Conjugial Love #521

Conjugial Love (Rogers translation)

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521. To this I will append the following narrative account:

My sight was opened to see a dark forest and in it a mob of satyrs. The satyrs' chests were hairy, and some had feet like those of calves, some feet like those of panthers, and some feet like those of wolves, with claws instead of toes.

These satyrs were running about, shouting, "Where are the women?" And I then saw some whores who were waiting for them. They, too, were monstrous in various ways.

The satyrs ran up to them and took hold of them, dragging them away into a cavern which was situated in the middle of the forest deep beneath the earth. On the ground around the cavern, moreover, lay a great serpent coiled in a spiral, which spewed its venom into the cavern. In the branches of the forest above the serpent, deadly birds of the night were cawing and shrieking. But the satyrs and whores did not see these things, because they were forms corresponding to their lascivious lusts and thus appearances visible usually only from a distance.

[2] They afterwards emerged from the cavern and went into a certain low shack, which was a brothel; and having parted from the whores the satyrs then talked together, to whose conversation I lent an ear (for speech in the spiritual world can be heard at a distance as though in one's presence, since an extent of space there is only an appearance). They were talking about marriage, nature and religion.

Marriage was the subject of those whose feet looked like those of calves, and they said, "What is marriage but legalized adultery? And what is sweeter than licentious charades and the deceiving of husbands?"

The rest responded to this with guffaws and clapped their hands in applause.

Nature was the subject of those whose feet looked like those of panthers, and they said, "What else is there but nature? Is there any difference between man and beast other than the fact that a man can articulate his thoughts in speech, while a beast can only make sounds? Do they not both have life from heat and understanding from light by the operation of nature?"

At this the rest exclaimed, "Oh, with what judgment you speak!"

Religion was the subject of those whose feet looked like those of wolves, and they spoke, saying, "What is God or the Divine but the inmost working of nature? What is religion but an invention to capture and bind the masses?"

In response to this the rest cried "Bravo!"

[3] Some moments later they burst forth, and as they did so they saw me in the distance looking at them with intent eyes. Angered at this, they rushed out of the forest and with a menacing expression hastened their way to me.

"Why are you standing here and attending to our whisperings?" they said. To which I replied, "Why not? What is there to stop me? They were audible utterances." And I recounted to them what I had heard them saying.

At that their dispositions became calmer, and this because they were afraid of having what they said divulged. They also began to speak with restraint then and to behave with propriety, by which I recognized that they did not come from the lower classes but from worthier stock.

At that point I then related to them that I had seen them in the forest as satyrs, twenty of them as calf-like satyrs, six as panther-like satyrs, and four as wolf-like satyrs (there being thirty of them altogether).

[4] They were astonished at this, as they themselves had seen each other there only as men, just as they were now seeing themselves here with me. But I told them that that was the way they appeared at a distance because of their licentious lust, and that that satyr form was the form of their dissolute adultery and not the form of their person. I gave as a reason the following, that every evil lust presents a likeness of itself in some particular form, which is not seen by the people themselves, but by others standing at a distance. I then said to them, "To convince yourselves, send some of your number into that forest while the rest of you remain here and watch."

So they did as I said and sent off two, and the rest saw them next to that shanty brothel altogether as satyrs; and when the two returned, they greeted them as satyrs and said, "Oh, what impostors!"

As they were laughing over this, I joked with them in various ways, and I reported to them that I had seen adulterers looking also like pigs. I also recalled then the story of Ulysses and Circe, how she had sprinkled Ulysses's companions and men with Hecatean herbs and touched them with a magic wand and so turned them into pigs - "into adulterers, perhaps," I said, "because by no art could she have turned anyone into a pig!"

After they finished laughing at these and similar remarks, I asked them whether they knew from what countries in the world they came. They said they came from various different countries and mentioned by name Italy, Poland, Germany, England, and Sweden. I then asked whether they saw anyone among them from Holland, and they said they did not.

[5] After that I turned the conversation to more serious matters, and I asked whether they ever considered that adultery is a sin.

"What is sin?" they replied. "We do not know what it is."

I asked whether they ever remembered that adultery is against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue.

They replied, "What is the Decalogue? Is it not the catechism? What does that children's booklet have to do with men like us?"

I asked whether they ever had any thought of hell.

They replied, "Who has come up from there and told us?"

I asked whether they had had any thought in the world regarding life after death.

They said, "The same thought as we did of animals, and sometimes the same as we did of ghosts, which, if they are exhaled from corpses, float away."

Again I asked whether they had heard anything concerning any of these matters from priests.

They replied that they attended only to the sound of their voices, and not to the subject and what that was.

[6] Stunned by these responses, I said to them, "Turn your face and eyes to the middle of the forest where the cavern is that you were in."

So they turned around, and they saw the great serpent coiled around it in a spiral and spewing in its venom, and also the baleful birds in the branches above it.

And I asked, "What do you see?"

But terror-stricken, they made no answer.

So I said, "Is it not a horrid sight that you see? You should know that it is a representation of adultery in the atrocity of its lust."

Suddenly then an angel appeared standing near. He was a priest, and he opened a hell in the western zone into which people of this character are finally gathered. And he said, "Look over there."

They then saw what appeared to be a lake of fire; and in it they recognized some of their friends in the world, who beckoned them to join them.

Having seen and heard these things, the men turned and hastened from my sight on a course away from the forest. But I observed their steps, seeing that they pretended to go on a course away from the forest, but that by roundabout ways they made their way back it.

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