Archive for January, 2018

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

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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?


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

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