Correspondences, resourcesBelow are selections from Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, New Century e-book.
There Is a Correspondence of Everything in Heaven with Everything in the Human Being
87 People today do not know what “correspondence” is. There are many reasons for this ignorance, the primary one being that we have moved away from heaven because of our love for ourselves and for the world. You see, people who love themselves and the world above all focus on nothing but earthly matters because these provide gratification to their more outward senses and pleasure to their moods. They do not attend to spiritual matters because these offer gratification to their deeper senses and pleasure to their minds. So they set such matters aside, saying that they are too lofty to think about.
The early people behaved differently. For them, knowledge about correspondences was the pearl of all knowledge. By means of it, they gained intelligence and wisdom, and by means of it those who were of the church had a communication with heaven. Knowledge about correspondences is in fact angelic knowledge.
The earliest ones, who were heavenly people, did their thinking from correspondence like angels, so they could even talk with angels. Further, the Lord was quite often visible to them, and taught them. Nowadays, though, this knowledge has been so completely lost that people do not know what correspondence is.a
Now, without some grasp of what correspondence is, nothing can be known in clear light about the spiritual world or about its inflow into the natural world, nothing at all about what the spiritual is relative to the natural, nothing in clear light about the human spirit that is called “the soul” and how it affects the body inwardly, nothing about our state after death. Because of all this, I need to define it and explain what it is like. This will also pave the way for matters that are to follow.
First, I need to state what correspondence is. The whole natural world is responsive to the spiritual world—the natural world not just in general, but in detail. So whatever arises in the natural world out of the spiritual one is called “something that corresponds.” It needs to be realized that the natural world arises from and is sustained in being by the spiritual world, exactly the way an effect relates to its efficient cause.
By “the natural world,” I mean all that extended reality that is under our sun and that receives its light and warmth from it. All the things that are sustained in being from that source belong to that world. The spiritual world, in contrast, is heaven, and to that world belong all the things that are in the heavens.
Since a human being is a heaven and a world in least form in the image of the greatest (see §57 above), there is a spiritual world and a natural world within each of us. The deeper elements,which belong to our minds and relate to our intelligence and volition, constitute our spiritual world, while the outer elements, which belong to our bodies and relate to our senses and actions, constitute our natural world. Anything that occurs in our natural world (that is, in our bodies and their senses and actions) because of our spiritual world (that is, because of our minds and their intelligence and volition) is called something that corresponds.
We can see in the human face what correspondence is like. In a face that has not been taught to dissimulate, all the affections of the mind manifest themselves visibly in a natural form, as though in their very imprint, which is why we refer to the face as “the index of the mind.” This is our spiritual world within our natural world. Similarly, elements of our understanding are manifest in our speech, and matters of our volition in our physical behavior. So things that occur in the body, whether in our faces or in our speech or in our behavior, are called correspondences.
92 We can also see from this what the inner person is and what the outer person is, namely, that the inner is the one that is called the spiritual person, and the outer the natural person. We can also see that they are as distinct from each other as heaven and earth, and that everything that happens and comes forth in the outer or natural person does so from the inner or spiritual one.
93 We have been talking about the correspondence of our inner or spiritual person with our outer or natural one. In what follows, though, we need to discuss the correspondence of heaven in its entirety with the individual human being.
It has already been explained that heaven in its totality reflects a single person, and that it is a person in image and is therefore called the universal human. It has also been explained that for this reason, the heavenly communities that make up heaven are arranged like the members, organs, and viscera in a human being. So there are communities that are located in the head, in the chest, in the arms, and in the particular parts of these members (see above, §§59–72). The communities that are in a particular member, then, correspond to the like member in a human being. For example, the ones in the head in heaven correspond to our head, the ones in the chest there correspond to our chest, the ones in the arms correspond to our arms, and so on for the rest. We continue in existence because of this correspondence, for heaven is the only basis of our continued existence.
The differentiation of heaven into two kingdoms, one called the heavenly kingdom and the other the spiritual kingdom, has been presented in its proper chapter above. The heavenly kingdom in general corresponds to the heart and to all the extensions of the heart throughout the body. The spiritual kingdom corresponds to the lungs and to all their extension throughout the body. Further, the heart and the lungs form two kingdoms in us, the heart governing through the arteries and veins and the lungs through the nerve and motor fibers, each involved in every effort and action.
Within each one of us, in the spiritual world of ours that is called our spiritual person, there are also two kingdoms. One is volitional and the other is cognitive, the volitional governing through affections for what is good and the cognitive through affections for what is true. These kingdoms also correspond to the kingdoms of the heart and lungs in the body. The same holds true in the heavens. The heavenly kingdom is heaven’s volitional side, where the good that flows from love rules. The spiritual kingdom is heaven’s cognitive side, where truth rules. These are what correspond to the functions of the heart and the lungs in us.
It is because of this correspondence that “the heart” in the Word means volition and the good of love, while “the breath of the spirit” means understanding and the truth of faith. This is also why we ascribe feelings to the heart, even though they do not reside or originate there.b
The correspondence of heaven’s two kingdoms with the heart and lungs is the general correspondence of heaven with the human being. The less general correspondence, though, is with the specific members, organs, and viscera, and we need to note what this is like as well. People who are in the head in the universal human that is heaven are supremely involved in everything good. In fact, they are in love, peace, innocence, wisdom, intelligence, and therefore in delight and happiness. These flow into the head and into the components of the head in us, and correspond to them.
People who are in the chest of the universal human that is heaven are involved in the qualities of thoughtfulness and faith, and also flow into our chests and correspond to them. However, people who are in the groin of the universal human or heaven and in the organs dedicated to reproduction are in marriage love.
People who are in the feet are in the outmost heaven, which is called “natural-spiritual good.” People who are in the arms and hands are in the power of what is true because of what is good. People who are in the eyes are in understanding; people who are in the ears are in attentiveness and obedience; people who are in the nostrils are in perception; people in the mouth and tongue in conversing from discernment and perception.
People who are in the kidneys are in truth that probes and discriminates and purifies; people in the liver, pancreas, and spleen are in various aspects of purification of what is good and true; and so on. They flow into the like parts of the human being and correspond to them.
The inflow of heaven is into the functions and uses of these members, and since the uses originate in the spiritual world, they take form by means of elements characteristic of the natural world and thus make themselves known in their effects. This is the origin of correspondence.
This is why these same members, organs, and viscera in the Word mean similar things. Everything there actually has meaning according to its correspondence. The head there means intelligence and wisdom, the chest thoughtfulness, the groin marriage love, the arms and hands the power of truth, the feet what is natural, the eyes discernment, the nostrils perception, the ears obedience, the kidneys the probing of truth, and so on.c
This is also why people commonly say that someone has a good head when they are talking about someone intelligent and wise, why they talk about a truly thoughtful person as a bosom friend, a particularly perceptive individual as having a keen nose, a discriminating one as sharp-sighted, someone in power as having a long arm, someone who acts intentionally from love as acting from the heart—these and many other expressions in human language come from correspondence. The expressions actually originate in the spiritual world, though people are unaware of it.
The reality of this kind of correspondence of everything in heaven with everything in us has been shown me by a great deal of experience—by so much, in fact, that I am as convinced of this as I am of anything that is so obvious as to be beyond doubt. There is no need to append all the evidence here, though, and there is too much to include. The reader may see some included in Secrets of Heaven where correspondences, representations, the inflow of the spiritual world into the natural, and the interaction of soul and body are dealt with.d
Even though we completely correspond physically to all of heaven, we are still not images of heaven in outward form, but only in inward form. Our deeper reaches are receptive of heaven, while our more outward ones are receptive of this world. To the extent, then, that those deeper reaches do accept heaven we are heavens in least form, in the image of the greatest; but to the extent that our deeper reaches are not receptive, we are not heavens or images of the greatest. Nevertheless, our more outward aspects, which are receptive of the world, may be in some form that is determined by the world, and therefore in more or less beauty. Outward, physical beauty has its origins in our parents and from our formation in the womb, and thereafter is maintained by a general inflow from the world. This is why our natural form differs markedly from our spiritual form
I have been shown at times what a spiritual person is like in form, and I have seen that in some people who were lovely and attractive in physical appearance that inner form was misshapen, black, and grotesque—what you would call an image of hell rather than of heaven; while in some who were not beautiful, the inner form was graceful, radiant, and angelic. After death, our spirit looks the way it actually did within the body while we were living in it in this world.
100 Correspondence, though, extends to much more than human beings. There is a correspondence of the heavens with each other. The second or intermediate heaven is responsive to the third or central one, the first or outmost heaven is responsive to the second or intermediate one, and this is responsive to the physical forms in us, the forms that are referred to as our members, organs, and viscera. So it is our bodily nature in which heaven finally comes to rest, on which it stands like a foundation. But this mystery will be explored further elsewhere.
101 It is absolutely necessary to realize, though, that all correspondence with heaven is correspondence with the Lord’s divine human, because heaven is from him and because he is heaven, as has been explained in the preceding chapters. For unless the divine human flowed into every bit of heaven and, in accord with correspondences, into every bit of our world, there would be no angels and none of us.
Again then, we can see from this why the Lord became an individual on earth and clothed his divine nature with a human nature from first to last. This happened because the divine human on which heaven depended before the Coming of the Lord was no longer adequate to sustain everything, since we, the foundation of heaven, had undermined and destroyed the design. In the passages referred to at the close of the preceding chapter you may see what the divine human before the Coming of the Lord was and what its In the passages referred to at the close of the preceding chapter you may see what the divine human before the Coming of the Lord was and what its nature was, as well as the quality of the state of heaven then.
102 Angels are stunned when they hear that there are people who credit everything to nature and nothing to the Divine, as well as people who believe that their bodies, in which so many wonders of heaven are gathered, are fashioned out of nature, and even that this is the source of our rational capacity. On the contrary, if people would just raise their minds a little, they could see that things like this come from the Divine and not from nature, and that nature was created simply to clothe the spiritual and responsively represent it on the lowest level of the design. They compare such people to owls, which see in darkness, but see nothing in the light.
SWEDENBORG, EMANUEL; DOLE, GEORGE F. (2010-01-12). HEAVEN AND HELL: PORTABLE: THE PORTABLE NEW CENTURY EDITION (Kindle Locations 1419-1432). Chicago Distribution. Kindle Edition.
There Is a Correspondence of Heaven with Everything Earthly103 In the preceding chapter, we have stated what correspondence is, and have explained as well that absolutely everything in the soul’s body is a correspondence. Next in orderly sequence we need to explain that everything earthly and in general everything in our world is a correspondence.
104 All earthly things are differentiated into three classes that we call “kingdoms,” namely the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and t
he mineral kingdom. Members of the animal kingdom are correspondences on the first level because they are alive. Members of the vegetable kingdom are correspondences on the second level because they merely grow. Members of the mineral kingdom are correspondences on the third level because they neither live nor grow. The correspondences in the animal kingdom are the living creatures of various kinds, both those that walk and creep on the earth and those that fly in the air. We need not list them by name, because they are familiar. Correspondences in the vegetable kingdom are all the things that grow and bloom in gardens and forests and farms and meadows, which again are so familiar that they need not be listed by name. Correspondences in the mineral kingdom are metals noble and base, stones precious and common, and soils of various kinds, as well as bodies of water. Beyond these, things made from these elements by human industry for our use are correspondences, things such as foods of all kinds, garments, houses, major buildings, and so on.
Things that are above the earth are also correspondences, things like the sun, the moon, and the stars, and also things that occur in our atmospheres like clouds, mists, rainstorms, lightning bolts, and thunderclaps. The emanations of the sun in its presence and absence like light and shade, warmth and cold, are also correspondences; and so are such corollaries as the times of the year called spring, summer, fall, and winter, and the times of the day—morning, noon, evening, and night.
In a word, absolutely everything in nature, from the smallest to the greatest, is a correspondence.a The reason correspondences occur is that the natural world, including everything in it, arises and is sustained from the spiritual world, and both worlds come from the Divine. We say that it also is sustained because everything is sustained from that from which it arose, enduring being in fact a perpetual arising; and since nothing can endure independently, but needs something prior, it therefore needs a First, and if it were separated from that First, it would utterly perish and disappear.
Everything is a correspondent that arises and endures in nature according to the divine design. What makes the divine design is the divine good that emanates from the Lord. It begins from him, emanates from him through the heavens in sequence into the world, and there comes to a close in things most remote. Things there that are in accord with the design are correspondences. The things that are in accord with the design are everything that is good and is perfected for some use, for everything good is good according to its usefulness. Its form reflects what is true because the true is the form of the good. This is why everything in the whole world and in the world of nature that is in the divine design goes back to what is good and what is true.b
The fact that everything in this world arises from the Divine and is clothed with the kinds of elements in nature that enable it to be present there, serve some use, and therefore correspond, follows clearly from little things we can observe in both the animal and the vegetable kingdoms. In each there are things that anyone, with some deeper thought, can see must come from heaven. By way of illustration I may mention only a few out of the countless many.
First, some from the animal kingdom. In this field, many people realize what kind of knowledge is virtually instinctive in any creature you choose. Bees know how to collect honey from flowers, build cells from wax in which they store their honey, and so provide food for themselves and their families for the coming winter. Their queen lays eggs, while the others cover them over and lead her around so that a new generation may be born. They live under a kind of government that all their members know instinctively, protecting their useful members and expelling the useless ones and clipping off their wings. There are even more marvels that are given them from heaven for their use. In fact, their wax serves the human race throughout the world for candles, and their honey for flavoring foods
.  Then what about caterpillars, the lowest creatures in the animal kingdom! They know how to nourish themselves with the sap of their leaves and in due time how to make a covering around themselves and virtually put themselves in a womb and so to hatch offspring of their own species. Some first turn into nymphs and chrysalides and make threads, and after exhausting labor grace themselves with new bodies and adorn themselves with wings. Then they fly in the air as though it were their heaven, celebrate their “weddings,” lay their eggs, and so provide themselves with a posterity.
 Over and above these particular examples, all the fowl of the air know the foods that are good for them—not only what they are, but where they are. They know how to construct nests for themselves, each species differently from all others, how to lay their eggs there, incubate them, hatch and feed their chicks, and expel them from the nest when they can be on their own. They also know the particular enemies they must avoid and the allies they can associate with, all from earliest infancy. I will say nothing about the wonders in the eggs themselves, where everything necessary for the formation and nourishment of the embryonic chicks lies properly available, or countless other wonders.
 Will anyone who thinks with any rational wisdom say that such things arise from any source but a spiritual world, a world that the natural world serves by clothing what comes from it with a body, or presenting in effect that which is spiritual in origin?
The reason why earthbound animals and the fowl of the air are born into all this knowledge while we, who are actually superior, are not, is that animals are in the proper pattern of their life and cannot destroy what is within them from the spiritual world because they are not rational. It is different for us, who think from the spiritual world. Because we have corrupted ourselves by living contrary to the design that reason itself has recommended to us, we cannot escape being born into total ignorance, so that we can be led from there, by divine means, back into the pattern of heaven.
We can deduce how members of the vegetable kingdom correspond from a multitude of instances—for example, from the fact that tiny seeds grow into trees, beget leaves, produce flowers and then fruits in which they place another generation of seeds, and that these things happen in a sequence and emerge all together in such a wondrous design that there is no way to describe it briefly. It would take volumes, and still there would be deeper mysteries suited to their uses that our knowledge could not compass.
Because these things stem from the spiritual world or heaven, which is in a human form (as was explained in the appropriate chapter above [§§78–86]), it is also true that the details of that kingdom have a kind of relationship to human characteristics—a fact that is recognized by some individuals in the learned world.
It has become clear to me from a great deal of experience that everything in that kingdom is also a correspondence. Very often, when I have looked over trees and fruits and flowers and vegetables in gardens, I have become aware of corresponding things in heaven. Then I have talked with nearby people there and have learned where these plants were from and what their characteristics were.
Nowadays, though, no one can know about the spiritual things in heaven to which natural things in the world correspond except from heaven, because the knowledge of correspondence has now been completely lost. I should like to present a few examples to show what the correspondence of spiritual things with natural ones is like.
In general, earth’s living creatures correspond to affections, the mild and useful ones to good affections, the fierce and useless ones to evil affections. Specifically, cattle and calves correspond to affections of the natural mind, sheep and lambs to affections of the spiritual mind. Flying creatures, species by species, correspond to cognitive activities of either level of the mind.c This is why various animals such as cattle, calves, rams, sheep, male and female goats, male and female lambs, as well as pigeons and turtle doves were accepted for holy use in the Israelite church, which was a representative church. They used them for their sacrifices and burnt offerings, and in these uses they did in fact correspond to spiritual realities that are understood in heaven in accord with their correspondence.
The reason animals are affections, according to their genera and species, is that they are alive, and the only source of the life of any creature is from affection and is in proportion to it. We humans are like animals as far as our natural person is concerned, which is why we are compared to them in colloquial usage. For example, we call a gentle person a sheep or a lamb, a violent one a bear or a wolf, a crafty one a fox or a snake, and so on.
There is a similar correspondence with things in the vegetable kingdom. A garden, in general terms, corresponds to heaven in respect to intelligence and wisdom, which is why heaven is called the garden of God and a paradise,d and why we call it a heavenly paradise.
Trees, species by species, correspond to perceptions and firsthand knowledge of what is good and true, which yield intelligence and wisdom. So the early people, who were absorbed in the knowledge of correspondences, held their holy worship in groves.e This is why trees are mentioned so often in the Word and why heaven, the church, and people are compared to them—to the vine, for example, the olive, the cedar, and others—and the good we do is compared to fruit.
Further, the foods we derive from them, especially the ones we get from crops planted in fields, correspond to affections for what is good and true because they nourish our spiritual life the way earthly foods nourish our natural life.f
Bread, generally speaking, corresponds to an affection for whatever is good because it is the mainstay of life and because it is used to mean all food. It is because of this correspondence that the Lord calls himself the bread of life; and it is also because of this that bread was put to holy use in the Israelite church—they did in fact place bread on the table in the tabernacle and called it “the bread of presence.” Then too, all divine worship that they performed by sacrifices and burnt offerings was called “bread.” Because of this correspondence too, the most sacred worship in the Christian church is the Holy Supper, in which bread and wine are shared.g
From these few examples, we can infer what correspondence is like.
We may note briefly how the union of heaven with the world occurs by means of correspondences. The Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of purposes that are functions or—which amounts to the same thing—of functions that are purposes. For this reason, the universe has been so created and formed by the Divine that functions can clothe themselves in materials that enable them to present themselves in act or in results, first in heaven and then in this world, and so step by step all the way to the lowest things in nature. We can see from this that the correspondence of natural phenomena with spiritual ones, or of the world with heaven, takes place through functions, and that the functions are what unite them. We can also see that the forms that clothe the functions are correspondences and unions to the extent that they are forms of the functions.
In the three kingdoms of earthly nature, all the things that happen according to the design are [outward] forms of their functions or results formed by function for function. This is why the things that occur there are correspondences.
As for us, though, our acts are services in forms to the extent that we live according to the divine design—that is, in love for the Lord and in thoughtfulness toward our neighbor. To that extent, our acts are correspondences that unite us to heaven. In general terms, loving the Lord and our neighbor is being of service.h
We need to know as well that it is humankind through which the natural world is united to the spiritual world, that we are the means of the union. For there is within us a natural world and also a spiritual world (see above, §57); so to the extent that we are spiritual, we are a means of union. However, to the extent that we are natural and not spiritual, we are not a means of union. The Lord’s inflow into the world and into the world’s gifts within us continues even without our aid, but it does not come into our rational functioning.
Just as everything that is in accord with the divine design corresponds to heaven, everything that is contrary to the divine design corresponds to hell. Everything that corresponds to heaven reflects what is good and true, while what corresponds to hell reflects what is evil and false.
114 We may now say something about the knowledge of correspondences and its use. We have just stated that the spiritual world, which is heaven, is united to the natural world by means of correspondences; so it is through correspondences that we are given communication with heaven. Heaven’s angels do not think in terms of natural phenomena the way we do, so when we are absorbed in the knowledge of correspondences we can be in the company of angels in respect to the thoughts of our minds. So we can be united to them in regard to our spiritual or inner person.
In order that there might be a union of heaven with humanity, the Word was written in pure correspondences. Absolutely everything in it corresponds.i So if we were steeped in a knowledge of correspondences, we would understand the Word in its spiritual meaning and be enabled to know hidden treasures in it that we do not see at all in its literal meaning. The Word does in fact have a literal meaning and a spiritual meaning.j The literal meaning consists of the kind of things that are in our world, while the spiritual meaning consists of the kind of things that are in heaven; and since the union of heaven with our world is maintained by correspondences, we have been given a Word in which the details correspond, even down to the last jot.
I have been taught in heaven that the earliest people on our planet, who were heavenly people, thought on the basis of actual correspondences, and that the natural phenomena of the world that greeted their eyes served them as means for thinking in this way. Because they were of this character, they were in the company of angels and talked with them; and in this way heaven was united to the world through them. Therefore, that era was called the Golden Age. Classical authors described it as a time when the inhabitants of heaven dwelt with mortals and kept them company as friend with friend.
After their era, though, a people came who did not think from actual correspondences but from a knowledge about correspondences. There was still a union of heaven with humanity, but not such an intimate one. Their era was called the Silver Age.
The people who came next were indeed familiar with correspondences but did not do their thinking on the basis of their knowledge of correspondences. This was because they were engrossed in what is good on the natural level and not, like their ancestors, on the spiritual level. Their era was called the Bronze Age.
I have been taught, lastly, that after that era humanity became more and more externally minded and at last physically minded. Then the knowledge of correspondences was completely lost, and with it any awareness of heaven and of its riches.
The names of these ages—Golden, Silver, and Bronze—also come from correspondence,k because gold, by reason of correspondence, means the heavenly goodness in which the earliest people lived. Silver, in contrast, means the spiritual goodness in which their successors, the early people, lived; while bronze means the natural goodness characteristic of their immediate followers. Iron, though, which gave its name to the last era, means a harsh truth, devoid of good.
SWEDENBORG, EMANUEL; DOLE, GEORGE F. (2010-01-12). HEAVEN AND HELL: PORTABLE: THE PORTABLE NEW CENTURY EDITION (Kindle Locations 1582-1593). Chicago Distribution. Kindle Edition.