Among trees and all other members of the plant kingdom there are not two sexes—masculine and feminine. There is just one sex, which is masculine. The ground or earth alone is a mother to them all, and is therefore like a woman. The ground receives the seeds of plants of all kinds. It opens those seeds, carries them as in a womb, nourishes them, and gives birth to them—that is, brings them forth into daylight. Afterward it clothes them and sustains them.
Once the seed has opened in the earth, it first develops a root, which is like a heart. From the root it sends out sap, which is like blood. By so doing it makes a kind of body complete with limbs: the body is the trunk; its limbs are the branches and twigs. The leaves that the plant unfurls immediately after its birth play the role of the lungs. Just as the heart cannot produce motion or sensation without the help of the lungs, but with their help brings us to life, the root cannot develop into a tree or a plant without the help of the leaves. The flowers, which are the first steps toward fruit, are a means of refining the sap (the “blood” of the plant) by separating the purer elements from elements that are impure, and then forming a new stem to allow the purer elements to flow into the center of the flowers. The purified sap then flows through this stem and begins to construct and then mature the fruit. The fruit is like a testicle; the seeds mature within it.
The plant soul (or to put it another way, the plant’s prolific essence), which is dominant at the inmost level within every drop of sap, comes from no other source than the heat of the spiritual world. Because this heat originates in the spiritual sun, its constant goal is to generate [new life] and therefore ensure that creation continues. Because this heat has the generation of new people as its essential aim, therefore whatever it generates bears some resemblance to humankind.
In case you are surprised by my saying that all the inhabitants of the plant kingdom are masculine and that only the earth or the ground plays the role of woman or mother to all, I will use the illustration of a similar situation among bees. According to Swammerdam’s eyewitness account, as presented in his Book of Nature, there is only one common mother who produces all the offspring within a whole hive. If these little creatures have but one common mother, why should that not be the case with all plants?
The idea that the earth is a mother to all can also be illustrated spiritually. The “earth” in the Word means the church, and the church is a mother to all, and is even called that in the Word [Galatians 4:26]. For evidence that earth means the church, see the discussion of this word in Revelation Unveiled Sections 285, 902.
The reason why the earth or ground is able to infiltrate the center of a seed, including its prolific material, and bring this out and circulate it, is that every little grain of dirt or pollen exudes from its essence a subtle emanation, which penetrates the seed. This infiltration is a result of the active force of the heat from the spiritual world.
We can be regenerated only gradually. Each and every thing that exists in the physical world serves as an illustration of this fact. A seedling does not grow up into a mature tree in a single day. First there is a seed, then a root, then a shoot, which develops into a trunk; then branches come out of that and develop leaves and finally flowers and fruit. Wheat and barley do not spring up ready for harvest in a single day. A home is not built in a single day. We do not become full grown in a single day; reaching wisdom takes us even longer. The church is not established—let alone perfected—in a single day. We will make no progress toward a goal unless we first make a start.
People who have a different conception than this of regeneration know nothing about goodwill or faith, or how each of these qualities grows as we cooperate with the Lord. All this makes clear that regeneration progresses analogously to the way we are conceived, carried in the womb, born, and brought up.
from Regeneration, Pages 56-58