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A Fascinating Insight

One of the fascinating revelations in Emanuel Swedenborg’s Writings is the knowledge of correspondences. Using this concept he shows how God creates and maintains creation. He also shows that correspondences are the way God communicates with people.


A correspondence is a living link between one plane of life and another. It is the link between spiritual planes and natural planes, e.g. the feelings and the body. Smiling is a physical expression which corresponds to feelings of delight. Correspondences are so much part of our life we take them for granted. We often use them in speech. We use “seeing” to mean understanding something, or the “heart” when describing feelings, as in, “broken hearted”, “hard hearted”. The connection is more than words. We can actually feel pain in our hearts or our stomachs, when we are heart broken or fearful. Swedenborg shows how correspondences are the link between the distinct planes through which we receive our life from God. Through them God is in touch with His creation and sustains it.

A Universal Knowledge

According to Swedenborg pre-historical ‘Ancient’ people were fully aware of such correspondences. As they looked at things in the physical world they were aware of their spiritual significance. We still experience something like this when the awe of sunrises, mountains etc stirs an awareness of God. Those people used correspondences to describe aspects of God’s qualities and activity and created stories which corresponded to his presence and activity in the human mind. As mankind turned from God and became more self-centred and atonworldly this knowledge of correspondences was lost. The stories and images of natural events and things remained but with no understanding of their spiritual significance. Thus hierarchies of gods were what remained of aspects of the activity and presence of the one God. The stories remain as myths and legends of ancient religions, and scripts with spiritual meaning in such examples as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

According to Swedenborg correspondences are the origin of many ancient spiritual scriptures also. Through correspondences stories such as Creation, Adam and Eve, and the Flood in their inner sense depict inner spiritual events that take place in the human mind. When the knowledge of correspondences was lost people became ignorant of the spiritual significance of such stories. However the stories still formed the outermost clothing of the Word of God, so when people read them they are unconsciously linked by correspondence with the angels of heaven and God himself.

So in this New Age, with the help of Swedenborg’s Writings, we can begin to appreciate the wonderful spirituality that lies behind and sustains all we see and experience in the natural world.

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