site search by freefind advanced


       ANIMALS >> Affections
 GENTLE ANIMALS >> Good Affections
FIERCE ANIMALS >> Evil Affections

The natural objects of the world about us are images, or manifestations to bodily sense, of the spiritual things in human minds. If it were not so, we should have no distinct ideas of spiritual things, and no means of describing them, or of learning about them. When we speak of affections, we call them warm, pure, fresh, sweet, strong, or the opposites, which expressions are the names of natural qualities; but we perceive them to be, in a spiritual sense, the appropriate names of corresponding spiritual qualities. So of thoughts, we say that they are lofty, comprehensive, luminous, or the reverse; of the rational mind, that it sees, perceives, listens—that it is clear-sighted, active, sensitive; and, indeed, there is hardly a word used to describe mental objects or phenomena which is not primarily descriptive of natural objects and phenomena.  As applied to spiritual things, these words are used figuratively, and contain little parables by which spiritual qualities are brought out to our apprehension, and illustrated.

As men who are made for a never-ending life in a spiritual world, we might see at a glance that this must be so, for this natural life is designed as a preparation for the spiritual life. If natural things bore no relation to spiritual, a life spent among them would have no relation to the eternal spiritual life. That they may perfectly serve their purpose of introduction to spiritual things, all natural objects must be natural forms and representatives of spiritual. To deny this, or to believe it to be only partly or imperfectly true, is to believe that this world is not at all, or only imperfectly, adapted to prepare men for the spiritual world.

If, indeed, it is, as it must be, perfectly adapted to this purpose, we shall cooperate with Him who designed it, by obtaining definite knowledge of natural things, and giving careful attention to their spiritual correlatives; for thus the spiritual mind will be opened and trained to distinct, clear, spiritual perceptions.  This is the province of the study of correspondences.

The study is boundless as science itself. Every branch of science, with all the particulars of it, is a physical emblem of deeper things than itself; and, if interiorly opened, it presents to our view a corresponding branch of spiritual science, with its particulars. This is beyond our present purpose, which is principally to unfold the symbols of the Holy Scriptures; but in finding the spiritual sense of these we shall obtain the clue to many other correspondences.

Common speech testifies to a general recognition of relationship between animals and human feelings. The names of gentle, innocent animals are bestowed as terms of endearment upon persons to whom they are appropriate; and the names of unclean or ferocious animals are used to describe the corresponding feelings and actions of men.

And these terms are employed with somewhat careful discrimination of their meanings.  “Dove” and “Chick,” as applied to children, present ideas of quite different kinds of innocence; nor should we be in any danger of confounding the meaning of “Puppy” and “Tiger” as applied to men.

The characteristics of animals are more simple and more easily recognized than those of men; for individual men include the qualities of many animals. Men also can choose among their animal qualities what they will cherish, and what repress, and they are responsible for their choice; but animals cannot essentially change their natures, though the manifestations of them may be considerably modified by training or circumstances.  Careful observation easily detects the affection which is the life of an animal, even under the veil of hypocrisy which some animals know how to assume; the rest of our study consists in detecting the similar affection in human beings, and of this the animal is the embodiment or correspondence.  In this manner we will study first the correspondence of Sheep and Lambs, and then that of other animals used in sacrifices.



This can be seen from each and all things of the animal kingdom, from each and all things of the vegetable kingdom, and from each and all things of the mineral kingdom.

A relation to man in each and all things of the animal kingdom is evident from the following. Animals of every kind have limbs by which they move, organs by which they feel, and viscera by which these are exercised; these they have in common with man. They have also appetites and affections similar to man’s natural appetites and affections; and they have inborn knowledges corresponding to their affections, in some of which there appears a resemblance to what is spiritual, which is more or less evident in beasts of the earth, and birds of the air, and in bees, silk-worms, ants, etc. From this it is that merely natural men consider the living creatures of this kingdom to be like themselves, except in the matter of speech.

A relation to man arising out of each and all things of the vegetable kingdom is evident from this: they spring forth from seed, and thereafter proceed step by step through their periods of growth; they have something akin to marriage, followed by prolification; their vegetative soul is use, and they are forms thereof; besides many other particulars which have relation to man. These also have been described by various authors.

A relation to man deducible from each and every thing of the mineral kingdom is seen only in an endeavor to produce forms which exhibit such a relation (which forms, as said above, are each and all things of the vegetable kingdom), and in an endeavor to perform uses thereby. For when first a seed falls into the bosom of the earth, she cherishes it, and out of herself provides it with nourishment from every source, that it may shoot up and present itself in a form representative of man. That such an endeavor exists also in its solid parts is evident from corals at the bottom of the seas and from flowers in mines, where they originate from minerals, also from metals. This endeavor towards vegetating, and performing uses thereby, is the outmost derivation from the Divine in created things. [DLW61}

As there is an endeavor of the minerals of the earth towards vegetation, so there is an endeavor of the plants towards vivification: this accounts for insects of various kinds corresponding to the odors emanating from plants. This does not arise from the heat of this world’s sun, but from life operating through that heat according to the state of its recipients (as will be seen in what follows). [DLW62}

That there is a relation of all things of the created universe to man may be known from the foregoing statements, yet it can be seen only obscurely; whereas in the spiritual world this is seen clearly. In that world, also, there are all things of the three kingdoms, and in the midst of them the angel; he sees them about him, and also knows that they are representations of himself; yea, when the inmost of his understanding is opened he recognizes himself in them, and sees his image in them, hardly otherwise than as in a mirror. [DLW63]

From these and from many other concurring facts which there is not time to adduce now, it may be known with certainty that God is a Man; and that the created universe is an image of Him; for there is a general relation of all things to Him, as well as a particular relation of all things to man.  [DLW64}

But at the present day no one can know the spiritual things in heaven to which the natural things in the world correspond except from heaven, since the knowledge of correspondences is now wholly lost. But the nature of the correspondence of spiritual things with natural I shall be glad to illustrate by some examples. The animals of the earth correspond in general to affection, mild and useful animals to good affections, fierce and useless ones to evil affections. In particular, cattle and their young correspond to the affections of the natural mind, sheep and lambs to the affections of the spiritual mind; while birds correspond, according to their species, to the intellectual things of the natural or the spiritual mind.{1} For this reason various animals, as cattle and their young, rams, sheep, he-goats, and she-goats, he-lambs and she-lambs, also pigeons and turtledoves, were devoted to a sacred use in the Israelitish Church, which was a representative church, and sacrifices and burnt offerings were made of them. For they correspond in that use to spiritual things, and in heaven these were understood in accordance with the correspondences. Moreover, animals according to their kinds and species, because they have life, are affections; and the life of each one is solely from affection and in accordance with affection; consequently every animal has an innate knowledge that is in accord with its life’s affection. Man is like an animal so far as his natural man is concerned, and is therefore likened to animals in common speech; for example, if he is gentle he is called a sheep or lamb, if fierce a bear or wolf, if cunning a fox or serpent, and so on.  [HH110]  

There is a like correspondence with things in the vegetable kingdom. In general, a garden corresponds to the intelligence and wisdom of heaven; and for this reason heaven is called the Garden of God, and Paradise;{1} and men call it the heavenly paradise. Trees, according to their species, correspond to the perceptions and knowledges of good and truth which are the source of intelligence and wisdom. For this reason the ancient people, who were acquainted with correspondences, held their sacred worship in groves;{2} and for the same reason trees are so often mentioned in the Word, and heaven, the church, and man are compared to them; as the vine, the olive, the cedar, and others, and the good works done by men are compared to fruits. Also the food derived from trees, and more especially from the grain harvests of the field, corresponds to affections for good and truth, because these affections feed the spiritual life, as the food of the earth does the natural life;{3} and bread from grain, in a general sense, because it is the food that specially sustains life, and because it stands for all food, corresponds to an affection for all good. It is on account of this correspondence that the Lord calls Himself the bread of life; and that loaves of bread had a holy use in the Israelitish Church, being placed on the table in the tabernacle and called “the bread of faces;” also the Divine worship that was performed by sacrifices and burnt offerings was called “bread.” Moreover, because of this correspondence the most holy act of worship in the Christian Church is the Holy Supper, in which bread is given, and wine.{4} From these few examples the nature of correspondence can be seen. [HH111]

(1) What is meant by evil uses on the earth. By evil uses on earth are meant all noxious things in both the animal and vegetable kingdom, also in the mineral kingdom. It is needless to enumerate all the noxious things in these kingdoms, for to do so would merely heap up names, and doing this without indicating the noxious effect that each kind produces would not contribute to the object which this work has in view. For the sake of information a few examples will suffice:-In the animal kingdom there are poisonous serpents, scorpions, crocodiles, great snakes, horned owls, screech owls, mice, locusts, frogs, spiders; also flies, drones, moths, lice, mites; in a word, creatures that destroy grasses, leaves, fruits, seed, food, and drink, and are harmful to beast and man. In the vegetable kingdom there are all hurtful, virulent, and poisonous herbs, with leguminous plants and shrubs of like character; and in the mineral kingdom all poisonous earths. From these few examples it can be seen what is meant by evil uses on earth; for evil uses are all things that are opposite to good uses (of which, in the preceding paragraph, n. 336). [DLW338] 

(2) All things that are evil uses are in hell, and all things that are good uses are in heaven. Before it can be seen that all evil uses that take form on earth are not from the Lord but from hell, something must be premised concerning heaven and hell, without a knowledge of which evil uses as well as good may be attributed to the Lord, and it may be believed that they are together from creation; or they may be attributed to nature, and their origin to the sun of nature. From these two errors man cannot be delivered, unless he knows that nothing whatever takes form in the natural world that does not derive its cause and therefore its origin from the spiritual world, and that good is from the Lord, and evil from the devil, that is, from hell. By the spiritual world is meant both heaven and hell. In heaven are to be seen all those things that are good uses (of which in a preceding article, n. 336). In hell are to be seen all those that are evil uses (see just above, n. 338, where they are enumerated). These are wild creatures of every kind, as serpents, scorpions, great snakes, crocodiles, tigers, wolves, foxes, swine, owls of different kinds, bats, rats, and mice, frogs, locusts, spiders, and noxious insects of many kinds; also hemlocks and aconites, and all kinds of poisons, both of herbs and of earths; in a word, everything hurtful and deadly to man. Such things appear in the hells to the life precisely like those on and in the earth. They are said to appear there; yet they are not there as on earth, for they are mere correspondences of lusts that swarm out of their evil loves, and present themselves in such forms before others. Because there are such things in the hells, these abound in foul smells, cadaverous, stercoraceous, urinous, and putrid, wherein the diabolical spirits there take delight, as animals do in rank stenches.  From this it can be seen that like things in the natural world did not derive their origin from the Lord, and were not created from the beginning, neither did they spring from nature through her sun, but are from hell. That they are not from nature through her sun is plain, for the spiritual inflows into the natural, and not the reverse. And that they are not from the Lord is plain, because hell is not from Him, therefore nothing in hell corresponding to the evils of its inhabitants is from Him. [DLW339]   

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

site search by freefind advanced


Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.