Where’s Bingo?


Even since the Snap Judgment podcast “The Inpatients” came out, this blog has received hundreds—at first, thousands—of views. When I realized how many people were viewing soulbank, I started to worry. What can I write that will be meaningful for that many people? What can I say that might help someone? Is there anything I can do so that this site serves a higher purpose? I don’t want to be a pseudo celebrity that can boast on her gravestone that she appeared on “Ghost Adventures” a couple of times, and that she filmed a ‘sizzle reel’ that died in the studio offices.

No, it has to be something better, something transcendent, something amazing . . . and yet, all I can offer today is a post about Bingo. Bingo is my cat. Many would say ‘was’, since we had to say goodbye to him a week ago Saturday morning. Yes, I posted about it on Facebook and people were very kind and wrote many comforting things; yet nothing they wrote made any difference in the long run. They had no answers. None of us do. It is painful to live with that hole in our lives, this gaping wound that doesn’t heal.

Bingo was a force of pure love. I met him in Long Beach. I was walking or jogging along First Street when I saw this white and gray blur running towards me. What I noticed first was how he bounced when he ran, as if he were the happiest animal on the planet. I sat down to pet him. He climbed on my lap, started kneading and drooling, and as we bonded a homeless man on a bike rode by and said, “Looks like you and that cat are meant to be. You need to take him home.” And so I did. He loved me just like that for almost fourteen years.


We moved four times in those years. We lost Kenny and Coco. We gained Nod. Many things happened, some wonderful, some terrible. Through it all, Bingo loved me. He spent long nights outdoors when it was warm, and he loved to perch in high places to keep watch over the household. He didn’t say much, but he radiated affection and appreciation up until the very last day, when he knew that his time had come.
I don’t want to talk about the last ten days beyond saying that he had cancer everywhere, and he fell apart fast. He was able to spend one last night running around outside before his body gave up. It broke my heart into a million pieces to see how hard he tried to knead me and love me even though he was weak, disoriented and scared.

The day we said goodbye, I stayed with him while the barbiturates kicked in. I stroked his head and told him how much I loved him. I told him to go find Kenny and Coco, because they would be waiting. My husband Ty stayed while they injected him with something lethal. He held Bingo’s gaze until his eyes closed and his body went limp. I couldn’t be there for the last moments. I am disappointed in myself and hope that Bingo understands that it was just too much. While Bingo was giving up the last of his life in that room, I was outside talking to the Holy Spirit. I asked Him to please take my kitty, to please welcome him wherever he was going, wherever he is now.

But that’s the problem. I don’t know where he is now, and absolutely nobody knows. For the many people who would tell me that Bingo is nowhere, I must say that makes just about as much sense to me as the idea that he’s in some cat heaven. I don’t believe in a special Heaven for pets or even for people, for that matter. I think that’s too easy, too much like wish fulfillment or fantasy to allow us to survive with the crushing fear of death. The Heaven of the Bible is something that we have trivialized; I believe it is so much more complicated than we can possibly know.

I went for a long walk, and I asked God a question: “WHERE IS BINGO?” I told God that I could handle the answer, whatever it was; and I begged Him to please tell me more than He has so far. All that happened was that I kept seeing crows flying around. Lots of crows. I was annoyed by all the crows, because I don’t understand what kind of sign that is. I looked up “crow symbolism” on my smart phone, because I couldn’t figure out what else to do.

Crows are symbols of transformation. They can be tricksters, as well, so I guess one has to be careful with them . . . but the general consensus was that crows are magical, transformative animals that can become almost anything they wish. I found this on beliefnet.com:

“Omens and divinatory meaning: How canny are you? How inventive can you be when faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge? The crow urges you to think outside the box, to examine what tools and skills you have at your disposal, and to apply them in perhaps unconventional ways to achieve your goals.

The crow also teaches you about change. Change is not to be feared; it is part of the natural course of things. The death or end of one thing signifies the birth or beginning of another. Crows teach you about cycles, too. They are carrion birds, and help you to remember that even in death there is something that feeds life. Death is not loss; it is transformation. If you are having trouble handling some sort of change in your life, call on the crow to be your companion through it.

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Environment/Galleries/A-Spiritual-Field-Guide-to-Birds.aspx?p=3#JzoVAXqbmOeUjDwb.99”

Is that the message? Call upon the crow? Think outside the box when it comes to questions about life after death? If death ‘signifies the birth or beginning’ of something else, then is Bingo coming back? Is that too childish? WHAT IS COMING BACK now that Bingo is gone? Think outside the box, Kirsten, think outside your box. I’m trying. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I am so tired of seeing through a glass darkly.

During the course of the walk, I felt Bingo everywhere; not as something vague and general, like a ‘life force,’ but I actually felt Bingo, the individual soul of my beloved kitty. I suppose that asking “where’s Bingo” is the wrong question, destined to give me the wrong answer. But I am this body, trapped in space and time, and I want him to come back in a body, so that I can hold him again. I don’t want Bingo everywhere; I want him on my chest at night purring.

But God will not allow that, because He took Bingo out of that suffering body and took him somewhere else. The ‘somewhere’ that He took him is nowhere I can go. I can feel Bingo everywhere, but I can’t focus on him, I can’t see him, I can’t touch him. It’s like torture. I’m dying of thirst standing in a pool of water that I cannot drink.

This has been a terribly difficult post to write. For a paranormal investigator, I am less certain of what happens to us after death than I ever was. I should know more by now. I don’t. The only thing that has changed is that I am closer to understanding this transformation through my emotions and my senses. I can feel things that I could never feel before, and they lead me to something like an intuition or a knowing that I had when I was very, very young, something I lost along the path to growing up.

This wasn’t what I had hoped to tell all of you who have so generously taken the time to read my thoughts and feel all of my emotions. However, it’s the best that I have right now. I hope that you find love and peace in your life, and that there is someone who loves you so much and so purely that their light continues to shine long after they have departed this Earth.

—Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD


A big thank you to those who have visited my web site. I hope that you will consider sharing some of your stories that you have hinted at. This is a place for everyone to discuss those topics that are taboo in the workplace, with family, friends or sometimes even at church: the continued existence of consciousness. Where do we go after we “die”? Does “where” even make sense? What have you felt, seen, experienced or sensed after someone you loved passed away?

Let me know. I want to know.


KIRSTEN for blog

Cam 2014 8 Kimberly

Cam Thirteen

Cam three

Cam Seven

Cam eight

Cam Nine

Kirsten at the Library

Cam Twelve
Cam Ten

Cam 2014 7 another lonely hallwayCam 2014 5 desolationCam 2014 9 Kir looking youngCam Eleven


If you haven’t already heard the story on NPR’s “Snap Judgment,” the above link will take you there. However, I’m guessing that many of you are here to know something else about that story.

First of all, the story is true. Some of the details overlapped from other investigations, and the ending of the story is slightly different than how I originally remembered it. It was Marsha who opened that door at the end of our journey, not the lady in white (whose name, by the way, is my name: Kirsten). Marsha reminded me that Kirsten 2 didn’t even want to come down that hallway and let us out. She was terrified.

I don’t condone the exploration of abandoned mental hospitals or any other abandoned site. If you know which place is profiled in this piece, you should also know that it is now a University. Said University does not take such exploration lightly, and will prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone they find exploring those buildings. That investigation was several years ago; we would not attempt it today.

Five years later, I am not the same person. I used to enjoy investigations. I loved the thrill of exploration and finding odd voices on audio. I still investigate and record audio, but I am very careful to take certain precautions that I never bothered with before. First and foremost, I pray. I pray for protection from possession or oppression. I pray for the souls of anyone who might be stuck or caught in the time loop of their conscious mind. I pray for all the people who might have suffered or died in a place that offered them no hope.

These investigations are serious business. We may not think so when we start out on these adventures. I started as someone who was curious and looking to recapture some fun from my youth. I ended up feeling very old, very tired, and often very scared. The spiritual realm is real. It’s not all bright white light and love. Sometimes, it exceedingly dark. If you search for the darkness, you will definitely find it.

I grew up in an academic family who prided themselves on their agnosticism, if not outright atheism. We were practical, smart, logical and critical. Only nutty New Age whack jobs believed in spirits and energies from the ‘Other Side’. I prided myself on my academic pedigree and my ability to discern real from fake, authentic from B.S., and conclusions based on rigorous thinking versus conclusions based on fantasy, wishful thinking, or neurosis.

What I discovered is that I don’t know shit. Sorry to put it so bluntly. However, I do have a strong, abiding faith in God. I no longer do work that is out of alignment with what I believe this universal force of love wants for me. As far as the world of spirit works, as far as definite answers are concerned, I don’t have them. I don’t think we will ever have them, because we “see through a glass darkly” by design. If you have answers, you don’t need faith. If you have answers, you stop asking the questions.

I will never stop asking the questions, especially the hard questions. I have lots of those. In the meantime, I stumble around in the dark and keep looking.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
See also: paranormalhousewives.com for many more audio clips of our investigations.

Abandoned cabin 1

abandoned cabin 2

abandoned cabin 3

abandoned cabin 4

abandoned cabin 5


States the sign, chiseled in wood, swinging over abandoned dreams.
Who decided this quest was over?
It never began, or it died, or it wasn’t what it seemed.
The sofa by the shed
The crumbling chimney, now stones on ground
The plants in the window, dead
Here the birds don’t sing, the squirrels don’t scamper, here
There is no sound

I don’t know who drove the car, now consigned to rust
I don’t know who loved the house
With windows covered in dust
Here something started, but stopped
Here something was found, but lost

The quest is over.
But not the way that they thought.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD


The news was all over Facebook: Aaron from Ghost Adventures had been fired for revealing that the show required him to fake his audio clips! That turned out to be untrue; a “satirical” news site had published the piece to stir up controversy, and they succeeded. I fell for it, because the fake news was not satirical or ironic, simply libelous. Satire requires an exaggeration of the truth for amusing or ironic effect, not the wholesale invention of news designed to tarnish the reputation of an individual or a production.

This ‘fake news’ story was so successful precisely because it touched a nerve with the community of paranormal investigators. There is always the lingering suspicion that the best audio and video clips have been invented or created by a show’s producer. The requirements of the entertainment industry are in direct conflict with the requirements of a good, thorough investigation into a haunting or other paranormal activity.

Hollywood requires melodrama and will invent situations among ‘characters’ (investigators are always turned into characters) in order to provoke conflict, pain, upset and a theatrical expression of emotion. In reality, a team of individuals investigating a location must take themselves out of the equation and focus on the external environment. Any upset or misunderstandings between investigators will hurt the success of the investigation. When one is tuning in to activity around them, you forget yourself and enter into something of a meditative or semi-trance state. That does not make for good television.

Hours may go by where nothing appears to be happening. We are all straining to hear something or ‘catch’ something, but often the result of your efforts is a sore back and exhaustion. Later, we might find gems on our audio clips, but again–the voices are often subtle and odd, not explosive declarations of ‘paranormality’. My team has often sent off some of our best audio to producers who want a sample of our data, only to be told that they need something obvious and definitive: one person actually asked for a clip where the spirit identified itself by name and declared he or she was dead. If these consciousness fragments stated their names, family history, their ontological status and their purpose in contacting us, our jobs would be so much easier!

I was interviewed recently for a national radio show (not Paranormal Kool-Aid–that was a blast!). I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I knew from the beginning that my story would be rejected. I was right, of course. They asked for stories about personal transformation: nothing has transformed my life more than the experiences I have had while investigating the world of spirit. I had one particular story that involved becoming lost and trapped in an abandoned hospital, possessed by the spirits of those who were patients there, and redeemed by a woman in white who freed the three of us. This led to my epiphany that the world of spirit was real and not to be played or trifled with. I was a different person from that point on. I even had spectacular audio from that night that was nothing if not clear. So how could a story like that be rejected?

The answer was: We don’t want to be in the business of proving or disproving the existence of ghosts. Ghosts? I didn’t mention that word a single time to them! And yet: everything always came down to that gross over-simplification of our experiences as investigators. I tried to explain that the popular conception of ‘ghosts’ did not apply here. We were dealing with the anguished remains of suffering patients, who had taken over our conscious minds in order to teach us a divine truth: in order to understand injustice and pain, we must experience it directly sometimes; we must help each other, the living and the ‘dead’. We must transform each other for the good. But no; sadly, the question for the producers remained the same: can you prove the existence of ghosts? No? Well, forget it then.

I didn’t ask the producers to prove anything. The story was about personal transformation. They had fallen into the same trap that almost everyone in the entertainment industry falls into: prove it’s real, or at least fake it so well that most people will believe it. Or, perhaps, they didn’t want to start the ‘real or fake’ discussion with their listeners, and maybe they knew intuitively that nobody would listen to my story for its spiritual value; it would end up where all paranormal stories end up: everyone weighing in with their opinion regarding the veracity of someone’s evidence for ‘ghosts’. Whether this experience “transforms” you or not is entirely beside the point.

I was disappointed and sad, not because I wasn’t going to appear on a national show–that part filled me with a certain amount of dread, due to my fear of misinterpretation and backlash–but because once again, a rep from the ‘industry’ had completely misunderstand the importance of my story. My team and I go through this process on a regular basis. Who we are and why we do what we do is not as important as whether or not we can create the required drama, pain, anger and emotional firestorms that television (and radio) require. The ideal show is one where I turn on my best friends, throw wine in their face during some disagreement about an audio clip, present my friend Wheezer the ghost to the audience, and then throw up on him after a night of drinking margaritas at a haunted restaurant.

Even a respectable show doesn’t want to be part of the conversation about the reality of the soul or the world of spirit (with the exception of the shows our own paranormal community produces). A national radio program that wishes to be taken seriously has to turn its back on the entire question–arguably, the most important question for all humankind–in order to avoid the idiocy of Hollywood’s ‘ghost shows’. We tried to change that. The ladies of the PHW stuck to their guns and refused to fabricate emotions or data in the service of selling a show. My personal role models are still the boys of Ghost Adventures. I worked with them on an episode (“Linda Vista”), and I never saw anything remotely fabricated during those long hours of filming. Not only that, we collected some truly amazing evidence right there on camera. You don’t have to believe me. See the episode yourself and make up your minds.

As soon as I wrote that, it occurred to me that anyone reading Soulbank could accuse me of self promotion. That’s how deeply I’ve been affected by the poisonous environment of entertainment. By simply inviting people to make up their own minds, I’ve fallen into my own trap: ghosts are real! This is what I truly want to say: my life has been utterly changed by the data I have collected on investigations. I think that anyone with a sincere interest in life after life could do exactly what I have done and find themselves flabbergasted by what they discover. What I can’t change is the apathy and lack of interest that many people seem to feel about pretty much everything of importance in their lives. Television is responding to what they see people care about: confusion, discord, negative emotions, dysfunction and theatrics.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a sizable market out there of people who truly, honestly care about the Big Questions; could the ‘industry’ change the entertainment culture by taking us seriously? Of course it could; it’s just easier and more profitable to sell shows that roll in the mud instead of fly with the angels.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Kir Computer

This is from Patrick Keller’s (http://bigseance.com/author/sillypk/) blog:

“Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD publishes a blog with fascinating thoughts as she travels on her own paranormal journey. In what seemed like amazing timing, a few months ago she published Are EVP Meant Only For the Person Recording Them? and Why Investigators Typically Don’t Validate Other’s Data as Evidence. I’ve kept the links in my e-mail inbox for a long time, just for this post. In a comment to Kirsten, I tried to explain some of what I have here, but also that most of the time I find myself avoiding commenting or validating other investigator’s evidence. It doesn’t mean I don’t listen, but if I’m so incredibly hard on my own evidence, imagine what my brain goes through when I hear someone else’s evidence, and knowing I wasn’t there to see the whole situation, or to use my second recorder (or to partake in the late night snacks!) And does it really matter what I think? Does the trouble that my crazy analytical, yet complete believer brain puts me through really matter to someone else? Not really… at least not in most cases. Kirsten doesn’t need that… and neither do you. Am I still talking? (Gosh! No wonder spirits stay away from me!)”

As long as we are quoting each other in this awesome meta blogging exercise, I wanted to explain something about the clip above and offer a few thoughts on Patrick’s (and almost everyone else’s in the paranormal field) burnout issue.

About that clip: The setting was a church in Thousand Oaks. The Father at the church gave three of us permission to investigate that night. There were only three women, three of the four Paranormal Housewives (Jennifer Storey, Erin Hayes-Potter and me). The church was all ours; no one else was there, and the Father was off in his apartment waiting for us to call him should we need anything. The line repeated in the clip is so obvious that it does NOT require interpretation. It’s not some hazy, vague sound that makes little sense to anyone but the person listening to it. A very male voice states, “It’s the light”; immediately afterwards, Jennifer repeats “the light,” although she did NOT hear any voice at the time she said it. Jennifer has this particular gift for repeating paranormal sentences and/or words without knowing it. Later, when she hears the clip, she is just as surprised at the rest of us at the fact that on some subconscious level she ‘heard’ or intuited the word or sentence without using her ears.

Now this audio was captured right after the overhead light at the church gradually illuminated the sacristy. To turn on this light required someone to head to the back of the church and flick a switch. No one did that. The light is not on a timer and does not slowly come on–when you flick the switch, it immediately light up. That is not what we saw. Also, around this time, we are recording some knocks, bangs and creaks that are so loud that no careful listening is required to hear them. We had, in other words, a collection of events or a constellation of activity that occurred around the same time, resulting in the ‘grand finale’ of the man’s voice proclaiming the answer to my silently formulated question of earlier in the evening (why are we doing this, why am I DOING THIS??)

Yes, I suppose that all of this could be questioned because the person reading this account was not there to see it or hear it. You could decide that I made up this story, and the other ladies colluded in that invention. You could also decide that the Father at the church somehow created the entire charade (although I cannot imagine how he might carry off such a trickery) with the sole intent of dragging our butts into church. How the Father could rewire a light for that one moment and only that one moment boggles the mind. How he created an paranormal voice from thin air while at his apartment is a true mystery. WHY he would do any of this confounds common sense.

Of course, if you weren’t there and don’t trust your sources, there is no reason to believe anything at all. Why do you believe that the Middle East is exploding into war if you aren’t there? Why do you trust the news media? How can you believe anything you read or hear? Why are you comfortable believing that climate change is occurring? Any observed news that you pick up from media sources can be questioned the same way “evidence” is questioned in paranormal investigations. It comes down to this: do you trust your source? Do you believe that the source is telling the truth? Do you believe that your source has enough experience and training to make an educated analysis of anomalous data? Or, do you simply decide that you don’t believe any of it unless you were there to triple check the circumstances under which the weird voice was captured on audio?

What is more frustrating for me is not the veracity of the audio clip, but what these voices are really telling us and how to interpret the messages that DO come through clearly. Why is so much of what we capture on audio irrelevant, odd, out of context, meaningless, short and impossible to place in a larger picture of an afterlife that MAKES SENSE??? The picture of the afterlife that good audio clips portray is at best confusing, and at worst, deliberately and provocatively meaningless. The “It’s the Light” clip is THE ONLY CLIP THAT ANSWERED MY QUESTIONS, thus rendering all future investigations less vital and more for fun and entertainment. I was enormously lucky to receive an answer to a burning question.

The purpose of ALL investigations into spirit is to find light, both in your life, in the lives of others, and in the seemingly chaotic life of the world. We must always seek the light, for it is the Alpha and the Omega, the secret, the goal and the purpose. You may call that light God or something else, but it better be illuminating, or it’s not real. So much of what we catch on audio is scariness, chaos, perhaps even the polar opposite of the Light. It’s something to think about, no matter what religion or spiritual tradition you follow. I dare say that if you have no faith in anything more powerful, intelligent and compassionate than mere humans, you will not find answers in paranormal investigations or even know what the questions are.

I don’t mean that to sound condescending, and I certainly do NOT profess to have all the answers. I have a personal answer, and that is more than good enough for me. Ultimately, your answers must be of a personal nature, because we simply cannot convince others of the reality of the spirit world. There is no way to force someone to believe that our EVP are worth listening to, because they might change your life. If your best audio clips do NOT change your life, then it’s time to put away the gadgets and find another way to the light.

I find gardening and bird watching to be every bit as transcendent as a good ‘spirit hunt’. This is a solitary journey, unfortunately. I wish all of you the best.

Much love,



colombia fantasma

Hello everyone. Bowie kicks off this post because I love what he represents in our restrictive, little world. He is creative, free, exciting, interesting and a believer in continual reinvention. That can land him in hot water, as the photo above illustrates; however, his weirdness has worked for him on multiple levels. For most of us, however, taking a Bowie-like approach to the world condemns us to the margins of society where we are not taken seriously and are often ridiculed.

I teach an advanced conversation class in Spanish. It just so happens that the first chapter of our book is dedicated to the paranormal, supernatural and the line between reality and fantasy. I love the first chapter, and I always look forward to the discussions that follow. I never know how a class will react to personal questions on the paranormal. There is always a powerful current of fear around the topic. Most people are convinced that if they tell their story, someone in the room will laugh or deflate them. Sadly, that is often the case. This summer, we heard some amazing, inspiring stories that left me speechless. There were tears. There were goosebumps. And there was the student who declared that “she prefers to live in reality, not in some fantasy world, especially because kids are dying crossing the border and talking about ghosts is wasting our time.”

Kids are dying crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. This is true. Not only do we talk about it, we make sure everyone understands the issues surrounding this tragedy. I require them to conduct research and come back with more information. Most of the time, the people raising the complaint about ‘paranormal babble’–asserting that it has no reality–aren’t really interested in kids crossing the border or any other issue. They simply want to assert their world view and make sure the rest of us feel like crap for discussing something irrelevant and unreal. What are they doing to raise awareness of immigration issues in the U.S., Mexico and Central America? Nothing. I am not doing enough, but by bringing the issue into the open and asking people to share their personal stories about crossing the border, their families’ struggle to survive in California, we all learn tolerance and leave class with many stereotypes and misconceptions obliterated.

This post is not about immigration or the political/economic realities of Mexico and Latin America. This post is about how ‘stupid’ ghost stories can change your life, your perspective and your soul. This is how ‘stupid’ stories of the paranormal can make you and your community stronger and wiser. This post is about eradicating fear so that creativity, joy, empathy, creation and hope can flourish. Let me start with Marga’s story (not her real name). She is from Colombia, and does not speak English terribly well. I agreed to keep her in the class provided that she speak only in English and that she assist others with their Spanish skills. She agreed.

Marga has seen violence, death and despair in her country. She is Catholic, but only because most people in Colombia are Catholic. She didn’t FEEL her Catholicism. Marga’s father spent many months very, very ill; dying, really. Marga didn’t want to go back to Colombia to face this reality, but when it was clear that he wasn’t going to survive this life much longer, she boarded a flight. Somewhere during the trip, she felt an intense need to put down her book and start writing, as if she had been possessed by someone else’s will. She picked up a pen and started filling up page after page. All that writing was about her father. What exactly she was saying about him, or what he might have been saying through her, is private information. When she landed, the driver greeted her with the news of his demise. He passed away at the moment she put down the book and started writing.

She said that she stopped reading for years after that. The trauma of her father’s death and of her own country silenced her. Then, she said, about two years ago, her father came to her. He told her that she needed to start reading again. She picked up a book. Shortly after that, she enrolled in Pierce College. She is now working on her degree in Early Childhood Education. She would not have done that, she says, except for the fact that her father asked her to, years after he passed away.

So don’t tell me that the ‘paranormal’ is a silly, random subject designed for campfires and wasting time. Anyone who believes that lives a protected, angry life. You can keep your world view, but don’t do it at the cost of changing your life, or the lives of others. Stay in your box, if you must; but do NOT attempt to cram me in there with you. I won’t go.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD


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