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I decided to read some old diaries, from years back. I had expectations: I would see how much I had evolved over the last year, how truly different I had become after all of my spiritual experiences, and I would feel compassion for the Kirsten of yesterday, pre-Spiritual Awakening. Perhaps, I pondered, I could hold a ceremony for that poor woman shredded by anxiety and beaten down by depression; a ‘soul healing’ for who I used to be.

I read avidly, looking for all the signs that I had, indeed, achieved Enlightenment. The more I read, the more my spirits fell. Something’s wrong. I did not see much difference. I poured over diary after diary, hoping that I would see how much I had transformed. I didn’t see it. Instead, I saw that I was the same. THE SAME. After a year of dazzling and shocking revelations, wild visions, intense talks with God and the Universe, countless hours of meditation, regular experiences in states of altered consciousness, a total spiritual breakdown, trance states, taking to the dead, reading people’s minds, channeling, you freakin’ name it, nothing fundamental was different about me.

I read back through Soulbank, hoping that I would see evidence of my progress there. Nope. What I wrote in 2009 followed the same–or similar– themes as now. I poured over everything I wrote over the last year, looking for huge shifts in my Ascension Process. Nope. I had revelations, forgot about them, had them again; I would swear something was new and shocking, but actually it was an understanding I had arrived at years prior. This was something similar to my Nine Churches in Six Years journey, which led me from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church to community churches to something called New Thought. I arrived at the end where I had started out: confused. Angry. “Why,” I thought, “am I not getting anywhere?”

I ask the same question now: “WHY am I not getting anywhere?” The answer is quite plain and simple: there is nowhere to go. There is no final, spiritual destination. There is no correct path, no best way to Get There. There is, actually, no path at all. I always thought that a moment would come when you knew that you had arrived: you were happy, almost all the time, and everything–all the Big Mysteries–would be solved. You would have found peace and radiate love. Children and animals would naturally gravitate towards you, because they sensed that you contained a Buddha or Jesus-like radiance. Dammit. I was gonna be HOLY.

I started reading about monks who had spent 20 years meditating and found that they were still angry, judgmental, fearful, and confused. Sometimes they were happy and calm; sometimes they hated everything and everybody. That made no sense to me–isn’t the point of all these experiences that we come to peace with ourselves and our God? And isn’t that peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’ supposed to be permanent? What’s going on here?

I myself was very judgmental for quite some time regarding paranormal investigating. It was a pseudo science, it was pointless, it was providing no solid evidence for life after death, and so on. At some point over the last year, it hit me: just as there is no right way to figure out reality and God and the Universe and the nature of consciousness, there is no WRONG way to figure it all out, either. If the Ghost Radar and weird audio are leading you somewhere you want and need to go, then that is just as valid as attending Mass, meditating for hours, praying, chanting, spinning, or eating strange berries that make you see serpents in the clouds. Who was I, or anyone, to judge what method was best for finding yourself or discovering the secrets of the Cosmos?

Last January, I went through hell. I had traumatic memories surface, I had odd and scary thoughts that I couldn’t control, I experienced emotions that terrified me and made no sense. I truly thought that I was losing my mind. I felt energy run through my body like I was some kind of live wire or mega-charged battery. I couldn’t sleep, I felt dizzy and spacey, and I was sure that I was losing my grip on reality. I dutifully trundled off to therapy, meditated, prayed, and attended support groups for such things as Spiritual Emergencies, Kundalini rising, Spiritual Awakenings, Ascension, Light Workers, and so on and so forth. I howled at the moon and found my spirit animal. I took classes on mediumship. I pondered becoming a shaman (HA! Nobody should want to be a shaman) or at least, a spiritual guide for the nether worlds of the soul. I meditated until I entered trances and had visions. It faded away after school started in February and used up all my energy.

But my research had just begun. What had I gone through? I read thousands of pages on Kundalini openings, yoga, and other spiritual practices that scared the crap out of me–they had dire warnings about Kundalini energy making people insane or suicidal. That, of course, kicked off my anxiety. Then, I found out that menopause has the SAME SYMPTOM LIST. Yup. Perhaps everything that I experienced and labeled as deep, spiritual transformations was simply the result of hormones dropping and rising precipitously and messing with my neurotransmitters. That realization was quite sobering and more than a tad depressing. Was any of what I experienced real in any sense at all?

There are many articles that link menopause to spiritual enlightenment or Kundalini rising. For those of you who don’t know, Kundalini energy is supposedly stored at the base of your spine and rises up through the seven chakras. At least, I THINK that there are seven chakras. If you block the rising energy, it will negatively affect one of your chakras and cause physical symptoms. It is often experienced as heat spreading up the torso. If you have ever had a hot flash, assuming you’re a woman of a certain age, that’s EXACTLY what Kundalini energy is supposed to feel like. “Menopause is Enlightenment,” one website affirms. If this is Enlightenment, it kind of sucks.

I couldn’t, of course, figure out whether or not menopause was the Ultimate Cause of the difficult emotions and upsetting thoughts that plagued me for several weeks. In fact, nothing really explained it to my satisfaction: too many life situations could have caused it, and the explanations ran the gamut from psychological issues to hormonal imbalance to spiritual emergence. In the end, there was no way to define or pigeon hole it; it was weird, it was unexpected, it was inexplicable. However, I did learn one thing: the thoughts, feelings, and crazy energies were NOT the problem. My reaction to them was the problem. I panicked; I freaked out; I spent endless hours online trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me.

As usual, anxiety was the villain in my story. It always is. It always has been. I could have chosen to simply let it go, observe it all, find it curious but pay it no undue attention. My need to label it, to find a box to stick it in, created pain and confusion. It has taken me a very long time to figure this out, but here it is: you don’t need to label every experience or rank it as desirable or terrible. Spirituality is a very vague concept, indeed. Everything we do and are is ‘spiritual’, if you believe that there is more to us than meat. All roads lead to Rome, if you have a sincere desire to learn and commit yourself to loving yourself and others as part of your search. Stay off the Internet. Trust me, it leads nowhere. Even therapy was mostly unhelpful, as every individual has her own take on what it is you are experiencing, and that could end up confusing or upsetting you. Don’t let other people define the experiences you are having–and don’t worry that you don’t know if your lightheadedness is the start of an Out of Body Experience or just PMS. Any experience can be interpreted as spiritual, physical, or psychological. You can convince yourself that you are going crazy in a thousand ways–that’s how anxiety works.

There is no Path. There is no destination. There is nowhere that you are supposed to end up, spiritually speaking. You are already where you need to be. You are already spiritually developed and have been since birth. The mere fact of your existence and your conscious experience is enough to prove that you ARE the mystery and the answer to the mystery. There is nothing you are missing, need to find, or have to track down. Sometimes, we remember who we really are and think that we’ll never lose that revelation. Then we forget. Life is a cycle of remembering our divinity and falling back asleep. There is no achievement, just an awareness.

I don’t even call any of this a Spiritual Awakening anymore. It’s more like a Remembering and a Forgetting. The fact that I remembered some extraordinary events from another lifetime does not mean anything in and of itself. What mattered is how I reacted and responded to the memories flooding back into my consciousness from past lives and this life. The physical effects of this old reality coming back online were quite real and often astounding–I was frequently distracted by my visions and new perceptions. But  it was simply my body adjusting to the realignment of energies flowing through me. That energy might be called Kundalini or perhaps simply Spirit; in any case, we all experience this to one degree or another during transformative moments.

Spirit doesn’t change who you are. It reminds you who you are. Spirit wakes you up; it doesn’t ‘choose’ you, or confer special powers to you. You might change your circumstances, but you’re still who you always were. That’s the moment of realization: the search leads you back to yourself. The Path goes from Point A to Point A. It’s both liberating and depressing: liberating because you can engage in any spiritual practice you choose without worrying that it’s not the ‘right’ one, and depressing if you were hoping that you would be a different person after all the Experiences die down. Nope. You are always you. Always have been, always will be.

Understanding that the Universe loves you for who you are right now, is cause for celebration. That is the true spiritual epiphany.

 

I’ve given up. Completely. Paranormal investigations might be many things, but one thing they are not: a way to prove that dead people can communicate with the living.

I still go out with my team. I love the ladies with all my heart; but I don’t believe that we are finding proof or even evidence of life after death. I’ve spent years writing about all the possible explanations for our EVP and weird photos, odd shadows and lights on video, anomalous Ghost Radar word strings, and so on. All this data we collected led us to no conclusions and no ‘proof’ that would satisfy anyone who wasn’t there. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what we do is not ‘scientific,’ not verifiable, not convincing to a die-hard materialist or even an agnostic. There will always be an alternative explanation, the suspicion of fraud (even though we’ve never attempted to mislead anyone in the entire eight years we’ve been together), the “I wasn’t there” attitude, and the general questions regarding our methods, motives, and procedures. Mostly, though, people just don’t care about the paranormal like they used to. There was a heyday for investigations when Hollywood sniffed out money-making opportunities and came calling, causing so many of us to fall in the Industry’s snares. Yup. I was opportunistic and fame-hungry too. I admit it. I cloaked those all-too-human desires with the idea that I could ‘share’ our discoveries with the world, and we would Make Them Believe.

The general public is no longer interested in our cool sound bites or our shadows that could be ghosts. I doubt that we will experience any kind of Renaissance in the field of the paranormal that involves iPhones or hacked AM radios ever again. That’s probably for the best. We never really knew what we were looking for, anyway, beyond the idea that souls might hang out at creepy places and want to talk into our recorders; the weird data we collected over the years was always inconclusive and misleading, subject to interpretation and doubt.

So why do I claim that we will never prove life after death? First of all, because there is no spiritual death–just the death of our flesh casing–and I simply don’t believe that our regenerated consciousness is going to choose to float around a dank, nasty hallway in an old asylum. Also, because whatever God you believe in–no matter what you call it–has placed an absolute prohibition on such proof. Not because ‘proof’ negates faith, but because if such a thing as scientific proof for the afterlife ever presented itself, it would terminate the individual’s spiritual path. Seeking and striving would end, and there would be complacency and pointlessness in our material lives.

I think that we found bits and pieces of consciousness out there that might well have been just enough to keep us searching and pushing forward on our spiritual quests, but never enough to answer our questions. Every spiritual quest eventually comes to an end, when we realize that we have hit the proverbial dead end. I hit the wall with paranormal investigations years ago, but I loved hanging out with my dear ones in scary places, and I still do. I probably always will; but I have adjusted my expectations and no longer expect to learn anything new or life changing with my trusty ghost tools. That part of my search is over.

Each individual is on the Earth in their particular incarnation to figure out the nature of life, change, death, consciousness, God, the spirit world, reality, karma, and how to manage other people and the planet itself. Our job is to figure all this out; it might take forever, but that’s what we’re assigned to do. This is the problem, then, with what we as paranormal investigators attempted to do: hijack others’ spiritual paths with information that would render the individual’s search for meaning unnecessary. By ‘proving’ the continuity of our eternal selves–our stated goal–all someone had to do was accept the truth of our findings and carry on, knowing that there was no spiritual work to do because we had done that for them.

Humans, however, resist like crazy anyone else’s attempt to define reality. We all instinctively know that we are on our own when it comes to the Big Questions. We can join esoteric communities, profess certain faiths, ghost hunt, meditate, wander the desert with our possessions in a small bag, chew on magic plants, or spin in circles until we leave our bodies. The point is, we do this alone even if we are part of a faith community. Every, single one of us has to figure this out in one way or the other: are we eternal? Are we a manifestation of God? Do we come back again and again to work on these existential issues until, one day, we fade into Oneness? Are we ghosts at some point? Are we, perhaps, always a form of ghost? No matter how hard we try to supply these answers for others, we simply cannot. This is hard, painful, frustrating, and intense work that we do in the process of our transformation.

I no longer look for answers in the outside world. I look within and stare into the darkness as well as the light. The outside world changes as I change; there are strange messages and astounding signs that point me in new directions and confirm some of my tentative beliefs about the nature of true reality. But I don’t share these deeply personal revelations easily, if at all; I don’t need someone ‘debunking’ my path or sneering at my methods.

The only thing I ‘hunt’ for these days is myself and God. Sometimes I find neither; sometimes both appear to be one; other days I simply wander, lost, wondering if would be easier to just open up my Ghost Radar and stare at the dots.

Much love to all,

Kirsten

Who Are You?

If you don’t know who you are, you will never understand the spirit realm.

I used to think that names mattered, professions were important for self definition, relationships defined you, and your religious beliefs made you whole and ready for Heaven.
I used to think that ‘ghosts’ were simply dead people whose souls were floating around in the space near my digital recorder. It used to be my job to record their voices, photograph their earthly remains, and invent stories about them via Ghost Radar and other infinitely silly devices that sometimes, to my infinite consternation, appeared to string together meaningful sentences. These things I no longer believe.

What if God is simply a name we give to something utterly incomprehensible? Perhaps we anoint God with infinite faces and names to make this cosmic force more like us, more intimate and recognizable. Is God Shiva? Yes. Is God Jesus? Yes. Is God a giant snake spirit from the jungles of Peru? Sure. God is all and none of these. God is not in a ‘relationship’ with you; you are in a relationship with something you can’t understand; you are attempting to unravel something beyond your capacity. Go ahead, give what you call God a face and an identity; it won’t matter in the end. Call it what you will; when you have an inkling of what the universe does with and through creation, you will be so humbled that words will not flow easily or at all. That is my predicament. How to talk about something utterly mysterious?

Go ahead, make an affirmation. Tell me what you know. I am _______________________________ (fill in the blank). I can deconstruct all of it. Are you a professor? Who teaches whom? Are you a wife? What does that mean to you? Does that title make any sense? What is your job as wife? Does that ultimately create any meaning? Are you a mother? Have you noticed that your children are parenting you? Are you a Catholic? Well . . . there are enough contradictions there to fill volumes. I won’t even start. Every, single, affirmation that you can make about yourself contains the opposite; an identity is a created thing, both by you and your community of authority. It is so pitifully easy to unravel. You contain your shadow, your own personal dark side, and that will undo every utterance you make about who you are. Who are you right now, as you’re reading this? Don’t give me a name; a person’s name is meaningless. What’s a Kirsten? Do I simply list all of my activities? Does that define me? Of course not. I could tell you that Kirsten eats lunch and writes blog posts. She also teaches the pluperfect subjunctive to a less than rapt classroom. I like chocolate and chihuahuas. I do not like anchovies. There. Do you know me?

A ghost is a metaphor. A ghost is something we conjure up so that we have a mirror for ourselves, so that we can see in it our passions, conflicts, drives, hopes, fantasies, and dreams. But what about our evidence? Our data? Our ‘proof’ of discarnate existence? What can we say about that? How do we know a ghost? Let’s say it’s a person, or it was a person, and now it’s just a collection of energy that occasionally focuses itself for us, just long enough to whisper ‘no’ into our recorders, or show up as dots on Ghost Radar. What do we know about it? My best audio clip is a male voice (in a group of women–no men present) that says in a raspy, ancient voice: “What do you mean”? I can tell you here and now that none of us could reproduce that sound, that none of us said anything like it; but you probably won’t believe it, and you wouldn’t listen to the clip even if I published it ten times in a row. Why? Because you weren’t there, and you don’t really believe in other people’s data, anyway. It’s all delusion and misinterpretation when it belongs to someone else, right? If it’s your evidence, that’s another story. But I’m not angry that people don’t review the ‘evidence’. What is it evidence for, anyway? My strange, male voice is asking a great question. What do you mean, coming here and recording random audio? What do you mean, pretending that ‘I’ am something other than a fragment of sound that floated through this dimension on my way to nothing.

I like to think that voice has a consciousness behind it. Some’one’ said that, right? How do I define a person? Does a person exist if they manage to produce a sentence, a series of vibrations that coalesce into sound? Is a ‘person’ that makes green dots appear on Ghost Radar? What is a person to us? What does consciousness mean to us? If we don’t define ‘person’, then how can we take our scattered pieces of data and call it proof of ghosts? We are all spirit and soul on the most fundamental level. One could argue that the only difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is our bodily container, our fixed illusion of time and space. A ghost could be a person liberated from context, from time and space, from material bodies; but in that case, why do they almost never provide anything like proof of their existence? Why is it that after a decade of investigating, none of us have proof of non material existence that all of us would accept? We don’t know what a ghost is; we don’t really know what makes a person; no one has defined or located consciousness; it’s an impossible task that we took on. We don’t know what it is that we are attempting to find and ‘prove’ to our community of seekers.

We find, if we push hard enough, that nothing defines the essence of us; our identity is always in flux. We think we exist because we have our five senses, a context, a place and a time, and a community that reinforces our consensual illusions. A ghost has none of the above. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist–but trying to ‘find’ it using categories of understanding that do not apply to it makes no sense. The ghost is impossible to pin down. If you want to find it, then don’t rely on time, space, your five senses, and your categories of understanding that make sense for those locked in to consensus reality. Use your ‘sixth’ sense, your intuition, your core spiritual identity that is not connected to this universe’s limitations. Free yourself of time and space, liberate yourself from devices that can only pick up meaningless fragments, and travel to the world where ‘they’ exist. A ghost has no coherent identity in our spacetime. If you truly seek the spirit, know that you are also spirit, at your core; meet the mysterious in the world where it resides, not your own. A ghost makes no sense and cannot create meaning for you in the here and now, in the everyday strangeness that we call reality.

Go to the place that transcends your personal circumstances. Find that part of you that defies categories, definitions, roles, and history. Explore the place where memories float freely, and spirits wander with impunity. We all know this dimension of experience, even though most of us have forgotten it. It doesn’t matter how you get back to the Matrix, the route you take to the Ether. Your ghosts are there. They are only there.

You can’t hunt them; you can only meet them in the Upside Down. Just make sure that you leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that you can find your way back.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

I dread the ‘reveal’, the ‘outing’, of Kirsten as Paranormal Investigator; or, God forbid, Ghost Hunter. This happens, eventually, at work or at church, which is part of the reason I have joined and abandoned eight churches in five years. The voice changes, lowers: “so . . . ” they say, as if they were about to ask me about a sordid affair I’m having, or query me regarding illicit drug use, or any number of other unsavory possibilities, “I hear you . . . hunt ghosts”. Then they giggle, or raise their eyebrows, cock their heads, and smile in that particular way that tells me that they are thrilled that they have just discovered that I am mad or stupid. They are normal in comparison; they are infinitely stable, acceptable, and logical when standing next to a GHOST HUNTER. Then come the questions. I feel heavy, trapped, and exhausted by this point, because I know exactly how the conversation is going to go. I usually fall into a chair and prepare myself for the stereotypes, the ignorance, and the criticism that is about to come my way. Yes, I could simply refuse to discuss this topic with people and walk away; but deep in my heart, I still think that I have the opportunity to change hearts and minds. And no, it doesn’t usually happen; but hope springs eternal. So, without further delay, here are the Top Three Most Annoying Questions for the Paranormal Investigator:

1. So you believe in ghosts???

No. I don’t believe in them. I don’t believe in you, either. I see you and am talking to you, but I don’t BELIEVE in you. You are not God or Jesus or Buddha. I am interacting with you. Therefore, I ascribe some reality to you. You seem rather material and solid, and you are asking questions that I can hear, and I am responding to you, so you exist–materially and spiritually. Now, for that word, “ghost”, let’s drop that already, OK? Nobody knows what a ghost is. All we can do is describe what we think it is, but since we are talking about a non-material entity that manifests itself in a variety of mysterious ways in this visible universe, let’s stop pretending that we know its identity and purpose. Oh, and if you’re envisioning Caspar floating in a sheet, can we just end this miserable conversation right now???

2. You’re so smart; why do you believe this stuff is real?

Well . . . thank you for the compliment. I am, like, SO SMART. So to prove that to you, let’s deconstruct your assumptions, turn them on their head, and force YOU to define reality. I already discussed the ‘believe in’ issue. Let’s move on to ‘this stuff’: what you mean by this is ANYTHING that you don’t understand or that you can’t sense. If your definition of reality is challenged by what others have discovered, or simply by other people’s observations and experiences that point to something beyond the everyday, ordinary reality of collective consciousness, then you decide to attack someone else’s cosmovision. In other words, if you don’t perceive it or understand it, it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about the word “real”: this is one of those words like ‘love’ or ‘ghosts’ that simply can’t be defined in a simple, straightforward way. What you REALLY mean by this word is this: real is what is real to me, to my community, to my colleagues, to my family, and is supported by my values, ideologies, politics, beliefs, and stereotypes. If what you experience falls outside of what my community values, or what makes me comfortable, or what my church says, or what my chem professor told me, in other words, if YOUR experience causes me discomfort because it falls outside of what I am willing to accept in my life, I will turn on you and label you delusional or strange. The labels keep you at a distance and allow me to continue to live in my little bubble.

3. Can I go with you on an investigation?

No.

Truth is, most people who ask insulting questions of a paranormal researcher are, deep down, fascinated by the varieties of anomalous consciousness (ghosts). They want to know more, but they’re afraid. I understand that. It’s wise to be afraid. At some point, they admit that they are scared of what I do. So I ask them: “What are you scared of?” The answer is, usually, “I’m afraid that ghosts are real”.

That’s where the conversation can start. Yes, my dear, ghosts are real. Now please stop calling them that.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD


Anyone who meditates on a regular basis knows that some strange material can float to the surface of our minds. I used to dismiss such information as a product of random, subconscious associations, but now I pay attention. I realized that what I used to ignore was teaching that I didn’t want and lessons that contradicted what I desired to believe. It seems, sadly enough, that I don’t grow as a human being unless I suffer the pain of reality contradicting my illusions.

I was far away in space during a meditation where I quickly vanished as a ‘person’. I found myself in an odd, geometric void where there were several points displayed in front of ‘me’, or the observer. A master teacher was explaining that the points represented versions of the self. During our lifetimes, we create multiple copies of the true Self, typically by assigning them roles to play. There is the self as mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and so forth. We come to identify with those roles, and therein lies the pain and suffering that so many of us experience when we realize that the roles we play are primarily determined by our culture, family, country of origin, media, and other forces that act upon us in hidden ways. The ‘false selves’ are only painful when they separate from the true Self and take on a life of their own, divorced from a higher, ultimate reality (some call this God, the Divine, the Field, or the Theory of Everything). When the role-identified ego fragments view themselves as independent, the emotional pain grows and intensifies every time we fail to meet the ego’s standards, which are tied to our culture’s definition of success. We become bad mothers, poor teachers, disappointing wives, or bankrupted entrepreneurs. There are an infinite variety of ways we ‘fail’ in our culture: we are old, fat, unattractive, and unsuccessful. Every negative judgment we struggle with is a result of identifying with a false construct of the self that has broken off from the True Self and become autonomous.

Our very culture, the medium in which we live and act, promotes the fragmentation of the self. If we are ‘unsuccessful’ at any of the roles assigned to us, then we will spend money to ‘fix’ the problem that our society created for us. We chase solutions to invented problems, and the people responsible for selling us said ‘solutions’ become rich and powerful at our expense. To some extent, we are all responsible for selling ourselves and others the lies of our culture: how many times have we promoted a damaging, false view of who we are ‘supposed’ to be that is in service to a diseased, dominant culture? If we think that we are substandard employees, daughters, sons, parents, citizens, and so on, we exist in a perpetual state of self loathing and criticism, making us far less likely to pursue avenues of change in our environment, politics, educational system, or social networks. How do you keep the population from rebelling or protesting? Make them believe that they are not good enough to try. I have classrooms filled with students who believe that there is no point in attempting change of any kind. They passively accept the version of themselves that their communities and cultures promote, consciously or otherwise.

While I floated in this space of false selves, I decided that I must be ‘the Observer’ who understood the lessons; the student, if you will. But the Voice, very gently, asked me: “Who observes the observer?” This sounded to me like one of those impossible Zen scenarios where there is, for all intents and purposes, no answer. I was then led to, and ‘infused’ with, the Observer of the observer, and discovered that it was God; but God was me. I was God. Of course, this upset the little ‘me’, who considered this blasphemy. The little observer started protesting that she was a miserable sinner, far from God, and that this truth that I was experiencing could not be true (a tautology if there ever was one). This was now the second time that I have been shown that the true self is God. After all, God experiences herself/themselves (no pronoun works here) in an infinite variety of forms and beings, and I am one of those beings whose true identity is with God.

If we were all to believe this, instead of the lies and distortions that we DO believe, how would the world change? Indeed, the world as we know it would look utterly different (to be clear, I am not talking about the ego delusion that one is God; that’s entirely another problem. I am talking about the actual, true, real Self through which God experiences creation). How beautiful our experience on Earth would be if everyone followed the path of the true Self. It’s too painful to see how far we are from that vision. Perhaps the whole point of life on Earth is to overcome the vast distance between our repressive cultures/constructed selves and our true nature. We come back here again and again, learning and remembering these lessons in various ways, in differing circumstances. Pain and suffering are the most effective teachers when we are ready to accept the falling away of the myriad, scattered, ego selves.
This is why we pray, why we meditate, why we alter our consciousness: to get closer to our true identity and to realize that fundamental change is possible. To make that change requires those little selves floating out there in space to self destruct under the weight of their false values and internal contradictions. Losing those fragments hurts. Those painful identities don’t seem to actually ‘die’: they become ghosts and haunt our collective consciousness forever and ever. But they don’t have to define me anymore, or crush me under the weight of their unprocessed emotion. I choose to send them to the far corners of the Earth, where they can rattle their chains, moan and lament, and scare the paranormal investigators and urban explorers. For that is where they belong, after all: in the agonized and remote regions of our worst fears.

I will keep moving towards the Light, which we all need to do long before we die.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

Hell: Facing the Shadow

The photo is not about proclaiming the author’s beauty. I picked the grittiest, most unflattering filter I could find. I wanted to show something about me. This is my state of mind these days. I am squinting at reality because I don’t like what I see. It hurts; it’s overwhelming. I am unable to control it, understand it, or manage it any way. It’s happening, and I’m watching it. I’m wondering how to escape it, but knowing all along that you can’t. There is no escape from reality–there is no escape from anything. All you can do is change your perception. Changing a perception requires seeing the world around you–with its tragedies, insanity, cruelty, power struggles, and deep sadness–with different eyes.

I now understand detachment as a survival mechanism. There is a practical reason that Eastern religions promote observing reality rather than reacting to it. If you were to react emotionally to everything that happens to you, to your loved ones, to your community, to the world, you would lose your sanity and any ability to change what is under your control. An example of this is happening right now. Southern California is burning. Houses, neighborhoods, entire cities are vanishing in smoke. A ranch up north lost 40 horses in the blaze. The coyotes are screaming as the flames engulf them. We are surrounded by black, billowing smoke and ash. The world, our world, seems to be dying. At any moment, an ember could drift into my area and start a raging inferno.

My level of anxiety has skyrocketed to the point of paralysis. I now understand why people stand in front of the tsunami or the wildfire and don’t run. There comes a point where you can’t react anymore. The body and mind shut down. You decide to give in and drown. Or burn. Anything but continuing to live like a prisoner of panic and horror. What else can one do besides slowly go insane with the bad news that floods us minute by minute, or abandon ourselves to the abyss? There is only the option that I mentioned above: observe. Take only targeted and specific action. What does it really mean to ‘be the observer’? You must step outside of your mind. You must detach yourself from the spinning thoughts, worries, hypothetical disaster ruminations, and other chaotic maneuvers of the mind.

This means, of course, that you must understand that you are not your mind. There is an identity separate from the crazy chatterbox that pushes you to misery, depression, and anxiety. The Self that is not a slave to the mind is always there, always available to take over, always silently connected to God, or the creative principle, the One, the Source, or whatever you wish to call it. You have to find that Self and bring her forth and grant her control of reality. How to do that? This is what I did last night that has helped me tremendously to conceptualize the pain my mind subjects me to. I sat on the sofa, closed my eyes, and observed my thoughts, my state of mind.

It wasn’t enjoyable to watch my mind. It conjured up pictures of me burning alive, of my loved ones going up in flames, and my lungs shutting down and filling with smoke. Then I watched as my mind ran through multiple disaster scenarios and played them out. My mind noticed that my Self had detached from it, so it decided to call in the Big Guns: Demons. The pictures of Hell played out across a screen in my consciousness: Satan ripping me to pieces, devils eating me alive, horrifying monsters committing atrocious acts to my body, and animal predators chewing at my skin and muscles. Needless to say, it wasn’t my favorite meditation. However, there seemed to be a purpose. No matter how many scenes of graphic torture my mind put me through, “I” still survived. Kirsten’s essential self was unaffected by any of it. I arrived at the point where I didn’t care what horrors I was subjected to, because none of them destroyed the Observer. I was watching it all, but it was just another bad movie.

The news depends on keeping our minds in a state of total panic and fear. I am not denying the emotional impact of what is actually happening here in Southern California and elsewhere in the world; but what we are subjected to on social media and all over the Internet is far beyond calling our attention to situations that require our intervention or assistance. It’s not about how we can help; it’s about keeping us in a permanent state of alarm. A populace in a constant state of tension will willingly give in to whatever ‘fixes’ the people in power decide to ram through. Fear allows us to look for false solutions, which often are based on finding a scapegoat to absorb our sense of terror and powerlessness.

Most situations are beyond your control. There is nothing you can do concerning the events playing out at the moment. There are small, compassionate actions that you can engage in: offer a room to a displaced person, provide financial assistance when you can to relief agencies, or bring food/clothing/toiletries to a shelter. There are multiple kindnesses we can present as an offering to assuage the suffering of the world. But we can’t change the course of events alone; the fires will burn no matter how much we pray. Reach out to people and see what they need, but the course of droughts, fires, destruction, and climate changes are out of our hands now. Our world is reacting violently to our collective lack of caring, our exploitation, our rampant selfishness. We are going to pay the price for that for a long time. It will hurt.

But you can save your soul in the process. Stand back. Connect to the part of you that isn’t spinning in outrage and fear. Hold on to that authentic self through meditation, through prayer, through whatever means necessary. For if there is any hope for the world, it is only through our collective connection to something higher and finer in ourselves that can reach out and uplift others; if this divine vibration reaches enough of us, perhaps we can douse the flames of our own destruction.

–Kirsten A. Thorne


Paranormal investigators can become obsessed with the existence of demons and the location of Hell. All along, I have advocated for the reality of the demonic, having experienced it myself on three investigations over the last ten years. My view recently, however, is that Hell is right here on Earth, and Heaven is here, as well. Hell is the circumstances created by negative, ego-driven consciousness; Heaven is a radical change in perception that can be accomplished now.

The longer I investigate such mysteries, the more I am convinced that our dividing lines are false and arbitrary. The line between life and death concerns purely physical processes, and has nothing to do with identity, personality, and spirit/soul. Our massive, cultural fear of death is based on a false premise, and yet it drives everything that we do, from consumerism to youth obsession to entertainment. Somewhere in this fear of death lies the notion of Hell. What I find so ironic is that so many of us believe that Hell is ‘located’ anywhere but here on Earth.

If you watch or listen to the news, it should be clear that the worst pain and punishment is right here, right now. The recent massacre at a Sufi temple in Egypt is simply one example. The mass shootings here in the United States happen so often that we have started to build up an internal resistance to them and barely register shock or horror anymore. We are the devils, the demons, the horror show itself; but we are also God, the angels, and all that is beautiful in the world. When we act in the world based on fear, vengeance, anger, greed, and a host of other deadly sins, we create Hell; when we act on generosity, faith, love, compassion, and empathy, we live in Heaven.

The problem, of course, is that to avoid creating Hell on earth, we have to be fully conscious of how we are bringing about destruction and pain; most of the time, it seems that we are not aware of how our actions, beliefs, and assumptions create Hell for us and others. If you ask members of ISIS if they believe their cause is holy and sacred, of course they will respond that it is. Sacrifice, in their view, is necessary to save the world from the evils of capitalism and American-style popular culture. We are the Great Satan for a sizable percentage of the population on this planet. They are utterly unaware of the evil nature of their actions; but I am also aware that many Americans perpetuate evil and injustice thinking that their Christian values support such a thing (and lest you forget, I am a Christian). I could provide abundant examples of how our ‘values’ support racism, poverty, and prejudice, but it’s not necessary. If you have read this far, I’m sure you understand how this works.

The preconditions for Hell exist right here, right now; all it really takes is for us to convince ourselves of a certain version of reality that makes us feel right and safe, and voila! We are on the road to perdition. While we are busy destroying the lives of others through apathy, indifference, or a warped ‘value’ system, we fail to realize the Hell that we are building for ourselves. That Hell looks like depression, addiction, anxiety, rage, illness, and anything else that causes suffering in us. We don’t have to worry that Hell is ‘waiting’ for us. It’s already here. When you wake up consumed with fear, anxiety, and feelings of doom, you are in Hell. Here’s the awful part: we created the conditions for it. That means we can escape from it, too.

I’m not here to tell people how to escape their personal Hells. I can’t write a prescription or provide a recipe. It requires a fearless act of self evaluation and examination of conscience. What I do know is that the original nature of the world is divine and beautiful; if you were to see the world as it was created, you would know that we live in Heaven, that it’s our home, our purpose, the core of our being. Whether you believe in one God or many, whether you are a pantheist, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, or ascribe to any organized belief on the nature of reality that includes a Universal Consciousness, one tenet is the same: the original creation, the nature of everything, is holy and sacred.

In other words, Heaven is the matrix in which we exist. It is our home, and it’s here, now. We create Hell from this perfection in a million ways. We contain the demons and the angels. If we were to face the demons in us and dissolve them, we could spend much more time in Paradise. Most of us, however, are far too afraid to confront the ways in which we destroy ourselves and others. It’s a miserably difficult process to face yourself and see the darkness that we created through false beliefs and ego desires. We cling to the very things that eat at our souls and keep us from God. Somehow, for some reason, what kills us is what we are the most loathe to give up. I find that eternally strange and confusing.
I know that it’s possible to live in Heaven before you die; dying is just another way the Universe gives you a second chance. I believe our second chances are infinite—it depends on how long you are willing to suffer. There is no afterlife, no separate place called Hell or Heaven; there is just life, periodically recycled, presenting endless opportunities to figure out our true nature.

All of the above makes it appear that I have all the answers. Let me assure you, I do not. I have theories that seem true for all of us, but I admit that I could be wrong. For example: I have come across examples of the demonic that seem to have a life of their own, that appear to be independent of us and feeding on the vulnerable. I don’t know how that could happen based on what I stated above. I am also starting to think that entities such as elementals, fairies, gnomes, elves, shadow people, black-eyed children, nature spirits, and extraterrestrials are names for independent beings whose relationship to God is unclear. The multiplicity in the spirit world confuses me and makes me wonder if sometimes we are led astray by something outside of us that has intentions and motivations that we do not understand. That would derail some of what I believe and said earlier.

The quest continues, and my faith and confidence that we can figure it all out has lessened dramatically. The worlds we live in continue to be very, very, mysterious.

With love,
Kirsten