- Religion and Philosophy
Animals Of The Supernatural Kind
Within the field of paranormal research there is a lot of focus on human spirits, ghosts and hauntings. Animals sometimes get a passing mention.
However, when we delve deeper into the legends and stories of supernatural animals, it’s surprising how many reports there are. These encounters, relating to non-human spirits, are fascinating, at times puzzling and often frightening.
In addition, the ghostly encounters include not only our common animals such as dogs, cats, horses, birds and so on - many people also claim to have observed creatures that are often believed to be demonic in nature.
The spirits of birds
Some of the most curious supernatural cases relate to birds. There’s a wealth of folklore written about our feathered friends from all over the world. Here are just a couple of 'bird' hauntings that should help to get the goose bumps rising!
Demonic Bird - Cornwall, England
The Punch Bowl Inn has a long association with the paranormal. At this particular hostelry there is an alleged haunting of a demonic black bird - thought to be a cockerel - that mysteriously appeared after the death of a local minister. Many claim that the demonic bird – that’s believed to have attacked people - is the soul of this angry man of the church.
Legend states that he died after falling down his cellar steps. There are stories however, that it wasn’t an accident but murder. Rumours spread that the curate of the parish was in love with the minister's beautiful wife and so murdered his superior. Knowing this, the angry spirit of the minister is not at peace and returns in the shape of a bird.
The most curious thing about this story is why the minister should have chosen the form of a bird?
The Hapsburg Curse - Haunted By Ravens
There is no doubt that the mighty Hapsburg dynasty was plagued by ill fortune - from its early beginnings centuries ago up until the beginning of the 20th.
The source for their ill luck is alleged to relate to the killing of thousands of ravens. This cruel act was carried out in a nesting sanctuary. The sanctuary was set up by one of the founding members of the family - thought to be Gontran-de-Riche, Count of Altenbourg.
The nesting tower was erected in gratitude to the birds that had saved his life from a group of vultures.
When the massacre of the ravens occurred - about a 100 or so years after the Count of Altenbourg founded the nesting tower - it is said that the Hapsburgs became cursed and haunted by supernatural ravens called turnfalkens.
The stories tell how these ravens suddenly appeared mysteriously at the Hapsburg's castles. The family would then know that one of them was about to die.
In addition, the ravens were often accompanied by a white female ghost, alleged to be wraith-like in appearance. Her presence was also held to spell doom for the family.
It is believed that during the execution of Marie Antoinette - who was a Hapsburg - the turnfalkan followed her procession from the jail where she was held, to the guillotine. After she was decapitated it’s alleged that large numbers of ravens flew and screeched over the execution site. This creepy event has allegedly been repeated just prior to the deaths of other Hapsburg family members.
More animal spirits
Animal hauntings, although not as widespread as the human variety, are well documented. The most common animals to be encountered are dogs, cats, birds and horses but many other species have also been recorded. Here are just a few of the many thousands of spirit animals that have been witnessed over the years.
RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, England.
One of the most famous pilots of World War II is of course Wing Commander Guy Gibson.
However, just as celebrated was his black Labrador dog. The dog was really a mascot for the RAF base during the war years, particularly for the Wing Commander's own squadron - 617 squadron. The dog was cared for by everyone not just Guy Gibson himself.
It was a tragedy when the dog was accidentally killed on the main road outside the base, just prior to the famous 'Dam Busters' raid. Although Gibson was obviously distressed over the loss of his pet he kept its death secret so as not to demoralise his team.
However, after the dog's death, throughout the war years and beyond, the friendly black Labrador was spotted by many people making its usual way, tail wagging, throughout the RAF base. The dog was not transparent, but looked solid, before it would simply vanish into thin air.
Northern England - exact location unknown
A nurse related this story of a patient she had once cared for who was terminally ill.
Just before the patient’s death he was moved back to his beloved home. His pet dog, called Pepper, had been given to a family 10 miles away as the frail owner could no longer look after him.
The nurse related that just minutes before her patient died, the room suddenly went very cold. She then heard him say, “Come on Pepper, time to go”.
The patient died about two minutes later. A few minutes after this, a family friend telephoned to say that the patient's pet dog Pepper had died about five minutes previously.
Did the dog, which may have died due to missing his owner, come back to his home in order to be with his human companion in the afterlife?
Drumlanrig Castle - Dumfriesshire, Scotland
There are many hauntings that involve more unusual pets. Drumlanrig Castle was reported to be haunted by not only human ghosts but also by a monkey or ape.
In accounts and letters dating from the 1700's there are descriptions of an area of the castle known as the 'haunted room' or the 'yellow monkey room'. From the dates of these letters onwards there have been numerous accounts of a monkey-like creature being seen moving around the castle corridors.
During World War I the castle was used as a military hospital. The spirit of the monkey was encountered by a nurse who was sleeping within the haunted room. She was so terrified by the apparition that she resigned the next day.
Drumlanrig is still one of the holdings of the Duke of Buccleuch and many members of his family have also had ghostly encounters with this strange pet. In addition it may seem odd that an animal not native to Scotland should be haunting a Scottish Castle. However, in days gone by, it was the fashion to have exotic pets from distant lands about your home.
The Tower of London, London, England.
There are a number of animal ghosts that have been reported over the centuries within the formidable Tower of London.
It might seem strange that a fortress such as the Tower should have animal ghosts. However, in the past, this haunted monument held a menagerie of animals for entertainment purposes.
One of the animal ghosts encountered is that of a large bear. This apparition was so frightening that it's said to have caused the death of a sentry on guard duty in January of either 1815 or 1816. When this unfortunate man saw the apparition it was so life-like that he jabbed his bayonet at it. However, the knife went through the animal and jammed in a wooden door on the other side. He was found by colleagues in a collapsed, frightened state. Nevertheless, he was able to relate his story that was confirmed by another soldier on duty at the same time. Sadly, the terrified sentry is reported to have died of shock a day or so after the incident.
Not So Nice Kitty Cats?
Most of the hauntings involving lovable pets are warm and benign as you would expect. However, in the following cases, we have accounts of some kitties that were not friendly at all.
The Dower House. Killackee in Ireland
When restoration work was being carried out on the house in the 1960s the workmen complained of overwhelming feelings of being watched.
After a time it was not only uncomfortable sensations the workmen experienced, in addition, the apparition of a black cat started to manifest.
This was no ordinary cat however, being described as very large - about the size of a Collie. The phenomenon developed further when noises in the forms of growls were also heard.
The owner of the house -artist Margaret O'Brian - was very sceptical about the claims until one day she too saw the ghostly cat. The house was subsequently exorcised but this did not work entirely. The apparition continued to be seen for some time after the cleansing.
The sightings finally grew less especially after renovation work had stopped.
The Gypsy King's Cat
St. Michael's Church in Rossington is the burial place of James Boswell who spent a lot of time, like Robin Hood, living in Sherwood Forest helping travellers and gypsies. He was even granted the official title of King of the Gypsies.
It is said his grave was opened up so that his black cat could be buried with him, the animal having died just a few months after its owner. The spirit of the cat roams around the area - although the exact location of the grave is now lost.
When the apparition makes itself known, noises are heard first. The cat is said to hiss and snarl at witnesses, just prior to the appearance of a shadowy shape, that transforms itself into a black or silhouette of a cat.
In the above accounts we notice that the cats didn't seem all that friendly. However, it should be remembered that cats can be very protective both of their owners and the homes they occupy. It’s possible that these 'kitties' were just guarding their territory against perceived intruders.
The physical or spiritual form doesn't seem to matter to cats - they still continue to protect what they regard as theirs!
Do you believe that all animals have a spirit form just like humans?
There are a surprising number of ghost horse encounters. They can take many forms such as the ghostly carriages drawn by spirit horses that are sometimes headless. Many cases also relate to 'white horses' in particular. In addition to the animal being seen, we also have the phantom lone rider with their horse, who vanishes as mysteriously as they appear.
These cases are so numerous that they could fill a book, so I've chosen a small sample of reports that are fairly typical, to illustrate this phenomena.
Ghost Horses of Bramham Park - Yorkshire, England
There is not one ghostly horse haunting Bramham Park but a group. Having said this there are many more accounts of the horses being heard rather than seen.
However, observers who’ve had visual contact, describe the horses as being unusually large and very light in colour. The manes are very long and flowing as is their tales. What is more interesting is that they appear solid and no one has realised that anything was unusual until the horses suddenly vanish without trace.
Some believe that the horses are related to the battle of Bramham Moor that took place in 1408.
The White Horse of Edgehill - Warwickshire, England
This spiritual white horse has been seen on numerous occasions galloping over fields. The area in question lies close to the site of the Battle of Edgehill of 1642.
This was of course the time of the English Civil War and there are a couple of theories about who the horse might have belonged to.
Some accounts suggest that the animal belonged to Prince Rupert. However, others propose that the horse's owner was a Captain Kingsmill who was slain on the battlefield.
Of course neither of these theories need be correct and it certainly remains an enigma as to where the horse is going or who it belonged to. What witnesses do say is that the animal appears as solid as any flesh and blood horse and nothing seems unusual until it disappears into thin air.
Welsh Ghost Horse - Colybe Bay, Wales.
Wales is rich with mythology and ghosts. Among the stories of phantoms and spirits there are a number involving animals and horses in particular.
The following account is one that has been witnessed on a few occasions and remains a mystery today.
Driving along the small back roads, drivers have had to slam on their brakes and brace for impact as a huge, white horse appears from over a hedge and crosses in front of the vehicle. The horse is so large that it fills the windscreen. But just as a collision is expected the horse vanishes without trace.
Interestingly, this particular ghost horse always seems to be encountered early in the morning rather than any other time of day.
I hope you've enjoyed this article about supernatural animals and if you have any of your own stories then please share them with us in the comments section.
©August 2013 Seeker7 (H M Howell)