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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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The Bible

 

Revelation 12:3

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

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 44

Doctrine of Life 61

Doctrine of Faith 58


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 32

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Bible Word Meanings

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 #714

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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714. And behold a great red dragon, signifies all who are merely natural and sensual from the love of self, and yet have more or less knowledge from the Word, from doctrine therefrom or from preaching, and think to be saved by knowledge alone apart from life. This is evident from the signification of "dragon," as being a man who is merely natural and sensual, and yet has a knowledge of things in themselves spiritual, whether from the Word or from preaching or from religion (of which presently); also from the signification of "great red," as meaning to be in the love of self and in its evils; for "great" is predicated in the Word of good, and in the contrary sense of evil, as "many" is predicated of truths, and in the contrary sense of falsities (see above, n. 336, 337, 424), and "red" is predicated of love in both senses, namely, of celestial love, which is love to the Lord, and in the contrary sense of diabolical love, which is the love of self (of which also above, n. 364). This shows that "a great red dragon" means all who are merely natural and sensual from the love of self, and yet have more or less knowledge from the Word or from doctrine therefrom or from preaching, and who think to be saved by knowledge alone without the life of charity. Such think to be saved by knowledge alone without the life of charity, because all who live for the body and the world, and not for God and heaven, become merely natural and sensual; for everyone is inwardly formed according to his life, and to live for the body and the world is to live a natural and sensual life, while to live for God and heaven is to live a spiritual life.

(References: Revelation 12:3; The Apocalypse Explained 336-337, 364, 424)


[2] Every man is born sensual from his parents; and by his life in the world becomes natural more and more interiorly, that is, rational, according to his moral and civil life and the lumen acquired therefrom; afterwards he becomes a spiritual man by means of truths from the Word or from doctrine from the Word, and by a life according to these truths. From this it can be seen that one who knows the things taught in the Word or in doctrine or by a preacher, and does not live according to them, however learned and erudite he may appear, is nevertheless not spiritual but natural, and even sensual, for knowledge [scientia] and the ability to reason do not make man spiritual, but the life itself.

This is so because knowledge and the faculty of reasoning are merely natural, and can therefore also be with evil men, even with the worst of men; but truths from the Word with a life according to them are what make man spiritual, for life is willing truths and doing them from a love of them; this is not possible to the natural man alone, but must come from the spiritual, and from its influx into the natural; for to love truths and from love to will them and from that will to do them is from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord, and is in its nature celestial and Divine; this cannot flow in immediately into the natural mind, but only mediately through the spiritual mind, which is capable of being opened and formed for the reception of heavenly light and heat, that is, for the reception of Divine truth and Divine good. These cannot flow immediately into the natural mind, for the reason that man's hereditary evils, which belong to the love of self and the world, have their seat in that mind; therefore the natural man, viewed in itself, loves nothing but self and the world, and from love wills, and from will does those evils, and these block the way to the influx of anything out of heaven into the natural man, and its reception there; therefore it has been provided by the Lord that these evils can be removed, and for a place to be given for the truths and goods of spiritual love, namely, by the opening and formation of the spiritual mind which is above the natural mind, and by the influx of heaven from the Lord through that mind into the natural mind.

[3] This has been said that it may be known that to know the things that are of the Word and of the doctrine of the church does not make man spiritual, but a life according to those things that the Lord has commanded in the Word; therefore although such know many things from the Word they yet remain natural and sensual. Such are signified in the Word by "the dragon. " They therefore are signified by "the dragon" because the dragon is a kind of serpent that not only creeps on the ground but also flies, and thence it appears in heaven; and it is because of this flying and appearing in heaven that the dragon means those who are in a knowledge of the truths from the Word, and not in a life according to them, "serpents" in general signifying the sensual things of man (see above, n. 581), and this is why "the dragon" (in the ninth verse of this chapter and in the second verse of the twentieth chapter) Revelation 12:9, 20:2, is called "the old serpent."

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 581)


[4] Since in the rest of this chapter and also afterwards "the dragon" is treated of, it shall be told what sort of persons, in general and in particular, it signifies. In general it signifies those who are more or less natural, and yet are in a knowledge of spiritual things from the Word. But in particular it signifies those who have confirmed themselves by doctrine and life in a faith separated from charity. These constitute the head of the dragon. But those who from self-intelligence hatch out for themselves dogmas from the Word constitute its body, while those who study the Word without doctrine constitute its external parts. All these also falsify and adulterate the Word, since they are in the love of self, and thence in the pride of self-intelligence, from which they become merely natural, yea, even sensual, and the sensual man is unable to see the genuine truths of the Word because of fallacies, obscurity of perception, and the evils of the body residing therein; for the sensual clings to the body, from which such things come.

[5] 1. In the first place, "the dragon" means in general those who are more or less natural, and yet are in a knowledge of spiritual things from the Word, because "serpents" signify in general the sensual things in man, and thence sensual men; therefore "the dragon," which is a flying serpent, signifies the sensual man who yet flies towards heaven in that he talks and thinks from the Word or from doctrine from the Word. For the Word itself is spiritual, because it is in itself Divine, and is therefore in heaven. But since the mere knowledge of spiritual things from the Word does not make man spiritual, but a life according to those things that are in the Word, therefore all of those who are in knowledge from the Word and are not in a life according to that knowledge are natural and even sensual.

[6] The sensual who are meant by "the dragon" are those who do not see anything from the light of heaven, but only from the light of the world, and who from that light alone, when excited by the fire of the love of self and pride therefrom are able to talk about Divine things, and to reason keenly and readily about them; but yet they are unable to see whether these things be truths or not, calling that truth which they have imbibed from childhood from a master or preacher, and then from doctrine, and which they have afterwards confirmed by some passages of the Word not interiorly understood. Because they see nothing from the light of heaven they do not see truths, but in place of them falsities, which they call truths; for truths themselves can be seen only in the light of heaven, and not in the light of the world unless that light is illuminated by the light of heaven. These being such love no other than a bodily and worldly life; and as the pleasures and lusts of that life have their seat in the natural man the interiors of such are filthy and crowded with evils of every kind, which close up every way for the influx of the light and heat of heaven; consequently they are inwardly devils and satans, however much they may appear to be spiritual and to be Christians by their talk and simulated gestures. Such are merely sensual, for while they are able to talk outwardly about the holy things of the church, inwardly they believe nothing; and those who think they believe have only a historical and thence a persuasive belief derived from some teacher or from self-intelligence, which in itself is false, but which they believe for the sake of fame, honor, or gain. Such are meant in general by "dragons." But there are many that are signified in particular by the dragon, for there are some that have reference to the head, some to the body, and some to the external parts.

[7] 2. Those that have reference in particular to the head of the dragon are those who have confirmed themselves both by doctrine and by life in faith alone, which is faith separated from charity. These refer to the head of the dragon because most of them are erudite and are believed to be learned; for they have confirmed themselves in the belief that they are saved by simply thinking what the church teaches, which they call believing. But what their doctrine is and what their life is shall be told. Their doctrine is, that God the Father sent His Son, born from eternity, into the world, that He might become man, might fulfill all things of the law, might bear the iniquities of all and suffer the cross; and that thereby God the Father was reconciled and moved to compassion; and that those who from confidence were in a faith respecting these things would be received into heaven; and that the confidence of that faith, together with the Lord, would intercede and save; consequently that such a faith is given to mankind, who are separated from God the Father, as a medium of reception and salvation, because when Adam had eaten of the tree of knowledge man was no longer in a state to do good of himself, for he had thus lost, with the image of God, his free will; lastly, that these things are the Lord's merit, by which alone man can be saved. These in respect to doctrine are the primary things of faith with those who are in faith alone. Elsewhere, the Lord willing, it shall be explained and illustrated that no one can, from any spiritual sight, which is of the understanding, perceive and thus believe anything of this; but such things can be known and talked about only from the memory, without any understanding, thus that in that doctrine there is nothing of intelligence.

[8] Of what quality such as these are in respect to life shall also be stated. They teach that man is led of God by faith alone, even to the endeavor to do good, and that good itself in act contributes nothing to salvation, but faith alone does this, and that then nothing of evil condemns him, because he is in grace and is justified. Moreover, they have thought out the steps, which they call the progressions of faith alone, even to the last step of justification; the first is information as to the things that pertain to faith, especially those above mentioned; the second is confirmation from the Word or from preaching; the third is mental investigation whether it be so or not; and as doubt and consequent wavering, which is temptation, then flow in, there must be confirmation from the Word respecting the operation of faith, from which comes confidence, which is victory. They add that heed must be taken that the understanding be not allowed to go further than to secure confirmations from the Word respecting justification by faith alone; if it goes beyond this and is not kept in obedience to faith the man is overcome. The fourth and last step is an endeavor to do good; and this is an influx from God and not at all from man, and is the fruit of faith; for they say that after a man has thus been fully justified nothing of evil condemns him and nothing of good saves him, but faith alone. From this it is clear what such are in respect to life, namely, that they live for themselves and not for God, and for the world and not for heaven; for this follows from the belief that evils do not condemn and that goods do not save. Nor do they know that faith without the life of charity is not faith, and that man ought to shun evils and do good as of himself, and yet to believe that it is from the Lord, and that otherwise evils cannot be shaken off, nor goods appropriated. But more will be said also about this elsewhere.

[9] Such is the doctrine and the life with those who form the head of the dragon, who for the most part are the erudite leaders, but few are from the common people; and for the reason that the leaders regard these things as secrets of theology that cannot be comprehended by the common people because of their secular employments. These belong to the head of the dragon for the reason also that they pervert and falsify all the things of the Word which teach love, charity, and life; for the Word, viewed in itself, is simply the doctrine of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor, and nowhere the doctrine of faith separate from charity. Such falsify the Word by calling them either faith or such fruit as is not eaten, because they give no thought to doing, and thus they are not nourished by that fruit. Moreover, they admit these principles no further than into the memory, and therefrom into the thought nearest to it, which is sensual thought, in which there is nothing spiritual, and this thought does not inquire whether a thing is true; therefore they guard against the entrance of anything into the interior sight which is of the understanding, being unwilling to know that all these things respecting their faith said above are contrary to an enlightened understanding, as they are contrary to the genuine sense of the Word. This is why those who constitute the head of the dragon have no genuine truth, for from a false principle, such as faith alone, nothing can flow forth except falsities in a continual series; nor indeed can there be any such thing as faith alone, for faith apart from charity is not faith, since charity is the soul of faith, therefore to speak of faith alone is to speak of what is without a soul, thus without life, which in itself is dead.

[10] 3. That those constitute the body of the dragon who have hatched out for themselves from self-intelligence dogmas from the Word can be seen from this, that all of such who study the Word and are in the love of self are also in the pride of self-intelligence, and all who are in this pride and at the same time excel in cleverness from natural lumen, hatch out dogmas therefrom for themselves; this is the origin of all the heresies and all the falsities in the Christian world. It shall be told what the intelligence is that is from man's own [proprium], and what the intelligence is that is not from man's own. Intelligence from man's own is from self, but intelligence not from man's own is from the Lord. All who are in the love of self have intelligence from what is their own, for love of self is man's very own [ipsum proprium]; and those are in the love of self who read the Word and gather up dogmas from it for the sake of fame, glory, and honor; and as such are unable to see any truths, but can see falsities only, they are in the body of the dragon; for they gather up and hatch out such things from the Word as favor their loves and the evils that flow from them, and such things as are contrary to their dogmas, which are truths from good, they either do not see or they pervert; but all who are in the spiritual affection of truth, that is, who love truth because it is truth and because it is serviceable to eternal life and to the life of men's souls, have intelligence from the Lord. It is said that their intelligence is not from their own [proprium] but from the Lord, because when such read the Word they are elevated above what is their own and even into the light of heaven, and are enlightened; in that light truth appears from truth itself, because the light of heaven is Divine truth. But they who are in the love of self and in the pride of self-intelligence therefrom cannot be elevated out of their own, for they look to self continually, thus in every least thing they do. Thence it is that they place everything of salvation in faith in their own dogmas, thus in knowing and thinking, and not at the same time in life, that is, not in willing and doing. These, therefore, constitute the body of the dragon. The heart of this body is the love of self, and the breath of its respiration, or of its spirit, is the pride of self-intelligence; from these two the dragon is called "great red," and the term "red" [rufus] in the original Greek text is from fiery-red, thus from love and pride.

[11] 4. Those who study the Word without doctrine and are at the same time in the love of self, constitute the externals of the draconic body. Externals are what proceed from the interiors, and involve, inclose, and contain them, like the skins, the scales, and the prominences on every part. Such constitute the externals of the dragon's body because they are without the intelligence of the spiritual things of the Word; for they only know the Word in respect to the sense of its letter, which is such that, unless doctrine lights the way, it may lead into errors and falsities of every kind; consequently those who study the Word without doctrine are able to confirm as many heresies as they will, and also to embrace them, and also to protect them by the loves of self and of the world and the evils arising therefrom. For the sense of the letter of the Word is the ultimate sense of Divine truth, thus it is for the natural and sensual man, adapted to its apprehension, and often so as to favor it; consequently unless it is read and viewed from doctrine, as from a lamp, it carries the mind away into darkness respecting many things that pertain to heaven and the church. And yet such believe themselves to be wise above all others, when in fact they are not wise at all.

[12] 5. All those who constitute the dragon adore God the Father, and look upon the Lord as a man like themselves, and not as God, or if as God they place His Divine above His Human, and not within it. This will be illustrated in what follows, where the combat of the dragon with Michael is treated of.

[13] 6. From this it can now be seen that the "tail" of the dragon means the falsification and adulteration of the Word by those who constitute its head, its body, and its extremities; for its tail, like the tail of every animal, is a continuation of the spine, which is an extension from the brain, and thus it is moved, bent, and vibrated, according to the appetites, lusts, and pleasures of the head and body, which it caresses, as it were. And inasmuch as all those that constitute the dragon falsify and adulterate the Word, because they are natural and sensual from the love of self and thence are in the pride of self-intelligence, therefore it is said that "the dragon with his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them unto the earth;" "the stars of heaven" signify the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, thence the truths from good therefrom, and "to cast them unto the earth" signifies to pervert and adulterate and thus destroy them.

[14] That those above described constitute the dragon, and that the adulteration and destruction of the truths of the Word are meant by "his tail," it has been given me to see in the spiritual world two or three times, for in that world all things that are seen are representative of things spiritual. When such persons are seen in the light of heaven they are seen as dragons with a long tail; and when many such are seen the tail appears extended from the south through the west into the north, and that tail is also seen to draw down as it were the stars from heaven and cast them unto the earth.

[15] As those above described are meant by "the dragon" and the falsification and adulteration of the Word by his "tail," the "habitation" and "bed" of dragons in the Word signify where there is nothing but falsity and evil, as in the following passages. In Isaiah:

The dry place shall become a pool, and the thirsty place springs of waters; in the habitation of dragons, its den, there shall be grass instead of the reed and rush (Isaiah 35:7).

This is said of the Lord's coming and of the establishment of a New Church by Him with the Gentiles; and these words mean that the truths and goods of the church shall be where they were not before, even where there were falsities and evils; where falsities and evils were before is signified by "the dry and thirsty place," and by "the habitation of dragons," also by "the reed and rush;" but the truths and goods that they will then have are signified by the "pool," the "springs of waters," the "den" where dragons were before, and the "grass."

[16] In Jeremiah:

I will make Jerusalem heaps, the habitation of dragons; and the cities of Judah will I reduce to a waste that there may be no inhabitant (Jeremiah 9:11).

The voice of a clamor, behold, a great tumult cometh from the land of the north, to reduce the cities of Judah to a waste, a habitation of dragons (Jeremiah 10:22).

"Jerusalem" means the church in respect to doctrine, and "the cities of Judah" doctrinals, which are truths from the Word; the falsification of truth and the adulteration of good, from which come mere falsities and evils, are signified by "making Jerusalem heaps," and by "reducing the cities of Judah to a waste, a habitation of dragons," for truth falsified is mere falsity, and good adulterated is mere evil; "the voice of a clamor and a great tumult from the land of the north" signifies falsities fighting against truths, and evils against goods; "the land of the north" means where those are who are in falsities of evil.

[17] In the same:

Hazor shall become a habitation of dragons, a desolation even forever; a man shall not dwell there, nor shall the son of man abide there (Jeremiah 49:33).

"Hazor" signifies spiritual treasures, which are the knowledges of truth and good from the Word; their devastation even until they are no more, but falsities and evils in their place, is signified by "Hazor shall become a habitation of dragons, a desolation even forever;" that there will be no truth of the church remaining is signified by "a man shall not dwell there, nor shall the son of man abide in her," "son of man" meaning the truth of the church.

[18] In Isaiah:

The thorn shall come up in her palaces, the thistle and bramble in her fortresses; that she may be a habitation of dragons, a court for the daughters of the owl (Isaiah 34:13).

This is said of Edom and of the nations, which mean those who are in falsities and evils; "the thorns, the thistle, and the bramble," signify the falsities and evils in which these are; the dogmas by which they are defended are signified by "palaces and fortresses;" the devastation of all good and truth is signified by "a habitation of dragons, and a court for the daughters of the owl," "owls" meaning those who see falsities as truths, and "their daughters" the lusts of falsifying truths.

[19] In the same:

The ijim shall answer in her palaces, and dragons in the temples (Isaiah 13:22).

This is said of Babylon, which signifies the adulteration and profanation of good and truth; "her palaces" in which are the ijim, and the "temples" in which are dragons, signify the goods and truths of the Word and of the church, which are adulterated and profaned, "ijim" signifying adulterated and profaned truths, and "dragons" adulterated and profaned goods.

[20] In Micah:

For this I will lament and howl, I will go stripped and naked; I will make a lamentation like dragons, and a mourning like the daughters of the owl (Mic. Micah 1:8).

This treats of the vastation of Samaria, which signifies the spiritual church in respect to doctrine, here that church vastated; devastation in respect to truth and good is signified by "going stripped and naked;" lamentation over it is signified by "lamenting and howling," lamentation over devastated good by "making a lamentation like dragons," and lamentation over devastated truth by "making a mourning like the daughters of the owl." The lamentation and mourning are said to be like that of "dragons and the daughters of the owl" in a representative sense; also "his going stripped and naked," "stripped" signifying, the like as the dragon, to be destitute of goods, and "naked," the like as the daughters of the owl, to be destitute of truths.

[21] In Jeremiah:

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up as a whale, he hath filled his belly with my delicacies, he hath thrust me out. Let Babylon become a heap, a habitation of dragons, a hissing and an astonishment, without inhabitant (Jeremiah 51:34, 37). Here, too, "Babylon" and "Nebuchadnezzar" signify the adulteration and profanation of good and truth. The dispersion of all truth, and thence the destruction of all good, is signified by "he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up as a whale, he hath filled his belly with my delicacies, he hath thrust me out," "whale" having a similar signification as "dragon," the same word being used for both in the original tongue. The devastation of all truth and good by their adulteration and profanation is signified by "Babylon shall become a heap, a habitation of dragons, a hissing and an astonishment, without inhabitant," "without inhabitant" signifying no good in anyone.

[22] In Job:

I walked blackened without the sun, I stood in the assembly, I cried out, I am become a brother to dragons and a companion to the daughters of the screech owl (Job 30:28, 29).

This is said of his state in temptations, in which man thinks himself to be damned; therefore "to walk blackened without the sun" signifies to be like a devil, without the good of love; "to stand in the assembly and cry out" signifies to be among truths and yet in falsities; "to become a brother to dragons and a companion to the daughters of the screech owl" signifies to be conjoined with and to be one with those who are in evils without good and in falsities without truths, "dragons" meaning those who adulterate goods and pervert them into evils, and "the daughters of the screech owl" those who do the same to truths.

(References: Job 30:28-29)


[23] In David:

Our heart is not turned away backward, neither hath our step declined from Thy way, though Thou hast crushed us in the place of dragons, and covered us over with the shadow of death (Psalms 44:18, 19).

This, too, treats of temptations. That being then shut off, like a sensual man, from influx out of heaven, he did not perceive what is good and what is true, is signified by "God hath crushed him in the place of dragons, and covered him over with the shadow of death," "the place of dragons" meaning where those who are dragons are in hell, that is, those who have destroyed every good in themselves; the falsity in which these are is called "the shadow of death."

(References: Psalms 44:18-19)


[24] In the same:

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder, the lion and the dragon shall he trample 1 on; because he hath set his love upon Me I will rescue him, I will set him on high because he hath known My name (Psalms 91:13, 14).

To destroy the interior and exterior falsities that vastate the truths of the church is signified by "treading upon the lion and adder;" and to destroy the interior and exterior falsities that vastate the goods of the church is signified by "trampling on the lion and dragon;" to lead away from falsities and to lead to interior truths and goods one who is in doctrine from the Word is signified by "I will rescue him, I will set him on high, who 2 hath known My name," "to rescue" meaning to lead away from falsities, "to set on high" to lead to interior truths, and "to know My name," to be in doctrine from the Word.

(References: Psalms 91:13-14)


[25] In Malachi:

Esau I hated, and made his mountains a waste, and gave his heritage to the dragons of the wilderness (Malachi 1:3).

"Esau" means such as are in good in respect to the natural man, here such as are in evil in respect to the same, therefore it is said, "Esau I hated;" that the goods of love of the natural man will be destroyed is signified by "I made his mountains a waste;" and that the truths of that good will be destroyed by the falsities of the sensual man is signified by "I gave his heritage to the dragons of the wilderness."

[26] In Ezekiel:

Behold I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon (or whale) that lieth in the midst of his rivers, that hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made myself (Ezekiel 29:3, 4; 32:2).

This describes the pride of self-intelligence of the natural and sensual man; "Pharaoh king of Egypt" signifies the natural and sensual man; "the dragon" (or whale) the same in respect to knowledges [scientifica] which are falsities or things falsified by the pride of self-intelligence (but this may be seen explained above, n. 513.

(References: Ezekiel 29:3-4)


[27] In Moses:

Their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields 3 of Gomorrah; his grapes are grapes of gall, his 4 clusters of bitternesses. Their wine is the poison of dragons and the cruel gall of asps (Deuteronomy 32:32, 33).

This may be seen explained above n. 519. There, too, "their wine," which is called "the poison of dragons and the cruel gall of asps," signifies that the truth of the church with the posterity of Jacob was external, in which inwardly there were infernal evils and falsities; "dragons and asps" signify sensual things which are the ultimates of the natural man full of horrible evils and falsities confirming them, and for the reason that the natural then receives nothing through the spiritual mind from the Lord, consequently what it receives is from hell.

(References: Deuteronomy 32:32-33; The Apocalypse Explained 519)


[28] That "the dragon" signifies such things as have been stated above can be seen more fully from what follows in this chapter, namely, from his enmity against the woman about to bring forth and fleeing into the wilderness; also from his combat with Michael; and still further in chapters Revelation 16:13-15, and Revelation 20:2, 7, 8, 10, 14, where it is said of him that "he was bound a thousand years, and afterwards being loosed he went forth to seduce the nations, and to gather Gog and Magog together to battle against the saints," and that afterwards "he was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone;" from all of which it can be seen that "the dragon" means those who possess no good of charity and love because they do not acknowledge it to be any medium serviceable to salvation, but make it a kind of knowledge [scientificum] which from persuasion they call faith; and when the good of charity and love is not implanted by the life of man there is evil in place of it, and where there is evil there is falsity.

(References: Revelation 20:7-8)


[29] Because "serpents" signify sensual things, which are the ultimates of the natural man, and these are not evil except with those who are evil, and because the word in the Hebrew that means dragon [tannin] is the same as that which means serpents not venemous, so when such serpents are meant by "dragons" they signify in the Word sensual things not evil, or as applied to persons, sensual men who are not evil. That the same word in Hebrew means dragons and such serpents can be seen in Moses:

When he was commanded out of the bush to cast his rod to the earth, and when it was changed to a serpent, he took hold of its tail, and thereby it was changed again into a rod (Exodus 4:3, 4).

Moses took the rod and cast it down before Pharaoh, and it became a serpent [dragon], and the magicians did the like with their rods; but the rod of Moses, then a serpent [dragon], swallowed up the rods, the serpents [dragons], of the magicians (Exodus 7:9-12).

The word rendered serpent in the former passage and the one so rendered in the latter in the original language are different; in the former passage the word generally employed in other parts of the Word for serpent is used, but in the latter it is the same word as is translated "dragon;" thus it might also be rendered that when Moses' rod was cast before Pharaoh it was changed into a dragon. From this it follows that "dragon," the same as "serpent," signifies in a good sense the sensual which is the ultimate of the natural man when it is not evil or not wicked.

(References: Exodus 4:3-4)


[30] It is in this milder sense that "dragons" are also mentioned in Isaiah:

The wild beast of the field shall honor Me, the dragons and the daughters of the owl, because I will give waters in the wilderness, rivers in the solitude, to give drink to My people, My chosen (Isaiah 43:20).

And in Jeremiah:

The hind brought forth in the field, but forsook it, because there was no grass; and the wild asses stood upon the hills, they pant for wind like dragons, their eyes were consumed because there was no herb (Jeremiah 14:5, 6).

In these passages the word translated "dragons" is the same word commonly translated "serpents," and is also translated "whales" in the sea, and these have a similar signification, namely, man's natural in general which is the sensual; so the last passage might be translated, "they breathed out the wind like whales." (Likewise in Isaiah 51:9; Jeremiah 51:34; in Ezekiel 29:3, 4; and in David, Psalms 74:13, 14.) Moreover, there are men merely sensual who are good.

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Footnotes:

1. The Hebrew has "shalt thou trample," as in 632.

2. The Hebrew, as in text where first cited, has "because he."

3. The Latin has "waters" for "fields."

4. The Hebrew is "their," as found in 519; Arcana Coelestia 2240.

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(References: Ezekiel 29:3-4; Jeremiah 14:5-6; Psalms 74:13-14; Revelation 12:3)

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