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When we rented our current home, I knew it was a troubled place. The landlady was enduring a bitter divorce, and she needed to move from the house that her husband had rebuilt for her and then abandoned. There were many unhappy scenes in the house before she left; according to her, his personality had undergone a ‘complete transformation’ while living here. He plotted and schemed in his office, planning an escape to a foreign country to be with his very young girlfriend, and his illegal activities prompted a federal agency to visit this property a few months back.

She suffered here after he left. There was evidence–which I will not detail here–that she did not deal with this huge loss in the healthiest of ways. While she was here and for several months after she left, she had one accident after another and fell terribly ill for several weeks. Her life unraveled in this house. When we first saw the place, both my kid and my husband had reservations. Ty thought it was “antiseptic,” and my daughter said the place was filled with “bad vibes.” I had decided to ignore my initial impressions and my feelings, primarily because I was sick of making decisions based on emotions. That was the reason I lost my beloved home at Marmora: I had made an emotional decision that cost the family every penny we had earned. This time, I reasoned, I am only following pure practicality. The house was big, boasted all the most modern conveniences, and was well constructed, since the previous owner was a contractor.

The strangeness of the house began almost immediately, and ever since we moved in last September, I have tried to leave. My gut instinct continued to drive me to find another home, even though my intellect was horrified at my hunches. My rational brain has been in a full-out battle with my animal instincts since Day 1. I wanted to be practical, I desperately wanted to make this work, especially because my husband settled in and had zero desire to uproot himself again. Moving is traumatic for everyone, but especially for my husband. However, I could not stop myself. I have been driven to look elsewhere.

Nothing has worked. Every time I thought we could get out, the possibilities vanished. We couldn’t buy anything, so I decided to find another rental property. This constant hunt for the next place is gradually shifting in the right direction, but something–some force greater than myself–has blocked me from moving the hell out of here. Our lease is up in three months, and I think I might have found something that will work–but if not, I vow to continue the search.

I made the mistake of confronting my house and the oppressive, angry atmosphere. I know that one is not “supposed” to run EVP sessions in one’s own house. However, I had done this many times over in the old house to no ill effect. When the energy is positive, one can run EVP sessions without fear of repercussion. When the energy is negative or sick, it is not advisable to try to figure things out on your own. My apologies to the paranormal community: I know I broke a golden rule. As a result, there is no way for me to be comfortable in my house.

Rather than go into detail about what I heard, I offer you a few clips to listen to yourself. I was alone in the house at the time. I have a bird that you might hear screaming in the background. It was around 11:30 AM. I was in the office, the same room where the ex-husband plotted his evil misdeeds. I feel him the most, even though he is not dead. I don’t believe physical death is a requirement for a haunting; more on that later. Here are the clips, but please do turn up the volume and wear headphones. Otherwise, you won’t hear anything. I will provide detail on what I hear at the end of the audio clip posts, so if you don’t want to know my interpretations, please write down your own impressions first and then see if they match mine.







What I hear in these clips is the following:

For the “Mesa Response” clip, I hear the word “DEPART” and then a knock.
For the “Right After I Say ‘Or Not’” clip, I hear “GET OUT OF HERE”.
For the “Mesa Woman Says Two Sentences” clip, I hear “Don’t you come back, go back” and then something else afterwards that is unintelligible to me.
For the “Mesa Whispered Response” clip, I hear “Sorry”.
For the “Mesa Woman Voice” clip, I hear a woman’s voice in the background at 3 seconds, and a faint, male voice responding at 4 seconds.
For the “Mesa Man and Woman Responds” clip, I hear the male voice start a sentence with “if you blink” but I can’t tell what he says afterwards, and the woman clearly responds “no”.

LITTLE KITTY BY GRAVE

The question is: what is happening in these clips that might explain the feelings in the house? I had always assumed that these voices were directing their “get out” messages to me; but upon listening to them again, it’s clear that most of what I am hearing is a dialogue between a man and a woman. This seems now to be more of an echo of past trauma in the house, a replay of the arguments that infected the home during the break up the marriage. I was convinced, until right now, that the male energy here wanted me gone; upon further reflection, there is no way to know that by listening to these clips.

I wonder now if the house is simply a repository of unhappiness. I have attempted to ‘cleanse’ the house of this energy, but to no avail. I don’t think that one can clear houses of either intelligent activity or of residual activity. When investigators claim to have accomplished such a feat, I am always skeptical. I don’t believe that we have such powers. I think that the rituals that we engage in to “lighten” a house serve mostly to make us feel better but have little effect on the residual or intelligent haunt. Activity can decrease temporarily, but it’s hubris to assume that we can eradicate spirit energies. Nothing will erase what happened here.

I am convinced that humans can haunt locations while alive. There is evidence for this in research conducted by the Society for Psychical Research (see Phantasms of the Living). There are many accounts of apparitions of living people who return in times of stress to interact with family or friends. There are many credible reports of people seeing someone they know in one location when that person is proven to be at another location. Trauma in a certain house or building can split one’s spirit or consciousness into active fragments that play themselves out again and again. My dearest friend is convinced that she is actively haunting certain places from her childhood where she experienced trauma. When she recalls certain incidents, she feels something akin to an ‘out of body’ experience where she is back at the site in spirit, venting her anger and outrage with such force that anyone at that site might be able to pick up her emotions.

This theory would also explain why people have the experience of having been somewhere before, to the point that they are able to identify landmarks, streets and buildings that they could not have seen in the flesh. Our consciousness is unbounded by time and space. We can experience much more than we are aware of on the surface. My landlady’s divorce continues to play itself out in her old house. She doesn’t know this, but she and her ex-husband are not finished hashing out the misery of their old unhappiness. Whether or not this is a “stone tape” recording of old grief or a continued interplay of two people on another level of consciousness is a question I cannot answer.

What makes all of this so heartbreaking for me is the fact that I am the only one living here who feels this sadness. My husband and kid are rarely at home. I am the only one who is here during the day, when the energy here is the heaviest. I live in one universe, and my husband lives in another. He simply does not perceive these invisible worlds. His inner life is as mysterious to me as my exquisite sensitivity to the outside world is mysterious to him. When one person can perceive alternate realities and the other can’t, it creates certain challenges.

I’m planning on finding us another home as soon as our obligation is met here. I am paying the price for ignoring my first impressions and attempting to negate my excellent instincts. I survived one divorce. I will not expose myself to the emotional and spiritual damage of yet another one.

I welcome your comments on this post and any interpretations you may have of the audio clips. If you heard something that I did not, please write to me. In the meantime, I wish you all a blessed week and much peace and love in your homes.

—Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

psychic

I live in terror of appearing naive, silly and unintelligent, and nothing makes you appear in such an unflattering light with more intensity than psychic predictions gone wrong. If you tell the world that you’re developing psychic abilities, the first reaction of most people is to snicker or to tell you, with great condescension, “that’s nice, honey.” My own mother typically responds to my hit-and-miss skills with “you’ve always had quite a fantastic imagination, haven’t you?”

So it hurts to have been so wrong about something I believed was destined to happen. The story goes like this: there are two houses near me, one which went up for sale before the other one, which happens to be next door. I “fixed my intention” (I know, very New Age, very barfy lingo from the 1970s) on the first house before the one next door put out a sign. However, that house was way out of our price range, not to mention that no one will loan me money with the scarlet “Short Sale” emblazoned across my chest. So anyway, I tried to forget about it. When the house next door to that one hit the market, I thought perhaps I had been wrong about the house I originally wanted; this one was older (1948), unbelievably retro with all original fixtures, paneling, kitchen, and so on, and was located on one acre of land with room for a pond for my husband. It was perfect!

On our first visit to the house, I noticed that the owner was a good Catholic: there was a little, brass Holy Water font by the front door, and later I would see that crucifixes were nailed above the bedroom doors. I was immediately hit by the sense that someone was with me. It was like walking through an electric force field or entering a highly magnetized environment. Paranormal investigators know what this is: someone attempting to manifest or communicate. In certain rooms of the house, the feeling of heaviness was almost unbearable. The living room was so alive with energy that I had to step back into the hallway. I was sure that the woman who used to live there had passed away in the living room, and quickly; either a stroke or a heart attack. The bedrooms felt peaceful, as did the office or craft room. The bathroom was fine . . . but then we arrived at the back, to the master bedroom, all the emotions were there, intense and invasive. I looked through the closets, and the former occupant’s clothes were there, as were her husband’s. Nothing had been given away or packed up. In fact, her belongings were everywhere: boxes of Christmas decorations, knick-knacks, and craft supplies.

This entire time my husband was wrinkling his nose, because he smelled something so offensive, he could hardly bear it. I noticed it too, but assumed it was old, stale perfume. My husband identified it as the “smell of death,” and I worried that this would kill any possible deal or agreement, so I reassured him that the smell would dissipate. However, that weird, sweet, chemical odor was so pungent, I couldn’t really imagine it dissipating quickly. I wondered if there was mold in the house, or if truly it was the scent of decomposing flesh. If you’re like me, you’re willing to overlook anything if you want the vintage house and the acre of land. Smell of death? No big deal!! Creepy vibes in two main areas of the house? No worries! It will all dissipate, right? Rotting wood on the back porch? Rotting wood on the roof? No problem! Just a few termites, maybe some water damage . . . neighbor so close he can watch you eat breakfast without binoculars? That’s OK, I’m sure he’s super nice!

I will put up with pretty much any imaginable inconvenience in order to nest in an historic place that hasn’t been updated, remodeled or “re-imagined”. However, in this case, I think I might have been fooling myself. I was dangling the promise of a pond in front of my husband, and if he thinks he gets a pond, he is more likely to overlook any issues a house may have, including spiritual ones. In any case, the house fit anyone’s definition of ‘haunted.’ As a good ghost hunter, I looked up information on the address and found the name of the former owner: Catherine Smith (names have been changed). It wasn’t much to go on, because she has one of the most common names imaginable in English. I meditated on who she might be and then tried to let it all go. That, of course, is when all the weird stuff started happening.

I was driving, thinking about food, when I was struck with intense emotion coming from the back seat. I knew immediately that it was Catherine. She was upset. She was crying. She was confused. I had been wandering around her house, and she didn’t know why. She had been polite, but it made no sense to her that Ty and I would be in her home without an invitation. But that’s not why she was upset. She still lived there in her mind, and didn’t understand her present condition. Why did everything seem so strange, so unmoored, so beyond her control? I started to speak with her out loud: “Catherine, you have passed away. I can’t help you. You’ve always been a good Catholic, so you know how to speak with God. Please talk to Him. He will explain what has happened to you, and He will rest your soul.” I went on like this for awhile, until I realized that the emotional charge in the car had dissipated, and there was, in its place, a peaceful, calm feeling. My sense was that Catherine had received the message.

That weekend, we drove up to the cabin. I was trying to take a nap on Saturday, but since I was obsessed with that house, it was nearly impossible. Just as I was drifting off, I experienced what I can only call a “vision,” since I was not yet asleep and still aware of my surroundings. I saw a wood door open, and then I saw the woman that opened it: she had the most wonderful smile. Her hair was pure 1950s, undulating waves of chestnut brown and bangs that curled under. She was wearing a sheepskin or buckskin coat, beige or whitish, with a fleece interior. Her face was impressed in my mind much like the other, few times I have “seen” a ghost: a clear, visual impression of a particular person with all the details crystal clear. There was no dream fuzziness or mutability; I can visualize her face right now with no difficulty whatsoever, just as I can “see” the ghost at Olivas Adobe, who turned out to be the matriarch herself.

I grabbed my trusty iPhone and started searching obituaries. I found Catherine Smith’s obituary in the Ventura County Star. The woman in the upper left hand corner of the obituary had EXACTLY the face of the person who had appeared to me moments earlier. However, the description of Catherine wasn’t an exact fit for the property we had just seen, since it made no mention of her living in Camarillo, but rather Canoga Park; however, her grand kids went to school in my neighborhood and her mortuary was the only one anyone does business with in Camarillo. Although I couldn’t prove it, it seemed that I had enough evidence to state with confidence that she was the woman that lived there. The only problem was, I was unable to understand who had lived there for the last two years. Catherine passed away in September 2011, and the house looked as if she had occupied it until recently. There were those nagging details that didn’t add up. I could not conclusively prove that the Catherine I had spoken to in my car was the same woman who had lived in that house; and if she had lived there, had she died a very long time ago?

This is where I went wrong. Did I help someone named Catherine ‘cross over’? I believe that I did; however, all I knew about her was what I read in the obituary. It bothered me considerably that I could not connect her definitively to that house. If Catherine did not live in that house, then how did she find me? Where did she come from? I had to rationalize all this, force it to ‘make sense,’ so I decided that in exchange for my spiritual assistance, Catherine was going to let us live in her house, without knowing exactly which house in this general area had been hers. Did I have any evidence at all that she intended to do this? Nope; it just seemed right in my head that she would want us to live there. It was a good story.

But that’s all if was: my invented outcome for something profound that had happened with a spirit, who–for whatever reason–reached out to me. I don’t know for sure where Catherine came from, but this “deal” I concocted was based on my desire to live in a cool, old house. I ignored the inconvenient facts: I hadn’t proven that Catherine actually lived in that house, and the house itself felt so oppressive in certain places that I was actually scared of moving there (although, I attempted to rationalize that, as well: I won’t be scared once we move in all our furniture and pets). In addition to all that, I now wonder if something demonic might have nestled in areas of the home. After all, the crosses over the doors and the putrid smell could be pointing in that direction . . . but I don’t want to ‘go there,’ as people say.

This morning, I had a feeling of dread as I scanned the California Moves website. I found “my” house, scrolled down the page, and saw those terrible, awful, catastrophic words: SALE PENDING. In less than two weeks, someone scooped up that house. It’s gone. Why did Catherine NOT want us living in her house? What possible reason could she have? I had to derail this train of thought, because it was clearly not leading to a logical station. My fantasies had spun out of control.

Psychic skill is real; of that, I have no doubt. We can receive information in a paranormal fashion, and spirits can seek us out for a variety of reasons; thousands of years of human experience attests to that. The issue is what we, as human beings subject to desires and fantasies, DO with the information we are lucky enough to receive. Are we careful in our research, cautious in our conclusions, and slow to create patterns where none may exist, or do we jump in and create a story that fits our needs, hopes, desires or (in my case) obsessions? I may not ever understand all the details of what happened with Catherine; however, I most assuredly should not have created an elaborate, self-serving narrative about it. I need to accept such moments of grace for what they are and be happy that I might have been of some assistance.

The other lesson is equally as important: make sure your research yields correct information and don’t make assumptions. If all the facts don’t fit, you have more work to do. Yet another important lesson, one I should have learned well by now: do NOT ignore those initial impressions, even–or especially–when they do not match what you want. There was something dark and unsettled in the house. I can’t define it, but do I really want to live in a house with my eyes wide open at 3:00 AM, wondering what is scratching at the walls and dragging itself down the hallway? Someone was protecting herself from something in that house. Do I really feel prepared to inherit that? Do I truly want to deal with fearful, oppressive energies that have oozed and seeped into the walls?

All the rest is the relentless, selfish promptings of my ego trying to get what it wanted. Maybe Catherine knew that what I thought I wanted would have been bad for me.

Perhaps it is yet another blessing in disguise.

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

Kitty at Marmora

After my rather self-pitying post, I received the following comment from Kamela, a reader. I reproduce it here because it was the kick in the butt that I desperately needed, and because I want to thank her for reading and responding to me. It means a great deal to someone who feels like sleeping all day. Here it is:

“I don’t remember how I came into contact with your blog but I have to say that the content here is always deeply engaging. Yet, I never knew anything about the reality TV show auditions and calls from producers. I just knew that what you posted here was truly interesting.

I suppose the first thing I would want to tell you is to find a new angle on how to repackage your interest. You have something that people are interested in. It’s just the adult thing to realize that you need to refine your interests and engage your audience. You have somehow missed connecting your ideas to your prime audience. You don’t need a producer to package it for you! You can package your ideas and opinions together into a book, for example. The evidence that your interests are engaging to a broad public become evident when you look at the success of books like “Proof of Life.” I bought my copy at Costco and loved it.

Another idea might be to create digital content that can stream world-wide. Digital is the future. Directors like the guy who did Garden State to Spike Lee are now turning away from Hollywood and are crowdsourcing movies on KickStarter-etc.. These are just a few ideas that you could explore.

Perhaps, taking some time to heal, might be the way in which you will find the new perspective that will swing you out of your rut. Of course, I don’t understand the full story of what you’re going through. But, I can tell from this post alone, that you have had life kick you hard and when your were down. Time to stand up and fight back. You are breathing! Things aren’t over. The loss of your home and at a terrible price isn’t going to stop you from shining forward-unless you want it to be your end. Spending lots of time in church is a good place to start but let it not be a place to hide while you are still here, breathing, with the rest of us. Stand up and prepare to fight for what is important to you.

More importantly, my husband’s lifelong neighbour died two weeks ago. It hit the community hard. He was a fireman that was loved by his family, friends, and colleagues. My mother in-law went over and cleared the snow from their driveway, after the holidays were over, then knocked on her neighbor’s door to give the Christmas gift she had bought for them before he had passed away.

His remaining wife was appreciative as would be expected. It was then that she told my mother-in-law that her husband said two things before he died. The first thing he said was:

“There are so many people waiting for me to join them.”

And then his final words were:

“I can see it. I can see the light.”

I’ve heard of stories like that my whole life. They are stories that are so common that its hard to believe.

Yet, when my mother-in-law told me, and I was never close to these people, I felt tears rise up because I knew that the words he spoke were true.

So instead of being hateful that life has dealt you hard blows or getting trapped in playing that victim mentality that could seriously squander away years of your life, try this instead: Forgive yourself. Let it go so that you open your heart up to all the possibilities and share what is meaningful to you.

Keep believing. Keep shining. Keep exploring. Keep having joy to follow the passions that have always given you faith.

Okay-that was the longest comment ever! Good luck!”

That comment was a God send. I cry every time I read it. Thank you, Kamela, for pulling me out of the pit.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

Kirsten in profile

There are those years, I have discovered, where you learn something about the world you live in that changes your perspective forever. Although I am 48 years old, I didn’t really grow up until the year 2013. Why do I say that? Simply because the process of becoming an adult is learning to accept that the world is not a reflection of your ego, desires, beliefs or fantasies. Becoming an adult is letting go of the notion that what lies beyond you is somehow an extension of you.

Let us begin with the world of economics and politics: our country landed in a recession that was so terrible that we are only beginning to see “recovery,” and that recovery is more for the folks and institutions that already had money to begin with. I used to believe in the American Dream; I truly did. I suppose that is why I purchased a home that was ¾ of a million dollars on a teacher’s salary. Anything was possible! My plan, and my husband’s, was to work hard, make lots of money on various projects, refinance the house when it was valued at a million dollars (that was inevitable, said the unscrupulous broker, don’t worry!) and keep moving on up, to the top—which for us, was going to be a lovely Craftsman perched on the hills above Malibu.

Around this time, I had filmed a ‘sizzle reel’ for a show featuring my paranormal group. We were poised to have our own reality show, and we were going to be famous. We were thinking about the books we needed to write and publish, the products we needed to market, and how to keep our private lives to ourselves when the paparazzi started swarming the Malibu house on that fictional hill.
In addition to the stress of stardom and sudden success, I had to figure out how to invest all the money that was coming to me from stocks my parents had gifted me. Any day now, the company in which I now owned stock would sell, and I would have yet more wealth to think about hiding from taxes. Ah, first world problems! There were so many projects, so many plans.

Then, things started to unravel. A family member landed in the hospital after attempting to leave this earth prematurely. The shock of that was followed by others. The “pitches” to the networks were revealing a depressing requirement that my life’s passion—the paranormal—be turned into a brawl fest where my para sisters were asked to drink copious amounts of alcohol, pull each other’s hair, insult each other’s husbands, and invent ghosts come hell or high water. We were summarily dismissed when it became clear that we liked each other, and that my family members could not be convinced to throw each other under the bus.

Gradually, it became clear that the reality show, the scripted show, the talk shows, the radio shows, the newspaper articles and all the publicity was dying, and quickly. Last Halloween, our big time of year, not a single producer contacted us, and no one cared to profile us anymore. We were suddenly uninteresting and then invisible. As much as I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care, that I was only interested in the survival of consciousness as a topic of intense personal and philosophical interest, I had to admit that I was deeply wounded. The pain continues. Life after death, it turns out, was only fascinating on television for the last few years. Now no one cares. Now the public wants to watch hillbillies wrestle alligators and vomit moonshine on one of their multiples wives.

With the various business opportunities vanishing quickly, I emptied all of my savings, drained retirement accounts and scampered after any scrap of income in order to pay a ballooning mortgage. When all that money was gone, I waited for Mr. X to sell his company so I could cash out my stock money. The company didn’t sell; Mr. X became distant and strange, refusing to return phone calls and difficult to track down. I stopped paying the mortgage as my lending institutions insisted I must do in order to save my home. “We will not help you,” they said, “unless you are in default.” Oh. OK.

You know the rest. The house was sold in a short sale for $300,000 less than what we paid for it. We moved to a rental in Camarillo. The show was dead. The stock was worthless. Our projects vanished into thin air. My job was still there, but greatly diminished, class offerings slashed. My family and friends distanced themselves from me, perhaps embarrassed at my multiple losses and my ongoing depression. Everyone protected themselves. My husband and I circled the wagons and tried to work through our emotions. I clung to him like a lone swimmer adrift in the wreckage.

My wonderful, loving kid decided to live with her mom (the biological one, that is) after we moved. I gifted her my car so that she could stay with us; but she had turned 17 and her life (read: friends) was not in Camarillo. I have been lucky to see her once per week. That was another heart-wrenching blow to my already delicate system.

You know what they say: If you want to make God laugh, tell him all about your plans. Well, God certainly was trying to make a point the last few months. I became obsessed with property, attempting to buy a house as soon as possible and mitigate the huge loss of my old home. Strange things started to happen to my property, that concept I held so dear. The cabin in the woods suffered a break in and was burglarized; my wallet was stolen at church; my identity was stolen subsequent to that incident, and my credit was hammered. I found out that no one, not even the government, is planning to loan me any money for a new home purchase anytime soon. I must be punished for three years by the same institutions that forced me out of my home and then made a tidy profit off of my loss (I explain how that worked in an earlier post).

I have experienced many losses in my life: divorce, serious illness, deaths in the family, mental illness and its aftermath, job loss, relocations, and so on. However, the loss of my projects, plans, hopes for the future and my home were new to me. This time, more than just a house was taken from me—my entire sense of who I am in the world has vanished and I don’t know what to replace it with. It used to matter that I was a paranormal investigator; now, I realize that very few people are interested in whether or not there is life after death. You either have faith, or you don’t; but no one will bother to listen to ‘evidence’ for anything, no matter how compelling. I don’t know what the public cares about anymore; I truly don’t. I’m not even sure what I care about any more.

At Starbucks the other day (a place I frequent in order to meet people in Camarillo), a nice older gentleman asked me about my current house. I told him the story about the old house, the short sale, renting, and so on. He smiled and cocked his head: “How could a Yale PhD, a professor, lose her home and be renting? One would think that you would be smarter than that.” Yes, he’s an asshole. However,
I wasn’t smarter than that. I believed the lies everyone told me: the banks, the brokers, the loan officers, the lenders, the ‘loss mitigation’ employees, the directors, the producers, the studios, the CEOs, and lots of other people who had power over me and were manipulating the hell out of me, and yet I couldn’t see it. Why couldn’t I see it?

For this reason: up to now, the world was a lovely place filled with people like me. I was a child in this place, believing that everyone worked for the betterment of the people. I wanted to believe, just like Fox Mulder. I also forged ahead thinking that “the Truth is out there,” and it was glorious, and everyone would run towards it once I revealed it for all to see. I was naïve, egocentric, narcissistic, and most all, ignorant. At least now, I can truly say that I am an adult, and that is not a happy thing to be.

The upside? I spend a great deal of time in church. God has been hammering home a message to me for a few years now. I suppose I refused to listen, so He had to use the nuclear option. I’m listening now.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

Desolation

When I walked up to my little cabin, I noticed that the door was ajar by a couple of inches. My natural instinct was not to turn around and lock myself in the car, but to walk in. It’s hard to describe the feeling as I stepped on the glass shards of what was my kitchen window and saw a shattered picture on the floor; then I noticed the sagging, ripped blinds and the short-wave radio face-down on the table, where I know it wasn’t before. Things were missing, oddly out of place, disturbed, moved, wrong . . . I felt a wave of sick panic and dread. I finally walked out and called the police.

They were in no great rush. It was, after all, just another break in of a mostly empty cabin. Our fault, really; we should be there more often. My thoughts ran along this track: we deserved this; it’s a sign from God that we have too much, that we are spoiled materialists; why do we have a cabin if we only show up once every two months or so? Then, again, you deserve this, Kirsten. Your fault. The accusations were relentless. I called the glass guy and almost cried as I set up the appointment for him to replace the glass. I saw the neighbor and told her, breathless, about what had happened. Her reaction was curious; she expressed no surprise whatsoever. She behaved as if I were accusing her of something, or suggesting that she should have seen something or reported it. She bore the marks of a guilty conscience, but why? She walked away with her big, brown dog and I returned to the car to ruminate.

After wallowing in recriminations and suspicions, I returned to the scene of the crime, a place which used to be my home. I walked through the living room; someone had dumped out the contents of a drawer. The radio was gone. Some CDs had disappeared. The door to the little humidor was open, its contents re-arranged. One of the WWII machetes on the wall was missing; then I found it on top of the antique organ. The keys were all messed up, and there were screws on the keyboard. Had they chopped up the keyboard? Why would anyone do that? Were they hiding something here? Then: the glass to the door of the wood burning stove was missing. The door itself was outside the kitchen window. The cops re-installed the door without the glass. This slowly started to obsess me: why the missing glass door?

I didn’t notice anything missing in the bathroom. I ascended the stairs and quickly ascertained that no one had entered Imanya’s room. At the time, I didn’t ask myself how I knew that; but now I realize that it was a psychic impression. I didn’t feel them there, and I knew that they had felt compelled to leave before they had the chance to look in her room. I knew that they felt they needed to leave quickly, but I wasn’t yet sure why. In our bedroom, there were books and pictures strewn across a wood storage bench. At first, I thought the pictures were broken. The closet was open. A corner of the bedspread was turned up, forming a little triangle on one corner of the bed. Thought: people were in our bedroom . . . people I don’t know. People who tried to kick in the door, force the locks, and when unsuccessful, shattered our kitchen window with a large rock. Those people, strangers, searched our bedroom for something unnamed. I heard labored breathing and realized it was me, trying to catch my breath.

Panic attacks feel like someone has drugged you with powerful stimulants. You shake, you can’t find enough air, you see dots and spots floating in your vision, your legs can barely hold you upright, and you feel cold and hot at the same time. You can also fly down a flight of stairs, run through a small house and reach your car in 22 seconds flat. That is what I did. By the time the police arrived, I was freezing cold and staring straight ahead into empty space in the front seat of my car.

The investigation was cursory and unsuccessful. There were no obvious fingerprints. These unnamed perpetrators didn’t steal anything worth a great deal of money, and they didn’t vandalize the cabin. Later, when my shaken husband showed up after a four hour trip from the Valley, we realized that certain items of value were stolen. We started a list. It was a surreal game of detective: what used to be here, on the wall? Where are my binoculars? What happened to my North Face jacket? Bit by bit, we cataloged the losses; but the biggest loss was building up in both of us: we had been thrown off our center, kicked out of yet another home by a force more tangible than a distant, corrupt bank: we were, yet again, psychologically homeless.

I tried to imagine, at first, who these people were. I was certain that there was more than one. In my hysteria, I couldn’t fix any identities, and everyone–neighbors, friends, family–had different theories after they heard the story. I wandered around blessing the house and praying, cleaning up glass, praying some more, scrubbing the floor, blessing the house, cleaning the windows, putting away the scattered items, repeating the Our Father, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ attempting to see them as victims as well, poor, desperate, addicted?

My husband attacked the door-repair project. The glass guy installed another pane. Everyone seemed suspicious to both of us. Did the glass guy have his delinquent kid break the glass so his father made more money? Even friends and acquaintances in town appeared stand-offish and distant. What did they know? Do they blame us for not occupying our cabin? Was this a conspiracy? Did everyone know what happened, yet refuse to tell us?

Ty built up a fortress: alarms for the windows, motion detectors, timers for radios and lights, and a front door that looked like it came out of a Mad Max movie. I cleaned like a woman possessed. At times, the cabin returned to us as a refuge and a place of peace and beauty. But something lingered, a certain darkness that they left behind. You couldn’t see it, but you could feel it. It came and went in waves, that strange density and silence where something terrible had happened. There was a shadow by the window in the kitchen that connected with the part of my brain that felt fear; and something else was connecting, too, something that was about to make contact with me through my dreams, in the dead of night.

Last night, I saw her. She was with a man wearing a hood, his face dark. They were in their thirties, or perhaps late twenties. Something was wrong with the lower half of her face; either she was missing teeth, or her jaw was caving in. Her lips were very thin, her nose slightly beaked at the tip. Her face was very pale. She wore a light-colored sweatshirt, not enough to keep her warm. She wasn’t thin, but was losing weight. She was slightly taller than me. I can’t see her eyes. I can’t see her hair. She is telling her partner, who doesn’t give a damn about our property and would happily take an ax to all of it, she is telling him to leave things alone, to not make a mess, to not touch things they don’t need. She sees the Virgin Mary on the wall; she feels bad, she feels watched. He doesn’t care; he doesn’t see anything or feel anything. Her job is to keep him in check.

He is the one responsible for kicking the door, for prying the locks, for tossing the rock through the window. She stands back, her hands in the pockets of her sweatshirt. He keeps his hood up. All I can see of his face is a broken nose, the face of a boxer. He is very, very dark. Something in him broke and died a long time ago. I’m afraid of him. She is taking things they need. I can’t see what they are taking, but I know that they have a definite and specific purpose. This isn’t random; this is part of a larger need, a project, a plan. Upstairs, she is frightened. She hears something, or she sees something, but whatever sends her away is powerful. I don’t know if he feels it, too, but they leave very quickly. It’s night. They used a flashlight to see into drawers and storage spaces. They didn’t find everything that they wanted; but they had to leave.

I see her face all night. She is addicted to methamphetamine. She lost teeth and has jaw problems from the effect of the drugs. When I wake up, the first thing I say to Ty is: I saw her. She’s an addict. So is he, but it’s more in control. She is losing all hope. They are cold and living somewhere with no heat. It’s winter; she’s desperate. He’s working on something. He needs . . .

The glass. The tempered glass in the door to the wood-burning stove. That’s it. I look up the shopping list for meth production. First item needed: Tempered glass. I’m thinking, thinking that something else was missing from the kitchen and the bathroom, and then it hits: cough syrup, gone; Sudafed, gone; all drugs in the bathroom cabinet, missing. In my altered state over the weekend, I noticed that there were gaps in the medicine cabinet and in the kitchen shelves, but I couldn’t place it. It hits me. The blender is gone. I look at the methamphetamine shopping list: tempered glass, blenders, Sudafed, aspirin, cough syrup . . . my hands feel light and shaky, my head is floating off my shoulders, the world is unreal.

Do you believe that I saw her? Do you think I know who they are? How did I know? Somehow, it doesn’t matter; I do know. I could pick her out of a line up. Maybe one day, I will.

Everything I have written here is the most accurate representation I can give you of what actually transpired over this last weekend. The police may never find the people who robbed us; but know, I feel that I know them. This hasn’t helped my panic, because I am not scared of her; she is a sad, broken, addicted woman who protected our cabin from her partner. I am scared of him; I can’t see his eyes, I can’t read his face. He is a void, a black hole where nothing I care about is allowed to exist. He is still out there, searching for the next rock to throw into the next window, and if someone happens to be home, he will do whatever he thinks is necessary to escape unnoticed and unrecognized. He has become, for me, the stuff of nightmares.

He reminds me of the dead space at the end of the long, dark corridors in the worst units in the old Camarillo State Hospital. He left some of that darkness in our cabin and in the corners of my exhausted brain.

Our Father . . .

–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

HOME

Santa Monica Mountains

Many times, I have wanted to write on Soul Bank. Countless times, I have recited my blog post in my head, thinking that “all” I had to do was commit it to paper. The months have rolled by, and I simply have not been able to write anything here, even though there is always so much to say. Even though I had about 100 different topics in mind for the next entry, I will have to limit it to this topic: home.
As anyone who reads this (and I don’t know if there is anyone left) knows, my family and I were forced into a short sale of our home. We are renting a lovely house in Camarillo now. Everything should be over and done with, and I should be well on my way to recovery and enjoyment of our new life. That has not happened. The new place is simply not “home.”
What is home? It seems like a simple question, but yet it’s very complex. “Home” is a feeling almost more than a concrete reality of place or time. You can travel to a place you have never been before and feel instantly that you are home. You can occupy a house for decades, yet never feel that it’s truly your home. For some people, the only true home is with God; but, what does that really mean? God is nowhere and everywhere, so to be with God is more about, yet again, a feeling or a conviction. For others, the homeland is the only space where they can find peace and happiness. It doesn’t matter if the homeland has been ravaged by war or internal strife; that place is more of an idea, a connection, something that draws you to your roots. I have heard people say that nothing is more painful than exile from one’s homeland. In many cultures, exile is worse than death.
I have no homeland. I grew up wandering around Oregon, Spain, California, Connecticut and Wisconsin. My parents didn’t settle into a place until I started college. We moved regularly, following my father from job to job until he landed at a community college in Huntington Beach. My mother created elaborate fantasies about nearly every place we visited on those long trips back to Oregon. We were going to start a restaurant or some strange little business in every picturesque small town in which we spent more than half an hour. She hated Huntington Beach for years, just like my grandmother hated Eugene, these places where they had been forced to live by the demands of their husbands’ work. Eventually, though, my parents rooted themselves in a town home by the ocean and they are well and truly stuck there to this day, and, I imagine, to the day they pass from this Earth.
I’ve been exiled twice: once through divorce, and once by virtue of the housing crisis and financial collapse. My old Craftsman bungalow in Long Beach was the place I wanted to live out my life, and then, after much agony and adjustment issues, the old hunting lodge in the Santa Monica Mountains became my true home. Not coincidentally, both those houses were well and truly haunted. The chronicle of startling events in the Long Beach house is worthy of an entire book. The ghosts were powerful there. When we settled in the cabin (a place we still refer to as ‘The Nest’), we spent the first night listening to the sound of heavy boots tromping across the living room. Of course, there were only the two of us and two terrified cats cowering under the sheets. The Woodland Hills house was filmed three times and had a certain reputation for its “ambiance”. It’s too bad that those segments were never aired, because then you could truly see how alive that place was.
The house in Camarillo does not belong to me, and that’s a fact that I feel more keenly than my husband. It is still attached and connected on an emotional/spiritual level to its owner, who occasionally stops by and expresses her dismay with our decorating through her body language and pained facial expressions. When I left The Nest, I didn’t disconnect myself from the property, either. So, since Karma will always get you, I am paying the price now for my emotional refusal to let go of the old house. The new owners, I am quite sure, feel me everywhere there. I made little ‘tear crosses’ all over the walls and left a letter to the house in a secret place where I know the new owners won’t find it.
If my years as a paranormal investigator have taught me anything, it’s the concrete reality of spirit. It’s not a vague, fuzzy intuition that we interact with spirits, but a real, authentic knowledge that we construct relationships that mature and develop over time. My theory, then, is that in these two houses I connected with the spirits of that place. I don’t know who they were, but they were real. They spoke in EVP, responded by banging the roof and walls when I talked to them, and as recently as two weeks ago, serenaded me with deafening knocks and bangs when I returned to my old home for the last time. It’s a little uncomfortable to have a relationship with something/someone that you cannot see or identify, but it’s undeniable that it exists. I suspect that the land is as haunted or more so than the house itself. I could ‘feel’ that house and the spirits of the mountains every time I returned home. Home, then, was a feeling, the most intense feeling I have ever know outside of my love for my husband and daughter.
That feeling is based on a reality that ‘ghost hunters’ deal with every day. It’s confusing and strange that I can’t pinpoint who was in the house and/or around it. I have to simply accept the fact that not all relationships can be clearly understood—perhaps none of them can. I lost more than a place; I lost a feeling.
There are signs, however, that the feeling can return and is not dependent on a place. This morning, for example, I walked down the driveway and looked out towards the hills and mountains of Newbury Park and Camarillo. The sun was shining on the tower of the Catholic Church on Ventura Boulevard. As I approached my car, there was a dove sitting on top. I reached over and stroked her neck before she flew off towards the avocado trees. It was a strange feeling; almost like I was home again.
–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

created homes 1

“Consciousness is a fundamental property, like mass or charge. Wherever there is an entity with multiple states, there is some consciousness. You need a special structure to get a lot of it but consciousness is everywhere, it is a fundamental property.” Giulio Tononi, neuroscientist
created homes 2

Consciousness is everywhere. Pause for a moment, and let those words sink in. Your brain doesn’t produce your experiences; “you” are not an epiphenomenon. Consciousness is a state. You need structures (brain) to process it or reduce it to something intelligible, but it’s a never-ending resource. I remember reading this lovely comparison of the body to a vehicle that you (consciousness) can enter and use for the time that you need it. Dying is like leaving the car behind, because you no longer require its services. Another metaphor was shedding a coat when you no longer need it. In both cases, “you” are not the physical material that is so often confused with ultimate reality or absolute necessity. I suppose that another metaphor is the ‘house’ vs. the ‘home’. You should not confuse the house—that physical, material entity—with the ‘home’, which travels with you from place to place and that you create. Real estate agents have long known this, as have banks; they know (banks, that is) that people confuse house and home all of the time, and that is why desperate property owners will empty their savings accounts and raid their 401K in a desperate bid to save a home, all the while not realizing that ‘home’ is a concept and a creation, not a place.

I have been very confused of late, since selling my home yet continuing to live in it. I mean, my house (still waiting for EvilMac and MeanTree to approve the short sale, however). I love to explore houses of all kinds, and since I have spent much of last couple of years searching for the Perfect Rental, I have seen many, many houses in a variety of places. I am particularly sensitive to the energies in abodes, and that energy comes from many places: the people who lived there, the spirits who are still attached to the place and the interaction of the living with the house’s consciousness. Mix into that the energies of artifacts and objects in the building and the history the home witnessed or helped to create. So, the simple dwelling-place becomes an extraordinarily complex site for me. It takes time and energy to disentangle the emotions that the living leave behind.
created homes 3

Particularly difficult is the fact that I fall in love with many homes. I don’t always know or understand what I am falling for, whether the house itself or the energies of the family that lived there, or the spirits of the past, or some conglomeration of all of that. I have found myself hopelessly enamored of more old houses than you can imagine, and I could see my family in all of them. So, it’s strange that I chose a new house for my family. It has a rather lonely energy to it, that of an abandoned dream. I tried to sleep over there during this long transition between two houses, and I couldn’t—I tore out of there at 12:15 AM and drove back to the old abode. I keep seeing in my mind’s eye the figure of a man staring at me from the doorway to the bedroom. I wish I understood this better, but the hallway is the only active area in the new house. There is no good reason for that, as far as I know. But I avoid the hallway whenever possible, to the point of walking from the master bedroom, across the patio, and into the kitchen.

The office is fine; my kid’s room is fine; the hallway, not fine.

My impression? The house is replaying the story of its recent past, which includes an unhappy marriage, schemes and shady dealings, affairs; the usual sadness of relationships gone terribly wrong. There is also a massive difference between the daytime hours and the evening hours. During the day, that house is happy to see me. We plan and decorate, feed birds and water plants. But at night, everything changes. An old heaviness returns, and I feel things moving around the hallway, pacing, thinking, processing heavy emotion. I never feel uncomfortable at the original house, and I don’t think I have ever been afraid at the Woodland Hills pad, even when our ghosts were making a racket (this is all documented with photos, video and audio clips from numerous investigations there, but for obvious reasons, my husband has asked that I keep all this to myself). My old house is very active, but it never really scares me. So what do I do?
created homes 4

It doesn’t help matters when moving involves discovering old boxes of stuff that you haven’t opened since 1998 (the year I moved from Appleton, Wisconsin to Long Beach, CA). All the loss of the last 15 years comes spilling out like fresh blood from old wounds. Suddenly, I am confronted with the deaths of two friends, Lisa and Rebecca; the beginnings of the end of my first marriage; the loss of my tenured job at Lawrence University (I left voluntarily, the first time anyone in their 170 year history to quit with tenure); the people I loved who have utterly disappeared from my life; the work of decades, all for nothing. I think of all the homes I moved away from starting in 1998, with the sale of my Victorian farm house on El Dorado Street: the apartment on Orizaba; the house on Vista Street; the perfect Craftsman on Molino (I spent about five years mourning that loss); the Vose pad (that one I don’t miss. Winnetka is not a great city); and now, the hardest one of all, the 1920s hunting cabin in the Santa Monica foothills. I searched for that home for years, while trapped at Vose Street. I have never, in all my adult life, lived anywhere for seven, straight years. It was my longest and most heartfelt commitment. It was the home where I realized that I could be a good parent in spite of the horrors of middle and high school, and where I understood that love can last longer than ten years.

But if houses are only the physical manifestation of the concept of home, then it should be easy to recreate home somewhere else. At least, that was my assumption when I started writing this post. However, I’m starting to see that the issue is slightly more complex. Consciousness, as Tononi states, truly is everywhere. That means houses do not, cannot, limit it. I may create a new consciousness of home somewhere else, but I have not annihilated the home I created before. Nor have I vacated the other homes where my life played out with such drama and passion. Add to that the fact that all the other people who imprinted their emotions, beliefs, actions and passions are still there in some sense, and you have a potent mix of human energy. I see all this as different frequencies operating in a home, something like multiple channels that someone with big antennae can pick up, as if tuning into a station. Everything that happened in a building is always still happening, because the concept of time doesn’t apply to consciousness.

Consciousness is atemporal.

Perhaps that is how I have changed through years of fine-tuning my sensitivities to other realities. When I trigger a memory through reading an old notebook or journal, I don’t experience it as “past,” but as happening right now. Lisa just overdosed. Rebecca just drowned. Robert just moved out. I just returned from seeing my kid in the hospital. We just lost Kenny. The list goes on and on. This is a peculiar aspect to my being that others have noticed in me since I was a child. The word “memory” implies that something is over, but for me, nothing with strong emotion attached to it is EVER OVER. I don’t ‘recover’, really, because these events just keep happening. Of course, I have to learn to live with these multiple and competing realities and I have to accept this personal “multiverse,” because otherwise I would lose my mind.
created homes 5

This is what has been happening for the last several weeks. I have “tuned” into all the grief and trauma of the last fifteen years (actually, it goes back much further than that) and all of it is hitting me at once. Add to that the new feelings to process in the future home, where the past is also replaying itself on a less intense (because I did not personally experience it) level. This is the side effect of working so hard on my consciousness: now I can pick up on everything that is playing itself out around me, including future events that have already happened and past events that are about to happen, and current events that are all superimposed on each other like some bizarre, space collage. Who said that time and space are the same thing? Einstein, I think, maybe that was what relativity was all about . . .

Originally, when I started expanding my ‘cosmic consciousness,’ I wanted to overcome my fear of death; I discovered that ‘death’ as a concept is very limited to the physical nature of the animal, which doesn’t really interest me all that much; only insofar as death implies loss of material experience. Conscious experience, on the other hand, doesn’t ‘die’ or disappear, because it is outside of time and entropy. The problem is: how do I stop experiencing every reality at once? It isn’t that I am losing a home– it’s that I have too many homes and too many Kirstens living all the versions of my life that have been or will be. I have to bring down the walls and establish the boundaries, but the process of moving has ripped away the veil between this world and all the others, yet again.

Erin (my Paranormal Housewife sister) and I have both moved in the last few weeks (OK, so I’m still working on it), and our recent investigations have been extremely intense in terms of spirit activity—perhaps due, in part, to the upheaval of relocation. Erin, however, is a master of shielding herself from precisely all the realities that are bombarding me at the moment. I don’t know how to protect myself from these multiple worlds colliding and interacting in strange ways. I want to shut the doors without locking them.

Does anyone out there know how to do that? I could use your help.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW
Kirsten Almost Asleep

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