According to Swedenborg, the whole natural world (our reality) is responsive to the spiritual world - in general and in detail. Whatever arises in the natural world out of the spiritual is called "something that corresponds".
There is a spiritual and natural world within each of us. The deeper elements, which belong to our minds and relate to our intelligence and volition (our will), constitute our spiritual world. The outer elements, which belong to our bodies and relate to our senses and actions, constitute our natural world.
So our "inner being" is the spiritual, and our "outer being" is the natural. Everything that happens and comes forth in the outer or natural person does so from the inner or spiritual one.
There is a correspondence of Heaven with everything that is earthly. Absolutely everything in nature, from the smallest to the greatest, is a correspondence. The reason correspondences occur is that the natural world, including everything in it, arises and is sustained from the spiritual world, and both worlds come from the Divine. Nothing in the natural world can endure independently, but needs something prior, it therefore needs a First (Divine), and if it were seperated from that First, it would perish and disappear.
The fact that everything in this world arises from the Divine and is clothed with the kinds of elements in nature that enable it to be present there, serve some use, and therefore correspond, follows clearly from little things we can observe in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms. All earthly things are differentiated into three classes that are called "kingdoms"...the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom and the mineral kingdom.
Members of the Animal kingdom are correspondences on the first level, because they are alive. The Vegetable kingdom are correspondences on the second level because they merely grow. Mineral kingdom are correspondences on the third level because they neither live nor grow.
Animal Kingdom: In general, earth's living creatures correspond to affections.
The mild and useful ones to good affections.
The fierce and useless ones to evil affections.
Cattle and calves correspond to affections of the natural mind.
Sheep and lambs correspond to affections of the spiritual mind.
Flying creatures, (species by species), correspond to cognitive activities of either level of the mind.
The reason animals are affections, according to their genre and species, is that they are alive, and the only source of the life of any creature is from affection and is in proportion to it. Humans are like animals as far as our natural person is concerned, which is why we are compared to them in colloquial usage. Example, we call a gentle person a sheep or a lamb, a violent one a bear or a wolf, a crafty one a fox or a snake...
Vegetable Kingdom :
A garden corresponds to heaven and means intelligence and wisdom...which is why Heaven is called the Garden of God and a Paradise.
Trees, species by species, correspond to perceptions and firsthand knowledge of what is good and true.. which yields intelligence and wisdom. Trees mean perceptions and experiential knowledge.
Fruit: the good we do is compared to fruit.
Food, derived from the vegetable kingdom, correspond to affections for what is good and true because they nourish our spiritual life the way earthly foods nourish our natural life.
Bread: corresponds to an affection for whatever is good. Bread means everything good that nourishes our spiritual life. Bread is used to mean all foods and means the kind of things that nourish our spiritual life. Because of this correspondence, the Lord calls Himself the bread if life. Because of this correspondence too, the most sacred worship in the Christian church is the Holy Supper, in which bread and wine are shared.
We need to know that it is humankind through which the natural world is united to the spiritual world- and that we are the means of the union. There is within each of us a natural world and also a spiritual world; so the extent that we are spiritual, we are a means of union. However, to the extent that we are natural and not spiritual, we are not a means of union. The Lord's inflow into the world and into the world's gifts within us continues even without our aid, but it does not come into our rational functioning.
The spiritual world (which is heaven), is united to the natural world by means of correspondences; so it is through correspondences that we are given communication with heaven. When we are absorbed in the knowledge of correspondences we can be in the company of angels through our spiritual or inner person.
In order that there might be a union of heaven with humanity, the Word was written in pure correspondences. Absolutely everything in it corresponds. So if we are steeped in the knowledge of correspondences, we would understand the Word in its spiritual meaning and be enabled to know hidden treasures in it that we do not see at all in the literal meaning..
The Word does in fact have a literal and spiritual meaning. The literal meaning consists of the kind of things that are in our world - while the spiritual meaning consists of the kind of things that are in heaven.
The Sun in Heaven Our natural world's sun provides light and warmth -the correspondence is the Lord; His light is the Divine Truth, His warmth is the divine good - that radiates from the Lord like the sun.
Light = faith = divine truth
Warmth = fire = divine love
The sun = love
The moon = faith
BUT...everything that is in accord with the Divine Design corresponds to Heaven.
Everything that is contrary to the Divine Design corresponds to Hell.
Everything that corresponds to Heaven reflects what is good and true.
Everything that is contrary to Heaven reflects what is evil and false.