spheresp10 All experience in heaven attests that the Divine that goes forth from the Lord and that affects angels and makes heaven is love; for all who are in heaven are forms of love  and charity, and appear in ineffable beauty, with love shining forth from their faces, and from their speech and from every particular of their life.{1} Moreover, there are spiritual spheres of life emanating from and surrounding every angel and every spirit, by which their quality in respect to the affections of their love is known, sometimes at a great distance.  For with everyone these spheres flow forth from the life of his affection and consequent thought, or from the life of his love and consequent faith. The spheres that go forth from angels are so full of love as to affect the inmosts of life of those who are with them.  They have repeatedly been perceived by me and have thus affected me.{2} That it is love from which angels have their life is further evident from the fact that in the other life everyone turns himself in accordance with his love-those who are in love to the Lord and in love towards the neighbor turning themselves always to the Lord, while those who are in love of self turn themselves always away from the Lord. This is so, however their bodies may turn, since with those in the other life spaces conform to the states of their interiors, likewise quarters, which are not constant as they are in this world, but are determined in accordance with the direction of their faces.  And yet it is not the angels that turn themselves to the Lord; but the Lord turns to Himself those that love to do the things that are from Him.{3} But more on this subject hereafter, where the quarters in the other life are treated of. [HH17]

Evil continually breathes forth and ascends out of hell, and good continually breathes forth and descends out of heaven, because everyone is encompassed by a spiritual sphere; and that sphere flows forth and pours out from the life of the affections and the thoughts therefrom.{1} And as such a sphere flows forth from every individual, it flows forth also from every heavenly society and from every infernal society, consequently from all together, that is, from the entire heaven and from the entire hell. Good flows forth from heaven because all there are in good; and evil flows forth from hell because all there are in evil. The good that is from heaven is all from the Lord; for the angels in the heavens are all withheld from what is their own, and are kept in what is the Lord’s own, which is good itself. But the spirits in the hells are all in what is their own, and everyone’s own is nothing but evil; and because it is nothing but evil it is hell.{2} Evidently, then, the equilibrium in which angels are kept in the heavens and spirits in the hells is not like the equilibrium in the world of spirits. The equilibrium of angels in the heavens exists in the degree in which they have been willing to be in good, or in the degree in which they have lived in good in the world, and thus also in the degree in which they have held evil in aversion; but the equilibrium of spirits in hell exists in the degree in which they have been willing to be in evil, or have lived in evil in the world, and thus in heart and spirit have been opposed to good. [HH591]



It has been said in the preceding pages, and shown in the work Heaven and Hell, that the spiritual world is like the natural world, with the difference only that each and every thing of the spiritual world is spiritual, and each and every thing of the natural world is natural. As these two worlds are alike, there are in both, atmospheres, waters, and lands, which are the generals through and from which each and all things take their form [existunt] with infinite variety. [DLW173]

As regards the atmospheres, which are called ethers and airs, they are alike in both worlds, the spiritual and the natural, with the difference only that they are spiritual in the spiritual world, and natural in the natural world. The former are spiritual, because they have their form from the sun which is the first proceeding of the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom of the Lord, and from Him receive within them the Divine fire which is love, and the Divine light which is wisdom, and carry these down to the heavens where the angels dwell, and cause the presence of that sun there in things greatest and least. The spiritual atmospheres are divided substances, that is, least forms, originating from the sun. As these each singly receive the sun, its fire, distributed among so many substances, that is, so many forms, and as it were enveloped by them, and tempered by these envelopments, becomes heat, adapted finally to the love of angels in heaven and of spirits under heaven. The same is true of the light of that sun. In this the natural atmospheres are like spiritual atmospheres, that they also are divided substances or least forms originating from the sun of the natural world; these also each singly receive the sun and store up its fire in themselves, and temper it, and carry it down as heat to the earth, where men dwell. The same is true of natural light. [DLW174] 

The difference between spiritual and natural atmospheres is that spiritual atmospheres are receptacles of Divine fire and Divine light, thus of love and wisdom, for they contain these interiorly within them; while natural atmospheres are receptacles, not of Divine fire and Divine light, but of the fire and light of their own sun, which in itself is dead, as was shown above; consequently there is nothing interiorly in them from the sun of the spiritual world, although they are environed by spiritual atmospheres from that sun. That this is the difference between spiritual and natural atmospheres has been learned from the wisdom of angels. [DLW175]  

 That there are atmospheres in the spiritual, just as in the natural world, can be seen from this, that angels and spirits breathe, and also speak and hear - just as men do in the natural world; and respiration, speech, and hearing are all effected by means of a lowest atmosphere, which is called air; it can be seen also from this, that angels and spirits, like men in the natural world, have sight, and sight is possible only by means of an atmosphere purer than air; also from this, that angels and spirits, like men in the natural world, think and are moved by affection, and thought and affection are not possible except by means of still purer atmospheres; and finally from this, that all parts of the bodies of angels and spirits, external as well as internal, are held together in connection by atmospheres, the external by air and the internal by ethers. Without the surrounding pressure and action of these atmospheres the interior and exterior forms of the body would evidently dissolve away. Since angels are spiritual, and each and all things of their bodies are held together in connection, form, and order by means of atmospheres, it follows that these atmospheres are spiritual; they are spiritual, because they arise from the spiritual sun which is the first proceeding of the Lord’s Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. [DLW176] 

This also, among other things, is shown in Part Second:-that the spiritual sun is not the Lord, but is a Proceeding from His Divine Love and His Divine Wisdom. It is called a proceeding, because the sun was brought forth out of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom which are in themselves substance and form, and it is by means of this that the Divine proceeds.  But as human reason is such as to be unwilling to yield assent unless it sees a thing from its cause, and therefore has some perception of how it is, - thus in the present case, how the sun of the spiritual world, which is not the Lord, but a proceeding from Him, was brought forth - something shall be said on this subject. In regard to this matter I have conversed much with the angels. They said that they have a clear perception of it in their own spiritual light, but that they cannot easily present it to man, in his natural light, owing to the difference between the two kinds of light and the consequent difference of thought. The matter, however, may be likened, they said, to the sphere of affections and of thoughts therefrom which encompasses each angel, whereby his presence is made evident to others near and far. But that encompassing sphere, they said, is not the angel himself; it is from each and everything of his body, wherefrom substances are constantly flowing out like a stream, and what flows out surrounds him; also that these substances, contiguous to his body, as they are constantly moved by his life’s two fountains of motion, the heart and the lungs, arouse the same activities in the atmospheres, and thereby produce a perception as of his presence with others; therefore that it is not a separate sphere of affections and of thoughts therefrom that goes forth and is continuous from him, although it is so called, since the affections are mere states of the mind’s forms in the angel. They said, moreover, that there is such a sphere about every angel, because there is one about the Lord, and that the sphere about the Lord is in like manner from Him, and that that sphere is their sun, that is, the sun of the spiritual world. [DLW291] 

A perception has often been granted me of such a sphere around each angel and spirit, and also a general sphere around many in a society. I have also been permitted to see it under various appearances, in heaven sometimes appearing like a thin flame, in hell like gross fire, also sometimes in heaven like a thin and shining white cloud, and in hell like a thick and black cloud. It has also been granted me to perceive these spheres as various kinds of odors and stenches. By these experiences I was convinced that a sphere, consisting of substances set free and separated from- their bodies, encompasses every one in heaven and every one in hell. [DLW292] 

 It was also perceived that a sphere flows forth, not only from angels and spirits but also from each and all things that appear in the spiritual world, - from trees and from their fruits, from shrubs and from their flowers, from herbs, and from grasses, even from the soils and from their very particles. From which it was patent that both in the case of things living and things dead this is a universal law, That each thing is encompassed by something like that which is within it, and that this is continually exhaled from it. It is known, from the observation of many learned men, that it is the same in the natural world - that is, that there is a wave of effluvia constantly flowing forth out of man, also out of every animal, likewise out of tree, fruit, shrub, flower, and even out of metal and stone. This the natural world derives from the spiritual, and the spiritual world from the Divine. [DLW293] 

 Because those things that constitute the sun of the spiritual world are from the Lord, but are not the Lord, they are not life in itself, but are devoid of life in itself; just as those things that flow forth from angel or man, and constitute spheres around him are not the angel or the man, but are from him, and devoid of his life. These spheres make one with the angel or man no otherwise than that they are concordant; and this they are because taken from the forms of their bodies, which in them were forms of their life. This is an arcanum which angels, with their spiritual ideas, are able to see in thought and also express in speech, but men with their natural ideas are not; because a thousand spiritual ideas make one natural idea, and one natural idea cannot be resolved by man into any spiritual idea, much less into so many. The reason is that these ideas differ according to degrees of height, which were treated of in Part Third. [DLW294]      

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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