Spiritual background for GENESIS 9    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


AC 947. Those who are deceitful and who suppose that they can obtain all things by deceitful craft, and who have confirmed themselves in this idea by their success in the life of the body, seem to themselves to dwell in a kind of tun or vat at the left, which is called the Infernal Tun, over which there is a covering, and outside of it a small globe on a pyramidal base, which they conceive to be the universe, under their inspection and rule. Precisely thus does it appear to them. Those of them who have deceitfully persecuted the innocent are there for ages. I was told that some have remained there already for twenty ages. When they are let out they are possessed with such phantasy that they suppose the universe to be a globe about which they walk and which they trample with their feet, believing themselves to be gods of the universe. I have seen them at times and spoken with them about their phantasy; but as they had been of this nature in the world, they could not be withdrawn from it. I have also at times perceived with what subtle deceit they could pervert the thoughts, turning them in a moment in other directions, and substituting others, so that it could hardly be known that it was done by them, and this so naturally as to be beyond belief. Being of this character, these spirits are never admitted to men, for they infuse their poison so clandestinely and secretly as not to be noticeable.

AC 948. There is at the left another tun - as it appears to them - in which are some who in the life of the body had supposed that when they did evil they did good, and the converse; so that they had made good to consist in evil. These remain there for a while, and then are deprived of rationality, on the loss of which they are as if asleep, and what they then do is not imputed to them; but yet they seem to themselves to be awake. On their rationality being restored to them they return to themselves and are as other spirits.

AC 949. Toward the left and in front there is a certain chamber in which there is no light, but mere darkness, from which it is called the Dark Chamber. In it are those who have longed for the goods of others, continually hankering after them, and also whenever possible getting possession of them under some specious claim, in the most conscienceless manner. There are some there who when they lived in this world had been in stations of much dignity, but had based the respect due to sagacity on wily practices. In that chamber they consult together-just as when they lived in the body-how to take other people in. The darkness there they call delicious. I was shown the appearance of those who are there and had acted fraudulently. As in clear daylight I saw what they at last come to. Their faces are more hideous than those of the dead, ghastly in hue like a corpse, and pitted with horrible cavities, the result of living in the torment of anxiety.

AC 950. There was a phalanx of spirits rising up from the side of Gehenna on high toward the front, from whose sphere it was perceived - for the quality of spirits may be perceived from their sphere alone, at their first approach - that they accounted the Lord as vile, and held all Divine worship in contempt. Their speech was undulatory. One of them spoke in a scandalous way against the Lord, and was at once cast down toward one side of Gehenna. They were being carried from the front up over head, in the endeavor to meet with some with whom they might conjoin themselves in an attempt to reduce others to subjection, but they were retarded on the way, and were told to desist, because the attempt would be hurtful to them, so they came to a halt. Then they were seen. They had black faces, and had a white bandage round their heads, by which is signified that they regard Divine worship - and therefore the Lord‘s Word - as black, and useful only to keep the vulgar under the restraint of conscience. Their abode is near Gehenna, where are flying dragons, not venomous, from which it is called the Habitation of Dragons. But because they are not deceitful, their hell is not so grievous. Such spirits ascribe all things to themselves and their own prudence, and boast that they fear no one. But they were shown that a mere hiss would terrify them and put them to flight, for on a hiss being heard they thought in their terror that all hell was rising to carry them off, and from heroes they suddenly became like women.

AC 951. Those who in the life of the body have thought themselves holy, are in the lower earth before the left foot. At times they there appear to themselves to have a shining face, which flows from their idea of their own holiness. But the outcome with them is that they are kept in the most intense desire to ascend into heaven, which they suppose to be on high. This desire is increased and is turned more and more into anxiety, which grows immensely until they acknowledge that they are not holy; and when they are taken out of that place, they are enabled to perceive their own stench, which is very offensive.

AC 952. A certain spirit supposed that he had lived holily in the world because he was esteemed as holy by men and so merited heaven. He said that he had led a pious life, and had spent much time in prayer, supposing it to be sufficient for each person to look out for his own interests. He also said that he was a sinner, and was willing to suffer even to being trodden under foot by others, which he called Christian patience; and that he was willing to be the least, in order that he might become the greatest in heaven. When examined in order to see whether he had performed or had been willing to perform anything of good, that is, any works of charity, he said that he did not know what these were; but only that he had lived a holy life. But because he had as his end his own pre-eminence over others, whom he accounted vile in comparison with himself, at first, because he supposed himself to be holy he appeared in a human form shining white down to the loins, but was turned first to a dull blue, and then to black; and as he desired to rule over others, and despised them in comparison with himself, he became blacker than others. (Concerning those who desire to be greatest in heaven, see above, n. 450, 452.)

AC 953. I was led through some abodes of the first heaven, from which I was permitted to see afar off a great sea swelling with mighty waves, the boundaries of which stretched beyond the range of vision, and I was told that those have such phantasies, and see such a sea, with fear of being sunk in it, who have desired to be great in the world, caring nothing whether by right or by wrong, provided they could secure their own glory and renown.

AC 954. The phantasies which have been indulged in the life of the body are turned in the next life into others, which however correspond to the first. For example, with those who have been violent and merciless on earth, their violence and unmercifulness are turned into incredible cruelty; and they seem to themselves to kill whatever companions they meet, and to torture them in various ways, wherein they take what is to them the greatest possible delight. Those who have been bloodthirsty take delight in torturing other spirits, even to bloodshed, for they suppose spirits to be men, not knowing otherwise. At the sight of blood- for such is their phantasy that they as it were see blood-they are greatly delighted. From avarice there break forth phantasies as if they were infested with mice, and the like, according to the species of avarice. Those who have been delighted with mere pleasures, having these as their ultimate end, as their highest good, and as it were their heaven, find their highest delight in staying in privies, perceiving there what is most enjoyable. Some take delight in urinous and noisome pools, some in miry places, and so on.

AC 955. Moreover there are penalties of various kinds with which in the other life the evil are most grievously punished, and into which they run when they return to their foul cupidities, and by which they contract shame, terror, and horror for such things, until at last they desist from them. The penalties are various, being in general those of laceration, of discerption or pulling to pieces, of sufferings under veils, and many others.

AC 956. Those who are tenacious of revenge and who think themselves greater than all others, regarding them as of no account in comparison with themselves, suffer the punishment of laceration in the following manner: They are mangled in face and body until there is scarcely anything human left; the face becomes like a broad round cake, the arms look like rags, and these being stretched out, the man is whirled around on high and all the time toward heaven, while his character is proclaimed in the presence of all until shame penetrates him to the inmost. Thus, a suppliant, he is compelled to beg for pardon in terms that are dictated to him. Afterwards he is carried to a miry lake, which is near the filthy Jerusalem, and is plunged and rolled in it till he becomes a figure of mud; and this is done repeatedly, until such cupidity is taken away. In this miry lake there are malicious women belonging to the province of the bladder.

AC 957. Those who in the life of the body have contracted a habit of saying one thing and thinking another, especially those who under the appearance of friendship have longed for the possessions of others, wander about, and wherever they come ask whether they may stay there, saying that they are poor; and when they are received they from innate desire long for all they see. As soon as their character is detected they are driven out and fined; and sometimes they are miserably racked in various ways in accordance with the nature of the deceitful simulation which they have contracted, some being racked in the whole body, some in the feet, some in the loins, some in the breast, some in the head, and some only in the region of the mouth. They are knocked backward and forward in a way that is indescribable; there are violent collisions of the parts, thus pullings asunder, so that they believe themselves to be torn into small bits; and resistance is induced, to increase the pain. Such punishments of discerption take place with great variety, and at intervals are repeated again and again, until the sufferers are penetrated with fear and horror at false statements made with an intention to deceive. Each punishing takes away something. The discerptors said that they are so delighted to punish that they are not willing to desist, even should it go on to eternity.

AC 958. There are troops of spirits who wander about and whom other spirits greatly dread. They apply themselves to the lower part of the back, and inflict torture by rapid movements to and fro which no one can prevent, and which are attended with sound, and they direct the constrictive and expansive movement upward in the form of a cone with its point at the top; and whoever is introduced within this cone, especially toward the top of it, is miserably racked in every particle of his limbs. It is deceitful pretenders who are introduced into it and so punished.

AC 959. I awoke in the night from my sleep, and heard spirits about me who desired to ambush me in my sleep, yet presently dozing I had a sad dream. But having awaked, punishing spirits were suddenly present - at which I wondered - and miserably punished the spirits who had ambushed me in my sleep. They induced on them as it were bodies - visible ones - and bodily senses, and thus tortured them by violent collisions of the parts to and fro, with pains induced by resistance. The punishers would have killed them if they could, so that they used the most extreme violence. Those guilty were for the most part sirens (n. 831). The punishment lasted a long time, and extended around me to many troops, and to my astonishment all those who had ambushed me were found, though they wanted to hide themselves. Being sirens, they tried with many arts to elude the penalty, but could not. Now they sought to withdraw into interior nature, now to induce the belief that they were others, now to transfer the punishment to others by a transference of ideas, now they counterfeited infants who would thus be tortured, now good spirits, now angels, besides making use of many other artifices, but all in vain. I was surprised that they should be so grievously punished, but perceived that the crime is enormous from the necessity of man’s being able to sleep in safety, without which the human race would perish; so that it is of necessity that there should be so great a penalty. I perceived that the same takes place around other men whom they attempt to assail insidiously in their sleep, although the men know nothing about it. For one to whom it is not given to speak with spirits and to be with them by inner sense, can hear nothing of the kind, still less see it, when yet the same things happen with all. The Lord guards man with most especial care during his sleep.

AC 960. There are certain deceitful spirits who while they lived in the body practised their wiles in secret, and some of them in order to deceive have by pernicious arts feigned being as it were angels. In the other life these learn to withdraw themselves into a finer or more interior realm of nature (in subtiliorem naturam), and to snatch themselves away from the eyes of others, and in this way they suppose themselves to be safe from every penalty. But these, just like others, undergo the penalty of discerption in accordance with the nature and the wickedness of their deceit, and in addition to this they are glued together, and when this happens the more they desire to loose themselves- that is, to tear themselves away from one another- the more tightly they are fastened. This penalty is attended with a more intense torture because it answers to their more hidden deceptions.

AC 961. Some persons from habit, and some from contempt, make use in familiar conversation of the things contained in Holy Scripture as an aid or formula for joking and ridicule, thinking thus to give point thereto. But such things of Scripture when thus thought and spoken add themselves to their corporeal and filthy ideas, and in the other life bring upon them much harm; for they return together with the profane things. These persons also undergo the punishment of discerption, until they become disused to such things.

AC 962. There is also a penalty of discerption in respect to the thoughts, so that the interior thoughts fight with the exterior, which is attended with interior torment.

AC 963. Among punishments a frequent one consists in the throwing over the sufferers of a veil, and is as follows. By means of phantasies that are impressed on them the sufferers seem to themselves to be under a veil that is stretched out to a great distance. It is like a closely clinging cloud that increases in density in proportion to the phantasy, and under which, incited by the desire to burst out of it, they run hither and thither at various rates of speed, until they are wearied out. This usually lasts for the space of an hour, more or less, and is attended with different degrees of torment in proportion to the degree of the desire for extrication. The veil is for those who although they see the truth, yet under the influence of the love of self are unwilling to acknowledge it, and feel constant indignation that the truth should be so. When under the veil some feel such anxiety and terror that they despair of the possibility of their deliverance, as I was informed by one who had himself been delivered from it.

AC 964. There is an additional kind of veil in which the sufferers are wrapped up as it were in a cloth, so that they seem to themselves to be bound in hand, in foot, and in body, and there is injected into them a burning desire to unwrap themselves. As the sufferer has been wrapped round only once, he supposes that he will easily be unwrapped, but when he begins to unwrap himself the veil increases in length, and the unwrapping goes on without end, until he despairs.

AC 965. These things relate to the hells and to penalties. Infernal torments are not the stings of conscience, as some suppose, for those who are in hell have had no conscience, and therefore cannot suffer torment of conscience. Those who have had conscience are among the happy.

AC 966. It is to be observed that in the other life no one under. goes any punishment and torture on account of his hereditary evil, but only on account of the actual evils which he himself has committed.

AC 967. When the evil are being punished, angels are always present who moderate the punishment and alleviate the pains of the sufferers, but cannot take them away. For there is such an equilibrium of all things in the other life that evil punishes itself, and unless it could be taken away by means of punishment, those in whom it exists could not but be kept in some hell to eternity, for they would otherwise infest the societies of the good, and offer violence to the order instituted by the Lord, wherein lies the safety of the universe.

AC 968. Certain spirits had brought with them from the world the idea that they must not speak with the devil, but flee from him. But they were instructed that it would do no harm at all to those whom the Lord protects, even if they should be encompassed by all hell, both within and without. This it has been given me to know by much and by marvelous experience, so that at length I came to have no fear of even the worst of the infernal crew, to hinder my speaking with them; and this was granted in order that I might become acquainted with their character. To those who have wondered that I spoke with them, I have been permitted to say not only that this would do me no harm, but also that the devils in the other life are such as have been men, and who when they lived in the world passed their life in hatred, revenge, and adultery, some of them being then pre-eminently esteemed; nay, that among them are some I had known in the bodily life; and that the devil means nothing else than such a crew of hell. And furthermore, that men, while they live in the body, have with them at least two spirits from hell, as well as two angels from heaven; and that these infernal spirits rule with the evil, but with the good have been subjugated and are compelled to serve. Thus it is false to suppose that there has been a devil from the beginning of creation, other than such as were once men. When they heard these things they were amazed, and confessed that they had held a totally different opinion in regard to the devil and the diabolical crew.

AC 969. In so great a kingdom, where all the souls of men from the first creation flock together, from this earth alone nearly a million coming every week, and each person among them all having his own individual genius and nature; and where there is a communication of all the ideas of every one; and where notwithstanding all this, all things both in general and in particular must be reduced into order, and this continually; it cannot be but that numberless things exist there which have never entered into the idea of man. And as in relation to hell, as well as in relation to heaven, scarcely any one has conceived more than one single obscure idea, it cannot be but that these things will appear strange and wonderful, especially from the fact that men suppose spirits to have no sense of feeling, although the truth is that they feel more exquisitely than do men, and what is more have induced on them by evil spirits, by artifices unknown in this world, a sense of feeling almost like that of the body, but much more gross.

AC 970. The subject of Vastations will follow on at the end of this chapter.


AC 1106. There are many persons who during their life in this world from simplicity and ignorance have imbibed falsities of religious belief, and yet have had a kind of conscience in accordance with the principles of their faith, and have not like others lived in hatred, revenge, and adultery. In the other life these persons cannot be introduced into heavenly societies so long as they remain in these falsities, for they would contaminate them; and they are therefore kept for a time in the lower earth, in order that they may get rid of their false principles. The time that they remain there is longer or shorter according to the nature of the falsity, and the life contracted thereby, and according to the degree in which they have confirmed themselves in their principles. Some suffer there severely, others not severely. These sufferings are what are called Vastations, of which there is frequent mention in the Word. When the period of vastation is completed, they are taken up into heaven, and as new comers are instructed in the truths of faith, and this by the angels by whom they are received.

AC 1107. There are some who are very willing to be vastated and thus get rid of the false principles which they have brought with them from the world. (No one can get rid of his false principles in the other life except by the lapse of time and by means provided by the Lord.) While these persons remain in the lower earth, they are kept by the Lord in the hope of deliverance, and in the thought of the end in view, which is that they may be amended and prepared to receive heavenly happiness.

AC 1108. Some are kept in a middle state between sleep and waking, and think very little, except when they as it were awake--which takes place by alternations--and then they remember what they had thought and done in the life of the body, and again they relapse into the middle state between being awake and being asleep. In this way these are vastated. They are under the left foot, a little in front.

AC 1109. Those who have fully confirmed themselves in false principles are reduced to complete ignorance, and then they are in obscurity and confusion, so that when they merely think of the things in which they have confirmed themselves, they have inward pain. But after some time has passed, they are as it were created anew, and are imbued with the truths of faith.

AC 1110. Those who have assumed righteousness and merit on account of their good works, and so have attributed the efficacy of salvation to themselves, and not to the Lord and His righteousness and merit, and have confirmed themselves in this in thought and in life, in the other world have their principles of falsity turned into phantasies, so that they seem to themselves to be hewing wood: this is exactly as it appears to them. I have spoken with them. When they are engaged in their labor, and are asked whether they are not fatigued, they reply that they have not yet accomplished enough work to be able to merit heaven. When they are hewing the wood there appears to be something of the Lord under the wood, thus as if the wood were merit that they are getting. The more of the Lord there appears in the wood, the longer they remain in this condition; but when that appearance begins to cease, their vastation is drawing to an end. At length they become such that they too can be admitted into good societies, but still they long fluctuate between truth and falsity. Great care is taken of them by the Lord, because they have lived a dutiful life, and He from time to time sends angels to them. These are they who in the Jewish Church were represented by the hewers of wood (Josh. 9:23, 27).

AC 1111. Those who have lived a good civic and moral life, but have persuaded themselves that they merit heaven by their works, and have believed that it is sufficient to acknowledge an only God as the Creator of the universe, in the other life have their false principles turned into such phantasies that they seem to themselves to be cutting grass, and are called grass-cutters. They are cold, and try to warm themselves by this cutting. Sometimes they go round and inquire among those whom they meet whether they will give them some heat, which indeed spirits can do, but the heat which they receive has no effect upon them, because it is external and what they want is internal heat; and therefore they return to their cutting, and thus gain heat by their labor. Their cold I have felt. They are always hoping to be taken up into heaven, and sometimes consult together how they may introduce themselves by their own power. As these persons have performed good works, they are among those who are vastated; and at length, after some time has passed, they are introduced into good societies, and are instructed.

AC 1112. Those however who have been in the goods and truths of faith, and have gained therefrom a conscience and a life of charity, are taken up by the Lord into heaven immediately after death.

AC 1113. There are girls who have been enticed into harlotry, and thus persuaded that there is no evil in it, being in other respects rightly disposed. These, because they are not yet of an age to be able to know and judge concerning such a life, have an instructor with them, quite severe, who chastises them whenever in thought they break out into such wantonness. Of him they are in great fear, and in this way are vastated. But adult women who have been harlots and have enticed other women, do not undergo vastation, but are in hell.

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