Hell as fantasy


[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Hell, as fantasy" (search under Afterlife/Afterlife, Heaven, Hell)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.4": detail "Section 5806"
All the things that appear in the hells are unreal, but they appear as if they are real because those who are in hell are living in fantasies and not in thought flowing from faith. This was shown to me in a nocturnal vision. I saw something changed into a person who was annoying me somewhat, and I wanted to get away from him. But it was granted me to sense that it was not as it appeared. But still, I saw him as clearly and plainly, and I noticed him, as it were, just as if in wakefulness. I prayed to the Lord for help, that I might be freed. Then it was said to me from heaven that it was a fantasy; and yet I believed it, but because it appeared just as in the light of day. I was amazed. In a little while I awoke, and from this experience was enabled to know the nature of the fantasy those have who are in hell.

[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Hell, as fantasy" (search under Afterlife/Afterlife, Heaven, Hell)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.3": detail "Section 4380"
I saw, and was instructed, how the hells are arranged in general. It is fantasies that prevail there and appear to them as if they were entirely actual, for they are enveloped in fantasies, and have no other life than one of fantasies. If they did not have that they would have no life, so the fantasies to them are like real life, perceived with every sense, as I have been taught many times by experience, and discussed many times with spirits. They said they knew they were fantasies, but they received the reply that while that is so, yet they do perceive in fantasies with every sense, and even with pain and torment, so even though they are fantasies, yet apart from them they cannot live without their being wholly fantasies, because they lack the goodness and truth of faith. Good spirits and angels never feel those things, because they have the truth.
 There are many kinds and many species of fantasies, and just as many hells with actual pain, torment, and the accompanying sensation. I have seen how they torment each another mutually by fantasies in the hells. They tie one another so tightly as if by ropes, that the spirit does not know otherwise than that he is bound hands and feet, then thrown wherever they please. They also turn him into a fierce animal, a bear or some other, and tie him by his neck and head, even his teeth, and drag him if he resists, causing him considerable pain.