Revealed Knowledge of the Planets
by W. B. Caldwell
Among the most interesting and fascinating things which have been revealed by the Lord at His Second Coming are the knowledges concerning the earths or planets in our solar system and beyond it, concerning the human race and other forms upon them, and concerning the spirits and angels who have gone from them into the other life. In the spiritual world anyone who genuinely desires this knowledge can obtain it. For we read:
But abundant information is now revealed in the Heavenly Doctrines for the use of the man of the New Church, and it is provided not only to gratify his love of knowing, but primarily to enlarge and enlighten his understanding of the universe, and to exalt his life by the acknowledgment and worship of the Creator to which he is led by such knowledge. For only one whose mind is open to a rational and spiritual faith will wholeheartedly receive as the truth what has now been revealed by the Lord.
Like all else that is given to the New Church in the Writings, this information was disclosed by the Lord by means of a human instrument as revelator-Emanuel Swedenborg, whose very presentation of the subject begets complete confidence in him as a credible witness. When he was first brought by the Lord into association with the spirits of other earths, he records the fact in the Spiritual Diary in these words:
And further he states: "The things contained in the little work called The Earths in the Universe were revealed and shown to me for the end that it may be known that the Lord's heaven is immense, and that it is wholly from the human race: also that our Lord is everywhere acknowledged as the God of heaven and earth." (H. H. 417e.)
Again: "The Kingdom of the Lord is a Man, because the Lord is the only Man, and is His Own Kingdom, . . . and unless there were innumerable worlds or earths which together constitute such a Man the souls of one world or earth would by no means suffice, because there must be endless varieties, and in each part innumerable souls who confirm and establish it." (S. D. 1145e.)
In these devout expressions of the revelator we find an acknowledgment of the main purpose in revealing the knowledges concerning the planets which he was given by the Lord to set forth in writing and printing-namely, that they are for those who are willing to believe that the revelation is from the Lord, and is the Divine Truth for the New Church. In other words, they are primarily for those who have faith in their truth,-first the faith of childhood when those knowledges are taught as stories of other worlds than our own: then, the faith of the youth who reasons affirmatively; and finally for the rational and spiritual faith of the adult who accepts in joy of heart and full confirmation.
But the revelation also anticipates the various states of acceptance or rejection among men in the world, both within the former Church and outside of it.
A new revelation from the Lord is rejected by those in the Church who have no faith of heart in the Lord and a spiritual world: yet there are some who incline to a simple belief that other earths, like our own, are inhabited by human beings, and that the universe was not created by an all-wise and infinitely loving God for the sake of one earth alone. There are also those who come to a like conclusion from reason and common sense, and the Writings appeal to men to think "from reason" on the subject.
Among the learned, however, the investigations of the material universe with the aid of mechanical devices and the wonders of astronomical science still leave doubts as to the existence of human life on the planets of our solar system. It is held, for example, that the atmospheres of some of the planets, and of our moon, would not sustain human life. And at the same time there are those who would like to communicate with the inhabitants, if any, who live on the planets, and those who believe that we shall some day travel to the moon. Well, let them keep on trying; it is good exercise for human ingenuity, and can do no harm. Meanwhile we may be certain that whatever of truth men discover by science and mechanical art will confirm what the Lord has revealed, which is now of interest to so few.
Let us recall a few statements of the Writings bearing upon this phase of the subject:
Presentation in the Writings.
The information concerning the planets is given in three parts of the Writings: 1) In the Memorabilia or Spiritual Diary, where the revelator, from day to day, records his experiences in meeting those of other earths; 2) In the Arcana Coelestia, following each chapter of Exodus, beginning at no. 6695. 3) In the little work, The Earths in the Universe, which the revelator extracted from the Arcana Coelestia, with changes and additions here and there, and omitting the Fourth Earth (A. C. 10585-10590; 10708-10712). Thus the Fourth and Fifth Earths in E. U. are the same as the Fifth and Sixth in A. C. As to why the Fourth Earth was omitted, we merely note what is said of that Earth: "I was not conveyed to this Earth as to the others, but the spirits who are of that Earth were brought to me." (A. C. 10585.)
In the Harvard College Library there is a copy of Volume VI of the original Latin edition of the Arcane Coelestia which Swedenborg himself used when preparing The Earths in the Universe. An account of the volume, and of Swedenborg's annotations therein, was given by Mr. Alfred Henry Stroh in NEW CHURCH LIFE, 1904, pp. 599, 656.
To obtain a complete picture of all that is revealed on the subject of the planets, it is necessary to read what is set forth in the three parts of the Writings where it is treated, as we find information in one part that is not given in the others. In the Spiritual Diary the revelator records his experiences with the spirits of other earths as they occurred, and from this storehouse he drew largely, though not entirely, when writing the accounts given in the Arcane Caelestia. He was first associated with the spirits of the planet Jupiter (S. D. 519, as before noted), and then with the spirits of the planet Mercury; and his experiences with the spirits of these two planets were more extended than with any others. Let us cite an example.
When he first came into association with the spirits of the planet Mercury, they concealed their identity, because of their nature, which is to acquire knowledges, but not to divulge them. They are interested in the cognitions of things abstracted from earthly and material things, and they are averse to any thought that they ever lived in a body. Since they cultivate the memory, they lack judgment, and on this account are not permitted to impart their vast store of knowledge to those of other earths, though they share it with spirits of their own earth. And they were gradually induced to tell Swedenborg many interesting things, at the same time disclosing their own characteristics, which form an important part of what is now revealed to us in regard to their place in the Grand Man of the universe. To quote:
Let us cite another example to indicate the need to consult the different works of the Writings in which the planets are treated, to gain a complete picture.
A Satellite of Jupiter.
We have already quoted A. C. 9237, where it is said that spirits and angels know that there are inhabitants on the moons or satellites which revolve around some of the planets, including those of Jupiter and Saturn. The following is from the Spiritual Diary:
In the author's Index to the Memorabilia, we find:
The information concerning these spirits is quite extensive in the Spiritual Diary (nos. 1668-4682; 1 684A657), and from it was taken what is said of the "Third Earth in the Starry Heaven" in the Arcana Coelestia, nos. 10,311 et seq., beginning with these words:
We take this to mean that the revelator had not been informed by angels from the Lord in regard to the spirits who said that they were from a satellite of Jupiter. Three days before he spoke with them he wrote that he had been given a perception from the Lord as to what he was to learn from spirits, so that everything he wrote might be from the Lord alone. (S. D. 1647. March 22, 1748.) With his customary caution, therefore, he was unwilling to state it as fact that they were from a satellite of Jupiter, although he declares that "it was very likely, because it was so perceived." While they were similar in some respects to the inhabitants of Jupiter, they could hardly have been from that planet, or they would have been included in the description of the people of Jupiter, so fully given elsewhere in the Writings. (S. D. 519. et seq.; A. C. 7799, et seq.; E. U. 46-84.)
Additional Information-As indicating one use of the moons to their planets, it is said of the inhabitants of Jupiter that "their moons shine upon them so much that they live in light." (S. D. 555.) Of the planet Saturn we are told that, "being so far from the sun, it has also a great lunar belt which gives much light to that earth, even though it is a reflected light" (A. C. 6697), and that "a nocturnal lumen is diffused from the great belt which surrounds that earth at a distance, and from the moons which are called the satellites of Saturn." "They were asked about that great belt, which from our earth appears to elevate itself above the horizon of that planet, and to vary its situations, and they said that it does not appear to them as a belt, but only as something snowy in the sky in various directions." (A. C. 8951, 8952.)
The sun of the world, we are told, "does not appear to any spirit, nor anything of its light, but the planets which are within the world of that sun appear according to a certain situation relative to the sun; Mercury at the back a little toward the right; the planet Venus at the left a little behind: the planet Mars at the left in front; the planet Jupiter likewise at the left in front, but at a greater distance: the planet Saturn directly in front at a very great distance; the Moon at the left quite high up: the satellites also at the left relative to their own planet. Such is the situation of those planets in the ideas of spirits and angels: also, spirits appear beside their own planet, but outside of it." (A. C. 7171. See also 7247, 7358. 7800.)
The spirits of our Moon are described in A. C. 9232-9237; S. D. 3241-3245: E. U. 111, 112.
How Many Moons?
As to the number of moons or satellites in our solar system, we may note that in Swedenborg's time there were but ten known to astronomers, as follows: Earth 1, Jupiter 4, Saturn 5. Modern astronomy lists 30 satellites in our solar system: Earth 1, Mars 2, Jupiter 11, Saturn 9, Uranus 5, Neptune 2. And all but 7 have been named. For this information we are indebted to Mrs. Wertha Pendleton Cole, Instructor in Astronomy in the Academy of the New Church, and we think it likely that, if you approach her in a apprecative mood, she will be glad to give you a copy of her list of "The Satellites of the Solar System," showing the planet to which each belongs, its name if any, its discoverer, date of discovery, and its distance from its planet.
The thought occurs: How different the Scriptures would be if the Earth had more than one moon. But we know that our Earth, with all its conditions, was provided by the Lord for the sake of the everlasting Word that was to be written here and preserved for all posterity, and for the sake of all in the universe. (A. C. 9355, 9356.) The fact that the Lord appears to the angels of the celestial kingdom of heaven as a Sun, and to angels of the spiritual kingdom as a Moon, is everywhere ultimated in the letter of the Word, from the "two great luminaries" of the 1st chapter of Genesis to the "woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet" (Rev. 12), signifying "the Lord's New Church in the heavens, which is the New Heaven, and the Lord's New Church about to be on earth, which is the New Jerusalem." (A. R. 533.)