A Poison Tree Historical Context

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Swedenborgianism

Religious dissent in England, which first appeared in 1662 when a group of English Puritans broke away from the Church of England, refusing to take communion in the Church or accept its doctrines and authority, took many forms. Dissenters were persecuted until 1689, when the Act of Toleration was passed. The form of dissent to which Blake was drawn in his youth was known as Swedenborgianism. Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a Swedish mystic, philosopher, theologian, and scientist, established the doctrine of correspondences, teaching that the spiritual world and the natural world were joined—that the tangible objects of the natural world were actually physical instances of spiritual realities. Consequently, Swedenborg asserted, it was possible for human beings to communicate with spirits, an experience Blake himself had on a number of occasions, most notably with the spirit of his younger brother Robert immediately after Robert's death.

Swedenborg taught that God is...

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