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Human Organic
Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner  

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Part 2, Chapter IX



1.     In 1749 and later, Swedenborg announced to the world, in the Arcana Coelestia, that in the spiritual world situations and distances were determined by their relation to the human body(456) and that the heavens there constitute as it were one Man which is therefore called the Maximus Homo, to which all things that are in man correspond.(457)

    "It is now permitted to relate and describe wonderful things which, so far as I know, have not yet been known to anyone, namely, that the universal heaven is so formed as to correspond to the Lord, to His Divine Human; and that man is so formed as to correspond to heaven in regard to each and all things in him, and through heaven to the Lord. This is a great mystery which is now to be revealed...."(458)

    It is to be noticed that the world of thought was at that juncture emerging from the straitjacket of Scholasticism. The champions of Cartesianism emphasized the concept that the world and the human body were moved by mechanical laws; and mechanistic philosophy scoffed at anything mystical. On the other hand a rising wave of vitalistic thinking emphasized the world as a living thing.
2.     In the Most Ancient Church, nature was felt to be "alive". Hence came Animism, which confused the natural with the spiritual, and later Greek philosophy retained this in the form of "hylozoism".
    The "anthropomorphic" idea took many forms, giving a human characteristic to all things, and giving the gods the traits of human personalities and frailties. Among some nations heroes were deified as objects of worship.(459) With primitive tribes we find the worship of an ancestor as a grand original Man. In mythic lore the dispensational churches were sometimes personified and regarded as ruling gods.
    In Greek mythology, OURANOS seems to stand for the Most Ancient Church, CHRONOS and the Titans for the later period of that church and for the "antediluvian age", and Jupiter (ZEUS) for the Ancient Church.(460)

3.     A persistent feature of many mythologies was the idea that the world was created from the substance of a primeval giant or "Grand Man"; from OMORKA (Chaldea), from TI' AMAT (Assyria), form PURUSHA or PRAJAPATI (India), from YMER (Norse Eddas), or from the creative idea or word of some god. (461) -

4.     The Stoics spoke of the world as a living Being - or as a World Soul, an idea carried into German philosophy as the Welt-geist. The Stoic idea was of a Grand Man of which the rational soul was God. They also had the idea of man as a microcosm, and Philo Judaeus so cites them. The Jews, in their Wisdom Literature, carry the same suggestion, and in their later Kabalistic writings Philo's idea of a celestial Adam is developed into the concept of a primeval original Man - "Adam Kadmon". This heavenly man, according to the Zohar,(462)"is the embodiment of all Divine manifestations: the Ten Sefirot, the original image of man. The heavenly Adam, stepping forth out of the highest original darkness, created the earthly Adam. In other words, the activity of the Original Essence manifested itself in the creation of man, who at the same time is the image of the Heavenly Man and of the universe, just as with Plato and Philo the idea of man, as microcosm, embraces the idea of the universe or macrocosm."(463)p. 104

5.     The "Hermetic tradition" which brought the echoes of many ancient doctrines with it, influenced the nature-philosophers of the early Renaissance. It was often mixed up with astrology, alchemy, sorcery, etc.
    Agrippa von Nettesheim ( 1486-1535) held that the cosmos was a reasonable being and in the image of God.
    Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), who championed Philo's allegorical interpretations of Scripture, boldly asserted that the angelic heaven constitutes the head of the Grand Man, the astronomical heavens the trunk down to the navel, and the sublunary world the lover body and the extremities.
    Paracelsus (1493-1541) taught that all the substances of the world enter into the composition of the human body which is a microcosm. The universe has all the proportions and divisions of a man. In his doctrine of Signatures he supposes that the specific powers of the primeval mystery - Yliaster- are expressed as various planets, various metals, plants, organs, etc., and as ideas of the mind and states of the soul; so that a sympathetic relation exists between things of corresponding "signature". The idea was persistent. Thus Harald Vallerius, a professor at Upsala (d. 1716), believed a parallelism to exist between the sun and the heart, between Saturn and the spleen, between Jupiter and the liver, Mars and the gall bladder, Earth and the stomach, Venus and the kidneys, Mercury and the lungs.(464)
    Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) manifests the influence of the same currents of mystical thought. These may also be recognized in various survivals of Astrology. Thesophy - allegedly oriental in origin - also follows the same tendencies of thought.

6.     Since orthodox Christianity became usually averse towards mystical attitudes that sought to replace ecclesiastical dogmas, and since modern science scoffed at vitalistic interpretations of the cosmos, the study of the concept of the Grand Man was driven into alliance with irresponsible mystical speculations. Swedenborg's doctrine of the Grand Man and of Correspondences are therefore often classed by outside students (such as Dr. Martin Lamm, Signe Toksvig, etc.) with the dreams of the medievals and the neoplatonists, and it is often thought that he borrowed and built upon these ancient traditions.

    Dr. George P. Conger,(465) states that "in studying the microcosmic theories we are dealing with a philosophical perennial". But no clear knowledge of the doctrine of the Grand Man and of Correspondences existed before the publication of the Arcana. Swedenborg's preparatory works sometimes speak in the current tradition, in words based on the classical authors and on Paul.(466) In the Worship and Love of God "Adam" is sometimes used in an allegorical manner, as a type for mankind.
    In his search for a universal key of knowledge, Swedenborg advanced from the "universal Mathesis" or "mathematical philosophy of universals" (already suggested by Locke, Leibnitz and Wolff) to the system of analogical logic outlined in the "Hieroglyphic Key", and thence to the doctrine of Correspondence between natural and spiritual things. But he drew his inferences not from the mystical authors but from a thorough analysis of the use of symbolism in the Scriptures, especially in the Pauline epistles.(467)
    This doctrine was thus the consummation of his philosophical studies. Yet he did not arrive at it until after he was introduced into open visions of the spiritual world.

7.     The doctrine of Correspondences as taught in the Writings is a revealed doctrine which centers about the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Divine Human, God-Man whose impress is universal upon created forms.
    To perceive that all life is from the Lord, that the universal heaven corresponds to His Divine Human, that all angels, spirits and men correspond to heaven, and to know and perceive the nature of this correspondence, - these are the "chief things of intelligence with the angels."(468) But these "arcana

" also involve the simple essentials of all religion, and the necessary basis from which the thought of the regenerate man should proceed.
    From the above perceptions, the angels perceive and know innumerable things which are in heaven and also those which are in the world as effects from their causes.(469)
    In connection with the doctrine of the Grand Man, the doctrine of Correspondences is all-embracing and universal, and unifies our thought about the created universe, both spiritual and natural. In philosophy, it has a distinctive role, forming a connective for rational thinking and constituting the only consistent and logical defense of the teleological viewpoint.
    "Without correspondences with the spiritual world, nothing would ever exist and subsist, for the reason that it would have no connection with what is prior to itself, nor with the Lord". "What is unconnected and thus independent, cannot subsist ever for a moment...." (470)

    Reference reading: "Ancient Doctrines in the New Theology", by H.L. Odhner.(471)

1.     Society grows by specializations of uses. The uses of the home, which is a micropolis, are by degrees taken over by society, through specialized abilities and functions.(472)

    The perfection of larger societies may be illustrated by the perfection existing in the more complex forms of organic life. Compare the protozoa with the mollusks, these with the vertebrates, and these with man. The human form is the most perfect, most balanced in functions, most diversely specialized. And thus his social life is most complex.

2.     Perfection increases with numbers. Thus it is intended that the human race should persist on all the planets of the universe, because the perfection of the uses of heaven increases when "there is given a direction and consent of more and more to unity, and therefore a more close and unanimous conjunction...Everything is there inserted as a mediate relation between two or more, and what is inserted confirms and conjoins...."(473) "The correspondence of heaven to the things in man can never be infilled or completed."(474)

Illustrations: Children in a family. Extension of thoughts and affections. New truths, signified by "Benjamin" who also represents certain media of conjunction among the heavens. The evil dissociate themselves from the uses of the community, obstruct mutual exchanges of the products of use, misappropriating the life currents and not "consenting to unity".
3. Society is a greater form of man.(475) The uses of society, and the common good: Char. 130-136, 143, 148; Div. Love xii.


1.     The correspondence of the human body is primarily with the Divine Human Form from which it is derived and into the image and likeness of which it was created.
    Derivately, the human body corresponds to the order of uses in the Grand Man of heaven, and thus to all the various angelic societies. There is a correspondence of the heavens with each other. the middle to the third, the ultimate heaven to the middle. To the ultimate heaven correspond the corporeal forms in man. (476)
    The natural body also corresponds to the spirit, soul, or mind which is within it,(477) and the operations of the body correspond to, and by correspondence cohere with, the operations of the mind.(478)

2.     In the supreme sense, the Lord alone is the "Grand Man" (Maximus Homo). In this sense the Grand Man is the Divine proceeding or the universal Heaven in its complex. (479)

    Since the Divine proceeding is in the human form, the Word in the letter is also, in its whole complex, as One Man, and its parts thus correspond to man's organs and members.

    "The Word, in the letter, can be compared with those things in man which appear outwardly, as for example in some parts to the beard and hair, and in some to the face and to those limbs which are not clothed; and ... the angels are able, when it is allowed by the Lord, to perceive what it is there that corresponds; for the Word, in its whole complex, is as One Man as to all and every one of its constituents within and without; and... that Man is like the Lord's Human was in the world; wherefore the Lord is called the Word (John i.)". (480)

The relation of the Writings to the Scripture within this human form, is discussed in New Church Life, 1938, pp. 163-168, in an article on "The Holy Body of Divine Truth". See especially p. 165.

Heaven, viewed as the Divine proceeding, is the pattern of Divine and infinite uses, in which the angels serve finite functions.(481)p. 109

    Being a spiritual Man, the Grand Man consists not of persons, but of uses.(482)
    The Pauline doctrine that the Church is the Body of Christ in which the faithful are members in particular(483) is approved in the Writings in the sense described above.(484) "What is the Body of Christ, but Divine good and Divine truth?"(485)
    In a figurative sense, God-Man is called "the Head" of the Church when this is considered as a body spiritual.(486)
3.     In the Grand Man of Heaven, when this is considered as consisting of angels, the Lord alone represents the interiors and thus the blood and its derivatives. The Lord alone is the active force, the Grand Man the passive force which is in itself dead.(487)
    The Lord animates the whole universe as a soul animates its body, or as Life.(488)
    The whole heaven is arranged according to the Divine form which is in the Lord. The form of the spiritual kingdom is according to the order of the affections in His Divine Human.(489)
    Heaven is a Divine Spiritual Man in greatest form, even in effigy.(490) Nevertheless man is not the image of heaven as to his external form but as to his internal form.(491)

4.     The Church on earth is before the Lord as one Man. Together with the angels it makes not only the interiors but also the exteriors of that [(p. 110)] Man. The Church makes the bony and cartilagineous parts because men on earth are provided with a body in which the ultimate spiritual is clothed with a natural.(492)
    The Church on earth represents the feet and loins, the lowest heaven the gastric region, the second heaven the breast, and the highest heaven the head.(493)
    The Church on our globe has had successive states similar to those of a man who is conceived, born, instructed, reformed and is being regenerated.(494)

5.     The Grand Man is composed from all the earths in the universe.(495)
    No one earth or solar system could make up the Maximus Homo in its widest sense(496); innumerable earths are needed.(497)

The Writings indicate the general functions of the spirits of the following globes:

    Our Earth: Skins and membranes(498); exterior parts(499); external sense(500); natural and corporeal senses(501); sciences of material things.(502) Writing, travel, and mechanical arts on our earth.(503)
    Moon: Ensiform cartilage.(504)
    'First' earth: visited by Swedenborg outside of our system: Spleen.(505)
    'Second' Earth: Keenness of sight.(506)
    Venus: Memory of material things corresponding to things immaterial.(507) Some here relate to corporeals.(508)
    Mercury: Memory of immaterial things(509); the internal sense (510); cognitions. (511)
    Jupiter: Imaginative of thought(512); rational ideas (513): Some relate to the seminal vesicles (514)
    Mars: Thought from affection, and the middle province between the cerebrum and the cerebellum.(515)
    Saturn: Middle sense between the spiritual and the natural (516): the rational (517)
    'Third' Earth: possibly a satellite of Jupiter (518): Conjunction of natural and spiritual things.(519)

Reference reading: "The Solar System as a Man", by Rev. W.B. Caldwell, New Church Life 1947, pp. 76-82. (520)




1.     The correspondence of natural things with spiritual things rests primarily upon functions or uses.(521)

       Although the heavens indeed correspond to the very organic forms of the human body, they chiefly correspond to the functions of these viscera or organs.(522) It is these uses which conjoin.(523) Life and coherence is given by correspondences.(524)

2.     In general, the exteriors of the body correspond to the exteriors of heaven, etc., and the invisible interiors of the body to the interiors of heaven.(525) Each particle of an organ is the basis of a correspondence.(526)
    It is the corporeal of man- his members, organs and viscera- in which heaven ultimately terminates and upon which it subsists as upon its basis.(527)

    Correspondences are varied according to series or context. Fibres and vessels correspond to truths in a regenerate mind.(528) The bloods, as to the life in them, can correspond only to the Lord.(529) A spirit in the Grand Man would be represented only by a single particle in the atmosphere.(530) Heart, pulse, flesh, even sinews and bones, would correspond to the celestial angels; while the lungs, respiration, voluntary fibres, and even blood and animal spirit (as to their various chyles) would correspond to the spiritual angels.(531)

3. General correspondences of the body.(532) and confirmations form Arcana Coelestia:

    The heart: The celestial kingdom, the voluntary of heaven, in which the good of love rules. The will, The ruling love.
    The lungs: The spiritual kingdom, the intellectual of heaven, in which truth rules. The understanding.
    The head: Those in the province of the head excel the rest in every good; they are in love, peace, innocence, wisdom, intelligence, and thence in joy and felicity.
    The breast: these are in the good of charity and faith.
    The loins: These are in conjugial love.
    The feet: These are in the ultimate good of heaven, which is called
spiritual-natural good. Obedience.
    The arms and hands: These are in the power of truth from good.
    The eyes: These are in understanding.
    The ears: These are in attention and obedience.
    The nostrils: These are in perception.
    The mouth and tongue: These are in the ability to converse from
understanding and perception.
    The kidneys: These are in truths searching, separating, and correcting.
    The liver, pancreas, and spleen: These are in various purifications of good
and truth.
----DIAGRAM ?----


1.     All within the Grand Man are within heaven; those excluded from it are in hell.(533) Those in hell do not correspond to any organ or member but to corruptions and diseases.(534)

2.     Novitiate spirits, so long as they are in a state like that of the food in the intestinal tract, i.e., before they are introduced into the bloodstream, cannot properly be said to be within the Grand Man. (535)

3.     Within the Grand Man are all infants,(536) and those of many religions.(537) Gentiles.(538)p. 115

4.     The hells in their complex constitute as it were one Devil or grand monster.(539)

    But while in the performance of uses, the devils can be elevated from hell.(540) Evil spirits can thus for a time occupy some province in the Grand Man, such as that of the spleen.(541) The Lord's kingdom of uses extends also over the hells.(542)


    While Swedenborg saw the spiritual correspondences of the body and its parts, thinkers of all ages have seen many isolated analogies between civic society. The more closely we examine the organism, the more such analogies do we find. So, for instance, Dr. Adolph Elwyn (543) has suggested several of the following analogies. The human body is like a close knit Commonwealth in which the citizens are the cells. From the first germ cells as parents or early settlers, the population has increased beyond count, despite varying mortality and birthrates. (Some cells - 12 billion nerve-cells - are permanent.) By specialization of uses, groups of citizens form communities like organs. Indeed, each cell has a nucleus which serves as a business executive, cytoplasm which is a factory or well stocked workshop, and a cell membrane which is a place of exchange and barter.

    The various tissues represent guilds of more or less trained workers who never strike. Some are "open shop" laborers, like various connective tissue cells. Many have but little skill and little autonomy like the set tissues of the bone, cartilage, and skin, predestined to monotonous drudgery.

    The digestive system represents the food and fuel industries, and the stomach and mesentery serve as factory and field for gathering and refining the products needed and preparing them for the market while the colon freights the rest away. (544)

    The blood stream employs transport workers (by land or water) who distribute merchandise, mail and food to their destinations, and the epithelia of the capillaries are the distant freight or passenger stations, the terminal loading docks. The blood represents the current wealth of the body - its main trade routes and markets - the "common food" from which each part derives its use and delight, and to which every individual contributes.

    The fat deposits are warehouses and also serve as buffering in times of need - a form of capitalism which is needed yet can be abused. The red bone marrow is a vast maternity hospital for ever new blood cells. The spleen and liver are mining areas for iron and other minerals. The building trades are represented by the connective tissue cells which weave the muscles and ligaments, erect the bone and spread the membranes. The fibroblasts are retired experts, ready to be called on if reconstruction is urgent. The gluttonous macrophages and leucocytes of the blood serve as a watchful police-force, as immigration officials and soldiers who often die in their effort to rid the body of dangerous foreign elements or bacteria. Some also serve as garbage-collectors, disposing of the debris from the disintegrating cells, but also salvage useful minerals, such as the iron of the blood cells. The lymphocytes combine the functions of quarantine officers, doctors, and pall bearers, and superintend the pipelines for food and fuel as well as the sewerage plants of the body. The glands of the lymphatic system serve also the use of detention camps for infectious poisons.

    The muscles are comparable to engines for developing heat and power. The heart is a vast pump, a supply of motion to the body. But each muscle fibre also acts as a self-charging engine: ruled by the mind, sparked by the nerve fibre, fuelled by the artery with glycogen from the liver and by oxygen from the lungs, while the vein serves as an exhaust pipe. (545)

    The use of the "lungs" in the body politic is recreative in several senses. The breath of society is public information and knowledge, giving freedom and autonomy to its component parts. Press and radio literature provide these elements and make men conscious of their social obligations. Sensation is therefore tied up with respiration.

    But the economy of the body is under a benevolent monarchy, a central government which thoroughly understands its people's needs and abilities. The brain and the nervous system represent that government, with its public network of communication by telegraph and telephone and radio, and its legislative, executive, and judicial branches, its institutions, records, etc. The voluntary nerve fibres, directed by the cerebrum, govern the "foreign policy" and deliberate actions of the body. The sensory nerves represent the educational and intellectual uses of the country, the cerebral cortex its thinkers and planners, the cerebellum its more or less unconscious moods and moral feelings. The motor nerves would answer to its skills and graces. The sympathetic system suggests uses of an aesthetic, creative, impulsive, and artistic type, while the para-sympathetic nerves suggest those of a conservative nature, demanding prudence, reticence, and insurance.

    The control of industrial growth is not entirely in the hands of conscious planners, any more than the nerves alone rule the moods and states of the body. The internal secretion by various glands and tissues of 'hormones' or messenger substances which regulate many organic functions, suggest that the law of supply and demand, which the mail services of an industrial country lays bare, is in the long run more powerful than deliberate legislation. It is by the internal secretions of the various tissues that the body parts express their needs and ambitions and thus enjoy a limited suffrage. Yet the marvelous economy of a healthy body finds no real parallel except with an ideal society in which all units are moved by a love of use.

    For a comprehensive study of the history of the concept of Microcosm, as viewed by secular students, see George Perrigo Conger's Theories of Macrocosm and Microcosm in the History of Philosophy, Columbia University Press, 1922.(546) For recent views, see chapter V.   Prof. Conger notes that the theory of the microcosm tends to be forgotten or suspected "in a period when the data of the sciences accumulate faster than they can be organized."(547)p. 119

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455 For a fuller treatment of this subject, see THE DOCTRINE OF THE WORD, vol. V., "The Science of
Correspondences," chap xvi (pp. 43-83), by H. L Odhner. (Dittoed typescript, ANC.) Reference reading: THE GRAND
MAN, by H.L Odhner, chapters ii, iii, iv. (Mimeogr.) General reference: HH 51-102.

456 AC 1274.

457 AC I 276-

458 AC 3624.

459 TCR 292.

460 See C.T. Odhner's Mythology of the Greeks and the Romans, pp. 20-28.

461 See C.T. Odhner's Golden Age, ch. xii.

462 "Zohar" ii. 70b, 43.

463 Jewish Enc., s.v. See Conger, Theories of Macrocosms and Microcosms (New York: Col. Univ. Press, 1922), pp. 45,46.

464 Lychnos 1944-45, p. 115. For an illustration of "Typhus Sympathicus Microcosmi cum Megacosmo", see Mundus Subterraneus, by Athan, Kircher ( 1601-1680), XII, iv, p. 406. (ANC Library 500 fk). See also dittoed article by H.L Odhner, of "Paracelsus and the Mystical Tradition of the Renaissance".

465 0p. cit. p. 138.

466 Hist. Crea, motto; WE 182, 541, 596, etc. See sec. C 2, below.

467 Phil. Note Book, p. 395; Psychological Transactions, pp. 217-256.

468 AC 4318.

469 AC 4318.

470AC 5377.

471 Dittoed 1943, ANC.

472 As to the growth of communities and nations, see AC 8118, 10814; DP 215; AC 7364, cf HD 77, etc.

473 LJ 12, cf HH 71, 418; AC 3631.

474 HH 418. See AC 3629.

475 HH 68; DLW 24, 19, etc.; HD 96; Char. 72-89, on the degrees of the neighbor who is to be loved. The uses of society, and the common good: Char. 130-136, 148; Div. Love xii.

476 HH 100.

477 DP 181.

478 DLW 219.

479 AC 3637; AE 1166e

480 SD 5131.

481 AE 1166e; Div. Love xiii; HH 65.

482 Div. Love xiii.

483 Eph. 1:23-Z4, 4, 5:30; I Cor. 10:17, 12:27; Rom. 12:4,5.

484 TCR 416, 379, 608, 719, 728; DLW 24; Inv. 28 etc.

485 TCR 372.

486 Cf DLW 24.

487 SD 3419.

488 Div. Wis. xii. Se; SD 3576; Inv. 28.

489 AC 3189.

490 H 65.

491 HH 99.

492 AE 1222.

493 TCR 119.

494 TCR 762 :2. Outlined, AE 641 :4, cp. SD 488.

495 SD 1558a; AC 6701, 6698e.

496 EU 5, 9; AC 6807.

497 SD 1145 3.

498 SD 1741.

499 EU 64.

500 SD 3328f.

501 AC 9107, 9360; SD 1531.

502 SD 4782. see also EU 87e.

503 See SD 4663 11, 4781, cp AC 9793; EU 136.

504 EU 111.

505 EU 132.

506 EU 140.

507 EU 107.

508 SD 1558a

509 EU 10.

510 SD 1425.

511 SD 1558a

512 EU 64.

513 SD 1558a

514 EU 79.

515 EU 88, cf 87e.

516 EU 102.

517 SD 3328,1516.

518 SD 1670.

519 EU 156.

520 See SD 1619,1339-1341,1558a.

521 HH 112.

522 AC 4423.

523 HH 112, 96e.

524 DLW 390.

525 HH 100; AC 4224, 3741, 3745.

526 AC 4222.

527 HH 100.

528 AC 5435.

529 SD 3419.

530 SD 3939.

531 SD 5575, cf 3419.

532 HH 95, 96.

533 AE 1222 :3; AC 4225.

534 AC 4225, 4227:3.

535 AC 5176, cf 5175, 5392, 1381; SD 1772.

536 DP 164:5

537 DP 326.

538 DP 254 3

539 AE 1224:4; DP l90e, 302; HH 553:3; TCR 68.

540 SD 4461,4471,5693.

541 SD 1005.

542 DP 26 and context AC 1097:2, cp 9534:2.

543 Story of the Human Body (New York: 1930).

544 Digestive system might also represent the educational process, through which the youth of a country is prepared to become part of society. (T. Klein, '61)

545 0p, cit. p. 126.

546 ANCL, 109, C 76.

547 Conger p. 134.

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