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Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell


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Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

"From endless experiments made in haunted houses, I have proved to my own satisfaction, at least, that the cat acts as a thoroughly reliable psychic barometer.

"The dog is sometimes unaware of the proximity of the Unknown. When the ghost materializes or in some other way demonstrates its advent, the dog, occasionally, is wholly undisturbed--the cat never. I have never yet had a cat with me that has not shown the most obvious signs of terror and uneasiness both before and during a superphysical manifestation.

"Now, although I won't go so far as to say that ghostly demonstrations are actually dependent on the moon--that they occur only on nights when the moon is visible--experience has led me to believe that the moon most certainly does influence them--that moonlight nights are much more favourable to ghostly appearances than other nights. Hence--there is this much in common between the moon and cats--the one influences and the other is influenced by psychic phenomena--a fact that could scarcely have failed to be recognized by so keen observers of the occult as the Ancient Egyptians.

"The presence of the cat's effigy in the temples of Isis might thus be explained. Over and over again we come across the cat in the land of the Pharaohs. It seems to be inseparable from the esoteric side of Egyptian life. The goddess Bast is depicted with a cat's head, holding the sistrum, i.e. the symbol of the world's harmony, in her hand.

"One of the most ancient symbols of the cat is to be found in the Necropolis of Thebes, which contains the tomb of Hana (who probably belonged to the Eleventh Dynasty). There, Hana is depicted standing erect, proud and kingly, with his favourite cat Borehaki--Borehaki, the picture of all things strange and psychic, and from whom one cannot help supposing he may have chosen his occult inspiration--at his feet. So sure were the Egyptians that the cat possessed a soul that they deemed it worthy of the same funeral rites they bestowed on man. Cats were embalmed, and innumerable cat mummies have been discovered in wooden coffins at Bubastis, Speos, Artemidos and Thebes. When a cat died the Egyptians shaved their eyebrows, not only to show grief at the loss of their loved one, but to avert subsequent misfortune.

"So long as a cat was in his house the Egyptian felt safe from inimical supernatural influences, but if there was no cat in the house at night, then any undesirable from the occult world might visit him. Indeed, in such high esteem did the Egyptians hold the cat, that they voluntarily incurred the gravest risks when its life was in peril. No one of them appreciated the cat and set a higher value on its mystic properties than the Sultan El-Daher-Beybas, who reigned in A.D. 1260, and has been compared with William of Tripoli for his courage, and with Nero for his cruelty. El-Daher-Beybas kept his palace swarming with cats, and--if we may give credence to tradition--was seldom to be seen unaccompanied by one of these animals. When he died, he left the proceeds from the product of a garden to support his feline friends--an example that found many subsequent imitators. Indeed, until comparatively recently in Cairo, cats were regularly fed, between noon and sunset, in the outer court of the Mehkemeh.

"In Geneva, Rome and Constantinople, though cats were generally deemed to have souls and to possess psychic properties, they were thought to derive them from evil sources, and so strong was the prejudice against these unfortunate animals on this account, that all through the Middle Ages we find them suffering such barbaric torture as only the perverted minds of a fanatical, priest-ridden people could devise (which treatment, no doubt, partly, at all events, accounts for the many palaces, houses, etc., in those particular countries, stated to have been haunted by the spirits of cats).

"The devil was popularly supposed to appear in the shape of a black Tom in preference to assuming any other guise, and the bare fact of an old woman being seen, once or twice, with a black cat by her side was quite sufficient to earn for her the reputation of a witch. It would be idle, of course, to expect people in these unmeditative times to believe there was ever the remotest truth underlying these so-called phantastic suppositions of the past; yet, according to reliable testimony, there are, at the present moment, many houses in England haunted by phantasms in the form of black cats, of so sinister and hostile an appearance, that one can only assume that unless they are the actual spirits of cats, earthbound through cruel and vicious propensities, they must be vice-elementals, i.e. spirits that have never inhabited any material body, and which have either been generated by vicious thoughts, or else have been attracted elsewhere to a spot by some crime or vicious act once perpetrated there. Vice-elemental is merely the modern name for fiend or demon.