Friday, June 22, 2007

The Origin of Angels

Where do angels come from? They all come from the human race. Not one angel exists, who has not been born as a human beforehand. We are all destined to become angels. This was seen in visions of Emanuel Swedenborg. The idea that there were angels before the creation of the universe, or that there is a constant distinction between man and angel, is false. Here is a summary of his thoughts, taken from Divine Wisdom.


It may be found demonstrated in HEAVEN AND HELL, Nos. 311-317, that angels have not been created angels directly, but that all who are in heaven, or who ever were in heaven, were first born as human beings and became angels after a life spent in the world. That neither is it possible for any angel to have come into existence except from being born a human being in the world, and that this is according to Divine Order, will be seen from the following:

(1) There is in man an angelic mind.
(2) It is not possible for such a mind to be formed except in a man.
(3) Nor, except in man, can it be procreated, and, by means of procreation, be multiplied.
(4) It is owing to spirits and angels having been men, that they are able to continue existing and to live for ever.
(5) It is owing to this also that they can be adjoined to, and conjoined with, mankind.*
(6) And thus heaven, which was the end-in-view of creation, can come into existence.

[[2]] [107.] (1) There is in man an angelic mind. It is well known in Christendom that man is born for heaven, and also that if a man lives well he will go to heaven, there to be associated with angels as one of them: furthermore, that he has been given a soul or mind which is of such a nature and which will live for ever: and that this mind, regarded in itself, is wisdom from the Lord, derived from love to Him, and that angels also have similar minds. It is obvious from this that there is in man an angelic mind. In addition to which, this mind is the man himself, for everyone is man by virtue of it: and so, everyone is such a man as that mind is. The body, with which that mind is clothed and encompassed in the world, is, in itself, not a man, for the body cannot be wise from the Lord and love Him of itself, but only from the mind within it. This, moreover, is the reason for the body being separated and thrown off when the mind is about to depart and become an angel. The reason the mind then comes also into angelic wisdom is that its higher degrees of life are then opened. For everyone has three degrees of life; the lowest is the natural degree: men in the world are in this; the second is the spiritual degree: all angels in the lower heavens are in this; the third is the celestial degree, in which is every angel in the higher heavens. And a man is an angel in proportion as, by means of wisdom from the Lord and by means of love to Him, the two higher degrees are opened with him in the world; still he is not aware in the world that these degrees are opened, before he is separated from the first degree, which is the natural; this separation is effected by the death of the body. That he is then wise, as an angel is, although he was not so in the world, it has been given me both to see and to hear. I have seen a number of both sexes in the heavens, who had been known to me when they were on earth, and who, while there, had believed in simplicity the things that are from the Lord in the Word, and had faithfully lived in accordance with them, and in heaven they were heard speaking ineffable things, as angels are said to do.

[2] [108.] (2) It is not possible for such a mind to be formed except in a man. There are several reasons for this. One is that all Divine influx is from first things into ultimates (or "outermost things"), and, through the connection with ultimates, into intermediate things: and in this way the Lord connects all things of creation together; on account of this He is called "the First and the Last."** It was moreover for that reason that He came into the world and put on the Human Body, and also that he glorified Himself there, so that from first things and at the same time from ultimates, He might rule both the whole heaven and the whole world. It is the same with all Divine operating. That this is so, is due to the fact that in ultimates all things exist together; for all things that are in successive order, are, when in ultimates, in simultaneous order, and consequently everything in this latter order is in unbroken connection with everything in the former. From this it is obvious that the Divine, in that which is ultimate (or "outermost"), is in its fullness. What successive order is and the nature of it, may be seen above [No. 80], also what simultaneous order is and its nature. It is evident therefore that all creating is effected in ultimates and that all Divine operating passes through down to ultimates, and there creates and operates.

[109.] That the angelic mind is formed in man is evident from his formation in the womb, and also from his formation after birth, and from this, that it is according to a law of Divine Order that all things should, from their ultimates, return to the first "from which they originated" and man to the "Creator by Whom he was created".

[[4]] From man's formation in the womb: This is clear from what was said in Nos. [75, 76, 82, 83], showing that it is while there that man, up to the time of birth, is being fully formed, out of life from the Lord, for the receiving of life from Him, for the receiving of love by means of the future Will, and for the receiving of wisdom by means of the future Understanding, these together constituting the mind able to become angelic.

[[5]] From his formation after birth: in that all the means are provided enabling a man to become such a mind; for every nation possesses a religion and the Lord's presence is everywhere, and there is conjunction with Him according to a man's love and the wisdom therefrom. Thus, in everyone there is the possibility of his being formed for heaven, and, with whoever desires it, there is a continual forming for heaven, from infancy to old age, so that he may become an angel.

[[6]] [110.] It is according to a law of Divine Order that all things should, from their ultimates, return to the first from which they originated. This can be seen from every created thing in the world. A seed is "the first" of a tree: from it the tree begins coming up out of the ground, then grows and branches, blossoms, bears fruit and in the fruit places seed again, thus returning to that from which it began. It is the same with every shrub, every plant, and every flower. A seed, again, is "the first" of an animal: the animal is formed in a womb or in an egg until the time of birth: after birth it grows up, becoming an animal of the same kind, which on reaching maturity, has seed in itself; thus, everything in the animal kingdom, like everything in the vegetable kingdom, from "a first" grows up to its ultimate, and from its ultimate rises again to the first from which it began. Similarly in the case of man, but with the difference that "the first" of an animal or vegetable is natural, consequently when it has grown up, it passes back into Nature, whereas "the first" of a human being is spiritual like his soul, capable of receiving Divine Love and Wisdom; this, when separated from the body which passes back into Nature, cannot but return to the Lord from Whom it had life.

Other instances of this law are found in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms; in the vegetable kingdom, in their resuscitation from ashes, and in the animal kingdom, in the metamorphosis of caterpillars into chrysalises and butterflies.

[3] [[7]] [111.] (3) Nor, except in man, can the angelic mind be procreated, and, by means of procreations, be multiplied. Anyone acquainted with the nature of substances in the spiritual world, and, in comparison, the nature of material substances in the natural world, can easily see that there does not take place, nor could there take place, any procreation of angelic minds except in, and from out of, those who dwell in the ultimate (or "outermost") work of creation, the earth. As, however, the nature of substances in the spiritual world as compared with; material substances in the natural world is not known [it must be described].

Substances in the spiritual world have all the appearance of being material: they are not material, however, and, not being material, they do not stay constant; they are correspondents of the affections of angels, continuing as long as the affections, or the angels, are present, and disappearing when they cease to be present. The same would be the case with angels if they were to be created in that world. But in addition to this, there does not take place with angels, nor could there take place with them, any other procreating and resultant multiplying than a spiritual one, and this is a procreating and multiplying of love and wisdom, such as takes place also in the souls of men who are being born anew or regenerated. In the natural world, on the other hand, there are material substances by means of which, and out of which, procreations, and afterwards the forming of them, are possible; thus, there can be a multiplying of human beings, and thereby of angels.

[4] [[8]] [112.] (4) It is owing to spirits and angels having been men, that they are able to continue existing and to live for ever. This is because the angel or spirit, in virtue of his having been first born a human being on earth, has that in him which continues to exist, for he brings with him out of the inmost things of Nature a medium between the spiritual and the natural, which medium provides him with termination, so that he may be continuously existent and permanently himself. Owing to this, he possesses something that has relation with things in Nature, and also something corresponding to them. By means of this also, spirits and angels can be adjoined and conjoined to mankind: for conjunction exists, and where there is conjunction, there must also be a medium; that there is such a medium, angels well know, but because it is out of the inmost things of Nature, and the words of languages are from its ultimates, it can only be described by means of abstract things. From these things it now follows that the angelic heaven, which was the end-in-view of creation, could not otherwise come into being; thus, that mankind is its seminary and source of supply.
* As will be seen in its place, a separate paragraph was not made of this heading. It is included as part of No. 4. No. 6 also is included in No. 4, and slightly altered.
** Isaiah xii, 4; xliv, 6; xlviii, 12; Revelation i, 11, 17; xxii. 13."

The part I find interesting in the above passage is that not only will we become angels, we will literally create the heaven in which we live. Objects will appear and then change according to our internal emotional state. This is often what happens in dreams. The philosopher George Berkeley stated that there is no separation between the observer and the observed. This led to a question: if there was a tree in a forest and no one was there to see it, would it still exist? This debate was summed up in the following limerick:
There was a young man who said "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."
"Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the Quad
And that's why this tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by Yours faithfully, God."
At first a ridiculous argument, of no use whatsoever, but if what Swedenborg is saying is true there is a spiritual world where things don't exist unless someone is thinking about it. Every time a man enters heaven and becomes an angel, heaven literally becomes bigger: space is created by one's presence. Heaven is constantly expanding, just like our universe. Think good thoughts, speak good words, and do good deeds: the effects of these will only be truly known after we die.


  1. Reminds me of the movie - What Dreams may come

    1. Actually the author of the book "What Dreams May Come" did research into afterlife and Near Death studies, and one of the characters of the book actually quotes from Emanuel Swedenborg. Just saw another movie "Miracles from Heaven" which is based on a true story.


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