Monday, April 8, 2013

What is 'Conjugial' Love?

Rummaging through a used book store I found this little book “The Pomegranate with Seeds of Gold.”  When I looked through it I realized that it contained stories based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.  I had heard of him in my religious studies but never knew that he wrote extensively about conjug(i)al love.

Here is one story from that booklet; then I like to explore more about the life of Mr. Swedenborg.


“TRULY CONJUGIAL, namely, that love truly conjugial, which is that of one man with one wife, from its origin and correspondence, is celestial, spiritual, holy, and clean above every other love, n.”



The Grapes with Leaves of Silver


The day after his visit to the heaven of the Golden Age, Swedenborg was still in the world of spirits; he was in his home here, and again the angel came to him.  It was the same angel who the day before had guided him to the heaven of the Most Ancient Church, called the Golden Age.

The angel greeted Swedenborg and asked, “Do you wish me to guide you to the heaven of a people who lived in ancient times in an age called the Silver Age?”

Swedenborg was happy to see the angel who was again to be his guide and companion. 

“Yes,” he said, “and we may hear from these people about marriage in those ancient times.”

The angel answered, “As before, we may not come near this heaven, either, unless the Lord permits, but He has sent me to guide you.”  Swedenborg quickly made ready for the journey, and he and the angel set out.

They came first to a hill on the border between the East and the South.  They climbed to the top and saw before them a wide stretch of country, and beyond, a mountain far away.  Between this mountain and the hill on which they stood was a valley, and farther on a field gently rising toward the mountain.

They walked slowly down the hill in order to cross the valley, and as they were passing through the valley they saw on either side statues or images of men, and of various animals, birds, and fish.  Many of these were beautifully carved in wood, and others were cut from stone.

Swedenborg examined them with interest and then asked the angel, “What are these; are they idols?”

“No, indeed they are not,” answered the angel.  “Each of these sculptured figures has a special meaning which the people who live here understand.  Some of these forms represent certain virtues such as telling the truth and unselfishness, others represent truth itself.  Among the people of this age the science of correspondences was known, and as every man, beast, bird, and fish corresponds to some quality, so each of these carved figures represents some particular aspect of virtue or truth.  This is what the Egyptians showed in their art, and in their hieroglyphics.”

Conversing thus they continued on their way through the valley and came to the large field.  Here they saw horses and chariots passing through the country.  The horses had richly decorated harness of many kinds.  The chariots were made in strange forms; some were carved like eagles, and others like great whales of the sea, others were carved in the form of graceful deer with branching antlers, and still others like unicorns with one small horn in the center of the forehead.  The chariots were painted in bright colors, and were magnificent in appearance.

At the other end of the field Swedenborg and the angel saw several wagons, and on one side of the field there were stables.  As they went farther into the field these chariots changed, and strange to say, the horses and the wonderfully carved chariots began to disappear, and in their stead men in couples were seen walking about, talking and earnestly discussing.

Swedenborg was astonished at this change, but the angel told him what the appearance of the men instead of the horses and chariots meant.  He said, “The men appear at a distance like horses and various kinds of chariots because they represent the intelligence of men at that age.  For horses signify an intelligent understanding of truth, and chariots the teaching of truth.  The stables signify schools.  This is according to correspondences, for in heaven we can sometimes see in this way what correspondence is.”

They passed near these men without stopping and climbed another steep hill.  At last when they reached the top they found themselves near a city.  They were at the very gate, which they entered.  Looking about them, they decided to walk through some of the streets and beautiful squares, and to see the houses.  Many of the houses were really palaces, more beautiful than any Swedenborg had ever seen here on earth.  They were built of marble, pure white, and the steps to imposing doorways were of alabaster partly transparent, smooth and white.  On each side of the steps were pillars of jasper stone of a dark green opalescent color.

The visitors stopped to gaze with awe at a temple.  It was built of precious stone, the color of sapphire a rich clear blue.

They wandered on through the streets enjoying the beauty of the buildings, the trees, and the gardens.  Thus wandering about they saw also some of the people of the Silver Age walking in pairs, and as they were husbands and wives, the angel said to Swedenborg, “Let us wait a little.”

“Yes,” answered Swedenborg, “We can hope that perhaps one of these couples will ask us into their home.”

They were thinking about this and at that very moment the door of a nearby palace opened and a young man with his wife came out and down the steps.  They called Swedenborg and the angel, and when the young couple came to where the visitors were standing they invited them into their home.

Swedenborg and his companion were delighted and accompanying the husband and wife they went up the alabaster steps.  They stood there a moment while greetings were exchanged.  When they entered the reception hall, the angel speaking on behalf of Swedenborg, told the young couple why they had come to the heaven of the Silver Age.  He said, “We have wished to lean about marriage among those ancients who now live in this heaven.”

On hearing this, the husband and wife gave them a cordial welcome, and the man said, “We are from a people in Asia, and have lived in this heaven for many hundreds of years. The constant study of our age was truth.  From this and the study of correspondences we became intelligent.”

The angel then asked, “Will you tell us something about marriage in the Silver Age?”

The husband replied, “From our study of correspondences we learned that truth and good of the Church can only exist with a husband and wife who are in love truly conjugial.  For there is a correspondence between spiritual marriage which is of truth and good , and natural marriage which is of one man and one wife.”

The wife then said, “But let us go in this room.”  She let them from the reception hall into a large and magnificent room.

The walls were decorated with paintings, which were splendid works of art.  The visitors admired these decorations, and then Swedenborg turned to see on the table by which he was standing some exquisite little figures cast in silver.  There were other similar figurines on tables and stands about the room.

“What are these?” he asked.

The man replied, “Each of these little silver statues has a special meaning that has to do with our live together.”  He took one in his hand, “This one,” he said, “represents the unity of our souls.”  He put it down and took another, showing it to Swedenborg.  “This beautiful little figure,” he said, “represents the harmony of our hearts.”

While they were looking at this figurine, Swedenborg happened to glance at the wall, and to his astonishment he saw a rainbow.  This had not been there before.  It was in three brilliant colors, royal purple, sea blue, and dazzling white; and as he gazed in wonder and admiration, he saw that the colors did not remain fixed, but seemed to flow one into the other.  He saw the royal purple color pass through the sea blue, and tinge the beautiful white with blue, while the white flowed back through the blue into the purple and raised it to a brightness as of flame.

“Do you understand these changes of color?” the husband asked, observing Swedenborg’s wonder.

Swedenborg answered, “No, will you please instruct me?”

“The royal purple color,” their host replied, “represents the wife’s love and the dazzling which the intelligence of the husband.  The sea blue represents the beginning of a true love in the husband, which is from the wife.  The blue with which the white is tinged corresponds to the husband’s love.  The flowing back and forth of the colors in the rainbow appears on our walls when we think about true love and are looking at the rainbow that you see glowing there.”

Swedenborg listened to this intently, and then said, “At the present day such things are more than mystical, for they represent the love of one man and one wife.”

The husband answered,” The flowing colors in the rainbow do represent this love, but to us here in this heaven it is not mystical.”

Just as he said this they all saw through the open door, a chariot at some distance.  It was drawn by small white horses.

The angel guide then said, “The appearance of the chariot and the small white horses in the distance is a sign for us to say farewell.”

Swedenborg and the angel with the husband and wife then came out of the palace and began to go down the alabaster steps between the blue pillars, the husband was holding something in his hand which he gave them as they stood there for a moment, it was a cluster of white grapes which the leaves still attached.  To their wonder the leaves were turning to silver.

This beautiful gift was a sign to Swedenborg that he and the angel guide had visited the heaven of the Silver Age.  And they left for the journey home.


From The Pomegranate with Seeds of Gold and other stories from the writings of Swedenborg collected by Amena Pendleton Haines (1961)



Note: in the writings of Swedenborg, he describes 4 metal ages: gold, silver, bronze and iron which correspond to the Most Ancient Church, the Ancient Church, the Israelitish Church, and the Christian Church.


Emanuel Swedenborg was born and lived in Sweden from 1688-1772.  He was a scientist, philosopher, theologian, mystic and spiritual explorer.  In his early years, he travelled through Europe, researching and developing scientific projects and inventions that was his scientific period.  He also involved himself in the study of the human anatomy.  Since he himself had a speech-impairment, he chose to write about most of his research rather than presenting it in public.

At the age of 53 he entered into his spiritual phase.  Around Easter 1744, he started to have dreams and spiritual visions, which led him to a spiritual awakening which he believed to come directly from Jesus.  He became the inspiration of many well-known historians in the following years, being the voice which would prepare people for the Second Coming.  He often entered the spiritual world and conversed with Jesus, the angels, demons and other spirits.  He founded the Swedenborgian Society and his teachings influenced writers and poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung, Immanuel Kant and Helen Keller.


What astounded me was his awareness of the meaning of married life which he called conjugial love.  He himself never married but he considered erotic love of divine origin, truly pure and holy.  He also made us aware that human beings can easily pervert it to selfish love with evil endings. 


From his writings we can clearly see that Emanuel Swedenborg was way ahead of his time.  That’s why his teachings are still relevant today.  His spiritual explorations correlate with the many near death experiences (NDE) people have.  I read Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life with great interest.  Dr. Eben Alexander just recently released his story in: Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife.  Or the very touching story of Dr. Mary Neal, a woman who had a NDE by drowning and was revived only to experience her son’s death a few years later: To Heaven and Back.  
The teachings also reveal to us the meaning of married love and the beauty of the exchange between a man and a woman.  It is not only the physical intimacy which binds the two together for procreation and building a family, but it also shows the higher dimension of spiritual love by being connected to the creator which will continue for eternity.


Man is born to meet woman and woman to meet man.  And man and woman together are born to combine together with a higher level of love which is God’s love.  Neither man nor woman can touch God’s love alone.  If a man or woman alone tried to unite with God’s love, it would just be a one-sided love.  Neither one would be able to combine with a three-dimensional, spherical love.

Therefore, man and woman must get married in order to jump into the realm of a higher-level three-dimensional love.  In the original world, the more man and woman become united, the greater the center of the activating power becomes, forming a sphere.  Therefore, the more and more man and woman become connected horizontally, the more God, who is the maternal womb of the vertical power of love, becomes connected.  Then our mind and body become united.”
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Blessing and Ideal Family – Why we marry


There is a Divine Eternal Truth which we have had only a small glimpse to know.  The spiritual world is alive and most of all, God our Heavenly Parents are alive, and waiting for us to start a living relationship with.

Let’s start a true conjugal relationship with God.

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