Rahel Varnhagen - Letters - Hears celestial music
Type of Spiritual Experience
Rahel Antonie Friederike Varnhagen (19 May 1771 – 7 March 1833), was a German writer who hosted one of the most prominent salons in Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She is the subject of a celebrated biography, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1958), written by Hannah Arendt.
Rahel had an extraordinary love/hate relationship with her faith, which seems to have exerted an extraordinary influence on her in numerous ways
Rahel's husband published an account of her deathbed scene, which Amos Elon described as "stylized and possibly overdramatised", including her alleged last words:
What a history! A fugitive from Egypt and Palestine, here I am and find help, love, fostering in you people. With real rapture I think of those origins of mine and this whole nexus of destiny, through which the oldest memories of the human race stand side by side with the latest developments...The thing which all my life seemed to me the greatest shame, which was the misery and misfortune of my life—having been born a Jewess—this I should on no account now wish to have missed
A description of the experience
Rahel Varnhagen und ihre Zeit – Letters 1800-1833 [translated by Joscelyn Godwin]
Diary entry for December 25th 1815
Last night I dreamed I heard such a beautiful prelude, coming from on high – or wherever it came from, for I saw nothing – which developed into so grand a harmony that I had to sink to my knees.
I wept, prayed and cried out again and again ‘Have I not said that Music is God; that the true music … is God?’.
The music became ever more beautiful; I prayed, wept and cried out more and more. As if in radiance and without thought forms, everything – the whole being in my breast – became lambent and clear. My heart broke in two from my ecstatic weeping; and I awoke