Like the words of human language, the names of people, countries, and cities in the Word vanish at the very first threshold of their upward path. Names are some of those earthly, bodily, material things that the soul gradually sheds as it enters the next life, and sheds completely if it goes to heaven. Angels do not hold on to the slightest mental image of people in the Word, so they do not retain the least idea of their names. What Abram is, what Isaac, and Jacob are, they no longer know. It is the qualities represented and symbolized by figures in the Word that form an angel’s picture. Names and words are like chaff or scales that drop off when [the ideas] enter heaven.
This shows that names in the Word have no meaning besides a symbolic one. I have spoken about this many times with angels, and they have taught me the truth very fully.
When spirits talk to each other, they use not words but thoughts, of the kind we have when we are thinking wordlessly. Their speech, then, is common to all languages. When spirits talk to a person on earth, their speech falls into the words of the person’s language, as noted in Sections 1635, 1637, 1639.
When I talked with the spirits about this, I was inspired to say that as long as they were conversing among themselves, they could not pronounce even a single word of human language, still less a name. Astonished to hear this, some of them went away and tried it. They came back admitting they could not, because human words were too coarse, too tied to the material world to rise into their sphere of existence. Such words are formed from the sound of air, articulated by physical organs; or else they are formed by an inflow into the same organs traveling an internal pathway to the organs of hearing.
This also made it clear that not a syllable of Scripture could cross over to spirits, still less to angelic spirits, whose speech is even more universal (Section 1642). Least of all could it reach angels (Section 1643), with whom it retains none of the initial thoughts entertained by spirits. Among angels, such thoughts are replaced with spiritual truth and heavenly goodness that vary in indescribable ways in their very smallest forms. These forms are linked and connected in a harmonious series with the source elements from which representations are created. The happiness of mutual love renders the representations extremely sweet and beautiful, and sweetness and beauty render them happy, because their sources are animated by life from the Lord.
from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1876
Section 1635: Published 3/13/2017
Section 1637: Published 3/15/2017
Section 1639: Published 3/17/2017
Section 1642 and 1643: Published 3/20/2017