<< THE FIRST VEGETATIVE FORMATION, >>
AND ITS LIVING SERVICE
IN PREPARING AN ATMOSPHERE FOR
THE DIVINE IN ULTIMATES. The floating ground upon the primeval sea was the first ultimate ground in which the Lord the Creator began to shape large organic forms of use, or integral recipients; for from the ultimate ground and out of it, the Lord raises up recipient, reactive forms, and quickens bodies of use; and this He can do because in the soils and ultimates of the waters and basic salts of very earth the Divine Proceeding, through the spiritual, exists in termination. And in that termination all its conatus and endeavor is to return and again be conjoined more consciously and more nearly with the Infinite, its Source.
Moreover, this first ultimate and ground, spread evenly upon the surface of the sea, was an especial ground, as it were all seed. For according to Swedenborg’s laws of forms and their powers, the constitution of oils and formative fluids, the very floating crust of hydro-carbons collecting over the primal sea, presents the first actual union between the volumes of the ether and the finest particles broken from the compressed angular forms of the terraqueous salts. Thus this primal ground was itself everywhere, in its degree, apt for the reception of life and beginning of motion ; and under the touch of the Divine hand, delicately touching within, and the warm sun conspiring without, its fine globules were everywhere able to act the part of a formative substance and very seed of vegetative forms, in their place and degree reactive to life.
Thus of these primeval ethereal oils and water, with the salts of the sea to serve as conjunctives, the Lord Himself acting through the medium of the ether existent in each oil bubble, framed the first coarser basic corporeal foams; throbbing, moving; obeying life; in which all the typical forms of the creative series, passive as well as active, were simultaneously existent.
In this manner on the warm sea were brought into existence the first forms of the protoplasmic foams: vegetative, simple, full of potencies. The ether within acted as a soul., a father, and stamped its own foam likeness, and its own recipience and obedience to the Divine influx, upon the forms thus builded. The salts of the earth, its basic angular forms, lent mother body and form ; and as passives, bounded” active forms, gave them terminus, corporated their determinations and excited their activities in determinate and rhythmic motions.* In each such least pin-point form, composed of such subtle basic protoplastic foams, the gracious moulding ether gathered up a million particles of earth, ramental particles and salts and molecules of water a million millions; and all those millions of particles, in themselves all scattered’, sundered, self-helpless for all their evolving conatus within them, the ether swung and arranged into one vegetative form, concrete, integral, after its kind receptive of and coactive with the Infinite Esse. Moreover having builded those scattered particles into such a form, the same flowing ether, which had been the formative substance, still held them together, through all their little day of use. For to create is not only to form, but to hold together afterward as well.
FIRST VEGETATIVE FORMS. Then first vegetative growths began, soft roots went down. Frail watery leaf spread out. Millions of successive generations were formed and died. Upon the cumulative soil of the bodies of the past vegetative lives, the springing new generations shaped with firmer fibre and stem and higher growths. As the soil grew deeper, its resources of primitives of concrete angular forms grew more varied and of firmer, more individual cast. For each new generation of the vegetative progeny builded into its very body not alone the primal elements simple and few, of which the first bare vegetative foams were framed, but all the dejecta membra of the parent bodies of past years’ growth, were taken, inbuilded as new inert particles and forms serviceable to constitute the firmer fibre of ascending and differentiated vegetative forms. Thus the vegetative kingdom itself, as it were, ascended and unfolded from simplest beginnings of vegetative foams reactant and quick to life, to multiplex and widely differentiated forms; and this quickly and sweepingly in the gracious even heat and nourish- ing moisture of those primal seasons.
Few and simple were the primitives of inert particles the primal sea could give for the first organic building; comparatively simple and undifferentiated the vegetative forms possible to be framed from them. But once let these simple vegetative bodies or forms begin to coact to life, and each one becomes as a new world, the matrix and creatrix of new forms ; a new world of working use, to prepare from the old material new and varied store. Each least vegetative form takes the old salts of the sea, and carves them into new and divided forms. The growths riot hither and thither, in the accidents of their existence. The bodies of vegetation grow firmer and firmer, and death comes to seal their basic use. “Chiefly by the aid of the vegetative kingdom,” the Corpuscular Philosophy says, there are formed at last marvelous varieties of new fragments, inert, like some new species of angular particles, no two of the infinite number quite alike. Thus there is brought into existence, as it were, a new, a second, earth or soil, brought forth upon the primal earth and from it, by means of the vital energy and happy accidents of the individuals of the primal vegetative kingdom. This use of providing a store of finer and more varied shapes and powers of inert particles is so important to all formation, that, without it, there could never upon the earth be formed bodies of more differentiated and varied receptivity than those of the first foam-cells of the warm sea, nor could animal bodies, of higher differentiation and life than the amoebic, ever arise; nor men ever appear. For to the body of their formation is necessary not only the existence of the kingdoms proceeding ; but the cumulative result in varied store of concrete angular particles and spheres of diverse substance and form collected during long generations of the life and death of those kingdoms ; so great, so microcosmic a variety, of such ultimate form, is necessary to frame this cunning and universal organic form of the human creature. For the human form must be a microcosmic form, even in respect to those angular particles, if it is to image, coact with, and ultimately receive as an organic foothold the fulness of the outgoing creative and formative life of our Lord, so that it may be the living tabernacle, corporeal, quick, of the Divine Human. Uses, so high in life, so deep to religion, are involved in the ultimates of the earth and the sea.
Thus the dissolution of plants contributes to the mineral kingdom ; all as it were goes to form a new, more plastic and varied mineral kingdom. For the third “form of use” stored in the treasure house of the mineral kingdom, (what we call inorganic chemistry), ”arises from plants fallen to dust, and from the remains of animals, and the continual evaporations and exhalations of them which mix with earths and form the soil.”
Thus the life and death of the successive generations of the vegetative forms contribute to the possibility of an ascending evolution of successively more differentiated and complex forms upon the earth; and are absolutely necessary to the bringing into existence the forms of animal nature, with indefinitely great range of variety.
But there is something more important still; two uses of the vegetative kingdom as yet not touched upon. Every unit of organic form, every individual, — beginning with every smallest simplest integral individual of the vegetative kingdom, although it be framed of billions of particles of basic salts, inert fragments and watery molecules, — yet is builded and held together by the ether, in an integrity emulous of the Unity of the Divine Esse. Hence it gets its emulous title of individual. While it remains integral or individual, as such it is given in itself an interior circulation, emulous of the reflexing circle in God Man. As such it is given emulous creative or protoplasmic powers, powers of forming a forthgoing volatile sphere or emanation “consubstantiate” with itself; objectized to itself; and always lending itself aptly to a recreation of such a spiritual form as that of which it was primarily part. This latter power is its passive analogue and potency complementary to the active power and endeavor of the primitives of the spiritual Sun, always to form man, because primarily consubstantiate with God Man, the sole Substance or Esse, and proceeding as an emanation or sphere from! Him.
THE PREPARATION FOR AN ATMOSPHERE FOR BREATHING. The endeavor hidden in the outgoing emanations of the latter type, in the vegetative kingdom, — that is an emanation of the fragrant essences and oils, volatile, ethereal saps, spirits, and sweet odors, especially abundant when the vegetative kingdom has risen to the grace and productive dignity of flowers and fruits, — comes to sweet evolution of use, in the impregnated air around. For from the substantial particles of such fragrant odors and essences given off from flowers and herbs into the ambient air, the plastic ether first produced insect forms ; thus arose in nature the province of insects, varied in color as the mother petals which sent their sweet bodies odorously forth for that ascending use ; breathin thus the longing of the very substance of the vegetable body to arise to animate and more self-conscious form in its use and recipiency of life; and such is the story which the Writings tell of the origin of insect forms, in the intrinsic conatus of the very substance of the vegetable plane towards fuller, more distinct reception of the animations of life. For as there is a continual endeavor of the minerals of the earth towards vegetation, so everywhere there is an effort of the very substance of the vegetable growths toward vivification. In both cases this ascending use to higher degrees of form and life, these uses by which their very bodies prepare and contribute themselves to become integral part of a higher degree of organic recipiency of life, is
by means of their spheres, their emanations.
This is the sacred use of the flowers and fruits and the perfumes of the vegetable forms ; their Sabbath day use to the animate kingdom. In this they give forth the sphere of their purifications and their fructifications to the ether around; and of that sphere the living Lord, acting in that ether, moulds the bodies of the insect world, loving the flowers as their honey-nursing mothers still. But there is an every day use performed through the common green leaves of plants, in which the whole of vegetation daily prepares and provides for the great kingdom of the larger lung-breathing animals, — a use so important that when we know it we understand why the vegetable kingdom had to exist before the world was ready for the animal kingdom of creatures with red blood and opened imperative lung-life. For the same kingdom, which, Swedenborg says, breathes forth daily into the atmospheres that aerial salt, that atmospheric salt which in the lungs changes the venous blood to arterial, must be that kingdom which first provides the store thereof, in preparation for the advent of the lung-breathing, red-blood forms of life.
THE AERIAL SALT. There is a certain “salt,” Swedenborg says, consisting of angular particles, which exists dissolved in the interstices between the bullae of the fourth aura (the aerial elementary), just as the sea -salt exists dissolved in the interstices between the round molecules of water. This salt Swedenborg calls the volatile aereal salt. It constitutes the common aliment which the lungs supply to the blood. It is in fact the supply of this salt that changes the venous blood into arterial blood, during its passage through the lungs. This volatile aereal salt consists of tetrahedral particles, and is, therefore, an “acid salt,” according to Swedenborg’s doctrine of forms. It belongs, moreover, to the same family of substance as sulphur. Lacking this salt the globules of the animal spirit cannot combine to compound the red blood. For although some other substance always furnishes the central cubic connective, it is the particles of this tetrahedral aereal salt alone which normally infills all the many corner interstices of triangular form, still left after the central cubic grouping.
This volatile aerial salt is exhaled by the vegetable kingdom from the grosser salts and compounds upon which the roots feed. The salts or mother stuff with which the current of the sap is impregnated, (that sap or vegetative blood in which the formative fluid of vegetation is present), takes what it wants of those compounds, sundering and recombining; while the watery vegetative blood climbs the woody fibre to the cells of the leaves; in these cells, as with the serum of the blood in the lungs, it exhales a dewy breath, carrying with it all the inert particles of the original compound salts which are superfluous to its needs ; the sap current then returns by other fibrous ways to its ultimate cellular buildings.
These superfluous salts thus sublimated from the basic compounds of the plant food in the current of the vegetative blood, and exhaled along with watery vapor from the surface of the leaves, are said to be the very volatile aerial salts with which all the lower atmosphere or aura of the earths is impregnated; the same salt which in the lungs changes the venous blood into arterial.
To sum up: this “salt,” — volatile, atmospheric, dissolved in impalpable space, as sea salt in solution is dissolved in water: this salt-acid of the sulphur family: this salt which is drawn into the lungs at every inspiration and to which is due the change of venous blood into arterial during its passage through the lungs: this “salt” sublimed from its food stuffs by every vegetative growth and continually exhaled from every leaf into the surrounding space, along with the transpiring current of water which breaths forth from the leafy lung, when the sunlight opens its exspiratory pores ; — this salt, by all its bond and chain of uses, is the atmospheric gas which we call oxygen.
THIS SALT IS IDENTICAL WITH OXYGEN. For the gas oxygen is dissolved in the apparent impalpable space, as salts in solution are dissolved in water. Oxygen belongs to the acid end of the periodic system of chemical elements; it is of the same family or genus as sulphur, — the sixth family of the periodic system being headed by oxygen and sulphur. The gas oxygen is the common aliment which the lungs supply to the blood : and to the gas oxygen, which the venous blood imbibes during its passage through the lungs, is due its changes into arterial blood. Moreover, the leaves of the vegetable kingdom, under the touch of sunlight, when their transpiration current is flowing freely, do perpetually exhale oxygen into the air round about, from every little pore.
In this derivation of the gas oxygen, (Swedenborg’s volatile aerial salt), — by sublimation from the salts of the earth and water, through the instrumentality of the vegetable kingdom, the volatile aerial salt being formed by the divided salts in the plant food, superfluous to its uses, — there are three essential things new to our knowledge. First, the uses it subserves to the blood of a higher kingdom while composing itself into an entity or blood of a more ultimate degree. This use is new, indeed, to our knowledge. For it is Swedenborg alone who is able to tell us how a lower degree of substance can be compounded out of a higher; just what factors are needed; and where they come from. Something of the great doctrine of intermediates is involved here, and the Benjamin laws of composition. But of such things experimental science cannot teach us; only the laws of forms, and the constitution of degrees can teach us. Second, The derivation of this superfluous volatile salt thus exhaled, chiefly from the grosser non-compounded food-salts imbibed by the roots, by a process of division and sublimation. Third, The surety under the law that the series of existence and continuance is always the same as that of formation and beginning, — that if the activity of the vegetable kingdom perpetually performs this use to the atmosphere, it performed it in the first place. And therefore that all our stock of atmospheric oxygen, without which red-blooded breathing creatures cannot exist, was first prepared for the world by the activity of that same kingdom. This is the great common service or use performed by the vegetable kingdom to creation, preparatory for the existence of breathing creatures.
An interior view of the first point is given by Swedenborg only. But to the second and third points of this new knowledge, experimental data have, within a lifetime, afforded happiest illustrations. Phipson’s series of experiments with growing plants are decisive upon the subject. According to the result of those experiments, when plants are grown under a bell glass in an atmosphere of pure nitrogen, (or pure hydrogen), the root being supplied with earthy carbonic acid, and water, the plants thrive; they absorb water and carbon compounds from the roots, and secrete oxygen from the leaves, until the atmosphere under the bell glass is rendered by this means alone richer in oxygen than the surrounding outside air. The carbonic acid (CO2) is not directly decomposed into carbon and oxygen. From the CO2 plus water (H2O) are formed various sugars, starches, cellulose, fatty acids, and the like ; and the superfluous oxygen thus liberated is exhaled through the leaves into the air.
Moreover, from conclusions reached on the basis of experiments with microscopic plants abounding in rain water and other water exposed to the action of sunlight, it would seem that plants of the simplest order evolve oxygen more copiously, weight for weight, than plants of the higher orders ; and the deduction is made from these experiments that the primitive atmosphere of the earth did not contain oxygen gas, and that the vegetable kingdom was certainly the means, and the sufficient means, whereby oxygen gas was placed in the atmospheric volume; with the manifest further conclusion that therefore vegetable life must have preceded animal life upon the earth ; and that a main office of the growing plants of that primal vegetable kingdom was this gradual excretion of oxygen gas (the volatile aerial salt of Swedenborg’s) , into the atmospheric volume , preparatory for the advent of breathing animal life.
*Throughout nature the passive is associated with the active, and this in order that the passive may break and limit the forces of the active body; otherwise powers would not be bounded and would have no sphere . (A. K. 491.) The agent does not know its terminus except by its own reagent, by which it is determined into definite motions and thus into alternations of motions. (Diseases of the Fibers, 395.)
Author: Lillian G. Beekman From AN OUTLINE OF SWEDENBORG’S COSMOLOGY (1907)