Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Ghost Critters: Real and Unreal
Folklore (feline or otherwise) abounds with ghost stories. Human ghosts are popular among people, as one might readily suspect, but they also seem to like animal ghost stories. There are shelves of these types of books, but one that caught my eye is . . .
"Ghostlorist" Randy Russell has collected and retold 22 kitty ghost tales (or tails?) that are bound to raise the hairs on the back of your necks (or backs, if you're a cat). Much folklore consists of legendary accounts of haunted places or spectral figures that witnesses claim were authentic, sensory experiences. As the tales are passed along, they evolve into more convoluted descriptions, infused with fictions and exaggerations until the legend is larger than life. Russell's recountings are fictionalized, to be sure, but whether based on fact or fancy, they are fun to read and are a little scary to boot!
Kim Sheridan, however, delivers her stories squarely in a nonfictional vein. Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends' Journey Beyond Death, which received Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year award, presents accounts from "everyday," regular people who have experienced a paranormal encounter with the purported spirits of their deceased beloved pets. The book is sure to stir the emotions of anyone who has loved and lost a cat, slobberdog, horsey, or even a scamper-runt (rat--ed.) or a swimming dinner (fish--ed.).
Artist Raymond Bayless spent much of his professional life researching the paranormal, and among his many books is Animal Ghosts. Like Sheridan's work, Bayless relates a multitude of case studies suggestive of animal survival of bodily death, but Bayless applies a more scientific approach to his analysis of the data.
Joshua P. Warren, a paranormal investigator best known for his television and radio programs about the supernatural, also has employed scientific methods to study cases involving animal apparitions. He interviews animal experts and suggests techniques that readers may use to discover, record, and contact a deceased pet's surviving spirit.
Human skeptics, naturally, are quick to guffaw and do not hesitate to shrug away such reports as hallucinations, misperceptions, outright frauds, or by-products of overheated imaginations. The authors invite readers to be open-minded and to critically and rationally evaluate their information. That seems fair to me. "Don't dismiss your dinner before it's served." (Kitty Proverb #647, Book of Feline Wisdom.)
(Okay, I just made that proverb up. But, you have to admit, it sounds fairly cool.) By the way, you may find each of these books at my library (click here to search our catalog) or other libraries in the Evergreen Indiana consortium.
Lots of humans grieve when they lose a beloved family member. I can understand that. All intelligent life forms establish emotional attachments to one another, and it is perfectly natural to mourn. Most people, however, can only see a very narrow band of the visible light spectrum. Felines and slobberdogs, on the other paw, can see higher and lower vibrations. That's why we often stare into space looking at apparently nothing. But, rest assured, we see plenty. Ask us to elaborate sometime. We are most talkative when served canned tuna in oil (remember to use the good china or crystal).
Seeing More Than You Might Imagine,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Paranormal News Beat