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Abandoned cabin 1

abandoned cabin 2

abandoned cabin 3

abandoned cabin 4

abandoned cabin 5

QUEST OVER

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

PHW 8

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,

Kirsten

BOWIE

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

Kir with Bangs May 2014

The other night, I found myself (as I do so many nights, alas) stuffing yet another box with the various and sundry items my husband and I collect from every antique store within 40 miles of us, when I heard my better half open the door from the garage to the hallway, clomp down said hallway (he is not light of foot, I fear) and drop his keys into the metal tray where he keeps spare change, small knives, keys and unidentified, tiny objects.

So, of course, I scamper down the hallway to greet him with my usual enthusiasm, borne of too many hours alone in this gigantic house. I head into the bedroom. He is not there. I check the bathroom, the closet (why he would be hiding in the closet is beyond me) and the outside patio and workshop. Nobody has returned home. About 1/2 hour later, I hear the door open from the garage, Ty’s heavy feet walking down the hallway, the clang of his keys landing in the metal tray . . . and this time, when I run in to see if this is actually my husband (with some real trepidation, I must confess), there his is, loosening his tie and looking tired.

What happened?

I don’t know. Why I would hear a preview of my husband returning home about 30 minutes before the actual event seems illogical and nonsensical in the extreme. I was not expecting him to return earlier than he did, therefore I doubt this was a hallucination created by my desires or expectations. Also, the cats and bird heard these sounds as well, since Gracie started screaming and Bingo hid under the chair. Nod’s ears twirled around, picking up the domestic sounds she hears everyday, but still appear to disconcert her.

I’m afraid that the woman of many words has none to explain this phenomenon. If someone has a decent theory, please elucidate it so that I may post it here. I suspect this has something to do with time slips, which would require a time-travel or multiverse theory to explain it. Time as a concept fascinates me, since it appears to be entirely artificial, a human construction that allows us the illusions we require to maintain our sanity. Some of the current theories in quantum physics posit all events happening concurrently, which only appear to be ordered chronologically to accommodate our poor, mammalian brains. Therefore, if I can follow my own logic, there was a slip or glitch in my perception of chronology; for a moment, the universe presented itself as it really is, a timeless space where all things are happening simultaneously. It’s as if reality, for a brief moment, allowed an event to occur out of biological time. All the creatures in the house perceived something that wasn’t supposed to happen for us until 30 minutes later.

Now that I’ve talked myself into complete confusion, I do so welcome your comments.

With much affection,

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
Rank amateur explorer of reality

Kitty Too Green

I have been possessed three times that I can remember. Why do I choose the term “possessed?” Simply because it best explains, describes and interprets my experience.
The first time, I was in Scotland in August of 2003. My husband (boyfriend, at the time) and I were staying at a castle with a long, checkered history of violence, war, domestic abuse and rape (does this, perchance, describe the history of most castles in Europe?). We were staying in a room straight out of Medieval Scotland, where they had taken pains to preserve the ambiance of the time. There was an enormous stone fireplace facing the canopy bed, and tiny windows looking out over the grounds. The walls were of stone many feet thick, so that we were well protected from cannon ball blasts and other instruments of 12th century combat.
That night, I was thoroughly exhausted from the miles of walking around the city and the time change from California. My husband was filled with adrenaline and enthusiasm, so he opted for the midnight tour of the castle, replete with history lessons and ghost stories. Before the tour, we knew nothing of the stories associated with the castle. I was happy to fall asleep in peace, knowing that my mate was occupied in learning the Things We Were Supposed to Know about our castle. Everything becomes confusing at this point; I vaguely remember fighting off my husband at some point between midnight and 4 AM. I heard myself yelling at him to stop pulling my hair, and I remember how angry I was. My emotions felt entirely foreign to me, as if I were acting out someone else’s drama. As it turns out, I was.
One of the stories Ty had heard while on tour was about the maid that lived in our room, who also happened to be the mistress of the prince. She had committed the unpardonable sin of becoming pregnant; thereby jeopardizing his good name and potentially bring into the family an assertive and property hungry bastard. Instead of handling this in a more humane manner, he decided one night to burn her alive in the very same fireplace that faced our canopy bed. He “dragged her by the hair from her bed, where she had been fast asleep, and pushed her forcibly into the fireplace”. The next morning, Ty told me her story and recounted for me my battles with him the night before.
It’s a frightening experience, feeling that someone else is trying to control your mind and body. I don’t wish to discuss here again the details of the attempted possession by some rotten hag who followed me from Camarillo—that is detailed elsewhere on this site. So allow me to skip to the most recent incident, one which occurred last night. I do suffer from panic attacks, and many might think that what I am about to relay is simply that; however, there are some key differences between a panic attack and an attempt at possession or a ‘borrowing’ of your body and mind as a vessel. Around 1:00, I was sure that I had lost the ability to breathe. That is a hallmark of the panic attack; once I figured that out, something else happened. I simply could not remember who I was, or where I found myself. Everything in the room looked utterly foreign. I felt that I was engaged in a battle to remember myself. I kept reciting the names of my cats, my family members, my daily routine, in a desperate bid to stop something from happening that was clearly in process. At one point, I yelled out “MY PARENTS DON’T LOVE ME”, and I was about to lose consciousness right after I said it. I remember forcefully kicking out whoever was expressing that terrible sentiment and gradually returning to myself through prayer.
So, there you have it. It felt like a child or a teenager had invaded my too open mind to express something that the world needed to hear. Once again, this did not “feel” like me, not even some subconscious part of me that needs addressing. I am fairly good about incorporating my conscious and semiconscious aspects into one whole, albeit damaged, personality. Of course, no mental health professional will EVER believe that I could have been possessed. For them, everything boils down to unconscious processes that I can’t possibly understand on a conscious level, because, well . . . that’s the definition of ‘unconscious’.
There are some curious aspects to my possession incidents that are not explained by the unconscious mind, as far as I am concerned: the feeling that I am not ‘me’ and that my surroundings are foreign, belonging to someone else; the sentences that I utter come flying out unbidden and unrelated to anything I am feeling or thinking about; the sense that I am battling for control of my mind, my utterances and my thought process. It is this last aspect that is peculiarly terrifying and strange. I have plenty of panic attacks and anxiety issues without the features mentioned above. In fact, these episodes stand out so clearly because I have so many emotional states to compare them to. They are struggles between Kirsten and whoever wishes to use Kirsten to express his/her anguish. I am something of a control freak, and I really do not wish to be someone who channels spirits. I’m so afraid that one of them will decide to take up permanent residence.
I have nothing else to add here except to say that I am continually shocked at the power and reality of the spirit world. I started out as an investigator thinking that the best I would find of the so-called Other Side would be a couple vague voices on audio or a chill here and there from a scary place, but I never, ever, ever anticipated the sheer, overwhelming presence and invasion of the invisible world. I may not SEE those in spirit, but every other sense picks them up with such regularity that the challenge is no longer to find them, but to keep them at bay!
I would most appreciate any feedback you might have regarding possession by spirits. I need to hear from others who know what I am talking about.
Sincerely, as always,
–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Me all hip

I think I’ll do the Oprah thing and continue posting pictures of myself to consolidate my tremendous fame.

First of all, I want to assure Patrick, who commented below, that I am not a terrible whiner about people not listening to anomalous audio clips, and I’m sorry that I came off that way! I understand that paranormal audio is tricky, and can be interpreted differently depending upon who is listening. In the case of my personal EVP session in my home, I controlled the situation well so no aural artifacts interfered with the recording; also, after hundreds of hours of listening to stomachs, weird house noises, stray pet sounds, other people’s breathing and mumbling, I have developed a very good ear for paranormal sounds/voices. I feel confident in the clips I posted, because I know that I have learned over time to discard the random noises around me that interfere with recordings. I also know that true EVP share certain characteristics. There is a certain rhythm and pattern to the intonations, an almost otherworldly quality to them, that distinguish them from the pings, knocks and sighs from this world.

BUT . . . I am not writing to convince anyone that what I recorded was genuine spirit communication. If you’re inclined to believe that that is either impossible or that most people think a rumbling tummy is Satan’s moans from Hell (and sometimes, it is), then you won’t believe that someone invisible in my house told me to get out. It’s enough that I know that someone in my house told me to get out. The question is, do I listen?

In any case, most–emphatically NOT all–investigators are not terribly interested in the data that other teams produce. This is obvious to anyone in the field who follows teams or individuals who study the paranormal. This is due to a couple of factors: competition and a lack of respect for other teams’ skills, education, and authority in the field. Sadly, so many of us are busy securing the Ideal Location, writing the Ultimate Post, or chasing reality television. I include myself in all those categories. I wish that I worried less about my public image and compelling people to believe in the afterlife; however, I have this need to prove to the world that the data I am collecting is REAL, not a misinterpretation, a fantasy, an invention or a misguided attempt to make myself feel better about my (our) impending physical death.

Over time, I have discovered that I can’t convince most people about the reality of continuation of consciousness. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a ghost could walk up to you, explain the workings of the afterlife, disappear, reappear, and rearrange all your furniture with a wave of his hand right before Jesus shows up to take him to dinner, and STILL MOST PEOPLE WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT. There is nothing I can present to an audience that involves their five or six senses that might convince them of the reality of the next life. Therefore, we are working with faith, intuition, parapsychology and anomalous ways of knowing.

That’s it for now. Jesus has been waiting for me to have tea with Him for the last 45 minutes. I appreciate His patience. We’re going to Starbucks, because no one ever recognizes Him there; in fact, He says, mostly nobody pays attention anywhere. We’ll be left alone.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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