Frederic Mistral and his dog Pan Perdu.

The journalist who interviewed Frederic Mistral was Jules Bois, who was famous at the beginning of the XXth Century.  He was passionate about occultism and fantastic stories.  He interviewed the greatest personalities of the epoch – Alphonse Daudet, Anatole France, Huysmans, Verlaine, Camille Flammarion – on the subject of the After-Life…

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Spirits have always been reincarnated in all sorts of creatures, dogs and other animals notably, who even form the biggest part of the troup which desolates cursed crossroads, castles and haunted houses…

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Frederic Mistral, aged 81.

We see that the poet lends a spirit to this creature who surges from we don’t really know where…  This is both a very ancient idea and a very modern one.  Ancient, because all of the archaic peoples believed that the soul of Man and the souls of other animals are closely linked.  New, because the most advanced Physics teach us that all things issue from one, unique substance, whether we call it soul, spirit or energy.  That a man is able to change into another animal, while still retaining certain characteristics of his preceding condition, is also a belief that is as old as the world.  The Zoroastrians believed it, just like Plato and Pythagorus, and christianism admitted it until the VIth Century.  In Mistral’s time, under the influence of spiritism, metempsychosis was mentioned, that is to say, the passage of the soul after death into innumerable bodies, going from the vegetal to the animal, then to Man, but also going back the other way.

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For the adepts of metempsychosis, this was however a regression of the spirit to a form of animal that was less evolved.  From the earthworm and the tarantula to the elephant, the new form varies following the gravity of the faults committed during life…

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Could Mistral’s dog really have come from America with Colonel Cody?  We only know that for the famous Exhibition in 1889, which marked the completion of the Eiffel Tower and assembled 33 million visitors, Buffalo Bill had brought to France several Navajos…

For this mysterious tribe, the dog is the privileged animal of the transmigration of the soul, and even more than the dog, his wild brother, the coyote, which gives tamer cross-breds to the Navajos.

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Mistral had a horse which he thought possessed strange gifts. When the animal died, the poet had it naturalized and placed inside his home.

Mistral insists that his dog Pan Perdu’s gaze was not that of a dog resembling a human, but really a man’s gaze…  Unknowingly perhaps, the creator of the Felibrige returns to the myth of lycanthropy, the illness which convinces those who are affected by it that they have been transformed into another animal.  Except for the eyes, which remain precisely those “windows of the soul” of which the poet speaks, and betray the metamorphosed person.  Suscitating discomfort, terror or, on the contrary, tenderness, as is thought, on the subject of captive beasts, by Emerson, the great American visionary philosopher of the XVIIIth Century:

“They send a sort of appeal to sympathy and fraternity, a gaze in which Ovid discovered the evidence for his Metamorphoses…”

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So, is this dog a coyote or a wolfman?  Perhaps it was the dog of an Amerindian, who had received superior initiation from a Navajo shaman.  Mistral says that no-one had ever seen such a beast in the Saint-Remy region.  In any case, Louis Pauwels finds it troubling that the Navajos, inspired masters of natural magic, believe that the coyote is the reincarnation of a man condemned to roam forever throughout the world…

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Certain animals, other than Man, have paranormal gifts.  At Mistral’s epoch, not very much was yet known about these other animals’ psychology, or for that matter about other animals in general who, in the world of scholars, were only allowed to exist through their fossils, or to establish zoological engravings.  The Anglo-Saxons are the first to begin to take an interest in other animals’ intelligence.  Starting with the idea that, from other animals to Man, there is a continual evolution, and not the rupture introduced by christianism.  In their researches they relied on intuitions such as those of the American Charles Leyland who, after having also studied Amerindian traditions, had arrived at the certainty that, at the Dawn of all life, the other animals were similar to Men and vice-versa.

The study of other animals’ comportments, through parapsychology, later showed that they are just as good telepaths as Men, and that they have telekinetic gifts, the faculty which permits the displacement of objects from a distance, without the intervention of the muscles.  And finally, that they were very superior to us in precognition…

Firstly studying the gifts already known in other animals, Rhine determines that a dog is capable of finding, ten days later, the owner of a stick that he had sniffed for ten seconds…  Or the brother of a twin, guiding itself, not by smell, but by certain physiological characteristics common to identical twins.  He also proves that the dog is capable of following an animal several days after it has passed by, and of having global knowledge of its environment (is it a friend, a foe, is it wounded, is it hungry or afraid) simply by sniffing its glandular secretions…

Rhine delved deeply into the case of the cat Sugar who, travelling for 2,500 kilometres in the boot of a car and not being able, therefore, to “mark” his itinerary, got lost, but nonetheless managed to return home after a voyage of several months.  In 1958, the founder of Duke University could re-edit too the exploits of the Elberfeld horses, studied notably by Maeterlinck, horses which were able to perform very complicated arithmetical calculations, designating the numbers with their hooves or their mouths.  No trickery was possible, for these animals gave their answers just as well in the dark, at a distance, or through a wall.  After having studied the case of Rolf, a fox-terrier who gave the answers to their arithmetical homework to two little girls, Rhine demonstrated that it had nothing to do with trickery or training, but was a telepathic gift.  More recently, the Frenchman Remy Chauvin was able to prove that certain dogs are perfectly able to distinguish between a neutral metal wire and a wire through which an electrical current is being passed.  Without touching it of course, by perceiving the slightest change in the ionisation of the air near the conducting wire…

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To be continued.

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