Dr Paulus & The Magicion
Over the last few months I have made some very strange and mystifying discoveries in the texts relating to prophecy and visions included in the Society library, which will be the topic of the next few updates. Included in those updates will be the themes of prophecy, visions (I suppose visionary experience is rather run-of-the-mill for the Swedenborg Society) and spiritualism which I shall endeavor to provide some form of commentary on, however misguided that may be …
Up first is Dr. Paulus’s book The Magicon. Written in 1869, this curious text claims that the 24 ‘magic figures’ (various small drawings, one of which can be seen on this page) within represent a prophecy concerning the eventual fall of popery.
It is unclear whether the interpretations of the figures are Paulus’ own or a translation. Paulus refers to a German translation of an original prophecy built around the drawings, but does not make it clear whether he is emulating or translating it. The prophecies concerning America, which form the latter half of the book, are written as if Paulus is a mouthpiece for God, a very wrathful God. What I find so strange about it is I can find absolutely no information on the ‘magical figures’ he uses aside from that which Paulus provides himself. This in itself is relatively scant: ‘The following twenty-four magic figures were discovered as far back as four hundred and fifty years ago in the chartist cloister at Nuremburg; but not until a later period were they explained by Doctor Paracelsus, of Hohenheim (if you haven’t heard of Paracelsus, you should really look him up).’ That’s it. Googling such terms (my brief form of research) gives no link between Paracelsus and these 24 drawings; I cannot even find any information about their discovery at Nuremberg so for now they will have to remain a mystery.
If this wasn’t enough, Paulus’ book also has a secondary focus, in the latter half, on a series of revelations received by him regarding America and he begins prophesying like crazy. It turns out that Paulus is quite the dramatic fellow as he starts writing in some form of pseudo-biblical language, full of high sentence and epic imagery. Here is a couple of extracts, which I have woven together from his prophecies concerning New York, a place which, as it turns out, he hates (a lot):
Let me shake the dust from my feet! Thou putrid pool of all vices and crimes—mother city of all knaves, of all rogues, usurers, thieves, robbers and murderers! Thou who art the infernal lurking place of all iniquities and evil deeds! Thou hellish breeding-place of priestly vermin! My mouth shall speak thy future. Thou city full of the misery and wailing of the innocent victims of murder and violence that have been helplessly slaughtered and not revenged, crying to heaven for vengeance!
Hearken therefore, ye Americans, to the voice of the Lord, who speaks warningly to you through the mouth of His servant; just as it happened in Naples (December 16th, 1857), and still worse will it happen to the degenerated city of New York; and also several seaport towns. New York, however, will be the first, for her vices and iniquities are rapidly increasing. Therefore the Lord God of Sabaoth will verily judge and destroy this City, as well as the depths of the sea. Yea, the earth shall open, shaken from her very foundations, and it shall swallow ye up, ye brood of usurers, with all your sin-stained treasures!
However, before this shall come to pass, there will arise a great religious war, and there will be great bloodshed, particularly in the state of New York. And fearful plagues will nearly depopulate all America; nervous diseases, convulsions, painful and fatal affections of the throat and lungs, pestilential ulcers, cholera and yellow fever will thin the population of America.
How Paulus can claim any influence from Swedenborg I don’t know, but he does so. I find it hard to believe as a) Paulus strikes me as a rather wrathful fellow, which is not much in-keeping with Swedenborg’s doctrine, and b) according to Swedenborg the apocalypse has already happened and took place in the spirit world, not physical reality.
Paulus ends his book by prophesying the coming of the New Jerusalem which, of all places, will be in America. Thus, in special font and red ink he writes:
Be silent now, ye bells of alarm! Ye holy, gold-stringed harps of peace, murmur softly in sweet strains of blissful harmony and rest! With your heart-comforting and soul-elevating notes impart strength to the weak, comfort to the desponding, animate the warriors for the victory which is nigh! Praise the Lord! For after having destroyed the City of New York by earthquakes, and raised from the mysterious deep, by the same commotions, “The New California,” a land of gold, for the natural use of His faithful—He will build up through His grace, on the golden land, a new city for His faithful of America. This new city will be called “The Natural New Jerusalem.” And thousands of ye true-hearted, noble Americans will flock to it, to behold the NEW CHURCH, the HOLY CITY, and the temple therein, and there to pray in spirit and in truth, which means to act. And peace and harmony will reign in the New City of the Lord. The worst murderers and evil doers will be converted and become good men, the moment they are allowed to tread this soil. And there will be such an abundance of natural riches, that from its plenty there will be allotted enough to each one; then there will be no poverty and no sickness, and never more will there be seen a dimmed and tearful eye!!!
If anyone is interested in reading the whole of the text it can be obtained here in full.