Spiritual background for GENESIS 8    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


AC 824. Beneath the heel of the right foot is a hell inhabited by those who have delighted in cruelty and at the same time in adulteries, and have felt in them the greatest delight of their lives. It is remarkable that those who have been cruel in the life of the body have been also, more than others, adulterers. Such are those who are in this hell, where they practise unspeakable methods of cruelty. By their phantasies they make themselves vessels as for braying, like those used for braying herbs, and pestles, wherewith they bray and torture whomsoever they can; and also as it were broad axes, like those of executioners; and augers, with which they do cruel violence to one another; not to mention other direful cruelties. Some of the Jews are there who in former times so cruelly treated the Gentiles. And at this day that hell is increasing, especially from those who come from the so-called Christian world and have had all the delight of their life in adulteries, who also are for the most part cruel. Sometimes their delight is turned into the stench of human excrement, which exhales excessively when that hell is opened. I perceived it in the world of spirits, and at the time almost fell into a swoon from the effect of it. This noisome, excrementitious smell by turns fills the hell, and by turns ceases; for it is their delight from adulteries which is turned into such offensiveness. In process of time, when they have passed through a given period in such things, they are left alone and sit in torment, becoming like unsightly skeletons, but still living.

AC 825. In the plane of the soles of the feet, at a considerable distance in front, there is a hell which is called Gehenna, where are shameless women who have placed all their delight in adulteries, and have regarded adulteries as not only permissible but honorable, and who under various pretenses of honorableness have allured the guileless and innocent to such things. A kind of fiery glow appears there, such as overcasts the sky from a great conflagration; and it is attended with fiery heat, as it was given me to feel by the warmth from it on my face; and there is a stench exhaled therefrom, as from burning bones and hair. Sometimes this hell is changed into direful serpents, which bite them; and then they long for death, but cannot die. Certain women released therefrom came to me and said there was a fiery heat there; but that when they are allowed to draw near to any society of good spirits the heat is changed to intense cold; and then burning heat and cold alternate with them, from one extreme to the other, by which they are miserably tormented. But yet they have their intervals during which they are in the heat of their fiery lust. But, as was said, their states vary.

AC 826. There were some, of both sexes, from the so-called Christian world, who in their life of the body had believed adulteries to be not only lawful but even holy, and so held communist marriages, as they impiously call them, under a show of sanctity. I saw that they were sent into Gehenna; but when they came there a change took place; the fieriness of Gehenna, which is ruddy, at their coming became whiter; and it was perceived that they could not agree together. This execrable troop was therefore separated and driven away into a region behind (into another world, it was said), where they would be immersed in stagnant pools, and from there would be conveyed into a new Gehenna appointed for them. There was heard in Gehenna a kind of hissing that cannot be described; but the hiss or buzz of Gehenna was grosser than that of those who had defiled holiness by their adulteries.

AC 827. Those who ensnare by pretended regard for conjugial love and love for children, so deporting themselves that the husband shall have no suspicion but that his guests are chaste, guileless, and friendly, and under such and various other pretenses the more safely commit adultery, are in a hell under the buttocks, in the filthiest excrement; and are vastated until they become as bones, because they rank with the deceitful. Such do not even know what conscience is. I have talked with them, and they were surprised that any one should have conscience and should say that adulteries are contrary to conscience. They were told that it is as impossible for such conscienceless adulterers to come into heaven as it is for fishes to rise into the air, or birds into the ether, because if they but approach they have a feeling of suffocation, and their delight is turned into a noisome stench; and that they cannot but be thrust down into hell, and become at last as of bone, with little life, because they have acquired to themselves a life of such a character that when they lose it, very little of truly human life remains.

AC 828. They who are possessed with the lust of defloration, and who find their greatest delight in virginities and the theft of them, without any purpose of marriage and offspring, and who when they have robbed virginity of its flower, afterwards forsake, loathe, and prostitute their victims, suffer the most grievous punishment in the other life, because such a life is contrary to order-natural, spiritual, and celestial; and because it is not only contrary to conjugial love, which is held in heaven to be most holy, but is also contrary to innocence, which they violate and kill by enticing the innocent, who might otherwise be imbued with conjugial love, into a meretricious life; for it is the first flower of love which introduces virgins into chaste conjugial love, and conjoins the minds of a married pair. And because the holiness of heaven is founded in conjugial love and in innocence, and such men are therefore interior murderers, they seem to themselves to be sitting upon a furious horse, which tosses them up so that they are thrown from the horse, to the peril of their life as it seems--such terror seizes them. Afterwards they appear to themselves to be under the belly of the furious horse, and presently seem to themselves to go through the hinder part of the horse into his belly; and then suddenly it appears to them as if they were in the belly of a filthy harlot, which harlot is changed into a great dragon, and there they remain wrapped in torment. This punishment returns many times during hundreds and thousands of years, until they are imbued with a horror of such desires. Respecting their offspring I have been told that they are worse than other children, because they derive from the father something of a like heredity; and therefore children are rarely born from such intercourse, and those that are born do not remain long in this life.

AC 829. They who in the life of the body think lasciviously, and give a lascivious turn to whatever others say, even to holy things, and this even in adult and old age when nothing of natural lasciviousness incites, do not desist or think and speak differently in the other life; and as there their thoughts are communicated, and sometimes come forth into obscene representations before other spirits, they give offense. Their punishment is, that in the presence of the spirits whom they have offended they are thrown prostrate and rapidly rolled over and over like a roller from left to right, and then transversely in another position, and so in another-naked before all, or half naked, according to the nature of their lasciviousness, and at the same time they are inspired with shame. Then they are whirled about by the head and feet, horizontally, as upon an axis. Resistance is induced, and at the same time pain; for there are two forces acting, one whirling around, the other backward, so that the punishment is attended with the pain of being torn asunder. After undergoing these penalties, an opportunity is afforded the miserable sufferer of withdrawing himself from the sight of other spirits, and a sense of shame is instilled into him. Yet there are those who try him to see whether he still persists in such things; but so long as he is in a state of shame and distress he is on his guard. Thus he seems to himself to be hidden, although they know where he is. This punishment appeared in front, at some distance. There are also boys, youths, and young men who from the madness and hot desire of their age have conceived abominable principles: as that wives, especially those that are young and beautiful, ought not to be for a husband, but for themselves and their like, the husband remaining only head of the house hold and educator of the children. These are distinguished in the other life by the boyish sound of their speech. They are behind at some height there. Those of them who have confirmed themselves in such principles, and in actual life conformable thereto, are grievously punished in the other life, by having their joints put out of place and back again, or twisted one way and the other, by spirits who can by their art induce upon them the phantasy of being in the body, and at the same time make them feel bodily pain. By these violent alternations, together with their struggles in resistance, they are so rent that they seem to themselves as if dismembered and torn to bits, with frightful pain; and this time after time, until being struck with horror at such principles of life they cease to think in that way.

AC 830. They who beguile men by subtle deceit, wearing a pleasant face and manner of speech, but concealing envenomed guile within, and thus captivating men for the purpose of ruining them, are in a hell more dreadful than the hells of others, even more dreadful than the hell of murderers. They seem to themselves to live among serpents; and the more pernicious their deceit has been, the more dreadful and venomous and the more numerous the serpents appear which surround and torment them. They know not but that they are serpents; they feel similar pains and similar torments. Few perhaps will believe this, but yet it is true. These are they who practice deceit with premeditation, and feel therein the delight of their life. The punishments of the deceitful are various, each according to the nature of the deceit. In general such persons are not tolerated in societies, but are expelled; for whatever a spirit thinks, they who are near instantly know and perceive; thus they perceive whether there is anything of deceit, and what sort of deceit. Therefore, being at length expelled from societies, they sit in solitude; and they then appear with a broad face, the breadth equalling that of four or five faces of others, and with a broad fleshy cap turning white, sitting as images of death, in torment. There are others who are deceitful by nature, thus not so much from premeditation, and not clandestinely under a feigned countenance. They are known at once, and their thought is plainly perceived. They even boast of it, as if they would appear shrewd. These have not such a hell. But, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, more will be said about the deceitful hereafter.

AC 831. There are women who have lived in the indulgence of their natural inclinations, caring only for themselves and the world, and making the whole of life and the delight of life to consist in outward decorum, in consequence of which they have been highly esteemed in polite society. They have thus, by practice and habit, acquired the talent of insinuating themselves into the desires and pleasures of others, under the pretense of what is honorable, but with the purpose of gaining control over them. Their life therefore became one of dissimulation and deceit. Like others they frequented churches, but for no other end than that they might appear virtuous and pious; and moreover they were without conscience, and very prone to shameful acts and adulteries, so far as these could be concealed. Such women think in the same way in the other life, knowing not what conscience is, and ridiculing those who speak of it. They enter into the affections of others, whatever these may be, by simulating virtue, piety, pity, and innocence, which are their means of deceiving; but whenever outward restraints are removed, they rush into things most wicked and obscene.

[2] These are the women who become enchantresses or sorceresses in the other life, some of whom are those called Sirens; and they there become expert in arts unknown in the world. They are like sponges that imbibe nefarious artifices; and are of such talent that they quickly put them in practice. The arts unknown in this world which they learn in the other are these. They can speak as though they were in another place, so that their voice is heard there as from good spirits. They can as it were be with many at the same time, thus persuading others that they are as if present everywhere. They can speak as several persons at the same time, and in several places at the same time. They can turn aside what flows in from good spirits, even what flows in from angelic spirits, and in divers ways pervert it instantly in favor of themselves. They can put on the likeness of another, by the ideas of him which they conceive and fashion. They can inspire any one with an affection for themselves, by insinuating themselves into the very state of another’s affection. They can withdraw suddenly out of sight, and escape unseen. They can represent before the eyes of spirits a white flame about the head, which is an angelic sign, and this before many. They can in divers ways feign innocence, even by representing infants whom they kiss. They also excite others, whom they hate, to kill them (for they know they cannot die), and then divulge it and accuse them of murder.

[3] They have called up out of my memory whatever of evil I have thought and done, and this most skillfully. While I was asleep they have talked with others, just as if from me, so that the spirits were persuaded of it, thus of things false and obscene. And many other arts they have. Their nature is so persuasive that no room is left therein for any doubt; therefore their ideas are not communicated like those of other spirits. And their eyes are like those ascribed to serpents, seeing and paying attention every way at once. These sorceresses or sirens are grievously punished, some in Gehenna, some in a kind of court among snakes; some by wrenchings and various collisions, attended with the greatest pain and torture. In course of time they are separated from all society and become like skeletons from head to foot. A continuation of the subject follows at the end of the chapter.


AC 938. The avaricious are of all men the most sordid, and think the least about the life after death, the soul, and the internal man. They do not even know what heaven is, because of all men they least elevate their thoughts, but sink them and immerse them wholly in corporeal and earthly things. Wherefore when they come into the other life they do not know for a long time that they are spirits, but suppose that they are still altogether in the body. The ideas of their thought which from their avarice have become as it were corporeal and earthly, are turned into direful phantasies. It seems incredible, yet is true, that in the other life the sordidly avaricious seem to themselves to be busy in cellars where their money is, and to be infested there by mice; yet however they may be infested they do not withdraw until they are wearied out, and so at last they work their way out of these tombs.

AC 939. What sordid phantasies the ideas of thought of those who have been sordidly avaricious are turned into, is evident from their hell, which is deep under foot. A vapor exhales from it like that from hogs whose bristles are being scraped off in a scalding trough. There are the homes of the avaricious. Those who come thither at first appear black, but by the scraping off of their hair, as is done with hogs, they seem to themselves to become white. So they then appear to themselves, but still there remains therefrom a mark by which they are known wherever they go. A certain black spirit who had not yet been brought to his own hell, because he had to make a longer stay in the world of spirits, being let down thither (although he had not been so avaricious as the rest, and yet had in his lifetime wickedly panted for the wealth of others), on his arrival the avaricious there fled away, saying that he was a robber, because he was black, and would kill them. For the avaricious flee from such spirits, being especially fearful of losing their lives. At length, having found out that he was not such a robber, they told him that if he wished to become white he merely had to have the hair taken off, like the swine--which were in full view--and then he would be white. But as he did not desire this, he was taken up among spirits.

AC 940. In this hell are for the most part Jews who have been sordidly avaricious, whose presence too when they come to other spirits is perceived as the stench of mice. In regard to the Jews something may be said about their cities and the robbers in the desert, to show how miserable is their state after death, especially that of those who have been sordidly avaricious and have despised others in comparison with themselves in consequence of their inborn arrogance in thinking themselves to be the only chosen people. In consequence of having conceived and confirmed in themselves, during their life in the body, the phantasy that they shall go to Jerusalem, and the Holy Land, to possess it (not being disposed to understand that by the New Jerusalem is meant the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens and on earth), there appears to them, when they come into the other world, a city on the left of Gehenna, a little in front, to which they flock in crowds. This city, however, being miry and fetid, is called the filthy Jerusalem; and here they run about the streets, over the ankles in dirt and mud, pouring out complaints and lamentations. They see these cities--indeed I have sometimes seen them myself--and the streets therein, with all their defilements, represented as in open day. There once appeared to me a certain spirit of a dusky hue coming from this filthy Jerusalem, the gate seeming as it were to be opened. He was encompassed about with wandering stars, especially on his left side; wandering stars around a spirit signifying in the spiritual world falsities, but it is different when the stars are not wandering. He approached, and applied himself to the upper part of my left ear, which he seemed to touch with his mouth, in order to speak with me; but he did not speak in a sonorous tone of voice like others, but within himself, nevertheless in such a manner that I could hear and understand. He said that he was a Jewish Rabbi, adding that he had been in that miry city for a long time, and that the streets thereof were nothing but mud and dirt. He said also there was nothing to eat in it but dirt, and on my asking why he who was a spirit desired to eat, he replied that he did eat, and that when he desired to eat, nothing was offered him but mud, which grieved him exceedingly. He inquired what he must do, having in vain tried to meet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I related to him some particulars respecting them, informing him it was in vain to seek for them, and that even if they were found, they could not possibly afford him any assistance. After adverting to matters of deeper import, I said that no one ought to be sought after but the Lord alone, who is the Messiah whom they had despised on earth; and that He rules the universal heaven and the universal earth, and that help comes from Him alone. He then asked anxiously and repeatedly where the Lord was. I replied that He is to be found everywhere, and that He hears and knows all men. But at that instant other Jewish spirits drew him away.

AC 941. There is also another city on the right of Gehenna, or between Gehenna and the Lake, where the better sort of the Jews seem to themselves to dwell. But this city is changed to them according to their phantasies, sometimes being turned into villages, at others into a lake, and again into a city: and its inhabitants are much afraid of robbers, but so long as they remain in the city they are secure. Between the two cities there is a kind of triangular space, dark, where are robbers, who are Jews, but of the worst sort, who cruelly torture whomsoever they meet. The Jews out of fear call these robbers the Lord, and the desert in which they reside they call the Land. As a security against the robbers, at the entrance into the city, on the right, there is a good spirit stationed, in the extreme corner, who receives all comers, and before whom, as they arrive, they bow themselves toward the earth. They are admitted under his feet, this being the ceremony of admittance into this city. A certain spirit approaching me suddenly, I demanded whence he came? He replied that he was making his escape from the robbers, whom he feared, because they kill, slaughter, burn, and boil men, inquiring where he might be safe. I asked whence and from what country he came? In his terror he dared not give me any other answer than that it was the Lord‘s Land, for they call that desert the Land, and the robbers the Lord. Afterwards the robbers presented themselves. They were very black, and spoke in a deep tone of voice like giants, and, strange to say, when they come they induce a sense of dread and horror. I asked them who they were? They said they were in quest of plunder. I inquired what they meant to do with their plunder, and whether they did not know that they were spirits, and therefore could neither seize upon nor amass plunder, and that such notions are the phantasies of the evil? They replied, that they were in the desert in quest of booty, and that they torture whomsoever they meet. At last they acknowledged, while they were with me, that they were spirits, but still could not be brought to believe that they were not still living in the body. Those who thus wander about are Jews, who threaten to kill, slaughter, burn, and boil whomsoever they meet, even though they are Jews, and friends. Their disposition was thus made known, although in the world they dare not divulge it.

AC 942. Not far from the filthy Jerusalem there is still another city, which is called the Judgment of Gehenna, where those dwell who claim heaven as due to their own righteousness, and condemn others who do not live according to their phantasies. Between this city and Gehenna there appears as if there were a rather handsome bridge, of a pale or gray color; where there is a black spirit, whom they fear, and who prevents their passing over, for on the other side of the bridge appears Gehenna.

AC 943. Those who in the life of the body have made mere pleasures their end and aim, loving merely to indulge their natural propensities, and to live in luxury and festivity, caring only for themselves and the world, without any regard to things Divine, and who are devoid of faith and charity, are after death first introduced into a life similar to that which they had in the world. There is a place in front toward the left, at a considerable depth, where all is pleasure, sports, dancing, feasting, and chatting together. Hither such spirits are conveyed, and then they know no otherwise than that they are still in the world. After a short time however the scene is changed, and then they are carried down to a hell beneath the buttocks which is merely excrementitious; for in the other life such exclusively corporeal pleasure is turned into what is excrementitious. I have seen them there carrying dung and bemoaning their lot.

AC 944. Women who from low and mean condition have become rich, and in their pride have given themselves up to pleasures and a life of delicacy and ease, reclining on couches like queens, sitting at tables and banquets, and caring for nothing else, when they come into the other life have wretched quarrels with one another - they beat and tear each other, they drag each other by the hair, and become like furies.

AC 945. It is otherwise with those who have been born into the pleasures and enjoyments of life, and who have been educated in such things from childhood, such as queens, and others of noble family, and also those of wealthy parentage. These, though they have lived in luxury, splendor, and elegance, provided they have lived at the same time in faith in the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, are among the happy in the other life. For to deprive one’s self of the enjoyments of life, of power, and of riches, and to think thus to merit heaven by wretchedness, is a false course. But to esteem pleasures and power and riches as nothing in comparison with the Lord, and the life of the world as nothing in comparison with heavenly life, this is what is meant in the Word by renouncing these things.

AC 946. I have spoken with spirits concerning the fact that possibly few will believe in the existence of so many and such wonderful things in the other life, in consequence of the absence of any but a very general and obscure conception - amounting to none at all - of the life after death, and in which men have confirmed themselves by the consideration that they do not see a soul or spirit with their eyes. Even the learned, although they say there is a soul or spirit, so cleave to artificial words and terms - which rather obscure or even extinguish the understanding of things than assist it - and so devote themselves to self and the world, and but rarely to the general welfare and to heaven, that they believe still less than do sensuous men. The spirits to whom I spoke marveled that men should be of such a character, seeing that they are well aware of the existence in nature itself, and in each of its kingdoms, of many wonderful and varied things about which they are ignorant, as for example those in the internal human ear, concerning which a book might be filled with things amazing and unheard of, and in the existence of which every one has faith. But if anything is said about the spiritual world, from which come forth all things in the kingdoms of nature both in general and in particular, scarcely any one gives credence to it, on account of the preconceived and confirmed opinion that because it is not seen it is nothing.

previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page