Swedenborg and the Body: anatomy, alcohol and the soul

an academic symposium

SATURDAY 4 May 2019 | doors open 1.30, close 5.00

The body in the 18th and early 19th centuries was subject to intense debate and study, with scholars and laypeople alike engaging with discourses around Cartesianism, anatomy, temperance and more. Swedenborg and those interested in him were no exception. On Saturday 4 May we will be delighted to welcome three academics to Swedenborg House for a symposium on ‘Swedenborg and the Body’. The theme of the body brings together philosophy, medicine, morality and madness, issues which were prevalent then yet still resonate today. Over the course of the afternoon, Vincent Roy-Di Piazza, Professor David Dunér and Dr John Lidwell-Durnin will speak on topics touching on the role of the body in Swedenborgian thought. Their work will be significant for scholars of the 18th and 19th centuries, those working on the history of medicine and anyone interested in Swedenborg’s life and influence. Attendance is free, and all are welcome. Email for your ticket. 

‘Demonstretur animae immortalitas’: the evolution of Swedenborg’s theories on soul-body interaction

Vincent Roy-Di Piazza 

Swedenborg’s Lost Dreams: The Mind-Body Problem and the Italian Journey 1738–1739

David Dunér

‘Spirit, Madness, and the Body: Swedenborgianism and the Temperance Movement in Early Nineteenth Century America’

John Lidwell-Durnin

Learn more here.

x10: an ensemble of award-winning poets

Swedenborg Birthday Meeting 2019: poetry readings & book launch

Saturday 26 January 2019 | 2.00 - 8.00 pm | FREE to attend but please RSVP | refreshments served | The Swedenborg Society, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH 


On the occasion of the Swedenborg Birthday Meeting, Swedenborg House will host a broad range of international poets reading from their work to coincide with the launch of the latest book in the Swedenborg Archive Series, In Celebration of Tomas Tranströmer. The day will feature readings from:

Homero AridjisRuth FainlightSarah HoweHelder MacedoAdam O'RiordanRobin RobertsonDeclan RyanPer WästbergHannah Sullivan and Hugo Williams.

Find out more about the poets here.

Also present on the day will be the Swedish Ambassador Torbjörn Sohlström.

Henry Corbin Discussion Group

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam (published by the Swedenborg Foundation)

Wednesday 9 January 2019 | 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.

Arcana Caelestia Reading Group

Thursday 31 January 2019 | 6.00 - 8.00 pm | Gardiner Room, Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | FREE | Last Thursday of every month

Next Meeting: 31 January 2019

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.

Register here.

The group is currently going through volume 2.