, by piety and other virtues, can greatly increase. At the same time, notwithstanding all Swedenborgian resemblances, their belief on this head is founded, not on a mere acceptance of the Swedenborgian doctrines and visions, but rests on principles which were taught long before the time of this celebrated ghost-seer. They are still more disinclined to the secret Paracelsic alchemy, because, though not rejecting the knowledge of natural phenomena, they find no satisfaction in the dead visible matter.
The poor diminutive shoemaker of Görlitz (born 1775), the despised mystic, the still unknown and misunderstood Jacob Böhme, who besides Christianity learned a little writing of his parents, will he not soon be a great man ? as during his apprenticeship was prophesied to him by the
strange man who appeared to him, in these words : Jacob, I thou art little, but wilt become great, and quite another
man, so that the world will be astonished at thee.” Certainly Böhme is often called the German philosopher, but more frequently the theosophic enthusiast, the dreamy mystic, who because he is foolish is understood by no one. me Böhme appears the arch magician in the true sense,
shall therefore have the last, and also the highest, place. For Jacob Böhme is truly a German, and a Christian philosopher, in whose writings might be contained the key for opening up the secrets of magic, a task which we have allotted especially to the German nation.
By a careful study of Böhme's works, and by entering into the spirit which pervades them, I feel convinced that no searcher of whatever profession has looked deeper into life and the mind of men, nor come nearer to the truth, than the truly Christian philosopher, the mystical magician, Jacob Böhme. Böhme’s principle is—The beginning of all wisdom is the fear of God. “ The knowledge by reason is very well in its place,” says Böhme, “but is wanting in the right beginning and aim ; it even falls into denying the possibility of knowing God, -nay, denying even the existence of God. The natural man of reason understands nothing of the secret of the kingdom of God, for he is out of and not in, God, as is proved by the learned reasoners who strive after God's essence and will, and know it not, because they do not hear God's word in the centre of their souls” (Sendbrief, xxxv. 5). Böhme's philosophic views are contained in voluminous writings, and in an intentionally mystic language (because he, at the beginning at least, wrote down his ideas merely for himself without any further views): they extend to everything, to God, to nature, and spirit, in which man at all times, but in vain, and with doubts and struggles, seeks his salvation. Has Böhme found this truth alone and wholly ? Whoever would maintain this would say too much ; for even Böhme amuses himself with beautiful many-coloured pictures, which fancy erects as parables, and which do not always imply a complete reality. Böhme acknowledges his weakness and powerlessness to understand aright the mystery of God; he is disturbed by doubts, and evidently does not always reach the goal of truth. But Böhme incontestably shows most clearly that man possesses the power of attaining a higher insight and sphere of action of the God-created economy of life. Böhme understands, in my opinion, the machinery of inner and outer life, true magic, better than any who have treated this inexhaustible subject. And yet Böhme is a completely unlearned prophet, not manufactured by the art of scholastic wisdom.