Maria marin

I was listening to “Maria Marin Live” (forgive the lack of accents; not sure how to add them here!) on AM 1020, as is my custom after my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She pulls no punches and forces her callers to be direct, honest and sincere. Woe betide you if you can’t make your point or you’re full of B.S.; she will call you on it. I’m not sure how many of my readers listen to talk radio in Spanish, but I recommend you listen to what she has to say if you understand Spanish.

The topic of one of her recent shows concerned life after death, or more specifically, what her callers believe happens after death. There were those who had the quick answer, “you go to Heaven to be with God,” but when pressed on the details, became utterly incapable of providing any realistic descriptions or scenarios. Others, of course, said that nothing happens; and the majority stumbled around attempting to answer the question without the Heaven or the nothingness explanation, only to find themselves impaled on their own uncertainty. Ms. Marin did not provide them an easy out; she pressed them relentlessly to answer the question in a specific and meaningful way. When they couldn’t do it, she moved on to the next person.

I found myself in something of a panic, imagining that I was one of her callers and I had been pressured into answering the question. Even though this topic is my area of research and interest, there is NO WAY to spit out a quick answer to the question, ‘what happens after you die’. I realize that those who have had a near death experience might be able to answer this with the typical imagery: the tunnel, the white light, meeting relatives who have passed on, the life review, the inability to cross a certain boundary between life and death, and the final (usually unwanted) return to the body. However, this describes a transitional state between life in the flesh and the life of consciousness, not what happens after actual, physical death.

No one can answer definitively, since no one has died 100% in the flesh and returned to talk about it except Jesus, and well, there are some issues there, as well. My experience tells me that while there is no quick answer to the question, there is–at least–a concept that we can hold onto when forced to answer questions about life after death. In terms of scientific research, nowhere is there better evidence for the continuation of life than in the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia. His work on the past lives of children from around the world is legendary; I’ve discussed it extensively in other blog posts. What his work points to is that ‘life’ after ‘death’ is about the transference of consciousness from one body to another.

The best evidence points to the indestructibility of the conscious mind, spirit or soul (I do not think that these terms are interchangeable, but the differences between them are the subject of another post). It doesn’t disappear, but finds another body through which it expresses a self. How this happens is pure speculation, but it must happen at some point in fetal development. I remember my sister telling me–and she is nothing if not a skeptic–that she felt the precise moment when a spirit ‘jumped into’ my nephew while in the womb. He was pure potential and suddenly became a personality. This personality was, in his case, external to him and perhaps had nothing to do with our family and genetics at all.

Consciousness finds a way to continue, whether it be through reincarnation or through some other mechanism, such as inhabiting another dimension or alternate universe as posited by some quantum theories. One of these alternate dimensions of reality might look and feel much like the Heaven that the faithful expect to experience. Many Eastern religions posit the twin existence of soul and spirit, each living out separate existences as the same personality: the “spirit” continues to reincarnate with limited or absent memories of the previous existence, and the “soul” inhabits a timeless dimension where the expected rewards and/or punishments are experienced as expected. Some quantum theories posit that there are infinite versions of us in infinite universes, so that when one of us dies in one world, we simply skip over to another and pick up our lives there, either in the ‘present’ moment or a past or future moment.

It doesn’t work to think of time as important to consciousness after death, since it is a biological concept useful to understand what we perceive as forward movement towards a goal, but it is not an independent entity necessary to understand reality (at least as far physics is concerned–time could just as easily move backwards as forwards, and we only need the ‘arrow of time’ for formulas concerning entropy, which some physicists think doesn’t exist as an independent measure of anything, anyway). You can see why, by now, there is no way to answer Maria Marin’s challenge in a one-minute phone call. When you are discussing issues concerning consciousness–that great mystery–it doesn’t make sense to explain exactly what will happen, since that requires us to know exactly how our minds will perceive reality when we are no longer dependent on a brain or a body to filter and limit our experiences.

Since Ms. Marin requires total honesty, I will say this: I am afraid that the best evidence points to a recycling of consciousness that does not involve karma, reward, Heaven or eternal rest. It seems that our personalities are transferred to another human being, and we drag our baggage along into another life–whether in the form of unconscious trauma or conscious memories. I do think there is room for spiritual evolution from life to life, but that is not the same concept as karma or reward. Our suffering in one life might purify us and lead us closer to God, but it certainly doesn’t mean our next lives will be easy, fun, interesting or rewarding. The most spiritually evolved person might appear to have the worst material circumstances.

For what it’s worth, that’s my answer to Ms. Marin, if I had called in. We come back, again and again, working towards a nobler, more refined relationship with God. What that looks like for each individual is unknown. So, I take my last breath, I might have a transitional period where I’m in the Light and meet up with those long gone, and then I probably black out or go to sleep and wake up screaming, inhaling that first breath again, remembering or not that I was here before, and here I go again.

Yours on the journey,

Kitty Soul bank Post

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD


Have you ever felt like you have backslid into adolescence? Have you believed that there would come a time, some magic year, when you would be a grown up? Has that year or that moment seemed to have arrived, only to disappear and leave you feeling like a child again?

In my twenties, I really thought I was all grown up. I landed a full time job as a Spanish professor by age 27; by 28, I owned a home; at 29, I married. Before I hit 30, I was Chair of the Spanish Department at a major university. I was an adult! Yay!

All I had really done was put on the trappings of adulthood, imitating my elders, doing what was expected of me, and following a script that I didn’t write and couldn’t have known how to write, anyway. As it turned out, I had married the wrong man, moved to the wrong town, taught at the wrong university and bought the wrong house.

Predictably, the crisis hit. My adult life unraveled quickly, because the child had made all of the above decisions. I left the job, sold the house, abandoned the town, and moved back to California. That was an adult decision. It was where I wanted to be. Then, sadly, the childhood marriage exploded and I was left alone in another ‘perfect’ house in Long Beach that I purchased thinking it was a Good, Adult Decision. I lost the house. Again. I lost my job. Again. The child continued to make decisions.

I met my current husband, and for once, the adult was in charge. I married the right man; and then I proceeded to allow the child to take over. The child wanted a nice house South of the Boulevard, but she couldn’t afford it. No matter; there were plenty of banks around just waiting to loan me 3/4 million bucks on a teacher’s salary! So the child plunged ahead.

Around the time that the adult realized that the house was draining away money like a black hole sucks up light, her child became that strange thing we call a “teenager”. Kirsten–the kid and the grown up–was really, really confused by this. I had thought that we were perfect parents, and that we had the perfect kid. My husband and I congratulated ourselves daily. We were both, however, children. We didn’t understand the coming changes, and as it turned out, we didn’t understand anything that our daughter was enduring quietly and with much desperation.

My husband and I had to sell the house, and I lost my self esteem. The child in me was badly wounded and insulted. Little Kirsten had done everything in her power to imitate what adults do: buy expensive houses, go antique shopping every weekend, brag about their perfect kids–but in the meantime, she discovered that once again, she had imitated what she thought grown ups did only to discover that she had made childish decisions and saw the world from a child’s point of view.

Teen-aged Kirsten and her husband ran away to the beach, rebelling against the bad banks, our difficult families, the frustrating jobs, and our disappointed expectations. After awhile, the adults returned and made some hard decisions. Adult me faced facts: you’re broke, you’re too far from your job and family, you’re done shopping, and you need to go home and recover from your Angry Teenager’s impetuous actions.

The adult made good decisions, but the angry child is throwing fits on a daily basis. I WANT A HOUSE. I WANT A BETTER JOB. I WANT TO TRAVEL. I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I’M 25. I DON’T WANT TO GROW UP. It’s hard, because the angry child happens to be 49 years old, and everyone expects her to have grown up, like, 24 years ago. I’m sorry, everyone. I’m not an adult. Better said, I’m only an adult part time.

What a shock to realize that you are not grown up when you’re ‘supposed’ to be. Everything I believed about timelines–“when your THIS age, you’ll have X, Y, and Z and you’ll feel like this . . . “–has completely evaporated. Your AGE has NOTHING to do with your MATURITY. I’ve met very old souls with astonishing maturity levels who are about 20 years old. I know some people in their seventies and eighties who are fully-functioning teenagers. I DON’T WANT TO DIE A TEENAGER.

It’s not what you own, your civil status, your income, the countries you’ve traveled to, your education, your status as a parent, or anything external to you that makes you an adult. It’s your spiritual evolution that decides if your a grown up or not. If you are engaged in drama of any kind, if you are suffering, if you are trapped by desires you cannot fulfill, then you are still a child.

And it sucks to be a child with crow’s feet and a saggy chin. People expect better from you.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Resurrection of the Dead?

Saint Kitty with Medallion

I worry sometimes that if I admit that I’m an Episcopalian and a great admirer and follower of Jesus, that I will lose readers who might think I am, therefore, unscientific in my approach to the survival of consciousness issue or some kind of religious fanatic that has closed her mind to other faiths, beliefs or theories. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I am Christian, but I am completely open to all alternative interpretations of life after death, reincarnation or existence in multiple dimensions or worlds. Some family members of mine are atheists, some follow Eastern religions, some are spiritualists, and some are fundamentalists of various stripes. I appreciate what they all contribute to my understanding of the world.

My mentor is Saint Christopher. He guides people over a tumultuous river. I strive to do the same in my life, leading my students and my loved ones to calmer shores when the storms of emotion cause the river to rise to dangerous levels. I don’t always succeed. In fact, there are many occasions where I feel that I have lost my charges to the currents and couldn’t help them. I do the best that I can within this human body.

Church for me is an experience of questioning and wondering. Sometimes–often, actually–there is church doctrine that confounds me, and I wonder what code the writers are using to make a point. This is the issue that vexes me at the moment: “Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória, Iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,
Cuius regni non erit finis.” Translated from the Latin, “And He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his reign will have no end.”

For Christianity, there is this time period between death and the Second Coming where the souls of the dead are hanging out and waiting for Judgement Day, when bodies shall be raised up and restored to their original state. There are so many problems with this notion, that I can’t imagine that it was designed to be taken literally. Bodies will not LITERALLY be raised from the grave on that day, because that is something out of everyone’s nightmare, and it simply doesn’t fit with Jesus’ metaphorical and symbolic teachings.

This is a great site for this interested in pursuing the debate:


For what’s it’s worth, from a non-theologian’s point of view, this is what I think as a researcher into the paranormal and survival of consciousness:

You can’t convince people to give up everything to follow Jesus if they don’t understand what the reward is. Jesus often spoke in parables and metaphors so that his followers could readily understand complex ideas. It makes no sense to tell people that they will go to Heaven with Jesus if they have no body. We experience this life through our bodies, and we simply cannot fathom what life would feel like without one. The “resurrection of the dead” allows us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, since He too was resurrected in bodily form after three days of physical death.

If you accept that Jesus performed miracles, then of course he could appear as a fully-formed human being three days after his death. Christians who do not believe in miracles are missing the experience of joy and hope that Christianity provides for so many people (this same joy and hope is present in most major religions). However, the Bible seems curiously silent on the issue of soul/body after death. Does the soul separate from the body after death, awaiting the resurrection of its body? Where does the soul go? Do all souls go to the same place after death, or are they categorized according to their worthiness to be with God?

I think that this is where reincarnation comes into the picture. Physical death occurs for everybody. The soul needs a new body, unless it is to go straight to God, which I think is for only the rarest and most enlightened of human beings. For the majority of us, we must find our way to God through through another lifetime to work our way towards God. When our journey to God is complete, then we will be completely resurrected, in a new body–a transcendent, holy body that encapsulates our enlightened soul, now with God. Until that moment, we are “dead,” in the sense that we are not with God.

The “resurrection of the dead” refers, then, to the whole integration of our spirits, souls and bodies with God. Until then, we cycle through lifetimes of experiences seeking to learn, to perfect, and to purify our emotions, intentions, beliefs and actions so that we are ready for our personal resurrection. There is not ONE single resurrection; our time comes when we are ready. Time means nothing in the Bible; only the contaminated life of earth is bound by time. There is no date, no time, no future, no present, no past for God. That is why the Bible states that we must always be ready for the coming of the Lord, for there is no way to know when we will be called (see the parable of the Bridesmaids awaiting their Groom).

Although reincarnation is not official Church doctrine, it was at one time before Church fathers and scholars purged all references to it in an attempt to differentiate Christianity from Eastern religions. A quick Google search of “Reincarnation and Early Church Doctrine” reveals much interesting information. It makes sense to me that the one area of survival of consciousness that has been most rigorously studied, researched and authenticated–reincarnation–dovetails nicely with the Biblical notion of a ‘waiting room’ before the Second Coming. The reason that the Bible is so vague on the destiny of souls after physical death, I think, has to do with editing and expunging references to reincarnation in the first few centuries A.D.

I am prepared for all comments, positive and negative, and I will listen to anyone who would like to correct, modify or argue against what I have said here, as long as you’re nice about it.

A fellow traveler,

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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


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