Archive for January, 2014


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

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Kamela’s Wake Up Call!

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

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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

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