Did Writer & Poet "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe" Witness a UFO?

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posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:23 AM
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A passage in Goethe's autobiography "From My Life: Poetry and Truth" tells of an encounter with mysterious, cone-shaped lights in the woods during his trip from Hanau to Gelnhausen/Germany in 1765.

Here goes an own illustration depicting the event (based on a painting by C. Morgenstern, Public Domain) and further below a translated excerpt of the possible "CE1" incident:




Translated Excerpt "From My Life: Poetry and Truth"

We drove past "All Hallows Gate" and soon left [the city of] Hanau behind us, when I reached the countryside which attracted my attention because it was new to me [or: unknown], even though it didn't have anything pleasant to offer at this time of year.

Heavy rain damaged the trails, which were not in a good shape compared to months later, when we passed through that area again. Therefore, our trip wasn't very pleasant nor fortunate. But it was because of this humid weather that I witnessed a natural phenomenon of probably very rare occurence. Never again have I seen anything similar nor have I heard of any others who have seen anything like it. It was night time when we drove up a slope between [the cities of] Hanau and Gelnhausen and, for it would soon be dark, we preferred to go up there by foot in order to not expose ourselves to the risks and hardships of this particular route. Suddenly, I saw - to the right of our trail - in a depression [or: in the distance] something resembling a miraculously lit amphitheatre. Countless blinking lights were visible in a funnel-shaped formation, aligned in a stepwise fashion, one over the other, gleaming so intensely that it dazzled the eyes.

But what was even more confusing was that they didn't rest in place, but rather jumped up and down, down and up, into all directions. Most of them, however, were stationary and just flickering continuously. It was with great reluctance that I moved on [called back by the others], for it was my desire to investigate it more closely. Upon questioning, the Postilion didn't know anything about any such appearance but remarked that there's an old quarry close-by, the mean depression of which was filled with water. Whether or not this was a pandemonium of fen fires or a gathering of gleaming creatures shall not be my decision [or: judgement].

/emphasis added/

(...)


Some sources say this event had already been referenced by Jaques Vallée in the late 1960s, although I wasn't able to locate any websites or texts linking to this incident. Sceptics have pointed to fireflies & swampgas which, according to them, could be a possible explanation. Whatever the case, IMO Goethe's description of the phenomenon as a gleaming amphitheatre incl. the odd behaviour of the lights does bear a certain resemblance to reports in modern ufology.

Since I couldn't find any related thread on ATS, I thought this topic might be worth posting ...



Links & Sources:
---------------------------------------
1. Blog Article: Was Goethe A Possible UFO Witness? (Google Translate)
2. Original Text, "From My Life: Poetry and Truth" (Part 2, Book No. 6)
3. More information on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4. Details on "From My Life: Poetry and Truth"




posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:41 AM
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Interesting find.

Unfortunately this happened so long ago that any discussion is pure speculation. This is however what we are all good at here at ATS though right?

After you get over the fact that I have been a member of this site for a mere manner of hours, and am already associating myself with you as if i were here for ages, maybe we can discuss this with some curious and creative posts. :-)



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:59 AM
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andr3w68
 

Interesting find.

Unfortunately this happened so long ago that any discussion is pure speculation. This is however what we are all good at here at ATS though right?

I would have to agree, speculating is all we can do in this case. But with those descriptions being highly reminiscent of modern day sightings (eg. "almost blinded by the light"), it's at least an extra reference among all those historical accounts that are available on this forum ...



After you get over the fact that I have been a member of this site for a mere manner of hours, and am already associating myself with you as if i were here for ages, maybe we can discuss this with some curious and creative posts. :-)

Well, I'm also associating myself with posters on various threads and I always appreciate a decent discussion among like-minded people. BTW: welcome here on ATS, I hope you'll be having a great time with 'intriguing' posts & discoveries ... !




posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:37 AM
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jeep3r

I would have to agree, speculating is all we can do in this case. But with those descriptions being highly reminiscent of modern day sightings (eg. "almost blinded by the light"), it's at least an extra reference among all those historical accounts that are available on this forum ...


I have to agree with you on that. It certainly does fit the UFO "profile".




Well, I'm also associating myself with posters on various threads and I always appreciate a decent discussion among like-minded people. BTW: welcome here on ATS, I hope you'll be having a great time with 'intriguing' posts & discoveries ... !



Thanks! If you can not already tell by the info to the left, I've been up all night scouring the forums and adding commentary where I see fit. ;-p

The ATS community has been great so far. Only up to go from here!!



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:48 AM
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What a great find indeed. I love seeing things like this from so long ago even though they are almost impossible to say for sure. My uneducated guess would be a description of a ufo, as I am pretty certain this man was used to his surroundings like most of his time unlike these days were people are always planting their nose in an electronic device and not noticing surroundings.....



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:36 AM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 


Very interesting find... gotta say though, that if the great Goethe, one of the most talented and open minds in European history described it as a natural phenomena, then i'd go with that. After all, he believed in all manner of stuff that many here would consider "pretty out-there" and was an exceptional observer and examiner of the natural world.

Still an awesome find though, many thanks for posting this.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 11:07 AM
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Fireflies caught up in a whirlwind, perhaps? That at least fits with the darting about behavior of some of the lights. He says there were countless lights. Fireflies apparently do sometimes swarm.

He didn't mention any circular motion of the lights which, it seems, should have been visible. He seems an acute and careful observer, odd, then, that this detail would have been omitted, if it were present.

Flying insects attracted by a bright, cone shaped beam of light? There weren't many artificial sources of bright light in 1765, especially ones that could be concentrated in very bright beams.
edit on 13-3-2014 by Ross 54 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 12:40 PM
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Ross 54
 

Fireflies caught up in a whirlwind, perhaps? That at least fits with the darting about behavior of some of the lights. He says there were countless lights. Fireflies apparently do sometimes swarm.

He didn't mention any circular motion of the lights which, it seems, should have been visible. He seems an acute and careful observer, odd, then, that this detail would have been omitted, if it were present.

The most puzzling aspect is that all this happened in the 18th century. What source of light in the year 1765 could have enough power to blind the observer? That should rule out fireflies, IMO he and others should/would have recognized them.

Then there's the specific shape, which is being described as that of an amphitheatre, suggesting that it was a circular formation with different levels (that were apparently 'stacked' on top of one another). Perhaps he interpreted it as a natural phenomenon due to a lack of other explanations (while being well aware of things coming close, like lightning or ball-lightning)?

... unfortunately, no further details are available but the classic 'UFO profile' could apply to this case, as far as I'm concerned.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 01:46 PM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 


It's worth noting that in his account Goethe says that this happened at night time (the painting is perhaps a little inaccurate in this it seems, he says that it was almost dark) and he describes the phenomena as dazzling to the eyes, not blinding.... It would be interesting to know if Goethe ever stated any opinions on life elsewhere in space, and in my limited knowledge of him (from Anthroposophy and and basic grounding in Goethean Science) i have not encountered this - i'll try to do a search on this later when i get a chance as it may shed more light (hurrr) on his account. Fascinating stuff


edit on 13-3-2014 by skalla because: accuracy
edit on 13-3-2014 by skalla because: moar clarity



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 01:52 PM
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But what was even more confusing was that they didn't rest in place, but rather jumped up and down, down and up, into all directions. Most of them, however, were stationary and just flickering continuously.

It was with great reluctance that I moved on [called back by the others], for it was my desire to investigate it more closely.

Upon questioning, the Postilion didn't know anything about any such appearance but remarked that there's an old quarry close-by, the mean depression of which was filled with water.

Whether or not this was a pandemonium of fen fires or a gathering of gleaming creatures shall not be my decision [or: judgement].



This is really good stuff, OP.

It seems obvious to me from Goethe's retelling of the story that he was the only one in the group that he was in that saw this "phenomenon".

That's really interesting, it reminds me of the stories about the fairies collected by Walter Evans-Wentz, for starters.




ETA: Okay, a postilion is the driver of a horse and carriage.

As Goethe says. they got out and were walking for a time because of the bad weather and that's when he saw the light show.

He returns to the coach and asks the postilion, the guy with the highest vantage point, but the postilion didn't see it either.

edit on 13-3-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 02:12 PM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 




The most puzzling aspect is that all this happened in the 18th century. What source of light in the year 1765 could have enough power to blind the observer?


If I may?



The Migraine Aura: Beauty in the Night

They occur in equisite geometric detail, an undulating and ever changing pattern of glittery, shimmering colors, filigreed patterns, spiraling white stars, dancing colored geometric forms, continually shifting.

The closest thing I can compare it to is looking through a kaleidescope, with detailed and evolving patterns of color and shape morphing one into the next.



That's one explanation, not all seizure or migraine auras are painful, and some that have them find them to be pleasurable and edifying.

edit on 13-3-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 02:23 PM
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reply to post by Bybyots
 


Howdy! A fascinating insight, sir. Perhaps this may have a bearing on his famous work on colour?

I could find no reference on Goethe explicitly discussing life elsewhere in space, though perhaps a German speaker may find more considering how much is written about him in his native tongue. This may be unimportant however, but what i find a little unusual is that he did not (afaik) write any more on this episode - i would have expected a renowned natural scientist to have written far more about it... perhaps someone with a better knowledge of his work could shed some light on this.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 03:01 PM
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Bybyots
 

The Migraine Aura: Beauty in the Night

They occur in equisite geometric detail, an undulating and ever changing pattern of glittery, shimmering colors, filigreed patterns, spiraling white stars, dancing colored geometric forms, continually shifting.

The closest thing I can compare it to is looking through a kaleidescope, with detailed and evolving patterns of color and shape morphing one into the next.

That's one explanation, not all seizure or migraine auras are painful, and some that have them find them to be pleasurable and edifying.


Interesting explanation ... would these occur frequently or is a single outbreak conceivable? Wouldn't he, himself, have been aware of the symptoms of such deceptive auras? Hmmm, I might need to look into this some more!

As for the postilion: the original text could also be interpreted differently, eg. more like he was 'not interested' in investigating the phenomenon more closely, in terms of just wanting to 'move on'. He might have waited somewhere with part of the group (and the carriage) while Goethe and others went up the slope by foot, possibly attracted by the lights ... with that said, parts of his account are certainly subject to speculation.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 03:23 PM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 




Interesting explanation ... would these occur frequently or is a single outbreak conceivable? Wouldn't he, himself, have been aware of the symptoms of such deceptive auras? Hmmm, I might need to look into this some more!


Yes, it is possible to only have had a migraine once. It is believed that the onset of a migraine is cause by a complex of "triggers". It is thought that a person that has had a migraine will always be prone to them if the same triggers are set off, but yes, that does not necessarily mean it has to happen more than once.

Stress is in the top 5 all-time-greatest triggers of migraines, as well as what are called "food-triggers".

edit on 13-3-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:04 PM
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reply to post by skalla
 


Hey skalla!

Yeah, it seems that he just noted the occurrence the best he could and moved on. I think your suggestion that his work on the Theory of Colors was influenced by the experience is a really good one and maybe the only thing we could pick out from his work that might have been directly influenced by his episode in the country. He published the book in 1810.

Nice to see you.

edit on 13-3-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:05 PM
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Goethe would have been about sixteen years old when this event happened in 1765 which was three years before what his wiki page describes as an episode of illness that began in 1768 and lasted for two years - however, this abstract states that he suffered from severe mood swings and depression from the age of fourteen. There are various references to Dysthymia ("Double Depression") being suffered by him also, which is apparently common in people with epilepsy, so while this is of course conjecture based on my hurried google-fu, it does add to the picture somewhat.

Not conclusive by any means, and i cant add any more depth to Goethe's episodes of illness besides the above. I'm really hoping that an expert on the man comes along, i'm rather drawn in by this one.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:08 PM
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reply to post by skalla
 


skalla?

You're awesome!

Thanks so much for that, to know that he was only 16 is a really great detail to have.




posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:12 PM
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Bybyots
reply to post by jeep3r
 

Yes, it is possible to only have had a migraine once. It is believed that the onset of a migraine is cause by a complex of "triggers". It is thought that a person that has had a migraine will always be prone to them if the same triggers are set off, but yes, that does not necessarily mean it has to happen more than once.

Stress is in the top 5 all-time-greatest triggers of migraines, as well as what are called "food-triggers".

Interesting, I was thinking that this particular type of aura migraine was a medical condition or a neurological disorder that, if a person suffers from it, would result in more frequent symptoms. It also seems to relate to 'epileptics':


Aura (Symptom

When occurring, auras allow epileptics time to prevent injury to themselves and/or others. The time between the appearance of the aura and the migraine lasts from a few seconds up to an hour. The aura can stay with a migraine sufferer for the duration of the migraine; depending on the type of aura, this can leave the person disoriented and confused. It is not uncommon for migraine sufferers to experience more than one type of aura during the migraine. Most people who have auras have the same type of aura every time.

AFAIK Goethe didn't suffer from such symptoms, but perhaps I'm wrong. Nevertheless, it could be just as good an explanation as any other interpretation of the event.

I wonder what Goethe would think had he known we'd be discussing this some 250 years after the fact!



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:30 PM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 




Interesting, I was thinking that this particular type of aura migraine was a medical condition or a neurological disorder that, if a person suffers from it, would result in more frequent symptoms. It also seems to relate to 'epileptics':


Well, when a person thinks of epilepsy the first thing that they usually imagine is someone convulsing on the ground as in a grand mal seizure.

The aura is no longer thought by everyone to be a precursor to a grand mal seizure, it is now considered by many to be the seizure itself, as one may experience one or all of the many "symptoms" (features) related to the aura with no pain and with no convulsions at all. The scintillating scotoma are one feature that people often experience with no pain at all and no convulsions. You can't really drive, but after it's gone you can go about your business as though nothing happened.



A little on occipital epilepsies, dense stuff but give it a try...




Electroclinical features of occipital seizures

Visual hallucinations are the hallmark of occipital seizures, but are not invariably present. Hallucinations typically commence in the visual field contralateral to the affected visual cortex and then spread to involve the entire visual field.

Elementary visual seizures are characterized by fleeting visual manifestations which may be either positive (flashes, phosphenes) or, less commonly, negative (scotoma, hemianopia, amaurosis).

Positive phenomena are usually flashes of colour or light, which are simple in shape and may be static or mobile. If the occipito‐temporal cortex is involved, the visual hallucinations become complex and colourful, and scenes of varying complexity may be ‘seen’.

Perceptive illusions may occur, which are classified as simple or complex. Simple illusions are where objects appear distorted and seem to have changed in size (macropsia or micropsia), shape (metamorphopsia), illumination, colour or clarity. Lines may appear wavy (dysmorphopsia), objects may appear inclined (plagiopsic) and there may be a loss of colour (achromatopsia).

Complex illusions are where objects appear disorientated in distance (macroproxiopia, microtelepsia), appear to be distant and minute (teleopsia), appear to have a loss or enhancement of stereoscopic vision, or are persistent or recurrent (palinopsia).

brain.oxfordjournals.org...


edit on 13-3-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 04:59 PM
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"Whether or not this was a pandemonium of fen fires or a gathering of gleaming creatures shall not be my decision [or: judgement].


This to me is very telling. It seems to reflect that Goethe was more than prepared to add his poetic touch to describing what he saw and that he held a reservoir of knowledge that might have allowed him to articulate his experience, yet he leaves us with one final sentence stating that he will suspend his disbelief. What a stud. He could have made just about anything up or simply been swept away by emotion.






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