Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5990

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

5990. At the present day there are very many spirits who wish to enter not only a person's thoughts and affections but also his speech and actions, thus the bodily counterparts of his thoughts and affections as well. Those bodily counterparts however are not subject to particular influx from spirits and angels but are controlled by general influx. That is to say, when thoughts pass into and are channeled into speech and when the desires of the will pass into and are channeled into actions, their channeling and passage into the body takes place according to order, and is not controlled by means of any spirits in particular. For to enter a person's bodily aspects is to possess him. Spirits who have the desire and intention to do this include those who during their lifetime were adulterers, that is, who took delight in acts of adultery and convinced themselves that such acts were permissible. Also included are those who were cruel people. The reason why both the adulterous and the cruel have that desire and intention to possess a person is that they more than all others are governed by the body and the senses. They have cast aside all thought about heaven, by attributing everything to natural forces and nothing to the Divine. Thus they have shut interior things off from themselves and opened up external ones, for which alone they had any love while in the world and to which they therefore desire to return in the next life through a person by taking possession of him.

[2] But the Lord makes provision which prevents such spirits from entering the world of spirits; they are confined to their own hells, shut well away. This explains why there are no cases of external possession at the present day; but there are nevertheless internal cases of it, also brought about by the hellish and devilish crew. For evil persons think the kinds of things that are filthy, also those which involve cruelty to others, as well as those that are contrary and harmful to Divine ones. Unless such thoughts were curbed by fear of the loss of position, material gain, reputation on account of such position and gain, fear of punishment by the law, or loss of life, they would break out into the open and such persons would plunge, more than those who are possessed, into the ruination of others and into blasphemous utterances made against matters of faith. But those external restraints make such people seem not to be possessed; they are however subject inwardly to such possession, even though they may not be outwardly. This is plainly evident from people like them in the next life, where external restraints are removed. There they are devils, constantly delighting in and desiring the ruination of others and the destruction of anything that is a matter of faith.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church