The third angel blew his trumpet. A great star fell from heaven. The star blazed like a torch. It fell on a third of the rivers and on the fountains of water. The star’s name is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the bitter water. (Revelation 8: 10-11)
“To sound” can mean to measure the depth of, to investigate, to probe. The third angel sounds his trumpet and examines those whose religion is faith alone.
A great star called Wormwood blazes like a torch and falls to earth. Self-derived intelligence blazes with pride arising from infernal love. A star signifies intelligence. Wormwood signifies infernal falsity, from which this particular intelligence is born.
Water signifies truth. The star, Wormwood, fell upon the rivers and the fountains of water. Thence, all the truths of the Word were entirely falsified. The Word opens itself to those who are in charity. But to those closed to charity, their perception begins to dim and instead muscular rationalizations (“intelligence”) blaze up like a torch. The “inner voice” atrophies and is supplanted by “intelligence” (faith without charity).
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13: 1-2)
The star Wormwood blazes as it falls, and then poisons the waters. “From the intense bitterness by which it renders food and drink abominable, wormwood signifies infernal falsity.”
“…Behold, I will feed this people with wormwood, and give them poisonous water to drink.” (Jeremiah 9: 15)
“…Take it and eat it; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” (Revelation 10: 9)
Many “died” from the bitter water; i.e., there was extinction of spiritual life from the falsified truths of the Word.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5: 20-21)
(Acknowledgement to The Apocalypse Revealed, by Emanuel Swedenborg)