Arcana Coelestia # 6212

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6212. It is well known from the Word that the prophets received influx from the world of spirits and from heaven. It came to them partly through dreams, partly through visions, and partly through utterances. With some prophets it also entered into their own speech and gestures, thus things of the body; and when this happened neither their utterances nor their actions were their own but were those of the spirits who occupied their bodies at the time. Some behaved as though they were insane, as when Saul lay down naked, 1 some inflicted wounds on themselves, 2 and others wore horns; 3 and there are many other examples of the same thing.

[2] Having the desire to know how spirits led them to do those things, I was shown through actual experience. So that I might know, I was possessed for a whole night by spirits who occupied my bodily powers so fully that I could not feel it was my own body except in a very vague way. When those spirits came they looked like tiny clouds massed together in varying shapes, for the most part pointed ones; the tiny clouds were black. In the morning I saw a carriage with a pair of horses, and a man riding in it; then I saw a horse with someone sitting on it, who was thrown from the horse backwards and lay on the ground while the horse kicked up its heels. After that I saw someone else sitting on the horse. The horses were well-bred.

[3] After all this the angels told me the meaning of the things I had seen. The carriage with a man in it meant the spiritual sense contained in the prophecies which they were uttering, and those they were representing by the things I had seen. The horse that threw off the person sitting on it and that kicked up its heels meant that the Jewish and Israelite people among whom the prophecies existed were interested solely in things of an external nature, so that genuine understanding threw them off its back and so to speak kicked up its heels to move them away. The second person sitting on the horse meant the understanding which those people have who are interested in the internal sense of the prophetical part of the Word.

[4] This state which lasted through the night until morning taught me the way the prophets through whom spirits spoke and acted were possessed. The spirits occupied the prophets' bodies so thoroughly that the prophets were left with hardly anything more than an awareness of their existence. There were particular spirits assigned to this function who had no wish to obsess men, only to enter a person's bodily affections, and having entered them they entered all things of his body. The spirits normally present with me said that I had not been with them while I remained in that state.

[5] The spirits who possessed my body, in the way the bodies of prophets had been possessed in former times, afterwards talked to me. They said, besides much else, that at the time they knew nothing else than that their life was as it had been in the body. They went on to say that the prophets were recipients of further kinds of influx, ones that involved the prophets in the use of their own power of decision and thought. Spirits then simply talked to them, mainly within them; it was not a flowing into their thought and will, only speech which entered their hearing.

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