There are levels of love and wisdom, consequent levels of warmth and light, and also levels of atmosphere.
Without a knowledge that there are levels, what they are and what they are like, what is to follow will be incomprehensible, since there are levels in everything that has been created; therefore they exist in every form. Consequently, I need to discuss levels [here].
We can tell clearly from the angels of the three heavens that there are levels of love and wisdom. Angels of the third heaven so surpass angels of the second heaven in love and wisdom, and these in turn so surpass angels of the farthest heaven, that they cannot live in the same place. Their levels of love and wisdom mark them off and separate them. This is why angels of the lower heavens cannot climb up to angels of the higher heavens, and why if they are allowed to climb up they do not see anyone or anything around them. The reason they do not see anyone is that the love and wisdom of the higher angels is on a higher level, a level beyond their perception. Every angel actually is her or his love and wisdom; and love together with wisdom is human in form because God, who is love itself and wisdom itself, is human.
Occasionally I have been allowed to see angels of the farthest heaven go up to angels of the third heaven. When they managed to get there, I heard them complain that they could not see anyone; and yet they were surrounded by angels. They were afterwards told that these angels had been invisible to them because they could not perceive their love and wisdom, and it is love and wisdom that give angels their human appearance.
It is even clearer that there are levels of love and wisdom if we compare angels’ love and wisdom with our love and wisdom. It is generally acknowledged that the wisdom of angels is unutterable, relatively speaking. It is also incomprehensible to us when we are wrapped up in our earthly love. The reason it seems unutterable and incomprehensible is that it is on a higher level.
Since there are levels of love and wisdom, there are levels of warmth and light—warmth and light here meaning spiritual warmth and light as angels experience them in the heavens and as they exist for us in the deeper levels of our minds. This is because we do have a warmth of love and a light of wisdom like that of angels.
It is like this in the heavens. The quality and amount of angels’ love determines the quality and amount of their warmth, and their wisdom similarly determines their light. This is because there is love in their warmth and wisdom in their light. The same holds true for us on earth, but with the difference that angels feel the warmth and see the light, while we do not, the reason being that we are focused on physical warmth and light; and as long as we are, we feel spiritual warmth only as a kind of pleasure of love and see spiritual light only as a kind of sense of what is true.
Since people know nothing about the spiritual warmth and light within them as long as they are focused on physical warmth and light, and since they can know about this only through experience offered by the spiritual world, I need first of all to talk about the warmth and light that surround angels and their heavens. This is the one and only way to shed some light on this matter.
However, the levels of spiritual warmth cannot be described on the basis of experience because the love to which spiritual warmth corresponds does not fit into the images of our thought. Still, the levels of spiritual light can be described because light does fit. It is actually an attribute of thought. On the basis of levels of light, we can understand levels of spiritual warmth, since warmth and light are on comparable levels.
As for the spiritual light that surrounds angels, I have been allowed to see this with my own eyes. For angels of the higher heavens, the light is so brilliant that it is indescribable, even by comparison with the brilliance of snow; and it also has a glow that defies description, even by comparison with the radiant glory of our world’s sun. In short, this light is a thousand times greater than the light at noon on earth. The light of angels of the lower heavens can in some measure be described by comparisons, though. Even so, it surpasses the highest level of light on earth.
The reason the light of angels of the higher heavens defies description is that this light is integral to their wisdom. Since their wisdom, relative to ours, is inexpressible, so is their light. We can tell from these few facts that there are levels of light; and since wisdom and love occur on comparable levels, it follows that there are similar levels of warmth.
Since the atmospheres are what receive and hold warmth and light, it follows that there are as many levels of atmosphere as there are of warmth and light—as many, that is, as there are levels of love and wisdom. An abundance of experience in the spiritual world has shown me that there are several atmospheres, distinguished from each other by level. One kind of experience was especially convincing, namely that angels of lower heavens cannot breathe in the realm of higher angels. They seem to labor for breath like creatures taken out of the air into the ether, or like creatures taken out of the water into the air. Then too, the spirits below heaven look as though they were in a cloud.
from Regeneration, Pages 83-85