Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The "ghostly affinity" of human and animal

Carol recently posted a moving account in a comment on this blog of how she previewed the death of a beloved family dog and saw him living a happy new life in spirit, frisky as a puppy. She was able to share this dream with family members she visited on the day the dog passed on, and they all received comfort and the sense of blessing from this.

The famous Victorian writer H. Rider Haggard, author of King Solomon's Mines, She, and other grand tales of adventure, was also a psychic researcher and an active dreamer. He sent the Times of London a long letter recounting his own foreknowledge, through a dream, of the death of a dog he liked. Rider Haggard's most interesting account adds to the voluminous data bank of recorded instances of psychic dreaming. I trust that at some point the dossier will be so vast that those sleep researchers and academics who persist in dismissing the evidence for such phenomena as "anecdotal" will be obliged to recognize the facts of dreaming, as active dreamers have always known them:

On the night of Saturday, July 9 [1904], I went to bed about 12.30, and suffered from what I took to be a nightmare. I was awakened by my wife's voice calling to me from her own bed upon the other side of the room.

I dreamed that a black retriever dog, a most amiable and intelligent beast named Bob, which was the property of my eldest daughter, was lying on its side among brushwood, or rough growth of some sort, by water. In my vision the dog was trying to speak to me in words, and, failing, transmitted to my mind in an undefined fashion the knowledge that it was dying. Then everything vanished, and I woke to hear my wife asking me why on earth I was making those horrible and weird noises. I replied that I had had a nightmare about a fearful struggle, and that I had dreamed that old Bob was in a dreadful way, and was trying to talk to me and to tell me about it.

On the Sunday morning Mrs. Rider Haggard told the tale at breakfast, and I repeated my story in a few words. Thinking that the whole thing was nothing more than a disagreeable dream, I made no inquiries about the dog and never learned even that it was missing until that Sunday night, when my little girl, who was in the habit of feeding it, told me so. At breakfast-time, I may add, nobody knew that it was gone, as it had been seen late on the previous evening. Then I remembered my dream, and the following day inquiries were set on foot.

To be brief, on the morning of Thursday, the 14th, my servant, Charles Bedingfield, and I discovered the body of the dog floating in the Waveney against a weir about a mile and a quarter away. On Friday, the 15th, I was going into Bungay when at the level crossing on the Bungay road I was hailed by two plate-layers, who are named respectively George Arterton and Harry Alger. These men informed me that the dog had been killed by a train, and took me on a trolly down to a certain open-work bridge which crosses the water between Ditchingham and Bungay, where they showed me evidence of its death.

This is the sum of their evidence: It appears that about 7 o'clock upon the Monday morning, very shortly after the first train had passed, in the course of his duties Harry Alger was on the bridge, where he found a dog's collar torn off and broken by the engine (since produced and positively identified as that worn by Bob), coagulated blood, and bits of flesh, of which remnants he cleaned the rails. On search also I personally found portions of black hair from the coat of a dog. On the Monday afternoon and subsequently his mate saw the body of the dog floating in the water beneath the bridge, whence it drifted down to the weir, it having risen with the natural expansion of gases, such as, in this hot weather, might be expected to occur within about forty hours of death. It would seem that the animal must have been killed by an excursion train that left Ditchingham at 10.25 on Saturday night, returning empty from Harlestone a little after 11. This was the last train which ran that night. No trains run on Sunday, and it is practically certain that it cannot have been killed on the Monday morning, for then the blood would have been still fluid. Further, if it was living, the dog would almost certainly have come home during Sunday, and its body would not have risen so quickly from the bottom of the river, or presented the appearance it did on Thursday morning.

From traces left upon the piers of the bridge it appeared that the animal was knocked or carried along some yards by the train and fell into the brink of the water where reeds grow. Here, if it were still living--and, although the veterinary thinks that death was practically instantaneous, its life may perhaps have lingered for a few minutes--it must have suffocated and sunk, undergoing, I imagine, much the same sensations as I did in my dream, and in very similar surroundings to those that I saw therein--namely, amongst a scrubby growth at the edge of water.

I am forced to conclude that the dog Bob, between whom and myself there existed a mutual attachment, either at the moment of his death, if his existence can conceivably have been prolonged till after one in the morning, or, as seems more probable, about three hours after that event, did succeed in calling my attention to its actual or recent plight by placing whatever portion of my being is capable of receiving such impulses when enchained by sleep, into its own terrible position.

On the remarkable issues opened up by this occurrence I cannot venture to speak further than to say that--although it is dangerous to generalise from a particular instance, however striking and well supported by evidence, which is so rarely obtainable in such obscure cases--it does seem to suggest that there is a more intimate ghostly connection between all members of the animal world, including man, than has hitherto been believed, at any rate by Western peoples; that they may be, in short, all of them different manifestations of some central, informing life, though inhabiting the universe in such various shapes.

The matter, however, is one for the consideration of learned people who have made a study of these mysterious questions. I will only add that I ask you to publish the annexed documents with this letter, as they constitute the written testimony at present available to the accuracy of what I state. Further, I may say that I shall welcome any investigation by competent persons.

I am, your obedient servant, H. Rider Haggard. [published by The Times on July 21, 1904]


Wanda said...

I enjoyed reading this story of notice of the death of Haggard's dog, particularly since the dog was not ill or - to Haggard's knowledge - near death, which might have made his dream more suspect to his reading audience.

I have received a number of dreams through the years foretelling the death of animals in my life. One of the more remarkable was a morning after an evening when my young adventurous cat had not come home. He often stayed out for more than one evening so I was not unduly alarmed. However, on this particular morning I awoke with a firm knowledge that my cat had been killed on the road that ran in front of my house. As I was leaving the house I drove to the end of the driveway, looking toward a bridge where I had been directed to look, knowing I would see my dead cat. I saw him, took a large bag and went down to the bridge. He was heavy, but I managed to place his body in the bag and half dragged, half carried it home - crying all the way back. I called my husband to tell him the dream and to share looking toward the bridge where I saw him. No answer on the other end of the phone. Finally he said - "but you can't see the bridge from our house." "yes, you can," I replied. We argued about this. When I came home that evening, I stopped in the driveway at the place where I saw the cat and realized Ron was right. I could not see the bridge - it was in fact on a curve that was beyond my vision and was actually too far away to see from my driveway. But - in my dream and in my waking reality that morning - I saw my cat and saw the bridge.

Mia said...

Wanda, what a fanatstic story about the cat!

I haven´t dreamt of my animals in that way, but when I was 13 years old I had taken care of a horse, Victoria. She moved back to her owners and I had not seen her for several months. One day when I was looking out through a window at school I could "see" Victoria standing there, whinnying. Later I met a girl who told me that Victoria had died. I thought Victoria came and said "goodbye". A lovely black horse.

But I did dream about my dad... He passed away last year, it all went rather quickly. He fell and broke his leg, and we all were worried because we didn´t know if he was strong enough for the anasthesia. When he should do this surgery I dreamt that I was standing beside the doctor watching my dad, he was breathing, but I couldn´t get any contact with him. My tears were falling and I was worried.
In awake state, my dad made the surgery, recovered very well, and were at rehabiliation. He told me one evening whe I was visiting him: "If something happens to me, I don´t want you to laborate with me, then it´s better to leave..."
Maybe two weeks after this comment, he became very ill and he became unconsious. I think he felt that he was "on his way"...
So the last days of his life, I stood beside his bed, watch him breathe, but couldn´t get any contact with him. As I had done in my dream. I also "knew" I should stand by his side when he flew away ( I have four siblings), because we have always had that kind of contact that doesn´t need any words really...but I hear his jokes and comments still :) My kind, humoristic dad.

Valerie said...

I enjoyed this story as well and it reminded me of my cat , a story like Wanda's. Our big male cat did not come home one morning something he had done before but this time I had a gut feeling that he would not. When I took my walk with the dog I looked all around for him. My husband said he has been gone a couple of nights before, don't worry. That night I dreamt I am in my childhood home in the basement, from the laundry area came 2 people dressed in Egyptian clothing carrying a small sarcophagus( spelling ??), it had a cat sculpture on top. I opened it and there was Jake,dead. I knew he was gone. The next morning as we started our walk the dog pulled me across the street and there we found Jake up a small hill in the brush.That was about 10 years ago but the dream stuck with me, teaching me to trust my gut and dreams.

Valerie said...

wanda and mia,
I enjoyed both your stories as well.

suvasini7 said...

I love the stories everyone has shared!

I remember well my two beloved black dogs, a labrador (Zach) and lab mix (Jessica), the best friends I've ever had. They were approx the same age. When they were about 13 years old, I saw - in the morning sleep state - two beings by my bed waiting for me to wake. "We're here about your dogs," they told me. I became very alarmed. "How long do you think you'll be needing them still?" they asked. I began to cry. "I need them forever!" I said. They very kindly let me know it was not their time to go yet, but it would be soon.

Before Zach died, I dreamt of a huge beach where lots of black dogs were joyously thrashing about in the waves. I saw my old dog Prince, a lab-shepherd mix (died many years before), enjoying himself in the surf. Zach was by my side but raced over to join the other dogs, no trace of arthritis in his old hips as he dashed away.

It was six months after his death before I dreamed of him again. But when I did, I became so excited I came awake in the dream, kissing his sweet face over and over again. He wagged his whole body with happiness!

Before Jessica died, I dreamt of a beautiful enormous park with ponds and streams and tall grasses and walkways and plenty of dogs. She was with me there and she left my side to run with the other dogs.

After she died, a friend of mine told me about a trick his dog did to open door knobs with his mouth. I was very sad and we were reminiscing about our doggie guardians. That night I couldn't sleep for grief over losing her. I cried myself to sleep and had a vivid dream. Jessica was in the house wanting to go out. I followed her to the front door where she mouthed the door knob just like my friend's dog (showing me she had heard our conversation). I let her out and she began chasing a gray and white cat under a full moon. It is a cat from waking reality, I had seen in the neighborhood but he was skittish and obviously belonged to a neighbor. But after our other pets eventually died, this cat adopted me and is my cat today, our only pet.

I like to think that Jessica brought me my next pet!

Robert Moss said...

Wanda - Thanks for sharing your remarkable and moving experience of seeing the cat and the bridge you could not see (under ordinary circumstances) with both dream eyes and waking eyes. The Inuit shaman, the angakok, is credited with X-ray vision as part of his/her shaman sight (literally "shaman-light"0. It seems, that in this emotionally charged situation, you had this too.

Robert Moss said...

Mia - Thanks for sharing these deep and heart-stirring experiences. The black dog I loved deeply appeared to others in the family after his death as a seemingly physical presence, as Victoria did to you.

Dreams coach us to play soul-friends to those close to us as they embark on their journeys into life beyond life.

Robert Moss said...

Valerie - How interesting that you received the accurate dream information that Jake had died in this Egyptian mode. As you know, the Egyptians revered cats and gave many elaborate burials involving mummification.

Robert Moss said...

Cynthia - I love that dog beach and that dog park. I had black labrador mutts who adored the water and some of my happiest life memories are of walking the beach and swimming with them and throwing sticks for them to retrieve, dripping wet.

It's a beautiful thought, that Jessica may have introduced you to the cat who now shares your life.