Tennyson, Blake and Swedenborg

a talk with Sibylle Erle

Thursday 25 October, 6.30-8.30pm | Tennyson, Blake and Swedenborg | FREE | Refreshments provided | Swedenborg House, 20 Bloomsbury Way, WC1A 2TH


To coincide with the exhibition Swedenborg and the English Romantics: items from the Swedenborg Collection, Sibylle Erle will be giving an indepth talk on Tennyson, Blake and Swedenborg. The talk will last for 45 mins followed by a Q&A and drinks and snacks.

Tennyson had a life-long affinity with the great, Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. He was an incessant reader, as his wife Emily’s journal testifies, and he liked to ponder the reality of the spiritual world with his family and friends. The network of readers of Swedenborg is complex and it also includes Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Dante Gabriel and Rossetti. All of them knew the Swedenborgian James John Garth Wilkinson, who had published William Blake’sSongs of Innocence and of Experience (1839), as well as a biography of Swedenborg in 1847. Another work with a Swedenborgian tinge is Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job (1826), presented to Tennyson by Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893) in 1856. This paper argues that Tennyson’s interest in Swedenborg was channelled through Blake’s early nineteenth-century reception.Blake’s early nineteenth-century reception.

Medicine, Mysticism and Mythology: Garth Wilkinson, Swedenborg and Nineteenth-Century Esoteric Culture

a talk by Malcolm Peet

BOOK LAUNCH, TALK & AGM | Saturday 10 November 2018 | doors open 2.00 pm for a 3.00 pm start | Wellspring House, 25 Radcliffe New Road, Radcliffe, Manchester M26 1LE | FREE ADMISSION (but book in advance) | Refreshments served


Dr James John Garth Wilkinson (1812-99) was a pioneer in his approach to medicine. He was an outspoken campaigner for an array of social reforms, including women’s suffrage, anti-vivisectionism and the freedom of choice for patients. He was an early champion of the poetic genius of William Blake, and he counted amongst his friends and acquaintances such luminaries as Charles Dickens, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Carlyle, Frederick H Evans, John Ruskin, Sophia and Augustus De Morgan, Josephine Butler, Henry James, Sr, Thomas Lake Harris and Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, in spite of these achievements, he has remained little known outside of the history of homoeopathy and the scholarship that surrounds the eighteenth-century scientist and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). 

On the occasion of the launch of his monograph Medicine, Mysticism and Mythology: Garth Wilkinson, Swedenborg and Nineteenth-Century Esoteric Culture, author Malcolm Peet will provide a much-needed reappraisal of Wilkinson’s importance, exploring his interests in mesmerism, spiritualism, Fourierism, environmentalism, poetry, politics, philosophy and mythology, all of which were filtered through Wilkinson’s ever-changing yet constant regard for Swedenborg. Malcolm will also reflect on how Wilkinson’s spiritual journey might have played out in today’s spiritual climate.

The 208th Annual General Meeting of the Swedenborg Society will follow Malcolm’s talk. 

MALCOLM PEET is a retired Consultant Psychiatrist and was Honorary Professor in the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield until 2017. Internationally recognized for his research on the relationship between nutrition and mental well-being, Malcolm also holds a Master’s Degree in Western Esotericism. Since his retirement from clinical practice, Malcolm’s intellectual focus has been on spirituality, particularly that of Emanuel Swedenborg and his followers.

Arcana Caelestia Reading Group

Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail). Wikimedia Commons.

***Meeting on Thursday 25 October 2018 has been cancelled due to the Tennyson, Blake and Swedenborg talk. All members of the AC group are invited to attend this instead!***

Next meeting is now: Thursday 29 November 2018 | 6.00 - 8.00 pm | Gardiner Room, Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | FREE | Last Thursday of every month

Next Meeting: 29 November 2018

Following on from our seminar series staged over the last year on 'Swedenborg, Literature and the Imaginal' (with Dr William Rowlandson) and on 'The Anatomy of Heaven' (with Dr David Lister), we will be holding a monthly reading group centring on Swedenborg's magnum opus Arcana Caelestia.

The Arcana can be seen as a foundation for all of Swedenborg's later visionary works, including Heaven and Hell and Divine Love and Wisdom. It contains Swedenborg's clause-by-clause elucidation of the spiritual meaning in the biblical books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as descriptions of an incredible variety of his own spiritual experiences. It exists in English as a 12-volume set (translated by John Elliott) and is available to order online or at the Swedenborg House Bookshop.

Volume one will be available for free for those who register in advance.

Register here.

Henry Corbin Discussion Group

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam (published by the Swedenborg Foundation)

Wednesday 7 November 2018 | 2.00 – 4.00 pm | Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | FREE | Refreshments served | more dates to be confimed...

Discussions will be led by Max Phillips 


In the current cultural paradigm, which takes for granted the tenets of scientific materialism, the word ‘imaginary’ is often used synonymously with ‘unreal’. However, in most traditional cultures the life of inner experience has been valued as the source of richness and meaning that not only carried importance vis-à-vis the world of matter, but stood in counterbalance to it. Hence, in the Islamic tradition, every phenomenon in the outer-world (Ẓāhir) has its corresponding opposite in the inner world of spirit (bāṭin). The uncovering of these inner worlds (or ‘climates’) is the goal of the spiritual seeker.

The discussions will be based on the publication Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam by the late Islamic scholar and perennial philosopher Henry Corbin. We will continue with the second essay titled 'Comparative Spiritual Hermeneutics', which compares the revelation of the internal sense of the sacred books to two distinct religions, Christianity and Islam.

HENRY CORBIN (1903-78) was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris. His work has had a lasting impact with, amongst others, poet Kathleen Raine and critic Harold Bloom citing him as significant influences.

Copies of Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam can be purchased from the Swedenborg House bookshop. You can also download EPUB and Kindle versions direct from the publisher, the Swedenborg Foundation, here.