79. The Fifth Memorable Relation:
The angel who had previously been my guide and companion to the ancient peoples who had lived in the four Ages, the Golden, Silver, Copper, and Iron, came to me once more and said: "You would like to see the nature of the Age which followed these ancient Ages and which still continues. Follow me then, and you shall see. They are those of whom Daniel prophesied:
A kingdom shall arise after those four, wherein iron shall be mixed with miry clay; they shall mingle themselves through the seed of man, but they shall not cleave the one with the other, even as iron is not commingled with clay." Dan. 2:41-3
and he added, "By the seed of man through which the iron shall be mingled with clay and yet they shall not cleave together, is meant the truth of the word falsified."
 After he had thus spoken, I followed him, and on the way he told me the following: "They dwell on the border between the south and the west, but at a great distance behind those who lived in the four former Ages, and also at a greater depth." Proceeding through the south to a region bordering upon the west, we passed through a dreadful forest; for in it were stagnant pools, from which crocodiles raised their heads and gaped at us with their wide open jaws beset with teeth. Moreover, between the pools were terrible dogs, some with three heads like Cerberus, some with two; and as we passed they all glared at us with a horrible ravenous look and fierce eyes. We entered the western part of this region and saw dragons and leopards such as are described in the Apocalypse 12:3 and 13:2.
 The angel then told me: "All those wild beasts which you saw are not beasts but correspondences. Thus they are representative forms of the lusts in which are the inhabitants whom we are to visit. Their lusts are represented by those horrible dogs; their deceits and cunning by the crocodiles; their falsities and their depraved inclinations in respect to things pertaining to worship, by the dragons and leopards. The inhabitants who are thus represented do not dwell immediately behind the forest but behind a great desert, the desert itself being an intermediate region; and this to the end that they may be kept entirely separate and apart from the peoples of the preceding Ages. Moreover, they are utter aliens, being entirely different from them. Like the primeval men, they do indeed have heads above their breasts, breasts above their loins, and loins above their feet, but there is nothing of gold in their heads, nothing of silver in their breasts, nothing of brass in their loins, yea, nothing of pure iron in their feet; but in their heads is iron mixed with clay; in their breasts, both these mixed with brass; in their loins, both mixed also with silver; and in their feet, all these mixed with gold. By this inversion they have been changed from men into graven images of men within whom nothing is coherent. That which was the highest has become the lowest. Thus what was the head has become the heel, and vice versa. From heaven they appear to us like clowns who rest on their elbows and move forwards with their body upside down; or like beasts lying on their backs, with upraised legs and looking at the sky from a head which they bury in the earth."
 We passed through the forest and entered the desert, which was no less terrible. It consisted of heaps of stones, and between them ditches from which crawled hydras and vipers, and out of which flew fiery flying serpents. The whole desert was one continuous descent. Descending the long declivity, we came at last into the valley where dwell the inhabitants of that region and Age.
Here and there were huts, and finally these were seen to be closer to each other and to be joined together into the form of a city. This we entered, and lo, the houses were constructed of scorched branches of trees stuck together with mud. The roofs were of black slate. The streets were irregular, all narrow at their beginnings but wider as they went on, and quite spacious at their end where they terminated in an open space or forum, there being as many such spaces as there were [converging] streets.
As we entered the city, it became dark because heaven* was not visible. We therefore looked up, and light was given us and we saw. I then asked those whom I met, "can you see, now that the heaven above you is not visible?" They replied, "What are you asking? We see clearly. We walk in full light." Hearing this, the angel said to me, "To them, just as to birds of night, darkness is light and light darkness, for they look downwards and not upwards."
 Here and there we went into the hovels, and in each hovel we saw a man with his woman. We asked whether all here live in their own house with one wife only. The men answered this with a hissing, [and our host said] "Why with only one wife? Why do you not ask whether we live with only one harlot? What is a wife but a harlot? Our laws do not permit us to go a-whoring with more than one woman, yet we do not count it dishonorable or disgraceful to do this with many--but outside the house. Among ourselves we boast of it. In this way we enjoy license and its pleasures more than do polygamists. Why is a plurality of wives denied us, when yet it was formerly allowed; and even now it is allowed in all the countries around us? What is life with one woman alone but captivity and imprisonment? Here we break down the barrier of this prison and, delivering ourselves from servitude, set ourselves free. Who can be angry with a captive if he sets himself free when he can?"
 To this we answered: "Friend, you talk as if you were without religion. Who that is imbued with any reason does not know that adulteries are profane and infernal, and that marriages are holy and heavenly? Do not adulteries exist with the devils in hell, and marriages with the angels in heaven? Have you not read the seventh commandment of the Decalogue? and in Paul,** that adulterers can in no wise come into heaven?" At this, our host laughed heartily and looked upon me as a simpleton and almost as a madman.
At that moment a messenger from the chief man of the city rushed up and said, "Bring the two strangers into the forum, and if they will not come, drag them. We have seen them in the shade of night.*** They came in secret; they are spies."
The angel then said to me: "The reason we were seen in a shade was because to them the light of heaven, in which we were, is shade, while the shade of hell is light, and this because they count nothing as a sin, not even adultery. Therefore they regard that which is false as being wholly true. Moreover, to satans in hell, that which is false shines, and that which is true darkens their eyes like the shade of night."
 We then said to the messenger, "We will not be forced to the forum, still less will we be dragged, but will go with you of our own accord." So we went. And lo, a great crowd was there, and from the crowd came men skilled in the law who whispered in our ears, "Take heed that you say nothing against religion, the form of government, and good manners." We replied, "We speak not against these but for them and from them."
We then asked them, "What is your religion regarding marriages?" At this, the crowd murmured and said, "What have you to do here with marriages? marriages are marriages."
We then asked, "What is your religion respecting whoredoms?" At this also the crowd murmured, saying, "What have you to do here with whoredoms? whoredoms are whoredoms. Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone."
And thirdly we asked, "Does your religion teach concerning marriages, that they are holy and heavenly? and concerning adulteries, that they are profane and infernal?" At this, many in the crowd laughed aloud and mocked and jeered, saying: "As to matters of religion, ask our priests not us; we give entire assent to their utterances, for nothing of religion falls within the judgment of the understanding. Have you not heard that the understanding is insane as regards the mysteries of which the whole of religion consists? And what have deeds to do with religion? Is it not the murmurings of a devout heart concerning expiation, satisfaction, and imputation, and not works, that beatify souls?"
 But then some of the city's wise men, so called, came to us and said, "Go away from here; the crowd is getting angry and soon there will be an outbreak. Let us talk with you on this matter in private. Behind the court is an ambulatory; let us retire thither. Come with us." So we followed them. They then asked us, "From where do you come and what is your business here?" and we said, "To be informed concerning marriages with you, whether they are sacred as they were with the ancients who lived in the Golden, Silver, and Copper Ages."
They replied, "Why sacred? are they not deeds of the flesh and the night?" and we answered, "Are they not also deeds of the spirit? What the flesh does from the spirit, is not that spiritual? and whatever the spirit does, it does from the marriage of good and truth. Is not this the spiritual marriage which enters into natural marriage which is the marriage of husband and wife?"
To this, the so-called wise men responded: "You refine and sublimate this thing overmuch. You are passing over things rational and mounting to things spiritual. Who can commence there? Come down and then form a judgment." To this they added in derision, "Perhaps you have the wings of an eagle and can fly into the uppermost region of heaven and see such things. We cannot."
 We then asked them to tell us from the height or region in which the winged ideas of their minds fly, whether they knew or could know that there is such a thing as the conjugial love of one man with one wife, into which are gathered all the blessings, happiness, delights, amenities and pleasures of heaven; and that this love is from the Lord, according to the reception of good and truth from Him, that is, according to the state of the Church.
 Hearing this, they turned away and said, "These men are insane; they enter into the ether with their judgment and, conjecturing vanities, act like little children."****
Thereupon, turning to us they said, "We will give a straight answer to your windy conjectures and dreams." They then said: "What has conjugial love in common with religion and with inspiration from God? Is not that love with every man according to the state of his potency? And is it not just as much with those who are outside the Church as with those who are within it? just as much with Gentiles as with Christians? nay, just as much with the impious as with the pious? And has not every one the strength of that love from heredity, or from good health, or from temperance of life, or from the heat of the climate? Can it not also be strengthened and stimulated by medicines? Is it not the same with beasts, especially birds, which love in pairs? Is not that love carnal? and what has a carnal matter in common with the spiritual state of the Church? As to the ultimate effect, does love with a wife differ in the least from love with a harlot? Is not the lust the same? and the delight the same? Therefore it is wrongful to deduce the origin of conjugial love from the holy things of the Church."
 On hearing this, We said to them: "You are reasoning from the heat of lasciviousness and not from conjugial love. You are wholly ignorant of what conjugial love is because with you it is cold. From what you have said, we are assured that you are of that Age which has its name from and consists of iron and clay which do not cohere, according to the prediction by Daniel II.43; for you make conjugial love and scortatory love to be one and the same thing. Do these two loves cohere any more than iron and clay? You are believed to be wise and are called wise; yet you are anything but wise."
Inflamed with anger at hearing these words, they raised a cry and called the crowd together to cast us out. But then, by power given us by the Lord, we stretched forth our hands, and lo, the fiery flying serpents, vipers, and hydras from the desert were at hand, and also the dragons; and they rushed in and filled the city, from which the inhabitants fled in terror.
The angel then told me: "New arrivals from the earth come into this region every day and, by turns, the former inhabitants are sent away and cast down into gulfs at the west which at a distance appear like pools of fire and brimstone. All who are there are spiritual adulterers and also natural."
* As in English, the Latin word for heaven means also the sky.
** 1 Cor. 6:9.
*** The Latin is lucis (of light), but the context indicates that this is a misprint or a slip of the pen for noctis.
**** Literally, they scatter nuts. Because children played with nuts, relinguere noces (to leave the nuts) became a proverbial saying for to give up childish ways.