I received an email asking if I have heard of seers seeing animal spirits. Specifically pets.
And if so, are these spirits always from the enemy or in the Domain of Darkness? Specifically, the reader had lost a couple of pet cats over the years. One was hit by a car, and the other disappeared into a forest a few years ago.
This reader and her husband have seen things that caused them to consider perhaps they were seeing one of these pets in spirit form. Despite faithful loyalty to the Lord Jesus and diligently keeping their home cleansed of evil influences, they wondered if they have invited a demonic presence into their home and the demon was impersonating the pet.
Do animals have spirits, and if they do, are they different from human spirits and may they go to heaven? Are there other animal forms in the spirit realm? Are they always from the enemy? Are they ever pets?
I’d like to share my thoughts on this subject.
Yes, I have heard that people can see animal “spirits.” No, I don’t think they are all from the enemy.
The problem is with the word “spirit.” We post-Enlightenment modern people have attached a definition to this word that is different from the use in the Bible. For an overview of how the definition of this word has changed, see the article here, which is excerpted from a chapter in my book Peace in Your House.
We tend to think of “spirit” as a certain and separate part of us, and the “body” is another part of us, and the “soul” is yet another part of us. Then when we read the Bible, we apply those modern ideas on those ancient words translated as body, soul and spirit.
But what definitions were the biblical writers thinking of?
In the Old Testament, the words translated as “spirit” and “soul” basically have the same meaning, with slightly different emphasis. Generally, they are synonyms of the living, conscious essence of a living entity. The biblical authors refer to living animals as having “soul” and “spirit”, because these are synonyms of being actively alive. You can have a body without a soul – which means its inanimate and dead. Or you can have a body with a soul – it’s living. A body with spirit means the same thing: it’s alive.
The Old Testament authors did conceive of life on “the other side” of death, as it were. Meaning, they thought of life in the physical realm, and also in the spiritual realm. There is a spiritual existence, or a life viewed from the spirit world. Disembodied humans continue in some form in this spiritual world, typically in Sheol (or the underworld), a location thought to be deep in the earth, but rife with more cosmic rather than geographical, significance.
The New Testament continues with these ideas, but adds some layers of distinction. In the New Testament, soul also means a human as a complete human being viewed from oneself or from the community. Spirit is the complete human being viewed from God’s perspective or from heaven’s perspective. A spirit can be embodied or not, but it’s important to minimize the modern idea that the spirit is a separate part of the human than the body. (There are a few other definitions used by the New Testament authors as well, but none reflect the three-distinct-part ideas modern people have).
The Difference Between Animals and Humans
According to the Bible, in God’s view, the difference between humans and animals is simple: humans are created to be God’s image on earth, and to function as his personal representatives, his co-regents on earth, and to rule as God would rule.
Animals, no matter how intelligent, are not “the image of God.” Humans, no matter their abilities or stage of life – from the pre-born state to a senior with limited cognitive functions, are.
God created humans to steward the physical creation, including animals, as God would steward the physical creation. We are physical beings, and ultimately, according to the Bible, our destiny will be as physical beings into eternity, not as pure spirit beings.
Physical Realm and Spiritual Realm
I again want to juxtapose the physical realm with the spiritual realm. It’s popular to think of these ideas as “dimensions”, but I think the word “dimension” has a scientific connotation to it, so I don’t like using that word.
Instead, I prefer to use “realm.” The physical realm is the one that can be measured scientifically, both known scientific laws and those yet to be discovered.
The spirit realm cannot. Science is ill-equipped to measure things in the spirit realm. It is generally unseen, but closely linked to, even layered on, the physical realm. The spiritual realm is where the supernatural originates.
When we refer to animal “spirits”, we often confuse modern ideas with biblical ideas. I think of “animal spirits” more as “disembodied animals.” For instances, ghosts are disembodied humans. That’s easier to understand.
A living human exists in the physical realm, while also existing in the spirit realm. The human existence in the spirit realm is different, unseen as it were, not rooted in the body, but the conscious mind can be aware of it to varying degrees, usually filtered through our body.
There is a sort of cosmic veil that obscures the two realms, although some people can see things beyond the veil, and many people – and even animals – can perceive the spirit realm in other ways. When the Holy Spirit indwells us through faith in the Lord Jesus, our physical awareness of the spirit realm can be intensified.
When a human dies, his physical existence ends, but his spiritual existence continues. It’s unclear what that looks like, but it seems that human consciousness can continue after the body dies in some state. To me, this means the disembodied human continues in the spirit realm. He lingers for a time before passing to whatever is next… I generally think that means “falling asleep” until the Resurrection, but perhaps it means passing to the Lord for judgement or some other state until the Resurrection.
The Bible is far from clear, because our obsession should not be with the afterlife in the spiritual realm, but the physical life here, now, and into eternity as embodied beings. God, after all, loves his physical creation and expects humans to steward it now and into eternity.
But the point is, it’s possible for disembodied humans – their consciousnesses in the spiritual shape of their formerly embodied form – to linger in ways that manifests in the physical realm, at least for a time. Perhaps their consciousness has been imprinted somehow on the spiritual realm or the cosmic veil, and that consciousness lingers a bit until called to whatever destiny the Lord chooses in the spiritual realm, until the Resurrection. This is actually irrespective if the human has the Holy Spirit or not.
And if so for humans, then why not for animals? Many kinds of living animals have consciousness.
If love is a real thing (and of course it is… it’s not just an emotion, but it’s a real “something”), and human love is something really powerful, then why wouldn’t an animal deeply loved by humans not have its consciousness imprinted in the spiritual realm more so than animals that aren’t loved by humans? This consciousness – this disembodied state – might appear to be the same animal to some very spiritually perceptive people, at least for a time, before it fades away, ultimately leaving no traces in the physical realm. I don’t see why that can’t really happen.
Perhaps a Spiritual Manifestation
With this in mind, let’s consider the specific circumstances in the email. I don’t know if the readers saw their beloved pets manifesting from the spirit realm. Perhaps. It’s unlikely the appearance came from the enemy. They have been diligent in maintaining a home fit to live in, cleansed of spiritual enemies. If an enemy spirit could invade, it might take the form of a beloved pet, but it seems likely the Holy Spirit would have informed them. It seems really unlikely that what they perceived is an enemy spirit.
Yes, demonic spirits can certainly take the form of animals; often animal hybrid creatures. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in this situation.
Perhaps Not a Spiritual Manifestation
That said, it’s also possible that they are not perceiving a spiritual phenomena. It could be something natural, that triggered a loving response somewhere deep in their minds. They loved their pets and miss them. Perhaps they feel guilt about what happened to them and maybe want some justice on their behalf.
These feelings are deep, and perhaps their minds, in an effort to help them recover from their loss, are attaching the memory of their beloved pets onto these appearances, which might not be anything at all Just phantoms generated by the subconscious.
The human brain is amazing and deeply complicated.
AND it’s possible that, in the spirit world, the long lost pet found his way home before his spiritual consciousness drifted away into wherever it goes.