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  • Brandon Massullo

That donkey just saw a ghost!

I know what you are thinking … how does this ass … know that ass … saw a ghost?

Just let that joke marinate for a bit … good stuff

I promise that’s the last “ass” joke I will use when describing the donkey’s ghostly encounter.

Many of us understand that ghostly phenomena are not exclusive to humans. There are countless reports of animals witnessing apparitions or experiencing haunt-type phenomena. However, in my experience, it is often cats and dogs who are believed to have the most paranormal experiences. When I came across an encounter in which a donkey supposedly saw a crisis apparition, I knew immediately that I to share this with the world.

The following is the account taken from Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (Vol 5; 453-454). It should be noted that the account took place in 1869 and in an effort to improve flow I updated some language and terminology.

“At Midsummer, 1869, I left London for Naples. Crossing by steamer, I slept one night at Casamicciola, on the coast, and walked next morning into the town of Ischia ... I fetched my small amount of luggage by help of a man, who returned with me on foot beside an animal which I rode—one of the fine, sure-footed, big donkeys of the country. When I arrived at the hotel, I was sitting perfectly still in my saddle talking to the landlady when the donkey went down upon his knees as if he had been shot or struck by lightning, throwing me over his head upon the lava pavement" ... In an effort to save myself my right hand was badly injured. It soon became swollen and very painful."

"Three or four days after my accident I awoke, as it seemed, at the sound of my own voice, saying: "I know I have lost my dearest little May." Another voice, which I in no way recognized, answered: " No, not May, but your youngest boy." The distinctness and solemnity of the voice made such a distressing impression upon me that I slept no more. I got up at daybreak, and went out, noticing for the first-time telegraph-poles and wires. Without delay I communicated with the postmaster at Naples, and by next boat received two letters from home. I opened them according to dates outside. The first told me that my youngest boy was taken suddenly ill; the second, that he was dead.”

Mr. Goodall’s son was not sick or ill when he left for his trip and he had no reason to suspect that his son could die. Based on the information in the letters that he received from home. Mr. Goodall’s impression was that the time of his son’s death coincided with the time of his accident on the donkey.

Mr. Goodall believed that the mule's sudden fall—otherwise inexplicable—may have been due to terror at some apparition of the dying child. In other words, the donkey saw an apparition of Mr. Goodall’s son at the time of his death which freighted the donkey so much he threw Mr. Goodall to the ground. If true, this would be an example of a crisis apparition which are commonly reported phenomena. Crisis apparitions involve witnessing an apparition or other haunt-type phenomena (voice, touch, smell) which coincide with a family member or friend’s death or crisis.In this case the apparition was obviously not meant for the donkey, but rather the son's father. Somehow the message was sent however the father didn't receive it, but unfortunately for the donkey it did.

Here is another example of a crisis apparition which involves a prominent lawyer and his horse.

" While camping out in the wilds of the Adirondacks, one day his horse became, excited and refused to advance when urged. While engaged in the contest with the horse, the lawyer saw before him the apparition of his friend with blood pouring from his mouth, and in an interval of the effusion he heard him say, ' I have nothing against you.' Soon afterwards he heard that his friend had at that time died during a discharge of blood from the lungs” … “The extraordinary features are the coincidence of time and manner between the vision and the death, with the added circumstance of the alarm of the horse previous to the apparition. (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol 5, 454)

In other words, both the lawyer and his horse witnessed the apparition of the lawyer's friend with blood pouring out of his mouth. At the time of this apparition his friend had died and discharged blood from his lungs.

Crisis apparitions are remarkable and provide great evidence of the survival hypothesis, entanglement, telepathy, or any type of communication at a distance during crisis or traumatic events. What are the odds that someone sees an apparition that coincides with a friend or family member’s death or trauma? What is even more amazing in the case above is that not only did the person connected to the deceased see the apparition but the horse saw it as well. This means that the apparition was not subjective, a hallucination, or created by the lawyer's subconscious as there were two separate witnesses. What are the odds of that happening by chance? Even more amazing is in the case of the donkey, the human actually never saw the apparition.

The moral of the story is:

If you see a ghost … don’t be an ass and tell somebody.


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