From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #251

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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251. The reason why the “serpent” means all evil in general, and specifically the love of self, is that all evil has had its rise from that sensuous part of the mind, and also from that memory-knowledge [scientifico], which at first were signified by the “serpent;” and therefore it here denotes evil of every kind, and specifically the love of self, or hatred against the neighbor and the Lord, which is the same thing. As this evil or hatred was various, consisting of numerous genera and still more numerous species, it is described in the Word by various kinds of serpents, as “snakes” “cockatrices” “asps” “adders” “fiery serpents” “serpents that fly” and “that creep” and “vipers” according to the differences of the poison, which is hatred. Thus we read in Isaiah:

Rejoice not thou, whole Philistia, because the rod which smiteth thee is broken, for out of the serpent’s root shall go forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a flying fire-serpent (Isaiah 14:29).The “serpent’s root” denotes that part of the mind, or that principle, which is connected with the senses and with memory-knowledge [est sensuale et scientificum]; the “cockatrice” denotes evil originating in the falsity thence derived; and the “flying fire-serpent” the cupidity that comes from the love of self. By the same Prophet also similar things are elsewhere thus described:

They hatch cockatrice’s eggs, and weave the spider’s web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and when it is crushed there cometh out a viper (Isaiah 59:5).

The serpent described here in Genesis is called in the Revelation the “great and red dragon” and the “old serpent” and also the “devil and satan” that “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:3, 9; 20:2), where, and also in other places, by the “devil” is not meant any particular devil who is prince over the others, but the whole crew of evil spirits, and evil itself.

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 6398, 6949

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.

The Bible

 

Revelation 12:3

English: King James Version         

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3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Apocalypse Revealed 536, 537, 538, 539, 540


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 251, 257, 2584, 2832, 3300, 5268, 10071, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 10, 101, 270, 305, 438, 473, 532

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 76

Conjugial Love 79

Divine Providence 310

Sacred Scripture 44

Doctrine of Life 61

Faith 58


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 316, 364, 555, 559, 577, 675, 706, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 32

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Word/Phrase Explanations

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

Seven heads
'The seven heads of the dragon, and of the beast rising out of the sea,' as mentioned in Revelation 12:3, and 8:3, signify insanity arising...

ten
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

upon
'Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 A Great Wonder in Heaven
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angels War with the Dragon
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Banner: Michael Fighting the Dragon
Make this banner as a New Church Day decoration for your home.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Behold, the Great Red Dragon! (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14

 Behold the Great Red Dragon Song with Hand Motions
Song | Ages 3 - 10

 Celebrating New Church Day
The story of the woman clothed with the sun pictures the birth of the New Church into the world.
Story | Ages 2 - 7

 Correspondences of Color
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that mention colors. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Costume Suggestions for Dramatizing Revelation 12
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Crown of Stars
Suggests several ways to make a crown of stars.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Crown of Twelve Stars Snowflake Pattern
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Dramatize the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Egg Carton Dragon Puppets
Younger children might enjoy making one of the dragon's heads from an egg carton. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Given Two Wings of a Great Eagle
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 How to Make a Dragon Piñata
Make a dragon piñata and fill it with small wrapped candies and/or little toys. Let children of all ages take turns "fighting" the dragon, using a wooden sword (or heavy stick). 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Make a Dragon with Wooden Beads
Use pipe cleaners and wooden beads to make a red dragon with 7 heads. 
Project | Ages 6 - 10

 Make a Sun Cake
Serve this special cake to your family at a New Church Day celebration! 
Project | Ages over 4

 Memory Verse: Visions in Heaven
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Michael and His Angels Fight the Dragon
Color picture of Revelation 12.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 Michael Fights the Dragon
Color picture of the great red dragon and Michael from Revelation 12.
Picture | All Ages

 Michael Fights the Dragon
Color, cut out and assemble this complex project showing Michael protecting the woman clothed with sun from the dragon.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Michael's Army Faces the Dragon's Army
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Michael's Shield
Make a shield that can represent Michael fighting against evil and false ideas. A smaller shield could also be worn as a badge.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Michael Striking the Dragon
A dramatic image of Michael fighting the great red dragon.
Coloring Page | Ages 6 - 12

 Michael—The Great Prince
The name Michael is actually a question, meaning, literally, “Who is like God?” The answer to this question can help us fight against the dragon.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 New Church Day
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 New Church Day Felt Puppets
Make finger puppets such as the ones pictured here as a gift for young children.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 New Church Day Representation
Suggests ways to use a doll to make a display of picture the woman clothed with the sun
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 Picture the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Use crayons and watercolors (wax resist method) to show the woman clothed with the sun.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Quotes: Visions in Heaven
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Spiritual Warfare
Article | Ages over 15

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Beauty of the New Church
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Birth of the New Church
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Coming of the New Church
Prophecies helped prepare people for the Lord’s birth on earth, and prophecies would also help prepare the way for His second coming. The Lord called His disciple, John, to serve as a revelator, opening his spiritual eyes and telling him: “Write the things which you have seen...and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:17-19). Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 The Great Red Dragon
Color picture of the great red dragon sweeping the stars from the sky with his tail.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Great Red Dragon
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Meaning of the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Of all the books of the Word, the book of Revelation is perhaps the least understood. The Heavenly Doctrine, revealed through Emanuel Swedenborg provides the key to unlock Revelation.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Number Seven in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover stories that include the number seven in the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Number Twelve in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover times when the number twelve appears throughout the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Woman and the Dragon
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Woman and the Dragon (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Woman and the Dragon (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Woman and the Dragon (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Baby
Have you ever seen a newborn baby? When they first come into the world they are helpless. Someone older and wiser must watch over them and feed them.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Child
Color picture of the woman surrounded by the sun, standing on the moon and holding her child up to God.
Picture | All Ages

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Child
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun is Given Eagles' Wings
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Michael and the Dragon
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Woman Flees into the Wilderness
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman, Michael, and the Dragon Stained Glass Window
Instructions for making a "stained glass window" with waxed paper, glue, and colored tissue paper.
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 The Woman with Her Son
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman with Sun, Moon and Stars
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Vision of Woman Clothed with the Sun
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Visions of Heaven
While the disciple John was on the isle of Patmos, he saw special visions that showed him how a New Church—a new kind of Christianity—would begin.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 When Am I Like…?
An activity to help us think about when we are like the woman, Michael, or the dragon.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Wings of an Eagle
Explore ways that we can develop a spiritual perspective on what is good and true - the wings of an eagle.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Woman Clothed with Sun Stained Glass Window
Beautiful "stained glass" window of the woman clothed with the sun, to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 Woman Clothed with the Sun
The Woman would not have been able to fight against the dragon by herself, but the Lord was ready to help. He sent His guardian angels to protect the Woman and her precious Baby. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 Woman Clothed with the Sun Candle Holder
Make a beautiful stand to put in front of a candle or on a window sill so that the woman clothed with the sun is lit up from behind.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Yes, There Are Dragons
Article | Ages 15 - 17

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #559

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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559. Verse 10. And they had tails like scorpions, signifies sensual knowledges [scientifica] that are persuasive. This is evident from the signification of "tails," as meaning sensual knowledges [scientifica] (of which presently); and from the signification of "scorpions," as being an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness (of which see above, n. 544; therefore "tails like scorpions" signify sensual knowledges which are persuasive. "Tails" signify sensual knowledges because the tails that protrude outwardly from animals of the earth are the continuations of the spinal cord, which is called the spinal marrow, and this is a continuation of the brain, and the "brain" in like manner as the "head," signifies intelligence and wisdom, because intelligence and wisdom in their beginnings have their seat there; and as tails are the ultimates of the brain they signify sensual knowledges, since these are the ultimates of intelligence and wisdom.

(References: Revelation 9:10; The Apocalypse Explained 544)


[2] Sensual knowledges are such knowledges as enter from the world through the five bodily senses, and thence viewed in themselves are more material, corporeal, and worldly than those that are interior. All who are in the love of self and have confirmed themselves against Divine and spiritual things are sensual men, and when they are left to themselves and think in their spirit, they think about Divine and spiritual things from sensual knowledges, and consequently they reject Divine and spiritual things as not to be believed, because they do not see them with their eyes or touch them with their hands; and they apply their knowledges, which they have made sensual and material, to the destruction of these. For example, men who are learned in this kind of knowledge, who are skilled in physics, anatomy, botany, and other branches of human learning, when they see the wonderful things in the animal and vegetable kingdoms say in their hearts that all these things are from nature, and not from the Divine, and this because they believe in nothing that they do not see with their eyes and touch with their hands; for they are unable to elevate their minds upward so as to see these things from the light of heaven, for that light is thick darkness to them; but they detain their minds in earthly things, much the same as the animals of the earth do, with which indeed they compare themselves. In a word, with such all knowledges [scientiae] are made sensual; for such as the man himself is, such are all things of his understanding and will; if the man is spiritual all things become spiritual; if he is merely natural all things become natural and not spiritual; if the man is sensual all things become sensual, and this however learned and erudite he may seem to the world to be. But as every man has the faculty to understand truths and perceive goods, such men are able from that faculty to talk about these things like those who are spiritual-rational, although in respect to their spirit they are sensual; for when such men speak before others they do not speak from the spirit but from the bodily memory.

[3] All this has been said to make known what sensual knowledges are. These are what especially persuade, or are especially persuasive, because they are the ultimates of the understanding; for into these as into its ultimates the understanding closes, and these captivate the common people because they are appearances drawn from such things as they see in the world with their eyes; and so long as the thought clings to these it is impossible to dispose the mind to think interiorly or above them until they are put away; for the interior things of the mind all close into ultimates and rest upon them, as a house upon its foundation; consequently these are especially persuasive, but only with those whose minds cannot be elevated above sensual things; and the mind is elevated above them with those who are in the light of heaven from the Lord, for the light of heaven dissipates them. For this reason spiritual men rarely think from things sensual, for they think from things rational and intellectual; but sensual men, who have confirmed themselves in falsities against Divine and spiritual things, when they are left to themselves think only from sensual things.

[4] That "tails" signify sensual knowledges [scientifica] can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush. The old man and the honorable, he is the head; but the prophet, the teacher of lies, he is the tail (Isaiah 9:14, 9:16).

This means that all intelligence and wisdom and all knowledge [scientia] of truth will perish; the "head" signifies intelligence and wisdom, wherefore it is said "the old man and the honorable, he is the head," for the "old man" signifies the understanding of truth, and the "honorable" the wisdom of good; but the "tail" signifies sensual knowledge [scientificum], which is the ultimate of intelligence and wisdom; when this is not joined to spiritual intelligence it becomes false knowledge, or knowledge applied to confirm falsities, which is sensual knowledge, like that of the sensual man who sees nothing from the understanding. This is why "the prophet who teacheth lies" is called the "tail," a "prophet" signifying the doctrine of truth, and thence the knowledge of truth, but here doctrine and the knowledge of falsity, for a "lie" signifies falsity, and the "teacher of a lie" one who teaches falsity by applying knowledges from the sense of the letter of the Word to confirm falsities.

(References: Isaiah 9:14-15)


[5] In the same:

Neither shall there be for Egypt any work that may make head or tail, branch or rush (Isaiah 19:15).

"Egypt" signifies knowledge [scientia] both of spiritual and of natural things; "no work for it that may make head or tail" signifies that it has no spiritual things, neither natural things by which spiritual things are confirmed, the "head" signifies here the cognitions of spiritual things which are means of intelligence, and the "tail" natural knowledges [scientifica] which are serviceable to things spiritual for intelligence; "branch and rush" have a similar signification, "branch" being spiritual truth, and "rush" sensual knowledge, which is ultimate truth; for if what is prior and what is posterior, or what is first and what is last, do not make one in man, he has no "head and tail."

[6] In Moses:

Thus Jehovah shall make thee as the head, and not as the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath, if thou shalt hearken unto the commandments of thy God (Deuteronomy 28:13).

"To make as the head" means to make spiritual and intelligent, and thus to elevate out of the light of the world into the light of heaven; and "to make as the tail" means to make sensual and foolish, so as not to look to heaven but only to the world; therefore it is said "and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath," "to be above" meaning to be elevated by the Lord so as to look to heaven, and "to be beneath" meaning not to be elevated by the Lord, but by self, and man by self looks only to the world. For man's interiors which belong to his thought and affection are elevated to heaven by the Lord when man is in the good of life and thence in the truths of doctrine; but when he is in the evil of life and thence in falsities, his lower things look downward, thus only to his body and to such things as are in the world, and thus to hell. Thus man puts off his truly human nature and puts on a beastly nature, for beasts look downward and to such things only as are met with in the world and upon the earth. Elevation into the light of heaven by the Lord is an actual elevation of man's interiors to the Lord; and a depression or casting down to such things as are below and outside the eyes is an actual depression and casting down of the interiors, and when this takes place, all the thought of the spirit is immersed in the ultimate sensual.

[7] In Moses:

The sojourner who is in the midst of thee shall ascend above thee higher and higher, but thou shalt come down lower and lower. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him; he shall be as the head, and thou shalt be as the tail (Deuteronomy 28:43, 44).

This must have a like meaning; "to be as the head" signifying to be spiritual and intelligent, and "to be as the tail" to be sensual and stupid; therefore it is added "he shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him," which signifies that he shall teach thee truths, but thou shalt not teach him.

(References: Deuteronomy 28:43-44)


[8] In Isaiah:

Say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thine heart be soft because of the two tails of smoking firebrands, for the glowing anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah (Isaiah 7:4).

"Rezin and Syria" signify the perverted rational, and "the son of Remaliah," king of Israel, who is also called "Ephraim," signifies the perverted intellectual; it is the intellectual in respect to the Word that is signified by "the king of Israel" and "Ephraim;" and it is the rational in respect to the knowledges [scientiae] that confirm that is signified by "Rezin and Syria," for a man in order to have an understanding of the Word must have a rational, and when these two are perverted they look only downward to the earth, and outward to the world, as sensual men do who are in the falsities of evil; therefore they are called "tails." A "smoking firebrand" signifies the lust of falsity and consequent wrath against the truths and goods of the church.

[9] In Moses:

Jehovah said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand and take hold of the tail of the serpent. And he put forth his hand and took hold of it, and it became a staff in his hand (Exodus 4:4).

That here, too, "tail" means the sensual which is the ultimate of the natural may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia 6951-6955). Because "tails" signify the ultimates of intelligence and wisdom, which are sensual knowledges [scientifica], and because all the processes attending the sacrifices signified Divine celestial and spiritual things, therefore:

It was commanded that they should take away the tail hard by the backbone, and should sacrifice it with the other parts there mentioned (Leviticus 3:9; 8:25; 9:19; Exodus 29:22).

(That the burnt-offerings and sacrifices signified Divine celestial and spiritual things, which are the internals of the church, of which worship consists, see Arcana Coelestia 2180, 2805, 2807, 3830, 3519, 6905, 8936.) Because "tails" signify sensual knowledges [scientifica], and when these knowledges are separated from things interior which are spiritual, and in consequence do not with things interior look inward and upward but look outward and downward, they signify falsities confirmed by knowledges. Therefore also in what follows in Revelation, where falsities from that origin are treated of, it is said:

That the tails of the horses seen in vision were like unto serpents, and that they had heads with which they did hurt (Revelation 9:19).

And afterwards:

That the dragon with his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth (Revelation 12:3, 4);

which things may be seen explained below.

(References: Exodus 4:3-4; Isaiah 9:14-15; Revelation 12:3-4)

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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 542, 577, 581, 632, 718

Other New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.


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