Spiritual Meaning of

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That a serpent denotes the sensuous may be seen above (AC 6949), thus its tail is the ultimate or lowest of the sensuous. Uplifting is signified by putting forth and taking hold of, for he who puts forth the hand and takes hold of any creeping thing of the earth, lifts it up. As by the serpent is signified the sensuous separated, and hence reasoning from the fallacies of the senses about the truths of faith, by the tail of the serpent is signified falsity itself, for this is the ultimate or lowest, and he who is in falsity, thus in the ultimate and lowest, looks wholly downward, or outward, that is, into the world and to the earth; but not upward or inward, that is, into heaven and to the Lord.

[2] That such things are signified by the tail of the serpent, is evident in John:--

The locusts had tails like unto scorpions, and stings were in their tails; and their power was to do harm to men (Rev. 9:10);

where tails like unto scorpions, and stings in the tails, denote cunning reasonings from falsities, by which they persuade, and thus do harm, wherefore it is said that their power is to do harm to men.

[3] Again:--

The tails of the horses were like unto serpents, having heads, and by them they do harm (Rev. 9:19);

where in like manner tails like serpents denote reasonings from falsities, by which harm is done and especially because it is said that such were the tails of the horses, and that they had heads; for by horses is signified the intellectual, and also by head. Hence by tails are here signified more cunning reasonings from fallacies and the derivative falsities against truths, which reasonings are lowest, for the more cunning any reasonings are against truths, the lower they are.

[4] Again:--

The tail of the dragon drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them into the earth (Rev. 12:4);

where the tail of the dragon in like manner denotes reasonings from falsities; the stars of heaven, the knowledges of good and truth; to cast them to the earth denotes to destroy them. That the dragon is the serpent, which seduces by reasonings from falsities, and which seduced the mother of the living, or Eve, in paradise, by means of the tree of knowledge, that is, by means of memory-knowledges from the sensuous, thus from fallacies, is clear also in John:--

The great dragon was cast down the old serpent, which is called the Devil and Satan, which seduceth the whole world (Rev. 12:9).

[5] That the tail in general denotes the sensuous separated, which looks not up but down, thus not to heaven, but to earth, and consequently denotes falsity, is evident in these passages:--

Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush; the old man and the honorable, he is the head; and the prophet, the teacher of a lie, he is the tail (Isa. 9:14, 15);

where the tail manifestly denotes falsity, which in the Word is called a lie. Again:--

There shall not be for Egypt any work, which shall make head and tail, branch and rush (Isa. 19:15);

where rush denotes what is lowest. In Moses:--

Thus Jehovah shall make thee the head, and not the tail; that thou mayest be upward only, and not downward, when thou shalt obey the commandments of thy God (Deut. 28:13).

[6] The tail denotes the lowest, which looks downward or outward, that is, into the world and to the earth, but not to heaven and to the Lord. For the interiors of man together with his sensuous things are lifted upward by the Lord when the man is in the good of faith and of charity; but if he is in evil and falsity, then his interiors together with his sensuous things look downward, thus only to the things that are in the world, whereby he puts off the human nature, and puts on the bestial; for wild beasts look downward, or only to those things which are on the earth. He who looks downward, wills what is evil and thinks what is false, but he who is lifted upward by the Lord, wills what is good and thinks what is true; the uplifting by the Lord takes place actually, and from this a removal from evils and falsities, which the angels perceive by the very sense. This is like the tendency to the center of gravity: the center is where the Lord is in His sun. Toward this the heads of the angels are lifted up; but the feet of the infernals. Thus the former look upward, and the latter downward (AC 3641, 3643).

[7] Again:--

The stranger that is in the midst of thee shall ascend above thee upward more and more; but thou shalt descend downward more and more; he shall be for the head, and thou shalt be for the tail (Deut. 28:43, 43, 44);

where the sense is similar. In Isaiah:--

Say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart soften, because of the two tails of these smoking fire-brands, on account of the wrath of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah (Isa. 7:4);

Rezin king of Syria denotes knowledges of evil. That Syria denotes knowledges of good, may be seen above, (AC 1232, 1234, 3680) thus in the opposite sense, knowledges of evil. The soil of Remaliah the king of Samaria denotes knowledges of falsity. Knowledges of evil and knowledges of falsity are tails, because they are lowest things. Smoking firebrands denote wrath.

from AC 6952

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info