By Swedenborg Project | July 21, 2011
It has long been thought, and illustrated in many biblical paintings, that angels have wings and fly. This interpretation appears to be inspired by the representational, or symbolic, images of a flying angel mentioned in the book of Revelation (8:13, 14:6), though there is no mention of wings. Swedenborg cites these passages in several places in his published works (Arcana Coelestia 1925, Apocalypse Revealed 245, 387, 415, 626). More significantly here, he personally saw angels fly at least twice (Marriage Love 2, 136, True Christian Religion 731) , one of whom flew down and landed right next to him (Marriage Love 2). Swedenborg also mentions seeing “a number of young people …, flying down as if from heaven” (True Christian Religion 736). The “as if” makes the statement somewhat ambiguous, however, as to whether it is merely symbolic or representational rather than being a report of “real” flying. In any case, in Heaven and Hell 183 Swedenborg says that “angels are men, they have homes and dwellings, and do not fly about in the air.” The tone of this statement is admonitory, also indicated in the rest of this sentence – “It might be known …that as angels are men they have dwellings and places of abode, and do not fly about in air, as some think in their ignorance, which the angels call insanity.” So it seems plausible that the point of this statement was to dismiss any idea of the fantastic here.
One question that arises here is, Why would angels need to fly? There is no time or space as we know it in heaven (Heaven and Hell #162, 191). Change is controlled by the mental state a person puts themselves in. If, for instance, a person thinks about seeing a friend, that friend appears, instantaneously. (Heaven and Hell #92) No change of position is involved. In summary, there would appear no need for angels to fly since they have a much more rapid means of travel available.