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This book, which covers Visions and hallucinations, explains what causes them and summarises how many hallucinations have been caused by each event or activity. It also provides specific help with questions people have asked us, such as ‘Is my medication giving me hallucinations?’.

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Observations placeholder

Mr. Herwig, a distinguished German violinist dies, and provides celestial music after his death, like rays of sunlight turning into sounds



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 6


A description of the experience

published in the Journal of the S.P.R. by Dr. Hodgson, who personally examined it. Miss Sarah Jenkins writes:


In 1845, Mr. Herwig, a distinguished German musician who had long lived in Boston, was suddenly killed there. I was then a very young girl, I knew him only by his reputation, having attended several times his public violin concerts, which raised in me a great admiration for the artist. My only personal relationship with him was that in the previous winter, when he died, I met him almost every day on the street, on my way to school. It was pure chance; but these encounters became so frequent, that he eventually noticed them, he started smiling at me when I passed by; then he greeted me respectfully; I did the same.

In the fall, he died suddenly. His funeral was held on November 4, 1845, in Trinity Church, then Summer Street. It was a solemn and emotional ceremony attended by all the musicians of Boston, along with many other prominent citizens; indeed, his death was universally mourned.

I attended the ceremony with my sister and, towards the middle of the ceremony, I was seized with an inexpressible and inexplicable presentiment that he could at this moment and in this environment rise from the coffin and appear among us, as if he were alive. Without realizing what I was doing, I took my sister's hand and said almost aloud: "Oh! he must resurrect to a new life!" My sister looked at me with astonishment and whispered: "Shut up!"

During the evening of the same day, I was in the dining room with my mother, my two sisters and a Cuban friend. We were having a solemn meal, and my sister recounted the strange incident of my exclamation, repeating my words. Suddenly, a wonderful stream of music sounds in the room that none of us had ever heard before.

I saw the faces of the people present take on an attitude of stupor, almost mixed with fear. I myself was seized by a kind of fear of the invisible, but I continued in an incoherent way the words I had begun. Then, for the second time, a flood of marvellous musical chords rose up, weakening and disappearing, little by little. My sister and I rushed to the window to make sure that some music was not playing in the street; but it was empty; there was not a sound, except the noise of light rain.

Then I went up the stairs, and entered a small living room that was above the dining room. There was a lady, sitting there reading, our host, belonging to the Quaker sect. There was a piano in the room, and although the instrument was closed, I asked: "Maybe someone played the piano?"

"No," she replied, "but earlier I heard strange music. What was that?"

But it must be said that none of us has ever been superstitious; on the contrary, we have all been raised to mock the stories of ghosts; so none of us thought of the event as transcendental. Yet we couldn't help looking into each other's eyes, asking each other "What happened? Where did this music come from?"

Mrs. S., as a good Quakeress, immediately expressed herself very worried and agitated. When her daughters returned, she spoke with them about what had happened. All together they went around the neighbourhood, asking if music had been played at that time of the evening, until they knew that no one had played musical instruments or heard them played on the street. Moreover, the music we had perceived had risen in our very environment, it was different from all the music we had heard. On this point, we were all in complete agreement.

Signed: Sarah Jenkins.


The sister of the narrator of this story confirms in these terms: "I read my sister's story carefully and I can guarantee that it is scrupulously accurate".

Signed: Elizabeth Jenkins.


Dr. Hodgson
I asked Miss S. Jenkins a few questions. I extract the following passages from her answers:

Mrs. S., the Quaker lady, was temporarily domiciled with us. I asked if anyone had played the piano, not that the music we had perceived was similar to that of a piano, but only to connect it in some way to a natural cause.

It seemed to all of us that the music was playing in the room we were in. It started in a corner of the room and went around it. I compared this music to rays of sunlight turning into sounds, and I couldn't give a better definition today.

The source of the experience

Musician other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps