Is there such a thing as ‘parazoology’? We have cryptozoology, of course, but the subject of anomalous animals seems so much bigger than those that are merely ‘hidden’. I was inspired to develop this themed issue after working on my book The Impossible Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters, released in September this year. There are many books on this subject, but I found that few of them went back to the sources, as any good historian should, to discover the origins of these ideas. What could have been another piece of popular light reading turned into a history of science project. The old familiar monsters – dragons, unicorns and so on – all led back to humanity’s emerging attempts to describe the natural world. The names that peppered my bibliography were not those of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, but Carolus Linnaeus and Pliny the Elder. I knew many other people were working in this field and taking a multitude of paths through it. The Society’s Website Manager, Dr Deborah Erickson, presented her research into possibly psychic animal–human communication at last year’s joint SPR/PA conference in Greenwich. Dr Rupert Sheldrake is already well known for
his work in this area. I invited them to contribute and put out a call for papers. The results can be found in this issue. Drs Sheldrake and Erickson both summarize their researches into the possible psychic abilities of animals. Dr Zofia Weaver takes us on another journey, looking at the animal materializations that allegedly occurred during séances held by Franek Kluski. Dr Melvyn Willin considers other materializations: those allegedly caught on film. Dr Alexander Hay examines a typical cryptozoological theme – the so-called ‘Alien Big Cats’ – and unravels the social complexities at play. Dr Edina Eszenyi takes us further back into the past with an examination of the textual life of the little-known onocentaur in the sixteenth century. Finally, I bring the subject to a close with a few odd occurrences of the sort that used to be routinely reported in the publications of the SPR. We see that ‘parazoology’, like the terms ‘paranormal’ and ‘parapsychology’, is not about what lies beyond zoology, physical reality, or psychology, but what lies beyond what is accepted or acceptable. It takes us back to the founding statement of our Society to examine the evidence without prejudice in the true spirit of scientific enquiry. ψ
Dr Leo Ruickbie
WHATS IN ISSUE 80
14 UNEXPLAINED ANIMAL POWERS
Dr Rupert Sheldrake presents compelling evidence for the psychic abilities of animals.
16 CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?
Dr Deborah Erickson looks at recent research on animal–human communication.
18 ‘CREATION IS ONE’
Dr Zofia Weaver explores animal materializations alleged to have occurred during Franek Kluski’s séances.
20 CREATURES CAUGHT ON FILM?
Dr Melvyn Willin investigates the alleged photographic evidence for zoologically unclassified organisms.
22 ‘PLAY THEM OUT, ALIEN BIG CAT’
Do paranormal pussies prowl the countryside? Dr Alexander Hay grapples with media sensationalism and rural unease.
25 WHEN ANGELS ENCOUNTERED THE ONOCENTAUR
Dr Edina Eszenyi uncovers the strange symbolism of the asscentaur from Antiquity to the Renaissance.
27 PARAZOOLOGY IN PRACTICE
What happens when one thinks too much about the meaning of mythological eight-legged horses? Dr Leo Ruickbie finds out. Plus a special book offer.
4 PRESIDENT’S LETTER
The President of the SPR, Prof. John Poynton, begins his examination of the Society’s philosopher-presidents.
6 PSI SOCIETY
Conference, an American journalist, the new website, Richard Whittington-Egan.
7 PERMANENT PARANORMAL OBJECT
Dr Leo Ruickbie exhibits his own parazoological specimen: the Lepus cornutus, or Horned Hare.
8 THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH’S NEW HOME
Dr Richard Broughton reveals the high drama behind the SPR’s move to 1 Vernon Mews.
11 UNUSUAL PREMISES
Prof. Donald West reminisces about previous homes of the SPR from Tavistock Square to Marloes Road.
13 THE SPR’S LONDON
Dr Leo Ruickbie tours London on the trail of the SPR’s offices, past and present.
28 16 QUEENSBERRY PLACE
Leslie Price offers a rare insight into the College of Psychic Studies as it celebrates ninety years in its current home.
32 GHOSTS IN THE MACHINES
Brandon Hodge discovers foxes in the rice pot as he explores the history of spirit devices in Japan.
34 10TH ISSUE
A round-up of the new PR so far.
36 HELP BUILD YOUR SOCIETY
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The Society for Psychical Research
The SPR was the first organisation established to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena using scientific principles. Our aim is to learn more about events and abilities commonly described as ‘psychic’ or ‘paranormal’ by supporting research, sharing information and encouraging debate. The SPR is a Registered Charity, established in 1882.