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Human Organic
Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner  

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Part 3, Chapter III




    The viscera of the thorax consist mainly of the Heart with the great blood vessels directly passing to it and from it; the Lungs, with the Trachea and Bronchi; the Thymus Gland, the Esophagus, the Thoracic Duct, and the Lymph Duct. Of these the Heart and the Lungs constitute the dominant organs which are immediately concerned with the propulsion and purification of the blood. The actions of these two organs inflow into all parts of the body.(806)

    Into the right auricle of the heart are directed not only the exhausted blood returning from all parts of the body by the Venae Cavae, but, from the liver, a stream of purified food material mixed with waste products such as urea; from the chyle duct a stream of lymph at times richly laden with fats from the intestines; and from the brain, via the Jugular Veins, a fresh supply of vivifying "animal spirit" (or "purer blood").    Into the left auricle comes the blood from the lungs, charged with oxygen and other aerial elements. All these streams converge into the vortex of the heart, from which the perfected blood is then flung out through the aorta. The conflux is needed lest there be a deadly conglutination of the liquids.(807) Swedenborg thus described the heart as a chemical retort in which liquids are prepared for composition into blood.(808)

            The autonomic nervous system has its primary centers in the medulla and hypothalamus. It is established that it has cerebral cortical representation in several areas. There is no evidence (known to me) of direct autonomic - cerebellar connections. It appears to me to be of some significance that large cortical areas are not under voluntary control. - Dr. Robert Alden

    The motions of the Heart are served by two sets of nerves - one coming from the Par Vagum (sometimes classed as parasympathetic) and the other from the sympathetic portion of the autonomic system. They are likened to a married pair, the Vagus (as "wife") has an inhibiting effect, the Sympathetic (as "husband") accelerates the force of the heart beat.(809) Man has no control of these motions, since the nerves are involuntary, stemming from the cerebellum.(810) But the cardiac muscle fibres (which anastomose) are apparently able to move automatically without the nerves, possibly responsive to internal secretions or
chemical stimulus; or, as is suggested by Swedenborg, from spirituous fluid still present in them.(811)

    By its systole and diastole, the heart muscle, even while man sleeps, pumps a gallon of blood a minute - and far more when he is active!

    The emotions of the mind - fear, love, delight, - are reflected most minutely in the palpitations of the heart.(812) Affections are therefore popularly "ascribed to the heart, although they are neither in it nor from it".(813) Yet love is the origin of vital heat and inflows into the heart and the blood by correspondence.(814) The natural or dead forces of heat in man or animal "keep the body in such a state that the will by means of affection and the understanding by means of thought, which are spiritual, can flow in and do their work." Natural heat and light "do nothing more than open and dispose" the things of nature to receive influx. (815) Natural heat "operates only in opening the extreme parts of the body or the cuticles, that internal heat also may flow into them".(816)

    The veins may be likened to the roots of a tree, the arteries to its branches. (817) But in a more strict correspondence, the heart is the native love or will - the roots of the tree of man's life - while the lungs are the leaves which purify the sap. The heart signifies man's interiors which can be successively purified from evils and fantasies.(818) The heart is also said to purify the blood, (819) but not the serum. (820)

        It is difficult to see, in physiologic sense, what is meant by the heart purifying the blood. - Dr. Robert Alden

        In the sense that the heart makes the blood go through the lungs, to receive O and through the liver and kidneys, it purifies the blood but only in the sense that a pump pushes water through a sand filter to purify; it does not act upon the blood other than to force it along. - Dr. Marlin W. Heilman

    The heart acts, and the artery, from its coverings or coats, cooperates; hence is the circulation. (821)

    All things of the body are formed by means of fibres from the brains and by means of vessels from the heart.(822) The heart is the first organ and the last that acts in the body.(823)


    The coronary vessels on the surface of the heart were believed by Swedenborg to be venous in function, although anatomists even in his own day distinguished them into arteries and veins. He held that the blood from the tissues of the right side of the heart was transferred immediately into the aorta, while the blood from the tissues of the left side was transmitted into the right auricle through the coronary sinus. He pictured these vessels as serving the adult in place of the prenatal "foramen ovale" and "ductus arteriosus", as a safety valve, drawing superfluous blood from the heart-muscle which in turn was fed through fleshy ducts entering its substance from within.(824) Present-day anatomists hold that the blood flows from the aorta into the heart-muscle through the coronary artery.

General Correspondences

    The training of novitiate spirits in spiritual thought and choral uses is principally conducted in the provinces of the liver and chyle ducts, but their eventual coordination with spirits of other origins and different backgrounds is seemingly represented in the introduction of the blood into the vortex of the heart.

    The Thorax or chest receives the blood from the brain by the Jugular Vein. This blood conveys the vitalizing "animal spirit" which is prepared in the Pituitary Gland and which presumably represents influx of love into the spiritual heaven. For the Thorax represents, as to degree, the Spiritual Heaven which is animated by Charity, or love to the neighbor. Specifically, the Heart represents this love, while the Lungs represent the faith of Charity or Intelligence. Novitiate spirits must be introduced into the general sphere of heaven before they can be assigned to specific uses; and they may go from society to society seeking a permanent home.(825) The various tissues of the body are similarly offered an opportunity to draw from the common bloodstream, each tissue taking only what it immediately needs for its function, but it may also store up a surplus when this is available. Each tissue has a chemical composition of its own, and a characteristic metabolism.

    For the relation of heart and lungs, see D. Wis., Chap. x.

    The conjunction of heart and lungs(826) represents the marriage of will and understanding, as also the conjugial of man and wife.(827) From the study of these two organs everything may be known that can be known about the relationship of the will and the understanding.(828)

    The Thorax or breast in general corresponds to the Divine Spiritual and to the Spiritual or Second Heaven.(829) But the correspondence changes with the series.(830)

    Heart and Lungs correspond to the two kingdoms of heaven, (831) and to the Church Specific where the Word is.(832)

    The Heart corresponds to what is of the will, or the celestial of love, and thus to love the Lord and the inmost heaven. Because it is ruled by the cerebellum it corresponds to the celestial kingdom and also to involuntary and spontaneous things. (833) When an embryo, and again when regenerated, man is in the kingdom of the heart. (834) Being in the thorax, it corresponds also to Charity or love to the neighbor. (835) As the will, it may refer to man's ruling Love, (836) to the old proprial will which is purified through the understanding (the lungs). (837) In marriage it refers to the wife's love of the husband's wisdom. (838)

    The determinations of the heart, which are arteries and veins, correspond to affections; and in the lungs, the blood vessels correspond to affections of truth.(839) The arteries have coats in a triplicate series. (840)


Uses of the Blood

    The function of the blood as a medium of transportation is obvious. It carries oxygen and food materials to the tissues, it conveys hormones and internal secretions from the various tissues to other tissues. It carries the waste products of metabolism to excretory organs (kidneys, lungs, intestines, and skin) or to glands for temporary storage. It maintains a chemical balance and a normal temperature, aids in equalizing water content and pressure, and by clotting prevents loss of blood through wounds. The leucocytes promote absorption of food in the intestines, act to repair tissues and defend the blood against harmful bacteria, etc., and to remove them from the tissues. According to recent discoveries, the bloodstream contains various "antibodies", which the system produces to fight invading organisms and which like antitoxins give immunity to specific or corresponding diseases.

    In the Writings, the blood is principally described as the medium whereby life is conveyed to the ultimates of the body. (See below).


    In general, normal human blood is a slightly alkaline, saltish fluid of c.1.06 specific gravity, travelling in the arteries at about 10 to 12 inches per second (with a maximum speed of 20 in./sec. and in the veins at about 2 or 3 in./sec. The heart propels it through the arteries into the capillaries and, when all force has been spent, sucks it back into itself. The pulse, which travels at 7 or 8 yds/ sec., has an average frequency of 65 to 70 (men) and 70 to 80 (women) per minute. (There are about four heartbeats for every respiration.) The temperature is normally 37.8 Celsius (c.100 F.), varying within two degrees in different organs.

    The blood in adults weighing 160 lbs. would average about 8 lbs. and its volume may be estimated at about 4 quarts.(841) It is distributed, 1/4 in the vascular system, 1/4 in the liver, 1/4 in the skeletal muscles, and 1/4 in the remaining organs. Of its volume, one authority states that 13.75% consists of solids (13.5% being in blood cells or globules, .25% fibrin); 78% is water, 7% is proteids, 1.25% is salts. (The water, proteids, and salts constitute the serum.)

    About one third of the blood consists of corpuscles and the rest is a liquid "plasma", which is about nine tenths water. The corpuscles are classified as follows:

1.     Red corpuscles, or erythrocytes- about 5 million per cubic millimeter, or 25 trillions in the whole body, having an aggregate surface of perhaps 5,000 square yards. The diameter of each cell is computed as 1/3200 of an inch. It is shaped like a bi-concave disc and is devoid of nuclei (except in its primitive state in the flat bone marrow). When massed they look red.

2.     White corpuscles, or leucocytes - about 6,000 to the cubic millimeter. They are mostly irregular, ameboid, and larger than the erythrocytes. They have nuclei. The proportion of white cells to red is about 1 to 700. Neither red nor white corpuscles are capable of reproduction. (Lymphocytes and other macrophages reproduce.)

3.     Platelets, microcytes, etc., much smaller than the erythrocytes, and perhaps only one tenth as many.


Leuwenhoek, who was the first to describe the red blood "globule" (in 1673) was Swedenborg's authority on the subject(842) Swedenborg makes no reference either to the leucocytes or the platelets, as such.

Swedenborg's description of the blood
References: I Econ., chap. 1, summerized in nos. 35-36, 95, 96; "The Animal Spirit", and "The Red Blood", both in Psychological Transactions.

    The blood is the complex and seminary of all the fluids and substances contained in the microcosm.(843) Nothing exists in the body that has not first existed in the blood which is the complex of all things that exist in the world - salts fixed and volatile, oils, spirits, aqueous elements, everything that the three kingdoms of nature produce. It imbibes the treasures of the atmospheres and therefore exposes itself to the air in the lungs. For all things exist for man's sake.(844)

    The Economy description of the red blood particle shows that the inmost of the red blood must be composed out of the substance of the first or "celestial" aura - the inmost and most highly active atmosphere of nature, in order that the spiritual, or the soul, may have a basis of operation in the body; while the ultimate of the red blood comes from inert salts, the molecular form of which originated from the pressures of the primeval ocean.(845)

    Thus the blood was conceived by Swedenborg to be formed in three stages of composition.(846)

    1.     A "spirituous fluid" was first formed (in the inmosts of the cortical glands of the brain) of a volume of the "celestial" or interstellar aura, each unit of which consisted of the "first finites" (active) and "second finites" (passive) as described in the PRINCIPIA . (Each 'spirituous fluid' particle would probably be the size of an ether particle.) In a free state, this spirituous fluid would flash through the inmost fibres as well as through the fluid channels of the body describing a circulation of its own. (Also called 'purest blood', 'first animal essence', etc.)

    2.     By a natural process of conglobation, six or more units of spirituous fluid would combine to form a larger particle, held together with "etherial salts taken in from the atmospheres. Thus would be formed a pellucid blood particle, also called a particle of 'purer blood' or 'animal spirit' or 'white blood', and is identified with Leuwenhoek's 'plano-oval particle'. Each would in size resemble a unit or particle of water.

    3.     Six particles of this 'animal spirit' tend to unite around a single "cube" of common or aqueous salt, and are held together by packed "aerial salts" taken in by the lungs. The resulting 'globule' is the red blood corpuscle.

    In the case of animals, there is a similar threefold composition, but their 'spirituous fluid' is made from a whirl of the 'second' or 'magnetic' aura.


       Although modern science does not confirm the picture of the red blood particle as Leuwenhoek and Swedenborg describe it, it is notable that common salt is the chief among the salts in the red blood and that the most important element carried by it is oxygen, which is an ingredient of the air.
        And although Swedenborg gives an impossibly large size for the units of both water and salt in his theoretical construction of the red blood globule, yet modern theory reconstructs the shape of the NaCl molecule on lines functionally similar.
        Modern anatomists tend to regard the erythrocyte as a 'dying' cell - and show that all 25 trillion of them die and as many are born every six weeks. But this is quite in line with Swedenborg's concept that their function is to 'convey', not to hold life.

What the Writings teach about the Blood

    The Writings speak of the red blood corpuscles as globules which, while tender, soft, soluble and fluid, have an endeavor to flow into complicated gyres. When they grow hard, or unable to associate with others, they are exterminated; so that the blood is continually renewed(847)

    There is also a purer blood called by some 'the animal spirit' which is purified in proportion as man is regenerated, and this also helps to purify the blood of the body.(848) The purer blood also is agitated into gyres.(849)

    The animal spirit of the brain and the chyle of the body combine for the preparation of the blood.(850) The animal spirits originate in the cortical substances of the brain and flow in the nerve fibres.(851)

    "Very few of the learned of the world suppose that any animal spirit exists; but they suppose that the fibres are empty, like dry threads, when yet it may be evident to everyone that no such fibre could operate without its fluid within, as a passive something (patiens) could not without an agent. It was percieved that this was impossible, for the fibres would then be destitute of all vital operation, like a vessel without blood.... So long as they dispute whether there exists an animal spirit in the fibres, as they may still do for a thousand years, they can never come to the courtyard of cognitions."(852)

    The animal spirits, resolved from the globules of the blood and, in the cortical principles joined with new spiritual essences, are conveyed by their fibres into the ventricles and thus through the infundibulum into the blood, that they may vivify the dry and lifeless blood in the ends of the sinuses, and afterwards may be conveyed to the chyle fresh from the body with which they are conjoined in the heart.(853)

    The Writings also state that human blood "is spiritual in its inmosts and corporeal in its ultimates."(854) As the life of the body depends on the blood, the blood is "it's ultimate soul" or "the corporeal soul in which bodily life resides."(855)

    The blood and other fluids do not recognize the same gravitational directions as things outside of the body.(856)

    The blood may become diseased by the closing up of the smallest vessels.(857) Mental states- like suspicious fancies- may be fortified in the body by rendering the serum sticky and acrid.(858) Unjust jealousies may also be caused by thick and bilious blood. (859) That terror and other states have an effect on the blood is known.(860)

Correspondence of the blood

    In the individual, the blood corresponds to the life of man, and this is his love; while the heart corresponds to the receptacle of  love, which is the will.(861) It is red because it corresponds to love.(862) Love is the origin of vital heat.(863) The circulation of the blood is constant because it corresponds to the life of the love.(864)

    In the regenerate man, this love is the charity of the new will, or love to the neighbor, or the celestial of the spiritual man.(865) In the celestial man, blood signifies love to the Lord.

    The life of the new will is from the Lord alone and is not to be commingled with the things of man's will. Hence the ancients were forbidden to eat the flesh with the blood therein, for this represented a profanation. Yet when man's conscience, as at this day, is not opposed, one is not condemned for eating it.(866)

    In the grand Man, the 'blood' refers to the Divine life.(867) In the Holy Supper, the Blood corresponds to the Divine Truth.

    In the commonwealth, riches are like the blood in man.(868)




    Already in 304 B.C. Erasistratus pointed out the functions of the valves of the heart. Galen, 165 A.D., showed that the arteries carry blood during life, not air. The pulmonary circulation was traced by Michael Servetus (d. 1553). the systemic circulation by Coesalpinus (1593); and the pulmonary and systemic circulations were connected by Harvey (1628). The capillaries were described by Malpighi(1661) and the lymphatics by Rudbeck (1650).

    The circulation of the blood illustrates the secret operation of the soul:   "... The chyle, conveyed through the thoracic duct... is carried into the vena cava and so into the heart, and from the heart into the lungs, from them through the left ventricle into the aorta, and from this by its branches into the viscera of the whole body and also to the kidneys; and in every one of these organs a separation of the blood, a purification and a withdrawal of the various heterogeneous substances is effected; not to speak of how the heart presents its blood, when defecated in the lungs, to the brain... through the carotids, and how the brain returns the blood vivified to the vena cava... and so back to the heart."(869)

    In each of the viscera, the blood is separated and purified from heterogeneous substances(870); but the tissues also attract to themselves the kind of blood they need and select out of it what is of use.(871) Such selectivity is an illustration of freedom.(872)  This is true also of the blood itself, in that it absorbs from the atmosphere such foods as are homogeneous with its loves.(873)

    The food required to renew the tissues is brought by means of the blood, in order to "fix" the forms which the fibres have determined.(874)

    In the capillaries, the blood globule is readily resolved into its components.(875) "During almost every round of the circulation, the genuine blood... is resolved... and when the gyre is completed is recompounded;... it is born, it dies, and it is born again: such is the circle of life. Every time that it is decomposed, the veins claim a part of it; the glands, engaged in preparing the most diverse fluids, claim another part; the corporeal fibres appropriate another part; the cerebral fibres another; and the cerebrum demands its spirit.  The residue...which has become inept or entangled in such matter, is separated and thrown out by myriads of pores and foramina:  from whence comes perperual hunger and thirst, perpetual want and restitution."(876)

    The chyle, after its introduction into the bloodstream as serum, undergoes constant purification. This takes place in the capillaries and glands, and at last in the skin, nares, and kidneys. Some of the serum is used by the conglomerate glands for useful secretions, some is used by the pancreas, liver, or gall bladder to produce pancreatic juice and hepatic and cystic bile.(877)

    The blood particles themselves are also purified during each round of the circulation.(878) In the glands and capillaries there is a filtering of serum from corpuscles. In the adult the general laboratory for the "lustration" of the blood is the Spleen, assisted by other organs; but in the fetus it is the succenturiate kidneys (adrenal glands), assisted by the Liver.(879)


    The circulation of the blood corresponds to the procession of uses from love through the affections to their ultimates and their return to the love from which they sprang.(880) The blood vessels of the pulmonary circulation correspond to the affections of truth.(881)

    The pulmonary arteries would seem to correspond to the affection of knowing, while the Bronchial Arteries, carrying arterial blood to feed the lung tissue, represent the purified affection of truth through which the understanding can be elevated above the will.(882)

    The vexations of spirits who are being inaugurated into a society is similar to the treatment of the blood globules in the bloodstream.(883) The object is to procure a concord and unanimity of all.(884)

    The impurities which taint or poison the bloodstream coorespond to the spirits who mock and deny what they do not perceive, especially rejecting anything spiritual, ridiculing the Word in the letter, saying that nothing should be understood according to the literal sense(885); or who from self-love reject its deeper teachings and its internal sense, believing blindly the promises in the letter, claiming heaven for themselves.(886)

    The purification of the bloodstream takes place in many organs and tissues -  the HEART is said to purify the blood itself  while kidneys ("the reins") purify the serum.(887) The LUNGS are the chief organ for the purification of the blood, and will be treated under a later subdivision (D). But there are secretories and excretories in other parts, as in the ventricles and mamillary processes of the brain, in mucus, salivary, and sweat glands, etc.(888)

    In this connection it is noteable that the excrements of finer processes are salvaged for lower uses. Thus some are used as
menstrua for digestion as saliva, gastric and pancreatic juices, bile, and the juices of the appendix.(889)

The SPLEEN receives not serums, but "impure blood, with which pure blood has been intermingled, to serve as a menstruum"; which it then tortures and tears asunder, and then delivers to the omentum and the veins of the portal system which - with a host of lymphatics-- serve as its "excretory ducts".(890) It is the only organ for "unbinding" the globules of blood which stick together. It selects or invites this bad blood and by gentle frictional motions separates the globules, but does not break them up: its cellular spaces are too large to act on them individually.(891) The breaking up of the globules instead occurs in the extreme arterial capillaries, (especially those of the cerebral cortex), in the glands, and in the bile pores of the liver.(892)

    The Spleen also provides a lymph from "the more vital and colorless" parts of the blood as a menstruum for the chyle of the mesentery.(893)

    Before the last judgment, evil spirits (symbolized by the "Dragon") performed the office of the Spleen in the Grand Man of this planet. Evil spirits are tolerated in the lower heaven as long as they perform certain vile uses.(894)


    The spleen has a very rich blood supply. The arteries do not flow into capillaries but open directly into the spleen-pulp. The tissue is thus bathed by blood instead of by lymph as is the case with all other tissues.
    The modern theory is that the spleen picks out from the bloodstream the worn-out red corpuscles and disintegrates them. (This is effected also in the liver.) The meshes of the spleen-cells engulf and consume the red corpuscles which can no longer carry oxygen; the hemoglobin, set free is then carried to the liver where it is decomposed, and the iron salvaged.
    The spleen rhythmically contracts to aid the circulation of the contained blood. In some animals, this contraction and relaxation has been noticed as occurring about once a minute.
    The structure of the spleen resembles that of the lymph glands. After eating, when the blood is enriched, the spleen increases in size and after some five hours slowly shrinks again.

    The PANCREAS is the second or "mediate purificatory of the blood, while the Liver is the last." (895) It is a model 'conglomerate gland'. It purifies the blood for the spleen and draws off the serum. (896) In addition to excreting a digestive juice, into the intestines, it transmits - as its noblest office -  a fatty humor to the omentum, yet is destitute of lymphatics.(897)


    In Swedenborg's day the only function popularly attributed to the spleen and the pancreas was that of filling a waste space in the abdomen. (898) Swedenborg assigned important functions to them.(899)

    The LIVER (900) has as its prime uses to "correct the hard blood and break it up into its parts for the sake of renovating it", and to "refine the chyle and inaugurate it into the blood", by a sort of marriage. The residue, not absorbed by veins or lymphatics, is the bile.(901) The hepatic bile is the unclean parts of the chyle; the cystic bile consists of tough, recalcitrant blood-globules which refuse to be resolved or regenerated.(902)

    The liver thus completes the functions of all the abdominal viscera. (903)

    The units of the liver are alternately expanding or contracting(904), and move unanimously with the lungs, but the motion is so tranquil as to be almost imperceptible.(905)

    The liver draws the blood into itself, separates it, and pours the better blood into the veins, removes the middle sort into the hepatic duct, and leaves the vile for the gall-bladder. In embryos, the liver purlfies the blood from the mother, insinuating the purer part into the veins, so that by a shorter way it may flow into the heart; it thus acts as a guard before the heart. (906)

    Spleen. Pancreas and Liver constitute a trine for internal secretions.(907) Similarly, the Spleen "defecates" the blood, the pancreas the serum, and the liver the chyle.(908)

    The spiritual correspondences of this trine of organs are therefore related. Castigators of the blood correspond to castigators of cupidities. The spirits of the province of the Spleen are prone to mix profane with holy things and then to separate them. The spirits of the Pancreas do the like with matters of decorum and possibly with forensic and civil matters. And the spirits of the Liver do the same with things moral - with what is honorable and dishonorable.(909)

    The KIDNEYS are the two compound tubular glands by which waste material and excessive fluid are extracted from the blood and formed into urine, for separation from the body.

    The process of extraction is indirect. Nearly 600 quarts of blood pass through the kidneys daily. Sixty quarts are actually filtered through the Malpighian corpuscles, but only about three pints of urine are extracted.  (See diagram.)   There are about two million of these tiny filters in the kidneys. Each Malpighian corpuscle contains an arterial capillary network where the blood is under high pressure. The protein particles suspended in the blood, and the blood cells themselves are too large to pass  through the filter. But some of the plasma of the blood oozes through the capillary walls and into the coiled tubules.


The fluid gathered into the coiled tubules contains vast amounts of water, and small amounts of urea (CO (NH2) 2) and other nitrogenous wastes; chlorides, sulfates, phosphates, and other salts; and bile pigments discarded by the liver. Traces of sugar, asparagin, or other undesirable substances may be included. But since perhaps 60 quarts of liquid thus passes into the tubules daily, it is essential that most of the water and the needed salts be redeemed. The cells of the tubules examine and inspect the fluid, reabsorbing into the veins what the blood requires to balance its contents. The rest is rejected and passes into the ducts and is squeezed drop by drop by slow contraction waves into the funnel which leads into the ureters. >

    In the Animal Kingdom it is noted that the internal motions of the kidneys are governed by the cerebellum, while the exterior motion is imposed by the lungs.(910) The kidneys act upon the "serum" (plasma) only,(911) and the finer elements of the blood are recovered from the tubules. (912) (This fact was not reaffirmed until 1890, by Cushny, nearly a century and a half later.) To provide the proper pressure, the "inverted pyramidal form" reigns throughout the urinary system.(913) The lymphatics redeem the spirituous parts and restore them to the blood. The kidneys also draw off noxious phlegm from the peritoneum.(914) It is notable that the kidneys invite their own kind of blood. (915)

    The Kidneys purify the serum while the succenturiate kidneys (adrenal bodies) purify the spirit of the blood.(916) The contents of the tubules, ducts, and bladder must be regarded as out of the body.(917) Urine is an unclean, stale serum cast off from the blood.(918)

    Correspondences of the Kidneys, Ureters. and Bladder. In the Animal Kingdom, Swedenborg compares the circle of the blood with man's regeneration, and refers to the "spiritual meaning" of "searching the heart and the reins". (919) In the Writings it is shown that the truth of faith purifies man from falsities as the reins purify the serum.(920) The ancients therefore placed the seat of intelligence and perception in the kidneys. (921)

    In the Grand Man the province of the Kidneys is of a distinctly spiritual genius, probably spiritual-natural, having to do with exploration and chastisement.(922) Spirits of this type love to explore and search out the quality of others (by various modes described in AC 5383). Some also desire to criticize, chastise and punish if there be some justification for doing so. They are quick, desiring to find an occasion to condemn and punish. Many were judges in the world. Some by influx induce other spirits to speak, to see whether they are genuine. Some seek out what others are ashamed of and thus condemn them for it. They punish by removing gladness and joy and inducing sadness. So far as they love to punish, they communicate with the hells, but by their seeking justice before they chastise they communicate with heaven and so are kept in that province, which extends itself toward "Gehenna" where also some of them sit in judgment. The province is one of the two common ways leading to the hells.(923)

    The object of the exploration by these spirits seems to be a purification of matters of doctrine and faith. (924)

    When over-zealous kidney-spirits (like 'heresy-hunters') infest the curious but modest spirits of the province of the Peritoneum, the latter terrify them by inflating.(925)

    Other spirits belonging to the Bladder and Ureters are described as wandering spirits who punish the evil. (926) But opposite to the province are various piratical spirits who answer to the urine, and also some who by flatteries and insincerity captivate minds, elicit secrets, and bind others to evil courses.(927) Some had defiled the Word and doctrine by filthy thoughts and language and misused their intellectual faculty.(928)


                       Description and General Uses.

    The uses of the Lungs in general are: Respiration, inducing reciprocal motions in the entire body, consociating the voluntary moving life (from the cerebrum) with the natural moving life (from the cerebellum), disposing the viscera and muscle so that the will can perform its movements without any break(930); concurring in the production of sounds of speech(931); receiving the blood from the right side of the heart, purifying it from what is viscous and dusty and rejecting such substances, supplying the blood with new elements as so much food from the air, converting the venous blood into arterial, sending it back to the heart.(932) Thus in respect to the blood the lungs act as a contributor, cleanser, repairer, preparer and also as a purifier of the  air.(933)

    In the Lungs, the purer blood called the 'animal spirit' nourishes itself with substances corresponding to the affections of each man's love. This cannot be seen, however, from any chemical analysis of the blood; although internal secretions are known to differ according to man's moods and passions.(934)

    The natural mode of breathing is through the nostrils.(935)

    Birth, or the opening of the Lungs, is the commencement of sensitive life. (936)

    When respiration ceases, sensation and motion also cease. (937) When man thinks tacitly he breathes tacitly, etc.(938); if he holds his breath entirely he cannot think, except imperceptibly in his spirit.(939)

    Man has a twofold respiration - one of his spirit, one of his body. The former depends on nerves, the latter on blood vessels.(940) In sleep, the involuntary controls respiration.(941)

    The function of the Bronchial Arteries and Veins as architect of the lungs and regulator of its blood supply. (942)

    The Motion of the Lungs is, according to Swedenborg's anatomical works, concurrent with that of the brain.(943) The lungs can
respire nonsynchronously with the heart.(944) The lungs act as the first in sensation, while the heart acts as the first in motions.(945)

Correspondence of the Lungs

    The lungs correspond to the Understanding, or the life of faith from charity, the spiritual kingdom of heaven, etc. (946)

    "Internal respiration."  The peculiar tacit respiration of the men of the Most Ancient Church and of Swedenborg himself, by which it was made possible to associate with spirits, is described in SD 3320, 3464, 33 17-25, 3490.(947) This respiration occurred "without the aid of the external air" (948) or by just "enough air to keep up the process of thinking."(949) The breathing of the most ancient race "proceeded from navel towards heart and lips, without sound," and affected others not through the external ear "but through the Eustachian Tube."(950) Its gradual change into external respiration enabled men to have articulate speech.(951)

    Feeding and Purification of the Blood in the Lungs.  In the air cells of the lungs, the blood unloads impurities and refuse. The air itself is a deadly enemy of the blood and is promptly expelled by the arteries and veins, but its gifts of "volatile salts, sulphurs and nitres" are welcomed by the blood. (952)


    Swedenborg's theory made the air "particles" (or bubbles) larger and ighter than the water or salt units.  Hence the air would block the capillaries. (953)

   The lungs receive a heterogeneous lot of particles and vapors from the air, but (partly warned by smell) try to select the acceptable effluvia only. This is described as "occult, etherial, and celestial food" which makes the blood arterial, purple, lively and serene. (954) The effectiveness of such food is proved by hibernating animals. (955)

    The blood in the lungs purifies itself of undigested things and nourishes itself from the air with volatile elements and odors correspondently to the affections of the mind.(956) "Men in the world impregnate their blood with things similar according to a correspondence with the affections of their love; for what the spirit of man loves, his blood...craves and by respiration attracts."(957) "But no one can test this by any experiment on the blood." For "it is the purer blood, called by some 'the animal spirit', which is purified" or with the evil defiled. The blood may abound in impurities, and yet not be distinguishable from clean blood.(958)

    The correspondence of respiration is to the 'elevation' of the understanding, or the purification of the affections by truths. The air reaching the blood from the outside world acts like truths which are received from the environment. (959)

The Function of Oxygen

    While modern authorities admit that various fumes and gases may affect the blood through the lungs, the idea that the blood is in any sense "fed" through the lungs is not accepted. The stress is placed on the function of oxygen, which forms about 21 percent of the air around us. (The total breathing surface exposed in the tiny air chambers of the lungs is about fifty times the outside area of the body.)

    The isolation of oxygen by Priestley in 1774 and the work of Lavoisier (1743-1794) who showed that calcination was accompanied by an absorption of oxygen from the air, "cleared the air" for the recognition that respiration involves a process of combustion in which oxygen is employed to "burn up" waste materials in the cells which are breathed out as carbon dioxide (CO2).

        Perhaps [it would be] helpful to distinguish cellular from pulmonary respiration: Cellular - oxygen used as an essential for liberating energy from foods e.g. proteins, sugars, within a cell. In breakdown of energy molecules carbon liberated (e.g. smoke in lungs). Carbon therefore combined with oxygen as CO2 which is excreted by lungs.
         Pulmonary - the essential here is O2 - CO2 exchange across the capillary wall barrier in such a way that high  concentrations of CO inside the capillary pull in O2 while high concentrations of O2 in the lungs pull out CO2.  (Simplified.) - Dr. Robert Alden

    The body can store only a slight amount of oxygen dissolved in its plasma and water. But the red blood corpuscle contains a pigment, hemoglobin, which is able to combine loosely with the oxygen offered by the air in the lungs and to deliver it to the tissue cells. The hemoglobin contains iron and some sulphur (C712 H1130 N214 S2 FeO245).

    From the bloodstream, the oxygen passes into the lymph and thence to the tissue cells. This is needed to rebuild lactic acid into glycogen.

    Control of Respiration. The chief nerve center for breathing is in an area in the medulla oblongata near the fourth ventricle. It functions automatically, being stimulated by the presence of carbon dioxide and lactic acid in the system. It can also be activated to a point by voluntary efforts and by emotions and sensory stimulus.(960)


Secretories and Excretories

    The purification of the bloodstream and the body is carried on not only by heart, lungs, spleen, pancreas, liver, and kidneys, but also by other tissues, especially by various glands. Since the Brain was considered by Swedenborg as a gland - in fact "the prince of glands, the pattern and the head of the family"(961) he noted that its ventricles and mammillary processes carry off phlegm. So also the Mucus and Salivary Glands and other glands in the body and also in the skin, such as the Sweat Glands.(962)

    The correspondence of such glands is frequently to spirits who have stubborn opinions and harbor scruples about unimportant things, making everything that comes up a matter of conscience.(963) All spirits who explore and examine other spirits belong to the province of the 'secretive organs'. But there is no viscus which does not perform a secretory function.(964)

    Swedenborg distinguishes two types of glands(965) the conglomerate glands and the conglobate glands.(966) These two types have complementary and yet antagonistic uses:   the first "sunder, slay, and destroy the blood"; the latter gather its members together again and revive it.(967) They change their states to suit the states of the body.(968) Conglomerate glands "transform the blood into a liquid of a different kind", by extraction, filtration, commixtion, secretion, excretion, etc.(969) The conglomerate glands usually stand in a series, one complementing or completing the use of another(970) e.g.,

Parotid, maxillary, tonsils
Thyroid, dorsal and esophageal
Pancreas, liver
Testicles, epididymis, seminal vesicles
Ovaries (corpus luteum).

    These (and other) conglomerate glands look to the renovation of the blood and the spirits and "the prolongation and even the
everlasting perpetuation of life".(971) This latter is especially true of the gonoids or generative organs of both sexes.

    Conglobate glands, which are uniform and simpler, attract and take up the choice lymph by alternate expansions and contractions, strain, rectify, refine, and temper it in proportion to suit the chyle and the blood.(972) A multitude of fibres, arteries and veins enter these glands.

    The conglobate gland of the brain is the Pituitary; the conglobate glands of the body are the Lymph glands of the mesentery, etc..(973)

    The Lymphatic system includes capillary networks which collect lymph throughout the body and by an elaborate system of collecting vessels conduct it into the large veins of the neck.

    Nodes or Lymph glands are interspaced in the course of these collecting vessels. Here the lymph is filtered and lymphocytes are contributed. The lymphatics are lined by a layer of endothelial cells and form a closed system. Some in the mesentery are called 'lacteals', because during the process of digestion they contain a milk-white fluid, the chyle.(974)

    The lymphatics lie in connective tissue spaces bathed by intercellular tissue fluid. None are present in the central nervous system, in striped muscles, in the liver lobules, the spleen pulp, the internal ear, or certain other body parts.

Glands of Internal Secretion


The government of the body by the soul and mind is effected in a twofold way, through the nervous system and through the glands of internal secretion. Swedenborg shows the connection between the two, and regards the brain also as a gland.

    Swedenborg anticipated many of the recent findings about important uses of the "ductless glands", or "endocrine glands". But he does not use the term, knowing that all tissues and organs have an internal secretion into the bloodstream of the lymphatic system, even if they have (like the Pancreas) an external secretion also by means of a duct. Both "conglobate" glands (like the Pituitary) and "conglomerate" (like the Thyroid) have internal secretions, and may be classed as "ductless".


As late as 1870, Huxley stated that the use of the Spleen and other ductless glands was unknown. Their importance and influence on the body metabolism began to be recognized about 1896.(975)

   The study of the endocrine glands is proceeding rapidly, and the latest findings in this field should be consulted. In modern terms, any tissue product which is carried in the bloodstream to another organ or tissue and stimulates it into activity, is called a hormone. Those which depress activity are named chalones, (antagonists - MWH). The intestinal cells (when acted on by acid food) produce such a messenger substance which stimulates the pancreas to excrete digestive juices, quite apart from nervous control. Urea stimulates the kidneys. Carbon dioxide acts as a hormone for the respiratory nerve center. But certain glands are listed as of special importance.

    The Thyroid hormone raises the rate of metabolism and affects growth and development, preventing cretinism; while an excess causes nervousness and loss of weight. The parathyroids increase the calcium salts in the blood, and removal causes death under most conditions, (tetany,- MWH).

    The Thymus decreases after puberty, (birth - MWH) It is believed to be connected with sexual maturity and growth, (prenatal function - MWH).

    Thymus function not known. Believed possibly important in early growth.- Dr. Robert Alden

    The Adrenal cortex yields a hormone which helps to balance the salt and water content of the blood, and is needed for the synthesis of glycogen in the striped muscle cells. Another adrenal hormone stimulates the male features such as the hair and genitals. The adrenal medulla secretes "adrenalin" which acts on the sympathetic nerves controlling the blood pressure and heartbeat, and is used to stop hemorrhages, (locally - MWH). Removal causes death.

    The Pancreas discharges into the blood "insulin" which prevents the accumulation of sugar in the blood (diabetes).

    Gonoids: the Ovaries and the corpus luteum, a scar tissue, yield a hormone controlling female sexual development and the allied processes including parturition and milk production.  The male sex hormone of the testicles controls development of secondary male sexual characteristics and organs.

        Ovaries produce two hormones - estrogen and progesterone by graaffian follicle and corpus between, respectively. Menstrual cycle and gestation are controlled by delicate changes in the proportionate concentrations of these; but neither a major factor in female sex development, it seems. It is thought the very low levels of male hormone in females is significant in this respect. However, secondary feminine sex characteristics are strongly influenced by estrogen.
        It is well established that the pituitary substances govern the functions of Thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, gonads, pancreas (insulin); and probably other glands. - Dr. Robert Alden


    The small Pituitary Gland (or Hypophysis) grows from a stalk at the base of the brain and lies well protected in a recess in the spheroid bone. The hormones from its anterior lobe, which is essential to life (?), stimulate growth (especially of the skeleton) and milk production. Abnormalities in the tissue may produce gigantism, obesity, high blood pressure, or loss of weight, etc. The posterior lobe (which is developed from the ependyma of the third ventricle) has a substance resembling nerve tissue. One of its secretions causes contractions of the uterus, and another causes constriction of all other smooth muscle tissue, as well as water metabolism. The Pituitary seemingly governs the activities of the adrenals, the thyroid, and the gonoids (sex glands)., (and lactation - MWH).

    The pancreas, parathyroids, and endocrine organs of the alimentary canal are regarded as related to the parasympathetic nerves (the vagi) and to promote assimilation and conservation of food and strength. The adrenals, thyroid, and pituitary are activated by the sympathetic nerves and the expenditure of energy by increased cellular activities.

    The Pineal body (Epiphysis) at the roof of the third ventricle is glandular in childhood but decreases in size and turns fibrous after puberty. Its secretion is believed to inhibit sexual maturity.

        Pineal function is not known. Relation to maturing questioned. But it is interesting that recent studies suggest at puberty is effected by stimulation of the pituitary via centers in the hypothalamus, which may act on the pituitary either by humoral or nervous connections. Destructive lesions in certain areas of the hypothalamus interfere with/during pubescence. What activates the hypothalamus is not known. - Dr. Robert Alden

    Swedenborg's teaching about these glands is noteworthy.

    The Thymus secretes its humor as a sweat through the common permeable membranes of the thoracic cavity, as heart and lungs invite what they require.(976)

    Before birth the Thymus is especially large and active, but after birth its office is divided among many other glands.(977)The adrenal glands attract the liquid secreted by the thymus and send it back into the blood.(978)

    The spirits in the province of the Thymus gland in the Grand Man are upright spirits of an infantile quality, who speak their thoughts without premeditation. They have an interior perception, and have instructed themselves not about the truth of things, but about goodness.(979)

    The Adrenals, (suprarenal capsules or succenturiate kidneys), also perform their principal service in embryos and newborn babes.(980) They then take the place of the kidneys and other viscera which are not as yet active.  After birth they attract the purer blood, prevent it from being absorbed by the spermatic vessels, and instead return it to the heart, vivifying the blood of the ascending vena cava even as the brain vivifies the descending blood. The dark humor in the medulla of the gland is an extremely pure extract of the blood, of which a drop can convert a large amount of serum into blood.

        The kidneys are quite active before birth. Urine is excreted into amniotic fluid. The chief function of the adrenals is closely related to overall bodily resistance to all kinds of stress:  danger, infection, poisoning, excessive temperature, etc., etc. - Dr. Robert Alden

(981) The vein is the excretory for this ductless gland; but it is also irrigated through lymphatics. (982)

    After the genitals become active the adrenals are deprived of the purer serum or vital blood needed for this use. (983) Their function is to secrete not so much the serum as the blood itself (984) and to transmit the purer blood to the heart by a shortcut. (985) While the kidneys take up the impurities of the serum, the succenturiate kidneys take up those of the spirit of the blood. (986)

    In the Grand Man the province of the Adrenal bodies contains certain chaste virgins prone to anxieties from lack of variety. They are distressed by merely worldly thoughts, and are delighted by the thought of infants. Their use is to purify the thought. (987)

    As to the Sex Glands, or gonoids, the Writings show that the male seed "as to its spiritual and also as to its interior natural" adds itself to the body of the wife, which would indicate that it acts as a hormone.(988)

    The Spleen, the Pancreas, and the Liver are also described by Swedenborg as organs contributing important internal secretions (see above).

    The most important of all is of course the Brain. Its secretions of spirit stem from itself.(989) But besides the Cortical Glands there are the glandular choroid plexuses, the infundibulum, and the pituitary, as subsidiaries.

The Pituitary represents the chief gateway for the animal spirit to enter the blood. Since this is the ultimate means by which the soul or spirit of man directs and balances the intricate processes of growth and life, it is apparent that the pituitary becomes the master gland or "arch gland" of the body.(990) The tissues of the gland cohere in part with the Infundibulum. Swedenborg suggests that the relative size of the Infundibulum and the Pituitary account for the rapid growth and maturation in animals.(991)

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806 DLW 382; Char. 75; AC 3635. 808 AK 162a; I Econ. 453-57.

807 AC 842 :3.

808 AK 162a; I Econ. 453-457.

809 I Econ.492.

810 DLW 385; AC 9670.

811 Discussed in I Econ.570-71.

812 DLW 378.

813 HH 95; AC 5501,5887; AR 140.

814 DLW 379-80.

815 AE 1209e

816 D Wis. xxi.

817 AK 124a.

818 AC 2634 2

819 AR 140, DP 336 :2.

820 AC 5385.

821 TCR 577 2

822 DLW 400.

823 DLW 399.

824 I Econ. 398

825 AR 611.

826 For the relation of heart and lungs, see D. Wis., Chap. x.

827 CL 75:5

828 DLW 394-31. The correspondence is shown inDLW 3 94-431

829 AR 49:2; AC 9670:2; TCR 119.

830 AE 600, 606; AR 363

831 HH 95; DLW 381 etc.

832 AC 637, 9276 :6; HH 305:3 3; SD 105,107.

833 AC 9683 :2, 9670 :2.

834 AC 4931:3.

835 AC 1343 3.

836 AC 342:3; HH 95.

837 As in DLW 413 et. seq.; AC 2634, 933 3, et al.

838 CL 75 :5.

839 DLW 412, 420.

840 TCR 147. For Pulmonary and Bronchial Arteries - see DLW 401-25(?).

841 Kimber and Gray, 1938 edition.

842 See 2 Econ. 122, and description in I Econ. chap 1.

843 AK 179.

844 I Econ. 3,4.

845 See the work on Chemistry

846 See diagram facing p. C25.

847 SD 1036-1038a, 1033, 1968, 914.

848 dLW 423, cp AC 4227: 3.

849 SD 1037.

850 SD 1130; AE 1084e; AC 4050: 2, 5180.

851 SS 66; SD 914, 3459; AC 9154:2.

852 SD 3459.

853 SD 914.

854 D Wis x. 2:6, cf DLW 420, 423.

855 AC 1001:6.

856 Cf SD 3727.

857 CL 534.

858 CL 374.

859 CL 357.

860 AC 8316.

861 D Wis. xe.

862 DLW 380.

863 HH 567; DLW 379.

864 D. Wis. x. 2.

865 AC 1001, 1005.

866 AC 1001-1003, 10033, 10040; DP 231e; E 329:12.

867 See Part III, Sec. C, p.41.

868 TCR 403e.

869 DP 296:14

870 DP 296:14

871 SD 1129; 1Econ. 340, 346, 349.

872 Gener. 13; TCR 496.

873 DLW 420, 423; D Wis. x. 3,6; AC 3570:5.

874 DLW 370

875 AK 179.

876 AK 180.

877 AK 202.

878 AK 202.

879 AK 202.

880 D. Love ix.

881 DLW 405.

882 DLW 405, 407e, 412, 413.

883 SD 1036, cf 1030ff, 1021; AC 5173, 5182.

884 AC 5182.

885 SD 1335.

886 AC 5719, 1877.

887 AC 5385.

888 AC 5386.

889 AK 327, 138.

890 SD 1007; AC 243.

891 AK 245, 246 i, k.

892 AK 246 k, 210.

893 AK 247.

894 See SD 1005-11.

895 895 AK 229.

896AK 228.

897 AK 231.

898 AK 228g.

899 AK 277, and p., etc.

900 See above, pp.

901 AK 210, 246 1.

902 AK 204e.

903 AK 204.

904 AK 208u.

905 AK 215.

906 AC 5183.

907 AK 229, 249.

908 AK 201c.

909 SD 1005-11. For the specific uses of the provinces of the liver, see page 25 above.

910 AK 287 m.

911 AK 2 88.

912 AK 291.

913 AK 290.

914 AK 29414.

915 Gener. 1 3.

916 SD 960,999; AC 5385.

917 AC 5381; DP 164:7.

918 AC 5387.

919 AK 293.

920 AC 5385.

921 AR 140

922 AC 5381-84

923 AC 5380.

924 AC 5385.

925 AC 5378.

926 AC 5389.

927 AC 5387f.

928 AC 5390

929 Description and General Uses. AK, chap., nos. 392410. Read Divine Love, v, and Divine Wisdom vi:7, x. 4, 6. TCR 371, 577.

930 See AK 400.

931 See DLW 382.

932 See DLW 420.

933 D. Love v.

934 DLW 420, 423; D. Wis. x. 63.

935 Why, SD 1793.

936 See Part II, C 30. The functions of the lungs after abirth, enumerated in AK 456-457

937 TCR 371.

938 DLW 382.

939 DLW 382; D Wis. vi.

940 DLW 412, 415, 417, 390.

941 AC 3893.

942 See AK 409; DLW 413 2. Confer above, Part II, section c, p.29.

943 Cp. AC 4325.

944 DLW 403.

945 D Wis .x. 4.

946 See page 30 above, and passim.

947 Also, AC 607, 805, 1118, 3884, 7361, 10587; EU 87.

948 SD 3317.

949 SD 3464; compare DLW 391; D. Wis. vii. 3.

950 AC 1118.

951 AC 1120. Compare DLW 391; D. Wis. vii. 3. Discussed in C.T. Odhner's Golden Age (Bryn Athyn, Pa: 1913), pp. 78 ff.

952 AC 406.

953 AK 406

954 AK 406.

955 AK 406.

956 D. Wis. x. 6; DLW 420.

957 DLW 420.

958 DLW 423.

959 Exp1., DLW 419,420,421.

960 Compare AK 457, which suggests that the cerebrum conducts the inspirations while the cerebellum conducts the expirations.

961 AK 189, 190.

962AC 5386.

963AC 5386,5558.

964 SD 924,925-

965 SD 925e.

966 AK 183,182.

967 AK 187.

968 AK 183s.

969 AK 187e.

970 AK 183.

971 AK 183.

972 AK 182.

973 AK 190.

974 See pp. 20-23, above.

975 See Internal Swedenborg Congress (London: 1911). article pot 85-100.

976 AK 436. For the use of the Thyroid, see AK 81, 82, notes

977 AK 437, 438; AC 5172.

978 AK 454c.

979 AC 5172.

980 SD 968; AC 5391.

981 The adrenals produce only one gram of hormone a year, according to Dr. Fritz Kahn, Man in Structure and Function (1956), p.441.

982 AK 275

983 SD 968

984 The kidneys purify the serum.



985 AC 5391.

986 SD 960 cf AK 277.

987 AC 5391; SD 960-972, 1004.

988 See De Conj. 37; SD 6110:63, 64; CL 172; AE 1005, cp. CL 198, 321, 355:6.

989 AK 189-

990 Brain 602m.

991 Brain 580, 581i.

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