The Appearance, Location, and Number of the Hells (Continued)

As to the location of specific hells, no one can know this, not even an angel in heaven—only the Lord. Roughly, though, their location is recognized by the quarter where they are found. Like the heavens, the hells are differentiated into regions; and in the spiritual world, regions are marked off according to loves because all regions in heaven start from the Lord as the sun, who is the east. So since the hells are the opposite of the heavens, their regions start from the opposite direction, the west. On this subject, see the chapter on the four quarters in heaven (Sections 141–153).

This is why the hells in the western quarter are the worst and most fearful of all, worse and more fearful incrementally the farther they are from the east. The people in these hells are people who were absorbed in self-love in the world and therefore in contempt for others, hostility toward people who did not support them, and hatred and vengefulness against people who did not admire and revere them. In the farthest regions live people from the so-called Catholic religion who wanted to be worshiped as gods and who therefore burned with hatred against anyone who did not acknowledge their power over human souls and over heaven. They have the same kind of animus—the same kind of hatred and vengefulness—toward people who oppose them, as they did in the world. They take particular delight in cruelty, but in the other life this is turned against them; for in their hells (and the western quarter is full of them) they rage against each other because everyone is claiming divine power. There is more about this, though, in my booklet on The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed.

Still, we cannot know how the hells are arranged in this region, only that the most horrifying are off to the side toward the northern quarter and the less horrifying toward the southern quarter. That is, the horror of the hells decreases between the northern region and the southern, and also, successively, toward the east. The people toward the east there are the ones who were foolish and did not believe in the Divine, but still were not given to the same kind of hatred and vengefulness or trickery as the people who are deeper in the western quarter.

At present, there are no hells in the eastern region. The people who were there have been transferred to the front of the western quarter. There are a good many hells in the northern and southern regions. The people there were absorbed in love of the world during their lives and therefore in various kinds of evil such as enmity, hostility, thievery, robbery, fraud, avarice, and callousness. The worst hells of this sort are in the northern quarter and the milder ones in the south. Their dreadfulness increases the nearer they are to the western region and the farther they are from the south, and decreases toward the east and also toward the south.

Behind the hells in the western region lie dense forests where malevolent spirits roam like wild animals, and much the same is true of the hells in the northern quarter. Behind the hells in the southern quarter, though, lie the deserts just described. So much for the location of the hells.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 587


Sections 141-153: Published 7/8/2017-7/15/2017


All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

Seen in any of heaven’s light, all the spirits in the hells appear in the form of their own evil. Each one is in fact an image of her or his evil, since for each individual the inner and outer natures are acting as a unit, with the deeper elements presenting themselves to view in the outer ones—in the face, the body, the speech, and the behavior. So you can tell what they are like by looking at them. In general, they are forms of contempt for others, threats against people who do not revere them; they are forms of various shadings of hatred, of various forms of vengefulness. Savagery and cruelty show through from within. When others praise them, though, or revere and worship them, their faces compose themselves and look almost happy and gratified.

There is no way to describe briefly all the ways these forms look, since no one is just like any other. There is only a general likeness among people who are absorbed in similar evils and are therefore in the same hellish community, a similarity that acts like a common background that gives the individual faces a kind of overall resemblance. In general, their faces are frightful, as lifeless as corpses. Some of their faces are black, some like little torches, some pimply, with huge ulcerated sores. In many cases there is no visible face, only something hairy or bony in its place, while with others only the teeth show. Their bodies are equally misshapen, and their speech seems to embody wrath or hatred or vengeance, since all their articulation comes from their false perception and all the tone comes from their evil intent. In a word, they are all images of their hell.

I have not been allowed to see what form hell itself is in overall. I have only been told that in the same way that all heaven as a single entity resembles a single human being (Sections 59–67), so all hell as a single entity resembles a single devil and can be manifested as a likeness of a single devil (see above, Section 544). However, I have often seen what form particular hells or hellish communities have, since at their entrances (which are called the gates of hell), there often appears a monstrous figure that in a general way represents the form of the people who live there. The savagery of these inhabitants is then imaged by frightful horrors that I forbear to mention.

It does need to be known, though, that hellish spirits look like this in heaven’s light, but that they look human to each other. This is a gift of the Lord’s mercy, so that they do not look as repulsive to each other as they do to angels. However, this appearance is deceiving, since the moment a ray of light from heaven is let in, these human forms turn into the monstrous ones that they are essentially, the forms just described, because in heaven’s light everything appears as it really is. This is also why they avoid heaven’s light and dive into their own illumination, an illumination like that of glowing coals or, in places, like burning sulfur. This light, though, turns into pure darkness when any ray of light from heaven flows in. This is why the hells are described as being in gloom and darkness, and why the gloom and darkness mean the kinds of malevolent distortions characteristic of hell.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 553


Sections 59-67: Published 3/3/2018-3/6/2018

Section 544: Published 1/6/2019