Them and Us
by Dr Renata Bartoli
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any
more than black people were made for whites or women for men.
~ Alice Walker
In the middle of the 16th century, while the Church of Rome was caught in the storm of the Reformation and feared for its own survival, the high Roman clergy met in Trent, a small town in the Alps of North-Eastern Italy. The three popes who, one after the other, chaired the Council (which went on for 18 years) had the difficult task of finding a way to hold back the ‘heresy’ that was raging and expanding like wild-fire all over Europe.
In times as difficult for the Church as they had been difficult for Constantine in the 4th century, the establishment was struggling to survive among political and religious disagreements and diatribes.
Besides the main discussion on the integrity of the dogma, other topics were examined and debated and among them there was the old question: do women have a soul? The justification for such a doubt was of course Eve’s sin. The heated debate ended with a vote that saw the party supporting the existence of the feminine soul win by a very narrow margin.
Sadly, this deliberation, recognising a spiritual dimension to women, wasn’t enough to prevent the brutal murder (after extended, barbaric tortures) of more than nine million women, often burnt alive under the accusation of witchcraft, together with many more millions of cats who – in Christian culture – represented one of the favourite incarnations of the devil.
Mass murder of those who – because of some material interest or prejudice of the establishment – were marked as ‘different’ was not new to the Church though. In the 11th century Turold, the probable Anglo-Norman compiler of the famous Chanson de Roland, has Turpin (the fighting archbishop of the epic) say: “Christians are right and Saracens are wrong”, and this plain, unjustified statement was enough to validate and endorse any merciless killing even of unarmed and peaceful people. Arabs, Pagans, Jews, ‘heretics’ and homosexuals (who were persecuted and often burnt at the stake for centuries) fell in their thousands and sometimes millions in ‘religious’ purges.
In the mid 19th century, Northern Italy was divided into two parts: the larger part in the East was under the foreign control of the Austrians who had already abolished ghettos some time earlier. The Western part was instead the ‘free’ part, under the rule of an Italian king and in it the Jews were still forced to live in ghettos. The Italian king was preparing to attack the Austrians in order to ‘free’ those regions from ‘slavery’. However, the problem of the Jewish condition was a thorn in his side because for the Jews living under Austria the success of his campaign wouldn’t have meant freedom but the loss of it. Opinions were split and the bishops of the Italian kingdom took a very active role in the discussion of this topic and left us the inheritance of a ponderous correspondence. In it they argue (once more) about the old question: do Jews have a soul?
When the political power of the Church started to fade away, the secular governments stepped into the space it had left vacant and adopted the same methods of creating control and getting economic advantages, justifying their actions with the usual well-worn reasons.
At the beginning of the 20th century in the USA some doctors intentionally injected syphilis into the bodies of ‘negroes’ to study the evolution of the disease in order to improve the health of white people. As boring and unimaginative as it can appear, the justification was still the old one: black people were defined as ‘big apes’, not humans, and since animals do not have an immortal soul – they claimed – they can be used and disposed of at humans’ (in this case whites’) whims.
We know only too well what happened in Nazi Germany during the last war and we also know only too well how many genocides have been committed all around the world from Vietnam and Ruanda to South America and Yugoslavia – to mention just a few – using the excuse of some physical, cultural or religious difference.
Even today, in countries where human rights are supposedly applied and discrimination is officially banned in favour of equality, women, homosexuals, Jews and black people know that sneaking discrimination is never too far away in their every day life.
The common denominator of all these target groups is the fact that when the abuse is perpetrated the victims are in a position of weakness and cannot defend themselves from the violence of the stronger attacker. This means that after millennia we are still acting according to the law of the jungle which cavemen lived by. Basically the thought behind it is: “Hurting, torturing, abusing, killing you satisfies my greed, frustration and sadism, and alleviates my personal insecurity, my sense of inferiority … Because I am stronger than you are (or simply because I am protected by the law which happens to be in force at the moment) I do it. However, since I need a reason to justify my actions, firstly I shall prove that you are somehow different from me and secondly I shall prove that this difference between us makes you inferior”.
In the whole of human history the supposed lack of an eternal soul has been, if not the only, certainly the most commonly used justification for brutal and unprovoked acts of violence.
It seems that humans have a capacity for endless labelling and endless categorisations when they want to justify their lowest instincts. All this stems from a mentality based on division, while the spiritual world is based on union. A strong belief in reincarnation helps us a lot on this path, but more doors still need to be opened. A stronger awakening to the reality and omnipotence of unity that permeates the universe is needed.
During the past millennia humans have struggled to get rid of so many -isms; now, at the dawn of the third millennium, the current challenge is Speciesism, the belief that humans are superior to the other animals of this world and therefore entitled to use and abuse them as much as they like.
Of course, as usual, the first step to justify such abuse is to deny them a soul. The modern literature about the spiritual world is huge and although many books still build their old-fashioned theses on the assumption that the Afterlife is an exclusively human affair, it is encouraging and refreshing to see that more and more works are published every year providing new proof of the exact opposite. As a century ago scholars went around the world collecting stories of reincarnation and of the spiritual survival of the soul, many people are now gathering the same evidence about non-human animals. Those interested in this aspect can refer to my Bibliography where I quote several excellent works in this cutting-edge field.
In addition to this, more and more often, while channelling, psychics meet the spirits of departed animals who had been dearly loved by their clients. They are there with their human departed ones, without any difference between them at all, sending their love and affection. The fact that these encounters are now happening more and more frequently means that the time has finally come for us to enlarge our boundaries and open ourselves up more widely to the spiritual world, letting the limits of our wounded egos dissolve. In our evolution we have created so many separations but in the spiritual world union is the only way forward, and union feeds on love, compassion and a strong feeling of sharing.
Here is a door, we are now on its threshold with glimpses of what lies ahead; our spiritual guides can gently nudge us forwards, but we are the only ones who can push it wide open and walk assuredly into the healing light of love for all living forms.
The world is changing at an incredible speed nowadays and the energy of our planet is shifting fast, entering the new Age of Aquarius. This new Age is characterised by a more compassionate attitude, open to a much wider concept of friendship and fellowship. All those humans who have been lucky enough to share a part of their lives with an animal and have grieved when he or she has passed over, can finally find the reassurance that their separation is only temporary, less than a heart-beat compared to eternity. Ultimately love is the only law that works and its bonds will never be broken. Soul groups are created by love, and the shape of a physical body is only a temporary material coat we take at birth and shed again when we die. It is no more important than the colour of our skin or of our eyes, our sex or our social status.
Animals’ souls are – unlike ours – unadulterated by the rational thinking that has led us to so many blinding distinctions and separations and therefore they are able to enjoy wholeness at a degree almost impossible for us to reach when incarnated. This is why they are such great teachers for us, and why we have so much to learn from them if we have the humility to listen to their voices.
Animals’ lifespans might vary greatly from ours and if on the one hand to see them going and leaving us can be really heart-breaking, on the other hand it gives us a chance to meet them again and again in our current life. Love is the great guide and our mutual feelings, like powerful magnets reaching across the worlds, will eventually bring them back to us. If we look around and keep our eyes and our hearts open we might be lucky enough to meet them again, incarnated in a new body: look for signs and you won’t miss them.