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Observations placeholder

Goethe - A prophecy leaving Sessenheim



Type of Spiritual Experience

Invisible input - prophecy

Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Death and its Mystery, At the Moment of Death; Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dying – Camille Flammarion

Those who have read Goethe’s Memoirs have seen the account of his love affair with the charming daughter of the pastor of Sessenheim, near Strasburg, an impassioned enough idyll, moreover, and one that left an unforgettable memory in his heart. When the hour of farewell had come, Goethe was obliged to go back to Germany, his soul possessed by the little French girl.  That was in 1771. They wept inexhaustible tears; but part they must.  Let us now listen to what the future author of Faust tells us:

As I was slowly drawing away from the village, I saw, not with the eyes of the body but of the mind, a horseman approaching Sessenheim upon the same road on which I was; this horseman was myself; I was dressed in a grey coat fringed with gold lace, such as I had never worn; I shook myself, to banish this hallucination, and saw nothing more.

It is curious that eight years after, I found myself on the same road, paying a visit to my friend Frederick, and wearing the same coat I which I had appeared to myself; I must add that it was not my will, but chance alone which had made me assume this costume.  My readers will think what they like of tis bizarre vision; it seems to me prophetic, and as I found in it the conviction that I should see my sweetheart again, it gave me the courage to rise above the pain of farewell

Wikipedia:  Near the end of Book XI of his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit ("Poetry and Truth") (1811-1833), Goethe wrote:

Amid all this pressure and confusion I could not forego seeing Frederica once more. Those were painful days, the memory of which has not remained with me. When I reached her my hand from my horse, the tears stood in her eyes; and I felt very uneasy.

I now rode along the foot-path toward Drusenheim, and here one of the most singular forebodings took possession of me. I saw, not with the eyes of the body, but with those of the mind, my own figure coming toward me, on horseback, and on the same road, attired in a dress which I had never worn, — it was pike-gray [hecht-grau], with somewhat of gold. As soon as I shook myself out of this dream, the figure had entirely disappeared.

It is strange, however, that, eight years afterward, I found myself on the very road, to pay one more visit to Frederica, in the dress of which I had dreamed, and which I wore, not from choice, but by accident.

However, it may be with matters of this kind generally, this strange illusion in some measure calmed me at the moment of parting. The pain of quitting for ever noble Alsace, with all I had gained in it, was softened; and, having at last escaped the excitement of a farewell, I, on a peaceful and quiet journey, pretty well regained my self-possession.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Unrequited love