Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner
Part 4, Chapter III
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CORTICAL GLAND
The "cortical glands" are described in Swedenborg's
physiological works as situated like clusters of grapes at the termini
arteries extending into the cortical substance (or gray matter) of
the brain. (1411a)
Arguing from this analogy, Swedenborg concludes (1412)
that in each gland (which is conceived as a spherule) there are a
simple cortex, a minute ventricle, and a pure medullary
substance which as partly fibrous and partly vascular. (See our
The spirituous fluid is distilled in each
of the innumerable "simple corticles" which together compose the simple
cortex of the
gland; and it is thence determined through "simple" fibres which proceed
from these simple corticles. (1414)
The simple fibre projected by the simple cortex is conceived by Swedenborg as so exalted in type that it "flashes like a ray of the soul's intellectual light"(1415) Within it "flashes" the substance of the "soul", i.e, the spirituous fluid.(1416) This simple fibre flashes sinuously in a vortical gyre, thus forming a little canal which constitutes a continuation of the gland and is called the medullary fibre.(1417)
The spirituous fluid, derived from the finest aura of nature, is of the celestial or perpetuo-vortical form: and the same holds true of their constituent units which make up the simple fibre. The simple fibre itself is of the vortical form (such as is the magnetic vortex around the globe). The medullary fibre is said to be of the spiral form.(1418)
B. THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF THE
The Corporeal Fibres originate in glands formed
by terminations in the simple fibres and located under the cuticle of the
skin as well as in the stomach, the lungs, and elsewhere.(1424)
These glands not only exhale effluvia from the body, but also absorb
"fresh effluvia from the bosom of the atmospheres or ether".(1425)
The red blood itself does not pass to the cortical
glands.(1426) But in the finest arterial branches the
red corpuscles are resolved, and the "white blood" is released.
When the red blood is ruptured or resolved, these corpuscles of the purer blood are freed by the grosser saline elements in the capillaries near the cortical (1429) The purer blood then-enters the glands through the "exsanguinous vessels,"(1430) i.e., the "arterial vessels."
But the "vascular stamens" or "corporeal fibres" carry no other fluid than such as is drawn from the atmospheres, thus purest aliment only intended for the formation of the "animal spirit" which is to be formed in the cortical gland.(1432) Each cortical gland contains:
1. The Simple Cortex, containing innumerable simple corticles from which simple fibres proceed, which join to compose the cortical gland. (1433)1433 The position of this "Purer Cortex" in the inmost recesses of the gland (1434) is not clearly specified by Swedenborg. In the Rational Psvchology, it is called the "Pure Intellectory."(1435)
2. The Medulla or medullary substance, consisting of
a) Simple fibres proceeding from the simple corticles;3. The Chamber or the gland - a cavity which cannot be seen by histologists because it collapses at death(1436) - contains an intrusion of vascular substance, a plexus- of corporeal fibres which would correspond to the choroid plexus in the ventricles of the cerebrum.
This vascular substance distills into the cavity an atmospheric "chyle" - a copious volatile substance drawn from the ether(1437) which is described as consisting of fine saline and sulphureous elements and effluvia, including "exhalations of magnetic substances" and disease breeding poisonous spheres. These etherial "salts" also assist to produce heat in the blood.(1438)
1. First Resolution of the Blood:
Each of the three bloods have a distinct circulation.(1442) There is a perennial circulation of "purer blood" or "animal spirit" through each cortical gland. The latter is therefore likened to a tiny heart.(1443)
When the red blood corpuscles are resolved in the arterioles of the gray substance of the brain, the plano-oval globules (or pellucid particles) pass through the "arterial vessel" into the cavity of the cortical gland, leaving behind all the grosser angular particles or aqueous and aerial salts as well as the ordinary serum of the blood. Even water-particles seem to be too "hard" and gross to be admitted to the gland. The rejected part of the serum, laden with the grosser salts, find their way between the fibres and thus seep through the cortex of the brain.(1444)
The liberated globules of the "purer blood" thus enter the gland's cavity alone, except for a vary fine serum suitable to carry them. The rhythmical animation and constriction of the gland is what attracts and expels the current of fluid.(1445)
2. Formation of "Animal Spirit":
The special chemical function of the cortical gland is the production of "animal spirit". This blood is composed in the cavity of the gland, from two constituents: a) It is conceived by the spirituous fluid which flashes out from the simple fibres terminating at the surface of the cavity. b)- It is born, or clothed, by the etherial salts and effluvia exuded from the plexus of corporeal fibres which extends into the cavity.(1446) Its formation and structure is-analogous to those of the blood, and can be known only by analogy.(1447)
The quality of the "animal spirit" or "purer blood" depends largely on that of the fixative effluvia which it absorbs.(1448)l448
3. Renovation of the Purer Blood:
The purer blood which enters the gland may be renovated by the substitution of new ingredients in the little chamber of the gland. It may break up, and form new combinations. New plano-oval corpuscles may be formed with fresh spirituous fluid; or new etherial elements may be added. Or there may be a [UNFINISHED ORO]
4. Resolution of the Purer Blood:
For the constituent spirituous fluid may leave the purer-blood corpuscle and penetrate to the subtlest region of the gland, viz., to the celestial corticles (1450) while the etherial salts which bound the spirituous fluid units together into pellucid particles, find their ways into the surrounding tissues and eventually pass down through the interstices between the medullary fibres into the cerebral ventricles or into the nerves. (1451)
5. The Medullary or Compound Fibre:
The revitalized purer blood, now definitely called
"animal spirit", leaves the gland for its uses in the brain and body through
small canal which Swedenborg names the medullary fibre. This leaves
the gland on the side opposite from that on which the
purer blood had entered.
Other parts of the "purer blood" are derived from the cortical substances of the cerebellum and the medulla oblongata and the medulla spinalis, and are also absorbed into the nerves and eventually into the blood.
In the veins approaching the heart, the spirit meets first with the serum of the blood' then with the chyle from the mesentery which pours out through the chyle duct, and then with lymph from the right lymphatic duct. In the heart it then mingles with the "aerial chyle" (oxygen, etc.) absorbed by the lungs.
From all these aliments, the units of the purer blood or animal spirit may be built up or compounded into red blood corpuscles of a lower degree. But soon the "circle" of the purer blood is completed for the blood ascends again into the head and is resolved in the arterioles of the cortex of the brain, the pellucid globules being returned into the chamber of the cortical gland.
Note: The general circulation of the "purer blood" is referred to in the Writings.(1454) As to the circulation of the purer or white blood in the embryo, see I Econ. 365. As to the flow of the ventricular fluids and various derivative lymphs, see AC 4050 and our Notes in section D, pages 59-63.
D. DEGREES WITHIN THE CORTICAL GLANDS
Each gland is said to be twinned, having relation both to love and to Wisdom. (1457)
2. In the physiological works, Swedenborg does not mention any physical organism superior to the simple or "celestial" corticles or "purer cortex".
In the work on the Brain,(1458) each cortical gland is said to be distinguished into three "spheres" which are devoted to the operations, respectively, of the soul (or spirit), the rational mind, and the animus (or imagination).
3. In the Writings, however, the spiritual forms of the "substances
which are the receptacles of love and wisdom" in man are
said to "ascend to the third degree." (1459)
Such a trinal order is also suggested in the description of the spiritual
"initiament" of the human form which is in the seed and which contains
three spiritual degrees for the three degrees of man's
mind, the Celestial, the Spiritual, and the Natural; the lowest or
the natural degree being perverted from heredity. (1460)
Since the physiological works consistently teach that evil can affect
the simple corticles as well as the cortical glands and the
brain as a whole, it would follow that these three organisms are the
bases of man's natural mind, that is, of his spiritual-natural or