Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Swedenborg & Contactees

Good friend Micah Hanks (seen here with me on the left in the photo) has generously shared extracts from his excellent manuscript, Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule.

Hopefully, Micah's script will be published in the very near future and you'll be able to read this ground-breaking work in full. Be sure to keep checking Micah's Gralien Report for the latest news on MM&M.

As Micah noted in his email to me, this particular extract has distinct Contactee-style overtones to it. And with that said over to Micah:

Psychic Travel to Distant Planets

"Close to a century after magicians John Dee and Edward Kelley parted ways, Christian Mystic Emanuel Swedenborg would claim to visit other planets and learn languages of 'angels' as well, by means of out-of-body experiences. This was made possible after a spiritual 'awakening', during which Swedenborg claimed that God had opened his eyes, allowing him to see the spirit-world around him, as well as its various inhabitants.

"In his popular 1758 work Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen, Swedenborg claimed to have witnessed firsthand the vastness of the afterlife, and spoke of the manner in which angels communicated both to him and to one another:

"'Angels talk together just as men do in the world, and also on various subjects, as on domestic affairs, on civil affairs, on the affairs of moral life, and on those of spiritual life; nor is there any other difference than that they converse more intelligently than men, because more interiorly from thought. It has been given me often to be in company with them, and to speak with them as friend with friend, and sometimes as stranger with stranger; and then, because I was in a similar state with them, I knew no otherwise than that I was speaking with men on earth.

"In addition to being made privy to angelic languages similar to Dee and Kelley’s assertions, Swedenborg took things one-step further by claiming to have visited other planets in his out-of-body travels, a practice similar to branches of the Hindu religion that refer to 'planets' in their meditative out-of-body journeys. Such claims have certainly helped stifle Swedenborg’s intellect in the minds of many modern scholars and theologians, prompting various theories that question the scholar’s sanity in his later years.

"Swedish co-founder of the Royal Academy of Sciences Count von Höpken once posed the question whether it 'would not be best for him to keep (these angelic accounts) to himself, and not publish them to the world?' However, von Höpken also provides rationale for Swedenborg’s actions: He answered that he had orders from the Lord to publish them; and that those who might ridicule him on that account would do him injustice; for, said he, 'why should I, who am a man in years, render myself ridiculous for fantasies and falsehoods.'"

"Similarly, the Swedenborg Scientific Association dedicated an entire issue of its publication The New Philosophy to the question of whether Swedenborg could have suffered from failing mental health in his lifetime. Editor Kurt Simmons Ph.D. notes that, 'Swedenborg presents a particularly, indeed perhaps uniquely, daunting challenge to any observer attempting to evaluate the applicability of the madness hypothesis to his claims of revelation.'

"When taking into consideration the sheer volume of scholarly study Swedenborg undertook in his time, ranging from interest in biology, engineering, physics, philosophy and, finally, his theological works, it is difficult to leave with any notion that these were the ramblings of an unsound mind.

"Of particular interest here may be another book Swedenborg published in 1758, titled Concerning Earths in the Solar System. In it, Swedenborg describes his bodiless travels to nearby inhabited planets, the furthest from Earth being Saturn. This is peculiar, as noted by J. Gordon Melton in his essay Contactees, especially due to the fact that Saturn was only the furthest known planet from Earth at the time Swedenborg wrote the book. Had he known of the existence of planets scattered amongst the outer portions of our solar system, would he have known to visit those also?

"Could it be that Swedenborg wasn’t insane at all, but instead that he had merely had such a fertile mind that he began to tie associations between his theological interests and the known astronomy of his day, drawing together early visions of science fiction set on a stage elsewhere in the cosmos?"

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