Swedenborg and the Fire

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History is filled with bizarre coincidences.  Some of them are ancient or not well attested.  The case of Emmanuel Swedenborg and the fire of Stockholm is not one of those.  In one of the most documented and outlandish set of events involving the famous Swedish philosopher, we get a glimpse of a reality behind the matrix in which we all live.  It starts with a dinner . . .

The Man

Emmanuel Swedenborg was a philosopher, theologian, scientist and mystic, the latter of which is most interesting to us for this particular story.  Many readers will likely not have heard his name.  He is not nearly as well known as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Descartes and the like.  He is not even one of the most famous 18th century philosophers.  He was most famous for his book on the afterlife entitled Heaven and Hell which outlined how people of all faiths go to either Heaven or Hell, depending on whether they love themselves and the world or whether they seek God and help one another.  Swedenborg is also famous for his dreams and visions, which he kept in a journal published posthumously as Journal of Dreams.  One of these visions happened as follows:

In 1743, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: “Do not eat too much!“. Swedenborg, scared, hurried home. Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. The same night, the spiritual world was opened to Swedenborg.

After that point, Swedenborg became very prolific in writing spiritual works.  This uncanny attunement with the spiritual element of life is helpful in understanding the following events.

The Dinner Party and the Fire

In July of 1759, Swedenborg was having dinner with some friends at the home of William Castel in Gothenburg, which is 300 miles from Stockholm, where Swedenborg lived.  During the dinner party, Swedenborg became pale and felt ill.  He retired from the dinner for a bit and returned claiming that a large fire had started in Stockholm.  He described how the fire had grown and spread throughout the city and had been worried that some of his manuscripts would burn up in the blaze.  Throughout the evening, he seemed worried about the fire as if he were experiencing it in real time.  At around 8PM he felt relief, though, exclaiming “Thank God!” and explaining to his fellow dinner guests that the fire stopped 3 houses from his door.

This would have been like so many such stories throughout history, easily dismissed as embellished over the subsequent centuries, except for one important detail.  One of the guests told some acquaintenances and rumors of the fire spread throughout the small town of Gothenburg.  When news arrived to the provincial Governor, he asked for Swedenborg’s account of the fire, which was recorded.  The dinner party occurred on Saturday evening, he gave his account to the Governor on Sunday and the actual news of the fire did not arrive until Monday by a messenger from the Stockholm Board of Trade.

After other couriers brought news to the Governor, the details of Swedenborg’s story perfectly matched the actual fire he could have known nothing about.  There were no telegraphs, no way of seeing the fire from such a distance and no other method of getting news from such a distance.  Much like some of the more attested visions of Edgar Cayce, Swedenborg’s account of the fire he could have known nothing about leave us with many questions about the nature of our reality.

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