Review by John Pitt of 'Journey Into Light' by Ruth Plant, Cassell Books
Not all by any means of
the narrative covering some 40 years’ Spiritualist communication
related in Journey Into Light will be of direct interest to
anti-vivisectionists reading this newspaper, but author, Ruth Plant,
well-known throughout the animal welfare movement in this country,
reveals through this medium where she developed a sensitivity about
It is always interesting to discover the whys and
wherefores that lead people to the point where they feel impelled to
do something active to help their fellow-creatures, human or animal as
the case may be. Without judging the merits or otherwise of the routes
taken by those who end up by expending time and energy in animal
welfare, it is generally enough to say that any road – within reason
of course – that brings in recruits is a good road. I do not propose
either to judge the credibility or even in fact to attempt to review
as a whole this lengthy and interestingly revealing account of Miss
Plant’s 40-odd years “communication” with her dead brother and other
close relatives: instead, to whet the appetite of readers who may
wonder how this kind of pursuit lends to the development of a
philosophy, I shall quote from the chapter Ruth Plant heads The Place
of Animals in the Creation.
Ruth Plant’s first “revelation
about men’s illogical thinking” towards animals came to her at the age
of five when pet Plymouth Rock cockerel, Harry – brought up from an
egg – had to be rounded-up by Nannie to give to a man who would take
him to market.
Little Ruth did not yet realise the fate
awaiting Harry but, as the chase went on and, shrieking, the fowl was
finally cornered and thrust into a big tub, the penny dropped.
“Why should Harry, who had learnt to trust us and who looked to us for
food and shelter, be suddenly attacked and hounded to his death.
Wasn’t it a blatant barbarism on the part of us – the so-called
civilized occupants of the world. . . .”
Revelation too came
when Ruth Plant was a young adult, on a day when lunch had just been
laid, when a cat came into the dining room and dropped a mauled
headless bird on the carpet in front of the would-be diners, who
howled: “How ghastly . . . . Oh, what a horrible beast.”
cat having been dismissed in disgrace, the hostess asked Ruth Plant if
she would mind taking the lamb out of the larder. “A I carried it in,”
she recalls, “and the family sat down to enjoy their repast of
politely cut slices taken from its flesh, I suddenly realised how
incongruous it was.
“Here we were, furious with the cat for
taking the head off a tiny bird, but somebody had cut the throat of a
lamb on our behalf so that we too might devour it in our more
sophisticated fashion with knife and fork.”
suggests: “There are others who fully recognise the fact that they are
eating animals, but feeling a little self-conscious and guilty,
justify their action by announcing that animals gain greatly in the
spiritual sense by being physically consumed by man and contributing,
as it were, to the maintenance of his life on earth.”
“Carrying the theory of spiritual uplift by physical consumption to
its logical conclusion, everyone should hope to be kidnapped by some
great spiritual leader and served up as lunch for Billy Graham or
supper for St Theresa of Avilla, according to the branch of spiritual
advancement we adhere to; in fact we should be back to cannibalism.
“The orthodox Christian will often shelve the whole question of
eating animals by saying that Jesus ate meat and he did not directly
oppose the killing of animals. In fact, when he instituted Holy
Communion, using the earthly forms of bread and wine as its vehicles,
he at once wiped out animal sacrifice for religious purposes.
“That, at least, was a vast step forward; and did He not say, ‘You
have many things to learn but you cannot bear them now.’ Was this
possibly a forecast of new demands on our thinking; an extension of
the spiritual path we, coming later, are meant to follow?
clue we have to the path in the objective picture of the final state
is when ‘The lion shall lie down with the lamb.’”
subject of the vast number of healthy animals put down annually in
Britain, Miss Plant cites a French friend who, learning that many died
because their owners simply lost interest in them dryly commented:
“It’s a good thing that you have not legalised euthanasia in this
country or people would be rushing off all the time putting their
grandmothers and old aunts away, judging by the rate they keep having
their animals put to sleep.”
This chapter also includes
numerous accounts of people in Ruth Plant’s home who are reported to
have “seen” and described accurately various former pet cats, some of
which are stated to have resumed their nightly routine of jumping up
on favourite beds.
Reproduced with thanks to the British Union
for the Abolition of Vivisection.
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