Ghostvillage.com author interview
Joshua P. Warren wrote his first book when he was only 13 years old. Since then he’s had eight more published and has gone on to become one of the preeminent researchers of the paranormal. Pet Ghosts is Warren’s latest book and it explores not such the lore and legends of animal specters, but the ways and means that we are reaching out to the spirits of our pets.
What got you interested in the ghosts of animals? Did you everexperience the ghost of one of your own pets?
Joshua P. Warren: A few years ago, my team and I visited a farm in Lancaster, South Carolina that was overrun with animal ghosts — or phantimals — even those of dinosaurs! This location has a terrible history, so it seems as though it may be a sort of “warp” or portal where apparitions can more easily materialize. This place opened my mind to the scope of animal ghosts, and I wrote a chapter about it in Pet Ghosts.
However, things took a personal twist when my dog, a miniature dachshund named Nellie, died. For a week afterward, I could hear her shrill whimpering in the house. I used the opportunity to turn my house in a laboratory, studying the environment with a wide variety of equipment. I was able to detect a number of objective anomalies, proving my perception of the ghost was not purely a subjective experience.
The subject of ghosts can be touchy within the context of some belief systems. Did you run into any trouble with the religiously-inclined who were doubly offended at the notion that animals may also have a spirit?
Indeed, I’ve been criticized by some people of faith who insist animals have no “soul,” and to suggest otherwise demeans humans. I couldn’t disagree more. First off, regardless of how a soul or spirit is defined, it is not always necessary for one to exist in fueling ghostly activity. After all, phantoms of ships, cars, trains, and other inanimate objects are reported. This demonstrates that sometimes we may be seeing an imprint of the past, and the “life force” of the original item is irrelevant. But regardless, when humans and animals are placed under the microscope, there’s nothing to scientifically suggest we are fundamentally different. We are all primarily composed of the same physical matter. The egocentric attitude some people have may simply be founded on arrogance and ignorance.
In Pet Ghosts, you provide details on how to document the spirits of our pets. Do you think ghost hunting has a place in part of the grieving process?
To conduct scientific research, presented for public scrutiny, grieving can become a problem. It’s seen as warping one’s perception of the event, reducing the investigation to an exercise in wishful thinking, hoping the pet is not really dead. However, the common person who does not care about public scrutiny often finds these investigative techniques comforting and therapeutic if evidence of the pet ghost is attained. Simple household items, like a compass, fluorescent light bulb, or dehumidifier, can be used to help experience a phantimal. If one gains evidence of a dead pet’s ghost, it may not only help with mourning, but also place our own deaths in perspective.
Where does animal ghost hunting end and cryptozoology start? (i.e. what’s the difference between looking for the ghost of your deceased dog and hunting for Bigfoot?)
Whether or not the subject of your investigation is considered within the zoological or cryptozoological area can most simply be addressed by this: if a specimen of the creature, living or dead, is kept at a public facility (e.g. zoo or university) it’s zoological. Otherwise, it’s cryptozoological. The difficult part about researching cryptids is that sometimes crypitds are purely physical, biological organisms, but in other cases some researchers speculate they might be semi-physical forms, creatures that slip between our realm and some other; maybe even the ghosts of extinct animals. Evidence for some mysterious creatures, like bigfoot, is so inconsistent that considering the possibility they are phantimals could explain a lot: whether or not this is correct remains to be seen.
Pets can become like members of our families, so it’s understandable how attached we can get to our little critters. Do you believe in most cases the spirits of our pets hang around for a while or are we dealing with thought projections mixed with grief from the pet owners?
It’s impossible to say, based upon the physical evidence alone, that conscious, aware, interactive spirits of pets are coming back to visit. Currently, our ability to document anomalies, and then interpret those anomalies effectively, is compromised by the level of our technology. However, if we are to give credence to eyewitness testimonies — people who say they have seen and fully interacted with pet ghosts — we can assume a pet may be more prone to come back based on how we treat them in life. Generally, we take care of all our pets needs: food, water, housing, etc. This makes pets particularly vulnerable since they depend on us so greatly. Therefore, upon death and tangible separation from us, you can see why the pet may be especially confused. It might definitely come looking to us for answers, just as it always did in physical life. But oftentimes, after around a week, the phantimal disappears, perhaps having finally accepted its fate away from the owner. If these are thought projections, we have no way of telling the difference as we do not understand how telepathy works.
How are some people reaching out to the spirits of their pets?
Aside from using simple tools and techniques as previously mentioned, the most basic format involves treating the pet as if it is not dead. If you take out your pet’s favorite foods, treats, toys, etc. and place them at those areas your pet frequented in life, you may enhance your chances of having the pet return. Turn down the lights at night, turn on a dehumidifier, and set the stage. There are many approaches, some technical, some not, and options are addressed in detail in Pet Ghosts.
Who is Pet Ghosts written for?
Pet Ghosts is written for anyone fascinated with the difference between living and non-living subjects. I’ve broken down the theories to the smallest levels, looking to single-celled organisms like amoebas (without brains, eyes, and mouths, yet seeming alive) compared to more complex ones like humans, and all in-between. It’s not just a book about cats and dogs; it really about non-human apparitions, even exploring the fringes like bigfoot, lake monsters, and mothman. This book investigates the nature of physicality and non-physicality in relation to the living and non-living. It’s written for people who want a possible model of reality in addition to those who merely want tips on the best way to experience an animal ghost. Altogether, this is the most comprehensive book I’ve ever written on ghostly phenomena.
Do you believe some ghost hunters today are confusing the spirits of animals and people in their investigations? Is it always possible to tell the difference in the phenomena?
I would say investigators confuse human and animal ghosts all the time. Without a visual, or some prior knowledge of what the phantom is supposed to be, it would be almost impossible for the average researcher to tell a difference. This is a testament to just how similar humans and animals really are.
What’s in your CD player right now?
I’m listening to some of Billy Joel’s greatest hits — wonderful stuff!
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