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Human Organic
Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner  

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Chapter I




    The bones of the body may be compared to the rocks in nature, especially to the sedimentary rocks. They form the basis of the softer tissues.
    The bones have many functions: 1. They afford protection for the viscera, as in the head and spine. 2. They give support for the softer parts, as in the chest and at the base of the tongue. 3. They give stability to the shape of the whole, as is true of the spinal column. 4. They furnish leverage for the muscles and thus make possible the motions of the body. Such leverage makes for strength, exactness, etc. 5. They transmit vibrations.(561)
    The bones are organic structures, nourished by an intricate network of blood vessels, and supplied by lymphatic vessels and nerves. They consist of living cells, surrounded by deposits of large amounts of inorganic materials - chiefly the insoluble phosphate of calcium (tri-calcic phosphate) - which form almost two-thirds of the weight of dried out bone. The structure is reinforced by flexible collagen fibres.
    The bones combine strength and lightness by being constructed outwardly of compact bone and inwardly of a) cancellous bone, which is a honeycombed, lighter tissue, and b) of marrow. Compare the use of hollow girders in engineering.
    The bones are encompassed at nearly their whole surface by periosteum.
    The bones are connected with each other by articulations, to form the skeleton. Some bones, like the avoid, are isolated from the rest, however. The articulations may be either fixed or free. The free joints are movable. The fixed joints are interlocked so as to be more or less immovable.
    At the articulations, the bones are protected by a layer of buffer substance known as cartilage. Sometimes this cartilage is extensive, as near the breastbone. Sometimes it is used instead of bone, as in the windpipe.
    Cartilage is the primal form of bone. But at the articular surfaces it remains as cartilage and has no deposition of calcium salts. Being elastic, cartilage prevents jars from being transmitted through the body, and gives elasticity to movements. The ribs end in cartilage to make the breast less brittle. Paddings of cartilage occur between the bones of the vertebral column and between the bones of the limbs.
    At the moveable joints, a bag of synovial fluid serves as a gearcase and prevents friction. A thin disc of cartilage occurs at the knee and at the jaw, to assist the freedom of the articulations.

    Ligaments and muscles connect the bones and hold them together.

    The origin and formation of bones and muscles are described in Swedenborgs's work on "The Periosteum". The formation is accomplished by the extension of fibrous sheaths which are gradually infilled with earthy matter. (562)

    Swedenborg makes no mention of the function of the marrow in connection with the origin of red blood corpuscles.

Correspondences of the Bones in Civic Society

    In the body of civic society, the "bones" are represented by those who are of gross intelligence, set in their social habits and political opinions. Among these are many unskilled laborers, thoughtless, perfunctory, doing routine uses in a machinelike, non-cooperative way without appreciation of the end in view. Their use is to form the skeleton or the firm resisting outline of social action. Their efficiency for mechanical response is easily measured by various mental tests.

    A civilization is in danger of producing too many of this external type of ability when it encourages blind loyalties, cut and dried education, hard and fast systems, and uses devoid of creative joy and individual initiative and enterprise; when freedom is limited, reflection is discouraged, and even philosophy is turned into a tiresome science of logical alternatives. The ossification of ideas is one of the dangers in any field thought or learning.

    But the protective value of this fulcrum of narrow-minded, bigoted elements is important. They form an opposition to impulsive changes, stabilize all fields of uses. Without that element, society would be in a state of constant ferment, and would be spineless like a jellyfish.


        Professor Adolph Elwyn compares the cells that are concerned with producing and maintaining the bones, to the building trades of a commonwealth.(563)

Spiritual Correspondences of the Bones

    The province of the Bones in the Grand Man is composed of spirits whose spiritual thought is sluggish, heavy, and slow. These are not easily worried with spiritual responsibilities, and have few temptations. They are in obscurity, yet talk a great deal, but mechanically and without really knowing what they say.(564) Other spirits speak through them: they echo the opinions of others.
    Spirits who have lived evilly, but by virtue of remains not extinguished are still salvable, though barely so, also belong to this province.(565)
    Those who have studied various sciences, yet have made little use of them by reflection on their meaning, also belong to the
Bones. (566)
    Moon spirits (who are small in stature and thunder when they speak) belong to the province of the cartilage of the breast bone.(567)
    The pagans who have not been reached by the Gospel, in the other life come into the province of the skins, cartilages, membranes, and bones of the Grand Man. "They cannot bear any higher joy" than they there experience. (568)
    The Church on earth makes the exteriors, or the cartilagineous and bony parts of the Grand Man, because the men on earth are provided with a body in which the ultimate spiritual is clothed with the natural.(569) The spirits who correspond to the things of  the external man are for the most part from this earth. (570)

    In general, bones, in a good sense, correspond to the ultimate Divine truth of the letter of the Word, or the lowest natural as to truth, which protects interior truths and goods. Hence the Lord said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." (571) No bones were permitted to be broken when the passchal lamb was eaten. The Lord's bones were not broken on the cross. (572) Joseph's bones (mummy) were at the Exodus carried into Canaan and buried there. (573) Eve was created from the "rib" of Adam. (574)   Bone, because of its sandy texture, particularly stands for scientifics, or knowledges in the external memory. (575)
    The evil, in the other life, are vastated as to all the good and truth which they have profaned. Hence they appear as having only skin and bone (576) Profaners become like blackened skeletons, with barely any self consciousness left. Those who have confirmed themselves against the Divine appear ossified. (577)



    The skin covers the surface of the body with a protective covering. It therefore forms a means of communication between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and separates the two. (578)

    The atmospheres exert a pressure on all points of the body; the body reacts and an equilibrium results. The atmospheres, especially the etherial or prior ones, urge all parts of the body to their center of gravity, giving freedom of locomotion, etc. The atmospheres also serve by their modifications, making distant objects present to our senses. The atmospheres communicate to us their changes of states: heat, moisture and motion, etc. The body opposes and balances its own states against them. The atmospheres also nourish and renovate the blood and spirit with elements sublimated from saline matters, thus with hidden food they insinuate primarily through the cuticle and the lung-tissue. And when man has died, the atmospheres and the earth receive their own back, while the celestial part of nature (the soul and supreme mind), goes to its own higher sphere. The world only sustains our bodies. The coverings of skins are for communication with the world, or for a boundary with the atmospheres.(579)
        The skin differs greatly in different parts of the body. It is expansive and elastic, conforming to muscular motion and pressures from without. It is composed of several distinct layers.

    Cuticle or Epiderm - consisting of a thick stratified epithelium, it serves to generalize the action of the interior tissues. It maintains the connection of the parts lying below or within it. Like a coat of mail, its scales protect and defend the sensitive membranes and organs below against the action of the air, against heat, cold, wind, vapors, and fluids, tempering these enforced changes of state in itself and breaking their force. In laborers the cuticle is thick. With Africans the constant action of the sun's rays is absorbed by the pigments. The cuticle admits simple and pure elements from the air and ether, but expels obsolete effluvia, sweats from useless lymph, brine, rancid fats, etc. It also conjoins the sensations of the single nervous papillae of the true skin into one sensation, which it blunts or sharpens. The cuticle has to be framed of contiguous scales, having the vis inertiae, to serve these uses. (580)
        Rete mucosum or Malphighian layer - a softer tissue with observably nucleated cells - is the basis and support of the cuticle, linking it with the papillary layer and acting as a transferring medium. It also strengthens the adjacent parts and conspires with the rest to an equilibrium and balance. It is called the corpus reticulare.(581)
    Cutis or true skin - a deeper layer which is composed of dense connective tissue which becomes more open in texture as it passes into the subcutaneous connective tissue which underlies it in most parts of the body. It contains a capillary network of blood vessels. From its upper surface rise innumerable papillae which project into the rete mucosum. The papillae contain capillaries and occasionally terminations of sensory nerves.
    No blood vessels are seen to pass into the mucosum or the cuticle, but these are fed by lymph which exudes from the true skin by intercellular channels. Fine strands of nerve fibres however pass up between the cells of the mucosum.

According to Swedenborg(582) the cutis serves as a new source for the fibres and as an end and beginning of the vessels. It contains three types of pores:

1.     Diminutive pores which are continuations of the nerve fibres that terminate in the papillae. These are the beginnings of the "corporeal fibres", and suck in purer food elements from the air and ether.(583)

2.     Small ducts which are convoluted of the pores of the first kind and, running from the papillae, form the beginnings of the arteries. The innermost coat of the arteries is thus constructed of corporeal fibres. These ducts excrete worthless effluvia from the blood. The "corporeal fibres", acting as venous fibres, convey elemental foods from the ethereal and celestial auras partly to the cortical glands, partly to the pulmonic cells, partly to the left side of the heart.(584)

3.     Canals which originate from the subcutaneous or miliary glands and which form the beginnings of the veins. These eject effete matter from the arteries and also suck in new aliment into the veins from the air.

    All three kinds of pores continue with the blood vessels into the heart and lungs, and the corporeal fibres follow the arteries into the cortical glands. The cutis, with its miniature viscera and intestines, serves as the foster mother of the spirits and as the nurse of the blood.
    The tissues of the skin are moved by a systole and diastole synchronous with the pulse.(585)

    Thus the fibres springing up in the brain again commence anew in the cutis, returning in a gyre to their principles in the cortical glands and thence run forth again with their parent fibres in an everlasting circle. (586)

    All the successive interior degrees are present in the skin in simultaneous order:   nerves, blood, flesh, skin, and even horny nails. These correspond to the ultimates of all the various heavens. (587)

    The various layers of the skin may be compared to the four coverings of the Tabernacle of Israel. The innermost curtain (with its guardian cherubs) is like the papillary layer with its tactile corpuscles which guard the entrance to the body itself.(588)

Correspondences of the Skin

    The cuticle represents spirits who do not perceive or discriminate what is true or good, but go no further than arguing whether this or that be so. They remain in externals.(589) Those who are easily persuaded by others and then are most stubborn in their opinion. (590) Those who are in generals of faith, and exercise charity without discrimination. These are easily led astray by deceits and hypocrisies. The sensual. (591) Those who love to talk without understanding.(592) The simple. (593)

    The papillary skin corresponds to societies at the entrance of heaven who perceive the quality of spirits at their first approach and who admit or reject them. (594)     The ducts of the skin which serve for the absorption of ethereal chyles correspond to the office of introducing infants and little children into the gyre of heaven without their having to go through the states represented by the digestive process. (595)

A great many of the spirits from our earth belong to the province of the skin, "because our planet is in externals and also, like
the skin, reacts against internals." (596)

        Impressions of sense are here organized into "sciences" which do not exist on any other earth.(
        The senses are all in the province of the skin. The spirits of our earth correspond to external or corporeal sensation.(
        The Lord was born on our earth, because the Word is here preserved through which all spirits in the universe can be instructed.(
    599) Those from our earth can nevertheless come into the interior and inmost heaven.(600)
    The skin of various parts of the body takes a correspondence according to the use it serves. Spirits of the skin of the chest are easily persuaded by simulated mercy, those of the skin of the genitals by simulated Conjugial love. (601)
    Spirits of the province of the cuticle are obsessing spirits. An undue care of the complexion opens the way for these spirits who inflow with a distaste for doing anything real and a repugnance against one's uses.  They also insinuate flippancy towards morals and religions, inculcate a love of delicate living and flattery, and the placing of wisdom in elegant refutations of truth. Such cuticular spirits also cause a type of deafness.(602) Certain sirens act as cuticular spirits.(603)

    Among the spirits of the skin are also included literalists. (604) philosophers devoid of common sense;(605) and those signified by Hebrew servants, who can be reformed but not regenerated, and therefore can perform only menial uses in the other life.(606)

    In a supreme sense, the skin corresponds to the external of the Word.(607)

Correspondence of the Hair and the Nails

    The Hair supremely represents the Divine ultimates. (608) It also corresponds to the Word in its ultimates (609) and is sometimes described(610) as 'white as snow'; (611) and to the Divine Providence in its ultimate operation. (612) Angels who love the Word in its ultimates appear bearded (613) and the power of the literal sense is represented by Samson's hair, Absalom's hair, and the hairy garments of some prophets.

    Hair represents the formalities and courtesies of natural life, and to comb and pull the hair signifies to accommodate natural things so that they are becoming and appropriate.(614)
    The hair represents also the ultimates of wisdom (head) and of intelligence (beard).(615)
    Women's hair. (616)
    The Pre-adamites (modern?) corresponded to the pubic hair; possibly to foetal hair.(617)

    The nails correspond to sensual truths and to sensual spirits. (618) Also to most wicked spirits who become stupid.(619)


    The ether enters the pores of the body and exerts a pressure on the interior viscera.(620)
    In the spiritual world, the skin of a regenerate is represented beautifully constructed.(621)



    The skeleton is clothed and covered, except in a few places, by flesh, which is made up of muscles in sheathings called fascia. Muscle tissue is directly responsible for bodily movements, but it also serves for protection, etc. The muscles are either attached between two bones, as e.g. the biceps, or they occur in broad sheets partly encircling a cavity, as e.g. the diaphragm and the sphincter muscles. The arteries and veins and the walls of the alimentary canal have muscular linings: and the heart and some other organs consist mostly of muscular tissue. Such tissue occurs also elsewhere in the body, as in the skin, the eye-ball, etc.
    There are three kinds of muscular tissue, which is a contractile substance.
1)     One kind consists of long, striped, cylindrical fibres about 1/500 of an inch in diameter but up to an inch or more in length. It is called voluntary muscle fibre. Each fibre lies within a tubular elastic sheath, the "sarcolemma", in which elongated nuclei are
seen. These fibres, by the hundreds, lie parallel to each other, bunched into fascicles divided by delicate sheaths of connective tissue. The fascicles are joined into larger bundles which are invested by a common sheath into what we see as a muscle.
2)     A second kind of muscle tissue is cardiac muscle tissue, so called because it is special to the heart. It differs from the voluntary muscle tissue by having fibres that consist of a series of short cylindrical cells joined together end to end without any dividing sarcolemma, and which branch and anastomose with neighboring fibres. The striations of the fibres are less distinct and the nuclei lie in the center of the fibres.
3)     The third kind of muscle tissue is composed of involuntary or plain muscle fibres. Of such consist the muscular coats of the blood vessels and the intestines, etc. This fibre is an elongated fusiform cell, usually not more than 1/600 of an inch in length. It has an oval or rod-shaped nucleus, and is not striped across but longitudinally.
    Involuntary muscle tissue, and especially cardiac, seems to have automotive properties which are not yet fully understood.
    The muscle fibres are fed osmotically from tiny capillaries (c. 1/2500 in. diam.). They are bathed by lymph. They are stimulated by nerve fibres. These vessels run alongside the muscle fibres. The capillaries do not enter the muscle fibres, but by nerve "twigs" pierce the sarcolemma and terminate in end-plates on the contractile substance.

    Swedenborg, in the Writings, illustrates the doctrine of "discrete degrees" by the muscle which consists of very minute fibrils which are fasciculated into motor fibres, while these again are bundled into muscles. (622) In the minutest fibres there is nothing solid. (623) The motor fibre consists of blood vessels and nervous fibres. (624)
    Muscular tissue is from the blood vessels and these form nervous fibres. (625) All organs are woven from vessels and fibres,  from which come the ducts and lesser forms.(626) A muscle is of four-fold origin: a) the smallest vessel, b) the nervous fibre itself, c) the fibre of the pellucid blood, d) the fleshy motive fibre of the red blood. (627)

    All the muscles which encompass the body - the skeletal muscles - "take their fibres for the most part from the cerebrum". From these man has sense and voluntary motion. But the viscera receive fibres from the cerebellum; hence man has no conscious sensation of them nor are those parts at the disposal of his own will. (628) The things of the heart and the cerebellum are called involuntary and spontaneous, but the things of the lungs and the cerebrum are called voluntary. (629)
    Antagonistic muscles are involved in movements, and are controlled by an intricate mechanism from the cerebrum and the
cerebellum. (630)
    The action of the muscles involves reaction.(631) The membrane reacts against the acting fibres within it. (632)
    All muscles are moved by the nerve fibres from their beginnings in the cortical substance.(633) A thousand motor fibres concur in each movement. (634)
    The muscle is contracted when arterial blood is expelled from it. (635)

    The will together with the understanding moves the muscle. (636) The heart and the lungs are the two fountains of all natural movements in the body. (637) Voluntary actions depend on the lungs.(638) Still the heart is the prime agent in producing movements and the lungs the prime agent in producing sensation.(639)

    Swedenborg labored long to explore how the will causes bodily movements by means of the fibres and how the lungs cooperated, but realized that it was "better simply to know that the will flows in..."(640)

Correspondences of Flesh and Muscle

    Supremely, the flesh corresponds to the Lord's Divine good or Divine Proprium, as in the Holy Supper. (641) and to the ultimates of the glorified Human. (642)
    The flesh of the sacrifices signified the good of love.(643)
    Flesh corresponds to a) man's corporeal,(644)b) man's voluntary proprium,(645)c) the proprium when vivified by the good of the Lord's love,(646) thus the new proprium.
    The muscles are likened to the boards which supported the curtains of the Tabernacle.(647) Wood signifies the good of merit, thus 'proprium'.
    Muscles, or the flesh, corresponds to the celestial.(648) But voluntary muscles correspond to the spiritual kingdom(649), or to the cogitative and voluntary. (650)

    The celestial or the will (voluntary) may mean a) the hereditary will, or the cerebellum, which is yet
"involuntary" because it is unconscious; or, b) the acquired will formed in the understanding or in the cerebrum. This latter may by regeneration become a new will from the Lord, or a new proprium.

    The structure of the muscles corresponds to that of the mind.(651) Also to the order of scientifics in the memory.(652) (The spiritual body is closely related to the memory.(653)) Also to the order of societies of spirits in the other life.(654)
    All movements and actions correspond to the things which man thinks and wills.(655)

Correspondence of the Muscles in the Civic Society

    While those answer to the bones who are stupid, ignorant, and set in their opinions, those answer to the muscles who are practical and active, and do much of the world's work. But efficiency is often overrated and the "red-blood" hero belongs to adolescence. Society can become musclebound, if it is insisted that only those things are useful which are of immediate practical use. The philosophy of "pragmatism" would judge all truth not from rational perception but on its value as a working theory . It would tolerate religion because it was in demand - true for some. It would be averse to the idea of anything being true in itself.

    The muscles cannot rule the body, but must be directed by the brain. All uses in society must be directed by those in the perception of good ends and true means.

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561 The doctrine of Tremulations was stressed by Swedenborg since 1717.

562 Periosteum 5, cf D. 3888, 3913.

563 The Story of the Human Body(New York: 1930), pp.70-89.

564 A. 5560-62

565 A 5561.

566 D. 5141.

567 U. 111; A. 5564.

568 p. 254, refs

569 E. 1222 3.

570 A. 4330.

571 AE 11 12.

572A. 8005, 9163.

573 A. 6592.

574 Explained, A. 147, 151; CL 193.

575 D. 5141, 5144

576 CL 512; D. 3910, 3912, 3944.

577P. 227:5; A. 10287; D. 3910, 3912, 3944. For the correspondence of the Teeth, see chapter two section D, below.

578 General reference: An. Kingdom, nos. 484-530, "On the Skin and the Sense of Touch". The Sense of Touch is further treated of, nos. 548-573.

579 AK 484-86. Compare DLW 176.

580 AK 487-494

581 AK 495499

582 AK 504ff.

583 Cf D. 1738; A. 3628:2.

584 The evidence to support this is cited, AK 509.

585 AK 502-520.

586 AK 507

587 A. 5559

588A, 9632, 9509

589 A. 5556.

590 A. 5554

591 A. 5555

592 A. 5557

593 A. 8870.

594 A. 5553, 8980.

595 See D. 1022, 1035.

596 A. 5554

597 Enumerated' D. 4663: 11.

598 U. 122. See D. 1741, 1434-35; 1531, 3328-30, 4782; A. 8630, 9107, 9360.

599 A. 9356, 9357.

600 See D. 1531.

601 D. 3704.

602 D. 1743-51

603 D. 3206; A. 4459. See Spirits and Men, by H.L Odhner (1958), pp. 131 et seq.130 Word. 607

604 D. 1737

605 A. 5556.

606 A. 8980 et seq.

607 A. 10691, cf E. 1088.

608 F. 66.

609 S. 35.

610 610 De Verbo x.

611 Rev. 1:14, cf Dan. 7:9.

6l2 Matt x:30; A. 6494e.

613 De Verbo x.

614 A. 5569-5573, 5247. Illustrated, A. 2125; D. 3992.

615 E 569:17.

616 A. 5570.

617 Cf D. D. 3390ff

618 A 3703:16; D. 5982e, 6109.

6l9 D. 5560.

620A. 3628 2; DLW 176.

621 A. 5559.

622 W.190; T.147, 351.

623 D.242, 2250.

624 A.9394:5,cf D.;3035.

625 See Periostium 4-6,cf I Econ.230; D.1075.

626 A.3347, 9394:5.

627 I Econ.142;2 Econ.177-182. Compare W.304.

628 A.4325,Cf 7850,9683:2.

629 A.9670, 4325; E.2223; D. Love v.; D.111,5781.

630 Action xiii.

631 T.577; W.260; D. Wis. x.4.

632 W. 260.

633 D.3471; D. Wis. v.

634 W. 215.

635 I Econ.230.

636 D. Wis. ii (3).

637 D. Wis. vi., x.4.

638 D.3035; D. Wis. vi.7.

639 D. Wis. x.4; W.399; D. Wis. vi.6.

640 D.4010, 4013,4000. Cf D. Wis. x.4, ii.(3); D.3399e, 3035.

641 A.2343e.

642 T.109; A.5078, etc.

643 A.8682.

644 A.572.

645 A.670.

646A 6968.

647 A.9634e.

648 D.5575-76.

649 D.1060; A.4325.

650 A.2988e.

651 A. 3347

652 A. 9394 :5.

653 H. 463.

654 D. 3035

655 A. 2988e; D. 3891.

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