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Premonition or a foreboding feeling is a common experience. There are many reports from witnesses when it comes to strange occurrences in the woods or mysterious missing cases. People tell that they had a certain premonition about something bad which could happen. Some have even a sudden feeling of panic. According to many experiences we hear over time premonition save sometimes somebody’s life. Most prominent are the testimonies of people which avoided a certain journey or avoided to to a certain thing. They avoided to board the Titanic or didn’t get on an airplane which later crashed. Sometimes they miss a train purposely and later the train has an accident. Mountain climbers avoid a climb on a certain day because they have a bad feeling. It’s hard to tell if these accounts are really true or if they were only coincidences. The “Final Destination” franchise used that phenomenon as a central motive.

However, what is for sure that these kind of feelings or premonitions exist in a way. Sometimes you wake up the morning and there is that anxiety and that certain feeling something has happened or is about to happen. It may just be a feeling but sometimes there is a truth in it when we look back at that day or that certain morning later. We knew something was going on. It could be life changing events as a war starting or more personal things like some news about a relative arriving later the day.

Prophetic dreams

Premonition happens on many levels. There are also prophetic dreams and the well known phenomenon of precognition. These experiences are not so much about a feeling. They are more distinct. It is about events of the future. These events are presented either in a symbolic way or as images which tell what will happen. Premonition can be about something which will happen very soon, even in next moment. But it could be happen in a distant future too.

This is of course an even more well known thing. Premonition leads to prophecies. The people who had that premonition or which had “seen” something are called prophets. Religious scripture established that model in our culture. It is obvious that this phenomenon dates much further back in times. Premonitions are visionary experiences. Shamans saw what will happen in the future during their otherworldly journeys.

A very typical thing are prophetic dreams. Very often people think what they dream will happen in some way in the future. These future events are often seen in a distorted or metaphorical way.

It is notable that so-called alien abduction accounts or near death experiences are also full about visions about events in the future. They are modern counterparts of the shaman’s journey.

Apocalyptic Content

Very often there is an apocalyptic content portrayed in these premonitions. There is a long tradition from religious scripture too. The archetype of apocalypse is established in the book of revelation. There is often a lot of material in modern “accounts” which seems somehow similar or borrowed from the book of revelation.

Modern prophets as the visionaries from the alpine region, from the Bavarian Forest or south-east Europe predicted World War I and World War II. There are many visions about an apocalyptic Third World War including nuclear doomsday scenarios. They often mention certain signs occurring as harbingers of the apocalypse. Nature is changed as for example the forest should be damaged or society is falling apart. Some of these reports or their originators are questionable. Often there is no documentation when something was said in the first place. Or the premonitions are vague like a lot of the famous Nostradamus predictions. They could be interpreted in many ways.

Emanuel Swedenborg

But there are well documented cases too like the Swedenborg visions. Emanuel Swedenborg was a philosopher, mystic, theologian and scientist. He lived from 8 February 1688 til 29 March 1772. The well known fire anecdote is not exactly a premonition. It was something he saw before the inner eye whereas a fire broke out in Stockholm on 19 July 1759 far away from where he stayed. Swedenborg was about 400 km from Stockholm in Gothenburg. During dinner he suddenly became agitated and told friends there is a fire in Stockholm. During that time there was of course no TV or telephone. News travelled slow. It is one of the best documented cases. Swedenborg was also ahead of his time in many ways.

Swiss psychologist Jung had a premonition in 1914 shortly before the beginning of World War I when he dreamed about rivers of blood in Europe. In more modern times psychics reported visions about climate change and disasters.

Stories about strange events in dark forests are full of premonitions. And the forest seems to be a place which is more common for people to have strange foreboding feelings, visions about the future and premonitions. A famous prophet in the Bavarian Forest, the “Muehlhiasl” received his apocalyptic visions at a certain place in the forest, the “Rabenstein”.

Shamans are walking and disappearing in the woods for the days to get visions about the futures. It is hard to tell what the truth here is. Do some people have a certain gift, a talent or a certain sense which allows them to see into other dimensions or into the future? It seems that nearly everybody has an experience with ominous foreboding feelings or some sort of premonition. Perhaps this is a very healthy instinct. It is more alive deep in the woods or deep in the wilderness. It might be a survival instinct.

However what does that mean in the end of the day? If we can feel or foresee potential events in the future our common model of reality must be wrong in some way. Is it all about superstition? Not necessarily. If we look into models of a reality which consists of many dimensions time is not what we think. Think of the Fifth dimension in Interstellar. “Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds, fire walk with me!” (David Lynch, Twin Peaks).

Peter Engelmann, March 31.03.2022