Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner
In the following NOTES, which presuppose that the student is familiar with the general anatomy and physiology of the human body, no attempt is made to cover the extant knowledge of the subject, but only to refer to such data from present-day anatomy, and (especially) from Swedenborg's physiological works, which are basic to the understanding of the spiritual correspondences of the body.
The statements cited from Swedenborg's physiological works need to be checked by modern research, but a disagreement with present day opinion does not necessarily involve any permanent contradiction.
Part 3, Chapter II
THE ABDOMINAL VISCERA
A. THE ALIMENTARY CANAL IN GENERAL
The alimentary canal is an invagination of the outer surface of the body intended for the purpose of holding the food while it is being prepared for absorption by the body tissues and while it is being so absorbed. The canal is lengthened especially by the small intestines which are well over 25 feet long when released after death, but about 10 feet long during life. They are lined with villi which enormously increase the absorptive surface which comes into contact with the food.
Swedenborg calls attention to the fact that the alimentary canal is partitioned and secured by seven "doors" or "locks"; the lips, the teeth, the pharynx, the cardiac sphinctor, the pyloric sphinctor, the valvula coli, and the os coccygis. Each of these doors is furnished with a sphinctor muscle, except the teeth which may be compared to a bony fence.(656)
The fact that the bodily processes correspond to the processes of man's spiritual life and regeneration was perceived by Swedenborg more and more clearly after he had begun to study the correspondences and representations employed in the Scriptures and had come into sensible contact with the spiritual world. This is clear from statements made in the Animal Kingdom concerning the uses of the kidneys.(657)
In the theological Writings, this rudimentary recognition was transformed into a complete doctrine of spiritual correspondences, which is a one with the revealed teachings about the human organic and the Grand Man.
The Correspondences of Eating
The appropriation of food by the body is a general parallel to the absorption of mental food, or knowledge, and its digestion in the mind. But it also represents the introduction of new members into a society or body politic. And since heaven is a Grand Man, every new spirit who enters the world of spirits is like a food particle that is to offer its nutritive substance and energy to the bodily system.
Eating implies appropriation, since something is being dedicated to the blood. This suggests a celestial use. A spirit entering the other life is like a single particle of food entering the mouth.(658)
The food, as long as it is in the alimentary canal, is in reality outside of the body although enclosed by its tissues; even as spirits in the world of spirits are not yet in the Grand Man.(659) Food corresponds to spiritual food or to truths and goods.(660) When a man is eating, spirits with him are being nourished by spiritual food.(661)
The digestive process corresponds closely to all the states which the spirit experiences when being introduced into the Grand Man or being rejected into the hells.(662) It also illustrates the unconscious operation of the soul in the body, the spiritual nourishment and purification of man's mind, and thus the many secret ways by which Divine Providence withdraws man from evil.(663)
The successive states of novitiate spirits in the world of spirits may therefore be traced in the process of Digestion.(664)
The states of spirits after death may be summarized as follows:
1. The Process of Resurrection(665)
The lips, Swedenborg says, anticipate the use of
the tongue and stand as two chained janitors at the common entrance to
In newborn infants, the lips are actively ready for
sucking the mother's milk; which signifies a celestial state of innocence
In the Grand Man, the lips answer to those celestial angels who attend man at death and gently aid in resuscitating his spirit.(672)
The lips are used specifically for speech and for
eating. The many organs involved in speech are described in Divine Providence
In the Most Ancient Church, speech was silent by the expressions of the lips, the eyes, and face.(673) The muscles of the lips were then more perfectly developed.(674) This is still the case with the inhabitants of Jupiter.(675) Kissing is an act symbolic of love, welcome, and introduction to conjunction.(676)
Speech signifies understanding, and the lips, after articulate languages arose, signify doctrine. The earth having 'one lip' (Gen. xi. 1) refers to a common doctrine of charity.(677)
The entrance to the abdominal kingdom is through
the Mouth and Esophagus. But the principal organs of digestion which lie
The abdominal viscera, except for the organs of generation, in general correspond to societies of the natural or ultimate heaven.
The Mouth. In eating, the action of the mouth is for the lips, cheeks, and tongue to direct food between the teeth where it is thoroughly ground up, mixed with saliva, and prepared for tasting and swallowing. During mastication, saliva is poured copiously into the mouth to initiate the breakdown of starches by means of its enzymes, to soften and lubricate the food for swallowing, and to dissolve solids so that they may be tasted and smelled. After the food has been so prepared, it is pressed together and passed forcibly backward into the pharynx by the action of the tongue.
The mouth contributes to speech primarily through the functions of the lips and tongue, but also by the aid of the palates, teeth, and cheeks. Sounds are thus given articulattion and tone.
The Saliva, besides having the uses mentioned
above, helps to rinse the mouth of food residues and bacteria, to regulate
The use of the teeth is to break up the food mechanically,
to grind and subdivide it so that it can be mixed with the juices of the
salivary and mucous glands. The incisors hold and divide the food, the
canines break it up, and the bicuspids and molars
The teeth correspond to the sensuals of the understanding (678), and to exterior intellectual or natural truth(679), thus to the rules by which outward behavior is judged according to standards set by others. In society, such laws of conduct are determined by public opinion. The world of learning also has similar criteria by which truth and practicability are judged - laws of logical procedure by which the data of evidence are broken down into their elements before their true meaning can be ascertained.
In the world of spirits, the novitiate breaks off artificial worldly association and soon experiences preliminary examinations and judgments which break up corporeal cupidities and phantasies (SD 1742). His worldly memory is rendered quiescent, but is sometimes reopened to disclose hypocrisies.(680)
The spirits of the province of the teeth are probably
inferior spirits with little interior perception. They are apt to be dogmatic,
The 'gnashing of teeth' signifies the clash of false dogmas, or the odium theologicum. (681)
Children's first teeth (which lack roots) may represent truths learnt from parents in states of obedience - and a judgment which is not really their own. The 'false' teeth of old age may represent the artificial conventions of human society which are adopted owing to the prevalence of hypocrisy. For hypocritical spirits inflow into the teeth and cause toothache and decay.(682)
Among other evil spirits who refer to this province and who have little spiritual life are some who are in natural research, some who ridicule truths with others, and some who are comedians.(683)
The tongue has more uses than any other member, yet the eye sees them all as indistinct.(684) By muscular action, it sucks in, sips, eats, drinks, swallows. It foretastes "the finest extracts and absorbs" them into the blood by special papillae. (This use of the papillae is not recognized by modern physiologists.) It tastes by means of its various kinds of papillae, which are "little tongues".(685) It aids in speaking - and thus in a sense dispenses spiritual food.(686) It stands as a guard at the crossways to stomach, lungs, and brain. It also spits out what the system rejects. It assumes states corresponding to different natural affections, as in crying and laughing.(687) Its muscles are therefore marvelously balanced and antagonized, and its nerves are derived from cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla oblongata.(688)
The tongue corresponds to the affection of knowing and understanding truths and of becoming wise(689), and also to the affection of thinking and producing truths. (690) Sounds signify affections, and by articulations represent ideas. (691) The tongue also signifies religious confession(692), opinions, principles, and persuasions.(693) Although situated in the head, which answers to the celestial degree, it serves a spiritual function. The province of the Tongue in the Grand Man contains those who can speak from a perceptive intelligence.(694) These instruct newcomers. (695) Risen spirits immediately know the universal spiritual language the words of which consist of ideas. (696)
The pentecostal 'cloven tongues of fire' mentioned in Acts ii., and the 'gift of tongues', signified intelligence. (697) Thought and spiritual speech inflow into the movements of the tongue.(698) Evil spirits who hate instruction inflow into the tongue (699), but none are allowed to inflow into man's sense of taste, although obsessing spirits seek to do so.(700)
Taste corresponds to the natural perception
of good and truth, while smell corresponds to a spiritual perception.(701)
To my knowledge Swedenborg. does not comment on the action of the tongue in forcing vapors from mouth into nose, where they contact the sensory organs of smell; and that this constitutes a major part of what is perceived and tasted. Taste is limited to the gross sensations of sweet, sour, salt and bitter. Might it be in the latter area where angels etc. lack taste? - Dr. Robert Alden
The delight of taste helps to assure the nourishment and health of the body on which the soundness of the mind depends.(706) Without delights the food is not so nourishing, for delights cause the ducts to be opened which convey the chyle into the bloodstream. (707) The delights of conversation and social affections at table seem to aid digestion.(708) Yet it is proper for man to prepare food chiefly with reference to the use and not to the taste only.(709)
The province of the tongue is infested by spirits who form "societies of friendship" or social cliques. These are united by an external love which disregards good or evil and thus delays the progress of the novitiate spirits towards interiors.(710) "Friendships of love" therefore have detrimental results after death.(711)
In general, the angels of the province of the tongue watch over the novitiate spirit while he begins to explore the spiritual world(712), and direct him into congenial societies in the world of spirits according to the free inclinations of his natural affections; and the spirits corresponding to the saliva also aid by giving practical instruction to facilitate his changes of state.(713)
Infants who are introduced into heaven immediately
after death correspond to the finest essences of the food which (through
the veins and corporeal fibres) are absorbed from the mouth and enter the
bloodstream or the brains.(714)
The muscular coats of the Pharynx and the upper part of the Oesophagus are composed of striated or voluntary muscle fibres and serve in the conscious act of swallowing. The muscular coats of the lower part of the esophagus are composed of non-striated, involuntary fibres like those of the stomach and intestines, and the food, once swallowed, is thus no longer under the control of man's conscious will.
Spirits in the world of spirits are carried as by a spiritual current toward their dominant interests and interior associations, and resistance is futile.(717) All spirits have to pass by the same road.(718)
The organs arranged around the abdominal portion of the alimentary canal correspond to the lowest or ultimate heaven. (719)
In respect to its contents, the stomach corresponds to the World of Spirits, where novitiate spirits are prepared for heaven or for hell.(720) It also corresponds to man's memory and understanding, in which are knowledges that are not yet part of man's spirit; wherefore "that which entereth in at the mouth defileth not a man..."(Matt. xv. 11).
The Stomach appears as a saccular enlargement of the alimentary canal It usually holds from two to five pints, and varies in shape. It is bounded by two sphincters - the cardiac and the pyloric - while a third band of muscular fibres may constrict the organ so as to distinguish the pyloric vestibule from the rest.
The Stomach wall consists of various layers:The Stomach exerts both mechanical and chemical effects on the food. It is a retort for nature's own arts and sciences. The form and flow of its action is spiral (compare peristalsis).(722)
The rugae divide the stomach into a multitude of "little stomachs", producing also a reticular appearance.(723)
The reticular forms in the stomach walls are likened to sieves or gratings "which sift those things which flow in from the world", admitting only what is suitable into the blood. "The same is the case with the Sensual, which is the extreme, or ultimate, of man's life." This external sensual which sifts the things entering man's understanding and thence into his will, is represented by the grating on the altar of burnt offerings. But the Sensual is now so perverted that scarcely anyone can have it regenerated.(724)
The sensory nerves of the stomach (braches of the Par Vagum) carry sensations not to the cerebrum but to the cerebellum, so as to inform the soul(725)
The stomach corresponds to the world of spirits, which is like a forum where all spirits are first assembled. (726) This is midway between heaven and hell, and there spirits are examined and prepared, like the contents of the stomach are prepared to become blood or flesh or to be excrement or urine. (727) Spirits may stay there from a month up to twenty or thirty years.(728)
Specifically, the Stomach represents the entrance into the "second state" of the world of spirits. For just as the cell-walls of the food tissue are dissolved and real nutriment exposed, so the natural groupings of spirits are broken up and those who are in the love of uses are brought into new associations and interior states.(729)
The confusion of the food in the stomach is only apparent: for the soul governs it and separates good from bad; and similarly, the confusion in the world of spirits is controlled by the Lord and within there is an internal order and peace.(730) If man could control the digestive processes of the stomach, he would pervert and destroy it.(731) All the interior viscera are therefore governed by the involuntary nerves.
The churning movements of the stomach represent the first discipline of spirits after their coming into the other life.(732) They are sometimes carried in wide circles towards all the quarters, to be judged.(733)
The object of the "second state" is to liberate the spirit so that he may think and speak from his own affections, and not from the external fears and habits of civil life.(734) The means of this liberation is instruction in truths, and this truth is represented in the stomach by the gastric juice.
Absorption in the Stomach. Physiologists at the present day state that the absorption of nourishment is effected almost wholly in the small intestines. But it is admitted that certain substances such as simple sugars (when in concentrate), peptones (into which the pepsin converts some of the proteins) and alcohol may traverse the lining of the stomach and also that of the colon.
Swedenborg notes that subtile food essences are absorbed in the skin, into the lungs, the mouth, and the stomach. He states that the tongue "foretastes" the food. Its imperceptible pores drink in the purer essences and deliver them to the blood immediately.(735) The stomach imbibes the purest of its contents and sends it directly to cerebrum and cerebellum (presumably by the 'corporeal fibres'), while it sends the next purer into the blood. The less refined substances are drawn into the capillaries; or into the lymphatics and thus into the receptaculum chyli. And other parts are further examined and sent through the veins into the liver. The rest of the food, the main bulk, flows then into the intestines to be acted upon by the cystic and hepatic bile (and the pancreatic juice). The stomach and the veins which lead into the portal system and the liver must convey supplies to the body, "lest our life should hang on so slender a thread as the thoracic duct".(736)
The Writings tell that there are spirits whose character renders them fit for heaven as soon as they have been freed from the worldly concerns which enmeshed them and are released from consociation with false friends. They are likened to "the purer juices of the food which are at once imbibed by "the veins" of the stomach.(737) The peptones and sugars, available for tissue-building and for energy, aptly correspond to spirits who are eager to enter the uses of charity; although some may seek to enter heaven prematurely and are then destined to experience vexations and further tutoring.
The chief solvent in the stomach is the gastric juice
which contains hydrochloric acid (HCL) derived from the salt (NaCl) of
the blood, and secreted along with certain enzymes, notably pepsin. The
enzyme mucin is also secreted to protect the stomach
from its own juices. The gastric juice seems to represent the truth
in which spirits are instructed by the angels of the first heaven,
Salt in general represents the affection of
truth, which is conjunctive and preservative. In the other life, good spirits
Indigestion. The various symptoms of indigestion are caused by excessive amounts of certain fatty foods, difficult to digest, and by mental states which affect the autonomic nervous system. In the world of spirits, those remain long who are in strong natural affections of a worldly character, in avarice, or in "natural goods", or who are in solicitude about the future or in grief about the loss of worldly possessions or earthly prestige, or are subject to other anxieties. Such spirits, when present with man, induce stomach disorders and consequent anxieties. (741) Those who make everything a matter of conscience also act on the diaphragm and induce abdominal anxieties.(742) Superacidity may also be aggravated by revengeful spirits.(743)
"The Lower Earth". The food which cannot be digested in the stomach represents spirits who are in the state called "the lower earth".(744) Because of falsities, "most persons" must pass through this state before being taken into heaven.(745) Certain spirits, gathered in "societies of interior friendship" and despising others, also may be likened to undigested food in the stomach which induces states of sadness.(746)
Mental digestion. In an abstract sense, the stomach - and especially the ruminatory stomach of cattle - represents the memory or the thought of the understanding.(747) It corresponds to a love of knowing for the sake of uses, or to the digesting of useful knowledge and to a delight in freedom of thought (748)
The small intestines receive the food partly prepared by the stomach in the form of chyme, and in them the processes of digestion and absorption are completed. The inner surface of the intestinal tube is folded into ridges and provided by projecting villi, so as to present a surface of some twenty square feet. Its rhythmic contractions are alternately pendular and peristaltic. The geometrical form is incomprehensibly intricate.(749) The walls are filled with tiny glands which secrete juices that lubricate and digest. But the intestines also receive two important sources of digestive juices, viz., those of the Pancreas and the Bile Ducts.
Proteins are here converted into amino-acids, starches into sugar. Fatty substances usually pass into the intestines chemically unchanged, and there they are immediately acted upon by the alkaline pancreatic fluid and bile, and become an emulsion, a milky fluid. The fats are split into fatty acids and soluble glycerin which can be absorbed into the cell walls and afterwards recombined to form fat globules in the tissues. Some of the fatty acid reacts with the alkaline juices to form soap which is soluble in water. The Pancreas is activated to secrete its enzymes not so much by its nerves as by hormones given to the blood by intestinal cells when gastric juices reach them.
The fat is absorbed from the intestinal walls by the lacteals or lymphatics which lie in the fanlike folds of the mesentery and which by stages gather it into the Receptaculum Chyli. This lies at a point of rest near the backbone in the upper abdominal cavity. From this receptacle the chyle with its fats gradually enters the bloodstream through the Thoracic Duct, and what is not needed is stored in fatty tissues in various parts of the body, in the liver, in the omentum, in the muscles, under the skin, etc.
Correspondence of Fat. Fat corresponds to the good of love, in various degrees. But excessive fat represents natural good which obstructs both usefulness and perception and which frequently hides evils and harbors states of merit and even hypocrisy and deceit.(750)
In the world of spirits the second state, an entrance into interiors, is delayed by natural good, which detains the spirit in externals and makes him liable to be captivated by falsities.(751) Such spirits enter the places of vastation - or the "lower earth" - signified by the intestines. They are kept there until the unclean things which cling to their thoughts and affections from the world are wiped away. Some are bound to the wicked by friendships of love.(752)
Bile is an excrementitious humor separated from the blood in the liver. It assists the pancreatic juice in digestion. It serves to separate unclean things, cleanses the intestines and has a mild antiseptic action.(753) It contains various valuable minerals which are reabsorbed into the intestines.
The spirits of this province are described as obstinate, embittered and self-opinionated. They delight to find fault and to punish, believing that they thereby do good. They are separated from places of instruction as unsuitable. In the world these crude spirits had despised what is honorable and had been scornful of piety.(754) They love to shock others.(755) By such critical spirits the pretences of natural good are exposed. They also compel others to speak faster than they think, and train those who are obstinately slow or sullen.(756)
The pancreatic juice seems to correspond to similar spirits of a more subtle character.
The spirits of the pancreatic duct, the hepatic duct and the gall bladder direct castigations and punishments and are unwilling to desist. They are tenacious and stubborn in their opinion and phantasies, but do not act from hatred but from a naturally bad disposition.(757
Absorption of food material. The digested food enters the bloodstream by two avenues.
1) The proteids and carbohydrates and various soluble substances, after being modified and accepted by the cells of the intestinal villi, are absorbed by the capillaries and are collected and conveyed by a large vein, called the Portal Vein, to the Liver, where they are modified and purified before they are passed on by the hepatic veins to the Inferior Vena Cava and the heart.The spiritual correspondence of these forms of aliment is suggested by their character. Starches and the sugars formed from them signify what is grateful and delightful, and since sugars give energy to the tissues, they must represent spirits who are in the eager love of use. Proteins, being tissue-building material, are of a 'spiritual' type, referring to truths which give form, stability, and proprium to the good of use. Fats represent celestial good; but it is clear from the nexus of things that the contents of the lacteals refer to spirits who are in various states of good affections, especially natural affections and moral goods which provide incentives and serve to make human society smoothly cooperative; even as fats are present in all muscular connective tissue, acting as a reserve for the production of heat and energy, and serving as buffers to ease tissue movements.(758)
The Peritoneum is a thin, soft, elastic membrane which lines the abdominal cavity and covers all its organs, assisting to keep the viscera in place and distributing the motions of the viscera over the whole.(759)
The spirits corresponding to this membrane
love to speak in unison, like to know and explain all things and so confirm
themselves. They are modest, and do nothing from themselves. But if
necessary they exercise tremendous power by inflating
and thus striking terror upon aggressive spirits from the provinces
of the kidneys and bladder.(760) They seem to be of
These spirits seem to facilitate the uses of others
by a sympathetic cooperative attitude. They work for peace and harmony,
The Peritoneum forms several folds which have different names: the Mesentery, the Meso-colon, the Meso-rectum, the Greater Omentum and the Lesser Omentum.
The Omentum hangs over the stomach and the
intestines like a free apron - a double sheet containing layers of warmer
The Mesentery is a fold of the Peritoneum which holds the Jejunum and the Ileum in place. Thus it envelopes and supports within its layers some ten or more feet of the intestines, making a very full ruffle on a fanlike double sheath gathered on a base of less than six inches. It contains blood vessels and nerves and a network of lymphatics.
The lymphatics which, during digestion, drain chyle from the intestines are called lacteals. These are gathered up into an anastomosing network containing many nodes which filter the lymph. Swedenborg calls the nodes "conglobate glands".(764) The Mesentery thus "elaborates the chyle and the liver the blood". (765)
This network, which is eventually drained into the Receptaculum Chyli and the Thoracic Duct, the Writings compare to the paradisal labyrinths which are at the entrance to heaven. Spirits are there borne to their places and uses through infinite turnings and winding ways.(766) This suggests also the infinite ways by which the Lord withdraws man from his evils.(767)
Lymph is a thin liquid which transudes from the blood capillaries and bathes the cells of the various tissues in its nutrient plasma. This intercellular fluid also retrieves unneeded substances or waste material from the cells The lymph-nodes or conglobate glands also collect poisons and hold them until the bloodstream can take care of their disposal. The interchange between the blood and the lymph is effected by means of osmosis and by a selective absorption.(768)
Chyle is a lymph laden with nutrient materials, mostly fat, from the digestive canal. Its gyres are rapid in a peculiar galloping rhythm. Because the chyle is not yet assigned to uses in the body or brain, it corresponds to wandering spirits who are often chastised or vexed.(769) These appear in different situations, since chyle may remain as such for some time in the plasma of the blood and subtile chyle enters the brain to feed the cortical glands. But all such spirits have some reference to the "province" of the Chyle Duct.(770)
In his use of the term "chyle", Swedenborg often includes not only the nutrient materials in the lacteals but also the elements (mostly sugars and amino-acids) absorbed by the veins and brought by the portal system into the liver.(771) He also speaks, in the physiological works, about "serial chyle" absorbed by the lungs and "etherial chyle" imbibed by the "corporeal fibres" of the skin. In the Writings he mentions "subtile chyle".(772) sFrom the food when it has become chyle, the vessels draw out and call forth their blood, the nerve fibres their juice, and the substances which are the origin of the fibres their animal spirit".(773) This is cited in illustration of the doctrine that when the letter of the Word is read by man, its internal senses are unfolded before the angels of the spiritual and celestial heavens.
Since the absorption of chyle from the intestines corresponds to the assimilation of spiritual food, which is knowledge, the chyle vessels open when man partakes of natural food while he is conversing and listening in pleasant company, and then he is more fully nourished than when he eats alone.(774)
The spirits corresponding to the Chyle Cistern(775) and Thoracic Duct explore the ideas and cupidities of others. Some are modest, some impertinent; and the first class desire to know a man's good for the sake of friendship. But they explore particularly a spirit's unpremeditated expressions.(776) They seem to exercise a suction upon spirits.(777) There is a spiritual gravitation answering to that of the fluids in the human body.(778)
The "Third State" of the world of spirits seems to be represented by the chyle in the lacteals, mesentery, and chyle-duct. This state is a state of Instruction, which is given in places at the borders of heaven. In such places good spirits, redeemed from evil environments, are trained and brought into choral actions, or into gyres of use, and also accustomed to something of spiritual thought.(779)
But the state of Instruction is still more clearly represented in the province of the Liver, the four lobes of which John Worcester(780)compared to the four places of instruction described in Heaven and Hell, nos. 5 1 25 20 - for the instruction, respectively, of infants, adults, Moslems, and gentiles, by angels from their own religion.(781)
This instruction is completed in a short time because the spirits are introduced into spiritual ideas.(782) They are then clothed in heavenly garments and led to their heaven. Of the eight roads to heaven, four lead to the east and four to the west. While the blood "regenerated" in the liver is sent to the Vena Cava directly by the Hepatic Veins, the lymph from the surface pores of the liver is collected into the Receptaculum Chyli, forming a large part of the lymph of the Thoracic Duct. Thus Swedenborg points out the ascending and descending Vena Cava divide the "chyliferous stream" between them and deliver it to the heart.(783) The purpose of this is to balance the quality and the quantity of the chyle needed by the blood.
The Liver is the largest gland in the body. It is
formed by a conglomeration of very delicate tissues around the ramifications
In embryonic life, the Liver acts as a guard before the heart. It is the largest organ of the body, and acts instead of the lungs, receiving the blood from the placenta, purifying it, and insinuating a purer blood into the heart by a shortcut.(787) The nutritious juice from the womb corresponds to the good of innocence.(788) The liver leaps for this nourishment, and its throb and the beat of the heart give motion to the rest of the viscera.(789)
In adults, the Liver draws in the blood, separates it, pours the better blood into the Vena Cava for the: heart to deliver to the lungs, and commits the viler parts to the Hepatic Duct and the Gall Bladder.(790)
The Liver has many functions. a) It manufactures and excretes the bile.b) It helps to regulate the volume of blood circulating in the body. c) It completes the work of the spleen in disposing of worn out red blood corpuscles, and salvages their iron content. d) It stores fats, iron, copper, and sugar. The sugar is brought by the portal vein as glucose and is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen until called for by the tissues. Thus the liver regulates the sugar content of the blood. e) It builds certain essential protein elements and breaks down certain other "worn-out" proteins into substances such as urea which can afterwards be eliminated from the blood stream by the kidneys. f) It is thus an organ of internal secretion. It manufactures several other substances essential to the control of blood formation and blood clotting. g) It aids in detoxifying many harmful substances. h) Besides, it produces heat, its temperature being about 2 degrees higher than other tissues. i) In the early stages of fetal life, the liver is one of the main tissues in which primitive blood cells (erythroblasts) are developed.
These uses suggest that the province of the Liver in the Grand Man has as its function to separate such spirits as are ready for instruction in spiritual uses from those who are in need of further vastation, and to initiate these disciples into some of the delights of heaven and into the warmth or zeal of angelic life, instructing them in the doctrine of the internal sense and in morality based on natural truth, and thus in the balanced conjunction of good and truth, so that they are purified of external faults and evils, and inaugurated into gyres of common thought and action, and thus prepared for the journey into their own heaven.(791)
The Liver balances the contents of the blood according to the body's needs. This implies a separation of undesirable elements. Spirits who are obstinate or bitter or fault-finding are screened out to form the province of the Gall Bladder. This also has an educative use of a coarser, more negative sort, directed to self-satisfied spirits in the "lower earth" who need to be shocked out of their complacency or who can be brought into discipline only by a sadistic drill-sergeant.(794)
Because good blood and bad are mixed in the liver
and then separated, certain spirits forming that province are said to mix
In the Animal Kingdom it is stated that even mental states of disappointment or resentment, anger or fear, over-work or worry, can affect the quantity of bile produced.(796) Other effects on the liver, such as nervous glucosuria, are now known.
The small intestines end in a valve which opens into the pouch with which the large intestines commence. This cul-de-sac or Cecum is furnished with a blind narrow tube called the Appendix. While modern science is silent as to its usefulness, Swedenborg calls it "the tongue of the balance of motion" of the Ileum and Colon. "It opens its pores and expands its cavity synchronously with the cecum, and pours a new liquid adapted for anointing and lubricating the wavy folds of the Colon and particularly for macerating the feces into the fundus of the cecum...".(797) He argues that the Appendix, like all the other parts of the alimentary tube, should have its own salivary springs. This secretion is a superfluous lymph drawn off from the cellular coat of the peritoneum and viscera.
Digestion and absorption of nutriment take place mainly in the small intestines. But the water is not absorbed until the remnant of the food is received by the Cecum and Ascending Colon. Digestive juices still present allow a certain amount of nutriment to be salvaged even in the large intestines; but their structure, which is tough and muscular, is especially adapted for preparing and packing the waste products for its rejection from the body.
The Spiritual Diary notes that "the utmost extent of geometry cannot reach to the point of detecting the coarsest process of foecal secretion; and as to the form of the intestines, geometry with its whole array of infinites cannot grasp it at all".(798)
In the Grand Man the large intestines represent one of the two "common ways" to the hells.(799) The functions corresponding to those of the Colon are relatively vile uses performed by spirits who love to punish for the sake of reformation and from justice; but among such spirits are those who, like ferocious soldiers, are devoid of mercy, tenacious in revenge, and easily puffed up with pride (800). Salvable spirits of bad disposition are subjected to this province until they become docile and vastated of their worst evils.(801) Evil spirits are vastated of all truth (signified by the water that is absorbed) until they enter the hells of the lower bowels, where are the cruel, the deceitful, the voluptuous, lewd and adulterous, as well as "sirens". (802) Spirits, not evil, in the province of the Anus, are solicitous about the future. (803)
Excretory Glands in general correspond to
stubborn spirits or to those who, lacking any breadth of thought, infuse