(ML) - Wisdom's Delight in Marriage Love: Followed by Insanity’s Pleasure in Promiscuous Love

ML 521

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521. To the above shall be added the following Memorable Relation:
My sight being opened, I saw a dark forest and in it a crowd of satyrs. As to their breasts these satyrs were hairy; as to their feet, some were like calves, some like panthers, and some like wolves, and on their feet, instead of toes, were the claws of wild beasts. They were running about like wild beasts and calling out, "Where are there women?" And then were seen harlots who were awaiting them. These also were monstrous In divers ways. The satyrs ran up to them and, taking hold of them, dragged them into a cavern which was deep down under the earth in the middle of the forest. On the earth around the cavern lay a great serpent in a spiral coil, which breathed its venom into the cavern. Above the serpent, on the branches of the forest trees, funereal birds of night were croaking and screeching. But the satyrs and harlots did not see these things because they were correspondences of their own lasciviousness and thus were the usual appearances thereof at a distance.
[2] Later they came out of the cavern and went into a low cabin which was a brothel. Then, separating from the harlots, the satyrs engaged in talk among themselves. To this I bent my ear, for in the spiritual world speech can be heard at a distance just as in one's presence, extension of space there being merely an appearance. They were talking about marriage, nature, and religion.
Those spoke of MARRIAGE who as to their feet appeared like calves. They said: "What are marriages but lawful adulteries? and what is sweeter than scortatory hypocrisies and the deceiving of husbands?" At this the others, indulging in loud laughter, clapped their hands.
Those spoke of NATURE who as to their feet appeared like panthers. They said; "What else is there but nature? What distinction is there between man and beast except that man can speak articulately and a beast can only make sounds? Do they not both have their life from heat and their understanding from light, by the operation of nature?" At this the rest exclaimed, "Ha! you speak from judgment."
Those spoke of RELIGION who as to their feet appeared like wolves. They said: "What is God, or the Divine, but the inmost operation of nature? What is religion but an invention to captivate and bind the common people?" To this the others shouted, "Bravo!"
[3] Some moments later they rushed out, and in the rush they saw me looking at them from a distance with intent gaze. Exasperated at this, they ran out of the forest and with menacing looks hastened their course towards me and said, "Why are you standing here and intent on our whisperings?" I answered, "Why not? what is there to prevent me? they were speeches [not whisperings]"' and I repeated what I had heard from them. At this their minds were quieted, and this from fear lest their sayings be divulged. They then began to speak modestly and to act chastely, from which I recognized that they were not of the common herd but of honorable stock. I then told them that I had seen them in the wood as satyrs, twenty as calf-satyrs, six as panther-satyrs, and four as wolf-satyrs, they being thirty in number. [4] They were astonished at this, for there they had seen themselves only as men, just as they saw themselves here with me.
I then instructed them that they had so appeared at a distance because of their scortatory lust, and that the satyr-like form was the form of their dissolute adultery and not of their person. I told them the reason, namely, that every evil concupiscence presents a likeness of itself in a form not seen by the men themselves but seen by others at a distance; and I added: "That you may believe this, send some of yourselves into that forest, while the rest remain here and watch them." They did this, and sent out two of their number. When these two were close by the brothel cabin, they saw them altogether as satyrs, and on their return they saluted them as satyrs and said, "Oh! what laughing-stocks!"
As they were laughing, I passed various pleasantries with them and told them I had also seen adulterers as swine. I then called to mind the fable of Ulysses and Circe,* how that she sprinkled the companions and servants of Ulysses with enchanter's herbs, and touching them with her magic wand, turned them into swine--perhaps into adulterers, for by no art could she turn any one into a swine. When they had finished laughing at these and similar stories, I asked them if they knew from what kingdoms in the world they came. They said they were from different kingdoms and mentioned Italy, Poland, Germany, England, and Sweden. I then asked them whether they had seen any one from Holland among them; and they said, "Not one."
[5] After this I turned the conversation to serious matters and asked whether they had ever thought that adultery is a sin. They answered, "What is sin? we do not know what it is." I then asked them whether they ever remembered that adultery was against the seventh** commandment of the Decalogue. They answered, "What is the Decalogue? is it not the Catechism? What have we men to do with that childish code?" I further asked them whether they had ever thought anything about hell, to which they answered, "Who has ever come up from there and told about it?" I then asked them whether in the world they had ever thought about the life after death. They said, "The same as about beasts and sometimes the same as about specters; if these exhale from dead bodies, they are dissipated." I asked them further whether they had heard about one or other of these things from priests. They answered that they gave attention only to the sound of their voices, not to the subject or what that subject was.
[6] Astonished at these answers, I said to them, "Turn your faces and your gaze towards the middle of the forest where is the cavern in which you were." They then turned around; and they saw that great serpent coiled in a spiral around the cavern and breathing into it its venom; also the funereal birds in the branches above it. I then asked them, "What do you see?" But they were terrified and made no answer; and I said, "Did you not see a horrible sight? Know, then, that it is a representative of adultery in the shameful deed of its lust."
Then suddenly an angel stood by, who was a priest, and he opened the hell in the western region into which such men are finally gathered and said, "Look thither!" And they saw a pool as though of fire, and recognized there some friends of theirs in the world, who invited them to join them.
After seeing and hearing these things, they turned away and hastily betaking themselves from my sight left the forest. But, observing their course, I saw that they were simulating departure for they were going back into the forest by roundabout ways.
* The original has Medea, but clearly by error.
** In the Catechism referred to in the text, the commandment regarding the worship of God is divided into two, and the last two commandments regarding coveting are combined into one. Thus the commandment against adultery is the sixth commandment--as stated in the Latin text.


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