Hauffe, Frederica (1801-1829)
Hauffe, Frederica (1801-1829)
"The Seeress of Prevorst," as described in Die Seherin von Prevorst (1829) by Justinus Kerner. Hauffe was born in the village of Prevorst near Löwenstein, Wüttemburg, Germany, in 1801. She married in 1819, and from that time until her death ten years later she was bedridden, subject to various ailments. She had convulsive fits and became rigid like a corpse; in this state she was possessed by spirits. She saw clairvoyantly, made predictions, and exhibited a wide range of psychic phenomena. At one time she spoke only in verse for three days. Occasionally she reportedly saw her own double, clad in white and seated on a chair, while she was lying in bed.
She drew with tremendous speed perfect geometrical designs in the dark, used the divining rod with great skill, exhibited disturbances of a poltergeist character, and communicated extraordinary revelations from the spirit world. The spirits of the dead were said to be in constant attendance on her and allegedly were occasionally seen by others. Kerner himself once observed in her bedroom a grey pillar of cloud that seemed to have a head. Kerner also recorded an instance of Hauffe's seeing with the stomach, which is related to eyeless sight.
Troubled spirits of the dead came to Hauffe for help and disclosed secrets of the doings on Earth that had made them restless. They made various noises, rapped, threw things about, pulled off Hauffe's boots with violence (in Kerner's presence), extinguished the nightlight, and made the candle glow.
Hauffe taught while in a trance state, primarily emphasizing the triune doctrine of body, soul, and spirit. She taught that the soul is clothed by an ethereal body ("Nervengeist") that carries on the vital processes when the body is in trance and the soul wanders about. After death it withdraws with the soul but later decays and leaves the soul free.
The unique part of the spiritual revelations of the Seeress of Prevorst consisted of her description of systems of circles—sun circles and life circles—corresponding to spiritual conditions and the passage of time. They were illustrated by amazing diagrams. The interpretation was furnished partly by ciphers, partly by words of a primeval language written in primitive ideographs. On the basis of these revelations, a mystic circle was founded and members claimed that the teachings disclose analogies with the philosophical ideas of Pythagoras, Plato, and others. They issued a journal, Blätter aus Prevorst, 12 volumes of which were published from 1832 to 1839.
The "universal language" described by the Seeress of Prevorst compares, as in the case of John Dee, with Hebrew. A philologist also discovered in it a resemblance to Coptic and Arabic. Hauffe claimed that it was the language of the inner life. The written characters, preserved by Kerner, were always connected with numbers. Some of them are as complicated as an Egyptian hieroglyph. Hauffe said that the words with numbers had a much deeper significance than those without numbers. In this respect the language had affinity with Hebrew gematria, a forerunner of modern numerology. The names of things in this language expressed the properties and qualities of the things. Hauffe spoke it quite fluently and in time her listeners vaguely understood her. Kerner quoted a few words of the language in his book.
In 1823 Hauffe gave birth to a child who was also seized with spasms and convulsions and died within a few months. In January 1829 Hauffe, in trance state, announced that she had only four months to live, but in spite of severe illness she was still living in May. She stated, "It is hard to know the moment of one's death" and continued to see visions of specters and a coffin. Three days before her death she stated that she could not endure another three days. She died August 5, 1829.
Kerner, Justinus. Die Seherin von Prevorst. 1829. Abridged and translated as The Seeress of Prevorst. London, 1845. Reprint, Stuttgart: J. F. Steinkopf, 1963.
Smith, Eleanor Touhey. Psychic People. New York: William Morrow, 1968.